Tom Shubilla is a busy guy. He’s a Plains Twp. commissioner and a professor at Luzerne County Community College. He’s also into biking, skateboarding, and collecting vinyl. And, oh, he’s a published author. McFarland Publishing just released his book “Primetime 1966-1967: The Full Spectrum of Television’s First All-Color Season.”
The book’s title is straightforward. The book is a comprehensive look at the first season of full color prime time shows on the three major — and at the time, only — commercial over-the-air TV networks.
CV: What do you teach at LCCC?
TS: I have been teaching public speaking at LCCC since 2011 and I also teach a film class once a year for the last two years.
CV: What’s your background as a writer?
TS: For a number of years, I have been writing for Monster Bash Magazine, which is based in Western PA and is the official magazine of Monster Bash, which is a classic horror movie convention which I have been attending and helping run special events at since I was 14 years old. I also have been writing articles and reviewing movies for Screem Magazine. I used to write music reviews and conduct interviews with bands for The Weekender locally and also I used to write for the music magazine AMP. This, however, is my first book.
CV: You were born 10 years after 1966-67. What piqued your interest?
TS: I grew up loving shows like “Get Smart,” “Dragnet,” “Petticoat Junction,” and “The Monkees,” which gave me my love for ’60s TV and culture. In addition, I always loved bands like The Beatles and ’60s garage rock, James Bond films, and classic horror and science fiction films. I’ve always been interested in classic television and love writing about the things I’m interested in.
CV: How did you arrive at the first color season for a book topic?
TS: My original idea was “1966: Beatles, Bond, and Batman,” which would focus on the craze of all three pop culture icons that year. However, there is a blog of the same title and I didn’t want to step on any toes. Then I shifted my focus to television and learned that the 1966-67 television season was the first year every show in primetime was in color. I pitched the idea to McFarland after running into an editor at the Monster Bash horror convention and the book evolved into discussing every show in primetime that season.
Part of my inspiration came from listening to the late Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. The show would talk about classic television in great detail and Gilbert and the show’s co-host, Frank Santopadre, would have such a passion for the subject it inspired me to start writing about the subject. Frank Santopadre even wrote the foreword to the book.
CV: Would you call the book a COVID shutdown project?
TS: Oh, the book was already conceived, being written, and I had a deal with McFarland before the shutdown. The shutdown just gave me a lot more time to watch shows and write.
CV: How long did you work on the book?
TS: Officially, about three years, but I had been working on several concepts before that time.
CV: What was the hardest part of the process?
TS: Writing about shows like “The Lucy Show,” “Bonanza,” or “Star Trek” from a new angle or something that hasn’t been written before. Also editing and sometimes getting rid of parts of the book that don’t fit into the final draft. Although it was hard, writing the book made me a much better writer and eventually I was able to do research better and more efficiently.
CV: Did you write about the technical aspects of the switch to color?
TS: Occasionally, when I found stories about it. And I did talk to two cast members of “Lost in Space” who talked about the change to color and what the director, set designer or producer said about it.
CV: Is the book available now?
TS: You can find it at Amazon, mcfarlandpub.com, the Walmart and Barnes and Noble websites. The book is now at Barnes and Noble in Wilkes-Barre, signed. Also, some of the local libraries should have a copy.
CV: Any plans for a book signing event?
TS: Yes, I’m in talks with Barnes and Noble now.