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Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon

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Between 1986 and 1991, nearly ten million people a week watched Peewee’s Playhouse, the critically acclaimed and widely successful children’s program broadcast on CBS. Now, on the 25th anniversary of the show, the complete behind-the-scenes story is being told for the first time by those who experienced it. Complete with an episode guide, biographical information about the cast and key members of the show’s creative team, never-before-told anecdotes, and previously unpublished photos, Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse ...
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Toronto, Canada 2011 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 224 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white, Illustrations, color. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item ... is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview


Between 1986 and 1991, nearly ten million people a week watched Peewee’s Playhouse, the critically acclaimed and widely successful children’s program broadcast on CBS. Now, on the 25th anniversary of the show, the complete behind-the-scenes story is being told for the first time by those who experienced it. Complete with an episode guide, biographical information about the cast and key members of the show’s creative team, never-before-told anecdotes, and previously unpublished photos, Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse takes the first in-depth look behind the program TV Guide recently cited as one of the top ten cult classics of all time. Paul Reubens (as Pee-wee Herman) has been making a comeback since August 2010, appearing on Saturday Night Live, The View, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, Conan, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He starred in a successful stage revival of his live show in January and February of 2010, and it hit Broadway later that year. It’s been turned into a special on HBO. His public Twitter and Facebook accounts boast over one million fans and followers. Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse is the first comprehensive look at this amazingly successful (and still revered) children’s program. Pee-wee Herman fans have been energized recently by the character’s reemerging presence. From casual fans to devout followers, everyone will be interested in taking a look Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this comprehensive account, Gaines enthusiastically chronicles the arc of "Pee Wee's Playhouse"- from Pee-Wee Herman's inception at the Groundlings Theatre in L.A. in the early 1980s, to the show's entry into the "Saturday Morning television war zone" in 1986, to the recent Broadway adaptation. "Playhouse" was greeted with fervor by all ages-kids loved Pee-Wee's goofy antics, adults rediscovered their inner child, and the show's avant-garde format created a cult following of college students. Despite minimal input from Reubens, Gaines insightfully reveals the more sinister vibe that existed behind-the-scenes, as many of the show's contributors struggled with Reubens's egotism. Though Pee-Wee's iconic persona and Reubens's unique talents are unquestionable, the technical innovation of animators, producers, and directors is at least partly responsible for the show's lasting impression. Stills from the Playhouse and a fantastic Episode Guide enable the reader to relive memorable moments and learn obscure trivia. Though brutally honest in recounting crew conflicts and the fickle world of show business, Gaines demonstrates the enchantment and broad appeal of the Playhouse, as well as the spontaneity of a show where "anything could happen." Photos.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

"This book is a must have for pop-culture enthusiasts as well as anyone who has enjoyed the prodigious Pee-wee Herman phenomena." —www.PeeWeesPlayhouse.tumblr.com

"Stills from the Playhouse and a fantastic Episode Guide enable the reader to relive memorable moments and learn obscure trivia. . . . Gaines demonstrates the enchantment and broad appeal of the Playhouse, as well as the spontaneity of a show where 'anything could happen.'" —Publishers Weekly (August 8, 2011)

"For all its attraction for the superfan, from the exhaustive episode guide to the previously unpublished photographs and behind-the-scenes tech-talk, the human portrait of Paul Reubens stands as Gaines' signal achievement." —www.KirkusReviews.com (December 2011)

"Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse's release couldn't have come at a better time. It's the perfect fix for die hard fans, and a great introduction for those just budding." —www.TheNonReview.com

"Utilizing interviews with key cast and crew members, Gaines follows the development and run of Pee-wee's Playhouse and liberally adds anecdotal material and behind-the-scenes gossip from numerous insiders. . . . all Pee-wee fans will enjoy this informative and fun text." —Library Journal (July 1, 2011)

"This book is a great nostalgic trip and will be wonderful for any fan, old or new." —San Francisco Book Review (December 1, 2011)

"If you are a fan of Pee-wee's Playhouse, Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon (also available for the kindle) is a must read or would make the perfect gift for the Pee-wee fan in your life, so pick up a copy today." —www.Retroist.com (November 2011)

"You can tell when an author is doing something for the paycheck, and when it's out of love, and here, it's definitely out of love. If you loved Pee-Wee, this is definitely a book to check out. If you're unfamiliar, it's still a great read. I really enjoyed it." —www.KSiteTV.com (November 2011)

Library Journal
Can Pee-wee's Playhouse—the transformational children's show that was for an entire generation in the Eighties what the intellectually subversive Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends was in the Sixties—really be celebrating its 25th anniversary? Today's secret word, boys and girls, is "youbetcha!" This serviceable and simple guide to Pee-wee's seminal show also traces the trajectory of actor Paul Reubens through the TV show, movies, the notorious 1991 incident, and comeback, culminating in his recent successful Broadway adaptation. First-time author Gaines constructs an easy and gently flowing narrative blissfully devoid of academic semiotic deconstructions and metaphorical high-wire linguistic acts. Utilizing interviews with key cast and crew members, Gaines follows the development and run of Pee-wee's Playhouse and liberally adds anecdotal material and behind-the-scenes gossip from numerous insiders. An episode guide for all five seasons and a "Puppetland Directory" that identifies key personnel enrich the text. VERDICT Gaines reached out to interview over 200 people connected with the show, including Reubens, who declined to participate because of a planned memoir. That will be the story we need to hear. Until then, all Pee-wee fans will enjoy this informative and fun text.—Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550229981
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Series: No Series Information required
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Caseen Gaines is a pop culture enthusiast and an author who has won awards for essays on The Flip Wilson Show and the Planet of the Apes film series. He is a high school English teacher and the cofounder of Hackensack Theatre Company. He lives in Hackensack, New Jersey.
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Read an Excerpt


In the spring of 1986, Saturday morning children’s television was popular, profitable, and predictable. The three major television networks, abc, cbs, and nbc, aired cartoons that lacked in originality and, for the most part, had no educational value. There were superheroes (Spider–Man and His Amazing Friends, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians), animated adaptations of live–action movies and tv shows (It’s Punky Brewster, Star Wars), new shows with established characters (Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Smurfs), and even a show starring a larger–than–life wrestling personality (Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling).

As children urged their parents to empty their wallets for toys based on their favorite Saturday morning cartoons, some parents began paying closer attention to children’s programming, and many didn’t like what they saw. Critics described the networks’ lineups as being filled with “program–length commercials” for merchandising like Pound Puppies, G.I. Joe, and Care Bears. Peggy Charren, the founder and president of Action for Children’s Television, claimed that Saturday morning tv was “filled with do–goody nonsense” and she urged networks to introduce shows with more educational value. With the scrutiny of children’s television increasing, President Ronald Reagan established National Children’s Television Awareness Week that October, a month after the new season of Saturday morning programming debuted. Television as we knew it would be forever changed.

Into the Saturday morning television war zone stepped Pee–wee Herman, the man–child in a too–small gray suit of armor, a soldier of a new era of creative children’s programming. While Pee–wee’s Playhouse was hardly the first show to blend animation, puppetry, and liveaction — pbs’s Sesame Street had crossed that bridge almost 20 years earlier — it added a subversive, hipster sensibility to the format, providing a gust of fresh air to a tired timeslot reserved for the stale ideas of network execs.

Playhouse’s impact was immediate. The Washington Post described the program as “utterly magical, beautifully realized, and veritably giddy with plaintive charm.” The show gained the respect of parent advocacy groups and critics alike for being the lone Saturday morning children’s show that was not completely animated. In the weeks following its debut, Playhouse was frequently cited as being not only the best new show of the season, but the best program on Saturday morning, period.

As William S. Burroughs once said, “In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents.” This was certainly true for Playhouse. The show not only provided a generation of children with something wildly entertaining to watch as they ate their sugared cereal, but it also became symbolic of a national changing of the guard. Just as cassette players had replaced turntables, the new and inventive consumed the old and traditional. Video killed the radio star. Pee–wee’s Playhouse killed The Smurfs.

In fact, it was the popularization of a new and inventive technology that introduced me to Pee–wee Herman. In 1985, my grandpa purchased his first vcr and began taping everything he was remotely interested in that aired on pay–cable networks. By 1986, the surprise success of the film Pee–wee’s Big Adventure ensured that it would be placed in heavy rotation on hbo, often coupled with 1981’s The Pee–wee Herman Show special, which had regained attention as Pee–wee became a household name. My grandpa would sit down with me, before I could even form complete sentences, to watch Pee–wee double features. My parents were aware of my interest and they turned the television to Pee–wee’s Playhouse on Saturday mornings. I watched religiously, often screaming the secret word at the top of my lungs whenever it flashed on the screen and jumping up and down in my footed pajamas. I owned the pull–string doll, which now sounds more like one of the Chipmunks, and it traveled with me to family gatherings, on long car rides, to birthday parties, and everywhere else my parents would let me carry it. One of my cousins had a few episodes on tape that I begged her to watch with me whenever I went over to visit. There are home movies of me imitating Pee–wee’s laugh and obnoxiously asking my family the quintessential rhetorical question, “I know you are, but what am I?”

When I started working on this book, I believed myself to be the biggest Pee–wee fan around. However, during the two years I spent working on this project, I found thousands of fans all over the world who have kept their love for Pee–wee alive. Birgit Schuetze, a fan from Germany, spent close to $3,000 to fly to the States to see Pee–wee Herman on Broadway last year. Perry Shall of Philadelphia has a full–sleeve tattoo of the Playhouse characters on his arm, with a large illustration of Jambi the Genie on his chest. Ben Zurawski of Chicago, an artist who makes replicas of Playhouse characters, coordinated with the producers of the recent stage show at Club Nokia in Los Angeles to propose to his girlfriend Summer Violett, also a fan, on the Playhouse set.

Fans like Birgit, Perry, Ben, and Summer are not alone. There has been overwhelming support for Peewee on social networking sites, with over half a million people linked with him on Twitter alone. Thousands of fans have shown up to see Paul Reubens, the man behind Pee–wee’s make up, at public appearances throughout the years with requests for him to sign 15–year–old merchandise and say some of Pee–wee’s signature lines. These are the fans who caused Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim reruns of Playhouse to average nearly 1.5 million viewers a night in 2004, and who have defended Reubens throughout his various personal and professional struggles.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    Very enlightening about Pee-wee Herman and some information abou

    Very enlightening about Pee-wee Herman and some information about the era in general. As I was getting to the wrap up of the book, I realized there were still a lot of pages. I didn't realize there is a complete compendium of the series shows included. Bonus! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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