This was one of the shows that soured Fred Silverman's career at NBC.
Sadly, it seems to have been one also for Mie and Kei. Their time in America took them away from their Japanese fanbase long enough for their popularity to cool off, and so they came home to Japan after the failure of the show to find they had become yesterday's stars and ended up disbanding only a year later. Even today in Japan they remain predominantly a nostalgia act, despite both women having pursued solo music and film careers and having reunited periodically to release new music.
Executive Meddling: Big time. Basically, NBC just up and had Sid and Marty Krofft make this show for them (and lied to them in the process when Marty asked if the girls knew how to speak English). Secondly, Sid outlined the entire show, coming up with the idea that the show would play out of a Japanese music box... which NBC shot down in favor of a Donny and Marie clone (seriously, Marty Krofft actually said in an interview that NBC refused Sid's proposal/pitch and told them, point-blank, "no, let's just do Donny and Marie"). This eventually led to its premature, yet well-timed cancellation.
Genre-Killer: Though it definitely wasn't the last, Pink Lady's failure convinced programmers that the Variety Show genre was no longer viable.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Rhino Entertainment released the series on DVD in 2001, but it has long since been out of print and routinely sells for over $100 on eBay.
Old Shame: Marty Krofft is aware (and pretty much agrees) that this was one of the worst shows ever made in the history of television, and has acknowledged that Saturday Night Live did a spoof of it once.
Star-Derailing Role: Pink Lady's popularity in Japan had peaked in 1978, and by 1980 they had been rocked by a few scandals that had pushed their Japanese record sales into decline. So they shifted their focus to the United States, and ultimately gambled on PL&Jreviving their careers. Except it didn't work out, and they disbanded a year later.
The pair's "Kiss Me in the Dark" had been a very minor hit in the US during 1979, but it had cracked the Top 40 all the same, a rare accomplishment for any Japanese act. So, NBC president Fred Silverman, on the lookout for fresh ideas to boost the network's sagging fortunes, thought a show built around the duo might be worth a shot. He nixed the producer's original concept for something really weird and asked for "something like Donny And M Arie. Sid and Marty Krofft were assigned to make it work.
Only after Pink Lady was signed to do the show in spring 1980 did NBC learn that neither Mie nor Kei spoke English very well if at all. Either nobody had asked, or their fluency had been greatly overrepresented, depending on who tells the story. This meant that they had to learn their lines phonetically and would make late rewrites pretty much impossible ... like one show that Lorne Greene agreed to be on only four hours before air time.
To offset this, NBC hired comedian Jeff Altman to sort of co-host the show. In actuality, he wound up carrying it due to the stars' linguistic limitations. This led to strife between him, the network and Pink Lady's management. Klein wanted the show to have his name in the title; Pink Lady's manager refused. NBC compromised, promoting the show in print ads and on-air promos as Pink Lady & Jeff, but the show's credits always only read Pink Lady.
NBC went to great lengths, especially money to get name guest stars and musical guests. Sometimes Pink Lady didn't even appear in any sketches at all. They sang, but NBC insisted they only sing English-language songs familiar to an American audience. Again this involved a considerable stretch on their part, as their familarity with English, bad as it was, was much better than their familiarity with the songs they were asked to perform.
The writers tried to work around Pink Lady's limitations, by making most of the sketches they were in rely on their unfamiliarity with American culture. But then NBC decided that wasn't good enough ... that the writers needed to write the two women as distinct personalities. Not only was this extremely difficult given the aforementioned language problems, it went against Mie and Kei's philosophy that the two of them not be seen that way.
The first show ended with a tuxedo-clad Altman being pulled into a hot tub where Mie and Kei were already lounging. Altman thought this was funny ... once. It soon became a Running Gag that ended every episode, and he hated it. However, it was kept because it allowed the show to show Mie and Kei in bikinis. That, and other risque bits in the show, drew the ire of the sort of Moral Majority types who would later, motivated in part by seeing such things taking over broadcast TV, help sweep Ronald Reagan into the White House later that year.
After five episodes, NBC pulled the plug. The format wasn't the only casualty, however ... Pink Lady had had to take so much time away from Japan and touring there that they lost a lot of their audiencenote It didn't help, either, that Kei was having a highly publicized affair with actor Goro Noguchi at the time, either Later that year they broke up and wouldn't reform for several years.