Hollywood Calling was a super-expensive radio game show about the movies.
NBC Radio (Weekly): 7/3/1949 – 1/15/1950
Louis G. Cowan Productions
Murphy and various movie stars would be in charge of the show's telephones, and call various people. Listeners who answered when called received a 17-jewel Gruen watch, as well as a unique gift from Hollywood (like the scarf worn by Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jennie). The contestant would also be allowed to talk to major celebrities. For answering a film-based question correctly, the listener won a prize worth several hundred dollars, and a chance at the $31,000 "Film of Fortune" jackpot.
In 1949, CBS had acquired much of NBC's Sunday Night Radio Programming, including The Jack Benny Program, and The Amos 'n' Andy Show. Also, ABC had made deep cuts into the ratings when Stop the Music premiered, which eventually led to The Fred Allen Show being cancelled. The increase in Music’s ratings resulted in NBC wanting to have a show with a bigger budget than Music, despite a policy paper issued earlier that year telling them not to air giveaway shows, or crime drama in the children's block.
The creation of the show and its extreme budget was meant to result in the cancellation of Benny's show, due to being put against it at 7:00, just as Music had done to Allen.
The result was highly gaudy, due to having so may people working on it, and so much equipment. Newsweek said that the show "failed to excite the approval of a single major radio critic," while Time said that it was "more intent on revenge than entertainment." The questions were extremely easy, resulting in the producers being more frantic in giving away the prizes.
In the fall, Benny's show was renewed for another season, and beat Calling in its ratings, of which the latter show failed to gain an attractive audience.
What the network didn't realize was that the giveaway trend had already reached its peak, and that listeners were greatly abandoning similar shows, including Music.