Archive for the ‘Television Directors’ Category

62nd Primetime Emmy Noms Announced Today

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

With the 62nd Primetime Emmy Nominations, the Archive of American Television congratulates all of the nominees, including our interviewees:
Paris Barclay (comedy series direction, Glee)
Ken Burns (producer nonfiction series, National Parks: America’s Best Idea)
Kevin Clash (producer children’s nonfiction program, When Families Grieve)
Robert A. Dickinson (lighting direction, 82nd Annual Academy Awards)
Dick Ebersol (exec producer special class programs, Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony)
Sharon Gless (supporting actress drama series, Burn Notice)
Louis J. Horvitz (variety special direction, The Kennedy Center Honors)
Shirley Jones (guest actress drama series, The Cleaner)
Susan Lacy (exec producer nonfiction series, American Masters)
Christopher Lloyd (producer/writer comedy series, Modern Family)
Sheila Nevins (producer nonfiction special, Teddy: In His Own Words & exceptional merit filmmaking Sergio)
Tim Van Patten (miniseries direction, The Pacific)
Betty White (guest actress comedy series, Saturday Night Live)
Dick Wolf (producer nonfiction series, American Masters)

Special note: With 126 total series nominations, Saturday Night Live has now become the most-nominated series of all-time.

Watch the Emmy Awards Sunday, August 29 on NBC!

Producer/Director Alan Neuman Has Died — Archive Interview Online

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

We’re sorry to report that Archive interviewee, producer-director Alan Neuman passed away on November 23rd, at the age of 84. Alan directed innumerable “live” on-location dramatic, variety, and documentary productions, including NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage and the first show that ever linked four countries together.

Click here to access the entire six-part videotaped interview.

Some interview excerpts are as follows:

On Kate Smith (from part 3):
Kate Smith was a wonderful, remarkable talent. She was a great performer for the theater. When they were traveling she would cut the boys’ hair— she was a barber as well. But I remember the transition. The show became enormously popular. But I remember the girl who cut hair…. Every Friday show, she would sing “God Bless America.” And I’ve probably heard it more than any other person I know has heard it. She had this great voice— big belting voice. And when she sang she filled a room, she filled a hall, she filled anything. She was the one who was always recognized with “God Bless America.” …. In those days, if she walked down the street, they followed her. And she was no beauty. She was not a Marilyn Monroe. But she was Kate Smith. And that meant a great deal.

On the Blacklist (from part 3):
The ad agency would say, the cheese company, or the car company doesn’t want to be in the position of pushing Communism in any shape, manner, or form. They’re out here buying entertainment and we don’t want that. And I could understand their perspective but I wasn’t sympathetic to it…. Who cared if they were a Communist when they were sixteen? It never made much sense…. It literally kept people from functioning, from earning a living…. I found it an abhorrent thing.

On Wide Wide World (from part 4):
I was the first one to do a show in which we linked four countries together— Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. It was Christmas and we sang “Adeste Fidelis.”…. I had a DC-10, a plane, between Miami and Havana, circling overhead relaying the signal, because that’s what was needed. …. I gave [the Emmy the show won] to the technical supervisor who was responsible for it.

On working with President Herbert Hoover (from part 4):
[NBC President] Pat Weaver called me and said I want you to do [a certain series]. I said I never heard of [that] series. He said that’s why I want you on board— jazz it up a little bit. I said “who’s the guest?” He said Herbert Hoover. I said, “Jazz him up?!”…. But I got Hoover to laugh on camera, I got him to tell stories about himself… This is a man that never smiled on camera. I got him to tell the story about the little girl at Mark Hopkins who came over to him and said, “Mr. Hoover, may I have twelve of your autographs?” And he said, “Twelve? Why do you need twelve?” “Because twelve of yours is worth one Willie Mays.” To get him to tell that story on himself on camera was I felt an accomplishment.

On Maurice Chevalier’s interview for Person to Person (from part 5):
Chevalier had not been permitted to visit this country. He had performed before the German officers. The truth was [he had been given an ultimatum]— “Mr. Chevalier you want to appear before the Frenchmen that we’ve captured, you’ve got to appear before a German camp.” So they gave him that, and he appeared before the Germans, so he could appear before the French. Now we were holding up his visa. He’s a famous French entertainer and we weren’t permitting him to come in. This was during the McCarthy time. I hope that by the story being explained when I did it on Person to Person, it helped, because he was permitted to attend the Academy Awards the following year. [In 1959, producing Person to Person abroad] I informed New York that I was gonna do an entire half-hour [on Chevalier]. They said no. The only ones that ever took a half-hour were Kennedy and Nixon. You’re not gonna take a half-hour— it would break precedent. Why are you taking a half-an-hour? I said because I can’t tell the story in just fifteen minutes. I had visited Chevalier where he had a home. And as I walked up the steps he had a photograph of every woman he had ever been with, all these major stars going on up, ending up with a shrine to his mother that he had outside his bed. And I knew there was no way I was gonna get to any of this without a half-hour at least! He was extraordinary, he was very funny, and it was a delightful half-hour. So what I did is, I shot a half-hour. There was no room for a commercial break in the middle. CBS, when they got the material, was stuck with what I sent them…. There was no commercial break in the middle, they had to give me the whole half-hour— if the man is walking up a staircase you can’t cut away.

Interview description:
Alan Neuman talked about joining NBC as a page in 1947 and his rise through the ranks as stage manager and then director. He described the studios at Rockefeller Center and the early camerawork on such series as Kraft Television Theater. He recalled directing NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage in 1948, anchored by Ben Grauer, which lasted so long that he had Grauer doing calisthenics on the air. He talked about serving as director on such early series as The Three Flames, Mary Kay and Johnny, and Broadway Open House (the forerunner to the Tonight Show). He spoke in detail about his work with Kate Smith and her manager Ted Collins on The Kate Smith Hour. Neuman discussed his work as a producer/director on programs that featured several Presidents of the United States, including Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. He talked about the first color remote broadcast done by NBC, for Matinee Theater. He spoke in detail about the series Wide Wide World and Person to Person, for which he served as a producer. Additionally, he talked about the era of the Hollywood Blacklist. B-roll consisted of several photos of Neuman with the presidents he worked with and a photo from the premiere episode of Adlai Stevenson Presents. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on February 15, 2006.

"Philco TV Playhouse" Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

The Philco TV Playhouse, which ran from 1948-55, establishing itself as one of the shining examples of the best of the dramatic anthologies during the Golden Age of Television, aired its first production on October 3, 1948. That production was an adaptation of the famed “Dinner at Eight,” and Variety raved: “It can be hailed as one of tele’s major achievements to date, not only in rich, warm-bodied acting, but in the whole concept.”

The credit to the success of the series is attributed to legendary producer-director Fred Coe (pictured above with actor Jose Ferrer as “Cyrano”). Coe was known for his cultivation of top writers and directors, many of whom were interviewed by the Archive of American Television in its early efforts to document this period— such as writers Tad Mosel, Horton Foote, JP Miller, David Shaw; and directors: Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn. Other notable Philco writers included Paddy Chayefsky, Robert Alan Arthur, and N. Richard Naish.

Delbert Mann said of Coe in his Archive interview, “he was my guardian, he was my father figure, he was my mentor, my guide, my teacher. Everything I learned about directing I learned from Fred Coe.”

Philco would go on to stage many notable shows (and in 1951 would alternate with Goodyear TV Playhouse, which likewise staged quality productions, such as “Marty”). Among Philco’s most significant productions were: “An Inspector Calls” with Walter Abel (aired: 11/21/48), “Cyrano de Bergerac” with Jose Ferrer (aired: 1/9/49), “What Makes Sammy Run?” with Jose Ferrer (airdate: 4/10/49), “Macbeth” with Walter Hampden (aired: 5/1/49), “The Trip to Bountiful” with Lillian Gish (aired: 3/1/53), “A Young lady of Property” with Kim Stanley (aired: 4/5/53), “The Rainmaker” with Darren McGavin (aired: 8/16/53), “Othello” with Torin Thather and Walter Matthau (aired: 9/6/53), “The Mother” with Cyril Ritchard (aired: 4/18/54), “Middle of the Night” with Steven Hill and Eva Marie Saint (aired: 9/19/54), “The Death of Billy the Kid” with Paul Newman (aired: 7/24/55), and “A Man Is Ten Feet Tall” with Sidney Poitier (aired 10/2/55).

Emmy magazine features interviewee Paris Barclay

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Pick up the latest copy of emmy to read an excerpt from our interview with television director Paris Barclay, where he discusses his early experiences in theater and music videos, through his acclaimed work over the last two decades in television drama. He comments on his work as a guest director on a number of drama series in the mid-90s, notably ER and speaks in great detail about his extensive work as a director of the police drama NYPD Blue and the political drama The West Wing. Johnson was interviewed for the Archive last year by Karen Herman. For more information about our interviews and to view many online, click here!

Additionally, Archive interview Vince Calandra was featured in emmy’s article about the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, “You Say You Want a Revolution.” Calandra was a talent coordinator for the show when the Beatles made their historic appearance.

Dick Martin Dies at the Age of 86– Archive Interview Segment Online

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Comedian Dick Martin, best known as the co-host with Dan Rowan of television’s Laugh-In (1968-73) has died (click here for his obituary on The Archive interviewed Martin in 2002. His complete three-and-a-half hour interview will be available online soon and can also be viewed at Academy headquarters.

For Laugh-In’s 40th anniversary in January of this year, the Archive posted a lengthy segment of his interview, which can be viewed here.

Interview description:
Martin spoke about his lifelong ambition to work in the entertainment industry, and his early career steps in Hollywood. He described his first encounter with Dan Rowan, and their subsequent partnership. He remembered with great detail their years on the road working in nightclubs around the country, and their early forays into television. Next, he spoke about working with Lucille Ball as an occasional performer on her CBS series The Lucy Show. Mr. Martin spoke at length about their renowned variety series Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and talked about working with his well-known co-stars. Finally, he discussed his second career as a director for television, on programs including The Bob Newhart Show, Flo, Family Ties, Mama’s Family, The Bradys, and Newhart.

Emmy Award-Winning Director Kirk Browning Dies At Age 86 — Archive Interview Online

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Kirk Browning, whose directorial credits span from the first televised version of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1951 to the Brian Dennehy-starring version of Death of A Salesman in 2000, was interviewed by the Archive in May of 2000.

When asked what he’d like to be remembered for, Browning said: “….if I wanted to be known for anything, it’s never forgetting that somewhere hidden in this diabolical assemblage of elements there is an art form… That there is a specific television art form and I would like to think that perhaps I’ve used it as often and as much as I could.”

Click here to access Kirk Browning’s entire nine-part Archive interview.

Interview Description:
Browning spoke of his early days in television working on live broadcasts at NBC-TV. Next, he described his work for NBC Opera Theater, working with Samuel Chotzinoff on productions such as “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Billy Budd,” as well as telecasts featuring Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He also talked about directing the NBC Opera Theater production of “Carmen,” the first color broadcast for NBC, and such shows are Producers Showcase, Shirley Temple’s Storybook, and the Christmas special “Once Upon a Christmas Time.” He recalled leaving NBC and moving to the New York PBS affiliate WNET, where he directed such shows as Producers Showcase, NET Opera, Theater in America and Great Performances. Next, Mr. Browning discussed in detail his work for PBS’ Live from the Met and Live from Lincoln Center, a series which he has directed since 1975. He also recalled his work on PBS’ American Playhouse, including presentations of “Fifth of July” and “The House of Blue Leaves.”

Director Delbert Mann Dies at the Age of 87 — Archive Interview Online

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Delbert Mann who helmed “Marty” for television and film died on Sunday. Mann won an Academy Award for the feature film adaptation of Marty (1955) that originated as a “live” television presentation in 1953.

Click here to access Delbert Mann’s entire nine-part interview.

Interview Description:

Delbert Mann talked about studying at Yale Drama School and his transition to television following his service in the Air Force during World War II. He spoke of his days during the war, and his further inspiration to pursue theater after seeing various productions at the Old Vic in London as well as realizing the temporality of life. He talked about joining NBC in the summer of 1949 as a floor manager and described working his first show as a director shortly thereafter on the series Theater of the Mind. Mann related how his experiences as a pilot during the war prepared him for television, comparing piloting a B-24 to sitting in the hot seat of a live television show. He spoke in great detail about working with producer Fred Coe and their association on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, one of the preeminent “live” television anthologies of the day. He described his celebrated production of “Marty,” written by Paddy Chayefsky, originally produced for Philco and later made into an Academy Award-winning feature film. He spoke about several of the actors he worked with in television including Grace Kelly, E. G. Marshall, and Laurence Olivier. Lastly, he discussed several of his most notable made-for-television movies including David Copperfield and All Quiet on the Western Front. The interview was conducted by Morrie Gelman on May 20, 1997.

Sidney Lumet’s Interview Is Now Online

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

With Sidney Lumet’s critically praised film “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” now in theaters, the Archive of American Television has posted his three-hour interview online in which he discusses his career that started in the theater and in the “Golden Age of Television.”

Soundbites from Sidney Lumet’s six-part interview.

On “live” television:
The pressure was wonderful. And because it wasn’t insane, the pressure was, can we do it? Because nobody knew what we could do and what we couldn’t do. And nobody could say no to you because nobody knew. It was literally learning to walk. Ah, so there was nobody to say no….. From a technical point of view, anything we wanted to try, we could try. The lighting [was] very flat, just pan lighting, just scoops in ever set. And slowly, like everything else, became more and more refined and interesting…. It was quite extraordinary how much mood you could get in my still staying within the general perimeters. Also, the cameras needed a certain basic level of light simply to function…. The amount of noise in the studio was enormous. The cameras carried behind them cables about that thick. And those would just slide on the floor. And you could hear it. So if a pot wasn’t being used, it had to be closed and opened on a cue. It was out of this that all of these developments came. The same thing was true of the boom mikes, which started out– the old RCA ribbon mikes, which movies had been using for years. But they picked up everything. And so, slowly [there] developed highly directional mikes, which are being used in movies today. All of the technical advancements, which came in movies, television brought them, because movie companies never gave a damn, they never invested the money in them. The networks had to. They started with old movie equipment…. If you put a cable into this wall, for this camera, and put a cable into this wall, for this camera, you’d better not wind up like that, because if you got your cables twisted, the cameras wouldn’t be able to move. All these things had to be figured out in meticulous detail. The greatest leap forward, I must say, belonged to me when all of a sudden, I got so tired of being limited by where I could move my cameras, because there were cables coming out of walls, I thought, aha! I know what we do. We’re going to run them up the wall into the grid, and drop them down the middle.

On using blacklisted writers in the 1950s:
It’s one of the great romantic stories. Arnold Manoff and Walter Bernstein and Abe Polonsky were a triumvirate. They were close friends— close personal friends, close political friends. And all three of them had been writing for ah, fairly openly on “Danger”…. When blacklisting hit and the three of them were immediately knocked out of the box. They said, look, we don’t know which of us will get hired, again, if ever. Why don’t we set up a co-op? And ah, let’s find fronts…. what we will do is if one of is hired, we all three split the check. If things go good, and there’s a lot of work– you may have to do the first act, and I’ll do the second act, and Abe, you do the third act if we’re on deadlines, and things like that. So they set up that kind of a co-op. This was all done through the wonderful [“You Are There” producer] Charlie Russell, who didn’t have a political bone in his body. He was just a sweet, open guy from the Midwest, who thought this was too fucking unfair, and he was going to do anything he could to break it, or fight it, [and] hopefully, not putting himself in any jeopardy. He also was very careful, not only trying to protect himself, but he wanted to protect me, and if I ever wanted to talk about [the script], he would say, give me your notes, and I’ll bring them to the writer. So I didn’t know, for a number of months, about this arrangement that the guys had. Charlie was protecting me. And also, that way, protecting himself because if I ever got called, he didn’t want me in the position that I would say what I knew or didn’t know.

On using politically subversive scripts for “You Are There”:

They were deliberate choices because of the situation…. And in fact, I remember when we did “Salem Witch Trials,” we hired, for the prosecutor, I believe his name was Vince Harding. [Editor's note: according to our research, Vinton Hayworth is the actor's name.] And Vince, who was a very good actor, was one of the guys who gave names to the Red Channels.

On his reputation of being an “actor’s director”:
I think because I was an actor myself, I know what they’re going through. The process of acting is extremely painful. I know that doesn’t sound logical to most people, but all good work is self revelation. And that’s true for performing artist as well. And actors, the only instrument they’ve got, it’s not a violin, it’s not a piano, ah, it’s not just their bodies, the way a dancer is, there’s no disguise. That’s them up there. And the better they are, the most of themselves they’re using. That process of self revelation is extremely painful. I understand that process. Ah, if I can help them to feel any more secure, and any more ah, unafraid of releasing whatever part of themselves, they have to, I understand that I can help them that way.

On the 1960 television presentation “The Sacco-Vanzetti Story”:
Steve [Hill] did the great Vanzetti address to the Judge, you know, that you get in every lit class in college. And he was just brilliant. It was just underplayed and so simple, and so direct. And [producer Robert Alan Aurthur and writer Reginald Rose] both wanted more. Feisty and more angry, and I said, no, no, no, the speech is so great, it’s simple and better. “Will you try it? Just try it the other way?” I said I’m not going to try it the other way because then when we edit it, once I’ve left, you’ll have the editor put the– the way you want it in there, so no, I’m not going to do it another way. And Bob Aurthur, one of the sweetest men that ever lived, and sensitive, a writer, a wonderful man, said: “look.” And he took some back page of my script and said– he was the producer– “Sidney Lumet has final cut on this show.” Signed, Robert Alan Aurthur, producer. Wouldn’t have been worth anything, but that did it, and I did it the other way, and when it was over, Bob and Reggie said, no, you were right. But ah, it was the first time I had ever gotten into this discussion about final cut, which then became a big thing in my own movie career.

On the feature film “Network”:
It’s a peculiar movie. Everybody keeps saying, oh, God, what a brilliant satire. [Writer] Paddy [Chayefsky] and I keep saying, what satire? It’s sheer reportage. Everything that was discussed about television in that movie has happened, except we haven’t killed anybody on the air yet. That’s the only thing that hasn’t happened. Deliberately. But other than that, everything has happened, news as entertainment. I mean, ah, could anything be sillier than the way poor Dan Rather has to stand up there on 48 Hours, or whatever that silly show is, and try to make believe that he’s a magazine editor, or what have you, and be serious about this nonsense that they put on night after night? Ah, and you know, it may have been a little much to have the prognosticator– he came around on a revolving stage, tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s too far fetched.

On the highlight of his career:
It’s all one piece to me. I’m not being coy, I’m not avoiding it. There’s a continuum that’s just so sensible to me, I like it. I like it all.

Interview Description:
Lumet spoke of his work as an actor on the stage before he became a director in television. He recalled his work on the television series Danger (1950-55), and You Are There (1953-57) both “live” dramatic shows of the time. He discussed the use of blacklisted writers on these shows and how the material they wrote often reflected the era of McCarthyism. He also discussed other television dramatic anthology series he directed for including Omnibus, Goodyear Playhouse, The Alcoa Hour, Studio One, and Kraft Television Theatre. He described his direction of the well-known television special The Sacco-Vanzetti Story and The Play of the Week: “The Iceman Cometh” both of which aired in 1960. He spoke of his transition to a feature film director with 12 Angry Men in 1957 and his work on such other feature films as the Paddy Chayefsky’s Network (1976).

Happy Hitchcock Halloween!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

On April 13, 1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents aired “Lamb to the Slaughter,” which would become one of the series’ classic shows, featured on the newly released Season Three DVD.

Listen to producer Norman Lloyd discussing this episode (spoiler alert!) and his work as a producer and director on the series two minutes into tape 4 of his interview (click the arrow above).

October 22, 1962: JFK Addresses the Nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Forty five years ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly went to war over the placement of missiles in nearby Cuba. Kennedy told the television audience that he would “…regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” The crisis was abated when an unconditional Soviet withdrawal was negotiated.

Soundbites from the Archive of American Television:

Max Schindler (Director, News)

“We all knew that something was happening because people were being called away from parties here in town. Very high placed government officials were being called away. We knew it was serious when they started showing pictures of missile silos opening, we thought Washington would be, probably a prime target because it was very serious. Here was this young President Kennedy facing off with Nikita Khrushchev. And I guess he wanted to push to see how hard he could get this young president to back off. Kennedy said the missiles had to be taken out of Cuba, Khrushchev said nyet, no way. And there were Russian ships steaming toward Cuba, or as Kennedy used to say ‘Cuber.’ It was kind of a scary time, and I don’t know how it was around the rest of the country, but in Washington it was very scary. My daughter had just been born a couple of months earlier, and because of a death in the family, she hadn’t been baptized and I came home one night and my wife said to me I baptized Maggie in her crib, she was that scared that we were going to have a nuclear war at that time. So it was a very scary time here in Washington… The coverage was all kind of secretive. We followed a lot of government officials around and tried to get information from them, but it was very hard. It was a very trying time, but they didn’t want to give any information out so, even though we had camera crews at the White House, and State Department, and the Pentagon and all over, we didn’t really get much out of them. They played it pretty close to the vest during that time and I can’t say as I blame them.”

Click here to watch Max Schindler’s entire 6-part Archive of American Television Interview.

Interview Description:
Schindler talked briefly about his early years as a cameraman/production manager in local television in the 1950s. He described his entrance into network television in the 1960s on David Brinkley’s Journal, as an associate director. He spoke of his transition to director and talked about coverage done for several of the important news events of the day, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War. He described directing news coverage following the Kennedy assassination and capturing the images of the President’s coffin being placed onto Air Force One and the newly sworn-in Lyndon B. Johnson coming out to speak his first words as President. Schindler described covering other ‘60s events including Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. He described in great detail, his two-decade long association with Meet The Press, which he began in 1965. Schindler described preparing for the show and talked about several of the guests who appeared as well as describing the moderators on the series. Schindler described his work from the 1970s to today covering such events as the Watergate scandal, the returning of the hostages from Iran, and Papal visits to the U.S. Finally, Schindler described the work he has done as a Washington director for the Today show, which he has done from 1975 to the present day.

Bill Monroe (News Correspondent)

“We didn’t quite know what was going on… Gradually it came into view. We took what we could find out from the White House and Kennedy used the media to get across the points he needed to make as the thing developed.”

“One time I was at the White House as a producer of a speech that Kennedy gave that was on all three networks. And he told us to give him at the end of the speech a one-minute cue… He was going to improvise the last minute. He felt that reading something, although he was good at it, is not as effective as if he talk[ed] to [the viewer] directly. And he wanted to finish one minute improvised. Most Presidents don’t have the nerve to do that… He was supremely confident about his articulateness and his ability to handle television.”