Archive for the ‘"M*A*S*H"’ Category

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Served

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

“Television brought the war home in a way that had never been done before. I can remember the Korean War as a kid, and I didn’t see this [Vietnam War] on television that way. I mean there it was, every night in your living room. You are forced to confront the reality of what is going on there. When you would see Cronkite on Friday give the death toll for that week … I think it certainly raised questions because it provided information in a way that had never been done before.  And I think that an informed public shapes opinion.  I think television helped to shape that opinion by shining the light on what was going on there.” – Journalist Ed Bradley

Archive Interviewee Ed Bradley spoke eloquently on how television helped inform public opinion about the Vietnam War. He was not alone in discussing the impact of wars and television war coverage on his life and on the lives of others. Many of the Archive’s interviewees served in the United States Armed Forces, were journalists reporting alongside the troops, or were actors portraying servicemen and women on television. As we honor our veterans this November 11th, here are some selections from interviewees reflecting on times of service in the Armed Forces :

Writer/Performer Sid Caesar on organizing dances to boost troop morale during World War II:

Writer/Producer/Director Larry Gelbart on research for M*A*S*H and learning from those who served in the Korean War:

Actress Barbara Eden on Bob Hope’s unwavering energy during USO Tours:

Journalist Dan Rather on how meeting the Servicemen and Women in Vietnam shaped his news reporting:

Host Pat Sajak on serving as a DJ in the Armed Forces Radio Station in Vietnam:

Producer David Wolper on the importance of the GI Bill:

Thank you to all of the Veterans of the United States Armed Forces for all that you do.

For more reflections on times of service, click here

- by Adrienne Faillace

Noted TV director Charles Dubin, best known for his work on M*A*S*H, dies at 92

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Sad news: noted director Charles Dubin passed away on September 5th at the age of 92. Dubin began his career as an actor, and transitioned to television as an assistant director at ABC in 1950. He directed many productions including episodes of Omnibus featuring Leonard Bernstein and Agnes DeMille. He also worked with Bernstein on his Young People’s Concerts. He briefly worked as a director on the quiz show series Twenty-One, which became the epicenter of TV’s quiz show scandals — although Dubin himself was unaware of the backstage practices that led to the show’s demise. During the McCarthy Era, Dubin was called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, in which he plead the Fifth and was blacklisted from the industry for five years. Upon his return to directing, he helmed episodes of The Defenders, M*A*S*H (where he directed 44 episodes), Kojak, Hawaii Five-O, and other major series. He was interviewed by the Archive of American Television by Gary Rutkowski on September 9, 2003. The entire interview is available here.

In this interview excerpt, Dubin discusses directing the M.A.S.H episode “Point of View”:

M*A*S*H’s “The Interview” Aired 35 Years Ago Today

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

On February 24, 1976, one of M*A*S*H’s most well known episodes aired, “The Interview.” In “The Interview,” TV journalist Clete Roberts guest-starred as a newsman who visits the 4077 M*A*S*H unit where he conducts interviews with the “cast” about their wartime experiences.  This episode was presented in black-and-white to emphasize its documentary style; the use of black-and-white turned out to be apropos when it became an instant classic.  The inspiration for the show came from legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow’s famed visit to the real Korean front for the ’50s documentary series See It Now. “The Interview” was series creator Larry Gelbart’s last M*A*S*H episode.

TV Guide’s Book of Lists ranked this episode as one of the 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time (at #80), one of just two M*A*S*H episodes listed (the other was “Abyssinia Henry” at #20).  Vince Waldron’s Classic Sitcoms: A Celebration of the Best in Prime-Time Comedy called “The Interview,” one of “the [series]’s most effective stylistic departures.  A passionate and often chilling look at war through the eyes of reasonable men and women who find themselves stuck in a most unreasonable situation.”

Click here for a newly curated collection of Archive interviewees talking about the making of this classic episode.

TV Executive & Producer William Self Has Died

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

William Self served as an executive at 20th Century Fox where he oversaw such now-classic TV series as Batman, Julia, and M*A*S*H and was an Emmy-nominated producer of the 1991 Hallmark Hall of Fame production Sarah, Plain and Tall.  Self died on November 15 at the age of 89.

William Self’s Archive interview was conducted on March 27, 2001.

Interview description:

William “Bill” Self was interviewed for three hours in Los Angeles, CA.  Mr. Self started off discussing his early acting career in movies that led to his extensive television producing career.  He talked about producing the series: Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, The Frank Sinatra Show and the pilot of The Twilight Zone.  He then discussed his brief executive position at CBS and his executive producer position at 20th Century Fox Television.  Self talked about his promotions at Fox to the eventual positions of President of 20th Century Fox Television and Vice President of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, where he oversaw such shows as The Adventures of Dobie Gillis, Batman, Daniel Boone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Peyton Place, Lost in Space, M*A*S*H, Julia and Room 222, among others.  He ended the interview discussing his relationships with various producers and directors and his partnership with actress Glenn Close on the Sarah Plain and Tall movies.  The interview was conducted by Jeff Abraham.

25 Years Ago: M*A*S*H Ended Its Run

Thursday, February 28th, 2008


25 years ago, on February 28, 1983, the celebrated series
M*A*S*H ended its 11 year, 250 episode run with a 2-1/2 hour special episode, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” (written by many of the show’s writers and directed by Alan Alda) The bittersweet special garnered the largest audience to ever watch a single episode of a television show, with a share of 77% of all Americans watching television that night.

Click here for an excellent summary of that classic episode from Wikipedia.

In the Archive of American Television interview segment below, Alan Alda (who played “Hawkeye Pierce”) recounts the filming of the last episode. Click on the arrow to play.



Click here to access Alan Alda’s full 6-part interview.

Alan Alda Interview Description:
In his 6-part (3 hour) interview conducted on November 17, 2000, actor/director/writer Alan Alda spoke about his early years, which included a serious bout with polio as a child. He detailed his training as an actor, which included time at Paul Sills’s Improvisational Workshop at Second City and the Compass School of Improvisation, both in New York. He described his early appearances on television, including as a regular on That Was the Week That Was (1964) and the syndicated What’s My Line? In great detail, he described his role as actor, director, and writer of the critically-acclaimed and long-running series M*A*S*H (1972-83), in which he played “Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce,” and for which he won multiple Emmy Awards. He talked about his later work as a writer-director of feature films including “The Four Seasons,” which he also produced as a series in 1984. He also talked about his work as an actor in feature films, notably several directed by Woody Allen. Finally, Alda discussed such recent acting work in television as the telefilms … And the Band Played On and Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women (reprising his Broadway performance), as well as series guest star on ER, for which he received his 29th Emmy nomination.

60 Years Ago — October 20, 1947 — The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) Began Its Probe That Resulted in The Hollywood Blacklist

Friday, October 19th, 2007


“Television Responds to the Red Scare”
By Gary Rutkowski

American television production, halted in its infancy before World War II, continued full-force with the four networks— ABC, CBS, NBC, and DuMont— scheduling programs regularly. Soon after, in 1950, they also began consulting an independently published booklet entitled “Red Channels,” which listed alleged Communists or sympathizers who were not to be employed on television: a blacklist.

With the beginning of the Cold War a strong Anti-Communist wind blew into postwar America and it was exploited. The era would be defined by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, whose manipulation of public opinion intensified the “red scare.” The “scare” was rooted in two sets of hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 and 1951 which targeted (but was not limited to) the Hollywood film, television, and radio communities. After the first, ten men (dubbed the “Hollywood Ten”), mostly screenwriters, were imprisoned for not cooperating with the committee, having not “named names” of other members of the Communist party of “leftist” organizations.

Many of these and other blacklisted writers found a safe haven in television— writing under pseudonyms and fronts. Others, such as performers and directors, found they could not work at all. Careers were ruined and lives were shattered in a time when any left wing political association, no matter how tenuous, could be considered subversive.

Television provided the first expose of the hysteria with Edward R. Murrow’s 1954 CBS “See It Now” broadcast “A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy,” which weakened McCarthy’s credibility by offering film clips of his own misstatements and half-truths. McCarthy received equal time on “See It Now,” only damaging himself further. In a related press conference, Murrow said: “Who has helped the Communist cause and who has served his country better, Senator McCarthy or I? I would like to be remembered by the answer to that question.” Weeks later, ABC and DuMont aired the “Army-McCarthy Hearings,” further weakening McCarthyism’s stronghold.

The blacklist came to an end in the early sixties, after McCarthy’s death, when several producers insisted that writers from the “Hollywood Ten” receive screen credit under their real names again. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of the first HUAC hearings, formal apologies were given to blacklisted artists by such organizations as the DGA, the WGA, SAG and AFTRA.

(Reprinted from The Vault: The Journal of the Archive of American Television, Winter 2000.)

Selected Soundbites from the Archive of American Television Collection:

Ring Lardner, Jr. (Writer, blacklisted, one of the “Hollywood Ten”)

“HUAC Chairman [J. Parnell Thomas] said: ‘That’s enough, skip to the $64,000 question. Go ahead.’ He turned it over to the committee counsel who then said: ‘All right, Mr. Lardner, are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’ I said, ‘I can answer that question, too, but I’d like to explain.’ Thomas said: ‘Never mind explaining anything.’ I said one other thing, and he said: ‘Come on, answer the question, any real American would be happy to answer that question.’ And I said, ‘I could answer it the way you want it, Mr. Chairman, but if I did, I’d hate myself in the morning.’ He said: ‘Leave the witness chair. Take him away.’ I said, ‘I think I’m being removed by force.’ And I was indeed.”

Roy Huggins (Show Creator/Producer/Director, “friendly” witness)

“[HUAC] asking me for names that they already had was a violation of their mandate from Congress and so I felt that it was wrong for me to cooperate with them. I didn’t think it was wrong to give them names although I would rather not have. But giving them names they already had didn’t strike me as being a horrible deed. But cooperating with them, with this loose canon committee that was violating its mandate from Congress and violating my rights was, was really not the right thing to do. But I decided that I was going to cooperate with them and I was also going to state that I felt what they were doing was wrong.”

Abraham Polonsky (Writer-Director, blacklisted)

“I was subpoenaed [and] I stood on the Fifth and wouldn’t answer any questions…. I got a letter from a college here recently, and the letter said: “ what is the thing you’re proudest of?” And I wrote back and said, when the U.S. Government pushed me, I pushed back.” And the kid wrote back: ‘That’s why we love you!’”

Tony Randall (Actor)

“Everybody was cleared through that man [Vincent] Hartnett [“Red Channels” author]. He made a living from clearing people. People made money out of the blacklist. And the worst blacklisters were actors who turned in other actors and got their jobs. It was a devastating disclosure of human nature.”

Joseph Wershba (CBS News Reporter/News Producer)

“What Murrow did was to hurl the spear that broke open this whole boiling fear in the American body politic where it wasn’t a question of whether this was going to be constitutional or that was going to be, the question was going to be whether we have a government at all based on a constitution.”

Leonard Goldenson (Executive/Founder ABC)

“We couldn’t afford it. It cost us about $600,000 to run that [coverage of the Army-McCarthy hearings] gavel to gavel, but when that was over, that was good-bye Mr. McCarthy. The public turned on him. And properly so.”

Ring Lardner Jr.’s entire six-part Archive interview is now online.

Interview Description:

Ring Lardner, Jr. (1915-2000) described his work as a screenwriter and one of the most closely identified victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Mr. Lardner described his career as a writer on such films as A Star Is Born (1937), in which he contributed the movie’s famous ending; Woman of the Year (1942), for which he and co-writer Michael Kanin won an Academy Award; and Laura (1944), the classic film noir for which he contributed uncredited. He described the Hollywood “red scare” which halted his career and placed him on an industry blacklist. He described his testimony as an “unfriendly” witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that landed him in jail as one of the “Hollywood Ten.” He spoke in detail about his work in television, which he did under pseudonym during the blacklist era, working on such series as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-58), The Buccaneers (1956-57), The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956-57), and Ivanhoe (1958). Mr. Lardner talked about his emergence from the blacklist in the mid-sixties that culminated with his win of the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for M*A*S*H (1970).

Fred Silverman’s Interview is Now Online

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

We’re happy to report that legendary television executive Fred Silverman’s interview is now online. At almost 6-1/2 hours, this amazing interview encompasses over three decades of television history and gives a fascinating inside look at the networks and programming so many of us grew up with (just take a look at the brief interview description below and you’ll see what we mean!). Not one to rest on his many laurels, Silverman is currently ramping up his Fred Silverman Co. to develop scripted and unscripted comedies.

Here’s part 7 of the interview where he describes the programming of the hit miniseries Roots.
PRESS THE PLAY ARROW IN THE PLAYER ABOVE TO WATCH THE SEGMENT NOW.

Click here to access Fred Silverman’s entire interview.

Interview description:
Network television executive Fred Silverman speaks about his first job in TV, at WGN in Chicago, where he created such programs as Zim-Bomba, Bozo’s Circus and Family Classics. He then explains his move to CBS in New York, where he quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder, first as head of daytime programming, (where he revitalized the Saturday morning lineup, Scooby-Doo being among them), and later as the Vice President of Programming. During this time, he oversaw such programs as All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, Kojak, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Waltons. Next, he talks his appointment as President of ABC Entertainment, where he oversaw such programs as Charlie’s Angels, Donny and Marie, Eight is Enough, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat and Three’s Company. He also touches on the development and scheduling of the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. Mr. Silverman talks about his next move, to NBC as President and CEO in 1978. There, he oversaw the development of programs including and Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Hill Street Blues. Mr. Silverman also explains the basic tenets of working as a network television executive, and discusses his methods for development, scheduling and promotions. Finally, he talks about his work as an independent producer for such programs as the Perry Mason television movies, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night and Diagnosis Murder. The interview was conducted in two sessions in 2001 by Dan Pasternack.

Glen & Les Charles’ Archive Interview Is Now Online!

Thursday, February 8th, 2007


Glen & Les Charles (along with James Burrows) are best known for creating the classic sitcom Cheers. Their 8-part Archive of American Televison Interview is now available for viewing online. The Charles brothers were interviewed separately about their early years and influences and jointly about their contributions to television as writer-producers. “Take a break from all your worries” and click here to access their complete interview.

Interview description:
The writing-partner brothers talked about their early years growing up near Las Vegas, Nevada and their decision in the mid-70s to try their hand at freelance writing for television. They talked about selling their first script (to M*A*S*H) and their break into staff writing at MTM Productions where they worked as writer-producers on Phyllis and the final season of The Bob Newhart Show. They talked about other writing assignments on such series as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Betty White Show. They detailed working with the cast and crew on the hit series Taxi, for which they produced (and wrote for) the ABC run [the show would run a final season on NBC]. The two chronicled their creation (with James Burrows) of the series Cheers for which they served as producers and later executive producers during the show’s entire eleven year run. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on December 8, 2003.

Complete "M*A*S*H" Now on DVD!

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Today sees the final season of M*A*S*H released on DVD. The M*A*S*H finale was the highest rated single program ever when it aired on February 28, 1983.

Dr. Walter Dishell was the medical advisor on the entire run of M*A*S*H. This is tape 4 of Dr. Dishell’s interview where he discusses each of the ensemble’s approach to medicine and talks about co-writing the real-time M*A*S*H episode “Life Time” with Alan Alda.

Click here to view Dr. Walter Dishell’s entire three-hour Archive of American Television interview.

Interview description:

Dr. Dishell began by describing how he first got involved in television when he was approached (while a resident at UCLA medical center) to become the medical advisor for a television movie called U.M.C., which severed as the pilot for the long-running drama series Medical Center. Dr. Dishell talked about his work as the medical advisor to this series and the various medical subjects it explored including an episode that led to a change in real-life laws regarding employment discrimination of recovered cancer patients. Dishell talked about his continued work as a medical advisor on various television series while he maintained a full-time private practice. He detailed his work on M*A*S*H including advice he gave regarding medical procedures as they were in the 1950s during the Korean War. He described the episode he co-wrote with star Alan Alda (“Life Time”) that unfolds in real time and centers on an arterial graft operation. Dishell talked about several other television series in which he was associated as a medical advisor and writer, including: Trapper John, M.D., House Calls, and Family Medical Center.

What are your memories of the M*A*S*H finale?

"Omnibus" and "M*A*S*H" Director Charles S. Dubin’s Interview is Now Online

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006


This video is Part 2 of Charles S. Dubin’s 7-part interview. In this segment, he talks about his work on the 1950s cultural anthology series Omnibus. Click here to access all Charles Dubin interview segments. (Remember, if you’d like to watch the interview in the order in which it was conducted, select the parts in order (1,2,3…).

Charles Dubin directed more episodes of the landmark sitcom M*A*S*H than any other single director!

Interview Description:

Dubin begins by describing his lengthy career as a television director, which began in 1950 when he was hired at ABC as an associate director, and culminated in his long association with M*A*S*H. Dubin details his early work in “live” television for such series as Pulitizer Prize Playhouse (1950-52) and Opera Vs. Jazz (1953). He speaks in great detail about the over twenty segments of Omnibus (1955-58) that he directed, including celebrated pieces with choreographer Agnes DeMille and conductor/ composer Leonard Bernstein. It was his association with Bernstein in this capacity which led to his directing of the first three of the “Young People’s Concerts” which Dubin then talks about. Additionally, Dubin discusses his work as a director on the quiz show series Twenty-One, which became the center of the quiz show scandal, although Dubin was at the time unaware of the backstage practices that led to the show’s demise. Dubin discusses his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, in which he plead the Fifth and was blacklisted from the industry for five years. He describes his later work, directing multiple episodes of The Defenders, Kojak, Ironside, Hawaii Five-O, and the Father Dowling Mysteries. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on September 9, 2003.