Archive for the ‘"ABC's Wide World of Sports"’ Category

ABC’s Wide World of Sports debuted 50 years ago today

Friday, April 29th, 2011

“Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports..  the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat..ABC’s Wide World of Sports debuted on April 29, 1961 as a summer replacement show with host Jim McKay. The show featured a wide variety of sporting events, introducing surfing, gymnastics, rodeo, and more to the American audience. The introductory slogan was written by Stanley Ralph Ross. The theme music was composed by Charles Fox.

Sportscaster Al Michaels on what made Wide World of Sports a successful series:

“Roone Arledge was a brilliant man. He made you understand that sports are great and fun– but there’s a sameness to an event, and what makes that event unique is the human element.”

Sportscaster Jim McKay on how WWS got people interested in watching previously obscure sports, women’s sports and international events:

“The philosophy was very simple– sports, like everything else in life, is about the human beings involved. The idea was to focus on the individual.”

ABC Executive Thomas W. Moore on what got WWS on the air:

“Roone Arledge created the on-air show (but) that show would not have been on the air if not for Camel (cigarettes).”

Producer Chet Simmons on how WWS was the first to televise many sports that were never seen before:

“There was a big world out there of sports for television — the big events got televised. And along came Wide World of Sports, and I’ll give you Mexican cliff-divers or anything you want. There was something different all the time.”

ESPN is celebrating the 50th Anniversary by having fans rank the top 50 moments in Wide World of Sports history. Take the poll, or leave a comment here with your vote!

Sportscaster Al Michaels’ Interview is online

Monday, April 4th, 2011

About this Interview:

Al Michaels was interviewed for nearly three hours in Brentwood, CA. He spoke about his early years as a sports enthusiast who, as a child, wanted to become an announcer. He talked about the practical experience he gained announcing college games before becoming a professional. He also discussed one of his first jobs, as a contestant interviewer for Chuck Barris Productions. He then chronicled his illustrious sportscasting career, which began as a three-year stint in Hawaii for minor league baseball. He spoke about his long tenure at ABC sports featuring Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football. He related his approach to announcing and how he prepares for broadcasts. He discussed some of his announcing highlights including the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey game and the 1989 World Series, where a major earthquake disrupted the game. He also spoke in detail about working with his broadcast colleagues: Howard Cosell, Dan Dierdorf, Frank Gifford, Chick Hearn and Jim McKay. The interview was conducted by Jennifer Howard on August 31, 2005.

Chet Simmons, the First President of ESPN, Has Died

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Chet Simmons, who served as ESPN’s first President when the network started in 1979, has died at the age of 81. Simmons began in sports programming in the 1950s and was instrumental in the development of ABC’s Wide World of Sports in the 1960s. He became the first President of NBC Sports in 1977. The Archive of American Television Chet Simmons on December 16, 2008; the interview is not yet available online, below is an excerpt.

Interview description:
Chet Simmons was interviewed for four hours in Atlanta, GA. Simmons spoke about his early interest in following sports, on radio and in print. He noted his work selling time to small radio stations in the Southwest, meeting Edgar Scherick at this job. He described working in television mentored by Scherick (who taught him the business) and Jack Loubelle (who taught him television production), for their company Sports Programs, Inc.— working as a jack-of-all-trades production assistant, at first on big ten basketball. He talked about the expansion of the company under their exclusive deal with ABC and spoke frankly about Scherick’s difficult personality (and abrupt depature from the company), yet complimented his successes. He related a story of how the company, under Scherick, was able to get the rights for college football away from NBC in the mid-60s. He also described the working methods of Roone Arledge and his growing stature as a legendary figure in television. He outlined the concept of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and described how the show launched Jim McKay as a major sports announcer. He recounted how he came to work for NBC, spoke about his colleagues, and acknowledged how he became the first President of NBC Sports— the title created in 1977 for the first time. He spoke about his disappointment in losing college basketball to CBS due to disinterest internally and how this was the beginning of NBC’s loss of dominance in sports. He recalled hearing about a “sports-all-the-time” network that was being bandied about and the call he received to hire him to run this new Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (EPSN). He outlined the idea of the network by Bill Rasmussen (and his embracing of newly developed satellite technology) and spoke openly about how he was responsible for Rasmussen’s leaving the network. He talked about the contribution of Getty Oil executive Stuart Evey to early ESPN as well as NBC veteran Scotty Connal’s contribution to getting the network on the air. He described getting the sports coverage necessary to fulfill the network’s (eventual) mandate of 24-hour sports. He looked back on the first day’s programming and the emotions he felt, comparing it to the birth of a child. He outlined the kinds of sports the network showed and noted their breakthrough in programming with college basketball. He commented on the network’s location in Bristol, CT; described his management style; spoke about the network’s Sportscenter; and described how he came to leave the network. Lastly, he talked about his appointment as the Commissioner of the United States Football League. The interview was conducted by Paul Leone.

Sportscaster Jim McKay has Died – Archive Interview Online

Saturday, June 7th, 2008


American sports journalist and broadcaster Jim McKay (1921-2008) has died at age 86.

McKay was well-known for hosting ABC’s Wide World of Sports with the introductory line “…the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat” , but perhaps was best-known for his historic and humanistic coverage of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and then killed.

McKay discusses his career, and these landmark events in his 6-part Archive interview:

Click here to view Part 1
Click here to view Part 2
Click here to view Part 3
Click here to view Part 4
Click here to view Part 5
Click here to view Part 6

Detailed Interview Description:
Jim McKay was interviewed for nearly three hours in Monkton, MD. McKay talked about starting his career in 1947 at WMAR-TV in Baltimore. He went on to work with producer Roone Arledge at the beginning of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, staying nearly four decades with the job as the show’s host and commentator. McKay hosted the network’s coverage of the Olympic Games for over 30 years, including his critical coverage of the terrorist hostages and killings that interrupted the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The interview was conducted by Gerry Sandusky on October 28, 1998.

"Love Boat" on DVD, Charles Fox Interview Online

Friday, March 14th, 2008


The Love Boat has finally made it to DVD and just hearing the theme song brings back memories of Saturday nights and the Love Boat/Fantasy Island pairing.

The Archive has interviewed several of the creative team behind the series, including composer Charles Fox, who was responsible for many of TV’s most memorable theme songs.



Click here to watch the entire 7-part interview with Charles Fox.

Interview description:

Fox talked about his musical education, which included studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris from 1959-61. He spoke about breaking into composing for television, writing transition material for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as well as the bold and energetic theme song for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He spoke in great detail about Love American Style, a series for which he wrote the theme song and scored music for the entire series run. He described other series for which he both scored the theme song and created libraries for track music. He described his work on Laverne & Shirley, including details about the pilot presentation and the creation of the theme song and main title. Additionally he talked about his work on the series: Happy Days, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, and The Paper Chase. He also discussed his work in television movies (including Victory at Entebbe) and feature films (including The Other Side of the Mountain and Foul Play), as well as composing other popular songs. B-roll consisted of Fox performing a medley of his television theme songs as well as “Killing Me Softly With His Song.” The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on June 29, 2004.

TV Executive Thomas W. Moore Has Died

Monday, April 2nd, 2007


Archive interviewee Tom Moore, former program chief of ABC (1957-63), ABC president (1963-68) and independent producer (The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, the Body Human series), died at the age of 88 on March 31.

Here are some excerpts from his interview:

On ABC’s Monday Night Football.
We started Monday Night Football in 1970. Pete Rozelle had NBC and CBS, where do we put ABC? Well, it started out with a luncheon, and it was Friday Night Football. That was what we were going to buy. It wasn’t going to be Monday Night at all. I was very strong on Monday at that time and didn’t want to pre-empt programming after nine o’clock for football.

On ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
I believe the first Wide World of Sports event was a Drake Relay and it was terrible. It was a very inexpensive sports program cause we paid very little for rights to anything. But it began to pick up when we saw it had a combination in February of that year of skiing in New Hampshire, and water surfing in Hawaii in the same show. And then we got a big rating on that and it took off.

On bringing The Flintstones to television.
John Mitchell was head of Screen Gems, which was totally owned by Columbia Pictures. John was a terrific salesman. They made a deal with a pair of guys Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. They called us and said, “We would like to show you something and Joe Barbera will be there.”….We went up there and the room is completely filled with storyboard. Joe Barbera started in one corner at the top and went around the room and performed the whole pilot and it was a rip-off almost entirely of Honeymooners. The characters, the relationships, the whole damn thing — it was just Honeymooners all over again. If you can believe it, we agreed to that thing. Now, the commitment on animation is a long time and you have to make it way ahead. We committed to it for next year, eight thirty on Friday night.

On The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
There was this book called The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, by Ernest Gaines and we’d, we bought an option on it. ABC gave us the money to do the script. The script was done by Tracy Keenan Wynn whom I had never heard of then, except he was a grandson of Ed Wynn and his father was Keenan Wynn, and Tracy wrote a script that I thought was just the best doggone thing that I’d ever seen. I got to work and was casting the thing when ABC’s Barry Diller, told me it’s fraught with too many dangers and we’re not going to make it. I took it to Bobby Wood at CBS who in the meantime had hired Freddy Silverman as the Head of Programming and Freddy was as enthusiastic about it as I was and CBS cast Cicely Tyson and she was magnificent in it. We made that picture for $1.2 million dollars, and I tried to talk Bobby into letting me go to two hours and a half. Freddy wanted to but Bob didn’t want to; that messed up his schedule. But it, it won great acclaim, it is now still a classic in that it is shown at schools and colleges and everywhere else.

On how he’d like to be remembered.
I would like to be remembered as one of the pioneers in this business who made contributions that were substantial, that I was always square with people even when I lost and I want to be remembered as somebody who never intentionally set out to harm anybody.

Moore was interviewed by the Archive of American Television in January of 2003.

The complete five-and-a-half hour interview, in which he discusses his long and distinguished career, can be viewed at Academy Headquarters in North Hollywood, CA.

ADDENDUM: (POSTED 4/6/2007) THOMAS MOORE’S INTERVIEW HAS NOW BEEN POSTED ONLINE. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW.

Charles Fox’s Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Composer Charles Fox’s two-and-a-half hour Archive of American Television interview has been added to the online collection at Google Video. This is tape 2 of Charles Fox’s interview in which he talks about the early days of electronic music. Click here to view the entire 7-part interview.

Charles Fox is the composer of many of television’s most memorable theme songs including the theme songs for “Love, American Style,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” and “Angie.”

Interview description:

Fox begins by talking about his musical education, which included studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris from 1959-61. He explains how he broke into composing for television, writing transition material for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as well as the bold and energetic theme song for ABC’s Wide World of Sports. He speaks in great detail about Love American Style, a series for which he wrote the theme song and scored music for the entire series run. He describes other series for which he both scored the theme song and created libraries for track music. He looks back on his work for Laverne & Shirley, including details about the pilot presentation and the creation of the theme song and main title. Additionally he talks about his work on the series: Happy Days, Wonder Woman, The Love Boat, and The Paper Chase. He also discusses his work in television movies (including Victory at Entebbe) and feature films (including The Other Side of the Mountain and Foul Play), as well as composing other popular songs. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on June 29, 2004.