Posts Tagged ‘Quincy Jones’

Celebrate Movember with TV Legends’ Best Mustaches!

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

We’re nearing the end of Movember, a month when men around the globe raise funds and awareness for men’s health by seeking sponsors to support their mustache-growing efforts. Funds raised in the U.S. support prostate cancer and other cancers affecting men, and in the process, Mo Bros, as they’re called, sport some pretty fantastic mustaches. Inspired by all of the mustached men around, we’ve assembled the Archive of American Television’s Most Memorable Mustaches:

Host Geraldo Rivera

Actor Roscoe Orman

Actor Dennis Franz

Producer Quincy Jones

Actor Dick Van Dyke

Journalist Walter Conkite

Actor Eric Braeden

Cartoonist, and voice of Snoopy Bill Melendez

Executive Ted Turner

Writer/Show creator Vince Gilligan

Actor Pat Morita

Comic Book Creator Stan Lee

Actor Sherman Hemsley

Host Alex Trebek (although he was clean-shaven for our interview, he certainly had one of of TV’s most memorable mustaches)

To make a donation for Movember, click here.

- by Adrienne Faillace

The Academy Awards: “One Big TV Show”

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Though The Academy Awards celebrate movies, the ceremony also makes for one of television’s biggest events: the Oscars are “one big TV show” according to Archive interviewee Ron Howard. The televised awards show provides one of those now-rare communal-TV-watching experiences that the medium used to enjoy quite frequently in its early years. When TV was just starting out and few people owned sets, neighbors used to gather around the set of the one early adopter on the block to watch television together. Oscar night, a time when people throw parties and once more convene around the tube, brings us back to a similar experience, where we can enjoy three-plus hours of ogling dresses, predicting winners, and crying during heartfelt acceptance speeches. Or perhaps you’ll watch it DVR’d and fast forward through the bulk of the broadcast, or log in to the Oscars’ mobile app for the evening’s behind-the-scenes footage. Though The Academy Awards have been an institution for 84 years now, some things have definitely changed.

Many of the Archive of American Television’s interviewees have been involved with the Oscars, from hosting, to producing, to writing, and even winning the golden statues.

Jerry Lewis on co-hosting the 1959 Academy Awards and scrambling to fill 20 minutes of airtime when the show ran short:

The late Gil Cates on producing The Academy Awards and feeling like a certain theme always jumped out at him for each year’s telecast:

Quincy Jones on producing the 1996 Academy Awards, hosted by Robin Williams:

Alan “Buz” Kohan on writing for over 20 Oscar telecasts:

Bruce Vilanch on making the most of the unexpected when writing for The Academy Awards – Jack Palance’s Best Supporting Actor Win:

And Ron Howard on winning an Academy Award for directing A Beautiful Mind:

Billy Crystal tackles hosting duties for the ninth time this evening, and Don Mischer and Brian Grazer will serve as this year’s Oscar producers. Tune in to ABC at 5:30pm PT/ 8:30 ET to see if your Oscar picks are correct! For complete info on the 84th Academy Awards, visit

No Heart Attacks, Please, but “Sanford and Son” is Turning 40!

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Based on the BBC’s Steptoe and Son, Sanford and Son is the creation of producers Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear. Comedian Redd Foxx starred as widower and junk dealer, “Fred G. Sanford,” an Archie Bunker-type curmudgeon, Demond Wilson played his grown son, “Lamont,” and the two lived together and ran the family business in South Central L.A. Fred’s wife had passed away decades before, and his trademark move on the program was to feign a heart attack, grab his chest, and call out, “I’m coming to join you, Elizabeth!” The show aired on NBC from January 14, 1972, to March 25, 1977.

The Archive is honored to have interviewed many of the talented individuals involved with Sanford and Son. Co-creator Norman Lear described to us how he cast the show:

Musician and producer Quincy Jones shared how he composed the show’s theme song:

And actor Pat Morita discussed playing Sanford and Son’s “Ah Chew:”

Learn more about Sanford and Son at our show page.

Watch the intro to Sanford and Son:

From Killing Radio Stars to Smooshing Guidos: MTV Turns 30

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

On August 1, 1981 at 12:01 a.m., footage of Apollo 11 blasting off into space filled the TV screen, followed by that of man landing on the moon. Then a flag bearing colorful letters, not stars and stripes, pulsated within a black and white still-image of man on the moon. Instead of the anticipated words of Neil Armstrong, music played and unseen executive John Lack announced, “ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” – a phrase that would gain its own notoriety as the motto that launched MTV. One small step for Lack (who couldn’t use Armstrong’s famous line due to copyright issues), one giant leap for television.

From its quirky logo, teeming with eels or guillotined heads, to its edgy all-music-all-the-time mission, MTV transformed television. It took something as familiar as the man on the moon footage and repurposed it with new sights and sounds. This embodied the concept behind the channel’s trademark philosophy: provide a playground for the eyes and ears by combining the best of television and radio. MTV vowed to “do for TV what FM did for radio” by giving the world its first, “24 hour, stereo, video music channel.” MTV introduced us to Video Jockeys, (VJs), to the Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” video, and to a new aesthetic where everything was fast-paced – moving from promo, to video, to VJ, and back, amid a constant array of visual stimuli. Notably, MTV was on cable — at a time when very few people subscribed to such a thing. That was about to change.

Adolescents quickly embraced 1982’s “I Want My MTV” campaign, and bugged their parents to call cable providers to get MTV added to cable packages — sending overall cable subscriptions soaring. MTV’s audience skyrocketed from 1981’s 2.1 million subscribers to today’s 100.6 million, and grew from one channel to a network of 64. Not too shabby for a channel that couldn’t even be viewed in Manhattan until its second year.

MTV’s style and quick pace struck a pop culture chord, and soon after its debut the channel’s influence could easily be detected. Miami Vice, which premiered in 1984, is the direct result of NBC Executive Brandon Tartikoff’s self-proclaimed MTV obsession. Tartikoff spent hours soaking up MTV’s “non-stop visual imagery” and wanted to create a program based upon the concept of “MTV cops.” Though it took some convincing to get Miami Vice made, the show’s hip sensibility, synthesizer-heavy theme music, and Phil Collins-laden soundtrack appropriated the MTV style to great effect.

By the mid 1980s MTV was a full-blown phenomenon. No more scrambling to stretch a meager collection of 250 music videos, MTV was now turning away videos. The channel gradually introduced original programming, including 1987’s game show Remote Control, featuring a young Adam Sandler, and 1988’s MTV News, anchored by former Rolling Stone editor Kurt Loder. Then, in 1992, MTV created a little show called The Real World.

The Real World famously told the “true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real.” The program is widely considered to be the pioneer of reality television as we know it. Archive Interviewee and former MTV Executive Tom Freston shares the story behind The Real World, which was intended to be MTV’s first SCRIPTED soap opera for the younger set. Watch below to learn how it instead became MTV’s first unscripted, runaway hit:

What began out of necessity quickly became one of MTV’s most popular series, currently in production on its 26th season, The Real World: San Diego. MTV and others, on both cable and broadcast networks, soon began churning out numerous reality shows, a trend now dominant in today’s television programming. Over the years MTV graced us with everything from Dan Cortese bungee jumping on MTV Sports, to Real World alum Eric Nies hosting a dance party on The Grind, to a smart-aleck teen ‘toon trying to survive high school on Daria. It gave us MTV Spring Break, Headbanger’s Ball, Club MTV with host Downtown Julie Brown (Wubba Wubba Wubba), and introduced the world to the joy that is Snooki via Jersey Shore. There may be no guiltier pleasure in life than witnessing Snooki “smoosh” Guidos.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for MTV, though. Fan favorites Beavis and Butt-Head and Jackass were taken to task for being too vulgar and inspiring violence in children, The Skins was chastised for being borderline pornographic, and much of the channel’s current programming is under attack, criticized as vapid, “trash TV.” The cast members of Jersey Shore are reportedly being paid $100,000 per episode for the upcoming 4th season. Money well spent?

It may not always be the place for highbrow programming, but MTV has largely accomplished what it set out to do. With its first slogan, MTV declared, “you’ll never look at music the same way again.” And we haven’t. MTV, Music Television, taught us to look at music, not just hear it. We learned about different bands and their members and watched in awe as Michael Jackson danced his way through “Thriller.” Though the focus of MTV shifted away from videos (you can still watch them from 3-9 a.m.), the channel continued to expose us to novel material, and at times, even moved us to action. We got sucked into reality programming, for better or for worse, and voted in Presidential elections, inspired by the “Choose or Lose” and “Rock the Vote” campaigns. We may watch The Hills, but we also care about what’s happening on The Hill.

MTV has a direct line to the heart of pop culture, and its influence on the success of featured artists over the years is no small feat. It has a huge online presence, and still (thankfully) showcases those amazing acoustic performances on MTV Unplugged. The creators of MTV also gave us VH1, Nickelodeon, TVLand and Comedy Central, among dozens of other channels, many of which feature music videos prominently. Not a bad list of projects and progeny to amass by 30.

So welcome to your 4th decade, MTV. May you continue to be innovators in the way we experience music and entertainment, and hey, since you brought Beavis and Butt-Head back after 14 years, we can only hope that Dan Cortese and Eric Nies are the next stars you thrust back into orbit.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Watch Archive Interviewees Tom Freston, Quincy Jones, and Sumner M. Redstone discuss MTV and more here: (LINKS)

Viacom CEO Sumner M. Redston’e complete interview is here.
MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston’s complete interview is here.

MTV turns 30 video: