News from the Archive


January 19th, 2018

Every ten years or so, a series episode will come along that is a game changer in one way or another. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s for the worse. 

Our own John Dalton has assembled what he considers to be the most influential, scripted series episode of each decade, starting with the 1950s and concluding with what he predicts will be the most influential episode of the ‘10s, which aired in 2017. Can you guess what it might be?

Today we begin with the most influential episode of the 1950s. 

I Love Lucy - “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” Airdate: January 19, 1953

After television sales exploded in 1950, it soon became clear that the television star would be a different animal from the movie star. The movie star in that era was glamorous, unapproachable, and almost otherworldly. Whereas with television, the early stars that emerged tended to be likeable and relatable; more like a friend or family member. People you’d be comfortable having in your living room.

I Love Lucy was a smash hit from the first evening it aired in 1951. Lucille Ball, a former MGM/RKO glamour queen, got to display her gift for physical comedy, as well as her comedic timing which had been evident on her radio show “My Favorite Husband.” For the series, Ball was deglamorized to the point of looking dowdy, which helped make her more relatable. This winning formula made I Love Lucy the number one show on television for five years running.

The moment Lucy Ricardo told husband Ricky she was pregnant (or "expecting" as CBS standards and practices preferred) in December of 1952, television sailed into uncharted territory. People had enjoyed the characters on their favorite radio shows, but the lack of a picture provided a certain distance. Now you could see Lucy and Ethel in your home every week, and viewers considered them part of the family. CBS was inundated with hundreds of letters offering Lucy advice on how to cope with her new situation. 

The evening “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired in 1953, viewers were treated to some fine physical comedy (not involving Lucille Ball for once) when the carefully rehearsed moment that Lucy was ready to go to the hospital turned into a chaotic rush. After Little Ricky was born, there was a deluge of new and used baby clothes from viewers showing up daily via mail at Desilu Studios in Hollywood. Lucille Ball giving birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr. IN REAL LIFE on the day “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” aired did nothing to unblur those fiction/reality lines.

It was the first time we witnessed the full pop culture potential of television. People were as excited about Lucy giving birth as they might’ve been about their own best friend having a child. Forty-four million viewers watched that evening - 72% of all televisions in America were set to I Love Lucy. Only twenty-nine million tuned in to watch President Eisenhower get inaugurated the following day. With this episode, it became clear that the medium’s cultural impact had the potential to be far greater than that of print, movies, radio, or Broadway. Every sweeps stunt, including births, weddings, illnesses, or “very special episodes” owes a debt to “Lucy Goes to the Hospital.” It served as a blueprint for many series to come for how to successfully boost ratings.

- John Dalton

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Remembering Hugh Wilson

January 16th, 2018
Hugh Wilson

We’re sad to learn that writer/producer/director Hugh Wilson has passed away at the age of 74. He began his career as a gopher for MTM Productions before being his work as a writer, penning scripts for The Bob Newhart Show and The Tony Randall Show. Wilson went on to create WKRP in Cincinnati and Frank’s Place. He also was a director, directing films including “Police Academy” and “The First Wives Club.” 

Below are excerpts from his 2015 interview, coproduced with the Writers Guild Foundation:

On the “Turkey’s Away” episode of WKRP in Cincinnati:

On winning an Emmy for writing Frank’s Place:

On his writing process:

Watch Hugh Wilson’s full interview and read his obituary in The Hollywood Reporter.

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Editor Kelley Dixon Breaks "Bad"

January 4th, 2018
Kelley Dixon

I met editor Kelley Dixon at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2013, when she won her first Emmy for editing Breaking Bad’s Season 5 episode “Gliding Over All” (which fans will remember for the masterfully cut “Crystal Blue Persuasion" montage). I had followed her podcast, “Breaking Bad Insider” for years, not immediately realizing that the fan-girl hosting the deep-dive into one of the most-talked about show since The Sopranos, was also its editor.

For those/most of you that have never been to a Creative Arts Emmy Award Ceremony, back when it awarded 116 Emmys in a single night (the Awards are now given out over two nights), you may not be familiar with some of the logistical limitations. All nominees were given a warning that they would only have 45 seconds to accept their award. That included a) processing the fact that you won (holy cow!), b) getting to the stage and c) making an acceptance speech before your race against the clock was up. When the Emmy for Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series was announced, I heard shrieks of joy emanating from the very back of the theater. We all watched Kelley yank off her heels and race to the stage- breathlessly making the most of her moment of triumph.

The recognition was a long-time coming for Dixon, who had started her career in the mailroom at MGM after graduating from Colorado State University. Her career path was inspired by the movie "Nothing in Common" with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks playing advertising execs: “I always thought it woud be really neat to come to work and be really creative”  she said. Later, as a PA on thirtysomething, she learned the value of being a jack-of-all-trades, and someone who was willing to put in long hours, hard work, and asking a LOT of questions. “I just became the person who said, ‘Oh, I’ll do it,' so i got to know a lot of the people on set… and those guys were mentoring me.” She took it upon herself to learn how to make cuts with Ediflex and eventually wound up with her first assistant editor gig with Victor du Bois in the late 80s.

Kelley had worked tirelessly as an assistant editor in film and television for 17 years. Then in 2008, Emmy winning editor Lynne Willingham brought Kelley over from a solid gig on Without A Trace, both taking a huge risk on the Breaking Bad pilot. It sure paid off. Kelley is a living example of “making it” by slowly work her way up, her tenacity outmatched only perhaps by her innate talent. In her interview, she recommends to anyone who wants to become an editor to not shy away from P.A jobs or knock the menial tasks. Kelley points out “what greater responsibility is, if a producer GIVES YOU THEIR CAR? They are trusting you!” Do the work, engage your peers, earn trust, even if it takes years. She points out that many of the PAs she came up with matriculated to become writers or producers as well.

When I sat down to interview Kelley, her ebullience was infectious. She clearly loves doing what she does, and her mantra remains: “All roads lead to HERE, and THIS is a good place to be.”

Kelley details her editing process on the first two Breaking Bad episodes she cut, “The Cats in the Bag” and “The Bag’s in the River”: 

On hosting the "Breaking Bad Insider" podcast, and how she moved up to become the 2nd editor on Breaking Bad

On the pacing, directing, and editorial aesthetic on Breaking Bad

On what she loves about editing: 

Watch Kelley Dixon's full interview.

- Jenni Matz

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Remembering Rose Marie

January 2nd, 2018
blog post image

We’re sad to learn that Rose Marie passed away on Thursday, December 28 at the age of 94. She began her career as a child star known as “Baby Rose Marie,” appearing on radio and in movies. As an adult, she began working in television, appearing on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theatre and The Colgate Comedy Hour, and as a regular on My Sister Eileen. She is perhaps best remembered for her role as “Sally Rogers” on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but she was also a frequent panelist on The Hollywood Squares, a regular on The Doris Day Show, and she continued make appearances on television throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

Below are some excerpts from her 1999 interview:

On being a child star:

On being cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show:

On her philosophy of comedy:

Watch Rose Marie’s full interview and read her obituary in The New York Times.

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Remembering Dick Enberg

December 22nd, 2017
Dick Enberg

We’re sad to learn that sports broadcaster Dick Enberg has passed away at the age of 82. He began his career in radio before moving on to sports announcing for KTLA in Los Angeles. He went on to become the announcer for UCLA’s football team, where he developed a fierce following with his catchphrase, “Oh my.” He also was a host of game shows, worked at NBC Sports and CBS, and called a variety of sports, including NCAA basketball, the Super Bowl, several Olympic games, the San Diego Padres, and Wimbledon. 

Below are some selections from his 2011 interview:

On his “oh my” catchphrase:

“It's a Midwestern expression.  And my mother used it constantly. It's an acclamation. People say, ‘Did you hear about…? Oh my, is that right?’ Or, ‘Oh my! That happened, too?’… I didn’t use it at Central Michigan when I was calling the games there. But I went to Indiana, when I won the audition I’m saying, you’re doing Big Ten games now. I mean, you’ve got to have a catch phrase. You’ve got to have that punctuation mark. And all the good ones were taken.  You know, all the religiously related, the ‘Holy Toledos’ and the ‘Holy cows’ and Red Barber’s ‘Oh, Doctor.’  Mel Allen, ‘How about that?’  Well, what am I going to use? And I thought about, well, how about ‘Oh my?’ And so the first couple of Indiana football games that I did, I threw in a couple of ‘Oh mys’ on either a surprising play or a touchdown play and I was in the graduate dormitory and all of the sudden guys were saying, ‘Hey, Enberg, go “Oh my!”’ And I thought, okay, that’s it. And it's been since 1957, a very good friend.”

On advice to aspiring sportscasters:

“I tell young people who want to be a sportscaster to take every class they can on writing. To learn how to think like a writer. Because every broadcast is a piece of theater you know, football is a four act play and you set the scene in the first act and you develop the characters in the play and then the plot unfolds and you see how the characters fit within the drama of that plot. And when the murder is finally solved in the fourth quarter, the decision is made then, you’re able to tie in all the elements that led into this, that interested you in this theater or this book to begin with and pull it together and tie up the knot so that it’s a complete performance and I’ve often felt that we have been guilty of neglecting the first part of that book or that play. That we need to take more time to set up the scene and set up the players before we’re right into the heavy statistical or strategical analysis.”

On how he would like to be remembered:

“That I was the fan in the stands with you. That I sat next to you and we’re a couple of pals just going over the hitters and talking about the game and that you feel comfortable that I never interfered. I would like to hope that people feel that I didn’t interfere with the game. That the game dictated what I had to say and it was much more important than any presence that I had in that telecast.”

Watch Dick Enberg’s full interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

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