News from the Archive

Advertising Executive / Producer Rod Erickson Has Died

July 8th, 2006

Advertising Executive and Producer Rod Erickson died recently at the age of 89. Erickson was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on October 17, 1997.

His interview can be viewed in the Archive's Los Angeles offices and will be available online in the near future.

Historian Jeff Kisseloff conducted the five hour interview with Erickson in Bedford, NY. Mr. Erickson talked about working for Procter & Gamble when the agency first entered television, and discussed his first television show, We, The People. He spoke about his many years at ad agency Young & Rubicam, as well as the evolution of television sponsorship.

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2005-06 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations Announced

July 7th, 2006

Nominations for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced today. Among the nominees is television legend Alan Alda, who received his 32nd career Emmy Award nomination in the category of “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series” for his role as “Arnold Vinick” on The West Wing. Alda was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1993.

Alan Alda was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on November 17, 2000 in New York, NY.

Click here to access all Alan Alda interview segments.

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.

Tune in to the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, August 27 on NBC.

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Mort Lachman's Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online

July 4th, 2006
Comedy Writer/Producer Mort Lachman's 3-hour Archive of American Television interview has been added to the online collection at Google Video.

Interview Description:

Lachman begins by talking about his early years becoming a writer in network radio for Eddie Cantor and Bob Hope. He describes in detail working as a writer, and later head writer/ director/ producer on the Bob Hope Television Specials. He vividly describes Bob Hope’s topical humor and gift for ad libbing. He speaks about his work as a writer for several Ralph Edwards series. He also describes his work as a producer and writer on All in the Family [for which he won an Emmy Award], Archie Bunker’s Place, One Day at a Time, Sanford, Gimme a Break, Kate & Allie, and Bagdad Café. The interview, part of the Archive Comedy Collection Sponsored by Bob Hope, was conducted by Jeff Abraham on January 24, 2004 in Los Angeles, CA.

Click here to access all Mort Lachman 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...).

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Writer / Producer Abby Mann's Archive of American Television Interview is now on Google Video!

June 30th, 2006

Abby Mann's interview is one of the latest additions to the Archive of American Television's interviews available on Google Video:

About the interview:

In this three-hour interview, Mann discusses his early teleplays, written during the Golden Age of Television Drama in the 1950s, including such noteworthy teleplays as “A Child Is Waiting” (for Studio One) and “Judgment at Nuremberg” (for Playhouse 90). He also talked about the feature film adaptations of these teleplays. Mann discussed his writing of the television movie The Marcus Nelson Murders, and the creation of the subsequent series, Kojak. Mann talked in detail about two other 1970s projects, the series Medical Story and the miniseries King, the dramatization of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. He spoke about his more recent endeavors as writer and executive producer of such television movies as The Atlanta Child Murders and Indictment: The McMartin Trials. Throughout the interview Mann expressed his concern about the state of the American justice system and his lifelong passion to correct injustices through the written word. The interview was conducted on August 18, 2004 by Gary Rutkowski.

Click here to access all Abby Mann interview segments.

Remember, if you'd like to watch the interview in chronological order, select the parts in order (1,2,3...).

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Producer Aaron Spelling Has Died

June 24th, 2006

Legendary producer Aaron Spelling died yesterday at the age of 83. The Archive of American Television interviewed him about his life and career for over 3 hours in 1999. Below are some excerpts from that interview:

On what it takes to be a good producer.
You have to be a good storyteller. It all starts with a script. We have a way that we work and I hope a lot of people work this way. We meet with the producers, they tell us a story concept, we work on the story concept with them or say “that’s great.” Then we get an outline and it’s broken down in all four acts of an hour show. If you have any notes to give, you give it on the outline, so that when your script comes in, you know the show the is going to work because the outline is proving it.

On casting.
If there’s anything that is heartbreaking it’s casting. The hardest thing is to say "no" to somebody. We don’t do that. We also have a rule, if any lady walks in to read something, everybody sitting better stand up or they’re not going to be invited anymore. And we talk to people, “where are you from?” When I was an actor and you’d go in to read, they’d say, "don’t tell us your life story, just read." I remember this on Gunsmoke, I was nervous enough. But those are the sensitivities a producer should have and must have.

On his legendary ability to remember most scenes in dailies.
I think you have to love what you’re doing. I’m a big football and baseball fan, but I can’t remember the name of the first baseman of the Dodgers, but I can tell you that you didn’t get that shot or you trimmed that shot of the man at the bar. You have to read these scripts and get an imprint in your mind of what the show is. I think if I can’t do that, I’ll quit, because to me, that’s the fun -- adding input. The credits should go, as I said before, to the great writers on all of our shows.

On Starsky & Hutch.
We hadn’t seen a buddy-buddy relationship on television, where one disagrees with the other but really, they adore each other. They can argue and fight and then do their job. We were lucky with casting, we didn’t know how the show would do. And it just exploded. We said many times, it was the first heterosexual love affair on television.

On Dynasty.
We found that people who watch television they’re not all rich and they love to see that rich people have problems, and more problems than they have. So money doesn’t solve everything. Then the wardrobe and the sets and the hairdos and Nolan Miller gowns that cost a fortune, all blended into it, so they had something beautiful to watch. But they said, “oh, that guy’s worth ten million dollars, and he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing!” That was the fun of Dynasty.

On Beverly Hills, 90210.
I got a call from Barry Diller, who was the head of Fox, and he said, “I’d like you to do a high school show.” I said, “Barry, at my age, what the hell do I know about high school?” And he said, ‘you have two kids idiot!” And I listened to my kids and spied on them when their friends from high school would come over. I listened a lot, learned a lot. Darren Starr had never done anything that I knew. I met him, a terrific guy, and I love working with him, and we kind of developed this together. It was a great experience.

On his legacy.
The only thing that bothers me every time people do biographies of me, critics always talk about Charlie’s Angels, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and they never talk about the issue shows that we have done. The issues that we did on 90210 and Melrose Place. They never talk about Day One, that movie we won an Emmy for. They never talk about And The Band Played On, the movie we won an Emmy for. They never talk about my movies, the Anne Baxter movie with the young lady, her daughter, who was going to commit suicide. They never talk about that, and that pains me a lot. I love being an entertainer, but I think you should get credit for whatever you do, like Family, like Seventh Heaven, family shows that no one has done before. But I know my epitaph will be, "he was Tori Spelling’s father and he did Charlie’s Angels."

The video interview is not yet available online, but can be screened at the Archive's headquarters in North Hollywood, CA.

Let everyone know what your favorite Aaron Spelling-produced series or film is. POST YOUR FAVORITES BY CLICKING ON COMMENTS (BELOW).

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