Challenges To Network Domination

In 1969 twenty new talk shows went on the air sixteen of them in syndication. In the fifteen years prior to that time the number of new talk shows, including network offerings, had rarely been more than six per year.41 This talk-show explosion was the result of many things new television technology for production and distribution impending regulatory changes that threatened network hegemony and made syndication more profitable for talk programming an explosive cultural climate that gave hosts...

Conclusion The End of the Network

By the late 1970s the ''years of plenty''67 for network television were coming to an end. The 1970s were a transitional decade. New talk-show stars were emerging Phil Donahue, Dinah Shore, and, from PBS, Bill Moyers. Other hosts consolidated their positions as network or syndicated talk-show hosts Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, and Barbara Walters, for example. Hosts like Donahue, Shore, and Douglas showed how a well-known host and a smart production team could compete with the...

Arlene Francis And Home

Arlene Francis was one of the most prominent women talk-show hosts of the 1950s. She set a standard for intelligent programming, focusing on public issues as well as issues of domestic life in America. Her career illustrates the importance of power and control in the role of a 1950s talk-show host, and the uphill battle faced by a woman host during this time. For three and a half years Francis was the nationally acclaimed host of the Home show, one of the most successful public-service...

Geraldo Rivera

As a Puerto Rican American, Geraldo Rivera renegotiated his identification with the Hispanic community not once but several times in the development of his prolific on-air broadcasting career. Known originally for his role as an aggressive investigative television reporter for ABC News, Rivera came to his national TV talk show as a flamboyant television personality with an off-screen reputation as a ladies' man. Rivera's overwrought style and curious mixture of empathy, bravado, exploitation,...

Johnny Carson And The Tonishtshow

In his thirty years as host of Tonight, Johnny Carson institutionalized the late-night entertainment talk show founded by Steve Allen and Jack Paar. As entertainer Dan Aykroyd put it, ''In the year 3000, Johnny Carson will be the lodestone researchers will covet when studying our popular culture.''8 Carson, his authority periodically challenged in contract negotiations with the network and in talk-show ''wars'' with other hosts, raised the profile of the late-night television talk show. With...

Rosie Odonnells Nice Talk

Rosie O'Donnell was introduced to talk-show viewers in June 1996, by one of the most successful promotional campaigns since King Syndication's campaign for Oprah Winfrey in 1986. The Warner Telepictures public-relations advertising campaign revealed an explicit awareness of the history of TV talk. O'Donnell was promoted as the reverential inheritor of the talk-show traditions of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and Dinah Shore all syndicated hosts who had entertained daytime audiences in the 1970s...

The First Tonight Show

The very first Tonight show gives the viewer its flavor.30 Allen energized the old performance traditions of vaudeville and his more intimate ''found comedy'' on radio by using the unique resources of television as a medium. Indeed, the filmed opening of the first Tonight show bears a strong resemblance to David Letterman's NBC show in the early 1980s.31 The camera wanders down Broadway to the flashing lights of the Hudson Theater marquee as announcer Gene Rayburn booms ''Just off the...

Arsenio Hall

Arsenio Hall was the ''hottest'' new talk-show host in entertainment television in 1989. He was also the first African American to become a star of late-night talk, and at the age of thirty, one of the youngest to crack the circle of nationally syndicated late-night entertainers. For thirteen weeks on Fox Television, as a replacement for Joan Rivers, and then for five and a half years on his own nationally syndicated show for Paramount,101 Arsenio Hall gave audiences a ''high voltage'' act that...

Mike Wallace The Grand Inquisitor Returns

The year 1962 represented a turning point for Mike Wallace, precipitated by a family tragedy that forced him to reevaluate his life. His nineteen-year-old son, Peter, a Yale student who had begun working in news, died in a mountain-climbing accident in Europe. Wallace vowed to concentrate his energies on journalism, though it meant a major cut in income from his previous dramatic, commercials, and gameshow career, and no income at all for a while. Wallace decided to reinvent himself on...

Unspoken Rules

The TV talk show is governed by a set of rules or guiding principles that make it distinct from any other form of TV soap opera, news, or game shows, for instance and also from daily conversation. Before examining the rules of the TV talk show, however, it is useful to distinguish television talk, a set of principles that governs all talk on television, from talk shows.3 Television talk emerges out of fifty years of television practice and the preceding three decades of radio. It is unscripted...

Larry King Talkmeister

Larry King's on-air persona was as casual and laid back as McLaughlin's was heated. King had built his reputation on dialogue, listening, and questions that probed the objects of his own curiosity in both news and entertainment, and by the early 1990s was a familiar presence on late-night radio. In 1985 he made a deal with CNN's Ted Turner to bring his late-night radio interview show to television. That program, Larry King Live, turned the veteran radio broadcaster into a national and...

Three Major Subgenres

Three major subgenres of television talk developed specific identities over time the late-night entertainment talk show (modeled on The Tonight Show of Steve Allen and Jack Paar, 1954-1961), the daytime audience-participation talk show (modeled on The Phil Donahue Show, 1967-1995), and the morning magazine-format show (modeled on the first Today show of Dave Garroway, 1952-1959). Because of their prominence, these subgenres have influenced many other forms of talk on television and are the...

The O J Simpson Verdict As A National Talk Event

Occasionally a media event is so compelling that it captures the attention of the entire society. The highly publicized trial of African American celebrity O. J. Simpson was one such media event. O. J. Simpson was a football hero, a handsome African American who was also famous for his Hertz car rental advertisements. His wife, Nicole Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were murdered. Simpson's wife had previously reported him for battering. Police claimed that a glove dropped at the scene of...

Garry Shandling And The Larry Sanders Show

The Larry Sanders Show occupies a unique position in the history of TV talk. Although it follows a tradition of talk-show parodies that includes Bob and Ray, the satirical sketches of Jack Benny, Fernwood 2-Night, Saturday Night Live, and SCTV, The Larry Sanders Show was one of the most daring and intricate satires of TV talk. Garry Shandling and his associates employed a deliberate strategy to create an alternative talk universe, a para-talk show, with such a tightly interwoven texture of...

Founders At Cbs Murrow and Godfrey

Murrow pioneered three forms of news talk live investigative reporting, celebrity journalism, and live trans-oceanic dialogue. As executive producer, newscaster, and host, Murrow charted new territory in television. He joined CBS radio in 1935 as Director of Talks, after an earlier career working with student groups and international education. Over the next twenty-five years he assumed near-statesmanlike status in broadcast journalism at CBS. When he moved to CBS television in 1951,...

Larry King and Bill Clinton

One of the most adept politicians on the talk-show circuit in 1992 and in the televised Presidential debates that year was Bill Clinton. Clinton appeared in every talk format he could. For example, he made a highly publicized saxophone-playing visit (wearing green sunglasses) on the Arsenio Hall Show, and an appearance on MTV in which he was asked for his early rock music influences (Elvis), his favorite musician (Kenny G), his astrological sign (Leo), and whether he would inhale if he could...

David Letterman And The Reinvention Of The Latenight Talk Show

As a comedian, writer, artist, organizer, and shaper of ensemble comedy, David Letterman was a key figure in the shifting sensibility of late-night talk during the 1980s. Reformulating the entertainment talkshow model developed by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, Letter-man defined a new ironic mode of late-night comedy talk. Late Night with David Letterman gradually became the paradigm that influenced all other late-night talk-show hosts including, eventually, the King, Johnny Carson...

Three Takes on Chernobyl

On April 26,1986, a tremendous explosion occurred in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine.The disaster dominated world headlines for months. Details of what had occurred including the number of victims and the ecological damage caused by the accident were hotly contested.47 The accident precipitated a new level of public awareness about the dangers of nuclear radioactivity. Initial news coverage of Chernobyl was highly melodramatic, spreading fears of worldwide ecological disaster. The...

Phil Donahue

One of the most important new talk-show figures to come out of local talk broadcasting at this time was Phil Donahue. To understand Donahue's emergence, broadcasting first from Dayton, Ohio, and after 1974 from WGN-TV in Chicago, we need to understand his roots in 1960s talk radio and the ways in which ''hot topic'' radio talk paved the way to new forms of talk on television.46 KABC in Los Angeles was one of the first stations to go to an all-talk format, making this move as early as 1961, but...

Bill Maher And Politically Incorrect

Though it sported ersatz Greek ruins in the background of the set, Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect was, in the words of one reviewer, anything but ''Periclean.'' In the course of the 1990s it became a national comedy TV talk forum. Starting on Comedy Central in 1993, Politically Incorrect was within three years one of the channel's most popular shows. Merging serious news issues and comedy, each show featured four guest panelists, only one of whom was a professional comedian. Sometimes it...

When Words Break Down Jerry Springer

Jerry Springer was, like ABC's Ted Koppel, a child of Jewish immigrants who escaped Nazi Germany to England. Springer moved to New York with his family in 1947 at the age of five. His father had a business selling stuffed animals, and his mother worked as a bank clerk.11 By the time Springer graduated from Forest Hills High School and enrolled in Tulane University in New Orleans, he had become politically active in the civil rights and antiwar movements. After graduating from Northwestern Law...

Narrative Structure

The Ricki Lake Show was based on a simple set of narrative conventions. A show of November 1995, for example, centered on the theme of ''Women Who Dump Their Boyfriends for Another Lover. As three young women related stories to Ricki Lake about the boyfriends they were about to dump, the boyfriends sat, apparently mystified, in isolation chambers with earphones that cut the sounds of the studio. When they were let out to hear the news, the pain, discomfort, and confusion that registered on...

Year of Change

At the end of 1974 the television industry in general was still in turbulence, but several broad patterns had emerged. For one thing, national syndication was making itself increasingly felt as a competitor to the networks for national talk audiences. In addition, by 1974 public television had proved surprisingly durable and supported a range of new voices and formats in talk television. And 1974 was unusual in that a single national talk event dominated the landscape the Senate Watergate...

Conclusion

''By 1960,'' as broadcast historian J. Fred MacDonald put it, ''television had become a mature and streamlined business, a great 'cash cow.'''60 The focus had shifted from ''invention to convention,'' and the networks' concerns had gone from carving out an acceptable social role for themselves ''to counting the rewards of investment, planning, and monopoly.''61 In this first cycle of television talk shows, none of the founders had originally aspired to be television personalities television had...

Structuring the Permissible Executives Censors and Informal Controls

In addition to producers and segment producers who plan TV talk, and writers and directors who shape it, a range of middle managers manage the talk seen by viewers over the air each evening. They make sure the talk that appears on the air fits the time and institutional requirements of network television and in noway interferes with the commercial imperative of sponsors who foot the bill. The job of network middle managers is to see that nothing goes out that will offend viewers or sponsors or...

Joan Rivers And The Latenight Talkshow Wars Of

Joan Rivers was part of a rising movement of women stand-up comics in the 1980s.53 They included comedians like Rita Rudner, Abby Stein, Beverly Mickins, and Kate Clinton, some of whom survived into the 1990s. But Joan Rivers was the only one of this group to become a national talk-show host and even to challenge Johnny Carson himself. Although she failed in her late-night bid, Rivers opened up territory on television for other women comedians like Roseanne Connor and Rosie O'Donnell and for...

Round

After a witty and urbane conversation with Janet Flanner, Cavett announces Mailer's appearance with some trepidation. He is ''an unpredictable and brilliant man, Cavett tells the audience, but someone ''who hardly ever has a predictable or clich opinion about anything'' and whose unpredictability once extended to punching one of Cavett's guests. Mailer saunters on stage in Italian leather boots, clearly in a foul mood, angry because Cavett's staff has misinformed him about the show's start...

America Held Hostage The Genesis of ABCs Nlghtllne with Ted Koppel

Into the new competitive environment of the early 1980s came a television executive, a host, and a format that would change the face of late-night TV news talk. ABC took a traditionally conservative form of TV news the late-night newscast and wed it to a glitzy new entertainment package developed by the sports talk division. Nightline first aired at 11 30 p.m. on March 24, 1980,29 an extension of the nightly ''America Held Hostage'' broadcasts that had followed the takeover by Islamic militants...

Mike Wallace The Grand Inquisitor of Television Talk [

If Arlene Francis was in some ways the fifties ''ideal woman,'' Mike Wallace represented the decade's ideal ''masculine'' image. That image proved durable for Wallace for over five decades of network television. The November 1993 cover of TV Guide carried a beaming picture of the well-known host, his face in front of the 60 Minutes stopwatch, with a headline celebrating ''25 Years of Tough Guys and Gritty Scoops.''42 Though confrontational hosts had come and gone in the years between Wallace's...

Ricki Lake And The National Trash Talk Debate

From a subgenre dominated by four major hosts in the mid-1980s Donahue, Rapha l, Rivera, and Winfrey , the daytime audience-participation talk show had grown into a thriving industry of over twenty shows broadcast nationally by the mid-1990s. Daytime talk was a billiondollar industry with an estimated fifty-seven million viewers a week. As an example of the kind of profits that could be made, The Sally Jessy Rapha l Show alone generated 40 million a year in sales and licensing fees. The...

New Voices In Syndication Phil Donahue and Mike Douglas

As syndicated talk upped the ante in verbal confrontation in the 1960s and 1970s with such confrontational and acerbic individuals as Al Capp, Alan Burke, David Susskind, Joe Pyne, Oscar Levant, and Joan Rivers now on the air,18 one syndicated talk show host stood out from the rest and indeed went on to become one of the most successful hosts in television history and to create a new subgenre of daytime talk. Beginning in Dayton, Ohio, in 1967, Phil Donahue was by the mid-1970s competing for...

Oprah Winfrey

While many new daytime talk shows were successful, Oprah Winfrey's rise was perhaps the most dramatic. She had come seemingly out of nowhere to challenge Phil Donahue in the talk format he had personally created and in the city Chicago that had been his home base for the previous twelve years. And Winfrey was the first successful African American daytime talk-show host, the most commercially successful daytime talk-show host of the 1980s. Thus Oprah Winfrey, like Jackie Robinson forty years...

Structuring the Flow The Role of the Producer and Segment Producer

The producer provides the day-to-day direction for the ongoing operation of a show like Late Night with David Letterman. In the early and mid-1980s, the producer of the Letterman show was Barry Sand. The timing for each program began with a run-down sheet passed out by Sand at the daily 11 00 a.m. meeting. The sheet contained tentative timings for the nine segments of the show opening, closing, and seven acts in between , and Sand and head writer Steve O'Donnell would run over the guests,...

The Gay Subtext

The exchange of December 1, 1971, between Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal had a subtext that often left the audience, and Cavett himself, perplexed. The dominant frame of the confrontation was the literary rivalry between Mailer and Vidal. But there was something else going on. Mailer had another agenda one that revealed itself in the coded language of the closet.Vidal and Flanner were both prominent out members of the literary intellectual gay community, and Mailer, playing his enfant terrible...