Battling From Within Johnny Carson and NBC

Johnny Carson's Tonight show audience continued to grow throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He had begun his long reign on The Tonight Show with an average nightly audience of 7.5 million viewers. By 1972, when he moved to the West Coast, his audience had grown to 11 million. By the end of 1977, The Tonight Show audience averaged 17.3 million viewers a night. At the same time, Carson was becoming increasingly discontented with his relationship to NBC. He was continually re-establishing the terms of...

By Horace Newcomb

Bernard Timberg's book, Television Talk, appears at a particularly significant moment in the history of talk shows and, equally importantly, in the history of television. It also appears as part of a significant development in the field of television studies, a development marking and marked by changes in the medium and the social relations it fosters and to which it responds. As this work makes clear, however, even as those changes occur, the talk show remains a fundamental feature within any...

Closeup Jack Paars Walk Off The Set Of The Tonight Show February

Here is Paar's own account of his walk off the set of The Tonight Show after the censorship of one of his jokes One night, in February 1960,1 read something that I thought was funny in an earthy, outhouse genre, yet rather sophisticated in its double entendre. I told a harmless story, the kind of story that could practically be read at a Wednesday-night church social. The joke played on the use of W.C. in England to stand for wayside chapel as well as ''water closet, or toilet. An NBC censor...

Closeup Late Night With David Letterman

From fall 1983 to winter 1986 I had the unusual opportunity to visit the Letter-man show numerous times, observe tapings, and interview members of the production team just as the show was beginning to receive national recognition. By that time it was already clear that Letterman was an important innovator in late-night talk. Under the aegis of director Hal Gurnee, I was allowed to observe backstage. I found members of the crew articulate and eager to explain to me what made the show work, what...

Comedy Consensus

Late-night comedy shows like Jay Leno's Tonight and David Letter-man's Late Show also focused on race in the wake of the verdict. The jury's decision of not guilty'' had shattered the presumption that a guilty verdict was the only logical conclusion to the trial. To the comedy commentators of late-night TV, the not guilty'' verdict was ludicrous. A number of critics have pointed out that the jokes of late-night comedians like Jay Leno and David Letterman may have been more important in the...

Conclusion

Morning, daytime, and late-night talk-show hosts performed overlapping functions in the wake of the O. J. Simpson verdict. Each worked within his or her own distinctive talk tradition and format. Each remained ''in character,'' anchoring the text of his or her show while guiding its principal themes and shaping sources of information for its viewing public. These texts created an intertext. In one sense each of the national talk-show hosts was performing the same role. Each strove to create a...

Consensus Town Meeting Shows

Immediately following the verdict two talk shows The Oprah Winfrey Show on October 3, 1995, and Ted Koppel's Nightline Town Meeting Where Do We Go From Here '' abandoned their normal formats and became national ''town meetings'' of TV talk. Oprah Winfrey spoke as a host but also as an African American trying to come to terms with the trial and its verdict. Ted Koppel represented himself as a fair-minded explicator of the political and legal issues that surrounded the police investigation of the...

December

From the moment that noted writer Norman Mailer appeared on the set of The Dick Cavett Show of December 1,1971, with his literary nemesis Gore Vidal it was clear that sparks were going to fly. Mailer was seething overVidal's review of his recent book, The Prisoner of Sex. Mailer made it clear in his first seconds on the screen that he felt wounded and was out for revenge. The third member of the panel was Janet Flanner, seventy-nine years old at the time and a brilliant conversationalist...

Entertainment Talk

The subgenre of entertainment talk is one of the most diverse and popular on television. It has its roots in earlier entertainment forms such as vaudeville, in magazine articles designed to provoke laughter or entertainment, and in a wide range of entertainment radio from the 1920s through the 1950s. Producers of TV talk entertainment ''families'' (which often include announcers, sidekicks, musical ensembles, and sometimes the production staff of the talk show itself) developed their own...

Founding Traditions of Late Night Entertainment Talk

Many of the traditions of late-night entertainment talk, so familiar to television viewers of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, were established by two important talk-show hosts, Steve Allen and Jack Paar, during the eight years from 1954 to 1962, on Tonight , the third of Pat Weaver's daily ''communicator'' shows. Pat Weaver's Tonight was originally to be a late-night version of the mix of information, public service, and entertainment represented by the Today show, founded two and a half years...

History

Perhaps we tend not to see the talk show as a genre because, so far, no comprehensive history has defined its evolution and illustrated the variations within its common structures. Many of the best examples of early talk-show hosts and formats are gone, or available only in archives or from the hands of private collectors. This situation is changing. Yesterday's trash becomes today's history. Old talk shows are now running on cable channels. Through Pea-body and Emmy awards, books, articles,...

Introduction

After fifty years on the air, the TV talk show was no longer a vague but somewhat undefined creation of live television. It had emerged as a full-fledged, critically recognized genre, and critics and viewers alike were now taking the talk show seriously. In the hands of some host-producer teams TV talk hearkened back to earlier forms in the hands of others it looked forward to experiments with new blends and directions as the decade came to an end. And in some cases shows simply took older...

Introduction To The First Cycle

Before there were ''talk shows'' or talk-show hosts, before the term was even invented or had entered standard dictionaries,1 there were talk personalities. Without exception, the major talk personalities who appeared on television in the late 1940s and early 1950s had already distinguished themselves on radio. The founders of television talk Edward R. Murrow and Arthur Godfrey on CBS Dave Garroway, Arlene Francis, Steve Allen, and Jack Paar on NBC and Mike Wallace on Du-Mont were already...

John McLaughlin Provocateur

Television critic Howard Kurtz ends the opening chapter of his book on the rise of sensationalized forms of news talk in the 1990s as follows The power of talk has changed the very fabric of the country. What was once a rather stodgy collection of middle-aged media men engaged in polite debate has become a raucous and hugely profitable business whose collective racket seems to grow more deafening each week.40 One of those most responsible for this transformation is John McLaughlin. Born to...

Leno Letterman And The Latenight Talkshow Wars

Product wars bring attention to product lines and help stabilize them. This is especially true when the competition is between two product lines, like Pepsi and Coke, that dominate a market. Similarly, Jay Leno and David Letterman emerged as the two dominant late-night entertainment talk products of the 1990s, the competition between them centering at first around the question of who would succeed Johnny Carson as king of late night. The first stages of the late-night talkshow wars did not,...

Media Heroes

On the night after the verdict Larry King interviewed lead O. J. Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. King was eager to explore the well-publicized tension that existed between the defense team's original coordinator, Robert Shapiro, and Cochran, who had taken over the leadership of the team from him. Shapiro had made clear his displeasure with the ''race card'' defense of Cochran. Buried in the middle of Larry King Live that evening was a question that focused on domestic violence. King...

Monologue Routine January

In his definitive 1978 Profile of Carson in The New Yorker, drama critic Kenneth Tynan describes the careful course Carson and his advisors charted regarding guests and topics. Carson's producer Fred de Cordova told Tynan that Carson had ''an in-built sense of what his audience will take, and that Carson was ''the best self-editor in the business.59 This, Tynan points out, was only partially true. He relates an incident he observed in 1977 when, upon arriving for an interview with Carson, he...

New Blends

While hosts like Rosie O'Donnell and Jay Leno represented a throwback to an earlier era of TV talk, two new comedy hosts were establishing two successful new talk formats. Viewers had become increas ingly sophisticated about how television worked and were responding increasingly to shows that blended forms or crossed the boundaries between news and entertainment, fiction and reality. Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show were the two most successful...

New Consciousness Of The Power Of Tv Talk

By the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, and then into the 1990s, a number of new books began to appear about the TV talk show. Students of journalism and public sphere theorists debated the power of TV talk to expand or contain public discourse. Patricia Priest's Public Intimacies highlighted the experiences of guests on daytime talk shows, finding that they often had their own very clear strate gies in their appearances on nationwide television. Jeanne Heaton and Nona Wilson...

New Hosts New Audiences

The late 1980s saw an explosive expansion of national talk stars, including the first woman to challenge Carson in late-night comedy talk (Joan Rivers) the first African American to host a successful daytime talk show (Oprah Winfrey) the first self-identified Hispanic American to host a national talk show (Geraldo Rivera) and the first African American to host a late-night comedy talk show (Arsenio Hall). Viewers were being treated to hosts who were decidedly not the button-down Midwestern...

ONE History of Television Talk Defining a Genre

Introduction 1 Unspoken Rules 3 History 6 Three Major Subgenres 6 Cycles 9 Star Hosts 12 Talk Worlds 15 TWO The First Cycle (1948-1962) Experimentation, Consolidation, and Network Control CBS 19 Introduction to the First Cycle 19 Founders at CBS Murrow and Godfrey 21 close-up ''The Case of Milo Radulovich,'' See It Now, October 20, 1953 24 THREE The First Cycle, Part II Experimentation, Consolidation, and Network Control NBC and DuMont 34 Sylvester ''Pat'' Weaver NBC's Executive Visionary of...

Round

Cavett announces there are only ''three and a half minutes left'' in the show. ''I insist,'' he says, turning to Vidal, ''that you get them.'' Vidal has by this time been assaulted by Mailer continuously for almost half an hour with little or no chance to reply. He measures his words carefully now, aiming them directly to Mailer, who is now facing him. What I detest in you and I like many things in you, as you know, I'm a constant friend, despite this but your violence, your love of murder,...

SIX The Third Cycle Transitions

New Voices in Syndication Phil Donahue and Mike Douglas 93 An Independent Voice Bill Moyers 95 The Voices of Women Barbara Walters and Dinah Shore 100 Battling from Within Johnny Carson and NBC (1974-1980) 106 close-up Johnny Carson's Tonight The Execution Game,'' A Censored Monologue Routine, January 18, 1977, NBC 106 Conclusion The End of the Network Era 109 SEVEN The Fourth Cycle (1980-1990) The Post-Network Era 111 David Letterman and the Reinvention of the Late-Night Talk Show 113 close-up...

Star Hosts

In an industry in which talk shows are plentiful but the variety of talkshow forms relatively limited, individual hosts have played an enormous role in inventing and refining the talk show's most influential subgenres. Who those star hosts have been, what they have said, and the kinds of ideas they have represented are particularly relevant to a history of TV talk. The person and on-air persona of the talk-show host are closely intertwined. This is why the following chapters trace so closely...

Sylvester Pat Weaver Nbcs Executive Visionary of Television Talk

It is fitting that Sylvester Pat Weaver, the television executive who had the most to do with the founding forms of television talk, was himself a noted talker. A New Yorker Profile on Weaver that appeared in the fall of 1954 describes him as a man constantly in motion, issuing a stream of memos and directives from an L-shaped desk in a big, bleached-mahogany-paneled office on the sixth floor of the RCA Building. Sessions with Weaver were stimulating if sometimes confusing. It's rough, said one...

Talk Worlds

A talk world is a point of intersection or site in which a small group talks to itself while simultaneously addressing an invisible but clearly defined collective audience. Talk worlds may be captured by writing, audio recording, film, or television and relayed to their audiences at the distance of centuries, or in an electronic instant. In its most immediate form the talk of television takes place within a small group and within the relatively confined space of a TV studio, but it is...

Television

Til I If A History of the I HMrn TV Talk Show A Guide to Television Talk by Robert J. Erler AUSTIN UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS PRESS copyright 2002 by the university or texas press Printed in the United States of America Second paperback printing, 2004 Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to Permissions, University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819. The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of ansi niso z39.48-1992 (r1997)...

How the Camera Shaped Tonight

The way the camera operated illustrates the classic model of the late-night talk show institutionalized by Carson in the 1960s, and how camera and staging went together to create a talk world. On Carson's Tonight show, as distinct from the new format instituted by David Letterman on Late Night with David Letterman in the early 1980s, the camera recorded the action but did not participate in it. The Carson opening, like the start of most late-night entertainment talk shows, always included a...

Watergate As National Talk Event

''Be not deceived,'' Senator Sam Ervin had thundered. ''As they have sown, so shall they reap.'' The Watergate hearings of 1974 were covered gavel to gavel by PBS and were the premier news talk event of television in 1974. Never before had the spoken word been analyzed with such overwhelming thoroughness. Never had so much airtime been devoted to a single story. CBS ran a special program during this time entitled ''The Seventh Crisis Nixon on Nixon,'' referring pointedly to Nixon's book The Six...

By Robert J Erler and Bernard M Timberg

As this book evolved we realized that we had a double purpose to explore the history of American ''talk shows'' but also something broader, to develop a taxonomy of television ''fresh talk.'' Sociologist Erving Goffman applied the term ''fresh talk'' to talk that seems spontaneous but may in fact be quite planned or staged.1 The term turned out to be very appropriate for the kinds of talk we were examining. We felt that a taxonomy of television talk could be helpful to both scholars and...

The Voices Of Women Barbara Walters and Dinah Shore

Barbara Walters did not have her own show to host until the late 1970s, though by that time she was clearly established as one of the preemi nent figures of TV news talk. She had been working hard ever since she came to the Today show in 1961, working even harder after her father declared bankruptcy in 1966 and Walters found herself in the position of supporting her parents and sister.41 But there was more than money involved in Barbara Walters' drive to become one of television's top...

The Challengers Bishop Frost GriffinandCavett

At first glance the contenders to Johnny Carson's throne in late-night television did not have much in common Joey Bishop, a fifty-two-year-old stand-up comedian Dick Cavett, a Yale graduate and thirty-four-year-old comedy writer from Nebraska David Frost, a thirty-one-year-old English television personality and Merv Griffin, a singer who had developed two game shows and had, for four years, run a successful nationally syndicated talk show for the Westinghouse network. From 1967 to 1972 each of...

News Talk

Television news talk in its earliest examples used already existing models. The press conference had already been modified on radio into a panel-interview format. Meet the Press is the oldest and longest-lived example of this type, which has proved to be one of the most unchanging of all news talk formats, although since Tim Russert's arrival the format has become looser. Similarly, prior models of debate and town meeting were used by television early on. In the 1980s Phil Donahue and Vladimir...

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...

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...

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...