About The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
Capturing television history, one voice at a time
Inspired by the Shoah Visual History Foundation's interviews, television executive Dean Valentine sought to adapt Shoah's life-history model to create an oral history of television—a video collection of first-person interviews with those involved in the birth and growth of the American television industry. In 1996 Valentine brought the idea to then-Television Academy president Richard Frank and Foundation chairman Thomas W. Sarnoff, who immediately saw the value of such a project. In 1997, the Television Academy Foundation officially launched the Archive of American Television to capture the stories behind the making of television and preserve them for future generations. In 2017, the Archive was renamed The Interviews: An Oral History of Television. (To learn more about our program’s origins, check out our official history.)
Since The Interviews’ beginnings in 1996, we have amassed over 900 oral history interviews (approximately 4,000 hours) with TV professionals across a range of specialties and genres.
Professions covered include: Actors, Directors, Writers, Producers, Art Directors, Stunt Coordinators, Composers, Music Directors, Historians, News Anchors, Talk Show Hosts, Religious Broadcasters, Puppeteers, Animators, Lighting Designers, Editors, Production Designers, Hairstylists, Announcers, Sportscasters, Audio Engineers, Camera Operators, Publicists, Advertising Executives, Network Founders and more. TV Genres covered include: Animation, Children's Programming, Comedy, Detective shows, Daytime & Primetime serials, Dramas, Game Shows, Late Night, Talk Shows, Legal Dramas, Medical Dramas, Music & Variety, News & Documentary, Reality TV, Religious Programming, Sci-Fi, Sports, TV Movies, Mini-series, and Westerns. Topics covered include: TV's Golden Age, Pop Culture, Television and the Presidency, the Television Industry, Standards & Practices, Censorship, The Creative Process, Network Creation, The Hollywood Blacklist, Media Consolidation, Studio Management, the Quiz Show Scandals, Technological Innovation, Historic Events and Social Change, and more.
Conversations include discussions of:
- interviewees’ early years and influences
- how they became interested in and launched a career in television
- TV shows they worked on and industry professionals they worked with
- developing their craft
- personal and professional milestones
- major historical events that intersected with their professional lives and how those incidents shaped them
- lessons learned and advice to aspiring professionals
Interviewees are selected by a committee of academics, industry professionals, and past interviewees. While the initial mission of The Interviews was to preserve the voices of those involved with the beginning of television, it has since expanded to safeguard the narratives of more recent storytellers and those denied access to the industry at its inception.
The collection is produced in the interest of preserving the history of television. It is intended as primary source material for future generations, to preserve the stories behind the making of television. The conversations present the personal viewpoints of individuals working within the television industry. The recollections and perspectives interviewees offer are their truths, and the Television Academy Foundation is honored to have the opportunity to record them.
To maintain the historical and educational integrity of the collection, the interviews are presented as they were recorded—captured at a particular moment in time. They are presented uncut and unscripted. The interviews are never edited for content, but in rare cases an interviewee may request to amend their own words for the historical record.
Dean Valentine, Thomas W. Sarnoff, Grant A. Tinker, David L. Wolper, and founding executive producer Michael Rosen were the initial forces behind this oral history collection. Television Academy Foundation Chairman Madeline Di Nonno, Chair Emeritus Thomas W. Sarnoff, and Interviews Committee Chair Margaret Loesch continue to guide The Interviews' success.
We produce, cross-reference, and index new interviews each year, and work steadily with our website team to fine-tune our search functionality. If you have trouble accessing or viewing the interviews, or if you would like to help sponsor our efforts, please contact us.
THE INTERVIEWS STAFF
- Jenni Matz, Director, matz [at] televisionacademy.com
- Adrienne Faillace, Producer, faillace [at] televisionacademy.com
- Jenna Hymes, Digital Projects Manager, hymes [at] televisionacademy.com
- Nora Bates, Production Coordinator, bates [at] televisionacademy.com
Television Academy Foundation
5220 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
For General Inquiries. Licensing information & Press Contact:
interviews [at] televisionacademy.com
With the launch of the Television Academy Foundation’s oral history program, Dean Valentine’s vision resulted in a gift for us all. For scholars, journalists, and TV fans alike, The Interviews provides a goldmine of unique, primary source material, rich with TV history nuggets. Browse the collection to unearth the many treasures contained within The Interviews: An Oral History of Television.