Brandon Stoddard

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Brandon Stoddard (1937-2014) talks about his early interest in acting despite the pressures to enter law (both his parents were lawyers and the profession went back five generations on his father's side and six generations on his mother's side). He describes his short-lived tenure at Columbia Law School and his entrance into the workforce in the advertising industry, at BBD&O and later Grey Advertising. He talks about his transition to television, becoming the Director of Daytime Programming at ABC.  He recounts the shows that appeared on the schedule during his tenure, including the groundbreaking and award-winning ABC Afterschool Specials and the pop culture classic Schoolhouse Roc k.  He speaks of his appointment to Vice President of Motion Pictures for Television at ABC and chronicles the rise of the television miniseries from QBVII; to Rich Man, Poor Man; to the ratings hit Roots. For Roots, he recalls the original pitch meeting with Alex Haley, discusses the casting of unknown LeVar Burton, and details the show's promotion and placement on the schedule. He notes the explosion of the television miniseries in the wake of Roots and details the development and production of The Winds of War, The Thorn Birds, and Masada. Stoddard then speaks in-depth about one of the most controversial programs ever to air, the television movie The Day After, which depicted the effects of a nuclear holocaust on a small town in Kansas. He talks about coming up with the idea for the telefilm, the intense reaction from the political community (including The White House), and the personal effect that the telefilm's controversy had on his life. He also mentions other prestigious television movies he helmed, including Love Among the Ruins and Friendly Fire. He relates how he became the President of ABC Entertainment in the mid 1980s, and talks about hit shows Moonlighting, Roseanne, and China Beach. Lastly, he discusses his later work as an independent producer and as an Adjunct Professor at USC. Brian Lowry conducted the interview on December 12, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. 

"It's important to the audience that shows be about something. Unless you know what it's truly about, you will never understand your show and it'll never be a good show. Never."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked
Brandon Stoddard on developing the ABC Afterschool Specials
Brandon Stoddard on problems with selling ad time for Roots  and problems with Southern affiliates
Brandon Stoddard on the difficulties of airing The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on acting as a child; on how being an actor helped him later as an executive
On his career in advertising; on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children

Chapter 2

On the culture at ABC when he started; on working as Director of Daytime Programming for ABC
On becoming Vice-President of Motion Pictures at ABC; on various movies he developed at ABC, including Love Among the Ruins and Rich Man, Poor Man

Chapter 3

On developing Roots; on casting Roots; on problems selling Roots to advertisers
On Roots' ratings success and his reaction to it; on developing Roots: The Next Generations; on developing The Day After

Chapter 4

On the difficulties of airing The Day After; on White House reaction to The Day After; on public reaction to The Day After
On developing the mini-series Amerika; on developing The Thorn Birds

Chapter 5

On developing and casting The Winds of War; on developing War and Remembrance
On developing the mini-series Masada; on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 

Chapter 6

On developing Moonlighting; on developing Roseanne; on moving to ABC Productions
On quitting television to teach; on his favorite projects of his career; on how television has changed
Shows

ABC Afterschool Specials

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the ABC Afterschool Specials

All My Children

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children

Day After, The

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on the difficulties of airing The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on the reaction to The Day After

Friendly Fire

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Brandon Stoddard on his favorite projects of his career

Herman Wouk's The Winds of War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series The Winds of War
Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War

Irwin Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Rich Man, Poor Man

Love Among the Ruins

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked

Mad Men

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Brandon Stoddard on his career in advertising

Masada

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series Masada

Moonlighting

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting

Roots

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots
Brandon Stoddard on casting LeVar Burton on Roots
Brandon Stoddard on problems with selling ad time for Roots and problems with Southern affiliates
Brandon Stoddard on Roots' ratings
Brandon Stoddard on his personal reaction to Roots
Brandon Stoddard on network reaction after Roots aired

Roots: The Next Generations

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots: The Next Generations

Roseanne

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne

Thirtysomething

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Brandon Stoddard on his favorite projects of his career

Thorn Birds, The

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds

War and Remembrance

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Brandon Stoddard on developing War and Remembrance
Brandon Stoddard on the staggering budget of War and Remembrance
Topics

Civil Rights Movement

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots  and Roots: The Next Generations

Cold War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After

Criticism of TV

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Brandon Stoddard on television living up to its potential and how the industry has changed

Ronald Reagan

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Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After

Television Industry

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Brandon Stoddard on television living up to its potential and how the industry has changed

Television and the Presidency

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Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After

War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War  and War and Remembrance 

World War II

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War  and War and Remembrance 
Professions

Executives

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
Brandon Stoddard on his guiding philosophy of development
Brandon Stoddard on teaching development

Television Executive

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
Brandon Stoddard on his guiding philosophy of development
Brandon Stoddard on teaching development
Genres

Comedy Series

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Rich Man, Poor Man
Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked
Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots and Roots: The Next Generations
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
Brandon Stoddard on developing Amerika
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War and War and Remembrance 
Brandon Stoddard on developing Masada
People

Steven Bochco

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Brandon Stoddard on Steven Bochco and Aaron Spelling

LeVar Burton

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Brandon Stoddard on casting LeVar Burton on Roots

Glenn Gordon Caron

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting

Richard Chamberlain

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Brandon Stoddard on the culture at ABC when he started there

Alex Haley

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots

Katharine Hepburn

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked

Robert Mitchum

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Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War

Leslie Moonves

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 

Paul Newman

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Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War

Agnes Nixon

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children

Irna Phillips

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children

Roseanne

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne

Cybill Shepherd

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting

Aaron Spelling

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Brandon Stoddard on Steven Bochco and Aaron Spelling

Barbara Stanwyck

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds

Brandon Tartikoff

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 

Bruce Willis

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting

David L. Wolper

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots

Herman Wouk

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series The Winds of War
Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War

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