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."

Highlights
Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked
04:06
Brandon Stoddard on developing the ABC Afterschool Specials
03:22
Brandon Stoddard on problems with selling ad time for Roots  and problems with Southern affiliates
04:50
Brandon Stoddard on the difficulties of airing The Day After
08:43
Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
03:18
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
14:23
On his career in advertising; on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children
15:48

Chapter 2

On the culture at ABC when he started; on working as Director of Daytime Programming for ABC
16:22
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
14:02

Chapter 3

On developing Roots; on casting Roots; on problems selling Roots to advertisers
12:08
On Roots' ratings success and his reaction to it; on developing Roots: The Next Generations; on developing The Day After
16:44

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
16:38
On developing the mini-series Amerika; on developing The Thorn Birds
11:37

Chapter 5

On developing and casting The Winds of War; on developing War and Remembrance
13:46
On developing the mini-series Masada; on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
16:03

Chapter 6

On developing Moonlighting; on developing Roseanne; on moving to ABC Productions
15:53
On quitting television to teach; on his favorite projects of his career; on how television has changed
13:22
Shows

ABC Afterschool Specials

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the ABC Afterschool Specials
03:22

All My Children

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children
05:14

Day After, The

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
05:16
Brandon Stoddard on the difficulties of airing The Day After
08:43
Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After
04:35
Brandon Stoddard on the reaction to The Day After
03:20

Friendly Fire

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Brandon Stoddard on his favorite projects of his career
01:43

Herman Wouk's The Winds of War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series The Winds of War
02:49
Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War
04:32

Irwin Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Rich Man, Poor Man
06:18

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
04:06

Mad Men

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Brandon Stoddard on his career in advertising
04:10

Masada

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series Masada
04:25

Moonlighting

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting
03:34

Roots

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots
05:31
Brandon Stoddard on casting LeVar Burton on Roots
01:47
Brandon Stoddard on problems with selling ad time for Roots and problems with Southern affiliates
04:50
Brandon Stoddard on Roots' ratings
04:43
Brandon Stoddard on his personal reaction to Roots
03:40
Brandon Stoddard on network reaction after Roots aired
01:31

Roots: The Next Generations

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots: The Next Generations
01:34

Roseanne

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
03:18

Thirtysomething

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Brandon Stoddard on his favorite projects of his career
01:43

Thorn Birds, The

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds
04:28

War and Remembrance

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Brandon Stoddard on developing War and Remembrance
04:00
Brandon Stoddard on the staggering budget of War and Remembrance
02:25
Topics

Civil Rights Movement

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots  and Roots: The Next Generations
23:36

Cold War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
16:38

Criticism of TV

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Brandon Stoddard on television living up to its potential and how the industry has changed
01:57

Ronald Reagan

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Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After
04:35

Television Industry

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Brandon Stoddard on television living up to its potential and how the industry has changed
01:57

Television and the Presidency

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Brandon Stoddard on White House reaction to The Day After
04:35

War

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War  and War and Remembrance 
13:46

World War II

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War  and War and Remembrance 
13:46
Professions

Executives

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
06:08
Brandon Stoddard on his guiding philosophy of development
02:03
Brandon Stoddard on teaching development
02:34

Television Executive

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
06:08
Brandon Stoddard on his guiding philosophy of development
02:03
Brandon Stoddard on teaching development
02:34
Genres

Comedy Series

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
03:18

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting
05:16

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Rich Man, Poor Man
06:08
Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked
04:06
Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots and Roots: The Next Generations
23:36
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
05:16
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Day After
16:38
Brandon Stoddard on developing Amerika
02:41
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds
04:28
Brandon Stoddard on developing The Winds of War and War and Remembrance 
13:46
Brandon Stoddard on developing Masada
04:25
People

Steven Bochco

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Brandon Stoddard on Steven Bochco and Aaron Spelling
02:38

LeVar Burton

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Brandon Stoddard on casting LeVar Burton on Roots
01:47

Glenn Gordon Caron

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting
03:34

Richard Chamberlain

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds
04:28

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Brandon Stoddard on the culture at ABC when he started there
02:35

Alex Haley

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots
05:31

Katharine Hepburn

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the "novel for television" and early made-for-television movies on which he worked
04:06

Robert Mitchum

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Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War
04:32

Leslie Moonves

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
06:08

Paul Newman

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Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War
04:32

Agnes Nixon

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children
05:13

Irna Phillips

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Brandon Stoddard on going to work for ABC and launching All My Children
05:12

Roseanne

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roseanne
03:18

Cybill Shepherd

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting
05:16

Aaron Spelling

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Brandon Stoddard on Steven Bochco and Aaron Spelling
02:38

Barbara Stanwyck

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Brandon Stoddard on developing The Thorn Birds
04:28

Brandon Tartikoff

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Brandon Stoddard on his stint as President of ABC Entertainment 
06:08

Bruce Willis

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Moonlighting
05:16

David L. Wolper

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Brandon Stoddard on developing Roots
05:31

Herman Wouk

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Brandon Stoddard on developing the mini-series The Winds of War
02:49
Brandon Stoddard on casting The Winds of War
04:32

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