Buz Kohan

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Alan "Buz" Kohan was interviewed for nearly five hours in Los Angeles, CA. He talks about growing up in NY, his early childhood, and attending Eastman School of Music. He discusses working with longtime writing partner Bill Angelos on The Perry Como Special, and The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, and speaks of becoming a producer/writer on The Carol Burnett Show, for which he won an Emmy award. He speaks of his "speciality" - writing awards shows - and details events from the twenty-plus Academy Award shows on which he was a writer (from 1973-1991). He comments on writing for several variety shows, including The Ann-Margret Special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, The Neil Diamond Special, Bette Midler: Ol' Red Hair is Back, The Bob Hope Special, Shirley MacLaine at the Lido, George Burns and John Denver: Two of a Kind; Baryshnikov in Hollywood, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Comic Relief,  Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration, among many others. Karen Herman conducted the interview on September 1, 2011.

"The Academy Awards - The Oscars. I've done twenty of them. It's a specialty; if your head hurts, you don't go to a podiatrist, you go to a brain surgeon. Writing awards shows is a specialty and if you've done it, at least they can say 'hey, he did it before-  I thought he'd be good.' But for the most part, it's a thankless job -- and you thank God you got it."  

Highlights
Buz Kohan on his "speciality" when it comes to writing for Awards shows
Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Billy Crystal as host of the show
Buz Kohan on how he got his nickname
Buz Kohan on his advice to aspiring writers
Buz Kohan on the required exposition necessary when writing for the Academy Awards show
Full Interview

Chapter 2

On his childhood, education and family; on his time serving in the Army
On getting his start as a writer; on working in animation
On writing for Goodman Ace on radio; working with Sammy Davis Jr, Carol Burnett

Chapter 3

On writing on the Carol Burnett Show; on ending his writing partnership with Bill Angelos; on how changes in technology affected his writing style; on winning an Emmy
On his solo career as a writer; on The Beatles at Shea Stadium; on working with Bette Midler, Cher, Shirley Maclaine, Barbra Streisand

Chapter 4

On his long tenure writing for the Academy Awards shows
On the process of writing the Oscars; on staying topical; on the unscripted moments
On some memorable unscripted moments on the Academy Awards shows; on Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg as hosts of the show
On the difficulties of hosting the Academy Awards show; on the changes to the show through the years; on why he thinks he is asked to keep writing for the show
On writing for Comic Relief; Motown 25

Chapter 5

On working on "Baryshnikov in Hollywood" special; The Muppets special; 
On working with Sammy Davis, Jr. on his 60th Anniversary Celebration and with Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, and Frank Sinatra
On his advice to aspiring writers
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows (The Oscars)
03:34
Buz Kohan on the challenges of writing for the Academy Awards "it's a dinasaur"
Buz Kohan on the stigma of being a writer of the Academy Awards  shows; on the formula
Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; the unscripted moment when Jack Palance did pushups on stage; on why Johnny Carson was a good host
Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Billy Crystal as host of the show
Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Whoopi Goldlberg as host of the show
01:38
Buz Kohan on the required exposition necessary when writing for the Academy Awards show
Buz Kohan on his "speciality" when it comes to writing for Awards shows

Carol Burnett Show, The (1967-78)

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Buz Kohan on writing for The Carol Burnett Show
Buz Kohan on writing The Carol Burnett Show and working with special guest star Carl Reiner

Comic Relief Specials

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Buz Kohan on writing for Comic Relief specials

Odd Couple, The (1970-75)

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Buz Kohan on writing for The Odd Couple

Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet To Come

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Buz Kohan on working with Frank Sinatra on his special
Genres

Awards Shows

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Buz Kohan on the challenges of writing for the Academy Awards shows
People

Bill Angelos

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Buz Kohan on his writing partner Bill Angelos

Roone Arledge

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Buz Kohan on working with the Muppets; being introduced to Jim Henson by Roone Arledge

George Burns

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Buz Kohan on working with George Burns

Johnny Carson

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Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Carson hosting the Award show

Cher

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Buz Kohan on working with Cher
02:24

Billy Crystal

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Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Billy Crystal as host of the show
05:08

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Buz Kohan on working with Sammy Davis Jr
Buz Kohan on working with Sammy Davis, Jr. on his 60th Anniversary Celebration 
Buz Kohan on working with Sammy Davis, Jr. on his 60th Anniversary Celebration and his tap dance number with Gregory Hines

Whoopi Goldberg

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Buz Kohan on writing for the Academy Awards shows; on Whoopi Goldlberg as host of the show
01:38

Dwight Hemion

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Buz Kohan on working with the writing team of Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion on an Ann-Margret special

Michael Jackson

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Buz Kohan on convincing Michael Jackson to perform the song he wrote "You Were There" at Sammy Davis Jr.'s 60th Anniversary Celebration

Shirley MacLaine

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Buz Kohan on working with Shirley MacLaine
02:39

Chris Rock

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Buz Kohan on the difficulties Chris Rock had in hosting the Academy Awards show
00:42

Frank Sinatra

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Buz Kohan on working with Frank Sinatra

Gary Smith

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Buz Kohan on working with the writing team of Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion on an Ann-Margret special

Barbra Streisand

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Buz Kohan on working with Barbra Streisand

Bob Zmuda

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Buz Kohan on Bob Zmuda's Comic Relief series

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