Dick Ebersol

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his six-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Dick Ebersol talks about his career in both sports and entertainment programming. He discusses his early work in sports programming at ABC -- before, during and after his time at Yale University -- and shares tales of his involvement with the 1968 Winter and Summer Olympics. He recounts the tragedy of the 1972 Munich Olympics, and his friendships with Howard Cosell, Jim McKay, and Roone Arledge. Ebersol then describes his shift into entertainment programming and becoming co-creator of Saturday Night Live with Lorne Michaels. He outlines the show's production schedule, memorable cast members, and his long association and friendship with Lorne Michaels. He details the plane crash he was in that took the life of his youngest son, Teddy, and speaks of how the loss affected him and his wife, actress Susan Saint James. Ebersol discusses several other shows he produced, including Friday Night Videos and Later with Bob Costas, and talks of his time as President of NBC Sports, where his career has come full circle and he's once again involved with, this time overseeing, coverage of the Olympic games. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview in New York, NY in two sessions on June 23 and 24, 2000.

"If somebody was to write on my tombstone whatever association I had with 'Saturday Night Live,' the most important association that I'd like to have is, 'when it was almost dead, he revived it.'"

Highlights
Dick Ebersol on why Saturday Night Live is a great television institution
03:26
Dick Ebersol on Jim McKay announcing the death of the Israeli Olympic team - "They're all gone"
02:01
Dick Ebersol on reviving Saturday Night Live
01:30
Dick Ebersol on the most famous thing that ever went wrong for him on Saturday Night Live
03:34
Dick Ebersol on one of the best pieces of advice he ever received
01:18
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on the lessons he learned from his father; on his early association with ABC Sports and Wide World of Sports; on Jim McKay and Roone Arledge; on helpful advice he received
On the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France; on the Mexico Summer Olympics in 1968; on Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith

Chapter 2

On graduating from Yale; on producing his first film for the Olympics; on the 1972 Munich Olympics
On moving from ABC to NBC Sports; on what would become Saturday Night Live
On the "live" part of Saturday Night Live; on selling Saturday Night Live to affiliates; on advice from Johnny Carson 

Chapter 3

On maintaining his relationship with ABC Sports guys; on key people joining the cast and staff of Saturday Night Live
On the logistics of SNL's production; on Andy Kaufman
On the success of the show; on Richard Pryor hosting the show; on "Bee Movie"; on Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford; on the show's involvement with politics; on Saturday Night Live  winning 4 Emmys at the end of the first season; on successful hosts

Chapter 4

On Steve Martin's time on Saturday Night Live; on leaving the show in 1976 and returning in 1981; on working for NBC as head of comedy/variety programming and hiring Brandon Tartikoff; on being fired by Fred Silverman
On the years he was gone from Saturday Night Live when Jean Doumanian was head of the show; on reviving Saturday Night Live; on meeting Susan Saint James, who would become his wife; on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics

Chapter 5

On a typical week of putting together an episode of Saturday Night Live; on the tradition of the cast party after each episode; on 30 Rockefeller Plaza; on Eddie Murphy's ideas for the show - on killing "Buckwheat"; on censorship issues on Saturday Night Live
On Tuesday through Saturday of the production week of Saturday Night Live - makeup and costumes, set design, writing, and keeping the host calm; on John Madden hosting Saturday Night Live  and the scariest moment he's ever had as a producer

Chapter 6

On dress rehearsal and the live show of Saturday Night Live; on his friendship with Lorne Michaels; on the plane crash he was in with two of his sons, and the death of his son, Teddy
On leaving Saturday Night Live; on Friday Night Videos and Later with Bob Costas; on Brandon Tartikoff asking him to run NBC's Sports division and becoming Chairman

Chapter 7

On the on the Beijing Olympics  
Shows

Kate & Allie

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Dick Ebersol on leaving Saturday Night Live to be a full time parent while wife Susan Saint James did Kate & Allie
02:20

Later with Bob Costas

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Dick Ebersol on producing Later with Bob Costas
06:52

Olympics

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Dick Ebersol on the success of The Olympics in the U.S. - women
04:06
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
10:46
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico
02:02
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
23:56
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
05:34
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff asking him to run NBC's Sports division
05:00
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
04:48
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  
15:05

Saturday Night Live

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Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live
03:57
Dick Ebersol on coming up with the format for Saturday Night Live
22:30
Dick Ebersol on the buildup to, casting, and premiere of Saturday Night Live
01:01:39
Dick Ebersol on the hosts and music on Saturday Night Live
17:54
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live; on reviving the show
17:54
Dick Ebersol on a typical week of putting together an episode of Saturday Night Live
01:00:56
Dick Ebersol on dress rehearsal and the live show of Saturday Night Live
21:19

Saturday Night's Main Event

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Dick Ebersol on producing Saturday Night's Main Event
03:19

Special Bulletin

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Dick Ebersol on friend Don Ohlmeyer's Special Bulletin
03:09
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Dick Ebersol on censorship issues on Saturday Night Live
05:21

Characters & Catchphrases

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Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy wanting to kill "Buckwheat"
01:19
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers
00:28

Comedy

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Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor's word association skit when hosting Saturday Night Live
00:43

Emmy Awards

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Dick Ebersol on Saturday Night Live  winning 4 Emmys at the end of the first season
02:29

Gerald Ford

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Dick Ebersol on "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"
01:18

Memorable Moments on Television

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Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
05:34

Olympic Games

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Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
10:46
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico
02:02
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
23:56
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
05:34
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
04:48
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  
15:05

We Laughed

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Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy wanting to kill "Buckwheat"
01:19

Women

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Dick Ebersol on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' time on Saturday Night Live
03:12
Professions

Producers

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Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live's  and getting the chance to produce late night
03:57
Dick Ebersol on the most interesting part of being a producer of Saturday Night Live
01:17
Dick Ebersol on John Madden hosting Saturday Night Live  and the scariest moment he's ever had as a producer
03:39

Television Executive

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Dick Ebersol on hiring Brandon Tartikoff
09:45
Dick Ebersol on becoming President of NBC Sports and then naming himself Chairman 
01:05
Genres

Late Night

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Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live
27:08
Dick Ebersol on Dick Ebersol on the buildup to, casting, and premiere of Saturday Night Live
01:01:37
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live and on reviving the show
17:54
Dick Ebersol on a typical week of putting together an episode of Saturday Night Live
01:00:56
Dick Ebersol on dress rehearsal and the live show of Saturday Night Live
21:19

Sports

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Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
09:23
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
10:46
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
23:56
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
05:34
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
04:48
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  
15:05
People

Muhammad Ali

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Dick Ebersol on Howard Cosell's defense of Muhammad Ali
01:34
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
05:34

Roone Arledge

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Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge's talents - the key to sports on television is storytelling
05:20
Dick Ebersol on the partnership of Jim McKay and Roone Arledge
01:02
Dick Ebersol on developing his relationship with Roone Arledge; on Arledge's contributions to sports
08:53
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
09:23
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge and the 1972 Munich Olympics
15:43
Dick Ebersol on moving from ABC to NBC
06:30
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge
02:43
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge asking him to come be his number two at ABC
01:58

Dan Aykroyd

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Dick Ebersol on meeting Dan Aykroyd, who would soon join the cast of Saturday Night Live
00:38
Dick Ebersol on meeting Dan Aykroyd, who would soon join the cast of Saturday Night Live
02:42
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers
00:28

Anne Beatts

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Dick Ebersol on writer Anne Beatts, writer for Saturday Night Live
02:34

John Belushi

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Dick Ebersol on John Belushi
00:24
Dick Ebersol on John Belushi joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
04:51
Dick Ebersol on getting the bee suits into the third episode of Saturday Night Live
02:14
Dick Ebersol on how John Belushi agreed to sign his contract
00:49
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers
00:28
Dick Ebersol on the most famous thing that ever went wrong for him on Saturday Night Live
03:34

Bernie Brillstein

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Dick Ebersol on Lorne Michaels' agent Bernie Brillstein arranging for adult Muppets for Saturday Night Live
00:54
Dick Ebersol on how John Belushi agreed to sign his contract
00:49

Albert Brooks

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Dick Ebersol on getting Albert Brooks for Saturday Night Live
00:57

George Carlin

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Dick Ebersol on George Carlin's outfit and monologue for the first show 
05:06

Johnny Carson

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Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live's
03:57
Dick Ebersol on being summoned with Lorne Michaels to see Johnny Carson 
04:37

Chevy Chase

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Dick Ebersol on Chevy Chase joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, and his writing on the first season of the show
01:43
Dick Ebersol on Chevy Chase joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, after being hired as a writer
03:43
Dick Ebersol on "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"
01:18
Dick Ebersol on Chevy Chase leaving Saturday Night Live
01:00
Dick Ebersol on getting Chevy Chase to do the cold opening of the revamped Saturday Night Live
01:51

Bill Clinton

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Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
01:02

Fred De Cordova

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Dick Ebersol on being summoned with Lorne Michaels to see Johnny Carson with his producer Fred De Cordova
02:45

Howard Cosell

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Dick Ebersol on Howard Cosell
00:23
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
05:54
Dick Ebersol on learning that the Israeli Olympic team had been taken hostage
03:32

Bob Costas

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Dick Ebersol on fun facts to tell in Opening Cermonies of The Olympics
00:54
Dick Ebersol on Bob Costas hosting Later  
06:52

Walter Cronkite

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Dick Ebersol on Walter Cronkite's telegram to Jim McKay
00:29

Billy Crystal

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Dick Ebersol on Billy Crystal's intended role for the premiere of Saturday Night Live
01:33
Dick Ebersol on Billy Crystal's intended role for the premiere of Saturday Night Live, and getting him into the cast years later
07:22
Dick Ebersol on Ringo Starr hosting Saturday Night Live
01:54

Jane Curtin

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Dick Ebersol on Jane Curtin joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
01:16

Jean Doumanian

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Dick Ebersol on the years he was gone from Saturday Night Live when Jean Doumanian was head of the show
08:54

Farrah Fawcett

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Dick Ebersol on Farrah Fawcett possibly hosting Saturday Night Live
01:29

Gerald Ford

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Dick Ebersol on "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"
01:18

Al Franken

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Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live
00:52

Frank Gifford

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Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
03:29

Curt Gowdy

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Dick Ebersol on the first time 2 announcers fought over him
04:01

Ron Howard

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Dick Ebersol on making a deal with Ron Howard to make movies of the week
01:57

Susan Saint James

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Dick Ebersol on leaving Saturday Night Live to be a full time parent while wife Susan Saint James did Kate & Allie
02:20
Dick Ebersol on meeting Susan Saint James, who would become his wife
02:55
Dick Ebersol on taking host Susan Saint James to dinner when she hosted Saturday Night Live
01:55
Dick Ebersol on the plane accident that killed his son, Teddy; on his family going on Oprah
14:29

Andy Kaufman

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Dick Ebersol on Andy Kaufman joining Saturday Night Live
08:01

Tim Kazurinsky

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Dick Ebersol on hiring Tim Kazurinsky for Saturday Night Live
02:56

Louise Lasser

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Dick Ebersol on Louise Lasser quitting hosting duties of Saturday Night Live
01:00

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Dick Ebersol on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' time on Saturday Night Live
03:12

John Madden

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Dick Ebersol on John Madden hosting Saturday Night Live  and the scariest moment he's ever had as a producer
03:39
Dick Ebersol on friend John Madden
00:38

Steve Martin

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Dick Ebersol on Steve Martin hosting Saturday Night Live
01:13
Dick Ebersol on Steve Martin's time on Saturday Night Live
02:53

Jim McKay

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Dick Ebersol on the partnership of Jim McKay and Roone Arledge
01:02
Dick Ebersol on the first time 2 announcers fought over him
04:01
Dick Ebersol on learning that the Israeli Olympic team had been taken hostage
09:46

Don Meredith

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Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
03:13

Lorne Michaels

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Dick Ebersol on Lorne Michaels and partnering up for Saturday Night Live
21:17
Dick Ebersol on hiring the cast of Saturday Night Live
02:42
Dick Ebersol on Chevy Chase joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, after being hired as a writer
03:43
Dick Ebersol on Andy Kaufman joining Saturday Night Live
08:01
Dick Ebersol on what Lorne Michaels thought of Ebersol's music selections for Saturday Night Live
00:55
Dick Ebersol on the friendship between Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon
02:35
Dick Ebersol on troubles between Fred Silverman and Lorne Michaels, and Michaels leaving the show
09:29
Dick Ebersol on the offices and awe inspired by 30 Rockefeller Plaza
02:12
Dick Ebersol on how crucial Lorne Michaels is to Saturday Night Live
00:49
Dick Ebersol on his friendship with Lorne Michaels
01:48

Garrett Morris

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Dick Ebersol on Garrett Morris joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
00:13

Eddie Murphy

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Dick Ebersol on recognizing Eddie Murphy's talent
01:17
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy's "Little Richard Simmon's Show" and other popular skits on Saturday Night Live
01:19
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy's ideas for the show - on killing "Buckwheat"
02:55

Laraine Newman

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Dick Ebersol on Laraine Newmain joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
01:41

Michael O'Donoghue

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Dick Ebersol on writer Michael O'Donoghue, writer for Saturday Night Live
03:26
Dick Ebersol on re-hiring Michael O'Donoghue as head writer of Saturday Night Live
00:45

Ryan O'Neal

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Dick Ebersol on Farrah Fawcett possibly hosting Saturday Night Live
01:29

Don Ohlmeyer

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Dick Ebersol on moving from ABC to NBC
02:33
Dick Ebersol on friend Don Ohlmeyer 
03:48

Richard Pryor

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Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor signing on and backing out of Saturday Night Live
02:34
Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor hosting Saturday Night Live
02:00

Gilda Radner

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Dick Ebersol on Gilda Radner joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
02:07

Rob Reiner

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Dick Ebersol on getting the bee suits into the third episode of Saturday Night Live
02:14

Tim Russert

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Dick Ebersol on the plane accident that killed his son, Teddy
09:11

Herbert Sargent

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Dick Ebersol on Herb Sargent's involvement with Saturday Night Live
02:13
Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live
00:52

Herbert S. Schlosser

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Dick Ebersol on Herb Schlosser luring him to NBC
06:30

Fred Silverman

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Dick Ebersol on troubles between Fred Silverman and Lorne Michaels, and Michaels leaving the show
09:29
Dick Ebersol on Fred Silverman leaving ABC for NBC and ultimately firing Ebersol
08:04

Paul Simon

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Dick Ebersol on the friendship between Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon
02:35

Ringo Starr

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Dick Ebersol on Ringo Starr hosting Saturday Night Live
01:54

Brandon Tartikoff

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Dick Ebersol on telling Brandon Tartikoff he wanted to change up the cast of Saturday Night Live
04:38
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff beliving SNL can continue only if Ebersol or Lorne Michaels returns to the show
09:29
Dick Ebersol on hiring Brandon Tartikoff
09:45
Dick Ebersol on his dear friend, Brandon Tartikoff
05:46
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live
02:41
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff asking him to run NBC's Sports division
05:00

Grant Tinker

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Dick Ebersol on producing Saturday Night's Main Event
01:09

Arturo Toscanini

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Dick Ebersol on the history of Studio 8H
01:09

Mike Wallace

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Dick Ebersol on Mike Wallace appearing on Later with Bob Costas
03:06

Jack Welch

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Dick Ebersol on becoming President of NBC Sports and then naming himself Chairman 
00:06

Tom Werner

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Dick Ebersol on Tom Werner's tribute to Eberson's son, Teddy
01:53

Oprah Winfrey

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Dick Ebersol on his family going on Oprah
05:18

Alan Zweibel

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Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live
00:52

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