Dick Ebersol

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

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.'"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Dick Ebersol on why Saturday Night Live is a great television institution
Dick Ebersol on Jim McKay announcing the death of the Israeli Olympic team - "They're all gone"
Dick Ebersol on reviving Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the most famous thing that ever went wrong for him on Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on one of the best pieces of advice he ever received
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

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on leaving Saturday Night Live to be a full time parent while wife Susan Saint James did Kate & Allie

Later with Bob Costas

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on producing Later with Bob Costas

Olympics

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on the success of The Olympics in the U.S. - women
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff asking him to run NBC's Sports division
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on coming up with the format for Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the buildup to, casting, and premiere of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the hosts and music on Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live; on reviving the show
Dick Ebersol on a typical week of putting together an episode of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on dress rehearsal and the live show of Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night's Main Event

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on producing Saturday Night's Main Event

Special Bulletin

View Show Page
Dick Ebersol on friend Don Ohlmeyer's Special Bulletin
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on censorship issues on Saturday Night Live

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy wanting to kill "Buckwheat"
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers

Comedy

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor's word association skit when hosting Saturday Night Live

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on Saturday Night Live  winning 4 Emmys at the end of the first season

Gerald Ford

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics

Olympic Games

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  

We Laughed

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy wanting to kill "Buckwheat"

Women

View Topic
Dick Ebersol on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' time on Saturday Night Live
Professions

Producers

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

Television Executive

View Profession
Dick Ebersol on hiring Brandon Tartikoff
Dick Ebersol on becoming President of NBC Sports and then naming himself Chairman 
Genres

Late Night

View Genre
Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Dick Ebersol on the buildup to, casting, and premiere of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live and on reviving the show
Dick Ebersol on a typical week of putting together an episode of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on dress rehearsal and the live show of Saturday Night Live

Sports

View Genre
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
Dick Ebersol on the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France
Dick Ebersol on the 1972 Munich Olympics
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics
Dick Ebersol on making clear to his employees at NBC that sports was still a passion
Dick Ebersol on the Beijing Olympics  
People

Muhammad Ali

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Howard Cosell's defense of Muhammad Ali
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics

Roone Arledge

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge's talents - the key to sports on television is storytelling
Dick Ebersol on the partnership of Jim McKay and Roone Arledge
Dick Ebersol on developing his relationship with Roone Arledge; on Arledge's contributions to sports
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge and the 1972 Munich Olympics
Dick Ebersol on moving from ABC to NBC
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge asking him to come be his number two at ABC

Dan Aykroyd

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on meeting Dan Aykroyd, who would soon join the cast of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on meeting Dan Aykroyd, who would soon join the cast of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers

Anne Beatts

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on writer Anne Beatts, writer for Saturday Night Live

John Belushi

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on John Belushi
Dick Ebersol on John Belushi joining the cast of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on getting the bee suits into the third episode of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on how John Belushi agreed to sign his contract
Dick Ebersol on the birth of the Blues Brothers
Dick Ebersol on the most famous thing that ever went wrong for him on Saturday Night Live

Bernie Brillstein

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Lorne Michaels' agent Bernie Brillstein arranging for adult Muppets for Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on how John Belushi agreed to sign his contract

Albert Brooks

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on getting Albert Brooks for Saturday Night Live

George Carlin

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on George Carlin's outfit and monologue for the first show 

Johnny Carson

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on the time slot that would become Saturday Night Live's
Dick Ebersol on being summoned with Lorne Michaels to see Johnny Carson 

Chevy Chase

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

Bill Clinton

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on how Muhammed Ali came to be involved with the Atlanta Olympics

Fred de Cordova

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on being summoned with Lorne Michaels to see Johnny Carson with his producer Fred De Cordova

Howard Cosell

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Howard Cosell
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports
Dick Ebersol on learning that the Israeli Olympic team had been taken hostage

Bob Costas

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on fun facts to tell in Opening Cermonies of The Olympics
Dick Ebersol on Bob Costas hosting Later  

Walter Cronkite

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Walter Cronkite's telegram to Jim McKay

Billy Crystal

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Billy Crystal's intended role for the premiere of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Billy Crystal's intended role for the premiere of Saturday Night Live, and getting him into the cast years later
Dick Ebersol on Ringo Starr hosting Saturday Night Live

Jane Curtin

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Jane Curtin joining the cast of Saturday Night Live

Jean Doumanian

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on the years he was gone from Saturday Night Live when Jean Doumanian was head of the show

Farrah Fawcett

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Farrah Fawcett possibly hosting Saturday Night Live

Gerald Ford

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"

Al Franken

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live

Frank Gifford

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports

Curt Gowdy

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on the first time 2 announcers fought over him

Ron Howard

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on making a deal with Ron Howard to make movies of the week

Susan Saint James

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

Andy Kaufman

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Andy Kaufman joining Saturday Night Live

Tim Kazurinsky

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on hiring Tim Kazurinsky for Saturday Night Live

Louise Lasser

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Louise Lasser quitting hosting duties of Saturday Night Live

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' time on Saturday Night Live

John Madden

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on John Madden hosting Saturday Night Live  and the scariest moment he's ever had as a producer
Dick Ebersol on friend John Madden

Steve Martin

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Steve Martin hosting Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Steve Martin's time on Saturday Night Live

Jim McKay

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on the partnership of Jim McKay and Roone Arledge
Dick Ebersol on the first time 2 announcers fought over him
Dick Ebersol on learning that the Israeli Olympic team had been taken hostage

Don Meredith

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Roone Arledge assembling his broadcast team at ABC Sports

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Lorne Michaels and partnering up for Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on hiring the cast of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Chevy Chase joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, after being hired as a writer
Dick Ebersol on Andy Kaufman joining Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on what Lorne Michaels thought of Ebersol's music selections for Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the friendship between Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon
Dick Ebersol on troubles between Fred Silverman and Lorne Michaels, and Michaels leaving the show
Dick Ebersol on the offices and awe inspired by 30 Rockefeller Plaza
Dick Ebersol on how crucial Lorne Michaels is to Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on his friendship with Lorne Michaels

Garrett Morris

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Garrett Morris joining the cast of Saturday Night Live

Eddie Murphy

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on recognizing Eddie Murphy's talent
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy's "Little Richard Simmon's Show" and other popular skits on Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Eddie Murphy's ideas for the show - on killing "Buckwheat"

Laraine Newman

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Laraine Newmain joining the cast of Saturday Night Live

Michael O'Donoghue

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on writer Michael O'Donoghue, writer for Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on re-hiring Michael O'Donoghue as head writer of Saturday Night Live

Ryan O'Neal

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Farrah Fawcett possibly hosting Saturday Night Live

Don Ohlmeyer

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on moving from ABC to NBC
Dick Ebersol on friend Don Ohlmeyer 

Richard Pryor

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor signing on and backing out of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Richard Pryor hosting Saturday Night Live

Gilda Radner

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Gilda Radner joining the cast of Saturday Night Live

Rob Reiner

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on getting the bee suits into the third episode of Saturday Night Live

Tim Russert

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on the plane accident that killed his son, Teddy

Herbert Sargent

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Herb Sargent's involvement with Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live

Herbert S. Schlosser

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Herb Schlosser luring him to NBC

Fred Silverman

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on troubles between Fred Silverman and Lorne Michaels, and Michaels leaving the show
Dick Ebersol on Fred Silverman leaving ABC for NBC and ultimately firing Ebersol

Paul Simon

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on the friendship between Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon

Ringo Starr

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on Ringo Starr hosting Saturday Night Live

Brandon Tartikoff

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on telling Brandon Tartikoff he wanted to change up the cast of Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff beliving SNL can continue only if Ebersol or Lorne Michaels returns to the show
Dick Ebersol on hiring Brandon Tartikoff
Dick Ebersol on his dear friend, Brandon Tartikoff
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff's role in Ebersol's return to Saturday Night Live
Dick Ebersol on Brandon Tartikoff asking him to run NBC's Sports division

Grant Tinker

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on producing Saturday Night's Main Event

Arturo Toscanini

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on the history of Studio 8H

Mike Wallace

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Mike Wallace appearing on Later with Bob Costas

Jack Welch

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on becoming President of NBC Sports and then naming himself Chairman 

Tom Werner

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on Tom Werner's tribute to Eberson's son, Teddy

Oprah Winfrey

View Person Page
Dick Ebersol on his family going on Oprah

Alan Zweibel

View Interview Page
Dick Ebersol on the political aspect of Saturday Night Live

All Interviews

Q
S