Don Mischer

Producer/ Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his over four-hour Archive interview, Don Mischer talks about his early interest in television production, his schooling, and how he planned to be an academic but got into production during the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination. He discusses receiving a grant from the Ford Foundation, working for the USIA and landing a spot on the landmark show The Great American Dream Machine. He shares his experiences from ABC's Saturday Night Live with Howard CosellMotown 25, Kennedy Center Honors and Barbara Walters Specials and describes working with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Robin Williams and Ellen DeGeneres. Mischer also details the production of several award shows he's helmed, including the Tony Awards and the Emmy Awards and recalls his work on several Olympic broadcasts and Super Bowl halftime shows. Beth Cochran conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on November 7, 2008.

"When you are doing a project and you have a crew out there, it could be 30, or it could be 100. Remember they're there to make you look good, sound good, and make you score. Treat them with respect, do your homework, show up on time, and don't play the diva game. Because, if you don't care about them, they're going to care less about you."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Don Mischer on the Super Bow l halftime show featuring Michael Jackson
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch
Don Mischer on producing the finale of The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
Don Mischer on what makes a good Emmy host
Don Mischer on his favorite Olympic moments
Don Mischer on the last night of the 2004 DNC
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on radio shows he loved as a child and his first time seeing television; on his entry into television during JFK assassination coverage
On starting in public television with a grant from The Ford Foundation; On working for the USIA; on transitioning from political to event television
On variety shows and specials with which he was involved; on working with Howard Cosell and starting in televised specials; on forming Don Mischer productions
On producing specials honoring Motown; on The Kennedy Center Honors

Chapter 2

On Kennedy Center Honors, Barbara Walters' Specials, The Goldie Hawn Special, Goldie & Liza, Donahue and Kids, Robin Williams' HBO Special
On how the emergence of cable in the 1980s affected the industry; on television specials with Bob Hope and Mikhail Baryshnikov; On working with Dolly Parton; on The Tony Awards  and The Presidential Inaugural Gala
On getting talent for specials; on on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson; on Normal Life

Chapter 3

On Super Bowl 27 - halftime with Michael Jackson; On Super Bowl halftime shows with Prince, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
On NFL approval on Super Bowl performances; on the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; on production of The Olympics
On producing the Special Olympics in Shanghai

Chapter 4

On producing The Emmy Awards; on the 2001 Emmy  broadcast; on things that have gone wrong on Emmy  broadcasts
On how the Emmys  have changed over the years; on The People's Choice Awards; on the Michael Moore Show  and the 2004 DNC
On working with Barbra Streisand; on a special with Cher paying tribute to the late Sonny Bono
On handling the passing of people with whom he's worked; on The Wayne Brady Show  and producing Miss America Pageant; on Movies Rock, and Fashions Rock  

Chapter 5

On the technological advances that enhance production; on producing and advice to aspiring producers, directors and performers
On how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Barbara Walters Specials

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials

Democratic National Convention

View Show Page
Don Mischer on his involvement with the 2004 Democratic National Convention

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards
Don Mischer on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 1994 Emmy Awards
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11
Don Mischer on things that have gone wrong with the Emmy Awards; why it's a difficult show

Great American Dream Machine, The

View Show Page
Don Mischer on directing The Great American Dream Machine
Don Mischer on Nixon canceling The Great American Dream Machine

In Living Color

View Show Page
Don Mischer on how In Living Color stole Super Bowl viewers

Kennedy Center Honors

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing The Kennedy Center Honors
Don Mischer on producing/directing Kennedy Center Honors

Michael Moore Show, The

View Show Page
Don Mischer on his involvement with The Michael Moore Show

Miss America Pageant

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing Miss America Pageant in 2007

Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, The

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson

Normal Life

View Show Page
Don Mischer on directing the series Normal Life

Olympics

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing the 2002 Winter Olympics and how 9/11 affected the games
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 
Don Mischer on producing the Special Olympics in Shanghai

People's Choice Awards

View Show Page
Don Mischer on how The People's Choice Awards compare to The Emmy Awards
Don Mischer on John Ritter hosting the 1994 People's Choice Awards  

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge

Super Bowl

View Show Page
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Prince
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime and pre-show
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring The Rolling Stones
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Paul McCartney
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; on wanting to top previous broadcasts

Tony Awards

View Show Page
Don Mischer on producing the Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host

Wayne Brady Show, The

View Show Page
Don Mischer on The Wayne Brady Show

Wonderful World of Disney, The aka Magical World of Disney, The

View Show Page
Don Mischer on loving Wonderful World of Disney as a youngster
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Don Mischer on producing the 2002 Winter Olympics and how 9/11 affected the games
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11

Barack Obama

View Topic
Don Mischer on Senator Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Don Mischer on winning his first Emmy for directing Donahue and Kids 
Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television

Jimmy Carter

View Topic
Don Mischer on President Carter attending Kennedy Center Honors

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Don Mischer on how the emergence on cable in the 1980s affected the industry
Don Mischer on the technological advances that enhance production
Professions

Directors

View Profession
Don Mischer on directing The Great American Dream Machine
Don Mischer on directing/producing a music/variety special

Producers

View Profession
Don Mischer on producing specials and building rapport with stars
Don Mischer on directing/producing a music/variety special
Don Mischer on the technological advances that enhance production
Don Mischer on the secret of his success as a producer and advice to aspiring producers
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Don Mischer on producing The Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host
Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Don Mischer on the Motown 25 Special that made his production company well known - where Michael Jackson first does the moonwalk
Don Mischer on working with Dolly Parton
Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials

Sports

View Genre
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics
People

Muhammad Ali

View Person Page
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch

Roone Arledge

View Person Page
Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge

Mikhail Baryshnikov

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Mikhail Baryshnikov

Sonny Bono

View Person Page
Don Mischer on producing Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers

Wayne Brady

View Person Page
Don Mischer on The Wayne Brady Show

Cher

View Person Page
Don Mischer on producing Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers

Perry Como

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Bob Hope and Gene Kelly

Howard Cosell

View Person Page
Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge

Pierre Cossette

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion

Ellen DeGeneres

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 1994 Emmy Awards and preparing to host the 2001 broadcast

Walt Disney

View Person Page
Don Mischer on loving Wonderful World of Disney and Walt Disney as a youngster 

Phil Donahue

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on directing Donahue and Kids

Dick Ebersol

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it

Goldie Hawn

View Person Page
Don Mischer on directing The Goldie Hawn Special

Dwight Hemion

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion
Don Mischer on working with Barbra Streisand on her Timeless concert at the MGM Grand and getting the job through Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion

Jim Henson

View Person Page
Don Mischer on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson

Bob Hope

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Bob Hope and Gene Kelly

Janet Jackson

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show

Michael Jackson

View Person Page
Don Mischer on the Motown 25 Special that made his production company well known - where Michael Jackson first does the moonwalk
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it

Lyndon B. Johnson

View Person Page
Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television

John F. Kennedy

View Person Page
Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television

Angela Lansbury

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on producing The Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge

Liza Minnelli

View Person Page
Don Mischer on directing Goldie and Liza Together

Michael Moore

View Person Page
Don Mischer on his involvement with the Michael Moore Show

Richard M. Nixon

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Nixon cancelling The Great American Dream Machine

Barack Obama

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Senator Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC

Dolly Parton

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Dolly Parton

Richard Pryor

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Barbara Walters interviewing Richard Pryor

Harry Reasoner

View Person Page
Don Mischer on Harry Reasoner not accepting Barbara Walters 

John Ritter

View Person Page
Don Mischer on John Ritter hosting the 1994 People's Choice Awards  

George Schlatter

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on George Schlatter bringing him to LA and into mainstream TV specials
Don Mischer on directing The Goldie Hawn Special
Don Mischer on mentors George Schlatter and Nick Vanoff 

Garry Shandling

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on Garrry Shandling hosting the 2000 and 2004 Emmy Awards

O. J. Simpson

View Person Page
Don Mischer on his involvement with the Michael Moore Show and guest O.J. Simpson

Gary Smith

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11; on Gary Smith helping with the production
Don Mischer on working with Barbra Streisand on her Timeless concert at the MGM Grand and getting the job through Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion

George Stevens

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with producers Nick Vanoff and George Stevens on Kennedy Center Honors

Barbra Streisand

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Barbra Streisand on her Timeless concert at the MGM Grand

Grant Tinker

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on offers from Grant Tinker

Nick Vanoff

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with producers Nick Vanoff and George Stevens on Kennedy Center Honors
Don Mischer on mentors George Schlatter and Nick Vanoff 

Barbara Walters

View Interview Page
Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials

Robin Williams

View Person Page
Don Mischer on working with Robin Williams for an HBO Special

All Interviews

Q
S