Don Mischer

Producer/ Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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 Superbowl 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."

Highlights
Don Mischer on the Super Bow l halftime show featuring Michael Jackson
00:57
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch
02:55
Don Mischer on producing the finale of The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
01:46
Don Mischer on what makes a good Emmy host
01:25
Don Mischer on his favorite Olympic moments
01:00
Don Mischer on the last night of the 2004 DNC
07:48
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
14:29
On starting in public television with a grant from The Ford Foundation; On working for the USIA; on transitioning from political to event television
09:27
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
23:17
On producing specials honoring Motown; on The Kennedy Center Honors
11:32

Chapter 2

On Kennedy Center Honors, Barbara Walters' Specials, The Goldie Hawn Special, Goldie & Liza, Donahue and Kids, Robin Williams' HBO Special
23:55
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
21:08
On getting talent for specials; on on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson; on Normal Life
10:53

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
30:46
On NFL approval on Super Bowl performances; on the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; on production of The Olympics
23:53
On producing the Special Olympics in Shanghai
04:31

Chapter 4

On producing The Emmy Awards; on the 2001 Emmy  broadcast; on things that have gone wrong on Emmy  broadcasts
16:47
On how the Emmys  have changed over the years; on The People's Choice Awards; on the Michael Moore Show  and the 2004 DNC
21:26
On working with Barbra Streisand; on a special with Cher paying tribute to the late Sonny Bono
08:29
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  
11:57

Chapter 5

On the technological advances that enhance production; on producing and advice to aspiring producers, directors and performers
12:18
On how he'd like to be remembered
01:12
Shows

Barbara Walters Specials

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Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials
09:15

Democratic National Convention

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Don Mischer on his involvement with the 2004 Democratic National Convention
13:55

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards
20:19
Don Mischer on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 1994 Emmy Awards
02:11
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11
07:00
Don Mischer on things that have gone wrong with the Emmy Awards; why it's a difficult show
03:54

Great American Dream Machine, The

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Don Mischer on directing The Great American Dream Machine
02:56
Don Mischer on Nixon canceling The Great American Dream Machine
01:28

In Living Color

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Don Mischer on how In Living Color stole Super Bowl viewers
01:48

Kennedy Center Honors

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Don Mischer on producing The Kennedy Center Honors
12:13
Don Mischer on producing/directing Kennedy Center Honors
05:49

Michael Moore Show, The

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Don Mischer on his involvement with The Michael Moore Show
03:10

Miss America Pageant

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Don Mischer on producing Miss America Pageant in 2007
02:28

Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, The

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Don Mischer on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
04:54

Normal Life

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Don Mischer on directing the series Normal Life
03:06

Olympics

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Don Mischer on producing the 2002 Winter Olympics and how 9/11 affected the games
11:56
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 
13:04
Don Mischer on producing the Special Olympics in Shanghai
04:37

People's Choice Awards

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Don Mischer on how The People's Choice Awards compare to The Emmy Awards
01:32
Don Mischer on John Ritter hosting the 1994 People's Choice Awards  
00:49

Saturday Night Live

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Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge
06:13

Super Bowl

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Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
10:57
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Prince
04:40
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime and pre-show
05:58
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring The Rolling Stones
01:25
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Paul McCartney
02:16
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; on wanting to top previous broadcasts
03:32

Tony Awards

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Don Mischer on producing the Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host
08:08

Wayne Brady Show, The

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Don Mischer on The Wayne Brady Show
03:34

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

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Don Mischer on loving Wonderful World of Disney as a youngster
00:35
Topics

9/11

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Don Mischer on producing the 2002 Winter Olympics and how 9/11 affected the games
07:52
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11
07:01

Barack Obama

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Don Mischer on Senator Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC
01:46

Emmy Awards

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Don Mischer on winning his first Emmy for directing Donahue and Kids 
01:14
Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards
20:19

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television
03:17

Jimmy Carter

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Don Mischer on President Carter attending Kennedy Center Honors
00:51

Memorable Moments on Television

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Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show
01:57
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch
02:53

Technological Innovation

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Don Mischer on how the emergence on cable in the 1980s affected the industry
02:34
Don Mischer on the technological advances that enhance production
01:49
Professions

Directors

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Don Mischer on directing The Great American Dream Machine
03:36
Don Mischer on directing/producing a music/variety special
01:23

Producers

View Profession
Don Mischer on producing specials and building rapport with stars
02:37
Don Mischer on directing/producing a music/variety special
01:23
Don Mischer on the technological advances that enhance production
01:49
Don Mischer on the secret of his success as a producer and advice to aspiring producers
09:44
Genres

Awards Shows

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Don Mischer on producing The Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host
08:07
Don Mischer on producing the Emmy Awards
20:19

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Don Mischer on the Motown 25 Special that made his production company well known - where Michael Jackson first does the moonwalk
11:32
Don Mischer on working with Dolly Parton
02:29
Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials
09:15

Sports

View Genre
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
08:00
Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show
01:57
Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics
13:03
People

Muhammad Ali

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Don Mischer on producing the 1996 Atlanta Olympics with Muhammad Ali carrying the torch
02:53

Roone Arledge

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Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge
06:13

Mikhail Baryshnikov

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Don Mischer on working with Mikhail Baryshnikov
03:25

Sonny Bono

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Don Mischer on producing Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers
02:16

Wayne Brady

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Don Mischer on The Wayne Brady Show
03:34

Cher

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Don Mischer on producing Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers
02:16

Perry Como

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Don Mischer on working with Bob Hope and Gene Kelly
01:33

Howard Cosell

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Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge
06:13

Pierre Cossette

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Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion
01:16

Ellen DeGeneres

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Don Mischer on Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 1994 Emmy Awards and preparing to host the 2001 broadcast
09:11

Walt Disney

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Don Mischer on loving Wonderful World of Disney and Walt Disney as a youngster 
00:35

Phil Donahue

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Don Mischer on directing Donahue and Kids
04:28

Dick Ebersol

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Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
06:00

Goldie Hawn

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Don Mischer on directing The Goldie Hawn Special
01:58

Dwight Hemion

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Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion
01:16
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
01:22

Jim Henson

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Don Mischer on producing The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
04:54

Bob Hope

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Don Mischer on working with Bob Hope and Gene Kelly
01:33

Janet Jackson

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Don Mischer on Super Bowl 49 - how Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" led him back to the halftime show
01:57

Michael Jackson

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Don Mischer on the Motown 25 Special that made his production company well known - where Michael Jackson first does the moonwalk
11:32
Don Mischer on the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Michael Jackson, and how he was asked to produce it
08:00

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television
03:17

John F. Kennedy

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Don Mischer on JFK's assassination and starting in television
03:17

Angela Lansbury

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Don Mischer on producing The Tony Awards with Angela Lansbury as host
08:07

Lorne Michaels

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Don Mischer on getting 2 job offers: one for Saturday Night Live, one for a new show with Howard Cosell and Roone Arledge
02:39

Liza Minnelli

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Don Mischer on directing Goldie and Liza Together
00:51

Michael Moore

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Don Mischer on his involvement with the Michael Moore Show
03:10

Richard M. Nixon

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Don Mischer on Nixon cancelling The Great American Dream Machine
01:28

Barack Obama

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Don Mischer on Senator Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC
01:46

Dolly Parton

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Don Mischer on working with Dolly Parton
02:29

Richard Pryor

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Don Mischer on Barbara Walters interviewing Richard Pryor
00:32

Harry Reasoner

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Don Mischer on Harry Reasoner not accepting Barbara Walters 
01:53

John Ritter

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Don Mischer on John Ritter hosting the 1994 People's Choice Awards  
00:49

George Schlatter

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Don Mischer on George Schlatter bringing him to LA and into mainstream TV specials
00:31
Don Mischer on directing The Goldie Hawn Special
01:58
Don Mischer on mentors George Schlatter and Nick Vanoff 
00:45

Garry Shandling

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Don Mischer on Garrry Shandling hosting the 2000 and 2004 Emmy Awards
01:28

O. J. Simpson

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Don Mischer on his involvement with the Michael Moore Show and guest O.J. Simpson
03:10

Gary Smith

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Don Mischer on wanting to meet idols Pierre Cossette, Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion
01:16
Don Mischer on the difficult decision to cancel the Emmys after 9-11; on Gary Smith helping with the production
01:07
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
01:22

George Stevens

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Don Mischer on working with producers Nick Vanoff and George Stevens on Kennedy Center Honors
04:58

Barbra Streisand

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Don Mischer on working with Barbra Streisand on her Timeless concert at the MGM Grand
03:34

Grant Tinker

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Don Mischer on offers from Grant Tinker
02:08

Nick Vanoff

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Don Mischer on working with producers Nick Vanoff and George Stevens on Kennedy Center Honors
04:58
Don Mischer on mentors George Schlatter and Nick Vanoff 
00:45

Barbara Walters

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Don Mischer on producing Barbara Walters Specials
09:15

Robin Williams

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Don Mischer on working with Robin Williams for an HBO Special
02:24

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