Fred Silverman (1937-2020) served as the programming head at all three major broadcast networks— ABC, CBS, and NBC. Fred Silverman attests to the quirks of inspiration in developing television programs: "I had always thought that kids in a haunted house would be a big hit, played for laughs, in animation. And [I] developed a show with Hanna-Barbera. And there was a dog in there, but the dog was in the background; it was much more serious… And [CBS President] Frank Stanton says, we can't put that on the air, that's just too frightening. I booked a red-eye and I couldn't sleep. I'm listening to music and as we're landing, Frank Sinatra comes on, and I hear him say 'Scooby-do-be-do.' It's at that point I said that's it, we'll take the dog— we'll call it Scooby-Doo."
In his six-hour Archive interview, Silverman talks about his first job in television, at WGN in Chicago, where he repackaged existing programming and created originals, including Zim-Bomba and Bozo's Circus. He tells of his move to CBS in New York, where he quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder, first as head of daytime programming (where he made his mark revitalizing the Saturday morning lineup) and later as the Vice President of Programming. He enumerates and comments on the programs he oversaw during this time including: All in the Family, Kojak, M*A*S*H, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Waltons. On The Waltons, Silverman recounts its amazing success: "Flip Wilson was hot as a pistol, and we were… putting in The Waltons [against it]. When we had the affiliates meeting we got to this time period, they actually laughed out loud-- this sweet little show, about a bunch of destitute people in Appalachia… We destroyed Flip Wilson and it was the number one show in the country." He describes the corporate culture at CBS and how he came to leave CBS to join ABC, where he was appointed President of ABC Entertainment, overseeing such programs as Donny and Marie, Eight is Enough, The Love Boat and Three's Company. He also touches on the development and scheduling of the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.
In part two of his interview, Silverman talks about his next move, to NBC, as President and CEO, overseeing the development of Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life and Hill Street Blues. He explains the basic tenets of working as a network executive and discusses his methods for development, scheduling and promotions. Finally, he talks about his work as an independent producer for such programs as the Perry Mason television movies, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night and Diagnosis Murder. Dan Pasternack conducted the two-part interview in Westwood, CA on March 16, 2001 and May 29, 2001.