Frederick S. Pierce

Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Frederick S. Pierce talks about how he first came to work at ABC in 1956 and his initial work as an analyst in the television research department, under Julius Barnathan. He discusses several of the series that ABC had on the air at the time and how the department collected data. He describes his move up the ladder at the network from Vice President to President of ABC Television in 1974. He speaks in great detail about several of the notable executives at the network, including Leonard Goldenson, Elton Rule, Fred Silverman and Roone Arledge. He explains how he reinvented the ABC prime-time schedule, shepherding such shows as Happy Days, The Love Boat and Baretta, which brought the network to the top of the ratings. He talks about some of the notable programming on ABC in these years, which included the creation of the miniseries. Lastly, he discusses ABC's buyout by Capital Cities in the mid-1980s and his retirement from the network after a three-decade tenure. Karen Herman conducted the interview in New York, NY on May 5, 2006.

"We had a number of successful shows, established a terrific base, built a full-fledged network that was profitable. But nothing is forever. The very definition of television is it's here today and it's gone tomorrow and it just leaves its memories. Or it shows up on TV Land as a rerun."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Frederick S. Pierce on the advent of Monday Night Football
Frederick S. Pierce on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News
Frederick S. Pierce on Fred Silverman's departure from ABC
Frederick S. Pierce on working for Leonard Goldenson 
Frederick S. Pierce on "block programming"
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on early television he watched and his interest in business
On going to work for ABC in the research department; on where ABC stood in comparison to CBS and NBC in the '50s; on how research affected programming at ABC and different methods of research; on the Nielsen ratings system

Chapter 2

On ratings sweeps periods and the programming and news departments; on ABC's coverage of the Kennedy assassination and other big news stories of the day; on becoming a Vice President at ABC and gravitating toward the sales department
On working for Leonard Goldenson; on ABC executive Julius Barnathan; on ABC President Elton Rule

Chapter 3

On Elton Rule's accomplishments at ABC; on the advent of Monday Night Football; on becoming President of ABC and the structure of the network
On the shows he brought to ABC as President of the network; on bringing in Fred Silverman to run ABC programming; on his working relationship with Fred Silverman

Chapter 4

On his managerial style and the importance of having the right executives; on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News; on the successful miniseries during his tenure at ABC
On "block programming"; on spin-offs and working with Carsey Werner; on his philosophy on TV promotions

Chapter 5

On network ownership of series and movies; on how he was regarded by ABC; on Fred Silverman's departure from ABC; on the formation of ABC Video and ABC's acquisition of ESPN and other cable networks
On Capital Cities buyout of ABC and leaving the network; on his legacy at ABC

Chapter 6

On founding and running the Frederick S. Pierce Company; on his proudest achievements and his family; on his opinion of the then-current state of ABC and the networks in general
On television's responsibility to its audience; on advice to aspiring television executives; on how he'd like to be remembered 
On B-roll of pictures from Frederick S. Pierce's career; Trade paper announcements from his career; standing next to an ABC art exhibit; on the cover of Broadcasting Magazine; with Elton Rule and Leonard Goldenson; on the cover of CableVision Magazine; with Leonard Goldenson; The  Winds of War Time Magazine cover; ABC's 25th Anniversary Celebration; Newspaper article about Capital Cities acquisition of ABC; with his wife Marion
Shows

Cosby Show, The

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Frederick S. Pierce on spin-offs and working with Carsey Werner

Day After, The

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Frederick S. Pierce on his relationship with ABC Standards and Practices 

Monday Night Football

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Frederick S. Pierce on the advent of Monday Night Football
Topics

Advice

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Frederick S. Pierce on advice to aspiring television executives 

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Frederick S. Pierce on his relationship with ABC Standards and Practices 

Historic Events and Social Change

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Frederick S. Pierce on ABC's coverage of the Kennedy assassination and other big news stories of the day

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Frederick S. Pierce on ABC's coverage of the Kennedy assassination and other big news stories of the day

Media Consolidation

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Frederick S. Pierce on network ownership of series and movies
Frederick S. Pierce on the formation of ABC Video and ABC's acquisition of ESPN and other cable networks
Frederick S. Pierce on Capital Cities buyout of ABC and leaving the network

Television Industry

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Frederick S. Pierce on how research affected programming at ABC
Frederick S. Pierce on the Nielsen ratings system
Frederick S. Pierce on ratings sweeps periods and the programming and news departments
Frederick S. Pierce on becoming President of ABC and the structure of the network
Frederick S. Pierce on his relationship with ABC Standards and Practices 
Frederick S. Pierce on network ownership of series and movies
Frederick S. Pierce on the formation of ABC Video and ABC's acquisition of ESPN and other cable networks
Frederick S. Pierce on Capital Cities buyout of ABC and leaving the network
Frederick S. Pierce on his opinion of the then-current state of ABC and the networks in general
Frederick S. Pierce on television's responsibility to its audience 
Frederick S. Pierce on advice to aspiring television executives 
Professions

Executives

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Frederick S. Pierce on his managerial style and the importance of having the right executives
Frederick S. Pierce on his promotion philosophy
Frederick S. Pierce on advice to aspiring television executives 

Television Executive

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Frederick S. Pierce on his managerial style and the importance of having the right executives
Frederick S. Pierce on his promotion philosophy
Frederick S. Pierce on advice to aspiring television executives 
Genres

News and Documentary

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Frederick S. Pierce on ABC News
People

Roone Arledge

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Frederick S. Pierce on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News

David Brinkley

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Frederick S. Pierce on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News

Marcy Carsey

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Frederick S. Pierce on spin-offs and working with producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner

Bill Cosby

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Frederick S. Pierce on spin-offs and working with Carsey Werner

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Frederick S. Pierce on working for Leonard Goldenson 

Harry Reasoner

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Frederick S. Pierce on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News

Elton H. Rule

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Frederick S. Pierce on ABC President Elton Rule
Frederick S. Pierce on Elton Rule's accomplishments at ABC

Fred Silverman

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Frederick S. Pierce on bringing in Fred Silverman to run ABC programming
Frederick S. Pierce on his working relationship with Fred Silverman
Frederick S. Pierce on Fred Silverman's departure from ABC

Barbara Walters

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Frederick S. Pierce on Roone Arledge's contributions to ABC News

Tom Werner

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Frederick S. Pierce on spin-offs and working with producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner

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