Gilbert Cates

Producer / Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Gilbert Cates (1934-2011) talks about getting hired as an NBC guide at Rockefeller Center. He describes the excitement of working in "live" television in the 1950s, and outlines his roles as director and producer on several game shows. He discusses his work as an associate producer on Dotto, the game show that ignited the "Quiz Show Scandals." He describes how the show's less-than-fair practices were exposed and talks about the general nature of fixing game shows during the era. Cates discusses projects that he produced and directed in the 1960s, including the pilot for the music-variety series Hootenany, International Showtime (in which he filmed international circus acts), and Electric Showcase (including a show done at the 1965 World's Fair). He recalls his transition to producing Broadway shows, including "I Never Sang for My Father," which he later filmed as a feature film with Melvyn Douglas and Gene Hackman. He comments on directing several TV movies, including Arthur Miller's "After the Fall," and details his long association as producer of The Academy Awards broadcasts. He touches on the challenges of mounting the "live" broadcast and recounts several memorable moments from the shows he's produced. He also talks about the creation of the Geffen Playhouse, where he served as Producing Director. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on March 13, 2007 at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, CA.

"I think that everything that you do should somehow be authentic. There should be a connection to the world around. I've done 13 Oscar shows now and I've tried to connect as much as possible, the Oscar show with the emotional happening in the world … to try to find what that emotional connection is and see if we can graft that onto the movies."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Gilbert Cates on selecting a host for The Academy Awards  and loving Billy Crystal as host
Gilbert Cates on giving Billy Crystal an offer he couldn't refuse
Gilbert Cates on the quiz show scandal surrounding Dotto
Gilbert Cates on the star power of The Academy Awards
Gilbert Cates on how the Quiz Show scandal was exposed - the fifth wheel
Gilbert Cates on being fired from Dotto and testifying before the Grand Jury
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences growing up in The Bronx; on attending Syracuse University and his involvement with fencing and directing dramas; on getting wounded in a fencing match; on getting an MFA 
On working as an ABC page and moving to New York; on working as an NBC guide; on getting a job at the Broadway Theater; on working in game shows - Mother's Day with Dick Van Dyke, and directing Haggis Baggis; on moving up the ranks in the early days of television; on the pros and cons of live television
On daytime television in the 1950s; on the quiz show scandal surrounding Dotto

Chapter 2

On the Quiz Show scandal surrounding Dotto (contd.); on being fired from Dotto and testifying before the Grand Jury; on television plugs for products in the 1950s; on sponsor pressure to select contestants on Dotto ; on looking back on the Quiz Show scandal now
On his career after Dotto; on Mark Goodsoon calling him after the Quiz Show scandals; on getting into producing; on what made him a good director; on working with his brother on International Showcase; on early videotape; on working on Hootenany and Electric Showcase; on working on Broadway with Robert Anderson

Chapter 3

On getting into movies and made-for-TV movies; on working on location; on the TV movie, All My Friends on Shore, with Bill Cosby; on adapting the works of Arthur Miller for TV - After the Fall
On specials he worked on with his brother; on the TV movie Consenting Adult, for which he was nominated for an Emmy; on the TV movie Absolute Strangers

Chapter 4

On his association with The Academy Awards; on producing 13 Oscar shows; on selecting Bily Crystal as a host for The Academy Awards; on the star power of the Oscars; 
On the teams he's assembled for the Oscars; on the Oscar Pre-show; on how technology has affected The Academy Awards; on the length of the Oscar shows and winners' acceptance speeches; on the "In Memoriam Reel" at the Oscars; on George Lucas receiving The Thalberg Award

Chapter 5

On Army Archerd figuring out there was an Oscar in space; on keeping things secret about the Oscar broadcasts; on the 75th Anniversary of the Oscars; on working with the networks and AMPAS; on where he is during the live show; on playing people off when acceptance speeches go long; on protests about the Oscars; on winning an Emmy for producing the Oscars
On his association with the Director's Guild of America; on his association with The Geffen Playhouse; on his brother, Joe Cates; on advice to aspiring producers and directors; on his family; on his proudest career achievement; on balancing career and family; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Absolute Strangers

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie Absolute Strangers

Academy Awards, The

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Gilbert Cates on producing The Academy Awards
Gilbert Cates on memorable moments from Academy Awards that he's produced

Consenting Adult

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie Consenting Adult, for which he was nominated for an Emmy

Dotto

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Gilbert Cates on the quiz show scandal surrounding Dotto
Gilbert Cates on the Quiz Show scandal surrounding Dotto (contd.)

Electric Showcase

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Gilbert Cates on working on Electric Showcase

Haggis Baggis

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Gilbert Cates on directing the game show Haggis Baggis

Hootenanny

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Gilbert Cates on working on Hootenany

International Showcase

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Gilbert Cates on working with his brother on International Showcase
Gilbert Cates on how International Showcase led to his first movie

Mother's Day

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Gilbert Cates on working on Mother's Day with Dick Van Dyke
Topics

Emmy Awards

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Gilbert Cates on winning an Emmy for producing the Oscars

LGBTQ

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie Consenting Adult, for which he was nominated for an Emmy

Quiz Show Scandals

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Gilbert Cates on the quiz show scandal surrounding Dotto
Gilbert Cates on the Quiz Show scandal surrounding Dotto (contd.)

Technological Innovation

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Gilbert Cates on how technology has affected The Academy Awards
Professions

Directors

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Gilbert Cates on directing the game show Haggis Baggis
Gilbert Cates on what made him a good director

Producers

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Gilbert Cates on producing The Academy Awards and selecting a host
Gilbert Cates on working with the networks and AMPAS for The Academy Awards
Gilbert Cates on where he is during the live show
Genres

Awards Shows

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Gilbert Cates on producing The Academy Awards  
Gilbert Cates on memorable moments from Academy Awards that he's produced

Game Shows

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Gilbert Cates on the quiz show scandal surrounding Dotto
Gilbert Cates on the Quiz Show scandal surrounding Dotto (contd.)

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie Consenting Adult, for which he was nominated for an Emmy
Gilbert Cates on the TV movie Absolute Strangers
People

Robert G. Anderson

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Gilbert Cates on working on Broadway with Robert Anderson

Army Archerd

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Gilbert Cates on George Lucas receiving The Thalberg Award
Gilbert Cates on Army Archerd figuring out there was an Oscar in space

Kim Basinger

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Gilbert Cates on Kim Basinger hosting The Academy Awards

Frank Capra

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Gilbert Cates on his association with the Director's Guild of America

Roy Christopher

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Gilbert Cates on the teams he's assembled for the Oscars - Art director Roy Christopher

Bill Conti

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Gilbert Cates on the teams he's assembled for the Oscars - Musical Director Bill Conti

Bill Cosby

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie All My Friends on Shore with Bill Cosby

Billy Crystal

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Gilbert Cates on selecting a host for The Academy Awards

Geena Davis

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Gilbert Cates on The Academy Awards Pre-Show

Melvyn Douglas

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Gilbert Cates on the play "I Never Sang for My Father," with actor Melvyn Douglas

Faye Dunaway

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Gilbert Cates on adapting the works of Arthur Miller for TV - After the Fall - starring Faye Dunaway and Christopher Plummer

Dick Van Dyke

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Gilbert Cates on working on Mother's Day with Dick Van Dyke

Leonard Goldberg

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie The Affair with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, for Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg

Mark Goodson

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Gilbert Cates on Mark Goodsoon calling him after the Quiz Show scandals

Gene Hackman

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Gilbert Cates on the play "I Never Sang for My Father," which Elia Kazan re-tooled from a screenplay to play; on the film version of the play starring Gene Hackman

Bob Hope

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Gilbert Cates on television plugs for products in the 1950s

Louis J. Horvitz

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Gilbert Cates on the teams he's assembled for the Oscars - Director Louis J. Horvitz
Gilbert Cates on Louis J. Horvitz and team during the live show

Elia Kazan

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Gilbert Cates on the play "I Never Sang for My Father," which Elia Kazan re-tooled from a screenplay to play; on the film version of the play
Gilbert Cates on Elia Kazan's honorary Oscar

Martin Landau

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Gilbert Cates on Louis J. Horvitz and team during the live show - and one of Martin Landau's acceptance speeches going long

George Lucas

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Gilbert Cates on George Lucas receiving The Thalberg Award

Karl Malden

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Gilbert Cates on Karl Malden becoming President of the Academy and asking Cates to produce The Academy Awards

Arthur Miller

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Gilbert Cates on adapting the works of Arthur Miller for TV - After the Fall

Laurence Olivier

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Gilbert Cates on how he'd like to be remembered

Christopher Plummer

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Gilbert Cates on adapting the works of Arthur Miller for TV - After the Fall - starring Faye Dunaway and Christopher Plummer
Gilbert Cates on a memorable Christopher Plummer story

George Segal

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Gilbert Cates on a memorable Christopher Plummer story

Fred Silverman

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Gilbert Cates on teaching acting at Syracuse University, to student Fred Silverman 

Aaron Spelling

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Gilbert Cates on the TV movie The Affair with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, for Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg

Steven Spielberg

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Gilbert Cates on George Lucas receiving The Thalberg Award

Robert Wagner

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Gilbert Cates on The Affair with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner

Natalie Wood

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Gilbert Cates on The Affair with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner

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