Hank Rieger

Publicity Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Hank Rieger (1918-2014) speaks about starting his career with United Press. He describes his work as the Manager and subsequently Director of Press and Publicity at NBC, and recalls becoming the first Vice President of NBC's publicity department (1965-80). He discusses promoting color television at the network, and talks of doing publicity for several NBC stars, including Bob Hope, Danny Thomas, Dean Martin, and Milton Berle. He speaks of his time as President of the Television Academy (1977-80), as well as his handling of all press and publicity for The Emmy Awards. Rieger comments on his role in the launch of Emmy Magazine and his work as Editor of the publication from 1985-99. He also outlines starting his own business, landing ESPN as a client, and working for The Olympics for one year. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview on September 29, 1999 in San Diego, CA.

"You don't control the press. You might try to direct them and lead them, but you sure as hell are not gonna control them." 

Highlights
Hank Rieger on being the first elected President of The Television Academy - post split
01:01
Hank Rieger on being the first publisher of of Emmy magazine
02:56
Hank Rieger on the importance of press tours
05:20
Hank Rieger on traveling with Bob Hope when he performed for President Nixon
01:31
Hank Rieger on publicity for Chico and the Man, and dealing with Freddie Prinze's suicide, and appropriate things to say to the media
03:52
Hank Rieger on memorable stories in Emmy magazine
01:04
Hank Rieger on how he'd like to be remembered
00:42
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his interest in communications and journalism
On radio programs he enjoyed as a child; on serving in World War II and having his first experience with public relations during the war
On working for United Press; on becoming Bureau Chief for the Phoenix United Press; on lingo used in wire services; on the importance of wire services to newspapers, radio, and television

Chapter 2

On moving to Los Angeles to work at the United Press Bureau; on KTLA's coverage of the Kathy Fiscus story and the involvement of United Press; on United Press reporting on entertainment events
On reporting Hollywood scandals; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on joining the State Department; on what makes a good PR person
On working for United Press in San Francisco and then Los Angeles; on covering Marilyn Monroe's death

Chapter 3

On covering Marilyn Monroe's death (contd.); on the rush of covering a story and scooping the competition
On moving to New York, then moving to Los Angeles to work for Southern California gas; on getting hired in the NBC Press and Publicity department
On NBC's big shows in 1965; on celebrity interviews; on publicity for each upcoming television season

Chapter 4

On press kits; on budgets for promotional campaigns; on working with uncooperative celebrities; on NBC executives with whom he worked
On Johnny Carson's move from New York to beautiful downtown Burbank

Chapter 5

On publicity for The Tonight Show and working with Johnny Carson; on publicity for NBC shows The Monkees, Bonanza, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and Star Trek
On press tours; on the importance of ratings and demographics to public relations
On publicity for Little House on the Prairie; on publicity for Chico and the Man, and dealing with Freddie Prinze's suicide, and appropriate things to say to the media

Chapter 6

On publicity for The Rockford Files and working with James Garner; on publicity for NBC shows starring African- Americans: I Spy, The Flip Wilson Show, and Sanford and Son
On publicity for NBC star Bob Hope and traveling with him on USO tours
On publicists who took advantage of the system; on publicity for NBC stars Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Danny Thomas, Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, and working with Elvis Presley

Chapter 7

On dealing with difficult personalities; on what he was most proud of at NBC; on "the Heidi incident"
On becoming active with The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS at the time, in New York); on The Television Academy (in Los Angeles) and NATAS (in New York) becoming separate organizations (the splitting of The Television Academy)
On being the first elected President of The Television Academy - post split; on important issues during his tenure as President; on starting Emmy magazine

Chapter 8

On how media coverage of The Television Academy and The Emmy Awards evolved over the years
On being the first publisher of Emmy magazine; on the magazine's staff and memorable stories in Emmy magazine
On memorable moments in Emmy history; on the "Super Emmy"; on mix-ups with nominations and controversy over telecasts
On doing publicity for The 1984 Olympics; on challenges he faced covering The Olympics

Chapter 9

On starting his own business; on Richard Frank asking him to come revive Emmy magazine
On how journalism has changed since he started his career; on advice to aspiring journalists and to someone wanting to go into Public Relations
On using journalism or PR as a stepping-stone in one's career; on the changing audience for journalism and television
On how the role of the Television Academy has changed; on where The Emmys are headed and the future of Emmy magazine; on a strike at NBC while he was there and doing on-camera reporting
On then-current projects; on writing a book about The Olympics; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Hank Rieger on United Press covering The Academy Awards
00:13

Bonanza

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC's first primetime color show, Bonanza
00:43

Chico and the Man

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Chico and the Man, and dealing with Freddie Prinze's suicide, and appropriate things to say to the media
03:52

Columbo

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Columbo
00:35

Days of Our Lives

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Days of Our Lives
00:39

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Hank Rieger on United Press covering The Emmy Awards
01:15
Hank Rieger on the Emmy Awards during the 1960s
00:16
Hank Rieger on how the Emmy Awards were divided up when NATAS and The Television Academy split
03:14
Hank Rieger on how media coverage of The Emmy Awards evolved over the years; on fees for the show
04:54
Hank Rieger on the agreement to have The Emmy Awards rotate among the three (eventually four) big broadcast networks
01:33
Hank Rieger on memorable moments in the history of The Emmy Awards
09:40
Hank Rieger on Edward Asner, the AFTRA strike, and The Emmy Awards
04:04
Hank Rieger on where The Emmys are headed
01:06

Flip Wilson Show, The

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Hank Rieger on publicity for The Flip Wilson Show
00:23

Heidi

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Hank Rieger on "the Heidi incident" when NBC aired the beginning of Heidi instead of the end of a football game
02:59

I Spy

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Hank Rieger on publicity for I Spy
01:02

Little House on the Prairie

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Little House on the Prairie
01:04

Monkees, The

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Hank Rieger on publicity for The Monkees
00:41

Olympics

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Hank Rieger on doing publicity for The 1984 Olympics and challenges he faced covering The Olympics
08:47

Police Story

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Hank Rieger on publicity for David Gerber's shows Police Story and Police Woman
00:35

Police Woman

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Hank Rieger on publicity for David Gerber's shows Police Story and Police Woman
00:35

Rockford Files, The

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Hank Rieger on publicity for The Rockford Files and working with James Garner
00:42

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
01:42

Sanford and Son

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Sanford and Son and working with Redd Foxx
01:52

Star Trek

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Star Trek and the protests over the show's cancellation
04:44

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Hank Rieger on publicity for The Tonight Show and working with Johnny Carson
01:30
Topics

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Hank Rieger on how his uncle's job as a journalist inspired him
02:27

Diversity in Television

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC shows starring African-Americans
02:58
Hank Rieger on NBC's African-American executives
00:31
Hank Rieger on advice to someone wanting to go into Public Relations, and how it's a great career for women
02:37

Hollywood Blacklist

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Hank Rieger on United Press covering the Hollywood Blacklist
00:46

Industry Crossroads

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Hank Rieger on United Press covering the Hollywood Blacklist
00:46
Hank Rieger on The Television Academy (in Los Angeles) and NATAS (in New York) becoming separate organizations (the splitting of The Television Academy)
10:40

Memorable Moments on Television

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Hank Rieger on "the Heidi incident" when NBC aired the beginning of Heidi instead of the end of a football game
02:59

Minorities

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC shows starring African- Americans
02:58
Hank Rieger on NBC's African-American executives
00:31

Moon Landing

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Hank Rieger on meeting astronaut Neil Armstrong shortly after the Moon Landing
02:24

Olympic Games

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Hank Rieger on doing publicity for The 1984 Olympics and challenges he faced covering The Olympics
08:47

Richard M. Nixon

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Hank Rieger on traveling with Bob Hope when he performed for President Nixon
01:31

Sports

View Topic
Hank Rieger on "the Heidi incident" when NBC aired the beginning of Heidi instead of the end of a football game
02:59
Hank Rieger on doing publicity for The 1984 Olympics and challenges he faced covering The Olympics
08:47

Technological Innovation

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC's first primetime color show, Bonanza
00:43
Hank Rieger on promoting color television at NBC
00:43

Television Industry

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Hank Rieger on United Press covering the Hollywood Blacklist
00:46
Hank Rieger on The Television Academy (in Los Angeles) and NATAS (in New York) becoming separate organizations (the splitting of The Television Academy)
10:40

Television and the Presidency

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Hank Rieger on traveling with Bob Hope when he performed for President Nixon
01:31

War

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Hank Rieger on serving in World War II and having his first experience with public relations during the war
06:20

Women

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Hank Rieger on advice to someone wanting to go into Public Relations, and how it's a great career for women
02:37

World War II

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Hank Rieger on serving in World War II and having his first experience with public relations during the war
06:20
Professions

Publicist

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Hank Rieger on what makes a good Public Relations person
01:02
Hank Rieger on publicists not getting along with celebrities
00:40
Hank Rieger on advice to someone wanting to go into Public Relations, and how it's a great career for women
02:37

Representatives

View Profession
Hank Rieger on what makes a good Public Relations person
01:02
Hank Rieger on publicists not getting along with celebrities
00:40
Hank Rieger on advice to someone wanting to go into Public Relations, and how it's a great career for women
02:37
Genres

Sports

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Hank Rieger on "the Heidi incident" when NBC aired the beginning of Heidi instead of the end of a football game
02:59
Hank Rieger on doing publicity for The 1984 Olympics and challenges he faced covering The Olympics
08:47
People

Edward Asner

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Hank Rieger on Edward Asner, the AFTRA strike, and The Emmy Awards
04:04

Milton Berle

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC star Milton Berle
00:35

Dan Blocker

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Hank Rieger on working with the men of Bonanza
00:32

Johnny Carson

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Hank Rieger on Johnny Carson's move from New York to Los Angeles
00:53
Hank Rieger on publicity for The Tonight Show and working with Johnny Carson
01:30

Stan Chambers

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Hank Rieger on meeting reporter Stan Chambers when he moved to Los Angeles
00:30

Bill Cosby

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Hank Rieger on publicity for I Spy stars Bill Cosby and Robert Culp
01:01

Robert Culp

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Hank Rieger on publicity for I Spy stars Bill Cosby and Robert Culp
01:01

Dixon Dern

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Hank Rieger on attorney Dixon Dern mediating the NATAS/Television Academy split
01:13

Patty Duke

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Hank Rieger on Patty Duke at the 1970 Emmy Awards
00:39

Redd Foxx

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Sanford and Son and working with Redd Foxx
01:52

Richard Frank

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Hank Rieger on Richard Frank asking him to come revive Emmy magazine
00:47

Ed Friendly

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Little House on the Prairie
01:04

James Garner

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Hank Rieger on publicity for The Rockford Files and working with James Garner
00:42

David Gerber

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Hank Rieger on publicity for David Gerber's shows Police Story and Police Woman
00:35

Julian Goodman

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Julian Goodman
03:16

Gilbert Gottfried

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Hank Rieger on Gilbert Gottfried's 1991 acceptance speech at The Emmy Awards
00:43

Bob Hope

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC star Bob Hope; on traveling with him on USO tours
12:19

Robert E. Kintner

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC President Robert Kintner
00:31

Michael Landon

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Hank Rieger on working with the men of Bonanza
00:27

Jennings Lang

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Jennings Lang
01:02

Bob Lewine

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Hank Rieger on working with Bob Lewine on Emmy nominee announcements
02:44
Hank Rieger on the agreement to have The Emmy Awards rotate among the three (eventually four) big broadcast networks
01:33

Dean Martin

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC star Dean Martin
00:59

John Mitchell

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Hank Rieger on John Mitchell's tenure as President of The Television Academy
00:23

Marilyn Monroe

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Hank Rieger on covering Marilyn Monroe's death for United Press (and beating the AP for the story)
06:27
Hank Rieger on covering Marilyn Monroe's death (contd.)
02:24

Richard M. Nixon

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Hank Rieger on traveling with Bob Hope when he performed for President Nixon
01:31

Elvis Presley

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Elvis Presley and working with Colonel Tom Parker
01:41

Freddie Prinze

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Chico and the Man, and dealing with Freddie Prinze's suicide, and appropriate things to say to the media
03:52

Pernell Roberts

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Hank Rieger on difficulties working with Pernell Roberts of Bonanza
01:46

Gene Roddenberry

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Star Trek and working with show creator Gene Roddenberry
01:14

David Sarnoff

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Hank Rieger on working with David Sarnoff
00:59

Thomas W. Sarnoff

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Hank Rieger on reporting to Tom Sarnoff at NBC
00:55
Hank Rieger on working with Tom and Bob Sarnoff
03:13

George Schlatter

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In
01:42

Herbert S. Schlosser

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Herb Schlosser
03:09

George C. Scott

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Hank Rieger on George C. Scott refusing to stand for an Emmy nomination
00:44

Sid Sheinberg

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Sid Sheinberg
01:27

Chet Simmons

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Hank Rieger on Chet Simmons offering him ESPN as a client
01:56

Jerry Stanley

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Hank Rieger on the protests over Star Trek's cancellation
00:50

Adlai Stevenson

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Hank Rieger on being present for Adlai Stevenson's trip to Singapore
00:18

Ed Sullivan

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Hank Rieger on Ed Sullivan and David Susskind wanting The Television Academy to be solely a New York operation
01:18

Brandon Tartikoff

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Brandon Tartikoff
02:10

Danny Thomas

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Hank Rieger on publicity for NBC star Danny Thomas
03:02

Grant Tinker

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Grant Tinker
01:24

Mort Werner

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Hank Rieger on working with NBC Executive Mort Werner
00:44

Demond Wilson

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Hank Rieger on publicity for Sanford and Son and working with Demond Wilson
00:41

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