Jac Venza

Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Jac Venza talks about his early years and moving to New York City for a career in theater. He describes going to work for CBS in the art department for shows like Wonderful Town, Mama, The Blue Angel and Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman’s Life. He chronicles the creation of NET (National Education Television, the forerunner of PBS) and recalls shepherding new programs like NET Playhouse, as well as acquiring programming from the BBC in the United Kingdom. He recounts NET getting folded into PBS, where he produced several series, including Masterpiece Theatre, The Adams Chronicles, Great Performances, Live From Lincoln Center, and American Masters. Venza discusses winning Emmy awards for the Great Performances productions of "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House," and for producing the first hour of the Tony Awards broadcast for several years. He concludes with remarks about the then-state of PBS and offers advice to aspiring television producers. Daisy Pommer conducted the interview on June 29, 2009 in New York City.

"I don’t think having programming directed by millions of people at home emailing is a way to create any artistry. Most of the fine arts historically have been done by the uniqueness of one person’s vision."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Jac Venza on the creation of American Masters
Jac Venza on re-designing the news set for CBS news
Jac Venza on the creation of NET Playhouse and on acquiring BBC programs for the show
Jac Venza on the creation of Great Performances
Jac Venza on developing new techniques for filming dance on Great Performances: Dance in America
Jac Venza on advice to an aspiring television producer
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on getting into design for theater after he finished high school; on moving to New York
On his first job in television at CBS; on working on shows like Mama and on what he learned in those early years at CBS; on doing production design for several shows including Wonderful Town and The Blue Angel; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn
On re-designing the news set for CBS news; on producing Adventure
On working on a "History of Television" exhibit at MOMA; on producing the local Boston series A Time to Dance

Chapter 2

On helping to create NET (National Education Television - the forerunner of PBS); on producing dance documentaries for NET and on working with George Balanchine; on the creation of NET Playhouse and on acquiring BBC programming for the show
On some of the early memorable NET Playhouse productions, including "The Journey of the Fifth Horse" starring Dustin Hoffman; on the fate of NET after the Public Broadcasting Act was passed; on the creation of Masterpiece Theatre and Theatre in America
On PBS' early cinema programming, including shows on the history of cinema and foreign films; on The Adams Chronicles
On the creation of Great Performances; on the logistics of getting cameras, lights, and sound equipment in theaters to tape Great Performances; on sponsorship by Exxon and Texaco; on programming and choosing plays for Great Performances

Chapter 3

On the challenges of making a stage performance compelling for television audiences on shows like Great Performances; on bringing George Balanchine's ballet to the Grand Ole Opry on Great Performances: Dance in America; on tracing the history of dance on Great Performances: Dance in America
On making opera more palatable to modern audiences on shows like Live from Lincoln Center; on his role as producer of Great Performances; on commissioning new operas like "Nixon in China" by John Adams for Great Performances; on corporate sponsorships
On the creation of American Masters; on becoming director of culture and arts programs at PBS; on producing "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House" for Great Performances (for which he won an Emmy); on the qualities that make a good producer; on bringing musical theater productions from Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Great Performances
On awards he's won throughout his career; on executive producing the first hour of the Tony Awards
On executive producing City Arts; on executive producing Broadway: The American Musical, his final project; on advice to an aspiring television producer
Shows

Adams Chronicles, The

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Jac Venza on The Adams Chronicles, created by Virginia Kassel

Adventure

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Jac Venza on producing Adventure

American Masters

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Jac Venza on the creation of American Masters

Big Record, The

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Jac Venza on production design for The Big Record

Blue Angel, The

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Jac Venza on becoming an associate producer on The Blue Angel and learning the ins and outs of directing live television

Broadway: The American Musical

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Jac Venza on executive producing Broadway: The American Musical -- his final project -- created by Michael Kantor

CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite

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Jac Venza on re-designing the news set for CBS news

City Arts

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Jac Venza on executive producing City Arts

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Jac Venza on awards in his career, including the Emmy

Great Performances

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Jac Venza on the creation of Great Performances
Jac Venza on the logistics of getting cameras, lights, and sound equipment in theaters to tape Great Performances; on sponsorship by Exxon and Texaco
Jac Venza on programming and choosing plays for Great Performances
Jac Venza on the challenges of making a stage performance compelling for television audiences on shows like Great Performances
Jac Venza on developing new techniques for filming dance on Great Performances: Dance in America
Jac Venza on bringing George Balanchine's ballet to the Grand Ole Opry on Great Performances: Dance in America
Jac Venza on tracing the history of dance on Great Performances: Dance in America
Jac Venza on his role as producer of Great Performances
Jac Venza on commissioning new operas like "Nixon in China" by John Adams for Great Performances
Jac Venza on dealing with corporate sponsorship for Great Performances
Jac Venza on producing "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House" for Great Performances (for which he won an Emmy)
Jac Venza on bringing musical theater productions by Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Great Performances

Live from Lincoln Center

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Jac Venza on making opera more palatable to modern audiences on shows like Live from Lincoln Center

Mama

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Jac Venza on working on shows like Mama and on what he learned in those early years at CBS

Masterpiece Theatre

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Jac Venza on the creation of Masterpiece Theatre

Music '55

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Jac Venza on his work on Music '55

NET Playhouse

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Jac Venza on the creation of NET Playhouse and on acquiring BBC programs for the show
Jac Venza on some of the early memorable NET Playhouse proudctions, including "The Journey of the Fifth Horse" starring Dustin Hoffman

Theatre in America

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Jac Venza on the creation of Theatre in America -- based out of a concern for only having British programming on Masterpiece Theatre

Tony Awards

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Jac Venza on executive producing the first hour of the Tony Awards

Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life

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Jac Venza on production designing Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn

Wonderful Town, U.S.A.

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Jac Venza on production design for Wonderful Town starring Rosalind Russell
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Jac Venza on sponsorship for Masterpiece Theatre and Great Performances

Advice

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Jac Venza on advice to an aspiring television producer

Emmy Awards

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Jac Venza on awards in his career, including the Emmy
Jac Venza on producing "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House" for Great Performances, for which he won an Emmy

Hollywood Blacklist

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Jac Venza on the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Jac Venza on the Hollywood Blacklist

Network Creation

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Jac Venza on PBS' early cinema programming, including shows on the history of cinema and foreign films

Television Industry

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Jac Venza on the Hollywood Blacklist
Jac Venza on the fate of NET after the Public Broadcasting Act was passed
Jac Venza on PBS' early cinema programming, including shows on the history of cinema and foreign films
Jac Venza on sponsorship for Masterpiece Theatre and Great Performances
Jac Venza on becoming director of culture and arts programs at PBS
Jac Venza on the biggest challenges facing PBS
Jac Venza on advice to an aspiring television producer
Professions

Designers

View Profession
Jac Venza on re-designing the news set for CBS news

Executives

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Jac Venza on becoming director of culture and arts programs at PBS

Producers

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Jac Venza on helping to create NET (National Education Television, the forerunner of PBS)
Jac Venza on the qualities that make a good producer
Jac Venza on advice to an aspiring television producer

Production Designer

View Profession
Jac Venza on re-designing the news set for CBS news

Television Executive

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Jac Venza on becoming director of culture and arts programs at PBS
Genres

Awards Shows

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Jac Venza on executive producing the first hour of the Tony Awards

Classic Anthology Series

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Jac Venza on the creation of NET Playhouse and on acquiring BBC programs for the show
Jac Venza on the creation of Masterpiece Theatre and Theatre in America
Jac Venza on the creation of and programming for Great Performances
Jac Venza on Great Performances and Great Performances: Dance in America
Jac Venza on producing "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House" for Great Performances (for which he won an Emmy), and bringing musical theater productions by Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Great Performances

Comedy Series

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Jac Venza on working on shows like Mama and on what he learned in those early years at CBS

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Jac Venza on production design for The Big Record
Jac Venza on becoming an associate producer on The Blue Angel and learning the ins and outs of directing live television
Jac Venza on his work on Music '55

News and Documentary

View Genre
Jac Venza on producing Adventure
Jac Venza on re-designing the news set for CBS news
Jac Venza on the creation of American Masters
Jac Venza on executive producing City Arts
Jac Venza on executive producing Broadway: The American Musical, his final project

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Jac Venza on production design for Wonderful Town starring Rosalind Russell
Jac Venza on production designing Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn
Jac Venza on The Adams Chronicles
People

George Balanchine

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Jac Venza on producing dance documentaries for NET and on working with George Balanchine
Jac Venza on bringing George Balanchine's ballet to the Grand Ole Opry on Great Performances: Dance in America

Ingrid Bergman

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Jac Venza on production designing Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn

Michael Kantor

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Jac Venza on executive producing Broadway: The American Musical -- his final project -- created by Michael Kantor

Virginia Kassel

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Jac Venza on The Adams Chronicles, created by Virginia Kassel

Itzhak Perlman

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Jac Venza on producing "Itzhak Perlman: Fiddling for the Future" and "Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House" for Great Performances (for which he won an Emmy)

Rip Torn

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Jac Venza on production designing Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life starring Ingrid Bergman and Rip Torn

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