Kirk Browning

Director


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, Kirk Browning (1921-2008) speaks of his early days in television working on live broadcasts at NBC-TV. Next, he describes his work for NBC Opera Theater, working with Samuel Chotzinoff on productions such as "Amahl and the Night Visitors" and "Billy Budd," as well as telecasts featuring Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He also talks about directing the NBC Opera Theater production of "Carmen," the first color broadcast for NBC, and shows including Producers Showcase, Shirley Temple's Storybook, and the Christmas special Once Upon a Christmas Time. Browning recalls leaving NBC and moving to the New York PBS affiliate WNET, where he directed shows including NET Opera, Theater in America, and Great Performances. He discusses in detail his work for PBS' Live from the Met and Live from Lincoln Center, a series which he has directed since 1975. He also recalls his work on PBS' American Playhouse, including presentations of "Fifth of July" and "The House of Blue Leaves." Henry Colman conducted the interview on May 13, 2000 in New York, NY.

"If I wanted to be known for anything, it's never forgetting that somewhere hidden in this diabolic assemblage of elements, there is a specific television art form. I would like to think that perhaps I've used it as often and as much as I could."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Kirk Browning on working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on working with choreographer George Balanchine on NBC Opera Theatre, and on some of his favorite episodes
Kirk Browning on working with Frank Sinatra on the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show
Kirk Browning on directing the Play of the Week adaptation of "Damn Yankees" with Lee Remick
Kirk Browning on directing on Great Performances
Kirk Browning on trying various different programs for Live from Lincoln Center, and on adapting his visual style as a director
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his experience in World War II; on his uncle Worthington "Tony" Miner, and on his earliest memories of television
On his wife, and on getting into television; on his first job at NBC, and on NBC executive Warren Wade; on his early duties at NBC as a stage manager, and on working with Yul Brynner

Chapter 2

On the NBC studios in the 1950s, and on the logistics of how they operated; on the person who taught him the ropes of stage managing, and on working on NBC Opera Theatre
On working on Kraft Television Theatre; on working at NBC in the 1950s, and on working on Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti; on the technical aspects of bringing opera to television with NBC Opera Theatre

Chapter 3

On his work on the NBC Opera Theatre production of "Salome" with non-singers John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo; on the rehearsal process for NBC Opera Theatre
On casting for NBC Opera Theatre; on the staging of NBC Opera Theatre and on miking the actors
On how operas were chosen for NBC Opera Theatre and on the translations; on the evolution of the camera technique on NBC Opera Theatre, and on the notion of television as a true art form

Chapter 4

On doing the first color and videotaped shows for NBC Opera Theatre; on the sponsors of NBC Opera Theatre, and on audience reaction to the show; on favorite productions of NBC Opera Theatre including "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein
On putting on "Carmen" and "Magic Flute" for NBC Opera Theatre ; on working with choreographer George Balanchine on NBC Opera Theatre, and on some of his favorite episodes
On the end of NBC Opera Theatre; on directing The Bell Telephone Hour and Producers' Showcase

Chapter 5

On working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre; on directing various episodes of The Alcoa Hour and Hallmark Hall of Fame with a young Richard Thomas; on directing "Antony and Cleopatra" for Producers' Showcase
On directing the Samuel Beckett play "Krapp's Last Tape" for Omnibus; on directing "Beauty and the Beast" for Shirley Temple's Storybook; on working with Frank Sinatra on the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show

Chapter 6

On directing the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show; on not being interested in directing feature films, and on directing Noah and the Flood; on working with Bob Fosse on The Rosalind Russell Show
On directing various specials including the Miss America Pageant with Bert Parks; on leaving NBC to direct Play of the Week; on directing the Play of the Week adaptation of "Damn Yankees" with Lee Remick
On directing various musical specials; on directing NET Opera Theatre

Chapter 7

On the schedule of directing the NET Opera Theatre; on directing Theater in America
On directing on Great Performances; on directing Live from Lincoln Center

Chapter 8

On trying various different programs for Live from Lincoln Center, and on adapting his visual style as a director; on the "Tribute to Billy Wilder" and "Aaron Copeland's 85th Birthday" on Live from Lincoln Center, and on picking the program of that show; on his favorite productions from Live from Lincoln Center
On Live from the Met; on American Playhouse; on then-current projects and advice to an aspiring director

Chapter 9

On the then-future of technology on television; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Alcoa Hour, The

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Kirk Browning on directing various episodes of The Alcoa Hour and Hallmark Hall of Fame with a young Richard Thomas

Amahl and the Night Visitors

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Kirk Browning on working at NBC in the 1950s, and on working on Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti

American Playhouse

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Kirk Browning on American Playhouse

Bell Telephone Hour, The

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Kirk Browning on directing The Bell Telephone Hour and Producers' Showcase

Frank Sinatra Show, The (1957-58)

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Kirk Browning on working with Frank Sinatra on the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show
Kirk Browning on directing the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show

Great Performances

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Kirk Browning on directing on Great Performances

Kraft Television Theatre

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Kirk Browning on working on Kraft Television Theatre

Live from Lincoln Center

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Kirk Browning on directing Live from Lincoln Center
Kirk Browning on trying various different programs for Live from Lincoln Center, and on adapting his visual style as a director
Kirk Browning on the "Tribute to Billy Wilder" and "Aaron Copeland's 85th Birthday" on Live from Lincoln Center, and on picking the program of that show
Kirk Browning on his favorite productions from Live from Lincoln Center

Live from the Met

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Kirk Browning on Live from the Met

Miss America Pageant

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Kirk Browning on directing various specials including the Miss America Pageant with Bert Parks

NBC Opera Theatre

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Kirk Browning on the technical aspects of bringing opera to television with NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the person who taught him the ropes of stage managing, and on working on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on his work on the NBC Opera Theatre production of "Salome" with non-singers John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo
Kirk Browning on the rehearsal process for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on casting for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the staging of NBC Opera Theatre, and on miking the actors
Kirk Browning on how operas were chosen for NBC Opera Theatre, and on the translations
Kirk Browning on the evolution of the camera technique on NBC Opera Theatre, and on the notion of television as a true art form
Kirk Browning on doing the first color and videotaped shows for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the sponsors of NBC Opera Theatre, and on audience reaction to the show
Kirk Browning on favorite productions of NBC Opera Theatre including "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein
Kirk Browning on putting on "Carmen" and "Magic Flute" for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on working with choreographer George Balanchine on NBC Opera Theatre, and on some of his favorite episodes
Kirk Browning on the end of NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre

NET Opera Theatre

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Kirk Browning on directing NET Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the schedule of directing the NET Opera Theatre

Omnibus

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Kirk Browning on directing the Samuel Beckett play "Krapp's Last Tape" for Omnibus

Play of the Week

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Kirk Browning on leaving NBC to direct Play of the Week
Kirk Browning on directing the Play of the Week adaptation of "Damn Yankees" with Lee Remick

Producers' Showcase

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Kirk Browning on directing The Bell Telephone Hour and Producers' Showcase
Kirk Browning on directing "Antony and Cleopatra" for Producers' Showcase

Shirley Temple's Storybook

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Kirk Browning on directing "Beauty and the Beast" for Shirley Temple's Storybook

Theater in America

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Kirk Browning on directing Theater in America
Topics

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Kirk Browning on his first job at NBC, and on NBC executive Warren Wade
Kirk Browning on the person who taught him the ropes of stage managing, and on working on NBC Opera Theatre

Pivotal Career Moments

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Kirk Browning on his first job at NBC, and on NBC executive Warren Wade
Kirk Browning on the person who taught him the ropes of stage managing, and on working on NBC Opera Theatre

Technological Innovation

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Kirk Browning on doing the first color and videotaped shows for NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on the then-future of technology on television

Television Industry

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Kirk Browning on the NBC studios in the 1950s, and on the logistics of how they operated
Professions

Directors

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Kirk Browning on advice to an aspiring director
Kirk Browning on trying various different programs for Live from Lincoln Center, and on adapting his visual style as a director
Kirk Browning on how technology might put directors like him out of business
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Kirk Browning on directing Bell Telephone Hour and Producers' Showcase
Kirk Browning on directing various episodes of The Alcoa Hour and Hallmark Hall of Fame
Kirk Browning on directing "Antony and Cleopatra" for Producers' Showcase
Kirk Browning on directing the Samuel Beckett play "Krapp's Last Tape" for Omnibus
Kirk Browning on directing "Beauty and the Beast" for Shirley Temple's Storybook
Kirk Browning on leaving NBC to direct Play of the Week
Kirk Browning on the schedule of directing the NET Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on directing Theater in America
Kirk Browning on directing on Great Performances
Kirk Browning on directing Live from Lincoln Center

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Kirk Browning on working on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on directing NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on directing NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre
Kirk Browning on directing TV Recital Hall
Kirk Browning on working with Frank Sinatra on the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show
Kirk Browning on directing various musical specials
Kirk Browning on directing the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show
Kirk Browning on directing various specials including the Miss America Pageant with Bert Parks
Kirk Browning on directing NET Opera Theatre
People

George Balanchine

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Kirk Browning on working with choreographer George Balanchine on NBC Opera Theatre

Leonard Bernstein

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Kirk Browning on favorite productions of NBC Opera Theatre including "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein

Bob Fosse

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Kirk Browning on working with Bob Fosse on The Rosalind Russell Show

John Goberman

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Kirk Browning on directing Live from Lincoln Center for producer John Goberman

David Mamet

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Kirk Browning on directing Theater in America including works by David Mamet

Sal Mineo

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Kirk Browning on his work on the NBC Opera Theatre production of "Salome" with non-singers John Cassavetes and Sal Mineo

Worthington Miner

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Kirk Browning on his uncle Worthington "Tony" Miner, and on his earliest memories of television
Kirk Browning on his uncle Worthington "Tony" Miner

Lee Remick

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Kirk Browning on directing the Play of the Week adaptation of "Damn Yankees" with Lee Remick

Frank Sinatra

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Kirk Browning on working with Frank Sinatra on the first episode of The Frank Sinatra Show

Shirley Temple

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Kirk Browning on directing "Beauty and the Beast" for Shirley Temple's Storybook

Richard Thomas

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Kirk Browning on directing an episode of Hallmark Hall of Fame with a young Richard Thomas

Arturo Toscanini

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Kirk Browning on working with Arturo Toscanini on NBC Opera Theatre

All Interviews

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