Michael Dann

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Michael Dann (1921-2016) discusses his start in television as part of the NBC publicity department. He describes his time with NBC News and his move to CBS, where he worked his way up the ranks to become head of CBS programming. Dann details his experiences overseeing The Defenders, Gilligan's Island, 60 Minutes, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, among others, and shares his thoughts on some of his colleagues at both NBC and CBS. He also touches on his work since leaving CBS - consulting for Children's Television Workshop, Warner Communications, and the BBC. Don West conducted the interview on October 26, 1998 in New York, NY.

"I have never ruled against a producer in my life, ever, on anything. Because I learned very early that for the one time you're right, it will not be permissible. In the long run, you have to protect the freedom of a producer who has a record of doing what's tasteful."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver
Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
Michael Dann on his involvement with The Defenders
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on ushering in theaters in high school and working as an army correspondent during World War II
On how the Great Depression affected his family; on listening to radio in the 1930s and 1940s; on his start in radio comedy writing for Jack Albertson
On his start in television in the NBC press department and then NBC News in 1948

Chapter 2

On his radio work in New York; on the early days of television at NBC
On moving from the press department to the news department in 1949; on early television programming at NBC
On Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and the beginning of participating sponsorship

Chapter 3

On The Chicago School of Television; on early dramas and variety shows - Texaco Star Theater
On Pat Weaver's programming innovations; on early televison anthology programs and the need to shoot variety programs in color

Chapter 4

On moving to CBS to become Vice President of New York programs; on Your Hit Parade, The Defenders and other CBS programs he approved
On working with CBS' Jim Aubrey, Frank Stanton, and William Paley

Chapter 5

On his involvement with the show Medic; on the raciness permitted then and now on television
On his process for scheduling prime time television at CBS; on his crisis decisions at CBS

Chapter 6

On getting The Defenders on the air
On The Hollywood Blacklist; on leaving CBS; on the cable industry and evolving technology
On his reflections on working in the industry; on the future of television

Chapter 7

On his thoughts on people with whom he's worked; on today's most talented producers
On the future of television
Shows

Bewitched

View Show Page
Michael Dann on how he lost Bewitched

Born Free

View Show Page
Michael Dann on Fred Silverman's scheduling advice to promote Born Free as a children's show

CBS Playhouse

View Show Page
Michael Dann on his involvement with CBS Playhouse

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on producing The Colgate Comedy Hour

Death of a Salesman

View Show Page
Michael Dann on his involvement with Death of a Salesman

Defenders, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on his involvement with The Defenders
Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders
Michael Dann on getting The Defenders on the air

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on wanting to air an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which the son walks in on his parents making love

Ding Dong School

View Show Page
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television

Garroway at Large

View Show Page
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television

Home Show, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show

Jack Carter Show, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television

Kukla, Fran & Ollie

View Show Page
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Medic

View Show Page
Michael Dann on his involvement with Medic, the first series to show the birth of a baby

Nurses, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on defending producers and voting in favor of a scene many questioned on The Nurses

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

View Show Page
Michael Dann on production of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

View Show Page
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air

Studs' Place

View Show Page
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television

Texaco Star Theater

View Show Page
Michael Dann on Milton Berle's humor
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and the cancellation of Texaco Star Theater

Today

View Show Page
Michael Dann on station managers not believing people would get up early enough to watch Today
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show

Tonight

View Show Page
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show

Your Hit Parade

View Show Page
Michael Dann on revamping Your Hit Parade

Your Show of Shows

View Show Page
Michael Dann on early television variety shows
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Michael Dann on being ordered by Program Practices to intervene with The Smothers Brothers
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Michael Dann on The Hollywood Blacklist

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Michael Dann on the coming of digital programming and sets
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff's desire to sell color television sets and the importance of shooting variety shows in color
Michael Dann on the cable industry and evolving technology
Michael Dann on the prospect of digital cable
Professions

Executives

View Profession
Michael Dann on his role as CBS Vice President of New York programs
Michael Dann on his process for scheduling prime time television at CBS
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver
Genres

Drama Series

View Genre
Michael Dann on getting The Defenders on the air

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
Michael Dann on revamping Your Hit Parade
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air

News and Documentary

View Genre
Mike Dann on his start in NBC News
People

Jack Albertson

View Person Page
Mike Dann on his start as a comedy writer for Jack Albertson

James T. Aubrey

View Person Page
Michael Dann on his opinion of Jim Aubrey
Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey
Michael Dann on Jim Aubrey not liking The Defenders

Milton Berle

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Milton Berle's humor
Michael Dann on early television variety shows
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and the cancellation of Texaco Star Theater

Herbert Brodkin

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders
Michael Dann on The Defenders' producer Herbert Brodkin

Carol Burnett

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Carol Burnett

Sid Caesar

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Sid Caesar

Joseph Cates

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Joseph Cates

Fred Coe

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Fred Coe's eye for quality programming
Michael Dann on working with Fred Coe on Philco Goodyear Television Playhouse and thoughts on the pioneers of anthology drama - Tony Miner and Martin Manulis
Michael Dann on Fred Coe

Joan Ganz Cooney

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Joan Ganz Cooney

Norman Felton

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on producers Norman Felton and Perry Lafferty

Fred Friendly

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Fred Friendly

Peter Gennaro

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Peter Gennaro, choreographer of Your Hit Parade

Jackie Gleason

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Jackie Gleason

Arthur Godfrey

View Person Page
Michael Dann on simulcasting early radio broadcasts for television and Arthur Godfrey's early success on CBS Television

Leonard H. Goldenson

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Leonard Goldenson embracing cable

Norman Jewison

View Person Page
Michael Dann on wanting Norman Jewison to direct Your Hit Parade

Perry Lafferty

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on producers Norman Felton and Perry Lafferty
Michael Dann on wanting Perry Lafferty to revamp Your Hit Parade

Sheldon Leonard

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Sheldon Leonard

Max Liebman

View Person Page
Michael Dann on congratulating Max Liebman after every show to keep morale up

Martin Manulis

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on working with Fred Coe on Philco Goodyear Television Playhouse and thoughts on the pioneers of anthology drama - Tony Miner and Martin Manulis

Worthington Miner

View Person Page
Michael Dann on working with Fred Coe on Philco Goodyear Television Playhouse and thoughts on the pioneers of anthology drama - Tony Miner and Martin Manulis

Robert Montgomery

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver discovering Robert Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery

View Person Page
Michael Dann on how he lost Bewitched

Mary Tyler Moore

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mike Nichols

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Mike Nichols

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff's desire to sell color television sets and the importance of shooting variety shows in color; on William Paley adopting color
Michael Dann on CBS founder William S. Paley
Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey
Michael Dann on William S. Paley's knack for television programming and his management style
Michael Dann on William S. Paley's thoughts on The Defenders

Carl Reiner

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Carl Reiner

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff giving him a television set and an allowance to hold television parties
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and David Sarnoff's vision
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff firing Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff's desire to sell color television sets and the importance of shooting variety shows in color

Sherwood Schwartz

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Sherwood Schwartz

Irwin Segelstein

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Irwin Segelstein

Fred Silverman

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Fred Silverman's scheduling advice to promote Born Free as a children's show
Michael Dann on Fred Silverman

Gary Smith

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Gary Smith, designer of Your Hit Parade

Dick Smothers

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour  off the air

Tom Smothers

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
Michael Dann on Tom Smothers reaction to getting fired and making it political

Frank Stanton

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey

Brandon Stoddard

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Brandon Stoddard

Ed Sullivan

View Person Page
Michael Dann on early television variety shows
Michael Dann on Ed Sullivan

David Susskind

View Person Page
Michael Dann on David Susskind's 

Jessica Tandy

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Jim Aubrey not liking Jessica Tandy as the wife in The Defenders

Brandon Tartikoff

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Brandon Tartikoff

Grant Tinker

View Interview Page
Michael Dann on Grant Tinker

Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver

View Person Page
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and the beginning of participating sponsorship
Michael Dann on working with Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
Michael Dann on working with Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver

All Interviews

Q
S