Michael Dann

Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

Highlights
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver
01:29
Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:12
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
02:31
Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
02:01
Michael Dann on his involvement with The Defenders
02:23
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
08:53
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
08:53
On his start in television in the NBC press department and then NBC News in 1948
04:15

Chapter 2

On his radio work in New York; on the early days of television at NBC
12:50
On moving from the press department to the news department in 1949; on early television programming at NBC
09:20
On Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and the beginning of participating sponsorship
06:18

Chapter 3

On The Chicago School of Television; on early dramas and variety shows - Texaco Star Theater
14:31
On Pat Weaver's programming innovations; on early televison anthology programs and the need to shoot variety programs in color
13:41

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
12:07

Chapter 5

On his involvement with the show Medic; on the raciness permitted then and now on television
15:29
On his process for scheduling prime time television at CBS; on his crisis decisions at CBS
13:04

Chapter 6

On getting The Defenders on the air
06:39
On The Hollywood Blacklist; on leaving CBS; on the cable industry and evolving technology
12:15
On his reflections on working in the industry; on the future of television
08:37

Chapter 7

On his thoughts on people with whom he's worked; on today's most talented producers
17:57
On the future of television
00:52
Shows

Bewitched

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Michael Dann on how he lost Bewitched
02:58

Born Free

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Michael Dann on Fred Silverman's scheduling advice to promote Born Free as a children's show
01:30

CBS Playhouse

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Michael Dann on his involvement with CBS Playhouse
01:30

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Michael Dann on producing The Colgate Comedy Hour
03:41

Death of a Salesman

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Michael Dann on his involvement with Death of a Salesman
01:20

Defenders, The

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Michael Dann on his involvement with The Defenders
02:23
Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders
00:33
Michael Dann on getting The Defenders on the air
06:33

Dick Van Dyke Show, The

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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
03:12

Ding Dong School

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Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
02:01

Garroway at Large

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Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
02:01

Home Show, The

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Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show
03:17

Jack Carter Show, The

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Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television
03:41

Kukla, Fran & Ollie

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Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
02:01

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:12

Medic

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Michael Dann on his involvement with Medic, the first series to show the birth of a baby
04:11

Nurses, The

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Michael Dann on defending producers and voting in favor of a scene many questioned on The Nurses
00:59

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Michael Dann on production of Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
01:10

Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The

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Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
02:31

Studs' Place

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Michael Dann on how important The Chicago School of Television was to early television
02:01

Texaco Star Theater

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Michael Dann on Milton Berle's humor
00:39
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
02:55
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and the cancellation of Texaco Star Theater
00:57

Today

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Michael Dann on station managers not believing people would get up early enough to watch Today
00:30
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show
03:17

Tonight

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Michael Dann on Pat Weaver and the creation of Today, The Home Show, and The Tonight Show
03:17

Your Hit Parade

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Michael Dann on revamping Your Hit Parade
06:58

Your Show of Shows

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Michael Dann on early television variety shows
01:44
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television
02:50
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Michael Dann on being ordered by Program Practices to intervene with The Smothers Brothers
01:48
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
02:31
Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders
00:33

Hollywood Blacklist

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Michael Dann on The Hollywood Blacklist
02:00

Technological Innovation

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Michael Dann on the coming of digital programming and sets
01:04
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff's desire to sell color television sets and the importance of shooting variety shows in color
01:56
Michael Dann on the cable industry and evolving technology
07:36
Michael Dann on the prospect of digital cable
00:20
Professions

Executives

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Michael Dann on his role as CBS Vice President of New York programs
04:24
Michael Dann on his process for scheduling prime time television at CBS
09:43
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver
01:29
Genres

Drama Series

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Michael Dann on getting The Defenders on the air
06:33

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
02:55
Michael Dann on revamping Your Hit Parade
06:58
Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
02:31

News and Documentary

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Mike Dann on his start in NBC News
04:15
People

Jack Albertson

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Mike Dann on his start as a comedy writer for Jack Albertson
02:13

James T. Aubrey

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Michael Dann on his opinion of Jim Aubrey
03:58
Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey
01:49
Michael Dann on Jim Aubrey not liking The Defenders
06:33

Milton Berle

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Michael Dann on Milton Berle's humor
00:39
Michael Dann on early television variety shows
02:42
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and Texaco Star Theater
02:55
Michael Dann on Milton Berle and the cancellation of Texaco Star Theater
00:57

Herbert Brodkin

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Michael Dann on Herbert Brodkin not being censored on The Defenders
00:11
Michael Dann on The Defenders' producer Herbert Brodkin
06:33

Carol Burnett

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Michael Dann on Carol Burnett
00:36

Sid Caesar

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Michael Dann on Sid Caesar
00:15

Joseph Cates

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Michael Dann on Joseph Cates
00:27

Fred Coe

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Michael Dann on Fred Coe's eye for quality programming
00:36
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
03:14
Michael Dann on Fred Coe
00:54

Joan Ganz Cooney

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Michael Dann on Joan Ganz Cooney
00:44

Norman Felton

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Michael Dann on producers Norman Felton and Perry Lafferty
01:18

Fred Friendly

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Michael Dann on Fred Friendly
03:58

Peter Gennaro

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Michael Dann on Peter Gennaro, choreographer of Your Hit Parade
00:23

Jackie Gleason

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Michael Dann on Jackie Gleason
00:39

Arthur Godfrey

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Michael Dann on simulcasting early radio broadcasts for television and Arthur Godfrey's early success on CBS Television
01:08

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Michael Dann on Leonard Goldenson embracing cable
00:25

Norman Jewison

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Michael Dann on wanting Norman Jewison to direct Your Hit Parade
01:53

Perry Lafferty

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Michael Dann on producers Norman Felton and Perry Lafferty
01:18
Michael Dann on wanting Perry Lafferty to revamp Your Hit Parade
06:58

Sheldon Leonard

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Michael Dann on Sheldon Leonard
00:48

Max Liebman

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Michael Dann on congratulating Max Liebman after every show to keep morale up
00:56

Martin Manulis

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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
03:14

Worthington Miner

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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
03:24

Robert Montgomery

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Michael Dann on Pat Weaver discovering Robert Montgomery
01:18

Elizabeth Montgomery

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Michael Dann on how he lost Bewitched
02:58

Mary Tyler Moore

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Michael Dann on saying that Mary Richards could not be divorced on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
03:12

Mike Nichols

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Michael Dann on Mike Nichols
00:24

William S. Paley

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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
01:56
Michael Dann on CBS founder William S. Paley
00:38
Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey
02:30
Michael Dann on William S. Paley's knack for television programming and his management style
04:26
Michael Dann on William S. Paley's thoughts on The Defenders
03:03

Carl Reiner

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Michael Dann on Carl Reiner
00:39

David Sarnoff

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Michael Dann on David Sarnoff giving him a television set and an allowance to hold television parties
05:46
Michael Dann on Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and David Sarnoff's vision
02:09
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff firing Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
00:32
Michael Dann on David Sarnoff's desire to sell color television sets and the importance of shooting variety shows in color
01:56

Sherwood Schwartz

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Michael Dann on Sherwood Schwartz
00:31

Irwin Segelstein

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Michael Dann on Irwin Segelstein
01:20

Fred Silverman

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Michael Dann on Fred Silverman's scheduling advice to promote Born Free as a children's show
01:30
Michael Dann on Fred Silverman
01:51

Gary Smith

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Michael Dann on Gary Smith, designer of Your Hit Parade
00:17

Dick Smothers

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Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour  off the air
02:31

Tom Smothers

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Michael Dann on taking The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour off the air
02:31
Michael Dann on Tom Smothers reaction to getting fired and making it political
00:54

Frank Stanton

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Michael Dann on CBS' Frank Stanton and William Paley and the firing of Jim Aubrey
02:30

Brandon Stoddard

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Michael Dann on Brandon Stoddard
00:33

Ed Sullivan

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Michael Dann on early television variety shows
02:42
Michael Dann on Ed Sullivan
00:09

David Susskind

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Michael Dann on David Susskind's 
00:34

Jessica Tandy

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Michael Dann on Jim Aubrey not liking Jessica Tandy as the wife in The Defenders
00:22

Brandon Tartikoff

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Michael Dann on Brandon Tartikoff
00:16

Grant Tinker

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Michael Dann on Grant Tinker
00:35

Sylvester L. Weaver

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Michael Dann on Pat Weaver's reorganization of NBC and the beginning of participating sponsorship
05:46
Michael Dann on working with Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
03:14
Michael Dann on working with Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
04:39
Michael Dann on Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver's Saturday night philosophy of television
02:50
Michael Dann on the high point of his career - working with Pat Weaver
01:29

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