Mili Lerner Bonsignori

News Editor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her three-hour Archive interview, Mili Lerner Bonsignori describes her transition from ballet dancer to television editor. She speaks of her work as an editor on the celebrated CBS documentary series See It Now, and details the benchmark shows "The Case Against Milo Radulovich AO589839," "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy," and "A Conversation with Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer." She shares her opinions on co-producers Edward R. Murrow (who also served as host) and Fred W. Friendly, and talks of the program's production schedule. Bonsignori then outlines her work editing Small World and CBS Reports, and discusses editing the CBS Reports program "Hunger in America." She describes her later freelance work with Charles Kuralt, and comments on the two documentaries for which she won Emmy Awards, ...But What About the Children? and CBS Reports: The Defense of the United States: A Call to Arms. She also discusses how the advent of video tape affected the field of editing. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on December 11, 1998 in Kissimmee, FL.

"Edward R. Murrow was the greatest exponent of the Bill of Rights I have ever met. Everything we did had to do with the rights of the individual under our Constitution. Every show we ever did, if you examine it carefully, you will find within it the Bill of Rights. That was his function. And we were able to do it because we were independent."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting See It Now host Edward R. Murrow ("a man of words") and producer Fred Friendly
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode "The Case Against Milo Radulovich A0589839"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy - aired March 9, 1954 -  and McCarthy's response
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on growing up in New York City during the Depression; on her talent for ballet and modern dance
On going to movies and to the theater; on teaching dance for the WPA; on moving to California and attending UCLA for two years
On hitchhiking through California and working for a cannery; on moving back to New York and becoming a script girl during World War II

Chapter 2

On women wanting to continue to work when World War II ended; on becoming one of four female editors in New York; on the first editing room she worked in during the late 1940s 
On her first job in television on a Betty Crocker cooking show; on her early memories of television
On getting a job on Edward R. Murrow's new show, See It Now; on how to edit optical track; on being a member of the IATSE union
On her first day on See It Now; on meeting host Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred Friendly

Chapter 3

On the first piece she edited for See It Now - "Trieste: A Divided City"; on the editing room and editing schedule on See It Now
On the use of jump cuts on See It Now; on the film tracks used on the show; on how Murrow recorded narration
On her recollections of specific pieces on See It Now; on field producers Joseph Wershba and Ed Scott
On the footage shot for See It Now; on Alcoa, the show's sponsor; on the See It Now workspace, which wasn't at CBS studios

Chapter 4

On Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's unique partnership on See It Now; on reactions to the show
On no scripts on See It Now; on not always being treated as an equal to the men on See It Now
On "The Case Against Milo Radulovich A0589839" episode of See It Now
On the "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy" episode of See It Now and McCarthy's response 
On the Annie Lee Moss episode of See It Now

Chapter 5

Full Chapter Five

Chapter 6

On editing Small World and CBS Reports; on getting fired from CBS Reports and Murrow leaving CBS; on memorable episodes of CBS Reports
On Fred Friendly resigning as President of CBS News; on getting asked to edit the pilot of 60 Minutes and editing The Charles Kuralt Show
On how video tape affected documentary editing; on her Emmy nominations

Chapter 7

On being a freelance editor; on her Emmy wins
On agesim in Hollywood; on changes in TV news since she started in the industry; on TV at its best and worst
On her thoughts on people with whom she's worked
Shows

60 Minutes

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Don Hewitt asking her to edit the pilot of 60 Minutes

CBS Reports

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on editing "Hunger in America" for CBS Reports
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on trying to hire women on CBS Reports
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on being asked to edit CBS Reports
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the content and format of CBS Reports
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on memorable episodes of CBS Reports

M*A*S*H: "The Interview"

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Editor Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now report that would later inspire the classic M*A*S*H episode "The Interview"

See It Now

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on getting a job organizing the editing room on Edward R. Murrow's new show, See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the pilot of See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her first day on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the first broadcast of See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting See It Now host Edward R. Murrow ("a man of words") and producer Fred Friendly
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the production company behind See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the first piece she edited for See It Now - "Trieste: A Divided City"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the editing room and studio for See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the editing schedule for See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the use of jump cuts on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on editing the film track and narration used on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the debut and format of See It Now  
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her recollections of specific pieces on See It Now and of how stories were decided upon
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now field producers Joseph Wershba and Ed Scott
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the footage shot for See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the sponsor of See It Now - Alcoa
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now workspace, which wasn't at CBS studios
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's unique partnership on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on reactions to See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on no initial scripts for See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on other news programs on the air at the time of See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on not being treated as an equal to the men on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode "The Case Against Milo Radulovich A0589839"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy - aired March 9, 1954 -  and McCarthy's response
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Annie Lee Moss

See It Now: "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy - aired March 9, 1954 -  and McCarthy's response

Small World

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on editing Small World
Topics

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on becoming one of four female editors in New York after World War II
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting the other three female editors in New York
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on not being treated as an equal to the men on See It Now

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how video tape affected documentary editing; on her Emmy nominations
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on winning her first Emmy for editing ...But What About the Children?
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on winning her second Emmy for editing CBS Reports: The Defense of the United States: A Call to Arms

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on working on the pilot episode of See It Now which followed how a donation of blood made it to a soldier in the Korean War
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on not being treated as an equal to the men on See It Now

Korean War

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on working on the pilot episode of See It Now which followed how a donation of blood made it to a soldier in the Korean War

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode "The Case Against Milo Radulovich A0589839"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy and McCarthy's response
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Annie Lee Moss

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how video tape impacted documentary editing; on her Emmy nominations
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how video tape impacted TV programs

War

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on working on the pilot episode of See It Now which followed how a donation of blood made it to a soldier in the Korean War

We Considered

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode "The Case Against Milo Radulovich A0589839"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy and McCarthy's response
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Annie Lee Moss

Women

View Topic
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on becoming one of four female editors in New York after World War II
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting the other three female editors in New York
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on not being treated as an equal to the men on See It Now
Professions

Editor

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on becoming one of four female editors in New York after World War II
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how to edit nitrate film
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the use of jump cuts on See It Now

Post-Production Professionals

View Profession
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on becoming one of four female editors in New York after World War II
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how to edit nitrate film
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the use of jump cuts on See It Now
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on working on the pilot episode of See It Now and meeting host Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred Friendly
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the stories and footage shot for See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her work editing specific episodes of See It Now - on Milo Radulovich, Senator McCarthy, and Annie Lee Moss
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the content, format, and memorable episodes of CBS Reports
People

Fred Friendly

View Person Page
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting See It Now producer Fred Friendly
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on why Fred Friendly liked the workspace of See It Now and how he wanted sound edited
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow recording narration for See It Now; on editing the film track
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's unique partnership on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Fred Friendly wanting her to learn about current events
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Fred Friendly resigning as President of CBS News and starting to teach
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Fred Friendly

Don Hewitt

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Don Hewitt asking her to edit the pilot of 60 Minutes

Danny Kaye

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Danny Kaye

Charles Kuralt

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on working with Charles Kuralt on The Charles Kuralt Show

Joseph McCarthy

View Person Page
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the spread of McCarthyism
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy and McCarthy's response
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Annie Lee Moss

Edward R. Murrow

View Person Page
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on not knowing who Edward R. Murrow was before working on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on meeting See It Now host Edward R. Murrow, "a man of words"
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow recording narration for See It Now; on editing the film track
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's unique partnership on See It Now
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Senator McCarthy and McCarthy's response
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Murrow signing a loyalty oath at CBS
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on Edward R. Murrow's contributions to CBS Reports and Murrow leaving CBS

William S. Paley

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on how William S. Paley loved Edward R. Murrow

Andy Rooney

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Andy Rooney

Richard S. Salant

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Richard S. Salant

Eric Sevareid

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Eric Sevareid

Howard K. Smith

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Howard K. Smith

Mike Wallace

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on her thoughts on people with whom she's worked - Mike Wallace

Joseph Wershba

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Mili Lerner Bonsignori on See It Now field producer Joseph Wershba
Mili Lerner Bonsignori on the See It Now episode on Annie Lee Moss

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