First Big Break


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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Interviewees discuss how they got their start in the entertainment industry.

Highlights
Jaclyn Smith on being a "Breck Girl" and appearing on McCloud
02:24
Norman Stiles on going to write for Sesame Street
03:21
Edie Falco on how she got her first agent
00:48
Martin Manulis on being hired by CBS to direct
08:45
Lucy Lawless on playing "Xena" on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 
05:49
Hal Linden on making his Broadway debut in "Bells Are Ringing" with Judy Holliday
05:24
Who talked about this topic

Chris Albrecht

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Chris Albrecht on becoming President of Original Programming at HBO
04:44

Jason Alexander

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Jason Alexander on performing in "Jerome Robbins Broadway"
10:07
Jason Alexander on being cast in The Seinfeld Chronicles, the pilot to Seinfeld
04:56

Dick Askin

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Dick Askin on his first job in television
07:34

Rona Barrett

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Rona Barrett on breaking into television
08:59

Rick Berman

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Rick Berman on his early days in Los Angeles going to work at Warner Bros. and Paramount
08:49

Vin Di Bona

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Vin Di Bona on his first television job at WBZ in Boston and becoming a director
07:40

Kevin Bright

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Kevin Bright on his first job after graduating from Emerson College
01:40

David Brinkley

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David Brinkley on being hired by NBC Radio
03:26

Connie Britton

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Connie Britton on being cast as "Heather" on Ellen
01:14

Harvey Bullock

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Harvey Bullock on coming to write for The Andy Griffith Show
01:09

Vince Calandra

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Vince Calandra on his big break into entertainment - getting a job in the CBS mailroom without having an Ivy League degree
02:22

David Canary

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David Canary on his first big TV role on Peyton Place, playing Mia Farrow's doctor
04:49

Jim Cantore

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Jim Cantore on being hired by The Weather Channel
02:37

Glenn Gordon Caron

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Glenn Gordon Caron on getting his big break at NBC - the unaired pilot The God Squad
06:14

Alf Clausen

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Alf Clausen on being a copyist for The Carol Burnett Show  and various feature films
04:55

Barbara Corday

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Barbara Corday on pitching a series with Barbara Avedon
05:41

Pierre Cossette

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Pierre Cossette on the first music shows he produced
05:16

Douglas S. Cramer

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Douglas S. Cramer on working at Procter & Gamble
06:06

Jane Curtin

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Jane Curtin on being cast on Saturday Night Live
02:18

Tony Danza

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Tony Danza on getting his first acting job on Fast Lane Blues
04:24

Bill Davis

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Bill Davis on his first job at the Canadian Broadcasting Company
09:32

Elias Davis

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Elias Davis and David Pollock on their first big break as writers for Pat Buttram on the radio
03:12

Betty Cole Dukert

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Betty Cole Dukert on how she came to join Meet the Press  as a producer
09:10

Jeff Fager

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Jeff Fager on his first job out of college, at the NBC affiliate WBZ in Boston
01:17

Edie Falco

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Edie Falco on how she got her first agent
00:48

Julian Fellowes

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Julian Fellowes on writing the feature film "Gosford Park" for director Robert Altman
07:52

Tom Fontana

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Tom Fontana on how he came to write for St. Elsewhere  after being discovered by Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner
06:53

Albert Freedman

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Albert Freedman on his big break - writing for Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life
02:58

Harry Friedman

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Harry Friedman on moving to Los Angeles and being hired to write for Hollywood Squares
03:52

Chuck Fries

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Chuck Fries on going to work for Ziv Productions and moving to California
07:36

Paul Michael Glaser

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Paul Michael Glaser on getting cast in Love of Life,  appearing in the feature film "Fiddler on the Roof" and being put off by acting in film
03:29

Gary David Goldberg

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Gary David Goldberg on his mentor, Nate Monaster
00:34

Danette Herman

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Danette Herman on her first television job on the Dick Clark series Where the Action Is
08:43

Felicity Huffman

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Felicity Huffman on appearing on an ABC Afterschool Special called "Home Run for Love" when she was fifteen
02:06
Felicity Huffman on appearing on the Stephen King miniseries Golden Years, which she considers her first big break
01:49

Kim Hunter

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Kim Hunter on playing "Stella Kowalski" in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway in on film
05:51

David Isaacs

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons
02:42

Al Jean

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Al Jean on getting his first job in television
02:42

Geri Jewell

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Geri Jewell on how a college friend inspired her to try stand-up comedy at the Comedy Store, which led to her breaking into television
05:15

David E. Kelley

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David E. Kelley on meeting Steven Bochco and interviewing to work on L.A. Law
01:09

Walter Koenig

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Walter Koenig on being cast as "Pavel Chekov" on Star Trek and making the character Russian
07:24

Lucy Lawless

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Lucy Lawless on playing "Xena" on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 
05:49

Norman Lear

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Norman Lear on how he schemed to reach out to Danny Thomas and write a bit for him that turned out to be his big break
05:29

Jack Lemmon

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Jack Lemmon on his first big break on the radio
04:00

Ken Levine

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Ken Levine and David Isaacs on selling their first script, a spec for The Jeffersons 
02:42

Hal Linden

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Hal Linden on making his Broadway debut in "Bells Are Ringing" with Judy Holliday
05:24

Susan Lucci

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Susan Lucci on auditioning for the character of "Erica Kane" on All My Children and finding out she got the part
01:55

Stewart MacGregory

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Stewart MacGregory on going to work for NBC television 
01:38

Robert MacNeil

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Robert MacNeil on how he came to work for NBC
03:13

Martin Manulis

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Martin Manulis on being hired by CBS to direct
08:45

John A. Martinelli

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John Martinelli on assistant editing The Lawrence Welk Show
01:36

David Milch

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David Milch on how he came to write for Hill Street Blues
04:04
David Milch on how he came to write for Hill Street Blues
04:04

Millie Moore

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Millie Moore on her first big break - working on the travelogue documentaries of Jack Douglas
01:15

Bob Newhart

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Bob Newhart on his big break at the local Chicago Emmy Awards and recording his first comedy album
06:07
Bob Newhart on his national big break at the 1960 Emmy Awards
03:11

Laraine Newman

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Laraine Newman on performing on The Lily Tomlin Special 
03:04

Edward James Olmos

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Edward James Olmos on being cast as "Martin Castillo" on Miami Vice
11:39

Bernie Orenstein

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Bernie Orenstein on how he got his start in show business: he dropped out of college after appearing in a University of Toronto show called "The All Varsity Revue"
01:06
Bernie Orenstein on how his first writing job on a Canadian variety show produced by Norman Jewison led to his moving to New York City and writing for Candid Camera
02:31

Alan Perris

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Alan Perris on his first television job at PBS station WVIZ in Cleveland 
02:25

David Pollock

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Elias Davis and David Pollock on their first big break as writers for Pat Buttram on the radio
03:12

Mark Rothman

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Mark Rothman on his first professional writing job on The Mike Douglas Show
05:01

Thomas Del Ruth

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Thomas Del Ruth on his working as an assistant cameraman at 20th Century Fox and learning his way around a camera
02:18

Joseph Sargent

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Joseph Sargent on his first directing job on the series Lassie
08:56

John Shaffner

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John Shaffner on starting out in television
11:54
John Shaffner on his big break in television in first run-syndication
03:15

Sam Simon

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Sam Simon on how he came to write for Taxi
03:02

John Singleton

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John Singleton on getting his first agent based on the strength of the screenplay to "Boyz n the Hood"
02:01

G.E. Smith

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G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47

Jaclyn Smith

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Jaclyn Smith on being a "Breck Girl" and appearing on McCloud
02:24

Yeardley Smith

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Yeardley Smith on how she got her first New York agent
01:54
Yeardley Smith on her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" directed by Mike Nichols
06:09

Mark Snow

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Mark Snow on The Rookies  being the first show he worked on and getting the job through his then-brother-in-law, Georg Stanford Brown
01:12

Darren Star

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Darren Star on how his first industry job, as an assistant at the public relations firm Guttman & Pam, led to his first break: selling a film script to Warner Bros.
04:18
Darren Star on the serendipitous events early on his career that led to his first big break, including working at Showtime for Peter Chernin, who later became the decision maker on Beverly Hills, 90210 at Fox
03:09

Jeremy Stevens

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Jeremy Stevens on his first writing job for television on The Skitch Henderson Show
12:02

Norman Stiles

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Norman Stiles on going to write for Sesame Street
03:21

Jeffrey Tambor

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Jeffrey Tambor on appearing on Kojak, his first television role
02:10

Nina Tassler

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Nina Tassler on how agent David Windsor helped her to see her potential to become an agent
01:45

Saul Turteltaub

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Saul Turteltaub on forming a comedy team with a college friend and getting hired to perform at Catskills resorts
02:24
Saul Turteltaub on dating Shari Lewis (then Phyllis Hurwitz) at summer camp as a kid and calling her up for a writing job when he saw her on television in 1957
02:31

Leslie Uggams

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Leslie Uggams on how she began performing at the Apollo Theater when she was nine years-old
02:09
Leslie Uggams on getting her start in television as a child on The Milton Berle Show and other variety shows
01:19

Keenen Ivory Wayans

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Keenen Ivory Wayans on appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; his childhood idol- and what it meant for him personally "like stepping into your dream"; on being asked to sit with Johnny after his act
04:45

Ellen Wheeler

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Ellen Wheeler on being cast as "Marley Love Hudson McKinnon" on Another World
09:39

Cindy Williams

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Cindy Williams on the effect the film "American Graffiti" had on her career and her fame
00:55

Hugh Wilson

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Hugh Wilson on going to work for Armstrong and how he started in television at MTM Productions
09:31

Ben Wolf

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Ben Wolf on his first television job as a cameraman at KLAC
05:49

Bud Yorkin

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Bud Yorkin on his big break becoming director of The Colgate Comedy Hour  at the behest of Pat Weaver
02:14

Jeff Zucker

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Jeff Zucker on getting his first job after college, as an Olympic Researcher for NBC
04:52

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