Ed Driscoll

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About TV...And Much, Much Much More

If you’ve been poking around Google Video, the latest edition to the Google search-opoly, you’ve undoubtedly come across some of the seemingly endless series of half-hour video interviews with veteran television industry pros which currently dominate the video footage on the search engine. This TechWeb article says that 75 hour-hour segments from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation:

Google Inc. on Wednesday said it has started offering free viewing of videotaped interviews with some of TV’s biggest celebrities, as the result of a deal with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation.

The Mountain View, Calif., search engine said the Foundation agreed to make its Archive of American Television interviews available, giving Google access to interviews with Alan Alda, Sid Caesar, Norman Lear, Steven Bochco and many other actors, writers, producers and directors.

As of Wednesday, 75 of the 284 films are available through Google Video. To get a listing of all 75 films, a person needs to enter the query “academy of television” into the Google Video search box. The Foundation’s collection covers the last 75 years in television.

Among the other performers in the archives are Diahann Carroll, Ossie Davis, Phyllis Diller, Michael J. Fox, Andy Griffith, Robert Guillaume, Florence Henderson, Angela Lansbury, William Shatner, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, and James Garner. Producers/creators include Carl Reiner and Dick Clark.

They’re oddly hypnotic, if only because it’s amazing to see how aging television veterans can talk endlessly about an industry that produces a product that’s so ephemeral. And considering how much Hollywood loves to make movies about The Man abusing his employees (Hoffa, F*I*S*T, Norma Rae, North Dallas Forty, and this month’s North Country all immediately to mind, and there are dozens more), to watch Dick Wolf (the producer of Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Elevator Inspectors Unit (to borrow a Simpsons riff) talk about his days producing Miami Vice. On his first day on the job, Michael Mann (the show’s mastermind and executive producer) called him and asked him if he’d fired anybody yet. I’m paraphrasing, but this is reasonably close to what Wolf actually said (about 19 minutes into the video):

“No Michael, I just started!”

“Go down to the set and pick someone to fire at random. Show ’em who’s boss right from the start!”

Geez–now that’s nuanced and progressive management in action.