The Info List - Brandon Tartikoff

Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
(January 13, 1949 – August 27, 1997) was an American television executive who was the president of NBC
from 1980 to 1991.[1] He was credited with turning around NBC's low prime time reputation with such hit series as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Law & Order, ALF, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Wings, Miami Vice, Knight Rider, The A-Team, Saved by the Bell, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
, St. Elsewhere, and Night Court. Tartikoff also helped develop the 1984 sitcom Punky Brewster; he named the title character after a girl he had a crush on in school. Punky Brewster's pet dog Brandon was named after Tartikoff. He was also involved in the creation of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Beggars and Choosers.


1 Biography

1.1 Early life and career 1.2 Career at NBC

1.2.1 Appearances on NBC's shows

1.3 Post- NBC
career 1.4 Family 1.5 Death

2 References 3 Further reading 4 External links

Biography[edit] Early life and career[edit] Born to a Jewish family[2][3] in Freeport, New York, Tartikoff was a graduate of the Lawrenceville School
Lawrenceville School
and Yale University, where he contributed to campus humor magazine The Yale Record. While attending Yale, Tartikoff worked as an account executive and sales manager for WNHC-TV in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as in Hartford, Connecticut. Tartikoff spent vacations in Los Angeles looking for a job in network television. After graduating from Yale, he took a series of jobs in advertising and local television, including WLS-TV
in Chicago, Illinois. Career at NBC[edit] Tartikoff was hired as a program executive at ABC in 1976. One year later, he moved to NBC
(after being hired by Dick Ebersol
Dick Ebersol
to direct comedy programming). Tartikoff took over programming duties at NBC from Fred Silverman in 1981.[4] At age 32, Tartikoff became the youngest president of NBC's entertainment division. When Tartikoff took over, NBC
was in last place behind ABC and CBS, and the very future of the network was in doubt. A writers' strike was looming, affiliates were defecting, mostly to ABC, and the network had only three prime time shows in the Top 20: Little House on the Prairie, Diff'rent Strokes
Diff'rent Strokes
and Real People. Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
was reportedly in talks to move his landmark late-night talk show to ABC. The entire cast and writers of Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
had left that late-night sketch-comedy series, and their replacements had received some of the show's worst critical notices. By 1982, Tartikoff and his new superior, the highly regarded former producer Grant Tinker, slowly but surely turned the network's fortunes around.[5] As head of NBC's Entertainment Division, Tartikoff's successes included The Cosby Show, for which he had pursued Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
to create a pilot after having been impressed by Cosby's stories when Cosby guest-hosted The Tonight Show. Tartikoff wrote a brainstorming memo that simply read " MTV
cops",[6][7][8][9] and later presented the memo to series creator Anthony Yerkovich, formerly a writer and producer for Hill Street Blues. The result was Miami Vice, which became an icon of 1980s pop culture.[7] Knight Rider was inspired by a perceived lack of leading men who could act, with Tartikoff suggesting that a talking car could fill in the gaps in any leading man's acting abilities.[5] During the casting process of Family Ties, Tartikoff was unexcited about Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox
for the role of Alex P. Keaton.[5] However, the show's producer, Gary David Goldberg, insisted until Tartikoff relented saying, "Go ahead if you insist. But I'm telling you, this is not the kind of face you'll ever see on a lunch box." Some years later, after the movie Back to the Future
Back to the Future
cemented Fox's stardom, Fox goodnaturedly sent Tartikoff a lunch box with Fox's picture on it, with a handwritten note reading: "Brandon, They wanted me to put a crow in here, but... Love and Kisses, Michael J."[10] Tartikoff kept the lunch box on display in his office.[11] Jerry Seinfeld
credited Tartikoff with saving Seinfeld
from cancellation during its first four years of struggling ratings.[12] Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
broke the news of his retirement in February 1991 to Tartikoff at the Grille in Beverly Hills. For several days only Tartikoff and NBC
Chairman Bob Wright
Bob Wright
knew of the planned retirement.[5] Tartikoff wrote in his memoirs that his biggest professional regret was cancelling the series Buffalo Bill, which he later went on to include in a fantasy "dream schedule" created for a TV Guide
TV Guide
article that detailed his idea of "The Greatest Network Ever".[citation needed] Appearances on NBC's shows[edit]

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During his time at NBC, he made appearances in several of the network's shows. He was played by David Leisure
David Leisure
in an episode of ALF, when ALF suggests a sitcom about a family who hosts a loveable alien, making the tongue-in-cheek remark "Not in a million years, pal." He hosted Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
in 1983 and appeared as himself in an episode of Saved by the Bell, where he shortly entertains the notion of a "show about a high school principal and his kids," before scoffing at the idea. During his 1983 appearance on Saturday Night Live, one skit featured Tartikoff in a black leather ensemble, with the words "Be There" spelled out in rhinestones on the back of his jacket. "Be There" was NBC's slogan during the 1983–84 season. Tartikoff appeared as himself on episodes of Night Court
Night Court
and Night Stand with Dick Dietrick, and in the background of one of the final episodes of Cheers. Post- NBC
career[edit] He left NBC
in 1991, moving to Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
to become its chairman. A year later, Tartikoff left that post to spend more time with his daughter, Calla, who was injured in a car crash near the family's Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
home. In 1994, he made his comeback to national TV with Last Call, a short-lived late-night discussion show he produced. That same year he also produced The Steven Banks Show for PBS. Later that year, he began a brief run as chairman of New World Entertainment. Just prior to his death, Tartikoff served as the chairman of the AOL
project "Entertainment Asylum," for which he teamed with Scott Zakarin
Scott Zakarin
to build the world's first interactive broadcast studio. He also continued to do on-air appearances on shows such as Dave's World
Dave's World
and Arli$$. Family[edit] In 1982, Tartikoff married Lilly Samuels, and the couple had two daughters, Calla Lianne and Elizabeth Justine. In 1991, eight-year-old Calla suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident and received intense therapy in order to walk and speak again.[13] Tartikoff's parents were survivors of the collision of two 747s in Tenerife, Canary Islands, in 1977.[14] Death[edit]

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Tartikoff died on August 27, 1997, at age 48 from Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer, with which he had had three separate bouts over 25 years. He was interred in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
in Los Angeles, California. The Deep Space Nine sixth-season premiere, "A Time to Stand", began with a title card reading "In memory of Brandon Tartikoff." A similar card appeared at the end of the ninth-season premiere of Seinfeld, "The Butter Shave". On Friday, August 29, 1997, Dateline NBC
ran an extended tribute to Tartikoff which featured many famous figures whose careers he had influenced, including Warren Littlefield, Dick Ebersol, Bill Cosby, Michael J. Fox, Ted Danson, and Jerry Seinfeld.[15] References[edit]

^ "TV programming wizard Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
dead at 48". CNN. August 27, 1997. Retrieved 29 November 2015.  ^ Norwood, Stephen Harlan and Eunice G. Pollack [1] Encyclopedia of American Jewish History. 2008 ^ Brook, Vincent. From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood: Chapter 1: Still an Empire of Their Own: How Jews Remain Atop a Reinvented Hollywood. Purdue University Press. p. 12.  ^ Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in "Toons": From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. pp. 188–189. ISBN 1-57036-042-1.  ^ a b c d Tartikoff, Brandon (1992). The Last Great Ride. New York: Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-394-58709-X.  ^ Janeshutz, Trish (1986). The Making of Miami Vice. New York: Ballatine Books. p. 12. ISBN 0-345-33669-0.  ^ a b Zoglin, Richard (1985-09-16). "Cool Cops, Hot Show". Time Magazine. Time Inc. Retrieved 2007-11-02.  ^ Boyer, Peter J. (1988-04-19). "Guiding No. 1: The Man Who Programs NBC". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-08.  ^ "About the Show". NBC
Universal, Inc. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-05-28.  ^ Rose, Lacey (17 October 2012). "The Private Files of Brandon Tartikoff Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 April 2017.  ^ Dawidziak, Mark. "Gary David Goldberg, who fought to cast Michael J. Fox in 'Family Ties,' dies at 68". cleveland.com. The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved 3 April 2017.  ^ The Howard Stern Show, June 26, 2014. SiriusXM. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/25/magazine/tm-lilytartikoff12 ^ Newsweek, March 1977. ^ "Tartikoff service private; NBC
airing tribute tonight". Variety. August 29, 1997. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

Tartikoff, Brandon and Leerhsen, Charles. The Last Great Ride (New York: Turtle Bay Books/Random House, 1992), ISBN 0-394-58709-X

External links[edit]

The Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
Legacy Awards (NATPE) Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
on IMDb Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek
Star Trek
wiki) Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
at Find a Grave

Business positions

Preceded by Fred Silverman President of NBC 1981-1991 Succeeded by Warren Littlefield

Preceded by Frank Mancuso Sr. Chairman of Paramount Pictures 1991-1992 Succeeded by Sherry Lansing

v t e

TCA Career Achievement Award

Grant Tinker
Grant Tinker
(1985) Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
(1986) Hill Street Blues
Hill Street Blues
(1987) David Brinkley
David Brinkley
(1988) Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
(1989) Jim Henson
Jim Henson
(1990) Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
(1991) Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
(1992) Bob Hope
Bob Hope
(1993) Charles Kuralt
Charles Kuralt
(1994) Ted Turner
Ted Turner
(1995) Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury
(1996) Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers
(1997) Roone Arledge (1998) Norman Lear
Norman Lear
(1999) Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke
(2000) Sid Caesar
Sid Caesar
(2001) Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
(2002) Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner
(2003) Don Hewitt
Don Hewitt
(2004) Bob Newhart
Bob Newhart
(2005) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(2006) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(2007) Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels
(2008) Betty White
Betty White
(2009) James Garner
James Garner
(2010) Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
(2011) David Letterman
David Letterman
(2012) Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
(2013) James Burrows (2014) James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks
(2015) Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin
(2016) Ken Burns
Ken Burns

v t e

Television Hall of Fame Class of 2004

Bob Barker Charles Cappleman Art Carney Katie Couric Dan Rather Brandon Tartikoff

v t e

Presidents of NBC

Key figures

Sylvester Weaver (1953–1955) Robert E. Kintner (1958–1966) Julian Goodman (1966–1974) Herb Schlosser (1974–1978) Fred Silverman (1978–1981) Brandon Tartikoff
Brandon Tartikoff
(1981–1991) Warren Littlefield
Warren Littlefield
(1991–1998) Scott Sassa (1998–1999) Garth Ancier (1999–2000) Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker
(2000–2004) Kevin Reilly (2004–2007) Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman
(2007–2009) Jeff Gaspin (2009–2010) Robert Greenblatt (2011–present)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 79411981 LCC