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The Info List - Don Ohlmeyer



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DONALD WINFRED "DON" OHLMEYER JR. (born February 3, 1945) is a former American television producer and president of the NBC
NBC
network's west coast division. He is best known for firing Norm Macdonald from Saturday Night Live ’s " Weekend Update ", after Macdonald made a series of jokes centered on O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson
's murder acquittal . Ohlmeyer was good friends with Simpson, and publicly proclaimed his belief that Simpson was innocent.

Currently, he is a professor of television communications at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California
Malibu, California
. He served as ombudsman for ESPN.com for 18 months; that term ended in January 2011.

CONTENTS

* 1 Early life

* 2 Career

* 2.1 ABC Sports * 2.2 NBC
NBC
Sports * 2.3 Ohlmeyer Communications Company

* 2.4 Return to NBC
NBC

* 2.4.1 The Norm Macdonald controversy

* 2.5 Return to Monday Night Football

* 3 Awards and honors

* 3.1 Credits (partial)

* 3.1.1 Television series * 3.1.2 Made-for-television movies * 3.1.3 Television specials

* 4 References * 5 External links

EARLY LIFE

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
, Ohlmeyer grew up in the Chicago
Chicago
area and attended Glenbrook North High School .

CAREER

ABC SPORTS

Ohlmeyer began his career with ABC Sports . A disciple of Roone Arledge , he worked on Wide World of Sports , was the first hired producer of Monday Night Football , created " The Superstars ", and also produced and directed three Olympics
Olympics
broadcasts (including the Munich Olympics
Olympics
).

NBC
NBC
SPORTS

He later moved to NBC
NBC
as executive producer of the network's sports division , a position he held from 1977 to 1982. Over those five years, he created the popular sports anthology series SportsWorld and served as Executive Producer of NBC
NBC
coverage of the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
, World Series . He also earned notoriety for the prime-time series 'Games People Play' and the made-for-television movie 'The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story.' Ohlmeyer became well known for expanding the network's sports coverage as well as introducing innovative production techniques. He launched 'NFL Updates,' NCAA Basketball 'Whip-arounds,' and instituted NBC's live coverage of 'Breakfast at Wimbledon .' Ohlmeyer is credited with conceiving the one-time experiment of airing a 1980 NFL telecast without announcers .

OHLMEYER COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY

Ohlmeyer formed his own production company, Ohlmeyer Communications Company (OCC), in 1982. While there he produced several made-for-television movies, network series, and specials. He won an Emmy for Special Bulletin
Special Bulletin
, a harrowing 1983 depiction of nuclear terrorism. His company was also responsible for producing CART IndyCar World Series
World Series
race telecasts, and golf, including PGA TOUR events, "The Skins Game ", and Senior PGA TOUR broadcasts. While at OCC, Ohlmeyer also oversaw Nabisco's 20% stake in ESPN. Ohlmeyer also gained a 49% controlling interest in Hockey Night in Canada
Hockey Night in Canada
starting in 1986, taking over the Canadian Sports Network that ran the program under the MacLaren Advertising agency. He later sold his interest to Molstar Communications, the company that already possessed the other 51%.

RETURN TO NBC

Ohlmeyer returned to NBC
NBC
in 1993 to become president of its West Coast division at a time when the network was in third place in the ratings, following the departure of Cheers
Cheers
and The Cosby Show from its lineup. During his tenure, NBC
NBC
returned to first place with such hits as Seinfeld
Seinfeld
, Friends
Friends
, ER , Homicide
Homicide
, Frasier
Frasier
, Providence , Will "> Instances of this included Ohlmeyer's belief that "ER" would get killed in ratings by CBS's " Chicago
Chicago
Hope" and his angry approach to working with that show's movie-based superstars like Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton (both of whom ignored Ohlmeyer and worked closely with Littlefield), and his extreme reluctance to greenlight "Will ">

During the 1997 World Series
World Series
, Ohlmeyer caused a stir when he publicly wished that the World Series
World Series
would end in a four game sweep so that its low ratings wouldn't derail NBC's primetime leading Thursday "Must See TV" entertainment schedule. The series went the full seven games.

The Norm Macdonald Controversy

In early 1998, Ohlmeyer had Norm Macdonald removed from his role as anchor of Saturday Night Live 's popular " Weekend Update " segment, citing declining ratings and a drop-off in quality. Macdonald and others believed that the real reason for his dismissal was the inclusion of a series of jokes calling O. J. Simpson a murderer during and after the trial (Ohlmeyer was good friends with Simpson). The jokes were written primarily by Macdonald and longtime SNL writer Jim Downey , who was fired from SNL outright at the same time (he was rehired in 2000). Downey pointed out in an interview that Ohlmeyer had thrown a party for the jurors that had acquitted Simpson.

The tension between Macdonald and Ohlmeyer continued when Ohlmeyer banned ads for the actor's first feature film, Dirty Work , from NBC's schedule. He reportedly told the New York Daily News
New York Daily News
, "'I just don't think it would be appropriate for us to turn around and take a check for a movie that's promoting somebody who has badmouthed Saturday Night Live and NBC.'" The edict was later overruled by Ohlmeyer's bosses.

Shortly after Macdonald was taken off the "Weekend Update" desk, David Letterman
David Letterman
, during a taping of his CBS
CBS
network television program the Late Show , called Don an "idiot" and referred to Ohlmeyer as "Happy Hour Don" (a reference to Ohlmeyer's problems with alcohol ). After the taping, Letterman decided that his comment was inappropriate and had the reference edited out of the broadcast, but the comment (which was heard by the entire live studio audience) was publicized shortly thereafter in a report in the New York Post
New York Post
. During a later interview with Macdonald, Letterman stated that Ohlmeyer "fancies himself creative", and disputed this notion, saying "Here's a man who could not create gas after a bean dinner".

RETURN TO MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

After his time at NBC, Ohlmeyer was lured out of retirement in 2000 to spark interest and provide some vigor to the MNF broadcast. Besides the on-air talent, Ohlmeyer's changes included clips of players introducing themselves, new graphics, use of a sideline Steadicam , and music. In another temporary change, the score bug used nicknames of teams, such as "Skins" and "Fins", instead of the teams' actual names or cities (Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, in this case). He also made the controversial decision to hire comedian Dennis Miller to join Al Michaels and Dan Fouts in the broadcast booth, an experiment widely regarded, in hindsight, as a failure.

Ohlymeyer left Monday Night Football after one season. Ratings for the program had dropped 7% compared to the previous year.

AWARDS AND HONORS

He has been honored with 16 Emmys