"It's important to the audience that shows be about something. Unless you know what it's truly about, you will never understand your show and it'll never be a good show. Never."
About This Interview
In his three-hour Archive interview, Brandon Stoddard (1937-2014) talks about his early interest in acting despite the pressures to enter law (both his parents were lawyers and the profession went back five generations on his father's side and six generations on his mother's side). He describes his short-lived tenure at Columbia Law School and his entrance into the workforce in the advertising industry, at BBD&O and later Grey Advertising. He talks about his transition to television, becoming the Director of Daytime Programming at ABC. He recounts the shows that appeared on the schedule during his tenure, including the groundbreaking and award-winning ABC Afterschool Specials and the pop culture classic Schoolhouse Roc k. He speaks of his appointment to Vice President of Motion Pictures for Television at ABC and chronicles the rise of the television miniseries from QBVII; to Rich Man, Poor Man; to the ratings hit Roots. For Roots, he recalls the original pitch meeting with Alex Haley, discusses the casting of unknown LeVar Burton, and details the show's promotion and placement on the schedule. He notes the explosion of the television miniseries in the wake of Roots and details the development and production of The Winds of War, The Thorn Birds, and Masada. Stoddard then speaks in-depth about one of the most controversial programs ever to air, the television movie The Day After, which depicted the effects of a nuclear holocaust on a small town in Kansas. He talks about coming up with the idea for the telefilm, the intense reaction from the political community (including The White House), and the personal effect that the telefilm's controversy had on his life. He also mentions other prestigious television movies he helmed, including Love Among the Ruins and Friendly Fire. He relates how he became the President of ABC Entertainment in the mid 1980s, and talks about hit shows Moonlighting, Roseanne, and China Beach. Lastly, he discusses his later work as an independent producer and as an Adjunct Professor at USC. Brian Lowry conducted the interview on December 12, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA.