"I draw on everything I ever knew about -- painting, music, any kind of art. I use it all the time. I think that's what a director needs, a good liberal arts education."
About This Interview
In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Paul Bogart (1919-2012) recalls his early days working at NBC in New York as a floor manager on programs including Broadway Open House and Your Show of Shows. He explains how he soon became a director, working on 1950's programs including The Alcoa Hour and The U.S. Steel Hour, and he talks about the phenomenon of working in live television. Next, he discusses various programs he directed in the 1960's and 1970's, such as The Defenders, Get Smart and CBS Playhouse. Mr. Bogart goes on to talk about his work on the groundbreaking 1970's sitcom All in the Family, including working with the cast and on specific episodes. Finally, he talks about some of his later work, including a stint with The Golden Girls, plus made-for-television movies such as Natica Jackson and The Heidi Chronicles. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on May 19, 2001 in Chapel Hill, NC.
Paul Bogart has enjoyed a career as a director in almost every medium of visual communication. Mr. Bogart is one of a handful of individuals who has directed live television productions of the "Golden Age", the telefilm, the made-for-television movie, and the feature film.
Bogart's career began as a puppeteer and actor with the Berkeley Marionettes in 1946. From there he went on to be stage manager and associate director at NBC, working on such "Golden Age" cornerstones as Kraft Theater, Goodyear Playhouse, and Armstrong Circle Theater. During the 1955-1956 season, when Goodyear Playhouse was known as the Alcoa Hour-Goodyear Playhouse, Bogart directed an episode entitled "The Confidence Man" and an award-winning partnership began. This was the first time Bogart had directed for producer Herbert Brodkin. Bogart would go on to direct many episodes of Brodkin's The Defenders, one of television's most honored series, and garner his first Emmy award for directing "The 700-Year Old Gang," a two-part Defenders episode. Bogart worked almost exclusively for Brodkin series during the early to mid-1960s (The Defenders, The Nurses, The Doctors and Nurses, and Coronet Blue).
After The Defenders period, the larger part of Bogart's work was long form--either television specials, television movies, or feature films. His work for CBS Playhouse was particularly noteworthy. Under that banner Bogart won Emmys for his direction of "Dear Friends" (again with Brodkin producing) and "Shadow Game." During this period Bogart produced the 1966 television series Hawk, starring Burt Reynolds; he also directed the pilot and and a handful of episodes for the series. For theatrical release he directed Halls of Anger (1968), Marlowe (1969), and The Skin Game (1971).
In the mid-1970s, Bogart began another long-term relationship with a single production unit. He directed scores of episodes of All in the Family for Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's Tandem Productions and in 1978 earned another Emmy for his work on the series. The Golden Girls brought Bogart yet another Emmy in 1986. In 1986 he directed The Canterville Ghost for television and Torch Song Trilogy for theatrical release.
Bogart has said that, in an ideal world, the feature film is his form of choice because the time constraints of television production are absent. Still, he is a singular talent among television directors. He has expressed a partiality for strong characters over a strong story. This preference takes advantage of the intimacy of the television medium, and allows those characters to reveal themselves to viewers through the nuance and subtlety of staging and blocking. These qualities are at a premium in entertainment television today, but because Bogart's aesthetic sensibilities were developed early, in the theater and live television, the episodes he directs are graced by excellent staging and movement of characters. One need only carefully watch Bogart's work for The Defenders, All in the Family, or Nichols to understand that this ability to place characters for the camera is one of the strongest characteristics of his work.
A second characteristic is that he directs like an editor. Bogart begins a directing assignment with a very clear idea of what the program should look like. He then creates the images he needs and pays particular attention to the way those images are linked to make a program. He has stated that, in his view, one of the most important aspects of visual expression is how one image follows another and contributes to the cumulative effect of those joined images. Bogart understands that the power of emotions and ideas can be reinforced or defeated by the manner in which shots are linked. The result is a directorial style which draws on the best elements of the editor's art--the linking of carefully composed images for emotional and dramatic emphasis.
In 1991, Bogart was awarded the French Festival Internationelle Programmes Audiovisuelle at Cannes, one of the few television directors to be recognized for a remarkable body of work. Many directors working in television today are members of a generation raised on television. The better of these directors are those who paid attention to the work of Paul Bogart.
Wicking , Christopher and Tise Vahimagi. The American Vein: Directors and Directions in Television. E.P. Dutton Co., New York. 1979.
PAUL BOGART . Born in New York City, New York, U.S., 13 November 1919. Attended public schools in New York City. Married: Jane, 1941; children: Peter, Tracy, and Jennifer. Served in U.S.Army Air Force, 1944-46. Puppeteer-actor with the Berkeley Marionettes, 1946-48; TV stage manager and associate director for NBC television, 1950-52; director, installments of various live television dramas, 1950s-1960s; director telefilm series and made-for-television movies, from 1960s. Recipient: Emmy Awards 1965, 1968, 1970, 1978, 1986; Christopher Awards: 1955, 1973, and 1975; Golden Globe: 1977; French Festival Internationale Audiovisuelle, Cannes, 1991.
1947-58 Kraft Television Theater 1949-55 One Man's Family 1951-60 Goodyear Playhouse 1950-63 Armstrong Circle Theatre 1953-63 U.S. Steel Hour 1961-65 The Defenders 1962-65 The Nurses 1966-76 Hawk 1971-83 All in the Family 1985-92 Golden Girls
1966 Evening Primrose 1970 In Search of America 1972 The House Without a Christmas Tree 1974 Tell Me Where It Hurts 1975 Winner Take All 1980 Fun and Games 1986 The Canterville Ghost 1987 Power, Passion and Murder 1987 Natica Jackson 1991 Broadway Bound 1994 The Gift of Love
Ages of Man Mark Twain Tonight The Final War of Ollie Winter Dear Friends Secrets Shadow Game Look Homeward Angel The Country Girl Double Solitaire The War Widow The Thanksgiving Treasure The Adams Chronicles
Halls of Anger, 1968; Marlowe, 1969; The Skin Game, 1971; Class of '44, 1973; Mr. Ricco, 1975; Oh, God! You Devil, 1984; Torch Song Trilogy.