There are a number of things that “Good Luck, and Good Night.” got right in conjuring up the early ’50s — and not the least of them was the role of women.
In the George Clooney-directed movie about Edward R. Murrow, it was inevitably men who peopled the smoke-filled rooms of power, in the media world as well as in politics.
Take the telling scene when the CBS news icon gathers with colleagues at a nitery to await the country’s reaction to his televised critique of Joe McCarthy. The cadre of newsmen “naturally” send their female companion across the street to get the papers.
Women by and large were fewer and far between in the corridors of power and those that did wield influence most often did so quietly, discreetly, sometimes even invisibly.
But they were there from the beginning — and they made a considerable contribution.
To make sure these contributions get their just public recognition, the Museum of Television and Radio has come to the rescue.
The non-profit org unveiled Monday She Made It: Women Creating Television and Radio, a three-year extravaganza celebrating the achievements of creative and business women in TV and radio.
Spanning the generations from early trailblazers to current innovators, She Made It will honor writers, directors, producers, journalists, sportscasters and execs.
Female faces on the tube — from Lucille Ball to Tyne Daly to Teri Hatcher — are familiar icons to millions, but the women who are behind shows like these are hardly known at all. That recognition is what spurred the Museum to action.
At the center of She Made It is a collection of radio and TV shows created by women. The She Made It collection, a representative portion of which will be available when the event launches on Dec. 1, will serve as a resource for scholars, industry professionals and the public.
At the end of the three-year project, 2,000 hours compiled both from the museum’s existing collection of 120,000 programs and from new acquisitions will be available at both museum locations, in New York and Los Angeles. Seminars, screenings and an interactive Web site will support this landmark collection.
So what women have made it onto the list?
Organizers aren’t saying, though they do insist the standards for selection are rigorous and the vetting involved both academics and professionals in the biz.
What’s clear is that a lot of space needs to be devoted to the pioneers.
If Gertrude Berg, the creator of the long-running radio-TV sitcom “The Goldbergs,” is the best-known from the early days, clearly a lot needs to be done to get other unsung heroines out there and appreciated.
“In the early years it was often not fashionable for women to have their names attached (to works),” Kay Koplovitz, herself a cable pioneer, said. “It was time to open the door.”
“She Made It will speak both to the success of women in the industry today as well as to the achievements of pioneers, many of whom worked against great odds and, just as often, without recognition,” Marlo Thomas, vice chairman of the Museum board, added.
She Made It will officially launch when the names of 50 honorees are revealed at an event in New York on Dec. 1. Additional honorees will be named in the following two years of the initiative. The list is apparently not chronological nor is it arranged in order of priority.
Koplovitz and TV producer Loreen Arbus co-chaired the steering committee for the event.
Leading up to the She Made It launch, the Museum will present seminars on both coasts beginning in New York on Nov. 10 with “The Women of National Public Radio.”
This panel will bring together many of NPR’s voices to discuss how women producers, anchors and reporters have impacted the radio net’s success.
On Nov.16, the Museum will host a panel featuring Wendy Wasserstein, Aviva Kempner and David Zurawik, that will examine the pioneering achievements of Berg and the continuing influence of “The Goldbergs,” the show she also starred in.
And on Dec. 8 in Los Angeles, the Museum will gather some of the most prominent women in television, including “Cagney & Lacey” co-creator Barbara Corday, to discuss role models, gender issues and the challenges of women writing female characters.
In addition, a screening will be held in Los Angeles on Nov. 29 of ABC’s remake of “Once Upon a Mattress,” introduced by Carol Burnett, Tracy Ullman and costume designer Bob Mackie.