STEPHEN J. CANNELL
Creator/co-creator, “Baretta,” “The Greatest American Hero,” “The A-Team,” “Wiseguy,” “21 Jump Street”
What aspect of Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy comes through your work? “The thing about Brandon was you couldn’t put him into any particular category in terms of his program taste. He’s the guy who could foster the development of shows like ‘Hill Street Blues,’ which were sophisticated for television at the time, and at the same time come up with a show like ‘The A-Team.’
“He would be able to see the value in all different kinds of programming, and he could love it all equally. And so I’ve tried to make that something (to follow). If you look at my career, I’ve had shows that had dark and brooding characters like ‘Wiseguy’ and cartoon shows like ‘The A-Team,’ and I’ve tried not to put myself in any one box.
“I’m sort of not doing television anymore, I’m writing a novel a year. … What I try to do is stay fresh, not try to do the same thing twice, find new values in my writing, part of the things that Brandon always encouraged us to do.”
Executive producer, “Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Fortune”
What aspect of Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy comes through your work?
“To me, there was always an exuberance about everything that Tartikoff did related to television. The word that keeps coming to the fore is passion. I think it seems popular now to talk about having a passion for your work, but I think his work was representative of that passion. He didn’t need to talk about it. No one needed to mention it. It was self-evident.
“I certainly enjoy what I’ve accomplished, but I never stop to think about where I am in my career. For all I know, I could be at the midpoint. So I enjoy looking forward, because I think this is just a fabulous time to be in television.
“I’m energized by all of the new technologies that are available to us, all the new delivery systems, by being part of a company and a studio like Sony that embraces all of that change and in many ways is leading the change.
“I always got the sense that he wasn’t afraid to take chances and take risks, to be an innovator, not an imitator.”
President, USA Network and Sci Fi Channel
What aspect of Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy comes through your work? “It’s trying to do quality programming, things that aren’t necessarily mainstream or predictable, such as ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ which is from the mainstream point of view a brilliant remake of a ’70s show but is truly provocative about our world today. It deals with subject matter that is really on the edge, just trying to do things that are a little out of the ordinary.
“Also, trying to be a good programmer and scheduler, for example, where we have this wonderful success on USA following ‘Monk’ up with ‘Psych,’ which is another drama with a twist of comedy.
“I also try surrounding myself with great people and helping them in terms of creative vision, but letting them take risks, supporting the risks they want to take — which are usually smart risks — and allowing them to do what they do best. Encouraging and inspiring, holding a very high bar.
“I’ve never had a roadmap. One of the reasons I think I’ve succeeded is that I’ve been able to go right, go left, make a U-turn, and get some really great experience so that I can do different facets of the job. For me, it’s continuing to have my toes and fingers in creative, managing from a very positive point of view.”
Executive producer, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: NY,” “CSI: Miami”
What aspect of Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy comes through your work? “A high level of passion and a high level of vision. Passion in the sense that we been doing this for years, and we get up every day, and we are passionate about material.
“Our vision is to bring the ‘CSI’ franchise and evolve it into the future. We had a vision to change television in terms of telling stories a little differently. Our vision for this franchise was never to do three shows, but as we go forward we hope to do timeless entertainment. Especially in times of turmoil, this is so important, to transform the viewer to another place for an hour.
“I think at this stage in my career, what I’m loving right now is to be able to work with the younger writers and be able to share that passion and vision with the people coming up that will be carrying the franchise for the next generation.”