While congrats are in order for all the nominees for the Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, to be presented Aug. 11, the jello is particularly jiggling for this year’s Governors Award honoree, Susan Stratton.
For nearly three decades, Stratton was a household name in Los Angeles as the producer consistently praised by Los Angeles Lakers play-by-play legend Chick Hearn for her work on the team’s television broadcasts. Stratton was the first female TV producer and director for a professional sports franchise in the U.S., amid a climate that was hardly receptive to such breakthroughs, and received the Women in Film Crystal Award in 1989 and induction into the Southern California Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Her selection for this lifetime achievement honor is an inspired one. TV Academy chair Bruce Rosenblum certainly feels the same.
“Long before I began working in the television business, I knew Susan’s name having heard the legendary Chick Hearn praise her during his Lakers broadcasts,” Rosenblum said.
A 2002 Los Angeles Times feature by Larry Stewart described how Stratton’s relationship with Hearn unfolded:
When Channel 9 got the Laker package before the 1977-78 season, the station’s general manager at the time, Lionel Schaen, named Susan the producer-director.
Hearn was not pleased.
“He was against it,” Stratton said. “No woman had ever produced and directed an NBA telecast, but it wasn’t just that I was a woman. I had no professional basketball experience.”
What Hearn and Stratton soon learned was that they had one important thing in common. Each was a perfectionist.
“He wanted to get it right, and I wanted to get it right,” Stratton said. …
Hearn, interviewed in 1996 about Stratton, said, “I figured she’d be gone after one telecast. Boy, was I wrong. If there is a hall of fame for women directors — forget the women part — she belongs in it.”
Consider the job done.