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Mark Itkin, executive vice president and co-worldwide head of television at William Morris
How is Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy embodied in your work today?
He had an amazing passion for what he did, loved television and really understood the mass audience. And I think that those are essentials for what I have to do in my job.

The passion is still inside me, and the love for television has always been there, so that’s not difficult. As for understanding the mass audience … maybe it’s one’s upbringings. I had no snobbery about what I watched; I watched everything. I just kind of could understand … what your basic audience was all about. The hardest part is convincing others to take a shot at things. You think a reputation and having great success at launching successful shows would be good enough, but it’s not.

Believing and trusting in yourself and your own gut … he did that. And that’s really the only way I’ve ever operated. I’ve never looked over my shoulder and worried about what my competitors are doing, because then I’m taking my eye off the ball.

It’s funny, just the timing of all this. I represented and packaged the original “American Gladiators” (now being revived on NBC). It took me over five years to get that sold. But I believed in it the day that I heard of it. … That was I think the real seminal point where I realized (I should) stick with my gut. That was early in my career — I think I had only been agenting a year and a half when I first saw that show.

Peter Roth, Warner Bros. Television president
How is Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy embodied in your work today?
Brandon was an excellent role model for me. He was a good friend. His passion and enthusiasm for the business was infectious and a reminder to me of my own love of the medium.

The manner in which he did business was fun and showmanlike, and filled with character, and a method for doing business that represents a time long gone. So the truth is, he impacted my career in many, many ways, and I think of him often and fondly, and like so many others, I miss him.

I think most especially, he has served as a role model for many, many executives, and I can’t think of a better one for the industry… a role model that lives within many of us, that hopefully we can pass along to those who are interested in knowing and interested in learning.

I think we both share a passion for the business. It certainly distinguished him, and I hope it distinguished me. And if that’s the legacy that I leave, I can’t think of anything I’d rather leave.

Nancy Tellem, president, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group
How is Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy embodied in your work today?
When I first got into the business of television, we had a weird connection, actually: My sister and his sister were friends in college. I had this incredible passion for television, and through this connection I saw a relatively young person who kind of had this amazing ascension in the business.

He was not only passionate about television but so innovative and forward-thinking. He to me was always kind of my guidepost as I got into this business. … He really would push the limits, not only from a programming standpoint but even an executive standpoint.

The passion remains the same — at a certain period of time it actually grows, because what I get particularly excited about is, however changing the business is … I view this as an exciting moment in time to embrace those changes and push this exciting moment. My passion has only increased. The frustrations obviously are there, but the more you know the business … there are always these wonderful opportunities.

Robert C. Wright, vice chairman of the board and executive officer, General Electric Co.; past chairman and CEO of NBC
How is Brandon Tartikoff’s legacy embodied in your work today?
I think Brandon helped me very early. I met him on my first day on the job (at NBC) and Brandon became my partner, connecting me to the entertainment side of the business. And I found him to be an extra-honest, forthright partner. He helped me a great deal.

I learned through him how to conduct myself in a way that I was comfortable with and worked well for me. That was the greatest gift he gave me. In those early years, he was getting pounded by a lot of people for different things. The way he handled himself in his job in the entertainment division, which is the most important job in Hollywood, it rubbed off on me.

It was always straightforward; he was never a politician. He was more critical about his favorite shows than any of his other shows. He could speak very freely about things and was very straightforward with people.

He was not afraid to tell people what he thought, and he nurtured people very effectively. I think he was extremely helpful to me. I’m sure I could have been paired with a dozen other executives and not come out feeling that way.