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Tartikoff winners express thoughts on NBC topper

NATPE @ 50

The recipients of this year’s Brandon Tartikoff Award share their thoughts on the former NBC topper’s legacy, and how he affected their own careers:

John Langley
Exec producer, “Cops”
“It is always a pleasure to receive an award, of course, but in this instance, the Brandon Tartikoff Award has special meaning because Brandon was a trailblazer who followed his own path. Just as he inspired a series about cops with music, which became ‘Miami Vice,’ I created a series with no music, which became ‘Cops.’ In both instances we shared the spirit of daring to be different, which is the only path worth taking if you are looking for a new destination.”

Herbert G. Kloiber
Chairman, Tele Munchen Group
“Two years before Brandon Tartikoff joined NBC in 1980, I was privileged to produce a live broadcast with (classical pianist and composer) Vladimir Horowitz that was aired by NBC, while the legendary Fred Silverman was president. When I did meet Brandon, after a presentation he gave at NATPE in New Orleans, he actually remembered the event and we had an interesting discussion about future possibilities of airing classical music on network television. He was interested, but unfortunately we never found another Horowitz. For me, it’s truly a privilege to be honored with this prestigious award as I owe an enormous part of my career to the U.S. television community. Without the support of NBC in the late 1970s, Cap Cities/ABC in the ’80s and CBS during the last 25 years, I would certainly not have achieved a great deal.”

Steve Levitan
Exec producer, “Modern Family”
“I was in college and my friends thought I was nuts. Instead of going out to bars on Thursday nights, I would stay home to watch ‘Cheers’ and ‘Hill Street Blues’ — two shows that were absolutely rocking my world (or however I phrased it in 1982). Brandon Tartikoff put those shows on the air, and he stuck with them through the lean times while America ignored them, which slowly, but surely, caught up to them. That’s all you can ask of a network president. Believe in my show. Stand by it. Nurture it. I’ve already had the honor of gushing all over Glen and Les Charles, Jimmy Burrows and Steven Bochco and now, because I was never fortunate enough to meet him, this award is my chance to gush over Brandon Tartikoff, because I know you can’t do it alone. Since I moved here from Chicago in December 1989, hundreds of amazing, smart and funny people have contributed to my very lucky ride. I thank and love them all, these compadres who, I imagine, also stayed home on Thursday nights.”

Debra Lee
Chairman-CEO, BET Networks
“I’m truly humbled to receive this reward because it’s a testament to the great work that’s being done at BET Networks. This is the place that I’ve always wanted us to be — a platform for creativity, for original content and a place where the creative community can connect with fans of black culture. To the other recipients for 2013 and those that have come before: I truly respect you all and I am happy to be in such good company. Brandon was a shining light of how important it is to be original and be true to your brand when it comes to programming. His legacy is second to none. ‘The Cosby Show,’ just one of the gems of the Tartikoff era, is one of my all-time favorites. Its legacy is one of the drivers of what we do every day at BET Networks. ‘The Cosby Show’ taught us that the African-American experience is diverse and has a broad appeal.”

NATPE @ 50
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