Society's Impact on Television: How the Viewing Public Shapes Television Programming

Society's Impact on Television: How the Viewing Public Shapes Television Programming

Society's Impact on Television: How the Viewing Public Shapes Television Programming

Society's Impact on Television: How the Viewing Public Shapes Television Programming

Synopsis

Some of television's most influential and best known producers and programmers discuss the forces that affect their selection of themes and treatments---why they include or reject material, and how they view their opinion leader roles and their roles as members of the society that is so influenced by their products.

Excerpt

Writers and producers . . . breathe in a huge variety of experiences . . . and then breathe them out in scripts.

--Gary David Goldberg, writer-producer of Family Ties, Brooklyn Bridge

Three years ago, Gary David Goldberg was the first in a vivid band of writers, producers and network programmers to be asked the question, "To what extent are your characters, your plots, your tastes and your values affected by such forces as network censorship, advertising sensitivities, pressure group tactics and public opinion itself?"

The writer-producer looked out the window of his trailer and into the studio park named for "Lucy." He glanced over at a portrait of his black Lab, Ubu. Worried by his silence, we quickly added, "We know all about your influence on the public. What we want to know is, what is the influence of the public, if any, on you?"

Like Norman Lear, Grant Tinker and many other television-makers we interviewed, Goldberg was accustomed to being told by scholars, critics and the press that his programs profoundly affect the tastes and values of millions of viewers. He had never, he said, been approached serendipitously from the other direction and asked to consider the various forces, outside of his own skills and imagination, which pilot and regulate the kinds of things he can say on primetime television.

It was at this point that Goldberg came up with the metaphor of "breathing in" a variety of experiences and "breathing them out" into characters and stories.

This book is about the breathing-in phase, all the things that influence the work or shape the tastes and values of TV-makers. Our research took several forms.

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