A Different Kind of Producer
Television isn't confined to the weekly drama or comedy series. There are also musical specials, movies, game shows, documentaries, and special events to produce, just to name a few. Political parties even hire television producers to produce their national conventions and inaugural events.
How these programs and events are conceptualized and created is fascinating, especially because we hear so little about them in the academic literature, trades, and popular media that cover the industry. Like the producers of comedy and drama series, some of the producers of these programs and events can also be said to have a personal style.
Gary Smith, for example, is one of television's top designers, and produces musical specials and other special events programming with a style that audiences recognize. He made a mark with his distinctive set designs for Hullabaloo in the 1960s, and went on to become the preferred producer of musical performers like Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, and Paul McCartney. He has also designed and produced special events like the Emmy and American Film Institute Awards and Liberty Weekend. With his partner, he has won a record 24 Emmys. Smith was among the very first television designers to help a major political party produce its national convention.
Marty Pasetta has also produced major political events, specials, and award shows and is the only person to have produced the Emmys, the Grammys, and the Academy Awards, not to mention Elvis and the Pope. He is also known for his game show designs, especially Wheel of Fortune, and in his interview we learn in some detail how he designed the program to attract and hold the audience's attention.
Dave Bell works in an entirely different format: television documentaries, usually for HBO. His tough documentaries evince a personal style; like his programs, he is blunt, especially about the rougher aspects of production and the business side of the industry. Bell tells us how the