Studio D went on
line on October 12, 1967. A full page add in BACKSTAGE, February 23, 1968 announced:
IN OUR NEW STUDIO D Dick Moss can show you how to do more tricks with a reel of
color video tape than most anyone else in town! (More than we could ever tell
about here.) But let Dick tell you about it himself. Call him at 644-8300 for
a complete description of the equipment, effects, top directors and skilled technical
craftsmen available for your commercials. All at competitive prices. We'll do
black and white if you insist, but it costs no more to go color. WMAQ-TV VIDEO
The copy was set
into a full page picture of Dick standing in front of the partially open studio
doors. In the background you could see a man and a woman in a commercial set.
Lights, a camera and a mike boom filled the scene. Superimposed over the top of
Studio D doors, was a graphic resembling a stamp imprint "RESERVED FOR DICK MOSS."
of Studio D from radio to television was primarily for videotape production! Expensive
national commercials were shot on 35mm film and distributed to the networks. Local
stations received 16mm copies. Commercials for local merchants were originally
done live. With the introduction of the videotape recorder, in the late '50s,
television stations started to tape the "live" commercials and entered the business
of producing custom commercials.
This was good business
for television stations. We had idle crews between live programs, dark studios
and under-used technical facilities.
But Studio D never
lived up to its commercial expectations for a number of reasons: Adverting agency
producers were becoming more sophisticated and were looking for a "film" look
on videotape. Clients became upset when they had to stop and share facilities
with the noon news and other programs. Dick never received complete support from
middle management and the technical crews. (Only the stagehands, who knew from
years of working the theater, that if you don't work - you don't eat, and the
directors who made generous fees from commercial production, championed the sessions).
Finally, independent videotape production and editing houses, committed to satisfying
clients, sprung up around the country.
The morning after
the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated (1968), a very tired Jessie
Jackson was interviewed from Studio D on the TODAY SHOW.
returned to Studio D for three years, in 1979, with the arrival of Phil Donahue.
The TODAY SHOW made a deal with Donahue to produce four eight-minute segments
to be aired each week. Originally the segments were to be taped at WGN-TV after
Phil's hour syndicated show. This was an obvious violation of the (NABET) National
Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians contract. NABET represented
the engineers and had jurisdictional rights over all programs produced solely
for NBC. Management said there was no problem. The shows could be produced at
Well, there was
a problem! Less than a week before the first show, the sets, designed for WGN-TV,
were sent to Studio D. The stagehands and engineers worked feverishly to set up
in time. Al Jerome, station manager, put me on standby to direct the show. It
was not known whether Ron Weiner, director of DONAHUE, would join the Directors'
Guild, another contractual prerequisite. At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, just three hours
before show time, I was called to come in to direct. Phil's words of advice were,
"Have fun with it."
On occasion, Marlo
Thomas, Phil's wife, would pay a visit to the control room. Wendy Roth, producer
of DONAHUE ON TODAY, would slip a note to me, "Marlo’s here." This would be my
clue not to make any disparaging remarks about Donahue, as directors are known
to do about on camera performers.
Channel Five began
telecasting on January 7, 1949. On January 14, 1984, we observed the occasion
with a special, CHANNEL FIVE AT 35. One day as Producers Bobbie Clark, Linda Mancuso
and I were screening old kinescopes, I screamed at the top of my voice, "THAT'S
IT!" Linda and Bobbie looked at me as if I had lost whatever little I had left.
We were watching the opening of the DAVE GARROWAY SHOW. I explained my idea. We
would duplicate Garroway's opening. The kinescope started with a high crane shot
of the drum's cymbals, then dollied back and boomed down to reveal the entire
band playing "Sentimental Journey."
CHANNEL FIVE AT
35 opened with that "kine" from the Garroway open. Then I cut to the studio with
a high shot of the cymbals, boomed down and dollied back to include Stanley Paul's
orchestra playing "Sentimental Journey." In the Garroway tradition, Ron Majors
walked into the shot with a magnificent introduction.
I should point
out that our crane dollies and mike booms had been discarded by a zealous manager
who thought they took up too much storage room. We had to rent them.
program featured film and tape clips from old shows. Most of these materials were
donated by former and present employees. WMAQ-TV had scrapped scores of films
and tapes because they were "useless" and took up too much room. Ron Majors interviewed
pioneers Jules Herbuveaux, Dorsey Connors, Burr
Tillstrom, Studs Terkel and newsman
Jim Ruddle. The producers wanted to interview Floyd
Kalber, but were denied this request as Floyd was working for the competition
- WLS-TV, Channel 7.
Radio stations are awarded the right to broadcast, "in the public interest," by
the Federal Communications Commission. For many years this public interest commitment
was served by educational, religious, and children's programming. The three major
faith groups taped programs in Studio D. SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS was produced
by the Chicago Board of Rabbis. The Archdiocese of Chicago presented GAMUT. EVERYMAN
was an ambitious endeavor by the Church Federation of Greater Chicago.
We needed a title
for a show featuring Warner Saunders. I must take credit for a brilliant suggestion;
we called the show WARNER. This program, inaugurated in 1985, was designed to
bring community spokespersons, with opposing views, into a forum of concerned
citizens. Warner led the guests and acted as referee.
To create an intimate
relationship between the audience and guests, I asked art director Jack Hakman
to design a set "in the round." The guests sat on swivel chairs in the center
of the audience. Warner worked the audience with a hand mike.
Also in the '80s,
program director David Finney created PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL, a series of teleplays
produced in concert with Chicago's theatrical community. Chicago writers contributed
original scripts. These Emmy awarded programs were directed for television by
Jack Ginay, Harold Whiteley and me. Many actors including Jim Belushi, Gary Cole,
Joan Cusak, John Cusak, Moria Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Jeremy Pivan, Rondi Reed
and Gary Sinise enhanced their talents on PLAYWRIGHTS.
Studio D had its
own control room, but shared cameras with E or A. Following the pattern set in
radio, control rooms and studios were interchangeable. Originally, the control
rooms for E and D were client rooms. Here sponsors could observe network radio