October 19, 2012
Brandon Tartikoff Honored at USC
The Legendary Television Executive’s Legacy Unveiled
President C. L. Max Nikias
The late television executive Brandon Tartikoff’s work has done more to define NBC, the 1980s and American pop culture than any other executive in television history. At NBC and Paramount, Tartikoff was responsible for bringing Cheers, Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Law and Order, The Cosby Show, Hill Street Blues, The A-Team, Miami Vice, Forrest Gump and many others to the screen. On October 18th, the School of Cinematic Arts hosted the Dedication of the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Collection, a collection of personal memos, memorabilia and other items to honor his career and the permanent placement of Brandon’s legacy at USC.
The event was attended by over 150 guests including Dean Elizabeth M. Daley, USC President C. L. Max Nikias, music icon Quincy Jones, television executive Dick Ebersol, television producer/writer Dick Wolf, actor Ted Danson, director George Lucas and Tartikoff’s widow Lilly Tartikoff Karatz, who graciously donated the collection.
“Television was Brandon’s life,” said Tartikoff Karatz. “He was living out his fantasy by being the head of NBC. When he turned NBC from number three to number one, he was literally bouncing off the walls. I want to thank George Lucas and Dean Daley for allowing Brandon to exist in the minds of the amazing students at USC reaching for media greatness.”
Included in the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Collection are more than 4,000 pieces of correspondence, photos, videos and awards from his earliest days at NBC in 1979 to his final ones at Paramount in 1992. Tartikoff passed away in 1997 of Hodgkin's disease at age 48.
“With Brandon Tartikoff, television may have had its greatest programmer,” said President Nikias. “He epitomized an axiom of television, ‘If you’re having a good time making it, people will have a good time watching it.’ It’s fitting that his collection finds its home at USC. Lilly’s visionary generosity will support the creative dreams of our students for generations to come.”
Tartikoff was remembered by several speakers for his enthusiasm, humanity, deep love of his life and job and his fearlessness in the face of illness.
Music icon and long-term friend Quincy Jones said, “I’m very happy to have called Brandon a friend. I’ve seen many executives come and go in this business and there’s a reason we still talk about Brandon. As talented as he was, his talent was surpassed by his spirit and his big, big heart.”
Selections from The Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Collection are currently on display in the Hugh M. Hefner Exhibition Hall in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex and will be permanently housed at the Cinema Library at USC.