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tv   The Nineties  CNN  September 15, 2019 7:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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don't touch that dial. we're about to flip it for you. >> in five, four, three, two. >> tv is changing dramatically now with 150 channels that might be available in the near future. >> there is a lot of things that we do that you couldn't have on network television. >> people are really trying to do something adventurous. >> shame on you! >> this is more a celebration of culture and opening the doors and allowing america to come on inside. >> there is always something on television and some of it may be better than we deserve. >> that was cool.
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> listen to it. they know when it hits the bottom, it'll be 1990. good-bye to the '80s in -- >> ten, nine, eight, eight, eight, eight! >> oh, will this horrible year never end? >> when the '90s began, we
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started to see a lot of experimentation. and "the simpsons" i think in some senses was inspired by not necessarily hatred of television, but a distrust of a lot of the ways in which television was talking to us. >> tv respects me. it laughs with me. not at me. >> you're stupid. >> d'oh! >> i think the sitcoms of the '80s were such a warm, safe, humor. >> i love you guys. >> the kids, they listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage. >> and i think there was a real yearning for another type of humor. ♪ >> we were able to spoof fatherhood -- >> what a bad father. >> -- which at the time, and i
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stress at the time, was bill cosby as the shining example. ♪ did you ever know that you're my hero ♪ >> the stuff they got away with because it's a cartoon. the father strangling the child. >> why you little -- >> we are going to keep on trying to strengthen the american family to make american families a lot more like the waltons and a lot less like the simpsons. >> huh? >> we go to a completely bizarre period of time in 1992 when a sitting president is raging against a sitcom. >> they have dealt with politics. they have dealt with popular culture. they've dealt with all kinds of issues of racism, of sexism. >> don't ask me, i'm just a girl. >> right on, say it, sister. >> it's not funny, bart. millions of girls will grow up thinking this is the right way to act. >> they have found a way to talk
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about everything that's going on in our lives through the filter of "the simpsons." >> them immigrants. they want all the benefits to living in springfield, but they ain't even bothered to learn themselves the language. >> yeah, those are exactly my sentimonies. >> i think one of the governing things that's happening with "the simpsons" is a distrust of anyone who tells us we should trust them and doesn't earn that trust. >> oh, and i'll take that statue of justice too. >> sold. >> when they make fun of how fox works -- >> you are watching fox. >> we are watching fox. >> they are telling you don't trust us either. >> eat my shorts. >> all right. i'll eat -- eat your shorts? >> "the simpsons" is like shakespeare in the sense that we quote the simpsons all the time, very often without knowing it. >> excellent! >> i wish i could create something that culturally indelible.
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it's unlike anything else tv has ever run. >> "twin peaks" showed up out of nowhere at the beginning of the decade. the pilot episode of that was one of the strangest and most exciting things i have ever seen. >> diane, i'm at the twin peaks county morgue. with the body of the victim. what's her name? >> laura palmer. >> it was incredible. just how slowly in the beginning the news spread around this little town that this young, beautiful girl had died and that haunting music was so dark and so beautiful. ♪ >> i've got good news. the gum you like is going to come back in style.
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>> what on earth is essentially an art film doing in prime time television. >> american network television has long been considered the home of the blands, the cautious and the predictable. so it was with some trepidation that it the abc network launched a new series that was none of those things. "twin peaks" is already described by one critic as the series that will change tv. it's directed by david lynch. >> david lynch was a filmmaker known for his taste in the eccentric and memorable. the idea that he would do network television in the '90s was crazy. >> do you watch much of it? >> i like the idea of television, but i'm too busy too see very much of it. >> what do you think of that which you do see? >> well, some of it i really enjoy. >> are you being diplomatic? >> sort of. [ screaming ]
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>> the beautiful thing about television is you have the chance to do a continuing story. and that's the main reason for doing it. >> i think that "twin peaks" with the initial attention it got allowed all the other networks to say, let's do something different. >> what was interesting about "northern exposure," it was an odd sort of universe that this guy was dropped into. >> the day's coming. it ain't going to be long when you ain't going to have to leave your living room. no more schools, no more bodgas, no more tabernacles. no more cineplexes, all right? you're going to snuggle up to your fiberoptics and bliss out. >> you also had experimentation that set the stage for a lot of what came later. >> it's kind of hard to pin down what exactly "the x-files" is. i mean, on the surface, it's a show about investigating paranormal activities.
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>> unidentified flying objects. i think that fits the description pretty well. tell me i'm crazy. >> mulder, you're crazy. >> that dynamic, that dramatic tension of believer versus skeptic is one of the engines of the show. you were always seeing it from a specific point of view. >> they're equals? >> yeah, absolutely. they are equals, and in a way they have kind of switched gender stereotypes because the character i play, mulder, is the intuitive one. and scully is the rationalist, the doctor. >> a lot of folks who enjoyed "the x-files" who otherwise didn't watch tv might have been drawn to the show by its, for lack of a better way to put it, its stick it to the man ethos. don't trust the government or big business or anybody but yourself and your friends and family, i guess. it's a message that's somewhat dark and cynical, but was kind
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of a breath of fresh air in the early '90s. >> the '90s was a time of conspiracies. and the internet was starting to spread beyond just hardcore computer users. so you could have message boards and usenet newsgroups. and everybody wanted to talk about the black oil and the bees and mulder's sister and what the cigarette smoking man was up to. i would go to and people were so nuts for this show. >> it's just pure science fiction. that's probably what i like most about it. >> it changed the way people watched television. >> you could sense the successful creators trying to see how they could do things different than five or ten years ago. sometimes that led to really challenging network television that was cool and fun to watch. and sometimes it seemed to fall off the edge a little bit. ♪ let's be careful out there
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>> at the time, steven bochco was a very successful producer of hour dramas and wanted to try something brand new. >> we're the police. we have a warrant for your arrest. >> so his idea was to combine a gritty cop show with a broadway musical. >> i saw one in which a bunch of gang bangers were in jail. they began to sing. life in the hood ain't no pizza pie, everybody die when the bullets fly. ♪ life in the hood ain't no pizza pie, people die when the bullets fly ♪ >> and i said wait a minute. ♪ >> i thought this is it. this is great. this is going to be as innovative as anything i have ever done. ♪ he is guilty, he is guilty, judge, you can see it in his eyes ♪ ♪ he did the crime and now he's got to pay ♪
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>> it just, it circled the drain. >> i will give credit to anybody who goes outside the box and swings really hard for the fences. ♪ i worked real hard and i got my education ♪ >> i'm creatively proud of it still. i'm very glad we tried it. i don't think i'd want to do it again. generation "x," the who's dog is this? it's my special friend, antonio. his luxurious fur calms my nerves when i'm worried about moving into our new apartment.
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♪ these are my people ♪ by the light of the earth, ♪ ♪ you can tell they are ours ♪ ♪ a new step to take ♪ and a new day will break ♪ yes, these are my people ♪ generation "x," the 20-somethings, boomerangers, baby busters. whatever the 46 million young souls are called, are turning out to be a hard sell.
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>> in the '90s, what we realized is advertisers would pay premiums for college educated young adults, 18 to 49. we started reinventing nbc and trying to speak to that audience. >> where is someone? i'm starving. >> this is him right here. >> is there a table ready? >> the chinese restaurant was one of the very, very early episodes of "seinfeld." and truly nothing happened in the episode. they were waiting for a table. >> i feel like just walking over there and taking some food off of somebody's plate. >> we said to larry david, hey, like, nothing happens. and larry was offended. he was, like, wildly offended. >> nbc believed in the show so they said we're committing to four episodes. >> yes, yeah, right. four episodes. >> normally it's 13 or 8 or something. >> yes, at least.
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we really didn't think they had too much confidence in the show. >> we didn't think it would work, but we thought they had to go through their process and they would learn and ultimately they knew better than we did. >> my mother caught me. >> caught you? doing what? >> you know. i was alone. >> the turning point for "seinfeld" from nice show that all of the cool people kind of know about but that's it to massive hit was an episode called "the contest" where they tried to abstain from self-pleasure for as long as possible. >> 6:30, time for your bath. >> george, i'm hungry. >> hang on, ma. hang on. >> once you do 30 minutes on masturbation, you can pretty
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much get away with anything. >> i guess you'll be going back to that hospital. >> my mother, jerry. >> but are you still master of your domain? >> i am king of the county. >> the week after that aired, people were talking about that in the workplace the entire week. >> they still are talking about it. 52 seconds and 2 of the greatest words in sitcom history. >> i'm out. >> one of the shorthand descriptions of "seinfeld" is no hugs, no lessons. let's push it a little further than it's ever been pushed before. >> i think the big breakthrough of "seinfeld" was that the characters were not nice people. >> shut up, you old hag! >> they were narcissistic. >> they would screw each other over at the drop of a hat. >> he's just a dentist. >> and you're an anti-dentite.
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>> and yet be best friends the next week. ♪ >> you don't have to love them. we just have to laugh at them. >> i'm really sorry. >> i was in the pool! i was in the pool! >> the idea of a character with darker tendencies, that was so taboo in television comedy. >> are you about done? >> i'm just getting warmed up. >> we're in the confines of network tv with commercials, with still a lot of things that are very highly structured and yet we're able to find ways of pushing in those boundaries. >> no soup for you. >> it took us to a new level of comedy. and it kind of defined, like, yeah, nbc, thursday night, this
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show, expect the unexpected. >> can you sing the theme song from "cheers"? ♪ making your way in the world today ♪ >> go ahead. come on, i know. it's cute. ♪ takes everything you got ♪ taking a break from all your worries sure can help a lot ♪ ♪ wouldn't you like to get away ♪ ♪ sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name ♪ >> we decided to end "cheers" in the 11th year. over 93 million people watched the finale of "cheers." but it's a sad experience for everybody. this was our baby for 11 years and we're not going to be around these people every day. >> you people are as dear to me as my own family. >> we had been serving fake suds forever. it was time for everybody to sip. in fact, i was sipping along with them. >> time goes by so fast. people move in and out of your life.
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you must never miss an opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you. >> we had been through so much together. you spend that much time with the same set of people, it does become your family. >> i feel pretty lucky to have the friends i do. >> i think the legacy of "cheers" is our need to belong. and i think that's what we as americans are longing for. >> thank you, guys. >> the final scene of "cheers" was really what was sam's real first love? >> you can never be unfaithful to your one true love. >> i'm the luckiest son of a bitch on earth. >> his real first love was the bar. >> sorry, we're closed. (paul) wireless network claims are so confusing.
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to go in for your annual check-up. and be open with your doctor about anything you feel. physically, and emotionally. body and mind. okay, guys, the bus is down, but we've got a spot. follow coach kevin. let's go, guys! sorry again that we're fully booked. this is the best we could do on such short notice. this is amazing. thank you so much. (announcer) treating others like we'd like to be treated has always been our guiding principle.
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okay, let's play show business. >> as a young kid in cleveland,
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i always knew i would one day end up doing a talk show. >> it's arsenio hall! >> in less than two years, arsenio hall has fired his talk show for the mtv generation into a contender for the crown of late night television. >> yes, yes! >> how come i didn't hear all of that woofing going on? when i wthe big dog. but i knew everybody on the planet wasn't watching him. and it dawned on me that i could go many weeks and not see a motown group on "the tonight show." >> arsenio hall has been dubbed the prince of late night. >> there was a whole world of talent that had never and would never have been on any late night show. ♪
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>> 2livecrew came on and sang "me so horny," it was like the sex pistols. i'd never seen anything like it. it was an explosion in the audience. >> he appealed to a black and white young audience and it was a much broader appeal than the powers that be estimated. >> rap. rap is real big among our teens. that's poetry. >> of course it is. >> having maya angelou on, i mean, where would you have seen her otherwise? >> dunbar in 1892 wrote a poem that called "a negro love song." it says, seen my lady home last night, jump back, honey, jump back. held her hand and squeezed it tight, jump back, honey, jump back. >> he didn't just have black people on his show. but if you were hip, you wanted to be on arsenio. >> this was something i heard a political analyst talk about recently.
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he said you kind of were -- i use the word chilling out. he said you were pulling back. you had been instructed not to say as much or be as outspoken. no? >> i've heard that, but i never know who says it. i think it's wishful thinking on the part of some people. >> guess who suggested to bill to do "the arsenio hall show" if you want to get a younger demo? hill-dawg. ♪ >> he attracted a lot of people who weren't fans before that night. ♪ >> the '90s was a glorious moment for black television. because you saw these representations that you'd never seen before. ♪ >> the premise of "the fresh prince" was this kid who comes from philadelphia.
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♪ in west philadelphia born and raised on the playground is where i spent most of my days ♪ he shows up at this mansion in bel air, baseball cap on backward. like, he doesn't even know how to act in this environment. the black producers and directors and writers were always playing with this kind of subverting expectations of, what is blackness? >> the incredible work of "the fresh prince" at its most triumphant was when it was showing the ways that being black is always going to be a problem no matter what. >> vehicle registration, please. >> just a second. but the thing is, officer, this isn't my car. >> there's the episode i remember where they get pulled over in a car. >> what? >> he is going to tell us to get out of the car. >> you watch too much tv. >> get out of the car. >> we have an interaction with the police officer that is
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horrible and racist in a lot of ways. and carlton has this epiphany about how money won't save him. >> no map is going to save you. and neither is your glee club or your fancy bel air address or who your daddy is. because when you're driving in a nice car in a strange neighborhood, none of that matters. they only see one thing. >> the writers of "the fresh prince of bel air" had a really hard task to approach these topics with nuance, and were doing it at a clip that was way ahead of their time. >> now don't touch that dial. we're about to flip it for you to one of the most talked about tv shows. it is, as they say, on another network. fox. ♪ ♪ in living color >> ladies and gentlemen, keenan ivory wayans. >> "in living color" was the first show created by, written by, directed by, starring an african-american, all of those things in one.
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>> this is more of celebration of culture and an exchange. us opening the doors to allowing america to come inside. >> yo, yo, yo, all you bad bargain hunters out there, welcome to the homeboys shopping network. >> a lot of what they did on "in living color" was trying to take the stereotypes or the misperceptions about what black men are and turn them upside down. >> not only will you get all the cable stations out there, but you'll be able to talk directly to the astronauts. >> it brought this smart, very controversial comedy that black folks never seen before that centered around their life experiences. >> who are you? >> i am the minister louis farrakhan. >> african-americans composed 25% of fox's market. >> i always get trapped in the corner with somebody named bob. hey, listen, martin, i just saw
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"boys in the hood," all right? i didn't know, martin, i didn't know. >> they knew that they needed to capture this audience to grow. >> i guess you think you smart and cool. but if you think you are getting a job here, you're a damn fool. >> so they basically gave the black creators freedom to do whatever you want. just get the audience. >> the wb and upn took that concept from fox. >> your shoulders are harder than cheap breast implants. >> going after this underserved audience of urban minority viewers and ran with it. >> i'm a new millennium woman who will not be defined by traditional roles. okay? >> a lot of the networks built themselves up partially on african-american viewers. >> the african-american shows indexed lower in terms of household income. so over the course of the
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decade, the networks started to move away from those shows. >> i don't know about you people, but i'll be damned if i'm going to let them destroy my neighborhood. >> black creators felt used and abused. you made your money. you built your audience on us and now, you know, you're done. you want to buy. it's not sexy... oh delicious. or delicious... or fun. ♪ but since you need both car and home insurance, why not bundle them with esurance and save up to 10%. which you can spend on things you really want to buy, like ah well i don't know what you'd wanna buy cause i'm just a guy on your tv. esurance. it's surprisingly painless.
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the following movie is rated "r." >> in 1990, '91, there was not a whole lot of original programing for cable, but they were airing movies. so we needed to compete and i felt that if we didn't, we were going to kind of get swept out. so i came up with a notion of doing a cop show that was "r"-rated. when abc's broadcast standards read our script, they went berserk. >> i was sitting with a pad and a pencil drawing pictures of breasts to try to show them what we would show and what we wouldn't show. grown-ups sitting in a room doodling. >> then we started on the language.
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>> the brains of a flea and the balls of a moth. >> the program premiered with an advertising boycott. >> channel 7, shame on you! >> but it was such an immediate hit, that boycott lasted, oh, four weeks. >> they could use the nudity and the curse words to go deeper into the actual emotional burden of being a cop. >> i'm an asshole. >> and it had this character, andy sipowicz. he is a raging alcoholic, racist, sexist, violent. he created the tv anti-hero. >> i know the great african-american george washington carver discovered the peanut. but can you provide names and addresses of these friends? >> you know, you're a racist scumbag. >> despite his flaws and prejudices, i think people identified with his pain. >> i wish there was a way to say this that wouldn't hurt you.
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>> there's a famous early episode where they are investigating the rape and murder of a young boy. and they find a homeless child molester who murdered the kid and sipowicz to get the confession has to be very sensitive and a very good cop. >> i know this has to be tearing you up inside. but you're going to feel a lot better if you just tell the truth. >> you can sort of see on dennis franz's face this is killing him to not destroy this guy right now. finally he gets the confession, he gets the signed statement. he walks out of the room, he goes into another interrogation room and he breaks the door in two with his fist. and i'm choking up talking about it right now, because that's how great a moment of tv that it is. >> 20 years from now, the best tv dramas, what do they look like? >> i don't know. >> bolder than what we see today? >> oh, assuredly, assuredly they will be.
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>> the '90s gave us several shows that didn't explode in the ratings, but were influential to others. "homicide" is one of them. ♪ shell me with questions all night ♪ ♪ i'm living in a danger zone >> "homicide: life on the street" was innovative in terms of style. it used music in ways that advanced the narrative and also used feature film directors that brought a look and style to the show that really stood out on television. >> tears coming out of your eyes. >> ain't no tears coming from my eyes. >> his eyes are brimming with tears. >> they had so many african-american characters in the cast that on several occasions they were the only people on camera interacting with one another. and that sounds like, so? but as late as the '90s, that wasn't done on television. >> when a cop shoots somebody, he stands by. he picks up the radio mic and calls it in. he stands by the body. if not, cops are no better than anybody else. >> in the '90s, television was getting more complicated,
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stories were starting to become more episodic and characters were starting to develop and change. none of that happened on "law and order." >> this was a show that completely delivered on its formula every time. you get a crime, you got the investigation into the crime. >> you better be packing more than a dirty mouth. >> you got an arrest. >> what's the charge? hey, i'm asking you a question. what's the charge? >> there's no charge. this one's on us. >> you had a trial. >> he's badgering, your honor. >> sit down and shut up. >> overruled. you will address the court from now on, mr. mccoy. >> every time you watched you got what you came for. >> tell me, doctor. all those women you ran through your examination rooms, do you remember their faces or did you not even bother to look up? >> you had in "law and order" the kinds of characters people take to heart. >> i'll let you take me to lunch. one-time offer.
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>> and if you're an actor and you say, well, gee, maybe it's not really such a bad medium after all. >> miranda, the supreme court's decision. the whole thing was illegally obtained. they were both represented by counsel. >> you just get hooked in. it's life and death and stuff. >> we know what you did. >> counsel. >> you hear me? >> do you hear me? >> "law and order" was like crack. you'd have to sit and watch me for 50 minutes just, like, not moving, barely breathing. there's times i have almost passed out watching "law and order." >> i need your help. >> "e.r." had originally been written as a movie for steven spielberg to direct. we had this two-hour piece which was michael's reflection of
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experiences as a medical student. >> you need a large in case they bleed. do you know how to start an iv? >> actually, no. >> "e.r." is a hospital show, but it's really an action movie. >> walking wounded. >> got it? >> got it. >> a gurney comes in, people are shouting instructions, climbing on the body and doing cpr and racing off to the surgical suite. >> get that gurney out of there! >> someone wanders in. they're tossing around medical jargon. they don't stop to explain what it is. prep for a peritoneal lavage. i think i know what that is now, but only because i watched a lot of "e.r." over the years. >> you can try. but i don't think his heart can take it. >> we can bypass him. >> what do you think? >> you're the attending. >> there was so much information coming at you that i think it made the experience feel as if you had to watch it in the same way that you'd watch a film. you had to stay involved the whole time. >> come on, ben. you can make it. hold on, buddy. hold on.
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>> there was a lot of research that said people didn't want to watch anybody have anything other than a happy outcome. >> another seven makes epi. >> we argued that wasn't really showing what the world was for physicians. i had an unbelievable amount of respect for the people who did this because i understood how human they were. we did promise we'd go. [dog] take that trip! [dog] take it! take it! take it! take it! [sfx: mastercard checkout sonic plays] [dogs] they get the miles...we get a pet-sitter. [dog] whoa! [sfx: mastercard checkout sonic plays] [dog] music to my ears!
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♪ (announcer) treating others like we'd like to be treated... has always been our guiding principle. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. even a- (ernie) lost rubber duckie? (burke) you mean this one? (ernie) rubber duckie! (cookie) what about a broken cookie jar? (burke) again, cookie? (cookie) yeah. me bad. (grover) yoooooow! oh! what about monsters having accidents? i am okay by the way! (burke) depends. did you cause the accident, grover? (grover) cause an accident? maybe... (bert) how do you know all this stuff? (burke) just comes with experience. (all muppets) yup. ♪ we are farmers. ♪ bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! a new era of technology is forcing network news operations to re-examine the way they do business. >> new owners spent billions buying the networks recently. g.e. buying nbc. capital cities, abc. and loews-tisch brothers buying cbs. and all of them want their money's worth. >> we'll now have the strongest network. we'll have a stronger defense piece. this is going to be one dynamite
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company. >> there's a danger that news will be mixed up with the rest of television and considered just another profit center. >> late 1920s, to the early 1930s, to the 1980s, the sense was if some of the broadcasting time took public service, 1990s, journalism in the country changed a great deal. you couldn't talk about public service. it was, what are the ratings going to be? what are the demographics going to be? what is the profit going to be? well, sensationalism sells. >> in a plea bargain, 18-year-old amy fisher got up to 15 years in prison for shooting the wife of her alleged lover. >> so intense is the interest in it this case there are three, three made for tv movies now in the works about it. >> you make money off sex. you make money off death. you make money off crime. >> the press calls the case the beverly hills mansion murders. and the story reads like a
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script that circulates here in hollywood. >> we enter into the television news soap opera. >> a story of basic instincts, anger, and fear. >> broadcast journalism becomes more shoddy, sensationalistic. and it all comes together with o.j. simpson. >> murder charges just filed against o.j. simpson. >> i understand we're going to go to a live picture in los angeles. police believe that o.j. simpson is in that car. >> it starts with the chase, then his arrest, then the trial goes on and on and on. and is televised day after day after day.
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>> this is go ing to be a long trial. >> the o.j. simpson case was such a phenomenon, we lived the case 24 hours a day because there was so much demand for people talking about it. >> as simpson struggled to slide the gloves on to his hands and turned to a juror saying, "they're too small," prosecutors were incensed. >> the trial was on television during the hours that had traditionally been the time for soap operas. soap operas. >> he appears to have pulled the gloves on, counsel. >> and o.j. was very much a soap opera. >> impeached by his own witness. >> i ask you to put a stop to it. >> excuse me, mr. bailey. will you stand up and speak when it's your turn. >> no question that the best tv show of the '90s was the o.j. simpson trial, and everybody on it was riveting.
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>> the simpson trial finally winding to a close. >> we the jury in the above entitled action find orenthal james simpson not guilty of the crime of murder. in violation of penal code section 187-a -- >> the verdict of the o.j. simpson trial viewed by 150 million people. it's more people than watch presidential election returns. that's crazy. >> because there was trial footage every day, cnn saw its audience increase like five times. the success of cnn was not lost on other people. and so there were competing forces coming into play. >> how delighted i am we have now reached this moment when we can firmly announce the starting
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of a fox news channel. >> unfortunately, with cable news and the ability -- or the need to be on the air 24/7, where you try to get as many eyeballs as possible at one time, to gravitate toward those stories that are sensational, it brought us the ability to go too far. >> is the jonbenet ramsey murder investigation turning into a media circus? >> yes, it's tabloid. but on the other hand it's a tabloid era. here's the point. here's where the fear comes into it, i think, larry. it's the fear that says, gosh, if we don't cover it big time, our competition is. when they cover it big time, they'll get a big jump in the ratings. the first thing is to last, to last and survive, we've got to do it. >> what you also see is a whole army of commentators, people who make their business talking about the news. >> what i say is what we should do is we should bomb his capability of producing oil. take out his refineries, his stations, his wells. >> they don't have any capability. >> they're certainly selling a lot of oil --
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>> no they're not -- >> the networks were doing good journalism but they became much more preoccupied by profits. it's much cheaper to have someone in your studio pontificating than to have reporters out in the field reporting. >> i don't know if any of this is true. but what i heard is that the father went down, opened his basement room, which the fbi had bypassed. >> every single sentence on cnn, perhaps, on cnbc, on fox, on msnbc, begins with the words "i think" but after a while people get confused by what is speculation, by what is innuendo, by what is fact. and as far as the viewer is concerned, be very, very careful of unsubstantiated information presented with great hype. and d up the years. but what i do count on... is boost® delicious boost® high protein nutritional drink has 20 grams of protein, along with 26 essential vitamins and minerals. boost® high protein. be up for life. we're a lot alike. just two dudes getting paid to do what we love. only difference is you never get booed...
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tv is changing dramatically now with 150 channels that might be available in the near future. >> there are more choices than ever before. it's a tough job. you have to try and get a sense of what is the audience going to really make an attachment to. >> in the '90s, cable was coming on strong. so we had to examine who are we going to be? well, we wanted to be smart, sophisticated comedy. >> six months ago i was living in boston. my wife had left me, which was
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very painful. then she came back to me. which was excruciating. >> i thought frasier was dead with "cheers." but we thought, we got a built-in audience, and great potential to build out the character to another place. ♪ >> "frasier" was kind of like one-act plays. ♪ >> mother and i moved here when i was a small boy after the tragic death of my father. i kept the pain of that loss buried deep within me like a serpent coiled within a damp cave. okay, that's it. >> we always assumed the audience was smarter than most other people did. and we played to that. >> just unschooled like liza doolittle. >> henry higgins. she'll be ready for a ball in no time. >> leave it to you to put the pig back in pygmalion. >> kelsey grammar played pom positive like nobody you've ever
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seen and got huge laughs. >> don't consider a move until my fingers have completely cleared the piece. >> what's taking so long? >> but i am analyzing my options unlike your wing-it approach i like to plan a strategy, like a general leading his troops into battle. >> checkmate, schwarzkopf. >> i think "frasier" stands as the single most successful spinoff, at least in the history of sitcoms. >> and the emmy goes to "frasier." >> "frasier." >> "frasier." >> we were lightning hot and it was critical for us to be leading the way, not just following. ♪ >> "friends" is about that time in your life when your friends are your family. >> ow! >> when david crane and i lived in new york we were part of a group of six people. we were all attached at the hip. we went everywhere together and
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celebrated everything together. and there's that period where you're looking to be out there on your own and the people you rely on are the ones who live down the hall. >> here we go. pivot. pivot. pivot! pivot! pivot! pivot! >> shut up! shut up! shut up! >> "friends" permeated the culture in a way that was really special. everybody was obsessed with the show. and it became like which one of these characters are you? if you were a girl, were you phoebe, monica or rachel? >> i got to tell you this really
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does put me in a better mood. >> the kids who were watching, the young audience, saw a lifestyle that was aspirational. i wish i had an apartment in new york city that no one seems to be worried about the rent for. i wish that i looked like matt leblanc. i wish that i had jennifer aniston's hair. one of the things that made "friends" a phenomenon is people beyond the laughs actually bonded with these characters. they emotionally were invested in ross and rachel's relationship. >> i could not have done this without you. >> okay. more clothes in the dryer? >> i was dropping my daughter off for sunday school at our temple, and literally my rabbi stopped me and said, what's going to happen with ross and rachel? >> you look pretty tonight. >> oh, thanks. >> the one with the prom video is one of my favorites.
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>> you guys, we don't have to watch this. >> yeah, we do. >> come on. come on. >> where's chip? why isn't he here yet? >> he'll be here, okay? take a chill pill. >> this seemed like a really surprising way to get rachel to know how ross feels. >> i can't go to my own prom without a date. >> take her. you can wear my tux. >> dad, she won't want to go with me. >> she's learning something new and he thinks, oh, god, please don't let her see this. please don't let her see this. >> rachel, ready or not, here comes your knight in shining -- oh, no. >> bye! >> chip! >> oh, dear. >> ross sees himself and you see that look on his face and how sad he is because he wanted to
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take her to the prom. >> when she crossed the room, i still kind of get chills from it. when she crossed the room and gave him that kiss -- [ cheers and applause ] >> -- the audience went insane. >> at the height of must-see tv, thursday nights on nbc, 75 million americans watched thursday night. that was at the time one-third of the country. >> ooh! what is this stuff? >> the sweater is angora. >> well, it's wonderful. >> the machine that was nbc in the '90s for comedy was untouchable. >> you're not from around here, are you? >> it generated so much viewership and money and awards. >> you do not need this. >> it's the top of our wedding cake. >> we're not -- it's not a scrapbook, it's a freezer.
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>> no! >> we were all kind of part of this chapter in television where we realized we were in the right place at the right time. >> let's see how you like this, naughty boy. >> we certainly associate nbc of the '90s of having extremely successful sitcoms but they weren't the only network that found their way to having some success. tgif was on abc on friday, and it was their block of family-oriented comedies. >> i can't take it. i need the cake. >> it was not sophisticated television. but these were shows that people adored. [ laughing and snorting ] >> cbs. >> cbs was in a really bad spot. they had just fallen apart over the early part of the '90s and had gone through a couple different network executives. >> but then suddenly they had this hit with an unknown comic. this was the year of seinfeld, no hugging, no learning, and this was a show being made as if it was produced in the era of the dick van dyke show. >> i love you. >> there was hugging. there was learning. >> i love you, son. >> all right, all right.
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>> if you worked for me, your job was so go home, get in a fight with your wife and come back in and tell me about it. >> don't sleep on the couch. i just cleaned down there. >> in fact, the pilot i put in this true thing that happened to me wherein i sent my parents a gift for the holidays of the fruit of the month club. >> and did you know you sent me a box of pears from a place called fruit of the month. >> that's right. that's right. how are they? >> and my mother reacted as if i had sent her a box of heads from a murderer. >> why did you do this to me? >> oh my gosh.
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>> i can't talk. there's too much fruit in the house! >> oh! what is happening? >> what do you think we are, invalids? we can't go out and get our own fruit? >> i tried to tell him. >> all right. i'm cancelling the fruit club. >> the real story is where the real connection with your audience is. thank god, all your families are crazy, too. >> looks like you got the whole family together. >> yeah, yeah, it's dysfunction palooza. ♪
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okay, guys, the bus is down, but we've got a spot. when you're over overpaying. follow coach kevin. let's go, guys! sorry again that we're fully booked. this is the best we could do on such short notice. this is amazing. thank you so much. (announcer) treating others like we'd like to be treated has always been our guiding principle. these are ava's shoulders. they square off, hold firm, bear it all. this is her physical therapist, who lends his strength, to hers. these are ava's shoulders, now stronger than ever.
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this is what medicare from bluecross blueshield does for ava. and with plans that fit every budget, imagine what we can do for you. this is the benefit of blue. and now ladies and gentlemen, here's johnny! ♪ >> johnny carson wasn't just the host of "the tonight show." johnny carson was the man that
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america said good night to for 30 years. ♪ >> and on my watch, johnny decided that 30 years was a great time to take a bow and say thank you and good night. >> 30 years is enough. it's a good time to get out while you're still on top of your game plan. >> johnny carson retiring in the early '90s was the great moment where a huge chunk of the ice shelf breaks off. something that has been there for centuries, for thousands of years, suddenly is no longer there. >> a tremendous part of history. and that's lovely to have made your mark on an era like that. >> johnny had told no one what he had planned to do, and we weren't prepared. and that set off a game of musical chairs for who would get
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the throne, and there only was one late-night throne. >> hi, you guys! >> jay leno had been pretty much carson's regular substitute host when he went on vacation. >> you know what's amazing, only six months ago people were talking about donald trump as a presidential candidate. right? that's true. since then he's had an affair, left his wife, run up debt of several million dollars so i guess he's going to be running as a democrat, huh? >> jay leno wanted to essentially just continue doing a johnny carson-type show. and david letterman was the show immediately following carson. and they had different styles. >> what is your name? >> i'm going to ask you to turn the cameras off, please. >> okay, we just wanted to drop off this basket of fruit -- >> part of dave's thing was he attacking authority, he liked that. >> he needed a corporate bad guy to go up against. i was oftentimes that target. >> i can hear this warren littlefield guy whining all year long about not getting his name
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on the card last year. >> he's on it. >> look, what about me? i could be on there, couldn't i? >> it was always letterman's dream to be the host of "the tonight show." he idolized johnny carson, rightfully so. >> the big decision that's had the entertainment industry buzzing is due this week. that of course is the fate of nbc's "late night" stars jay leno and david letterman. >> most of us thought the person who deserved to get it was david letterman. he didn't get it. jay leno got it. >> leno, who earlier rode his motorcycle into a news conference hosted by nbc entertainment president warren littlefield, still has a bruised ego about the way the network wavered in its support for him. >> when we found out leno was going to get "the tonight show," we were all obviously depressed. we felt like we were being punished for making fun of them
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and not cooperating and not being as collaborative as we could have been. and we also felt like we were being disrespected because we did 11 years of great shows. >> just how pissed off are you? [ laughter and applause ] >> by all rights, david letterman should have taken over for johnny carson, but his agent took a very, very aggressive stand. we're going to really control all of late night. it's going to cost you a fortune. and they put our backs to the wall. >> i can only tell you it's been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. and i hope when i find something i want to do and i think you will like and come back, that you will be as gracious inviting me into your home as you have been. i bid you a very heartfelt good night. >> "the tonight show" without johnny carson as the regular host made its debut last night. jay leno emerged from behind the curtain, stepping into the big shoes that were filled for 30 years by johnny.
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>> cbs came to us and made a very attractive offer. >> here we go, number ten. head cbs, tails cbs. number nine -- >> letterman did place a call to johnny carson asking for his advice and johnny said, if it was me, i would leave. and i think that advice was really the linchpin. letterman always took johnny's advice. >> the late-night wars are about to begin in earnest on american television. david letterman is now headed for cbs. >> cbs had lured him over with a salary more than four times that
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of leno and given him what he really wanted, the 11:30 time slot. now as dave and jay prepare to go head to head, one thing is clear -- late-night tv will never be quite the same. >> all of a sudden, there's a talk show war. >> start up your remote controls. the late-night race is about to begin. >> on monday, david letterman's new show debuts here on cbs. followed a week later by chevy chase on fox and a week after that by conan o'brien on nbc. these combatants join "the tonight show" with jay leno, arsenio, and nightline. >> it became a crowded space and the competition became that much more difficult. >> in the third corner, his ratings fading rapidly, arsenio hall. some tv writers think arsenio could be the big loser in this free-for-all. >> when letterman came in, it essentially diluted arsenio's brand because there were so many alternatives. >> i'm sad to see you go because america is going to have a big chunk missing out of its existence. >> losing arsenio, yeah, it was bad. he was the lone voice, gone. >> david letterman had the suits at nbc pausing for a moment.
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did we make the right choice? because he came out gangbusters and he was beating jay leno in the ratings. >> there's some people who say, you blew it, that by picking leno to replace carson over letterman, that that was a big programming mistake. >> it was a shaky start. a really, really shaky first season start. >> it's true confessions time for actor hugh grant who is trying hard to put his recent encounter with a hollywood prostitute behind him. >> when hugh grant was arrested, it was big, live action news and hugh grant was supposed to do "the tonight show" that night. >> what the hell were you thinking? [ drum sting ] [ cheers and applause ] >> it all came together in that moment and everyone saw it and that's it. we were never number two again. >> hey, hey! >> for us it was the fun experience. we got our own theater, an
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unlimited budget, we've got access to every star in the business who wants to do the show. >> somebody bring me the jaws of life! >> so, i think going to cbs was heaven-sent. it really was. >> good night, everybody! ♪ for barcelona? we did promise we'd go. [dog] take that trip! [dog] take it! take it! take it! take it! [sfx: mastercard checkout sonic plays] [dogs] they get the miles...we get a pet-sitter. [dog] whoa! [sfx: mastercard checkout sonic plays] [dog] music to my ears! use the card that gets you miles closer to your promise. we should do this every year. [dog] they should do this every year. and start something priceless. (burke) at so we know how to cover we'almost anything.verything (bert) even a "not-so-handy monster." (johnson) what is going on in here! i can't hear myself think! (grover) what does it look like, sir? i am here to help you with your water heater.
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(johnson) oh! [sighs defeatedly] (grover) do not worry sir. i also fix cars! [johnson groans] (bert) grover is a monster of many talents! (burke) and we covered it. at farmers, we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. (bert) mmm. ♪ we are farmers. ♪ bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum we can't give you, unlimited summer, but we can give you unlimited talk, text and data for just $30 a line for 4 lines. and that comes on our newest signal. no signal reaches farther or is more reliable. so you can... share more sunsets. stream more videos. and stay connected with friends while you slide into fall. all for just $30/line. and for a limited time, you can get free smartphones too! come to t-mobile now and get new 4 lines of unlimited and 4 free phones for just 30 bucks a line! ♪ [ song: johnny cash, "th♪sthese are my people ♪ ♪ these are the ones ♪ ♪ who will reach for the stars ♪ ♪ these are my people ♪
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in the mid-1990s if you took a look at the list of the 50 most-watched shows on cable, at the top would be nickelodeon. "rug rats," "blues clues." >> don't you know cartoons will ruin your mind? >> "ren and stimpy" had some very surreal, high-concept humor to it. this is the beginning of the splintering of the television audience and splintering of the family audience, really, because with families having three or four tvs in the house you had a kid watching nickelodeon, the dad watching espn sports, the mom watching lifetime. you know, they were in their own separate universes watching television. by the time of the '90s, mtv wasn't merely a music channel. they were having great success in terms of creating shows that incorporated music but that also were shows and programs that
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stood on their own. >> yes! >> huh huh huh! huh huh huh! huh huh huh! that was cool! >> "beavis and butthead" established what mtv could be because the shows were about making fun of music videos just like people in the audience were doing. >> whoa, check out his neck. >> yeah. there's like all these bones and stitches moving around. >> yeah. >> my manager would call me, like, hey, you got this big bump because you were on "beavis and butthead" last night. >> i sit there like a doughnut watching these guys. and i find them endlessly entertaining because i know and you know and the world knows, these guys are always, will be, and cannot be anything but idiots. >> that's right. >> mtv has a detrimental, damaging, developmental effect on the sexuality, on the morality, on the spirituality, maybe even the physical
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development of our young people. ♪ >> now we hit the '90s and once you can go for an audience of 5 million and have a successful show, you can say, i don't care if the parents don't like this. >> can i tell you something, miss ellen? >> of course, wendy. >> don't [ bleep ] with me! >> what? >> you heard me. stay away from my man, bitch, or i'll whoop your sorry little ass back to last year! >> trey parker and matt stone were two of the funniest people i ever met. and their success story is proof that if you just stay true to yourself, you don't have to do anything else. >> people think, oh, you came and did the show and now you're big sellouts. the truth is, we were sellouts to begin with.
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>> perhaps there is no stopping the corporate machine. >> i mean, we were sleeping at friends' houses, had no money, and then one fox executive had seen a cartoon we had made in college and he said, make me another christmas video i can send out as a christmas card. he gave us like 700 bucks. we went and made this five-minute short. >> i come seeking retribution. >> he's come to kill you because you're jewish, kyle. >> oh [ bleep ]. >> it went around the tv community like wildfire. >> i mean, it -- it was the funniest thing you'd ever seen in your life. >> go, santa! >> somebody showed me the short. >> go, jesus! >> i thought it was hysterical. i called and said get them in here right away. >> oh, my god! they killed kenny. you bastards! >> "south park" was able to be topical. >> "south park" really, really detests hypocrites. >> christians and republicans and nazis, oh, my! >> well, okay, mrs. cartman, i'll legalize 40th trimester
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abortions for you. >> could you imagine back then that these people would ever get on network television or any kind of television? >> howdy ho! >> it's a miracle. "south park" is a miracle. >> the early '90s the hbo shows start to kind of come into their own. >> and then have i always had these breasts? >> a lot of people want freedom. they don't want to go back to the networks, which are saying you can come to us where you'll make more money but you'll also have content restricted. you could go to cable and have no restrictions. not make as much money but have freedom of expression, which almost everybody who works in these mediums wants. >> some of the content truly was, you can't get this anywhere else. >> you're a fantasy maker, the
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only limit on the kinds of fantasies is people's imagination. >> hbo turned to people who said, i can't do that on television, but you can do it on hbo. >> white people don't trust black people. that's why they won't vote for no black president. like a black brother will [ bleep ] up the white house. like the grass won't be cut. dishes piled up. cousins running through the white house. cookouts. basketball going in the back. >> in the late '80s hbo was just sort of gaining ground for series. >> by the '90s hbo had started to begin its explosion. >> when we started doing "dream on" one of the things hbo said to us was, it's got to be something that couldn't be on network tv. ♪
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>> because hbo was driven by subscribers and not by commercials and selling advertising time, they had a different way of looking at success or failure. what they were looking for was critical acclaim. >> you've watched letterman, you've watched leno, but what about larry? larry sanders, that is. he's the tv alter ego of comedian garry shandling. >> garry shandling wanted to do a show that deconstructed the kind of show "the tonight show" was. >> just pretend like you're talking to me till we're off the air so it won't seem weird. >> okay. blah, blah, blah, blah. >> "the larry sanders show" was sort of cathartic. because in the world of "the larry sanders show," there was a network. >> you want me to [ bleep ] your budget? is that what you want me to do? >> so it became this weird funhouse mirror thing, where you could use stuff from your
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misery, your career, as fodder. >> don't take this as a threat but i killed a man like you in korea, hand to hand. my boy doesn't want to do any more commercials. >> larry sanders to me was, aside from being a brilliant television show -- >> can you say, hey now. >> hey now. >> it was my everyday life. >> i'm here for three good reasons. last show. big ratings. movie coming out. bim, bam, boom. >> "the larry sanders show" was very unique in that it was very deadpan. and really groundbreaking in its day. >> i think it made people really go, that's the level of work you may be able to do on a cable network. >> please, do not flip around. come right back. >> hey now! oh, you sound good. the best network is even better? best, fastest, best. enough. sprint's doing things differently. they're offering a new 100% total satisfaction guarantee. i mean i think sprint's network and savings are great,
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(music throughout)
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in the '90s you suddenly had shows that were aiming at a young audience. one of the things that really made "90210" stand out is it was one of the first dramas to really get into the teenager's point of view. >> do you have protection? >> of course. it's always been my problem. lots of protection but nothing to protect. >> i wanted to do a tv series that was going to be relevant to
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teenagers. and it's not about the parents solving the kids' problems. it's about the kids basically solving their own problems. >> what are we supposed to do, sit him down and have a kid-to-parent talk. >> no, you can't talk to parents on that mature level. tragic but true. >> if the '60s had beatle mania, the '90s had "90210" mania. when tv guide had its "youth-quake" cover, that was a sign that suddenly television was focused on these young people. ♪
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"my so-called life" was the punk rock version of "90210." it was earnest but not at all saccharine. it didn't have easy answers. it showed teen heartbreak in a way that was staggeringly real for the time. >> you like this. >> like what? >> like how you are. >> hey jordan, you coming or not? >> how am i? how am i? >> "my so-called life" was your actual life. and the idea that everyone in high school is a misfit, that you have this deep insecurity about who you're supposed to be. >> you know how sometimes the last sentence you said like echoes in your brain? and it keeps just sounding stupider? and you have to say something else just to make it stop.
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>> oh, i just remembered. i owe you $30. >> "my so-called life" was not necessarily the show the cheerleader or captain of the football team were watching. they were still watching "90210". but it was the people who maybe didn't recognize themselves in "90210" who felt like, ah-ha, now i recognize myself in "my so-called life." >> demarco asked me if you were getting a sex change. >> exactly. i don't want to be a girl. i just want to hang with girls. >> ricky was out on the show eventually, and that was a story line treated with great sensitivity. >> and i belong nowhere. with no one. and i don't fit. >> i mean, it was -- it was so deeply felt. it was saying to the viewer, things that you have gone through, they matter. >> "buffy the vampire slayer" depicted high school in a similar way to "my so-called life" except rather than just feeling like hell, it actually was hell. her high school was literally built on top of hell. and so all of these creatures
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would come up that she would have to fight. >> three in one night. >> it was a brilliant metaphor for adolescence and all the demons that you have to slay. >> you know, buffy was a teenager, and she was still finding out who she was. one of the story lines that was very popular and much talked about was where she has sex with her boyfriend for the first time, and then in sort of the world of buffy, he becomes literally evil. >> there must be part of you inside that still remembers who you are. >> dream on, schoolgirl. >> in order to save the world, literally, she knows she has to send him to hell. >> buffy knows in an instant that angel has become good again. >> buffy! >> so she has this moment of reckoning that she has to decide
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whether to do this or not, and she makes the sacrifice to push him back into hell. >> the show was really working on multiple levels. in buffy in particular, we saw a character that was a reluctant protagonist. forced to make tough decisions. >> there was a kind of opening of the floodgates in the '90s for women. the idea of being an ideal, i think, was kind of smashed through a lot of the characters on television. >> look, if you're a successful saleswoman in this city, you have two choices. you can bang your head against a wall and try to find a relationship or you can say screw it and just go out and have sex like a man. >> "sex and the city" was a huge success right from the start. it was very funny, very clever, and very candid. >> are relationships the religion of the '90s? >> these are women who are making a good living, they were independent, they were single,
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and they were sort of feeling their power. >> i said all of them. bad waiter, bad waiter. >> what do you tip for that? >> i wanted these women to be objectifying men in the way men had always objectified women. >> all right. my turn. >> sorry, i have to go back to work. >> you didn't used to be able to discuss sex as sex. network shows, there never were people talking about orgasms or organs or sex. >> okay, words are essential. tell me exactly how he worded it. >> we've been seeing each other for a couple of weeks, i really like you, and tomorrow night after dinner i want us to have anal sex. >> these are women who shared everything with each other and they're discussing what anal sex means. >> it goes up there, there's going to be a shift in power. either he'll have the upper hand or you will. >> and should she do this or not? >> this is a physical expression that the body -- well, it was designed to experience. and p.s., it's fabulous. >> what are you talking about? i went to smith. >> the show took an interesting turn by really focusing on the relationship between the women and telling the story of them as really soul mates together as well. >> you did the right thing buying that apartment.
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you love it, right? >> yeah. >> and you won't be alone forever. >> historically women are often set up in narratives in which only one can succeed. and so showing women not competing with each other and as supporting each other was also an important narrative change. >> okay, girls, see you tomorrow. >> okay. >> night-night. >> the show had a message of freedom and liberation especially for women that really resonated. i think "sex and the city" helped make hbo a place for people to think, i wonder what they'll be doing next. fisher investments tailors portfolios to your goals and needs. some only call when they have something to sell. fisher calls regularly so you stay informed. and while some advisors are happy to earn commissions whether you do well or not. fisher investments fees are structured so we do better when you do better. maybe that's why most of our clients come from other money managers. fisher investments. clearly better money management.
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in 1991 we got a call from mtv and they were toying with the idea of doing some kind of a scripted show about young people. >> they said it was like a mix between "the big chill" and "the breakfast club." >> but ultimately decided the idea of a show with writers and actors would be too expensive for them. >> the real world, that's what this was supposed to be. >> so we essentially applied all the drama rules to documentary to get our, what we called at that time, a docusoap. >> this is the true story. >> true story. >> of seven strangers -- >> it was kind of a social experiment to watch what happens when you put these strangers together in a house. when people stop being polite and start getting real. >> do you sell drugs? why do you have a beeper? >> you hadn't seen anything like that on television, that kind of open, honest discussion of race. >> i can try as much as i can to
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try to deal with you, but ignorance is ignorance. stupidity is stupidity. and that's it. black white, green, purple, blue, whatever. >> "the real world" becomes this big bang moment for reality tv. the idea is that, oh my god, all we have to do is take cameras and put them on people and we'll get great stuff. you had in the next season in l.a. a young woman who gets an abortion, and the camera literally goes right up to the doctor's door. >> give me a hug. >> by the third season in san francisco you have a young man who is dealing with aids. >> i'm hiv positive. >> when pedro told me he was hiv positive, it was just like -- no, not him. i like this guy and i don't want him to have to suffer. >> it was such a triumph that pedro had the courage at his age to come out as someone with aids. in my small gay community on campus, we all felt like, wow, he was our hero. >> he falls in love. and he and his partner, shawn,
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have a ceremony. you know, this is long before same-sex marriage was legal. the tv shows weren't doing this. movies weren't doing this. >> i have to believe that all the pain that i'm going through, that all the anger, all the frustration, that there's something bigger than that. >> aids has claimed a young man who made an enormous impact on a generation of young americans. pedro zamora died in miami today at the age of 22. >> i'm really glad i got to know pedro zamora. i'm grateful that his rich and fulfilling work is still remembered today. and i hope you enjoy and learn from pedro's life of compassion and fearlessness. >> you have to credit "the real world" with sort of helping the acceptance of the lgbt community. because there weren't many portrayals of gay people, period, on television at that point.
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>> her name is marla. i'm seeing a woman. >> in the '90s, gay characters were always secondary or third. there was never a gay character that was the lead of a show. >> so you want to go look at apartments tomorrow? >> great idea! >> ellen degeneres, the comedian, was about to come out. as a lesbian. and she does it on "time" magazine. yep, i'm gay. but they decide that the character ellen plays on tv will also come out. >> it is just reprehensible that abc, now owned by disney of all companies, is going to feature ellen as coming out of the closet. it won't be long before god knows what, you know. bestiality, incest, who knows. >> we were getting bomb threats. disney was really getting a lot of flack for even thinking about having a coming-out episode with ellen. >> i'm 35 years old. i'm so afraid to tell people. i mean, i just -- susan, i'm gay. >> ellen coming out was a huge
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moment for me personally because, you know, i was a closeted gay guy. gay child at that time. and it was the bravest thing i saw. >> that felt great. that felt so great. >> initial report suggests abc made a bundle on ellen's highly publicized outing on national tv last night. the broadcast was accompanied by coming-out parties all around the country, including one in birmingham, alabama, where the local abc station refused to broadcast the show. >> she did a great thing. she was brave. >> i made the decision that i wasn't going to live my life as a lie anymore. i was -- i belong with everybody else. and that's what i finally did. >> we used to say ellen opened the door and we knocked it down.
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♪ i love my mister ♪ tell me lazy tell me so ♪ tell me i'm crazy maybe i know ♪ ♪ can't help loving that man of mine ♪ >> take it, jack! >> and pas de bouree, pas de bouree, i'm gay! >> "will & grace" was a great show in sort of helping a mainstream straight community connect to the gay community. >> i think i can fix this thing with your landlord but might get a little ugly. >> play hardball, baby. throw low and inside. he's crowding the plate and we've got to -- >> grace, sports, you're losing me. >> i figured 25% of the country wouldn't watch the show just based on the fact that we had two gay men on it. >> give it to me! >> but if we could make believe that will and grace would get together.
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>> will, i told you, you live with a hetero long enough, you're going to catch it. >> maybe we could get people to watch thinking that would happen, knowing it would never happen. >> suffering sappho! >> you know, it's a shame. an image like this is completely wasted on us. >> i remember the network calling every other week saying, can will just fall in love with grace? and the creators were like, well, that's weird, he's gay. gay people don't do that. that's why they're gay. >> why wasn't i your girlfriend, queer bait? >> "will and grace" was the first time you saw characters on television that made gay normal. you wanted to be friends with them. >> guess what we are. >> uh -- a catholic girl gone bad -- and karen, what are you supposed to be? >> the best feeling i get is when people come up and say, thank you for all you do for the
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gay community, and thank you for playing that part in that show. and you feel so fortunate to have been a part of something so great. more towers. more coverage! it's a network that gives you ♪freedom from big cities, to small towns, we're with you. because life can take you almost anywhere, t-mobile is with you. no signal goes farther or is more reliable in keeping you connected. ♪ for barcelona? we did promise we'd go. [dogs] they get the miles...we get a pet-sitter. use the card that gets you miles closer to your promise. [dogs] they should do this every year. and start something priceless. ( ♪ )
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what was happening at the end of the '90s was audiences started to look towards television for what they had only found before in feature film. >> victory is mine. victory is mine. great day of the morning, people. victory is mine. >> and actors no longer felt that it was a comedown to come work in television. >> what did i ever do to you except deliver the south? >> you shouldn't have made me beg. >> the segment of the audience that showed up to watch "west wing," they watched "the mcneil lehrer newshour," they watched "west wing," and documentaries in foreign languages, right? >> if the name of this nominee is leaked out before i want it to be leaked out, i'm going to blame you and you're going to find that unpleasant. >> i've got to tell you something, toby. you're hot when you're like this. >> '90s television was the first wave of what we now have,
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remarkably specific niche programming. ♪ >> "freaks and geeks" really sympathized with the losers and had great empathy for its characters. ♪ because you don't see that i got something going right here ♪ >> "freaks and geeks" breaks my heart every time i think about it. >> i'm sorry. did i crush your twinkies? >> it lasted 18 episodes. and they're perfect 18 episodes but nbc hated it so much. >> roll down the windows because i got a big one a-brewing. >> they thought it was a show by losers, about losers, for losers. they hated it. they wanted no part of it. they killed it. >> at the end of the '90s, the jig is starting to be up for the networks. basically, quality migrates to
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cable. >> "oz" comes on in '97. and it's set in this fictional penitentiary. wow. what a strange show that was. >> in "oz," sometimes the things you can't touch are more real than the things you can. for instance, here, hatred, fear, loneliness are more real to me than a shank and a soul. >> it was jaw-droppingly violent. it was a men's prison. it probably should be. but you know, it kind of announces the idea that hbo is going to get serious about doing scripted dramas. >> it's finished. it's over. >> but hbo really in my mind comes to its own in 1999 with "the sopranos." ♪
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♪ woke up this morning ♪ got yourself a gun >> "sopranos" just is one of those shows that was a benchmark change. it changed a lot of things for everybody. >> throw out the handbook. tony soprano, the lead actor in a drama, he killed a man. we watched him. he took his daughter on a college tour. >> pretty, huh? >> yeah. >> it was just a melding of a guy and a world -- >> what the [ bleep ] you doing? what the [ bleep ] you doing? >> and a behavior that promoted all the feelings that you would have for a guy that you love in a guy that you hate. you know? >> "sopranos" came on tv and it really showed us the future, whether we realized that was going to be the future of television or not.
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>> this husband of yours, carmella, how much we love him. he's the best. >> oh, come on. he's like a father to me. >> just make sure nothing happens to him. >> that character in that show was a great inspiration to a great many shows that came after it including one that i worked on. >> you know what i want, tony? i want those kids to have a father. >> they got one, this one, me. tony soprano. and all that comes with it. >> oh, you prick. >> the '90s is a mixed decade of tv. some of my favorite shows of all time aired in that decade and everybody was watching them. there was still that communal sense from the earlier decades of tv but it was being applied to shows that were reaching higher and farther, and they were great. >> because there was so many channels and because so much storytelling was going on, you started to get more variety of stories being told. >> get the skull film, schedule a c.a.t. scan, and call the neurosurgery resident. >> objection! >> it showed us women in their depth and began to show us much more of a range of the african-american community. >> i'm always here for you.
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>> started focusing on teenagers in a more realistic way. >> things changed us. evolved. >> what are you talking about? >> had you thinking a little more outside the box in terms of what people might want to watch. >> you're out of order, he's out of order. this whole trial is sexy. >> after ten years of the '90s, we had a whole new television world that could take us anyplace we wanted and even places we had never imagined. >> was that the oven timer? >> that's right, my friend. it's time for "baywatch"! >> can you believe they gave stephanie skin cancer? >> i still can't believe they promoted her to lieutenant. >> you're just saying that because you're in love with yasmine bleeth. >> how could anyone not be in love with yasmine bleeth? >> hey, hey, they're running.
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see? this is the brilliance of the show. i say always keep them running. all the time running, run. run. run, yasmine, run like the wind. ♪ ♪


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