[Civil liberties]

Sunday, March 13, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes reports on a contest sponsored by The Fund for the Republic, part of the Ford foundation. It is competition for writing of the best one hour drama and half hour documentary for television, the purpose it to stimulate conversation about civil liberties and racial discrimination.

He moves on to talk about a group of students he know who are in their early twenties - they dislike television and Broadway productions in preference of small off Broadway theaters.

He goes on to discuss theater production and financing these endeavors, particularly he discusses City Center. He notes that the United States lacks municipal theaters, but mentions the concept of compromising with the public's tastes, which may not be of the highest caliber.

Seldes returns to his "young friends" and mentions their enthusiasm for non-traditional theater - particularly theater in the round, and believe "old-fashioned" theater prevents the audience from connecting with the performers. Seldes dismisses their opinion, stating it is the quality of actors and directors that engender that connection.

He moves on to talk about a televangelist and a discussion Seldes had with him about the who really owns the rights of broadcasting. He mentions that he has heard of such things on television which depict individuals being healed. Seldes wanders if this is allowed under broadcasting guidelines.

Seldes speaks about the relationship between the people's ownership of the air and the broadcaster's development of what is shown on television.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70759
Municipal archives id: LT6409

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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