[Discussion of commercial TV and movies]

Sunday, September 11, 1955

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

Seldes discusses the advent of commercial British television broadcasting. Seldes wonders if this will change how we consider our own broadcasting.
Non-commercial British television will be adding 15 more programs per week in the light of commercial broadcasting debuting.

He goes on to discuss television production by the large studios. All five will appeal to the same area of interest and emotion.

Seldes then talks about how using popular stars to sell magazines ends up making the star more popular. He compares intellectual magazines to fan magazines. Seldes believes our stars lack standards, they should have set "prices" for the use of their images on magazines. In the days of vaudeville Vanity Fair was able to bring together the popular and the sophisticated.

Seldes mentions author Herman Wouk, who he views as almost plagiarizing Arthur Kober. Seldes has considerable disdain for Wouk.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70340
Municipal archives id: LT6345

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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