["Look" awards in television]

Saturday, December 25, 1954

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

Seldes discuss the awarding of the "Look" award to the television program "Omnibus." It was called "the best educational program on the air;" Alistair Cook, who received the award, made a double edged remark about the producers being excited to hear it is an educational program. The program itself is a commercial program and does not identify itself as an educational program. He wonders if the program is progressive or orderly, he does not think so, and he thinks this excludes the program from being educational.

He moves on to talk about the Jackie Gleason Show coming in first in viewership. He calls the "Honeymooners" the one good section of Jackie Gleason. He talks about the unique meanness of the main couple on the show. Occasionally, however, there seems to be real emotion and affection between the characters. One fresh approach in this show is that the "little mother" is not always right. We are saved from the typical concept that the woman is not only more attractive, but also more intelligent, and if she is not exactly intelligent than her instincts are more correct.

Seldes then jumps to the topic of $11 million for a television show. He notes that he doesn't approve of the attention on the money, instead focus should be on quality.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71540
Municipal archives id: LT3121

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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