[Special awards by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]

Monday, April 12, 1954

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

Seldes first discusses an obsession of his. Because he cannot control his anger related to this topic he has written down what he wants to say and will read it rather than "talk" it. For the second year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded 'special awards' to inactive performers because of their patriotism. He views this as a slight to Charlie Chaplin, who has been maligned by the government. This year, the award went to Joseph Green, head of code enforcement.

Seldes then discusses the profession of the radio critics. Radio criticism took a long time to gain popularity, because it required the reviewing of something that had gone by, unlike movies. Finally, radio critics began reviewing whole series. Television critics did not have to struggle in the same way, radio critics were already ready to adapt to the new art.
He also talks about programs that preempt all others - he believes this shouldn't happen in case they are not all they are cracked up to be.

He mentions Philip Hamburger, the critic for The New Yorker. Seldes finds his habit of writing reviews to "Dear Aunt Irene" irritating, but otherwise finds him to have good taste. He goes on to specific other specific reviewers.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 64351

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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