Tartikoff, Brandon

Tartikoff, Brandon
born Jan. 13, 1949, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died Aug. 27, 1997, Los Angeles, Calif.

U.S. television executive.

He successfully promoted local ABC television stations before being hired by Fred Silverman as ABC's director of dramatic development. From 1978 the two men worked together at NBC, and in 1980 Tartikoff became president of NBC entertainment (then the bottom-rated television network) and the youngest division chief in U.S. network history. He developed dramatic series such as St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues as well as the popular sitcoms Family Ties, The Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Seinfeld, making NBC the top-rated network. Tartikoff later became head of Paramount Pictures and New World Entertainment.

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▪ 1998

      American television executive (b. Jan. 13, 1949, New York, N.Y.—d. Aug. 27, 1997, Los Angeles, Calif.), was a programming wizard who selected shows that became the highest-rated television series during the 1980s and propelled NBC, which had trailed behind the other major networks for a decade, into first place in the TV ratings. He graduated (1970) from Yale University with a B.A. in English before landing (1972) his first job in the television industry as the director of advertising and promotion for an ABC affiliate in New Haven, Conn. The following year he was hired by WLS-TV in Chicago in a similar capacity. After boosting the station's afternoon ratings by offering viewers old horror movies, he attracted the attention of Fred Silverman, ABC's head of programming. Silverman hired him as ABC's director of dramatic development in 1976, beginning an association that spanned several years and two networks. Silverman and Tartikoff joined forces in 1978 to lift NBC from third place in the ratings. In 1980 he became the youngest division chief in network history when Silverman named him president of NBC entertainment, a position he retained even after Silverman left. Tartikoff's formula for success involved combining critically acclaimed dramatic series such as "St. Elsewhere" and "Hill Street Blues" with popular sitcoms such as "Family Ties," "The Cosby Show," and "Cheers." Under his direction NBC became the top-rated network in 1986. He moved to film production in 1991 when he became chairman of Paramount Pictures. Tartikoff resigned in 1992 to devote more time to one of his daughters, who had been seriously injured in a 1991 car accident. His success came in spite of recurring bouts of Hodgkin's disease (1974 and 1982), which eventually caused his death.

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Universalium. 2010.

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