Press Releases

Pioneers of TV To Air

December 10, 2007

A four-part series featuring interviews with an array of stars who were the Pioneers of Television will premiere on Milwaukee Public Television Wednesday, Jan. 2-23, on MPTV-10 at 7 p.m. The presentation will be repeated on MPTV-36 Fridays, Jan. 11-Feb. 1, at 8 p.m.

The documentary, created by the Milwaukee-based Boettcher Trinklein Productions, brings together the insights and observations of nearly 100 stars from television's formative years. The list includes Dick Van Dyke, Phyllis Diller, Mary Tyler Moore, Tim Conway, and many others. The programs blend new high definition interviews with archival clips to offer a fresh take on TV's first celebrities.

The nostalgic exploration of television's early days follows Pioneers of Primetime, a 2005 top-rated PBS special that traced the journey from vaudeville to television. The new documentary tells the story of television's beginnings through detailed discussions with its beloved icons, never-before-seen images, and timeless clips.

The first episode, "Sitcoms," focuses on the stars of "I Love Lucy," "The Honeymooners," "Make Room for Daddy," "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." The last remaining Honeymooner, Joyce Randolph, talks about Jackie Gleason. Marlo Thomas, Andy Griffith and both Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke recount some of their experiences.

"Late Night" offers stories from Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. Merv Griffin also emerges as a key player on the late-night scene. (His interview for PIONEERS was his last before he died.)

"Variety" begins with Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" and Milton Berle's "Texaco Star Theater" and progresses through "The Carol Burnett Show," "Smothers Brothers" and "Laugh-In," among others. The episode includes fresh bites from PIONEERS' earlier interviews with Milton Berle, Red Skelton and Sid Caesar.

"Game Shows" traces one of broadcasting's strongest genres. Bob Barker talks about his earliest work, and Merv Griffin details his creation of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." Monty Hall recounts his compelling rags-to-riches story, and Betty White remembers her role as the first female emcee.

Steve J. Boettcher is the producer/ director of Pioneers of Television and a five-time Emmy Award winner. Micheal J. Trinklein is the writer/producer. He taught film-making and was a tenured professor at Idaho State University before leaving his teaching position six years ago to devote his full-time efforts to documentary production.

For additional airtimes for Pioneers of Primetime, check MPTV's website,