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Don Ohlmeyer

Sports Executive / Producer

Don Ohlmeyer on Jay Leno overtaking David Letterman in the ratings

03:18

Network television's role is to put asses in the seats to watch commercials. Anybody who doesn't want to admit that shouldn't be in the business. That doesn't mean that the programming that you do can't be uplifting, or challenging, or inspiring. But it's not initially about the programming. It is about coming up with programs that enough people want to see, that advertisers want to advertise in. That's just the way the game is.

About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Don Ohlmeyer talks about his early years in television as an associate director for ABC sports. He shares memorable moments from his experiences directing the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and the 1972 Olympics in Munich. He describes producing the popular series of specials Battle of the Network Stars, his transition to NBC sports and the creation of Ohlmeyer Communications, under which he produced the Emmy-winning television movie Special Bulletin. He details his move back to NBC, where he served as President of West Coast Operations and reinvigorated the network with "Must See TV" and post-Johnny Carson late-night television. Finally, he chronicles his departure from NBC, his brief return to Monday Night Football and his current passions: painting, teaching, and writing. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on November 17, 2004 in Malibu, CA.

Network television's role is to put asses in the seats to watch commercials. Anybody who doesn't want to admit that shouldn't be in the business. That doesn't mean that the programming that you do can't be uplifting, or challenging, or inspiring. But it's not initially about the programming. It is about coming up with programs that enough people want to see, that advertisers want to advertise in. That's just the way the game is.

Interview Highlights

Embedded thumbnail for Don Ohlmeyer on Jay Leno overtaking David Letterman in the ratings

Don Ohlmeyer on Jay Leno overtaking David Letterman in the ratings

Don Ohlmeyer on Jay Leno overtaking David Letterman in the ratings03:18
Embedded thumbnail for Don Ohlmeyer on what you can learn from sports when you're young

Don Ohlmeyer on what you can learn from sports when you're young

Don Ohlmeyer on what you can learn from sports when you're young00:40
Embedded thumbnail for Don Ohlmeyer on Jim McKay's amazing job covering the 1972 Munich Olympics

Don Ohlmeyer on Jim McKay's amazing job covering the 1972 Munich Olympics

Don Ohlmeyer on Jim McKay's amazing job covering the 1972 Munich Olympics02:01
Embedded thumbnail for Don Ohlmeyer on the core of ABC Sports - storytelling

Don Ohlmeyer on the core of ABC Sports - storytelling

Don Ohlmeyer on the core of ABC Sports - storytelling00:45
Embedded thumbnail for Don Ohlmeyer on "Must See TV"

Don Ohlmeyer on "Must See TV"

Don Ohlmeyer on "Must See TV"01:31