Monday, August 12, 2013

On Call, Vol. 1, No. 3 - Sign Off: Brandon Tartikoff, 1950-1997

From On Call: The Official Newsletter of the St. Elsewhere Appreciation Club, December 1997, volume 1, number 3.

Brandon and Lilly Tartikoff
Somewhere in the midst of Princess Diana's tabloid death and the less monitored passing of Mother Teresa, we also lost Brandon Tartikoff to Hodgkins Disease.

If, by and large, we remember Diana for her very public association with various celebrity events, and Mother Teresa for her work behind the scenes, then perhaps it is fair to say that Brandon's contributions, like his passing itself, falls somewhere in between the two.

Brandon was true Television "Royalty" with a human touch. He loved attention and could ham it up with the best of comedians, but he could also engineer ground-breaking programming lineups in the privacy of his office. His instincts helped to open the door to Television's Second Golden Age, setting standards of quality that haven't been equaled (or maintained) by any network since his leaving NBC in 1991.

With very few exceptions, "Brandettes" (TV shows conceived, developed, and/or nurtured by Brandon) made us think and feel, and deal wtih issues which had, previously, been shunned by network television.

Critics say Brandon's marquee show was Hill Street Blues, but we know better. It was St. Elsewhere that really represented his legacy to, and love for the television industry.

TOM FONTANA... "Of everyone I've ever worked with in television, I've never met anyone who ever loved televison more - television as a whole. He could love Hill Street and ALF. He could love St. Elsewhere and Manimal. His range of passion for the whole pageant of television was extraordinary."

And in his book The Last Great Ride, Brandon gives us an example of that passion. "I wanted my staff to never tell me about plots in development for St. Elsewhere, so I could watch it at home, just like you."

TOM FONTANA... "Brandon and his wife Lilly were such incredibly huge fans of the show - both in terms of keeping us on the air, but also just in our darkest hours letting us know that what we were doing was worthwhile."

Of course, one reason St. Elsewhere was so "worthwhile" was because of the show's commitment to disseminating informaton on prevention, early detection, and treatment for a host of diseases and disorders.

And so, in Brandon's honor, we offer this information: The primary symptoms of Hodgkins are persistent, swollen glands, usually in the neck, armpit, or groin; Other symptoms might include fever, sweating, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, and itching. If you or someone you love has these symptoms, you (or they) should see a doctor immediately. If confirmed and detected early, radiation and/or drug therapies can be 80% to 90% successful.

Brandon lost HIS fight with Hodgkins... Because of him, others may not have to. Good night, sweet Prince.

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