In the 1970’s, WCVB-TV in Boston produced many innovative and unusual programs. Among them was Robert Gardner’s Screening Room, one of the most delightfully unlikely programs ever aired on a network television station. Essentially, Screening Room was a talk show about independent filmmaking. Once a week, Gardner invited an independent filmmaker to show and discuss a selection of films or film clips. But Screening Room wasn’t just a showcase for independent film. It also introduced a network television audience to intellectual film critics like Rudolf Arnheim and Stanley Cavell, in a uniquely accessible and entertaining way. In any case, it was quite unlike anything one expects to see on network television, then or now. How was a program like Screening Room possible, and what can it tell us about the history of television? Obviously, Screening Room couldn’t have existed without Gardner, who created and produced the program. But it also couldn’t have existed on any station but WCVB.

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Book Chapter

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Notes/Citation Information

Brian L. Frye, A Revolution in Favor of Television: WCVB-TV and Robert Gardner's Screening Room, in Looking (Rebecca Meyers, William Rothman & Charles Warren eds., SUNY Press 2016).



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