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Two by Barbara Schultz Television Visionary

March 26, 2017 - 7:00 pm
actor Kevin Hooks, Archive Research & Study Center manager Mark Quigley.

Mark Quigley offers a closer look at CBS Children's Hour: "J.T." on our blog.

According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, during the 2014-2015 television season women accounted for only 26% of the above the line talent working in prime time television.  As inexplicable as those figures are, it may be difficult to imagine that even fewer opportunities existed for women in the medium in the late 1950s when Barbara Schultz began her career in broadcasting on Armstrong Circle Theater (1959; 1961-63).  Breaking barriers with story editor and script consultant stints on groundbreaking series such as The Defenders (1963) and earning executive producer responsibilities on prestige network programs, including the Peabody Award-winning CBS Children's Hour (1969), Schultz' improbable success now seems inevitable on the basis of her creative output.  In a pioneering career defined by artistic milestones, Schultz' work as producer of the landmark KCET/PBS television anthology, Visions (1976-1980) stands today as a testament to both her immense talent and the glorious, sadly mostly untapped possibilities of the medium.  Over the course of four seasons of Visions, as exemplified by stellar, challenging productions such as Momoko Iko's Gold Watch (1976), Schultz redefined the boundaries of quality television by embracing ethnic and gender diversity, both in front of and behind the camera—reaching dramatic heights (and presenting employment opportunities) to a degree still unrealized by the industry well over three decades later.  —Mark Quigley

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive

CBS Children's Hour: “J.T.”  (CBS, 10/1/75)

Rebroadcast from 12/13/69

In response to the warm critical reception of their CBS Children's Film Festival series that brought international features to youthful audiences on Saturday morning TV, the CBS Television Network expanded their daytime programming experiment to include the production of original telefilms for kids.  Executive produced by Barbara Schultz (CBS Playhouse), the short-lived CBS Children’s Hour premiered in 1969 with "J.T.," a heart-wrenching tale written by Jane Wagner (The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe).  Produced by Jacqueline Babbin (Sybil) and shot on location in Harlem with a neorealist eye by Robert M. Young (co-writer and photographer of the landmark independent feature Nothing but a Man, 1964), Wagner's gentle tale concerns the transformative relationship that develops between a lonely African-American youth (noted actor and Emmy-award winning director Kevin Hooks, in a universally-acclaimed debut performance) and a sickly, stray cat.  The sensitive drama received a Peabody Award in 1969, with a citation proclaiming the show a “landmark in children's television programming filled with extraordinary insight and compassion.”  —Mark Quigley

DigiBeta, color, 60 minutes.  A CBS Television Network production.  Executive producer: Barbara Schultz.  Producer: Jacqueline Babbin.  Director: Robert M. Young.  Writer: Jane Wagner.  Cast: Kevin Hooks, Jeannette DuBois, Theresa Merritt, Michael Gorrin, Olga Fabian.

Use of “J.T.” episode from CBS Children's Hour courtesy of CBS Broadcasting, Inc.  Preserved from 2” videotape.  Video transfer at the CBS Media Exchange.

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by the Women's Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film & Television

Visions: “Gold Watch”  (PBS, 11/11/76)

Momoko Iko's play, Gold Watch was born out of personal experience.  At the age of two, Iko, a Nisei from Wapato, Washington, was, along with the rest of her family, interned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, one of 10 internment camps set up for the housing of Americans of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the February 19, 1942 issuance of Executive Order 9066.  Released in 1945, Iko and her family relocated to Chicago where she grew up, received a degree in English from the University of Illinois, and became a schoolteacher.  An aspiring novelist in the late 1960s, she was working on a book based on her family's wartime experiences, but after reading an announcement about a national playwriting contest for Asian-American writers sponsored by the newly formed East-West Players in Los Angeles, she adapted portions of her unpublished work into a play.  Completed in 1970, Gold Watch was named the contest winner and on March 15, 1972, it premiered at the Inner City Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where it ran until the end of May.  Tapped by producer Barbara Schultz to be the fourth production of her pioneering Visions series on PBS, the drama centers on the Murakamis, a Pacific Northwest farming family much like Iko's.  As were thousands of other Issei and Nisei families in the tumultuous days preceding the Japanese internment, the Murakamis are confronted with virulent racial prejudice and pending incarceration compounded by the prospect of losing everything for which they have worked so hard.  Lovingly staged and beautifully acted, with Mako's moving performance of husband and father Masu Murakami a standout, “Gold Watch” was lauded by the Washington Post as offering a “subject, substance and a style one is hardly likely to encounter elsewhere on the tube,” and by Los Angeles Times television critic Lee Margulies as a “powerful statement about the struggle for human dignity.”  —Dan Einstein

DigiBeta, color, 90 min.  A KCET presentation.  Producer: Barbara Schultz.  Director: Lloyd Richards.  Writer: Momoko Iko.  Cast: Mako, Shizuko Hoshi, Jesse Dizon, Mariel Aragon, Philip Baker Hall.

Use of “Gold Watch” episode of Visions courtesy of KCETLink.  Preserved from the original 2” master tape.  Video transfer at DC Video.  Engineering services by David Crosthwait.