David Bushman

Curator, Television

September 29, 2011

L.A. Law: A-Never-Before-Seen Partners Meeting to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary

by Ellen O'Neill

Today's blog is written by my colleague, Ellen O’Neill, director of Creative Services at The Paley Center for Media.

The sexy sax riff wailing over the black screen to the declarative thump of the car trunk, both primal and urban. It was the total package.

And so L.A. Law announced itself to weekly prime time with a classic Mike Post back-beat composition on October 3, 1986 (after its two-hour pilot movie was shown twice the month before).

By 1993 L.A. Law had been a prime-time ritual for millions of fans for seven years. The loyal audience followed Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey) and Michael Kuzak’s (Harry Hamlin) gorilla-suit fueled romance into a triangle with Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits), pondered over the mysteries of the Venus Butterfly of Stuart Markowitz (Michael Tucker) and Ann Kelsey (Jill Eikenberry), and gasped as Rosalind Shays (Diana Muldaur) took a step into the elevator abyss.

Which is why it was very exciting when Steven Bochco agreed for the show to be honored by The Museum of Television & Radio at our annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria in April 1993. The Museum of Television & Radio was the second stage of the unique institution William S. Paley founded in 1975 as The Museum of Broadcasting, the current stage of which is today’s Paley Center for Media, with Pat Mitchell president and CEO. 

Back to 1993. Being the incredibly creative guy that he is, Bochco wrote and filmed a 3-minute piece on the show’s set to be shown at the gala, bringing the work of the Museum into the fictitious world of the iconic partners meeting. These conference room rituals, run by Douglas Brackman (Alan Rachins) and ruled by Leland McKenzie (Richard Dysart), were at the very heart of the show. Fans love seeing a beloved ensemble interact with each other, and the various show runners were smart in holding this key element of the series across its eight seasons.

We’re thrilled that Steven Bochco gave us permission to offer this never-seen-outside-of-our-gala partners conference to the public in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the series.

The meeting includes Brackman, Arnie Becker (Corbin Bernsen), Kelsey, Markowtiz, Jonathan Rollins (Blair Underwood), Gwen Taylor (Sheila Kelley), Melina Paros (Lisa Zane), Daniel Morales (A Martinez), and Leland.

 

 

A Key to the 1993 Inside Jokes
The Museum of Broadcasting had changed its name to The Museum of Television & Radio in 1991. In 1993 it was still settling in a bit, and the joke refers to the question about why wasn’t it renamed Museum of Radio & Television.
The Museum’s president at the time and for many years was Robert M. Batscha.
•  The chairman of the Museum’s board was, and still is, Frank A, Bennack, Jr.
There was a “tradition” at the gala of having flower centerpieces that were too big for people to speak to one another across the table.
•  In 1993 there was a growing idea that this Museum should have a branch in Los Angeles. Our Richard Meier building was opened at 465 North Beverly Drive on March 18, 1996.

For a fuller appreciation of L.A. Law on this anniversary, read blogger M.A.Peel over at Edward Copeland on Film. (Thanks for prompting this look at L.A. Law Edward!)

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About

David Bushman

Curator, Television

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Before joining the Paley Center in 1992, David Bushman was senior television editor of Daily Variety in Los Angeles and weekly Variety in New York. He also served as director of programming at TV Land from 1997 to 1998. He has taught and lectured on TV at numerous institutions, but on only one continent. He may be the only person in the world pining for an E-Z Streets reunion.

Interests:

Noir, Fantasy Baseball, The Pogues, Soccer, Running

Contact

David Bushman
dbushman@paleycenter.org

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