Archive of American Television

As a freelancer I spend long hours working in the quiet solitude of my studio. I’m always looking for something new and interesting to listen to in the background while I draw. My iTunes library gets a lot of heavy usage, as does my radio, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Recently I discovered a new resource to add to my list: The Archive of American Television.

This fascinating website is jam-packed with long, in-depth video interviews with dozens (maybe even hundreds) of the biggest names in American television both in front of and behind the camera. And when I say the interviews are long, I mean long. Many are several hours in length. And they are totally free.

I’m a bit of a movie and TV buff and I’m endlessly fascinated with what goes on in Hollywood. I’m not talking about the sleazy gossip–I couldn’t care less about most of that. I mean the creative process, especially in animation but also in live-action. How do scripts get written? How do TV shows and movies get made? What are the business decisions that guide a project? What are the obstacles that have to be overcome and the compromises that have to be made? What’s it like for the actors, directors, and writers to be creative in the high-stakes pressure cooker of Hollywood?

Over the last few days I’ve listened to lengthy interviews with greats such as Chuck Jones, Stephen J. Cannell (creator of “The Rockford Files”, “The A-Team”, and “The Greatest American Hero”), Norman Lear (creator of “All in the Family”, “The Jefferson”, “Good Times”, “Sanford & Son”, etc.), and Alan Alda (“M*A*S*H”). Other interviews I’ll be listening too soon include Joseph Barbera (of Hanna-Barbara), Roy. E. Disney, Bill Melendez (“Charlie Brown” animator), Ron Howard, Gary Marshall, Larry Gelbart, and many others.

There’s some salty language but overall the interviews are fascinating. You can browse by person, TV show, by profession, or by topic. You can watch just selected clips or entire interviews.

The Archive of American Television is a terrific resource for anyone interested in filmmaking.