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The National Geographic (specials and series)

    (CBS Primetime Specials, 1964 - 1973;
     ABC Primetime Specials, 1973 - 1975;
     PBS Specials at various times, 1975 - 1985;
     Syndicated re-runs;
     Cable TV weekly series 1985 - present)

    [The National Geographic Society is a national U.S. institution,
     founded in 1888, the worlds largest scientific and educational
     organization; famous for its remarkable magazine -- "The National
     Geographic" -- containing photographic essays -- not only about
     geography around the world -- but also about the flora, fauna
     and peoples who inhabited the geography; The magazine always had
     high standards and was often collected and handed down from parent
     to child as a family legacy; subscribers who became members of the
    "National Geographic Society" were also offered maps and books
     and other well made items for sale, as well as other priveleges;

     The society underwrote a prestigious series of TV specials in its
     name on CBS and ABC for a decade, before settling into a new home
     during the 1970s -- on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS); These
     specials were well-done educational documentaries about the diverse 
     subjects of many lands and peoples, flora and fauna, and carried
     forward the high quality tradition of the magazine into the medium
     of television -- no mean feat;

     When cable television expanded and diversified the TV audience,
     so too did the National Geographic diversify -- eventually into
     a weekly series called "The National Geographic Explorer", which
     has appeared on several different cable networks since it first
     began in 1985; and also another series titled "National Geographic
     On Assignment";

     David Wolper Productions and Metromedia alternated as producers
     of the specials for the commercial networks; Then when it went to
     PBS, the production was brought in-house -- using some of the
     most talented documentary producers, photographers and editors;
     and in my opinion the best productions were made at that time...

                    *               *               *

     Editor's note: When I was a broadcasting major at San Diego State
     University (1963 - 1968) a young professor named Thomas Skinner 
     was teaching the TV production courses and directing an early 
     diverse and ambitious TV series called "Profile"; We produced it 
     every week for broadcast on the fledgling Educational Broadcasting
     System (EBS) -- a loose confederation of stations which shared
     programming by a "bicycle network" of videotapes shipped around,
     which preceded the wired physical TV cable network of PBS;

     Working on the "Profile" series was great training; I fell in 
     love with broadcasting partly because of the depth and variety
     of experiences working many long days on crews for this series -- 
     one week we would do an interview show, the next week a drama
     with actors, costumes and sets, the following week a musical
     group might be featured, but many of the productions were
     documentaries similar in style to those recently done by Ken 
     Burns -- we called them a "film-o-graph" style, involving 
     historical graphics and clips, with pre-recorded narration 
     tracks and music cues which I played and mixed live as audio man;

     Since videotape was in its infancy, we had to learn to be very
     careful and plan each move since we were recording each show
    "live on tape" (editing early videotape required a microscope 
     and a magnetic liquid, and our "master" tape was also the only
     copy -- the one shipped to other TV stations, so no one wanted 
     to do splicing); therefore, if any cast or crew member made 
     one mistake we would have to go back to the top of the show and
     start all over again; we learned to focus and be very careful;

     Working under Thomas Skinner, our professor, who was also the
     producer/director of the series, I got three amazing years of
     experience as a paid student assistant -- in roles of audio man,
     boom microphone operator and sometimes even cameraman; I also 
     worked into the position of defacto music supervisor, selecting 
     music for the documentaries when needed;

     Dr. Skinner was a bright, quick-witted man who knew how a quality 
     program should be put together; He had high standards, and often 
     challenged us to do better when he knew we were capable of more;
     The result were some amazing programs that came from a college
     television department, that helped establish our reputation as a
     superb training ground, and eventually drew students down from
     Los Angeles and all parts of the west;

     In those days as a student under this system, I just assumed all
     broadcasting people were as knowledgeable, and all productions
     done with such great care and planning; Later during my days 
     working in commercial broadcasting -- where so much had to be
     done ad-hoc "set of the pants" -- I realized how rare were those 
     qualities were that I had witnessed during my days in the SDSU
     broadcasting department working on "Profile" and other series;

     So it provided me with quite a sense of satisfaction years later
     during the 1970s (PBS years of the National Geographic Specials), 
     when I saw the name of my old professor -- Dr. Thomas Skinner --
     credited as one of two co-Executive Producers of the National 
     Geographic Specials; and was also pleased also to see the names
     of two of my fellow students whom I knew from the old "Profile"
     crew at SDSU; They were also listed on the National Geographic
     credits --  but not in just any role -- they were actually the 
     Editors of these fine programs for years -- a couple who also
     met during their college days -- Linda Reavely and Barry Nye;

     These three names explained to me in part why the series was 
     so well-done; Seeing their names brought me joy and a sense of 
     satisfaction that there was indeed a place for such talented,
     caring people to be able to do what they do best]


Theme 1 (1964): "National Geographic Society (Theme)"

     Composer: Walter Scharf (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: [not listed in the 1978 ASCAP Index
                      of Performed Compositions]

     2001 Publisher: [listed without publisher in the 2001
                      ASCAP ACE repertoire database]

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recording:


OpenTheme 2 (1973 - 1991): "National Geographic Open -- Gari"

    [above is title in the BMI Repertoire database]

     Composers: Frank Daniel Gari (BMI) and
                Christian Daniel Gari (BMI)

     1978 Publisher:

     2001 Publisher: Dingletown Music (BMI)
                        a div. of Frank Gari Productions
                        of Westlake Village, CA

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recording:


Close Theme 3 (1973 - 1991): "National Geographic (Sig) (Cl Theme)"

    [above is title in the BMI Repertoire database; title variations...
     aka: "End Credits National Geographic Special"]

     Composers: William George ("Bill") Loose (ASCAP/BMI) and
                Jack Tillar (BMI)
               [partner in Neiman-Tillar post-production services]

     1978 Publisher: [not found in the 1978 ASCAP Index of 
                      Performed Compositions]

     2002 Publishers: [for current Title, Publisher and Licensing
                       information regarding this THEME...
                       contact Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)]
     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:

     Recording:


Theme 4 (1991 - present): "National Geographic Theme (M & E)"

    [ASCAP title variations...
     aka: "NGS Theme (Signature) (MT)";
     aka: "National Geographic Special Theme";
     aka: "National Geographic Specials (Theme)"]

     Composer: Elmer Bernstein (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: Music Of The Times Pub. Corp. (ASCAP)

     2001 Publisher: Agouti Music (ASCAP)
                        c/o NTL Geographic Society
                        Washington, DC

     Copyright Date: 
     Renewal   Date:

     Recording:


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