The Private Files of Brandon Tartikoff Revealed

Brandon Tartikoff - P 2012
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Brandon Tartikoff - P 2012

George Lucas talked Lilly, the wife of the late, legendary NBC executive, into donating letters to everyone from Michael J. Fox to David Letterman.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

More than a decade after his death, Brandon Tartikoff remains one of TV's most influential programmers, credited with lifting NBC from third place to first with such 1980s series as Hill Street Blues, The Cosby Show and Cheers. At the suggestion of another industry luminary, George Lucas, Tartikoff's widow, Lilly, has donated his personal files to USC, with a dedication ceremony set for Oct. 18.

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Included in the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Collection are more than 4,000 pieces of correspondence, photos, video and awards from his earliest days at NBC in 1979 to his final ones at Paramount in 1992 (he died in 1997 of Hodgkin's disease at age 48). "I ran into George Lucas at a USC football game two years ago and he said to me, 'Give me Brandon's legacy,' " recalls Lilly Tartikoff, who describes the process of selecting and digitizing the documents as "more meaningful than I ever imagined."