Has television gotten smarter? On Tuesday, January 24 at 7:30 p.m., TV producers and writers, entertainment critics, and a historian from Occidental College will discuss whether the quality and variety of TV is better than ever before at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
The free event, "Is This The Golden Age of Television?," will feature writer and former television executive James Andrew Miller '79; historian and Occidental adjunct assistant professor Thaddeus Russell; Meredith Stiehm, producer of CBS's "Cold Case" and Showtime's "Homeland"; and Boston Globe columnist Joanna Weiss.
Occidental president Jonathan Veitch, himself a scion of a prominent Hollywood family--his step-grandfather was movie star Alan Ladd and his father, John Veitch, was president of Columbia Pictures' worldwide productions--will introduce the speakers. Kim Masters, host of KCRW's "The Business" will moderate.
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Russell, author of "A Renegade History of the United States," and the event's creator, said that today, you can see both really good---and really awful television. Low-quality and exploitative shows abound, but click up or down on the television dial and you can also catch shows of unprecedented caliber, such as AMC's "Mad Men" and ABC's "Modern Family." In fact, movie stars are increasingly moving to the small screen to give career-making performances. Unlike past generations, he added, we have access to more than just three commercial networks and PBS. And that can be both a good and bad thing.
"If you value diversity and choice, this is undoubtedly the golden age of television," Russell said. "We have an ever-growing number of networks to choose from. That means there are far more challenging and intellectually sophisticated shows than ever before, but also myriad of ‘shouting-heads' news programs and reality shows that appear to many of us to have no good reason to exist."
The discussion is sponsored by Occidental College and Zocalo Public Square, a Web/event project of the Center for Social Cohesion, a nonprofit co-managed by Arizona State University and the New America Foundation. The media sponsor is KCRW.
Seating is limited, and reservations are highly recommended. The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 250 S. Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The nearest Metro stations, Pershing Square and Civic Center on the red and purple lines, are a few blocks away. If driving, parking is available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall garage; the cost is $9 with museum validation.