Public TV Exec Robert Kotlowitz Dies

Aug 29, 2012  •  Post A Comment

Robert Kotlowitz, a magazine editor who joined the country’s largest public television station and helped create shows such as "The MacNeil/Lehrer Report," has died, reports The New York Times. Kotlowitz, 87, died of prostate cancer.

Kotlowitz was offered a job by John Jay Iselin, then the newly named president of New York’s Channel 13, WNET-TV, after quitting as managing editor of Harper’s Magazine in 1971.

According to The New York Times, Kotlowitz told Iselin he had never been in a television studio, which didn’t deter Iselin from appointing him editorial director.

Kotlowitz remained at the network until he retired in 1990.

He "became known as a sort of in-house minister of culture and the most ardent advocate for some of Mr. Iselin’s most ambitious decisions. He first proposed a half-hour evening news show featuring Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil in 1973, after the pair had anchored public television coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings," the story notes.

The program has aired since December 1975, but is now known as "PBS NewsHour."

In 1981, Kotlowitz convinced Iselin to spend $500,000 on an English series, "Brideshead Revisited," which was based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh. The show ended up becoming one of the biggest hits on public television.

He also was responsible for bringing "Monty Python’s Flying Circus" to public television, as well as "Nature" and "Bill Moyers Journal," the piece adds.

robert-kotlowitz.jpgRobert Kotlowitz

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