A veteran television executive who spent much of his career at ABC and was behind the classic miniseries “Roots” and “The Thorn Birds” has died. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Brandon Stoddard died Monday at his home in Bel-Air. He was 77.
Stoddard had suffered from bladder cancer, the article adds.
“At a time when broadcasters commanded a much higher share of the audience than they do today, Stoddard stood even higher than the rest, as a principled executive with sophisticated taste and a number of groundbreaking hits,” the Times reports. “In addition to ‘Roots’ — a sprawling adaptation of Alex Haley’s book about several generations of an African American slave family — Stoddard oversaw such miniseries as ‘The Winds of War’ and ‘The Thorn Birds.’”
“Roots” drew an estimated 100 million total viewers to its finale, according to Nielsen.
During his time at ABC, where he held a number of roles including entertainment president in the mid-1980s, he brought shows to TV including “The Wonder Years,” “Twin Peaks” and “thirtysomething.”
“Broadcasters during that era dominated the TV landscape and threatened to become faceless corporate behemoths, yet Stoddard was known for working closely with writers and producers and trying hard not to impose on their creative vision,” the Times story notes. “In that, he shared much in common with TV’s other famous Brandon, NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff, who led his network to a creative and financial renaissance in the 1980s.”
In 1982, Stoddard told the Times, “Networks and studios shouldn’t be in a position of exercising power over creative people. They don’t respond to that.”