Letter: Article overlooked contributions of a “visionary” TV producer

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New films remember video avant-garde of the 1970s” is a thoughtful, well-written piece — a wonderful walk down Memory Lane for me! But it’s regrettable that no more than a brief mention was given to the late David Loxton, visionary founding director of the TV Lab at New York’s WNET.

David was an innovative drama producer at WNET before he was recruited to head TV Lab in 1972.  As his assistant — and later associate director — during 10 of the TV Lab’s 12 years, I remember David regularly doing battle for the Lab. (We regularly did things that had never been done before and thus required special “permission,” such as broadcasting the first program shot entirely on a Sony Portapak!)

[NOTE: The late Nam June Paik was not simply a longtime artist-in-residence. The TV Lab was his brainchild, along with earlier artists’ centers at KQED in San Francisco and WGBH in Boston. Nam June persuaded Howard Klein, longtime director of arts funding at the Rockefeller Foundation, to provide crucial administrative support for the Lab.]

As the Lab’s Director, David developed ongoing grant programs like NY State Artists-in-Residence and, later, the Independent Documentary Fund, which became Ken Burns’ earliest PBS home. (David and I — together with Kathy Kline of IDF — wrote a lot of grant proposals!) Besides providing funding and administrative support to independent producers, David recognized early on the need to create new series formats for presenting the Lab’s groundbreaking work on public TV.

David always emphasized our mission to “push the boundaries” of broadcast television. Without him, I believe that extraordinary place where so many gifted artists and documentarians flourished could not have existed.

Carol Brandenburg
Executive Producer, Conrad Productions
Minneapolis

Carol Brandenburg worked at WNET from 1972-88.