Robert Kotlowitz, a pioneering public broadcaster at New York’s WNET who developed several public television series that became signature PBS programs — including a half-hour evening news show featuring Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil in 1973 — died Aug. 25 at his home in New York City after battling prostate cancer. He was 87. The New York Times described Kotlowitz as “a novelist and editor who reluctantly became a public television executive in 1971 and went on to help shape a lineup of homegrown and imported shows — including The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, Live at the Met, Dance in America and Brideshead Revisited — that represent a high-water mark in American television.”
Kotlowitz had just resigned from Harper’s Magazine in 1971 when John Jay Iselin, then the new president of WNET, offered him a job. Kotlowitz had never been inside a television studio.