Herbert Schlosser, a longtime NBC government who put an indelible stamp on the community by negotiating Johnny Carson’s first deal to host “The Tonight Present,” placing “Rowan & Martin’s Giggle-In” on the air and overseeing the event of “Saturday Night time Stay,” died on Friday at his dwelling in Manhattan. He was 95.
His demise was confirmed by his spouse, Judith Schlosser.
Mr. Schlosser was president of NBC in 1974 when he confronted a late-night predicament: Carson now not needed the community to hold repeats of “Tonight” on weekends. However pleasing Carson, the community’s most necessary star, led to an inevitable query: What would NBC televise at 11:30 on Saturday nights?
Mr. Schlosser wrote a memo in early 1975 that laid out the basics of an unique program that will be televised from NBC’s headquarters at Rockefeller Middle; could be carried reside, or at the very least taped on the identical day, to take care of its topicality; could be “younger and vivid,” with a “distinctive look, a particular set and a particular sound”; would “search to develop new tv personalities”; and would have a distinct host every week.
“Saturday Night time is a perfect time to launch a present like this,” Mr. Schlosser wrote. “Those that now take the Saturday/Sunday ‘Tonight Present’ repeats ought to welcome this, and I’d think about we’d get a lot higher clearance with a brand new present.”
“Saturday Night time Stay,” initially referred to as simply “Saturday Night time” — which adopted a lot of Mr. Schlosser’s components, and which was produced, then as now, by Lorne Michaels — made its debut on Oct. 11, 1975, after Recreation 1 of the World Collection, between the Crimson Sox and Cincinnati Reds. Mr. Schlosser had attended the sport in Boston with Bowie Kuhn, the strait-laced baseball commissioner, and invited him to his resort room to look at.
“He didn’t chuckle. And I assumed, ‘Nicely, that’s Bowie,’” Mr. Schlosser recalled in “Stay From New York: The Full, Uncensored Historical past of ‘Saturday Night time Stay’ as Informed by Its Stars, Writers, and Company” (2002), by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. “After which after some time, he began to chuckle. After which he’d truly chuckle. And I figured, ‘Nicely, if he likes it, it’s going to have a wider viewers than most individuals suppose.’”
Mr. Michaels, in a telephone interview, mentioned that Mr. Schlosser had been a staunch backer of the present.
“We wouldn’t have been on the air with out him,” he mentioned. “‘Stay’ was his concept, not mine. He simply believed within the present. He protected it.”
Mr. Schlosser, a lawyer, had been an government in NBC’s enterprise affairs division, the place he negotiated programming contracts to hold, amongst different occasions, the 1964 Summer time Olympics from Tokyo and expertise offers like ones with the comic Bob Hope, whose specials have been a mainstay of NBC’s prime-time schedule.
“There have been all the time kickers to his offers,” Mr. Schlosser told the Television Academy in an interview in 2007. With every new one, NBC had to purchase a chunk of land from Hope, one of many largest personal landowners in California.
“We purchased it, obtained capital good points and by no means misplaced cash on it,” Mr. Schlosser mentioned.
In 1966, Mr. Schlosser was named NBC’s vice chairman for packages on the West Coast, primarily based in Burbank, Calif. Over six years, he was concerned in growing quite a few exhibits, amongst them some with Black stars, like the favored comic Flip Wilson’s selection sequence and “Julia,” a sitcom starring Diahann Carroll as a single nurse with a son. He additionally employed the primary lady and the primary Black individual to be vice presidents within the division.
Mr. Schlosser notably championed “Rowan & Martin’s Giggle-In,” a fast-paced satirical sequence that made its debut in early 1968. It was thought-about outrageous then for the political and risqué humor of its skits, carried out by a solid of future stars together with Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin.
George Schlatter, the chief producer of “Giggle-In,” recalled that Mr. Schlosser had protected him from these inside NBC who discovered the present’s content material offensive.
“Each Tuesday morning there was a parade into his workplace — censors, attorneys, bookkeepers,” Mr. Schlatter mentioned by telephone. “They’d say, ‘Herb, speak to him.’ Then he’d say to me, ‘I promised them I’d speak to you.’ And he’d say, ‘Simply preserve doing what you’re doing.’”
Herbert Samuel Schlosser was born on April 21, 1926, in Atlantic Metropolis, N.J. His father, Abraham, owned a furnishings retailer; his mom, Anna (Olesker) Schlosser, was a homemaker.
After serving stateside within the Navy, he studied public and worldwide affairs at Princeton College, graduating in 1949. Two years later, he graduated from Yale Legislation College.
He began as a lawyer with a Wall Road agency, however the insurance coverage work there bored him, and he moved to Phillips Nizer Benjamin Krim & Ballon (now referred to as Phillips Nizer LLP), a Manhattan agency with many movie and tv purchasers. That have led to his hiring round 1957 as common counsel of California Nationwide Productions, a movie, merchandising and syndication subsidiary of NBC. He later grew to become its chief working officer earlier than shifting to NBC’s enterprise affairs division in 1960.
As a lawyer with the division, he led the talks to convey Carson to NBC to switch Jack Paar because the host of “Tonight” in 1962. On the time, Carson was with ABC as M.C. of the sport present “Who Do You Belief?,” and ABC required him to meet the final six months of his contract.
Mr. Schlosser mentioned he had agreed to pay Mr. Carson $2,500 every week (about $21,000 at present). However when ABC held up his departure, one in all Mr. Carson’s brokers made an extra demand.
“He mentioned, ‘Now you can’t get him, we would like more cash,’” Mr. Schlosser recalled within the Tv Academy interview. “I mentioned, ‘We’re sticking with our worth.’”
Mr. Schlosser rose steadily at NBC. He was named government vice chairman of the tv community in 1972; promoted to president a yr later; and named president of the Nationwide Broadcasting Firm, the community’s company mother or father, in 1974 and chief government in 1977.
“He supported high quality packages and had an concept that information was most likely a very powerful factor the networks did,” Bud Rukeyser, a former government vice chairman of company communications for NBC, mentioned in a telephone interview. “He gave information the good thing about the doubt. If information needed a half-hour to do one thing, the reply was all the time sure.”
However Mr. Schlosser was ousted in 1978 and changed by Fred Silverman, who had engineered ABC’s rise to first place in prime-time rankings as its chief of programming.
Mr. Schlosser’s standing had been damage by NBC’s lack of ability to supply a brand new prime-time hit sequence the earlier season and climb out of third place.
Shortly earlier than Mr. Schlosser left NBC, the community offered “Holocaust,” a four-part mini-series that he had greenlighted. It gained eight Emmy Awards. His primary contribution to the mission, he mentioned, was persuading the chief producer, Herbert Brodkin, to alter the title of the sequence, which had been referred to as “The Household Weiss,” after a few of its primary characters.
Mr. Schlosser didn’t need to go far for his subsequent job: He was named an government vice chairman of RCA, NBC’s mother or father firm. His task was to develop software program for RCA’s SelectaVision videodisc mission. Three years later, he was named to run all of RCA’s leisure actions, which additionally included RCA Information (however not NBC).
He left in 1985 to turn out to be a senior adviser at Wertheim & Firm, a Wall Road funding financial institution, in addition to chairman of the deliberate Museum of the Moving Image, which opened in Queens in 1988. He remained there as both chairman or co-chairman till 2013.
Along with his spouse, Judith (Gassner) Schlosser, Mr. Schlosser is survived by his son, Eric, the writer of “Quick Meals Nation”; a daughter, Lynn Jacobson, a former tv government; 5 grandchildren; and 6 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Schlosser as soon as recalled his certainty that “Saturday Night time Stay” could possibly be part of NBC for a very long time, simply as “Tonight” and “Right this moment” have been. One other mannequin of late-night success at NBC underneath his watch was “The Midnight Particular,” a sequence that includes pop and rock performers, that was broadcast on Fridays after “The Tonight Present” from 1973 till 1981.
“NBC had this custom of succeeding with exhibits like that,” he informed the Tv Academy. “To me, it was a no brainer.”