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Lamont Johnson, Directed 78 LIVE Episodes of Matinee Theater

NBC's Pat Weaver was a prolific creator of at least two archetypal television programs that remain on the air (and that have been joined by countless impersonators over the years): Today, and Tonight.

Weaver also created a daytime live drama anthology program called Matinee Theater which is no longer on the air (and hasn't been since 1958).

One of the directors of that program, Lamont Johnson, just passed away at age 88. According to his New York Times obituary:

"In 1955, Mr. Johnson, who had acted on stage and television for a decade, turned to directing. His first assignment: piece together a one-hour adaptation of 'Wuthering Heights' for NBC’s noontime 'Matinee Theater' in just four days. It was the first of 78 live productions Mr. Johnson would direct for 'Matinee Theater' in a little more than two years."

This kind of rapid turn-around is easy to understand in the world of radio drama (where actors didn't have to memorize scripts and didn't have to learn any stage blocking in order to perform in multiple programs all in the same day). Perhaps the unrealistic grind (and the introduction of videotape) is why live TV drama didn't last much beyond the 1950s, notwithstanding the occasional novelty episode of ER.

(Posted by Feliks Banel)

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