NBC’s 90th Anniversary Special Airs Tonight

“The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary” airs tonight from 8-11PM ET (on NBC, of course). Kelsey Grammer hosts the three-hour special. It celebrates nine decades of the National Broadcasting Company. Founded in 1926 as a radio network by the Radio Corporation of America, NBC began experimenting with television two years later.

I doubt tonight’s special will even mention NBC’s earliest forays into TV. In fact, I’ll be very surprised if it spends much time on pre-1960s television.

From NBC’s webpage for the special:

Newly recorded interviews will feature many of NBC’s biggest names and most popular personalities, including Ted Danson, Tina Fey, Debra Messing, Amy Poehler, Noah Wyle, Rob Lowe, Blake Shelton, William Shatner, Jennifer Lopez, Bob Costas, Al Michaels and superproducer Dick Wolf.

Iconic shows to be showcased include Emmy-winning dramas such as “Hill Street Blues,” “The West Wing,” “L.A. Law” and “ER,” as well as Emmy-winning comedies “The Monkees,” “Get Smart,” “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Golden Girls,” “Seinfeld,” “Frasier,” “Will & Grace,” “Friends,” “The Office” and “30 Rock.”

Among the show’s additional highlights will be memorable moments from “The Tonight Show,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Today,” “Meet the Press,” “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “The Wiz Live!,” among many others.

Based on the above, expect tonight to focus heavily on the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.

By my count, this is NBC’s sixth anniversary special:

  • “The First Fifty Years” (Sunday, November 21st, 1976)
  • “The First Fifty Years-A Closer Look” (Sunday, October 23rd, 1977)
  • “The First Fifty Years-A Closer Look (Part II)” (Tuesday, January 31st, 1978)
  • “NBC 60th Anniversary Celebration” (Monday, May 12th, 1986)
  • “NBC 75th Anniversary Special” (Sunday, May 5th, 2002)
  • “The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary” (Sunday, February 19th, 2017)

You can find a complete list of network anniversary specials here.


Will you be watching “The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary” tonight? What shows do you hope to see included? Hit the comments with your hopes and expectations–and your reactions.


9 Comments

  • Jym S. Mitchell says:

    I’d like to see them acknowledge some of their groundbreaking, Emmy winning daytime dramas. I remember being disappointed when, in their 50th anniversary special, the only reference made to their historic soap operas was done as a passing joke. If I’m not mistaken, “The Doctors” was either the first or second daytime drama to win Emmy recognition. And the fabulous Alice/Steve/Rachel saga was well written, magnificently acted (Robin Strasser) and made “Another World” an important part of the lives of many viewers for decades. It was also the first soap to air a 60 minute show, followed by a 90 minute version.

  • Karen Martin says:

    I’m currently without a way to record one show while I watch another, so I’ll miss the first hour as I watch Mercy Street on PBS. Alas, I’m pretty sure the first hour will be when they skim over radio shows and early TV before highlighting the newer shows that are being remembered on countless social media venues.

  • Patrick McNamara says:

    I didn’t realize this was on. Thanks for pointing it out.

    It’s a little odd to do 90. They’ll likely have a ton of these in 10 years.

    I expect it will be a lot of the same clips as previous specials, which aren’t funny anymore because they’re often shown too often. Sometimes it seems they’re just doing them to sell DVD sets and promote their syndicated shows.

  • Jeff Parris says:

    NBC must not really care about their history by the way they just blow through very short clips of the same shows all the time. Even the segment on sports left a lot out. But the BIGGEST misfire of all was totally omitting Elvis! With his first tv special in 1968 and the immortal tv special from 1973-Aloha From Hawaii which was broadcast around the world live (by NBC)-a feat that has never been repeated since, and both specials major hits for the network.

  • Jon says:

    I recorded this Sunday night, but based on what I’ve read about it here and on Facebook by tv historian, Stu Shostak, I probably won’t bother watching it for awhile. I thought the 75th anniversary special in 2002 was bad enough ignoring a lot of NBC’s own history for what an online friend called “A Night at the Improv” humor. I’ll be waiting & hoping for a better, more comprehensive look at NBC’s past in 10 years, including more program clips, provided NBC hasn’t destroyed the programs by then.

  • Barbarossa Lewis says:

    this special was a downer not as good as the 1976 special or the 1977 or 1986 retrospectives lots of omissions and even no NBC logos even the iconic NBC PEACOCK

  • Sheila Terrando says:

    NBC 90th Anniversary Special

    I thought the show was very good! However, I think that they should covered on the special, I am going to give you some examples:

    Talk Shows: Dinah’s Place which I thought was an excellent show, she had interesting guest stars. Leeza Gibbons had a talk show for a couple of years on NBC.

    Music Programs: The Bell Telephone Hour, it was a wonderful show for ten years on NBC-TV, it had Popular Music, Broadway, Jazz, Opera, Classical. NBC Opera back in the 1950s. Specials like celebrated the music of George Gershwin and Cole Porter on the Bell System Family Theater back in the 1970s and Bing Crosby’s Christmas Specials on NBC-TV.

    Religious Programs: They should have had clips from The Catholic Hour, The Eternal Light and Guideline that was on NBC for many years on Sunday Mornings.

    Saturday Morning Programs: They should have clips from The Jetsons, Top Cat, The Pink Panther Show, I’m Telling and my very favorite Saturday Morning Program The Smithsonian which I enjoyed very much.

    News Documentaries: Like The Louvre back in 1964, White Paper. First Tuesday and Chronology. Those were wonderful programs on NBC.

    Soap Operas: They should have included soap operas like Another World, Bright Promise, Somerset, The Doctors, Return To Peyton Place, Generations, Passions, Sunset Beach, For RIcher, For Poorer just to name a few.

    Daytime Game Shows: They should have included Daytime Game Shows such as Match Game, Personality, You Don’t Say, Wheel Of Fortune, Who, What or Where Game, Eye Guess, Words And Music, What’s This Song, Say When, Blankcheck, Magnificent Marble Machine, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Hollywood Squares, just to name a few.

    Special News Reports: They should have included like the JFK Assassination, Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassination, RFK Assassination,
    TWA 800 Plane Crash, just to name a few.

    Beauty Pageants: For many years, NBC carried The Miss American Beauty Pageant on Saturday Evening, on the Saturday after Labor Day for many years from the 50’s until the 1990’s.

    News Anchors: They should have had pictures of the news anchors that was at NBC like for example: Jessica Savitch, Bill Ryan, Tom Petit, Nancy Dickerson, Garrick Utley, Floyd Kalber, just to name a few.

    Sports: They should have show clips from the Baseball Pre-Game Shows from the 1960’s to the 1980s, Grandstand, NFL 77 thru 84, then NFL Live,
    Sportsworld, Professional Bowling Tour, just to name a few.

    Drama and Music Specials: They should have included The Hallmark Hall Of Fame Special which NBC carried for a number of years, also the Heidi Movie from 1968, Jane Eyre from 1970, Dames At Seas from 1971, George M! from 1970, just to name a few.

    • Karen Martin says:

      Wow, you considered the anniversary special very good, except for not including the approximately 60 shows and newscasters you listed!

      I believe all who commented on the NBC special can best honor our favorite programs by remembering what we used to watch and / or listen to — in the case of old radio shows.

      Each person is the best expert on what really are the best moments from NBC and the other broadcasters. The best is what each individual fondly remembers.

  • MadFan says:

    It was a 90’s fest. Too many great shows were overlooked. Knight Rider and Miami Vice got little vignettes but The A-Team, which single-handedly saved NBC from oblivion in 1983, got lumped in with a cop show segment lead-in to the love fest for Law and Order. Pfft.

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