Meeting of Minds

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Meeting of Minds
Meeting of the Minds Script cover.JPG
Cover of Meeting of Minds! Collection held at Center for Inquiry, Amherst, NY
Author Steve Allen
Subject Script

Meeting of Minds is a television series, created by Steve Allen, which aired on PBS from 1977 to 1981.

The show featured guests (played by actors) who played significant roles in world history. Guests would interact with each other and host Steve Allen, discussing philosophy, religion, history, science, and many other topics. It was conceptually quite similar to the Canadian television series Witness to Yesterday, created by Arthur Voronka, which preceded Meeting Of Minds to the air by three years.

Origin[edit]

Steve Allen originally created the concept for Meeting of Minds in the late 1950s.[1] He intended to broadcast it as a segment of his weekly The Steve Allen Show television program[2] but the show's sponsor, The Chrysler Coporation, raised objections and the segment plans were cancelled.[3][4]

PBS Series 1977-1981[edit]

The series was filmed at television station KCET in Hollywood, California. As nearly as was possible, the actual words of the historical figures were used. The show was fully scripted, yet the scripts were carefully crafted to give the appearance of spontaneous discussion among historic figures. Guests included: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Paine, Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Daniel O'Connell, Catherine II, and Oliver Cromwell.[5]

Typically, each episode would be split into two parts, broadcast separately, with most or all of the guests introduced over the course of the first part, and the discussions continuing into the second part. A total of 24 episodes (or 12 two-part episodes) were produced.[6]

Actors made multiple appearances as different guests over the course of the series; this was particularly true of Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows, who appeared in 18 of the 24 episodes (playing nine distinct characters). There was also one major departure from the usual format, in which William Shakespeare was joined by several characters from his plays, with Meadows playing the role of the "dark lady" of his sonnets.

Meeting of Minds Script with notations by Steve Allen. Collection held at Center for Inquiry, Amherst, NY

The show won many awards, including an Emmy Award[7] four Emmy nominations,[8][9] and a Peabody Award.[10][11][12] The scripts are available for public performance. Because of their educational nature, Allen did not attach a royalty to such performances.

Similar series[edit]

The Canadian television series Witness to Yesterday, created by Arthur Voronka, preceded Meeting Of Minds to the air by three years. Steve Allen appeared on a 1976 episode of Witness to Yesterday as George Gershwin, one year before Meeting Of Minds premiered.

Another Canadian TV series, Titans, followed a similar format. It was originally broadcast in 1981-82.

In French-speaking Canada, a version titled Les grands esprits ("The Great Spirits") aired on Radio-Canada from 1982 to 1989. It was based on the original concept, with the scripts adapted and translated for the viewers by Jean Boisvert.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Steve Allen interview Part 9 of 11". Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Shayton, Robert Lewis (January 30, 1960). "TV and Radio". The Saturday Review: 26–27. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Shayton, Robert Lewis (March 19, 1960). "TV and Radio". The Saturday Review: 27. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Steve Allen interview Part 10 of 11". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Meeting of Minds Episode Guide". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Meeting of Minds Episode Guide". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Outstanding Informational Series – 1981 (Loring d'Usseau, Producer)
  8. ^ Meeting of Minds nominations:
    • Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series – 1978: Steve Allen, Writer;
    • Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a comedy or drama series – 1978: Beulah Quo;
    • Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Performance in a dram or comedy series – 1978: Jayne Meadows;
    • Outstanding Achievement in Video Tape Editing for a Series – 1977: Terry Pickford, Editor
  9. ^ Outstanding Program Achievement – Special Class – 1979: Steve Allen, Star; Loring d'Usseau, Producer (PBS)
  10. ^ 1977 Peabody Award in Education: Meeting of Minds (No. 101, 1977-01-10)
  11. ^ 1977 Peabody Award in Education: Meeting of Minds (No. 103, 1977-01-24)
  12. ^ 1977 Peabody Award in Education: Meeting of Minds (No. 105, 1977-02-07)
  13. ^ "Les grands esprits". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Steve (1989). Meeting of Minds: the complete scripts, with illustrations, of the amazingly successful PBS-TV series. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. pp. 4 vol. ISBN 9780879755508. OCLC 20802027. 

External links[edit]