By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Tonight, NBC (National Broadcasting Company) celebrates its 90th anniversary. The Paley Center for Media is saluting the Peacock Network for reaching this particular milestone. But before actor Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Frasier Crane, Cheers & Frasier) hosts the celebration, Jake’s Take is saluting some of its favorite NBC shows of all-time.
Meet the Press (1947 to present)
Meet the Press is not only one of NBC’s longest running show, but it is also the longest running program in United States television history. For the first few decades, the show dealt with economics, foreign policy, politics, and public affairs. However, after sagging ratings, NBC appointed the late, great NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert to become the show’s new moderator on December 8, 1991. For 17 years, Tim Russert cross-examined every businessperson, policymaker, and presidential candidate who had political aspirations, while holding them accountable for their actions. Sadly, Russert passed away on June 13, 2008, working and his longtime friend and colleague, Tom Brokaw, briefly took over the program until NBC appointed David Gregory took over. Currently, moderator Chuck Todd is guiding the political news program covering the Trump Administration as Meet the Press enters its 70th year.
Today (1952 to present)
Morning television would not have been the same without this long-running news program. Created by former NBC President Sylvester Weaver in 1952, Today was the first morning news and talk show that talked about national and international affairs along with providing viewers with weather reports, consumer facts, and pop culture tidbits. Countless anchors, producers, and reporters have been a part of the program and played a prominent role in developing and shape the world of television journalism. Currently, Today is programmed for four hours on the weekdays, which include Today’s Take with Al Roker and Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Plus, Willie Geist hosts the Sunday edition of the show: Sunday Today with Willie Geist, which combines impeccable profiles with news bites.
Notable on-air personalities: Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Willard Scott, Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Ann Curry, Meredith Vieira, Savannah Guthrie, & Willie Geist.
The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (1962 to 1992)
While the Tonight Show is a franchise show, it did not become the center of the late-night entertainment universe until Johnny Carson took over the show on October 1, 1962. Along with his sidekick, Ed McMahon, and Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra, Carson tucked the United States into bed each night with hilarious skits that featured larger than life characters such as Aunt Blabby, Carnic the Magnificent, and “Ronald Reagan” and impeccable celebrity guests that included Hollywood legends such as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, and Don Rickles. However, Carson’s greatest legacy will be the many comedians that he introduced to the world.
Notable Carson discoveries: Joan Rivers, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Murphy, Drew Carey, Roseanne Barr, & Jay Leno
Saturday Night Live (1976 to present)
“Live from New York! It’s Saturday Night!” Those immortal words have shaped weekends for over 41 years! Lorne Michaels’ creative vision brought together comedy’s brightest minds and pop culture royalty for one epic night. Saturday Night Live (SNL) is the only place you would find the likes of Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Candace Bergen, Steve Martin, Emma Stone, and Melissa McCartney share the stage with beloved larger-than-life characters such as Roseanne Roseannadanna, The Coneheads, The Blues Brothers, Church Lady, Operaman, Matt Foley, Mary Katherine Gallagher, and Stefan. Also, the show’s iconic impressions of celebrities and political figures were always talking points at Sunday family dinners and the gym on Monday.
Notable SNL alumni: Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, & Seth Meyers.
FRIENDS (1993 to 2004)
FRIENDS remains one of the most beloved shows from NBC’s Must See TV era. From Phoebe’s first performance of “Smelly Cat” to unbelievable “I Left the Plane” reunion between Ross and Rachel on the series finale, the comedy created countless moments that made us laugh, cry, and cheer for ten seasons. Besides making household names out of Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and David Schwimmer, the series also featured a diverse cast of guest stars that made the David Crane and Marta Kauffman created series a must watch show.
Memorable FRIENDS Guest Stars: James Michael Tyler, Paul Rudd, Brad Pitt, Danny DeVito, Christina Applegate, Elliott Gould, Kathleen Turner, Christina Pickles, & Aisha Tyler.
Will & Grace (1998 to 2006; 2017 to present)
Five years after FRIENDS premiered on the Peacock Network, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick created a sitcom that highlighted the friendship of Will Truman (Eric McCormack), a New York gay lawyer and his longtime friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing), a Jewish woman who owns her interior design firm. Together with their scene-stealing friends Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) and Karen Walker (Megan Mullally), the quartet’s misadventures brought laughter to America and helped the country accept the LGBT community. After the quartet signed off in 2006, the cast reunited for a special web episode focused on the 2016 Presidential Election and interest was renewed for a tenth season, which will air this fall on the 2017-18 season.
The West Wing (1999 to 2006)
Throughout The West Wing’s seven seasons, celebrated screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and his talented writing staff answered one particular question on many Americans’ minds: “What happens behind The White House’s closed doors?” An impeccable cast of characters lead by Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), and C.J. Gregg (Allison Janney) helped guide President Josiah “Jed” Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and Leo McGarry (John Spencer) throughout the personal and political crises of the eight years of the Bartlett Administration. The West Wing won countless awards, changed the way that we viewed the White House, and set the standards extremely high for future political dramas.
America’s Got Talent (2006 to present)
Four years after American Idol aired, music mogul and television personality Simon Cowell created a talent competition that not just highlighted singers, but also comedians, dancers, gymnasts, magicians, and variety acts. For over 11 years, America’s Got Talent has helped dreamers rekindle their passion for performing in front of the entire country. A diverse group of entertainment industry professionals such as David Hasselhoff, Brandy, Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Cowell himself have buzzed or praised hopefuls and helped them fight for their dreams. So far, 11 people have won life-changing $1,000,000 prize money and the opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas. Next month, the Season 12 Judges’ Auditions begin, whose dreams will come true? Find out this summer!
Notable AGT alumni: Terry Fator, Barbara Padilla, Jackie Evancho, Fighting Gravity, Team iLuminate, Andrew de Leon, Kenichi Ebina, Taylor Williamson, the Forte Tenors, Mat Franco, Emily West, Sons of Serendip, Paul Zerdin, Drew Lynch, Piff the Magic Dragon, Grace VanderWaal, the Clairvoyants, Tape Face, & Linkin’ Bridge.
The Voice (2011 to present)
Reality TV impresario Mark Burnett imported Holland’s greatest talent show, The Voice, into the United States in 2011. However, The Voice had one crucial factor that sets itself apart from American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The X Factor USA, it had artists singing to the backs of its celebrity coaches. Hundreds of artists had the chance to be mentored by the likes of Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, and Alicia Keys over the past 11 seasons. While the show has created show-stopping moments, only a few alumni have gone on to stable careers in both the entertainment and music industries.
Notable Voice alumni: Dia Frampton, Frenchie Davis, Juliet Simms, Chris Mann, Kim Yarbrough, Gwen Sebastian, Cassadee Pope, Amanda Brown, Melanie Martinez, the Swon Brothers, Will Champlin, Christina Grimmie, Sisaundra Lewis, Craig Wayne Boyd, Sawyer Fredericks, Kimberly Nichole, Jordan Smith, Alisan Porter, Sundance Head, Billy Gilman, & We McDonald.
What are your favorite NBC shows?