Oct 29, 2013
07:35 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Dick Ebersol, Longtime Head of NBC Sports, Stars at New Preston Fundraiser

Dick Ebersol, Longtime Head of NBC Sports, Stars at New Preston Fundraiser

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Renowned TV executive and producer Dick Ebersol, 66, comes to Washington Montessori School (WMS) in New Preston Nov. 2 as special guest of the school's annual fund-raising series, "WMS Presents." This insider's look at his life and broadcast career kicks off at 7 p.m. with a film tribute, followed by a Q&A-style "conversation" led by actor Jack Gilpin. Both families—Ebersol and his wife, actress Susan Saint-James, and Jack and Ann Gilpin—have had three children who graduated from WMS, a nonprofit day school for students 18 months old through eighth grade.

Torrington native Ebersol started his TV education early, dropping out of Yale University in 1967—when he was 20—to go to work for Roone Arledge and ABC Sports as TV's first Olympics researcher. By 1974 he'd joined NBC as director of weekend late-night programming; a year later he and another young aspiring TV producer, Lorne Michaels, debuted "Saturday Night Live." Over the next 37 years, spent off-and-mostly-on with the Peacock Network, he achieved the following:

1975: Named Vice President of Late-Night Programming at NBC (making him the network's first veep under 30)

1981-1985: Executive Producer of "Saturday Night Live"

1983: Formed No Sleep Productions, a company that produced "Later with Bob Costas," "Friday Night Videos" (both Emmy winners) and "Saturday Night's Main Event" for NBC

Sometime during 1981-85: Appointed Senior Vice President of NBC News

1989: Became President of NBC Sports

1998: Promoted to Chairman, NBC Sports & Olympics

2004: Appointed Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics (after the NBC-Universal merger)

During his early years as NBC Sports' top dog, Ebersol made a name for himself as the king of sports-property acquisitions, culminating with the 1995-96 TV season—the only season that the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA finals and Summer Olympics were broadcast by the same network. Ultimately, he spearheaded NBC Sports' acquisition of broadcast rights for seven consecutive Olympic Games (2000-2012), the longest single network run to date. Ebersol has produced 8 of the 10 most-watched TV events in history, including the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 (215 million viewers), the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in 2010 (190 million) and Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, which drew at the time the largest-single audience in U.S. TV history (152 million viewers). In 1996, The Sporting News named him "The Most Powerful Person in Sports"; other superlatives he's won include the Olympic Order (in recognition of remarkable contributions to the Olympic Movement). He was inducted into both the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2008, NBC won the Peabody Award for its coverage of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Ebersol retired from NBC after the London Olympics in 2012, but there's no doubt his career will make for some lively badinage at WMS. Following the Q&A (during which audience questions will also be welcomed), there will be a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception in the WMS Library. Admission to the event is $35 for the conversation/Q&A; $55 for the coversation and reception. For reservations and other inquiries, contact Ali Grimes, WMS director of development, at (860) 868-0551, ext. 2161, or agrimes@washingtonmontessori.org.

Dick Ebersol, Longtime Head of NBC Sports, Stars at New Preston Fundraiser

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