4100 Redwood Rd #406
Oakland, CA 94619

Nam June Paik & TV LAB: License to Create

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Charlotte Moorman in Nam June Paik and John Godfrey's Global Groove
Nam June Paik & TV LAB: License to Create logo




Arts & Culture: Animation , Documentary, Dramatic Narrative, Experimental, Fiction, Graphic Design, Information Design, International Film, Mixed Media, Modern Dance , Nonfiction, Photography, Television, Theatrical Movement
Human Development: Education, International Cooperation, Migration, Urban, Youth
Human Rights: Civil Rights, Gender, Indigenous Rights, Race Politics
Information & Media: Communication, Culture, Freedom of Expression, ICT (Information and Computer Technology), Internet, Knowledge, Media, Science
Peace and Conflict: Conflict Resolution
Politics: Activism, Civil Society, Democracy, Ethics & Value Systems, Globalization, Justice and Crime, Law

Project Geography

US: National
International: Asia, Europe, North America, South America

Identity Niches

African American, Asian, Asian American, Caucasian, Jewish, Latino, Religious, Senior/Aging, Student, Women


Raised to date: $230,500.00
Estimate to complete: $519,500.00
Total Estimated Budget: $750,000.00
The budget numbers above are accurate as of 10/02/2012


Post Production

Media Type


Project End Use


Key Personnel

Howard Weinberg

Howard Weinberg helps other documentary filmmakers improve their films and blogs at www.script-doctor.net. An award-winning independent documentary filmmaker (Sports for Sale, First Things First, One Plus One, net.LEARNING); and television journalist (Founding Producer, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; Executive Producer, Listening to America with Bill Moyers; Producer, CBS Sunday Morning & Sixty Minutes.), he is also an educator who has taught at NYU, Dartmouth and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he currently teaches and mentors documentary and video profiles students. The Daily News called the subject of his film Sid at 90 the “undisputed star” of the 2003 New York Jewish Film Festival. Weinberg has hosted and narrated programs including his documentary Ethics in Sports – a CBS Religion Special broadcast nationally. As a talent developer, he discovered Rose Ann Scamardella for WABC-TV's Eyewitness News in New York. He is the longest serving president of The New York Film/Video Council: www.nyfvc.org, a volunteer organization serving the independent media community. His current major project is TV LAB: License to Create – an historical, educational documentary and multimedia website about an innovative period of public television from 1972-1984. More at www.howardweinberg.net.



Outreach/Engagement Plan(s)

At Independent Film Week, Peter Broderick, the West Coast distribution guru, said that my TV LAB project is ideal for distribution over the web with links to where TV LAB programs may be rented, purchased and viewed. With the latest funds, we have begun work on a TV LAB website.

Educators who teach video history and media arts are a key target audience. The University Film Producers Association would be engaged in using the program.

Preservation groups such as AMIA and IMAP and educators working in the field of preservation, such as NYU’s MIAP are aware of the TV LAB project and have been encouraging. IMAP has discussed cooperation on developing a database of TV LAB programs.

The Paley Center for Media has expressed interest in showing the documentary, holding screenings of TV LAB programs and organizing at least two conferences on the state of television and the role of art on television today.

The Flaherty Film Seminar and INPUT are two annual conferences with historic connections to TV LAB and its filmmakers and artists.

Thirteen/WNET has TV LAB programs in its archive that are unavailable for viewing until they are preserved and transferred. This is a priority. I continue to explore contacts with Thirteen and hope to raise sufficient funds to engage their fuller cooperation.

Just as visual artists today build on art history, this rich archive of TV LAB programs when better known will inspire video and Internet artists to create new work in response to notable TV LAB work. I would like to commission a few such video artists, in cooperation with Electronic Arts Intermix, the Video Data Bank and the Pacific Film Archive, to create new work that could appear on a TV LAB website and travel to event screenings at universities with TV LAB: License to Create.



The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes$1,500.0006/20/2012
Individual Donors$7,000.0002/23/2012
Small Individual Donors$6,000.0012/29/2008
Howard Weinberg$10,500.0011/24/2008
New York State Council on the Arts$25,000.0001/01/2008
Howard Weinberg$33,000.0007/10/2007
Howard Weinberg$18,000.0009/18/2006
Howard Weinberg$16,000.0002/27/2005
Howard Weinberg$7,000.0005/25/2004
Howard Weinberg$47,500.0010/20/2003
Barbara Wise $5,000.0004/25/1999
Rockefeller Foundation $40,000.0011/20/1998
Nam June Paik $14,000.0009/15/1998


711 West End Ave. #4D-N
New York, NY, 10025-6841

Short Synopsis

"Television can be better than television is", this educational, historical and inspirational documentary about the TV LAB at Thirteen/WNET (1972-1984) reminds us. While the Internet and digital technology allow anyone today to create and distribute video, what is missing is the strong commissioning editor and collaborative atmosphere ofthe TV LAB that nurtured memorable video art, revolutionary documentary, experimental drama and led to extraordinary careers.


Before YouTube, before Reality Television, before the Internet, artists and filmmakers pushed the boundaries of television at the TV LAB. Video synthesizers, the digital time base corrector and a blue-screen ChromaKey studio made the TV LAB a place where artists could put their hands on the latest equipment to create what became the new global phenomena of video art. TV LAB supported documentary makers who used the new PortaPak video cameras andrecorders to revolutionize storytelling by going behind the scenes to capture spontaneous action that network television had ignored. TV LAB encouraged writers, directors, choreographers and animators to experiment and innovate.

Inspired by Nam June Paik, The Rockefeller Foundation and The New York State Council on the Arts funded the TV LAB at Thirteen/WNET in 1972. WNET selected David Loxton, a British-born drama producer, to direct it.

John Godfrey, chief engineer of TV LAB, was the genius editor who worked with artists to give each a unique signature and who figured out how to stabilize documentary makers’ small format video for broadcast. Paik and Godfrey’s programs GLOBAL GROOVE and SUITE 212, with Russell Connor’s participation, transfixed audiences worldwide and inspired younger generations of video artists.

Paik created swirling color imagery with the video synthesizer that he and Japanese electrical engineer Shuya Abe invented. The Paik-Abe synthesizer used videofeedback, magnetic scan modulation, non-linear mixing, and colorized images from an array of cameras in a TV studio. Bill Etra demonstrated his more precise Rutt-Etra video synthesizer that shifts, stretches, twists, turns and collapses his image on a television monitor.

To prepare, not startle, viewers, Loxton created the series VTR – VIDEO & TELEVISION REVIEW in which Connor introduced TV LAB artists in their homes and studios and placed their work in a context – e g., Jon Alpert & Keiko Tsuno’s start in community video in Chinatown; TVTV (Top Value Television)’s alternative portable video coverage of the 1972 national political conventions.

Michael Shamberg, a Time magazine journalist who founded TVTV, said: “The idea that youcould take this equipment and apply it to journalism, and therefore kind of do your own mainstream television – that was the radical idea.” TVTV’s first TV LAB program LORD OF THE UNIVERSE won a duPont-Columbia award which led to their creating the 4-part series GERALD FORD'S AMERICA. TVTV’s SUPERBOWL changed coverage of sporting events by including footage of locker rooms, tailgating parties and players’ wives. TVTV’s goal was “to upset the aesthetic apple cart” of broadcast television.

David Loxton paired TV director Don Mischer with choreographer Twyla Tharp to create MAKING TELEVISION DANCE, which documented their creative process. Loxton and Fred Barzyk produced and directed, and Diane English co-wrote THE LATHE OF HEAVEN, a “speculative fiction” drama based on an Ursula Le Guin story. It became a cult classic and influenced Tom Hanks to become an actor.

Alan & Susan Raymond’s THE POLICE TAPES inspired the roll call opening of Steven Bochco’s network police drama HILL STREET BLUES and other reality cop shows. Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn, second-generation artists-in-residence at TV LAB, were invited to make music videos for MTV.

Bill Viola, who slows time and creates images of depth and mystery, and William Wegman, who composes short, humorous video poems featuring his Weimaraner dogs, built extraordinary careers after becoming artists-in-residence at the TV LAB.

Viola, Paik, Connor and public television executive Jim Day were among those invited to the Rockefeller estate in Bellagio, Italy in 1977 to meet with European public television producers and executives. The Rockefeller sponsored conference led to the establishment of INPUT – the International Public Television Screening Conference in Milan in 1978. INPUT still brings creative public television professionals together in a different city each year to see the best programs that each country puts forward. INPUT 2012 will be held in Sydney, Australia. 

The TV LAB entered a second phase as independent filmmakers become jealous of videomakers. The Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and Corporation for Public Broadcasting responded by creating NON-FICTION TELEVISION, a documentary strand within TV LAB. Independent journalistic documentaries like Jack Willis’s PAUL JACOBS AND THE NUCLEAR GANG and Bob Richter’s PESTICIDES AND PILLS: FOR EXPORT ONLY shook up public television.

Though peer review panels chose whom to fund, Loxton still exercised his executive producer’s authority to encourage quality and diversity. He helped Bill Miles make I REMEMBER HARLEM into a four-hour documentary series. He raised money for independent filmmakers Jesus Trevino and Jose Luis Ruiz to make documentaries on Latinos and immigration, for Lynne Littman to respond to the women’s movement with a film on mothers and daughters. Loxton and Barzyk continued to produce and direct innovative drama. Other artists and filmmakers created dance and video art programs at the TV LAB until 1984 when the Corporation for Public Broadcasting withdrew its funds and TV LAB officially ended.

Advertising and commercial television copied the innovative techniques first used at TV LAB. The technology spread and so did the number of cable channels. Many of the creative artists who launched their careers at TV LAB reflect on television now and how the Internet might restore some of the freedom that they had at TV LAB.

Underlying the story of TV LAB is the story of television and American culture and how both have changed. This feature-length historical, educational documentary offers video and media artists a chance to see the history of their field and learn from the masters who preceded them.


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