Meeting of Minds

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PBS (ended 1981)

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Meeting of Minds

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. Steve Allen, already the originator of the Tonight show, later created what one critic called "the ultimate talk show" and presented, on the PBS network, a series called Meeting of Minds which was constructed in a typical chat-show format, but featured guests who played important roles in the drama of history. Among those who appeared were Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, Marie Antoinette, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Paine, Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire and Charles Darwin. The multi-award winning series still exists in the form of video cassettes, audio cassettes and a four volume set of books, published by Prometheus. Most of the women's roles were played by Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows.

Allen clarified at the time "The idea is that every syllable will be part of an actual quotation. The degree of the exact quotation varies from character to character. In the case of some people who played important roles in the drama of history, of course, there is no record of anything they ever said or wrote. Two examples that come to mind are Cleopatra and Attila the Hun. Nevertheless, they were both fascinating characters for our show. And there's nothing difficult in creating dialog for them. You bring factual information into conversational form -- and commit no offense in doing so. The more scholars know about the people we're dealing with, the more impressed they are with how accurate our renderings are. It's remarkable how little negative criticism we've received."

Meeting of Minds encourages the viewer and reader, who may be historically illiterate, to become more familiar with the great thinkers and doers of the past and to whet their appetites for more research and study. It is an exciting classroom tool (through audiocassettes, videocassettes and books) for students of history and philosophy.

"I felt that putting the greatest figures of all time together and showing them interacting was an entertaining way not only to have a better understanding of what is going on in the world today, but also to be in a better position to make decisions for the future."

It took Allen some 18 years to bring this project to fruition. When it finally reached the national marketplace, it was honored with a multitude of awards, among them the Peabody Award, one national Emmy, three national Emmy nominations, a TV Critics Circle Award, the Encyclopedia Britannica Award and the Film Advisory Board Award.

The series was produced in the studios of KCET, the PBS outlet in Los Angeles, with Loring d'Usseau, a prime and early supporter of the Allen brainchild, acting as executive producer.

In 1989, Prometheus Books published the 24 scripts in book form, and in 1992, Dove Audio, Inc. released the programs on audiocassette. From SteveAllen.commoreless

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