Do you put a cap on remembering the influence someone else placed on the world? Does the news hook expire?
There is a deadline, a time factor, when reporting the initial news, but the analysis may take more time. The people whose perspective is key to telling the story need time to heal. The others that interacted with the lost need time to draw in memories. The audience itself needs to get over the shock.
The setting has to be perfect … and Milwaukee-based Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein -- the award-winning team behind the "Pioneers of Television" series -- had the vision to produce "Robin Williams Remembered," which will air on PBS on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
They are also the ones who have had the most insightful, deep interview with Williams before he died on Aug. 11.
"We were at the Emmys," Boettcher said, "and started talking with our contacts at PBS."
Sometimes that is all it takes to get the ball rolling to air a program. A good idea, a story that can and needed to be told, never-before-seen footage … all the pieces were in the right place. A bunch of time spent on logistics didn't need to be lost.
"What we did was set up a night at the Comedy Store, and let those that knew Robin to come out and have a memorial for him," Boettcher said. "These were the people who were there with him. Back in the summer of 1976 when they saw him on the stage for the first time and remember, ‘well, this is something new.’"
When Boettcher and Trinklein start their process to work with an actor or actress, Boettcher likes to tell them to wear something comfortable, that they will be there for a long time. The process was the same for Williams, that the team would take a deep dive into their personal archive and mine it for the questions and the stories they were willing to tell. For Williams, there was 3-4 hours worth of footage that they recorded, to be used in a number of their half-hour programs. Little did they know at the time, it would probably be the last long interview that Williams would ever do.
"PBS is proud to share with viewers a celebration of this comic genius’s life, through recollections from friends and colleagues, and reflections from Robin himself," Donald Thoms, PBS Vice President of general audience programming, said about this special production.
The special will feature Williams’ last full-length television interview, including never-before-seen footage of his comments on life and work, like stories about his first stand-up act, his desire to be a serious dramatic actor and his tireless efforts to entertain U.S. troops overseas.
Viewers will see Henry Winkler, who worked with Williams on "Happy Days," and they will hear stories from Yakov Smirnoff, Louie Anderson, Paul Rodriguez, Rick Overton, Blake Clark, Pauly Shore, Penny Marshall, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Stiller, Jimmie Walker and comedy producer George Schlatter.
Other interviews about Williams include memories from the late Jonathan Winters, who talked about working on "Mork & Mindy." And there is an exclusive, new interview with his "Mork & Mindy" co-star Pam Dawber, who shares for the first time on camera since his death, her memories of working with him.
Dawber was the actor who worked most closely with Williams, Boettcher said, explaining that his television interview is the only invitation Dawber accepted. Boettcher said that Dawber and Williams remained friends long after the show’s end and two had spoken just a few weeks before his death.
"We were fortunate to sit down with Robin Williams quite recently for the ‘Pioneers of Television’ series," Boettcher said. "We wanted to share with PBS viewers the Robin that we saw – the very unassuming, caring, genuine and gentle man who took his acting seriously, but was able to make others laugh. We hope this special provides more insight to this incredible man, in his own words."
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.