Rick Ludwin Collection
Scope and Content
The majority of the Rick Ludwin Collection focuses primarily on NBC TV primetime and late-night programming beginning in the 1980s through the 1990s, with several items from more recent years, as well as subseries devoted to topics such as "The Mike Douglas Show," WLS-TV Chicago, Bob Kennedy, WXYZ-TV Detroit, Miami University and more. Items in the collection include:
- magnetic and vinyl media, containing NBC broadcast programs and "FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION" awards compilations
- scripts, treatments, and rehearsal schedules>
- industry publications
- national news clippings
- awards program catalogs
- network communications
- camera-ready advertising copy
- television production photographs
Included in the collection are historical narratives of broadcast radio and television and the history of NBC, including various mergers and acquisitions over the years. Other special interests highlighted by this collection include:
- Bob Hope
- Johnny Carson
- Jay Leno
- Conan O'Brien
- Jimmy Fallon
- The Emmy Awards
- Saturday Night Live SNL
- Carson Daly
- The Mike Douglas Show
- Kennedy & Co.
- AM America
Nineteen original Seinfeld scripts are included; most of which were working copies, reflecting the use of multi-colored pages to call out draft revisions. Notably, the original pilot scripts are included, which indicate that the original title ideas for the show were "Stand Up," and later "The Seinfeld Chronicles." Furthermore, a signed copy of the table draft script for the show’s finale is also included in this collection. Other scripts are also contained here--some for primetime, some for broadcast specials such as the landmark three-hour broadcast of SNL’S 25th Anniversary. Several of the scripts include hand notes, presumed to be those of Rick Ludwin.
Other documents in this collection are industry-specific, including program development reports, annual independent seasonal reviews covering all major networks, ratings reports, etc. There are also several awards program catalogs from a variety of events ranging from the Emmys to the 23rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Award--presented to Steven Spielberg.
Also included are books commemorating the 15th and 20th anniversaries of The Comedy Store, which opened its doors on the Sunset Strip in 1972. These provide biographical and anecdotal information and several photographs of the people who continue to impact a broad sector within the American entertainment industry.
A variety of other materials are also included in this collection. This includes a large amount of materials related to television programs where Ludwin worked as a producer earlier on in his career, including “The Mike Douglass Show,” “Kennedy & Co.” and “Kennedy at Night.” Plus, there are a number of recordings of “Studio 14,” a variety show that Ludwin worked on when he was a student at Miami University, plus recordings of lectures he gave at the university in later years.
Additional industry related monographs in this collection are cataloged within the Miami University Libraries' collections. The monographs can be located using a keyword search for "Rick Ludwin" in the online catalog.
All items in this collection are organized chronologically within series.
Language of Materials
The records are in English
Restrictions on Access
This non-circulating collection is open under the rules and regulations of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University Libraries.
Restrictions on Use
Reproduction of materials in the collection is subject to the restrictions of copyright law. To use materials not yet in the public domain, the researcher must obtain permission from the copyright holder.
Rick Ludwin was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Rocky River High School in Rocky River, Ohio, and then attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech in 1970. During his college days at Miami University, Ludwin hosted “Studio 14,” a variety-comedy show that aired on Miami's WMUB-TV station. The show was completely student-run. Ludwin and his fellow classmates wrote, produced, directed and starred in the live show. "I had this love for live television. There was nothing more exciting," says Ludwin.
Ludwin next went on to complete a Master of Arts degree at Northwestern University. Soon after, he began working in broadcasting for stations WLS-TV Chicago and WXYZ-TV Detroit. Eventually, he became a producer on both Bob Kennedy and Mike Douglas’ television talk shows. In free-lance stints for NBC, Ludwin helped to produce “Olympathon '79,” a television fundraiser special designed to foster support for American athletes who would be participating in the Olympic games in 1980. He also helped produce the NBC daytime television show “America Alive!.”
During his time working in Chicago television, Ludwin met and impressed Brandon Tartikoff, who soon after was appointed President of NBC Entertainment. Tartikoff then offered Ludwin the position of Director of Variety Programs at NBC in 1980. By 1983 Ludwin had been promoted to Vice President for Specials and Variety Programs. Later, in 1989, he was named Senior Vice President for Specials, Variety Programs and Late Night, and then in 2005 Ludwin was promoted to Executive Vice President for Late Night and Primetime Series.
Looking back on his early years with the network Ludwin admits, "I thought I'd be here a year and be fired or would leave out of frustration, and here I am all these years later. It worked out pretty well."
Ludwin is credited for the success of series such as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Seinfeld.” Furthermore, in addition to serving as an executive on those numerous successful NBC programs since the 1980s, Ludwin has also made cameo appearances on “Seinfeld,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” and alongside comedian Bob Hope.
Ludwin has also supervised numerous landmark primetime specials, including the EMMY Awards, Golden Globe Awards and “Saturday Night Live” primetime specials. He also worked on NBC’s 60th and 75th Anniversary telecasts, both of which featured a wide array of famous guests, such as Jennifer Aniston, Bea Arthur, Pierce Brosnan, Johnny Carson, Dick Clark, Courteney Cox, Ted Danson, Barbara Eden, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Michael J. Fox, David Hasselhoff, Bob Hope, Matt LeBlanc, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Rue McClanahan, Ed McMahon, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Rhea Pearlman, Matthew Perry, Mekhi Phifer, Phylicia Rashad, John Ratzenberger, Alfonso Ribeiro, Joan Rivers, Doris Roberts, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, David Schwimmer, Jerry Seinfeld, Molly Shannon, William Shatner, Barbara Walters, Betty White and many more.
Additionally, Ludwin helped to oversee the television special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever,” which was a celebration of Motown’s 25th year. Notable performers on the special included Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves, The Jackson 5, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Temptations and Four Tops, who competed in a “Battle of the Groups” style event. This special also included the now-iconic performance by Michael Jackson of his song “Billie Jean.” This was the first time that Jackson performed what would become his most famous signature move, the moonwalk. In fact, his concert performances of "Billie Jean" in the years after “Motown 25” were always based on his performance on the special, from the opening pose with the fedora, black sequin jacket and glove, to the moonwalk routine in the song's bridge.
Being the "longest-tenured employee at NBC Entertainment," Ludwin "rises up in meetings to argue for what he believes...but rarely stands up to take a bow," according to Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rosenthal. "Without Ludwin, there would have been no Seinfeld. He commissioned the pilot, took money out of his specials budget to keep the show alive and oversaw the program for its entire run."
Ludwin's reply, "I don't put that in the category of death-defying leaps. That's what we're supposed to be doing."
Ludwin’s connections to his alma mater, Miami University, also remained strong. He visited the campus regularly to give talks to students in the Media, Journalism and Film Department. Furthermore, thanks to his professional connections in the entertainment industry, Miami University has been able to secure campus appearances by stars such as Bob Hope and Jay Leno. Additionally, on March 19, 2019 the Williams Hall TV studio located on campus, the place where Ludwin began his career by hosting “Studio 14,” was named the “Rick Ludwin Studio” in his honor.
12 linear feet
This collection contains items highlighting the career or NBC executive, Rick Ludwin.
Statement of Arrangement
Series I: Program Scripts, Treatments, and Rehearsal Schedules
Series II: NBC Newsletter, Press Releases and Marketing Collateral
Series III: Press Clip Packages
Series IV: Magazine Articles and News Clippings
Series V: Magazines
Series VI: Oversized Magazines
Series VII: The Hollywood Reporter – TV Season Guides/Previews
Series VIII: Program Development Projects and Reports
Series IX: Awards Program Catalogs/Awards
Series X: Miscellaneous Publications
Series XI: TV Guide Advertisements camera-ready
Series XII: Broadcast Programs and Awards Compilations – DVD
Series XIII: Broadcast Programs and Awards Compilations – VHS
Series XIV: CDs
Series XV: Broadcast Programs – Vinyl
Series XVI: Broadcast Programs – U-matic
Series XVII: The Mike Douglas Show
Series XVIII: Memorabilia
Series XIX: “Studio 14” WMUB-TV Recordings
Series XX: WLS-TV Chicago
Series XXI: Bob Kennedy and WXYZ-TV Detroit
Series XXII: Cataloged CDs/DVDs of Miami University Projects
Series XXIII: Miami University Lecture Recordings, 2008-10-26 – 2017-10-19
Series XXIV: Performing Arts Books, 1967 – 2016
A .pdf version of this finding aid can be found here: https://spec.lib.miamioh.edu/home/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Rick-Ludwin-Finding-Aid_10-22-2019.pdf
See also the External Documents section.
- Bob Hope
- Ludwin, Rick
- Miami University
- Rick Ludwin Collection
- Saturday Night Live (SNL)
- Situation Comedies (Television programs)
- Television programs
- Television scripts
- Television talk shows
- Television--Production and direction
- The Mike Douglas Show
- clippings (information artifacts)
- film clips
- magazines (periodicals)
- phonograph records
- press releases
- television scripts
- Guide to the Rick Ludwin Collection
- Finding aid prepared by Kim Shann (2008), Britney DelSignore (2011), and Candace Pine (2019-2021)
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections Finding Aids Repository