Brandon Tartikoff

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Brandon Tartikoff (July 13, 1949August 27, 1997) was a popular NBC executive who was credited with turning around NBC's low prime-time reputation with such hit series as Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Miami Vice, The Golden Girls, Knight Rider, The A-Team, St. Elsewhere, Night Court, Hunter, Highway to Heaven, Matlock, and Empty Nest. Tartikoff also helped develop Punky Brewster, for whom he based the title character's name after a girl he had a crush on in school. Brandon, the pet dog on Punky Brewster was even named after Tartikoff.

Born in, Freeport, New York, Tartikoff was a graduate of Yale University, and started his career out at WLS-TV in Chicago. While still attending Yale, Tartikoff worked as an Account Executive and Sales Manager of WNHC-TV in New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale, he took a series of jobs in advertising and local television. Tartikoff spent vacations in Los Angeles looking for a job in network television.

His big break came when he was hired as a program executive at ABC in 1976 before moving to NBC (after being hired by Dick Ebersol to direct comedy programming) in 1977. Tartikoff took over programming duties from Fred Silverman in 1980. Ironically, Silverman, who was at the time, the head of programming at ABC, hired Tartikoff as the network's director of dramatic development in 1976. At the age of 30, Tartikoff became the youngest-ever president of NBC's entertainment division.

He left NBC in 1991, and moved over to Paramount Pictures and became its chairman. About a year later, Brandon left that post to spend more time with his daughter, Calla, who was seriously injured in a car crash near the family's Lake Tahoe home.

In 1994, he made his comeback to national TV with Last Call, a short-lived late-night discussion show, which he executive produced. Also that year, he began a brief run as chairman of New World Entertainment. Just prior to his death from Hodgkin's Disease in 1997, (for which Tartikoff had three separate bouts with over 25 years), Tartikoff served as the chairman of AOL Online Entertainment.

He was interred in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California.

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