Jonathan Mussman, vice president of production at MTV News and Docs, got his start in television working for Dick Clark Productions. Below, he recounts what it was like working for the pop-culture legend, who died at age 82 on Wednesday (April 18).
You may know Dick Clark just as the man who counted down the few seconds to the New Year, however he was truly an icon across TV, radio and music.
Dick Clark was also a mentor for me personally, as he gave me my first job in television out here in Los Angeles many years ago. Known for his continued youthful appearance, the “world’s oldest teenager” was the quintessential on-air personality. In my year-plus working for him and on his shows, such as “Super Bloopers & Practical Jokes,” American Music Awards, “The Challengers,” Golden Globe Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards and numerous pilots for the broadcast channels, I developed important producing skills that I still use in my TV job today here at MTV. Dick was passionate, dedicated and creative and one of the nicest bosses I’ve ever had. Without question, working at Dick Clark Productions in one month equaled the experience you would get over years at other companies. You kept busy while working on many amazing projects.
Some personal memories include the days that he and his wife, Kari, would bring their dogs to the office in Burbank — you’d always hear shouts from stolen food off people’s desks during lunch hour as the dogs made their daily rounds. I also remember one American Music Awards where Vanilla Ice was hosting and stormed off in some tirade during a rehearsal the night before the live show. Dick taught us all how to remain cool and collected while dealing with overinflated celeb egos as he responded to the production team without missing a beat: “And the show will go on.”
He was an award-winning pioneer in introducing and promoting new artists, new sounds and new music to millions of listeners and viewers through his career on local radio stations and the well-known TV series “American Bandstand.” He helped revolutionize TV production as well, blending his skills as an on-air personality and producer. His “Super Bloopers & Practical Jokes” — where he would place celebs in surprising situations — helped pave the way for our very own “Punk’d.” Dick Clark Productions (under new ownership) is still a powerhouse production company producing popular hits including “So You Think You Can Dance.”
I look back fondly on my years at DCP and will always cherish the memories I had learning the business under his direction. You will be missed, Dick Clark — a man who created such a TV and music legacy.
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