It’s Been Real: The Life and Legacy of Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs, television pioneer

It’s Been Real:

The Life and Legacy of Ernie Kovacs

Paley Center for Media
25 West 52 Street New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
6:30 pm ET
Members: $20
General Public: $25
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[amazon_enhanced asin=”B004IB04NU” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” align=”Right”/] The Paley Center for Media will hold an event celebrating and honoring television pioneer Ernie Kovacs.  Panelists include:
Keith Olbermann, Moderator
Robert Smigel, Creator, TV Funhouse and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
Joel Hodgson, Creator, Mystery Science Theater 3000
George Schlatter, Executive Producer, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In
Jolene Brand Schlatter, Performer in Kovacs Specials
Ben Model, Curator, The Ernie Kovacs Collection DVD Set
Percy Dovetonsils

Ernie Kovacs as Percy Dovetonsils

Cerebral and surreal, Ernie Kovacs was one of television’s most daring and subversive originals. From 1950 until his untimely death in 1962, the outrageous comedian used the small screen as his personal comic canvas, challenging the medium’s conventions and assumptions.


Moderator Keith Olbermann, himself a master of pop culture references, will lead a discussion about Kovacs’s offbeat sensibility and how it paved the way for future experimentation by Monty Python, David Letterman, and MTV.

Caricature of Ernie Kovacs

George Schlatter and his wife Jolene Brand will put their friend’s life in perspective, while two of the most innovative creators of contemporary television,

Robert Smigel and Joel Hodgson, will examine why Kovacs remains relevant today.

Historian Ben Model will reveal how he curated the definitive box set of Kovacs’s work, which will be released by Shout! Factory on April 19.

The evening also will feature exemplary highlights of Ernie’s art, testifying to his personal motto, “Nothing in Moderation.”

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Find out more about Ernie Kovacs:

Ernie Kovacs on Wikipedia



  • Pingback: Ernie Kovacs news | Comedy For Animators

  • “He played with the medium of television in a way no one ever had before.”

    -Jack Lemmon

    Hey there, fans of Miklos Molnar, Percy Dovetoncils and the Nairobi Trio! On April 19, the Shout Factory Entertainment Company is releasing a six-DVD collection that covers Ernie Kovacs’ remarkable, all-too-brief career.

    Kovacs was no mere a run-of-the-mill fifties TV comedian. He was the world’s very first video artist – ironic when you consider the fact that the term “video art” did not come into existence until 1966, four years after his death in a 1962 automobile accident. When he died he was ten days shy of his forty-third birthday.

    In the early 1950s an article was written called, “Kovacs Hates TV”. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. Radicals seldom like things the way they are and Ernie was about as radical as they come. He changed everything. At a time when no one knew what to do with the new invention of videotape, Kovacs made it sing.

    The new set contains a lot of material that has not been seen since originally broadcast half a century ago. If you pre-order directly from the Shout Factory’s website you will receive a seventh, bonus DVD absolutely free! (HOW COOL IS THAT???) Here is a link to order and watch a video clip from the series:

    Ernie Kovacs is gone and he’s not coming back. Fortunately we have these kinescopes and videotapes to gently remind us what once was. Ernie’s world was a delightful, wondrous place to enter. Someone once remarked, “In an ocean of noise, this island of quiet genius was typical of Ernie Kovacs.” Indeed it was.

    Early in his career, he would close his programs by telling the audience at home, “It’s been real!”. He was a bit of a paradox in that respect. Ernie Kovacs was the real deal alright – and televisions first surrealist. Go figure.

    Tom Degan

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