Meeting of Minds

    Steve Allen, already the originator of the Tonight show, later created what one critic called "the ultimate talk show" and presented, on the PBS network, a series called Meeting of Minds which was constructed in a typical chat-show format, but featured guests who played important roles in the drama of history. Among those who appeared were Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, Marie Antoinette, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Paine, Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire and Charles Darwin. The multi-award winning series still exists in the form of video cassettes, audio cassettes and a four volume set of books, published by Prometheus. Most of the women's roles were played by Allen's wife, Jayne Meadows.

Jayne Meadows as Cleopatra with Steve

    Allen clarified at the time, "The idea is that every syllable will be part of an actual quotation. The degree of the exact quotation varies from character to character.   In the case of some people who played important roles in the drama of history, of course, there is no record of anything they ever said or wrote.
    "Two examples that come to mind are Cleopatra and Attila the Hun.   Nevertheless, they were both fascinating characters for our show.  And there's nothing difficult in creating dialog for them.  You bring factual information into conversational form -- and commit no offense in doing so.
    "The more scholars know about the people we're dealing with, the more impressed they are with how accurate our renderings are.  It's remarkable how little negative criticism we've received."
    Meeting of Minds encourages  the viewer and reader, who may be historically illiterate, to become more familiar with the great thinkers and doers of the past and to whet their appetites for more research and study.  It is an exciting classroom tool (through audiocassettes, videocassettes and books) for students of history and philosophy.
    "I felt that putting the greatest figures of all time together and showing them interacting was an entertaining way not only to have a better understanding of what is going on in the world today, but also to be in a better position to make decisions for the future."
    It took Allen some 18 years to bring this project to fruition.   When it finally reached the national marketplace, it was honored with a multitude of awards, among them the Peabody Award, one national Emmy, three national Emmy nominations, a TV Critics Circle Award, the Encyclopedia Britannica Award and the Film Advisory Board Award.
    The series was produced in the studios of KCET, the PBS outlet in Los Angeles, with Loring d'Usseau, a prime and early supporter of the Allen brainchild, acting as executive producer.
    In 1989, Prometheus Books published the 24 scripts in book form, and in 1992, Dove Audio, Inc. released the programs on audiocassette. They are available here through the Steve Allen Store.

Meeting of Minds Video Collection --
Two Video Set  $40.00 plus S&H
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Two-volume video set. This popular, award-winning series is your passport to meeting some of the great minds and exciting figures of the past who have influenced mankind and even changed the course of history. Filled with humor, eloquence and thought-provoking controversy, scholars, educators and the press have been unanimous in their praise. In this debut volume you will meet: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the "father of modern China" (played by Keye Luke, the mystic in the film Gremlins); 19th Century English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Jayne Meadows Allen in a brilliant performance); Italy's Niccolo Machiavelli (Alfred Ryder), one of history's most misunderstood and maligned "villains"; and Aristotle (Bernard Behrens), the learned Greek philosopher. Steve Allen, the creator and writer of this highly original program, is the host and moderator. ". . . a masterpiece of presentation." --Will Durant, Historian " . . . wonderfully entertaining. . ." -- Saturday Review Running Time (Volume I) 58 Minutes/Color (Volume 2) 57 Minutes/Color
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Own a hard-cover, personally-autographed by Jayne Meadows copy of Meeting of Minds, 
Vol. 1 
Meeting of Minds, Vol 1.  The award-winning PBS_TV network series “Meeting of Minds” has received a more enthusiastic and complimentary reaction than any program ever carried on American educational television. Small wonder then that the nation’s television critics voted its scripts as Best TV Writing of 1976-77* Here are the complete scripts of the series. The program –unique, ingenious, and creative—brings together some of history’s most significant figures and elicits a crosscurrent of ideas and beliefs and illuminates the past, the present, and even the future. One reviewer has called it the most fascinating talk show of all. One show brings together THEODORE ROOSEVELT, THOMAS AQUINAS, THOMAS PAINE, and CLEOPATRA discussing ideas and experiences concerning which they have special knowledge. Other shows bring together MARIE ANTOINETTE, SIR THOMAS MORE, KARL MARX, and ULYSSES S. GRANT. On the next pair of programs ATTILA THE HUN, EMILY DICKINSON, GALILEO, and CHARLES DARWIN strike intellectual sparks. "The script is wonderfully entertaining....Crazy as this grouping may sound, it works...we ought to have more such jeux d’esprit on television."   Karl E. Meyer, Saturday Review 

“Meeting of Minds” is entertaining, though-provoking and highly educational....Just the idea of bringing these historical figures to life, with their words heavily researched, is a trip in itself."   David Sheehan, KNXT-TV 

"An intellectual and entertaining exercise...a rich display of multiple points of view." Morton Moss, Los Angeles Herald Examiner 

Own a hard-cover, personally autographed by Jayne Meadows copy of Meeting of Minds, 
Vol. 2 
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Meeting of Minds Vol. II.  The first season of the PBS_TV network series “Meeting of Minds” received a more enthusiastic critical response than any program ever carried on American educational and cultural television. Since that initial telecast, and the subsequent publication of the scripts of the six one-hour shows, the program has continued to win awards and citations. The nation’s television critics voted Steve Allen’s scripts as Best TV Writing of 1976-1977, sharing the honor with James Costigan’s “Eleanor and Franklin.” Subsequently the program has won the Peabody Award, an Encyclopaedia Britannica Award, and an official endorsement by the National Education Association. This volume contains the Second Series of six scripts, originally telecast in 1978 and subsequently repeated in 1979. The program—described by Dr. Max Rafferty, dean of the School of Education at Troy State University, as “the best, most original TV far since the boob tube was invented”—brings together some of history’s most significant figures in stimulating discussions of ideas and beliefs that illuminate the past, the present, and even the future. The first pair of shows of the Second Series brings together the MARQUIS DE SADE, CESARE BECCARIA, the DOWAGER EMPRESS OF CHINA, TZ’U-HSI, and FREDERICK DOUGLASS discussing ideas and experiences concerning which they have special knowledge. The second pair of programs includes MARTIN LUTHER, VOLTAIRE, PLATO, and FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE. The third quartet consists of SIR FRANCIS BACON, SOCRATES, EMILIANO ZAPATA, and SUSAN B. ANTHONY. Karl E. Meyer of Saturday Review has summed up the general critical, academic, and public response to “Meeting of Minds” in saying “the script is wonderfully entertaining….Crazy as this grouping may sound, it works…we ought to have more such jeux d’esprit on television.”

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You can own a hard-cover, personally autographed copy of Hi-Ho, Steverino! 
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Steve Allen's 38th book is an autobiography covering his fifty years in radio and television. Filled with comedy, both on- and off-camera, this is Allen's first-person look at the Golden Age of TV. Hi-Ho, Steverino! includes Steve's experiences as creator and first host of the Tonight Show, and his years as star of his own primetime comedy series The Steve Allen Show, where he worked with such gifted comedy players as Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Louis Nye, Pat Harrington, Jr., Gabriel Dell, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen, Buck Henry, Tim Conway, The Smothers Brothers, and Jim Nabors. In recalling the glory years of these series, Allen reminisces about getting to know such luminous guests as Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. There's a chapter on Allen's award-winning PBS series Meeting of Minds, and reports on his other comedy-and-talk shows, series and specials, in which he relates on-the-air TV boners, mistakes, and technical mishaps that are now part of the comic folklore of television history. Along the way, Steve Allen pays tribute to Arthur Godfrey, Ernie Kovacs, Jack Paar, Dave Garroway, Jerry Lester, and other video pioneers.