Blast from the Past, 1983 ACTV Academy Awards Edition

As I’ve pointed out for years now, the past just keeps on growing — in more ways than one. Not only do we constantly keep pushing the present into the past, but we’re forever finding forgotten tidbits from days gone by. Video helps preserve and revive memories and sometimes startles us with a “new” discovery of old footage these days via various internet channels. A familiar feeling of startled amazement and amusement certainly struck me as I looked at one of the YouTube offerings from the Austin History Center. The whole channel offers some amazing recordings from historical documentaries to oral histories to a wide range of Austin music.

When I discovered this video of clips from winners of the 1983 ACTV “Academy Awards” — the “Nicholas,” named for Nicholas Johnson, former FCC Commissioner and access advocate — I had to smile. See, I won one of those awards (though I did not remember them being called “Nicholas” awards) in a semi-major ceremony in the old Ritz Theater. I mean, we even had members of City Council in attendance. When I took a look at this video compilation, I was delighted to find numerous old friends’ works were also honored as well. And, yes, the compilation contains the opening clip from my adaptation of a Richard Brautigan short story, “The Betrayed Kingdom.”

I’ve cued the video up to my part (of course), but have noted where other awardees’ work starts, for your searching and viewing convenience. Please be aware there is blank space between the clips, usually short but a full minute after the opening speech from Nicholas Johnson.

(0:10) Opening remarks: Nicholas Johnson
(7:25) “The Human Impact of U.S. Intervention in Central America”, Lisa Carlin
(9:48) “Clarksville Revisited,” Brenda Gooden Malik
(11:42) untitled–play, Gilberto Rivera
(13:50) “El Lugar Donde Vivo,” Marcos de Leon
(16:19) “Messiah Production,” Dan Anderson
(18:34) “Texas Music Special,” Dusty Sexton
(21:55) Austin Blues Festival,” Joe Bryson
(24:14) “Cornerstone: The Foundation of Rock for the Future,” Tracy Prager
(26:41) untitled–pro skater, Sue Sende
(31;17) “Slime Creatures Invade Austin,” Miles Hurst
(33:48) “The Betrayed Kingdom,” Alan Buller
(36:32) untitled–hungry office worker, Mark Zuefeldt
(38:18) “Odd Bodkins,” Tom Giebink
(40:37) Ending credits–followed by blank tape then several minutes of some kids

Watching all these old familiar names pop up in that oh-so-advanced-for-the-time (for ACTV, that is) character generator, I was transported back to the days of our location in the back of the Dougherty Art Center (complete with pervasive odor of rakú pottery firing upon occasion). As much fun as watching this collection is, I remember two other ACTV programs receiving awards that night, specifically for the comments that each honoree made from the stage while accepting.

Frank Morrow, Jr., longtime producer/co-anchor for the “Alternative Views” news program, offering news stories not covered in the mainstream press, took home an award with this little acknowledgement: “I’d like to thank CBS and NBC and ABC and the New York Times and all the other media for making my show necessary.”

But it was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, legendary as the “most hated woman in America” for her successful legal fight to stop school-sponsored religious prayers, received an award for her long-running program, “The American Atheist Forum.” She joked that she thought she was probably receiving her award for “having the biggest balls in town.”

AB_ACTV_Award_1989There was only one set of Nicholas awards ever given out by ACTV. In 1989, they held another recognition event, and, yes, I received another award there. There’s an excellent sampler reel here featuring both Frank and Madalyn again as well as other friends, but I’m not on this one. My award was for “Perseverance and Experience,” partially for my long-running Armadillo Christmas Bazaar series (I often bragged it was the “slowest moving series on ACTV — one episode per year”) and, possibly, too, for my recently-ended tenure as President of the Board of Directors.

Thanks again to ACTV and Tim Hamblin, video curator at the Austin History Center, for another blast from the past!


About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in Buller, creativity, video and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blast from the Past, 1983 ACTV Academy Awards Edition

  1. Doug Kellner says:

    fyi, almost 300 Alternative Views videos are archived at The Internet Archive:

  2. Doug Kellner says:

    2 more items concerning Alternative Views:


    “A Guide to the Alternative Views Video Collection, 1978-1998”

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