What started as a casual conversation about the humble beginnings of Chicago Public Radio‘s “This American Life” turned into an impromptu press conference last night as host Ira Glass announced the end of the popular radio program’s Emmy nominated television spinoff on Showtime.
“I don’t know if I can say this yet, but we’ve asked to be taken off of television,” Glass revealed.
Glass’ unexpected announcement came in the midst of a Behind the Scenes event hosted at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. The night’s panel, moderated by NY1‘s Budd Mishkin, included the show’s senior producers Julie Snyder, Nancy Updike, Jane Feltes and Sean Cole, as well as film rights producer Alissa Shipp and production manager Seth Lind.
Then, of course, there was Glass — the host and executive producer of the public radio golden child and Showtime program of the same name — who has become ubiquitous on television, billboards and panels alike. His Buddy Holly glasses and graying spiked hair are familiar by now, and his notoriety explains why his introductory applause was by far the most sustained.
Steering the conversation casually, Mishkin lauded the program, giving the night a celebratory feel as the show’s creators discussed its methods and told insider stories to the delight of the crowd. The event began with anecdotes from seemingly slapdash beginnings, as Updike recalled struggling to fill an hour broadcast, even letting Glass wing it live to fill time in the days before the show’s syndication.
The producers reflected on the various media properties that have resulted since the humble inception of “This American Life,” including the forthcoming Steven Soderbergh film The Informant! starring Matt Damon, which is based on an episode.
According to Glass, the show’s relationship with movies was all about supply and demand: “We had no money, but a large supply of ideas, while Hollywood had a large amount of money and no ideas.”