Tatyana Dmitrakova : The main TV showrunner of the nineties, Vlad Listyev , launched a mass of powerful programs that were ahead of their time. Some are still on the air (“Field of Miracles”), some are no longer there, but still left a rather deep mark on the history of Russian television. One of these was Theme, which started on the Ostankino channel (later First), which Listyev initially hosted himself and set a journalistic degree for almost all modern talk shows.
By the anniversary date, “KP” decided to talk with the director of the program Tatyana Dmitrakova (she worked in the projects “What? Where? When?”, “Vzglyad”, “Rush Hour”, etc.) why today it would hardly survive on the air.
– Tatyana, how did you come up with the program? Here is the “Field of Miracles” Leaf spied with Anatoly Lysenko in France.
– Vlad wanted to make a journalistic show. Not entertaining, but problematic, interesting. Realize the ability of a journalist. So there was no need to go to another country. We have similar programs. So “Theme” was not a borrowing. Was there, for example, the transfer of “The Twelfth Floor” on the Central Television in 1985? Also a talk show. The essence of “Themes” was that you can discuss everything, not just everyday topics. Even the most unusual and shocking ones: plastic surgery, gender reassignment, whatever.
– Did he choose the topics himself?
– We discussed collegially what we could talk about, but the topics were eventually approved by Vlad.
The final word was his. If the authors offered a well-developed theme, he gladly took it.
– What, in his opinion, should have been in the program? And what could not be?
– There were no such installations. The most important thing is that our spectators were not extras, as they are now, they were people who were interested, with different points of view, who spoke openly. This is how the regulars of the program appeared – including Lidia Ivanova (master of sports in rowing, after the end of her career in the 90s she became a plus-size model;
after working in “Theme” in the show “Windows” in the bathroom with pasta, she sang the song “I love pasta “- Auth.), which later replaced Vlad.
– In the book of memoirs of Dmitry Shcheglov about Listyev, it was said that instead of himself in the program, he “wanted a fat aunt.” Such an unusual leader – the introduction of an element of nationality?
– No, she just came to us. Lively, answered questions well. Vlad understood that he would put her on her feet, launch her, and then start doing something else. The people have nothing to do with it.
– Many stars came to the show. How did they behave then? Did you allow yourself to be capricious in the presence of Listyev?
“Then there weren’t as many stars as there are now. And Vlad was not a professional journalist, because there was no school of TV presenters, he came from foreign broadcasting. But on the other hand, he was a popular person, so celebrities went to him with pleasure (Andrey Makarevich, Yuri Nikulin, Mikhail Zadornov, Maria Shukshina and others). Vlad was interesting and was not ugly, like Otar Kushanashvili (the outrageous star of the Sharks of the Feather show – now leads the YouTube channel “What?!” – Auth.), for example.
He could ask sharp questions, but he did it politely, without malice, he did not want to expose anyone. The goal was to understand what you want to understand. He knew how to be silent and listen – the most valuable quality of an interviewer. Do not get ahead of events, let the person say what he wanted. Could hang a long pause and wait for the person to answer. It was important.
– What programs are most memorable for you?
– Many topics were not just exotic, but shocking. So, there was a program dedicated to sex change operations. And it was not shocking or creating an image. I saw people born in the village who want to become different, to start life anew. There was a boy who ran away from home, who faked suicide: he left his things on the shore and seemed to drown. After that, he actually moved to Moscow to seek medical authorities to change his gender. Achieved.
Vlad pulled him out for an interview. Although you understand that in the 90s it was difficult to admit this. At the time when he came to us, he was already a woman, he changed his name and passport. Got married. Another commemorative program was called “Mapulechki” – it was dedicated to fathers who, during a divorce, insistently demanded that the court leave their children with them. Because they thought
Why was the show so popular?
– It discussed a lot of topical topics that interested people. They did not know much about it, but it existed latently. It was interesting to see. What is plastic surgery, what is racism, what is working as a prostitute. Such controversy was important and interesting in addition to everyday and political issues.
– Today there are a lot of talk shows, but of a different kind, depth and intonation. Now “Theme” would be in demand?
– Not. Maybe someone would watch. We educate the audience with any program. Here people come to the “Field of Miracles” and know how to behave there, how to speak. Certain rules of conduct are set. Spectators learn these rules too. I don’t watch today’s talk shows. But mom is watching.
And when I am in the country, I hear what it is. And I ask my mother: “Are you interested in watching people hang dirty laundry? Why is it interesting to peep? She honestly answers: “It’s interesting to look at someone else’s life.” But it’s not even someone else’s life. Much of what is shown is not real. This is a kind of farce that is played with freaks and non-professionals. Maybe even with people with mental disabilities.
– There is even such a trend in art: art brut.
– No, I’m not talking about that. Get it right. I know that children with autism also create wonderful works (project “Naive? Very”, etc.), we do not offend them with such comparisons, we are talking about something else. When a marginalized audience is specially brought to the show to show their showdowns. By cultivating people who are stupid, uncultured and uneducated.
– How much is the sin of the creators of modern TV? Doesn’t demand create supply? Almost no one watches the Kultura channel, no matter how noble the content is.
– Everyone wants to eat with butter and caviar. We live in a society where it is not the idea that rules the show, but money. What brings good income, and will continue. As Alexei German Sr. said, you don’t need to burn anything, you can just change the channel. I don’t have a TV so I don’t watch it. Because as soon as I arrive at my mother’s dacha, I hear all sorts of stuff pouring out of there, as if from Pandora’s box.
Am I able to not watch it? And everyone can do the same. Whoever has enough mind, soul and other human qualities, that’s what he goes for. I’m not inclined to blame journalists. They do it because there is an audience. Yes, if there is demand, there will be supply.
– Would you like to produce a quality program yourself? Which would not only please your mother, but also you.
– No one offers me anything good on TV, so I don’t do anything. I can’t bend under the changing world. So I rest on my laurels (laughs).
– Then the final: about the most important thing. How many in the time of “Theme” in the 90s was the top director of a television program?
– Very well earned. Getting up to 10 thousand dollars a month for a sought-after director was not a big problem.