Fall 2016

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54 CINEMONTAGE / Q4 2016 by Laura Almo portraits by Martin Cohen I n the world of TV editorial, longevity on the job is something akin to a jewel in the crown. If you work in TV there are always reasons to stay or leave a show. Reasons to remain may be love of the show, the material and the people with/for whom one is working, or perhaps the stability of a steady job. People may depart because the show ends or is canceled, there is a regime change, or simply because they want to try something different. This is what makes a profession: the opportunities that come our way, the choices with which we are faced, the decisions we make. In the midst of a career in television, picture editors may think about how many years they've been on a show, but they may not stop to consider how many episodes of it they've cut. Certainly, reaching the 100-episode milestone is quite an achievement. And doing so on a single one-hour drama is even more rare. The one-hour TV drama has been around since 1957, when defense attorney Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) first graced TV audiences with his sage counsel in the eponymous series. (Gunsmoke actually premiered earlier, in 1955, but was only a 30-minute program for its first six seasons.) Perry Mason was on the air for nine seasons and a total of 271 episodes. Of those, Richard Cahoon, who was with the series for its entire run on the CBS network, is credited with editing 107 of them — making him the inaugural member of this rarefied club. Since then, according to statistics compiled from and, there have been less than a dozen editors who have joined "The 100 Club" for cutting the same one-hour scripted TV drama. More common, of course, are editors who have cut over 100 episodes of different one-hour dramas. What's more, there are editors who have cut 100-plus episodes of a half-hour TV show. But the focus for this article is only on the single one-hour drama format. Some of the editors from pioneering one-hour TV dramas have passed away, while others were unreachable or unavailable for an interview; CineMontage was able to talk to five members of this exclusive club. DOING THE MATH: THE ROUTE TO 100 EPISODES Why is this 100-episode milestone such an uncommon occurrence? Well, it depends on a certain combination of circumstances taking place, making it no small feat. First of all, the TV show has to be successful enough to have a long run. Second, an editor must work on the same show for a certain number of years. And third, the amount of time it takes for an editor to reach 100 episodes depends on how many shows were in a season and how many editors worked in the rotation. Looking at the math, it is nearly impossible today for someone to edit 100 episodes on a show that ran for less than 12 years. If you consider the traditional (old school) TV model of 22-24 episodes a season, with a three-editor rotation, each editor would cut roughly eight episodes a season. That would require an editor to be on the same show for almost 13 years. In the earlier days of the medium (older school), when series like Gunsmoke and Perry Mason had 38-39 episodes in a season in the 1950s, it could be done in less than eight years with a similar rotation; or just over five years with two editors. These days, some series include as few as 10 episodes per season when you consider HBO and Showtime — or new models of television distribution such as online outlets Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Obviously, the possibility of editing 100 episodes diminishes even more with those platforms. Take for example HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones, which has been on since 2011 with 10-episode seasons. In an average season, an editor might Opposite: Jaque Toberen, left, Ellen Ring Jacobson, Gregory Gontz, Janet Weinberg and Karen Stern. Karen Stern. THE 100 CLUB Editorial Longevity

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