In December, 1991, Michael Riedel, the audacious and outspoken young Managing Editor of TheaterWeek Magazine met Susan Haskins, a casting director and Art Director of the La MaMa Theater, on an episode of the ground-breaking public access series The Stephen Holt Show. The two hit it off and soon hatched a plan (with the help and support of actor/director Steve Ahern) to create their own public access series which they conceived as a McLaughlin Group/Meet the Press of theater.
They taped their first episode in the summer of 1992. The guests were critic John Simon and producer Elizabeth McCann. Haskins & Riedel submitted this show, then called Inside Broadway, to the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and it premiered on public access channel 69, January 4, 1993.
For the first couple of seasons the shows guests were Michael’s contacts from TheaterWeek (and then The Daily News where Riedel subsequently got a job as a stringer for the paper’s gossip columnist), as well as Susan’s from her years in the downtown theater world. Inside Broadway slowly developed a following and the range of guests expanded.
In the summer of 1996, when MNN planned to move Inside Broadway to 2 AM, Haskins pitched the show to PBS station Thirteen, who gave it a 13 week trial, beginning November 7, 1996. Changing the name to Theater Talk, they premiered with an episode featuring Kander & Ebb plus Martin Gottfried, and the weekly series has been on the station ever since with Riedel and Haskins as co-hosts and Haskins as Executive Producer.
In 1998, H&R started taping the show in the studio of television station of the City University of New York, CUNY TV. (At about this time, Riedel also landed a job as the theater columnist at the New York Post). The relationship with the stationproved to be a successful one and CUNY TV now co-produces the series along with the not-for-profit corporation, Theater Talk Productions. Since 2008, CUNY TV (under the supervision of the station’s Executive Producer, Bob Isaacson) has also assisted in the satellite syndication of the show by Executive Program Service, and Theater Talk is available on public TV markets, throughout the USA.