Clip | By Sidney Lumet - Sidney Lumet Recalls Working with Walter Cronkite on “You Are There”

Sidney Lumet speaks about his work adapting the radio show “You Are There” for television. Working with Walter Cronkite, Lumet directed a news show that covered major historical events in a modern way.

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The 'You Are There' series is going to sound ridiculous to most people and you are allowed a smile, but I promise you it worked like a dream. It had originally been a radio show which would have been no problem because your imagination could supply everything, but what it was it was a half-hour show and it was a re-creation of an historical incident covered by modern news technique. So the show would begin with the anchor desk just like you'd be at an - with an anchor desk today and - but in this instance it was Walter Cronkite, and it really anyway made his career and in the big sense because the show became a big success. And he would start with, 'July 4th, 1776 and you are there - the signing of the Declaration of Independence.' And bang and then he would do about a 15- to 20-second, maybe a minute depending how complex, lead-in to put it in context bring you up-to-date on what was going on and talking directly to the camera, and at the end of that orientation he would say to you, 'We take you now to Independence Hall,' except it wasn't called that then, 'in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All things are as they were then, except you are there.'

And then Harry Reasoner would take over in the - in Independence Hall and he'd give you a description. There would bet in the background - people would be arguing or what have you - and then Harry would say, 'oh Mr. Henry, This is Patrick Henry - delegate from Virginia - Mr. Henry, would you say a few words?

Can I ask you this?' I know how ridiculous it sounds. All I can tell you is it not only worked, we were on the air two or three years live, and it was so profitable a show that CBS want to film on it which - the reason being they wanted to be able to syndicate it forever. Schools ordered their kids to look at it. It was on Sunday evening, I think about six-thirty. Wonderful acting, and something, even in its naivete, it was really rather superb.