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New Television Workshop; Collisions

Part of New Television Workshop.

Approximate date: 1977

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New Television Workshop
Series Description

The New Television Workshop originated at WGBH in 1974 to support the creation and development of experimental video art. This experimental programming included dance, drama, music, performance and visual arts on video and film. As early as 1968, WGBH was committed to the development of video art through residency programs, with artists such as Nam June Paik. Many of these early works (pre-1974) were broadcast both locally and nationally. Fred Barzyk, a WGBH producer and director, was the Workshop's Executive Director from 1974 to 1982. Susan Dowling was Executive Director from 1982 to 1993. In 1993 the Workshop ceased production at WGBH. Major broadcast series created by the Workshop included "Artist's Showcase," "Frames of Reference," "Dance for Camera," "Poetry Breaks," and "New Television." Individual works were created for "Visions," a series produced by WNET (New York), and "Alive From Off Center," a series produced by KTCA (St. Paul - Minneapolis). The Contemporary Art Television (CAT) Fund was co-founded by the Workshop and Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in the 1980's, to commission works by video artists. Series release date: 1974

Program Description

"Collisions" was written by Jane Wagner and is an unusual comedy/drama. It stars Lily Tomlin and other well known performers, such as Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner. The work attempts to integrate short video works by Stephen Beck, Ed Emshwiller, Louis Falco, Ron Hays, Stan Vanderbeek, and William Wegman. "Collisions" tells the story of Eartha, a creature from the planet of Zymus, who agrees to take a human form and to observe the planet earth. Eartha inhabits Beth Barber (Lily Tomlin), a news reporter. At one point, Beth visits her family in Kentucky, who are played by Tomlin's actual family. Meanwhile, a panel of experts on a television program on Zymus monitor Eartha's impressions and contemplate whether or not to blow up the earth. Eventually, Eartha, who has come to respect the humans' vulnerability and depth of feeling, has a falling out with the panel. The fate of earth remains uncertain. A coproduction of the WNET Television Laboratory and the WGBH New Television Workshop. This work was considered a "failure" by producer Fred Barzyk and was never broadcast.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Interstellar travel
Science fiction
Film and Television
David Loxton (Producer)
Susan Dowling (Producer)
Fred Barzyk (Producer)
Jane Wagner (Writer)
Dowling, Susan (Producer)
Falco, Louis ()
Corey, Irwin ()
Radner, Gilda ()
Hays, Ron ()
Wegman, William ()
White, Charles ()
Emshwiller, Ed ()
Beck, Stephen ()
Kazanoff, Ted ()
Vanderbeek, Stan ()
Aykroyd, Dan ()
Morash, Russ ()
Bragg, Nelson ()
Chicago: “New Television Workshop; Collisions,” GBH Archives, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “New Television Workshop; Collisions.” GBH Archives. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: New Television Workshop; Collisions. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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