During a 2019 Q&A session, MAS*H star Alan Alda opened up about how technology has impacted the entertainment industry since his hit show came to an end in 1983.
While speaking with Hemispheres magazine two years ago, Alda shared numerous details about his long Hollywood career. At the time of the interview, the 83-year-old was staying busy with numerous ventures. He had just filmed the Netflix movie Marriage Story with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Additionally, the fourth season of his podcast, Clear + Vivid, was about to air.
The actor, author, director, podcaster, and more has spent more than six decades in the entertainment industry. So the MAS*H star was the perfect man to ask about technological and cultural changes within the film and television industries.
“I’ve seen enormous changes,” Alda said to Hemisphere. “Seen burlesque die. I’ve seen vaudeville die. I’ve seen movies grow and almost get killed by television, then television almost get killed by cable, and both of them transition into streaming.”
Alda then revealed what he thinks is the biggest difference between now and his time on MAS*H. Many of us may not even think about it since it’s engrained in our television viewing already. But for Alda, the creation of streaming TV, which allows binge-watching of shows, is a major alteration to the entertainment industry.
“Storytelling has made a really important shift with bingeing. Now, stories are written with bingeing in mind. It’s a wonderful experience to be so caught up [in an episode] that even though it comes to a conclusion you’ve got to see the next episode. And you’re up until 4 in the morning,” Alda explained.
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Alan Alda Rejects the Notion He Ran the Hit Show
During the same interview, Alan Alda dispelled rumors that he was running MAS*H in its later years. Although he did direct quite a few episodes, including the show’s finale, he never had creative control of the sitcom.
“That’s kind of a myth. I wrote and directed a lot of episodes, but I didn’t take any control, ever. The show was always controlled by the producers. I occasionally had opinions, but they were met with counter-opinions,” Alda said of the show’s collaborative creation.
In addition, Alda says that many people think M*A*S*H got more political because of his views. Yet that’s not the case either.
“I probably would have done a number of things differently. People assumed that my politics were in the show, and they weren’t. I don’t like entertainment that’s propagandistic,” he explained.
The actor and director of MASH shared a similar stance on the matter during a previous talk a dozen years prior. While speaking in a public forum talk in Boston in 2007, a fan posed almost the exact same question to the Hollywood star. Once again, he rejected any rumors that he ever ran MASH.
“You know, there’s a myth on the internet that I took over the show and was running it or dictating what was happening. In fact, some people say that it became more political when I got powerful and ran the show. I never ran the show. It was always run by the producers. [MAS*H] didn’t get more political. It got less political over the years,” Alda explained to the crowd, according to a JFK Library forum transcript.