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Valerie Norman-Gammon

Media executive and television producer Valerie Norman-Gammon was born on May 14, 1951 in New York City, New York to Irene Robinson and Edmund Greene. Norman-Gammon attended P.S. 166 Elementary School in New York City and graduated from Brandeis High School in 1968. She went on to receive her B.A. degree from Baruch College in New York City in 1979. Norman-Gammon received her M.A. degree in journalism and broadcast management from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1981. She worked as a legal secretary for Cravath, Swaine & Moore before working in several successful broadcasting positions.

In 1980 Norman-Gammon worked as a talk show host for WYTV TV in Ohio. From 1981-1988 she worked as senior producer for WBBM TV in Chicago, Illinois. While with WBBM TV, Norman-Gammon produced the weekly talk show The Lee Phillips Show for which she won a Chicago Emmy award in 1983. During this time, she also served as executive producer for various documentary specials, including The Sounds of Soul, the fifth installment of the Time Warner syndicated series, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In 1988, Norman-Gammon became president and CEO of Amethyst Entertainment Inc., a television, music festival production, and media company. She has produced a number of mega music events, most notably, the Essence Music Festival from 1995 to 2002. From 1994 to 2007, Norman-Gammon served as the executive producer for FOX Chicago and My Network TV’s six time Emmy nominated, Christmas Glory.

Norman-Gammon is the recipient of three National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards for her work with The Essence Awards on the FOX Network. Norman-Gammon has also served as an adjunct professor in television, film, speech communications, and media relations at Johnson & Wales University. Norman-Gammon’s expertise in media management, television and mega event production make her one of the top executive producers in the entertainment industry. She is a long time member of numerous media related and professional organizations, including the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. Norman-Gammon lives with her husband, Parker Gammon, in Miami, Florida.

Valerie Norman-Gammon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 22, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.233

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/22/2012

Last Name

Norman-Gammon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

P.S. 166

Louis D Brandeis High School

Baruch College

University of Michigan

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Valerie

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

NOR06

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

It has to be fabulous.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

5/14/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Media executive and television producer Valerie Norman-Gammon (1951 - ) had over thirty years of experience in mass media management, television, and mega event production. She worked with Amethyst Entertainment, Inc.

Employment

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

WYTV TV

WBBM TV

Amethyst Entertainment, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Valerie Norman-Gammon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her maternal great grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon remembers picking tomatoes with her grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon shares her great grandmother's stories

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the foods that her grandmother made in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about meeting her father for the first time

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about seeing her father for the last time

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the brief period in which she knew her father and his occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's occupations and ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the building where she grew up in the Upper West Side, New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon lists her favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes her mother's move to New York City at a young age

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her mother's sacrifices for their Manhattan apartment

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about starting grade school, her love of reading, and Christmas as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon remembers her high school, Louis D. Brandeis High School, and the teacher that influenced her the most

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon compares racism in Manhattan and the south

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes how she understood race as a child in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her church in Harlem and its pastor, Adam Clayton Powell

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes being in a cotillion

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her extracurricular activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her first boyfriend

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working while going to school at Baruch College

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her scholarship to go to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her first marriage to Marvin Norman

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working in the World Trade Center towers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about TV anchors that she admired and an internship at NBC

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about balancing work and college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the skills that she gained working at a law firm, and the individuals who influenced her

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about leaving her job at law firm to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon New York City's black culture in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her maternal family's reaction to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about meeting Cindy Walker, who helped launch her television career

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about becoming cohost of Good Morning Youngstown in Youngstown, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about moving to Chicago, Illinois and becoming a producer at WBBM-TV

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the show "Common Ground" in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing television shows at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois and her friendship with Lee Phillip Bell

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Chicago politics and culture, and Harold Washington becoming mayor, in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks her struggle to achieve balanced political representation WBBM-TV

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she coped with the stress of working in television

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about some close friends from Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about writing a book with Dr. Terry Mason

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the second Essence Awards show in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon meeting John H. Johnson at the Essence Awards

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the Chicago entertainment and journalism community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the Essence Awards for a decade

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she became connected with the Essence Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the process of producing the Essence Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing the Cancun Jazz Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing music festivals throughout Mexico and the Caribbean

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about developing and producing Sinbad's Soul Music Festival

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Apostolic Church of God and convincing Bishop Brazier to go on television

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about Bishop Brazier and the conception of Christmas Glory

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes the Christmas Glory television event

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her community outreach goals in creating televised church events

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the awards that she won for Christmas Glory

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about working with Quincy Jones on "The History of Rock n Roll"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her contributions to the Essence Music Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Valerie Norman-Gammon describes meeting and marrying her husband, Parker Gammon

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her husband's occupation

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about moving to Miami, Florida with her husband, Parker Gammon

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about winning three NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about some of her current projects

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her parents' deaths and her relationships with family members

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her brothers

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her step sons

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her regret of not having children

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Valerie Norman-Gammon comments on her future aspirations

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about how she would like to be remembered and shares some advice for young adults

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about the women that she has admired over the years

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Valerie Norman-Gammon reflects upon the importance of paying it forward and helping others

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Valerie Norman-Gammon narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about producing television shows at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois and her friendship with Lee Phillip Bell
Valerie Norman-Gammon talks about her contributions to the Essence Music Festival
Transcript
I came to Chicago in September of 1981 over the Labor Day weekend. I drove my little car through the "S" curve and found my way to the hotel and then realized that CBS WBBM was actually two blocks down and so I would just walk down there to work. I came here during a time when Bill Curtis was here and Walter Jacobsen. WBBM was number one for everything for everything so it was exciting to be here and be a part of that whole collection and group of people; winning awards like crazy and everything. When I--after I worked on 'Common Ground' for so many months and then the 'Lee Phillip Show' became available because Bruce Dumont left. Cindy Walker made the decision to give me the show which then gave me two shows, 'Common Ground' and Lee Phillip. And the Lee Phillip show was really a prize possession. There were many other producers who wanted to have her show but I got it. It was a lot of work but I loved it. I was reading all the time because I had a two hour show in 'Common Ground' where you had to have a lot of material and you had to really delve into what was going on in the city and the community. But then I also had Lee Phillip who had a half hour day time Sunday magazine show with three segments that had all the biggest names in entertainment that came to town. So I was always going to plays, I was always going to big entertainment events, I always going to celebrity parties, I was always going to everything that was very high brow for her show and very community and local for 'Common Ground.' So I met everybody. I was being interviewed, I got numerous awards because I was everywhere doing everything and it was crazy but I loved it, I absolutely loved it. My relationship with Lee Phillip [Bell]--I did not know who she was obviously before I came here. I was unaware of the fact that she was married to Bill Bell and that she actually was Lee Phillip Bell and that they owned 'The Young and Restless' and also 'The Bold and the Beautiful.' So I didn't know that they were a powerhouse couple living over on Lake Shore Drive and that every afternoon Bill was on a conference call with his LA [Los Angeles, California] team executive producing 'The Young and the Restless.' I had no idea until I met her and we started working together and she and I actually shared a huge office. So we would look each other every day. We became very close. I remember she invited me to dinner one night and I went over there. She lived in one of the apartments, I've forgotten the actual address but it looks out on the lake, beautiful entire floor. And her daughter was there and her sons who now are big stars in television and we just had a good family time. Because they were just regular, family oriented people and it was phenomenal, it was just phenomenal.$$Now you mentioned that her sons are now big names in television.$$Her daughter is Lauralee Bell who is on 'The Bold and the Beautiful' and her sons have been working in the business so they are something. The father, Bill Bell has passed on but recently Lee ran into someone, a mutual friend and she called me to say hello. So she is out in LA now doing her thing and they say that--she says that she is over there a couple of times a week.$$On the set?$$On the set that's amazing, that's wonderful.$So Valerie in 1995 to 2002 you were a producer for the main stage of the Essence Music Festival?$$Yes, I am proud to say that I'm part of the team with Ed Lewis, Clarence Smith, Susan Taylor, Karen Taylor, and Terry Williams who created the actual Essence Music Festival. We created the concept; we went around the country working on selecting the right venue. We decided on New Orleans [Louisiana] because we could do two things at once. Have the main stage and then have that second level with the four quadrant rooms. We could have four different things going on. We created that and I actually decided that the main stage should be more than just another concert venue and I loved the fact that Essence, to my knowledge today, with the Essence Music Festival is the only one that has an actual produced stage presence when the performers are not on. And I created that for them and I created the designs for the quadrant rooms. So I asked a set designer that worked with me at CBS to come in and to meet us in New Orleans in the first year and to create a backdrop that was Essence because Essence [Magazine] is first class, it's all about, you know, the significance and the admiration and respect for African American women. And I didn't want us to just have a black curtain in the back. We needed to have something that was first class and lovely. So we did that, I brought her in and we created that and then we went around and created the themes for the different rooms and designed them so that they would like the blues or the disco ball hanging for the seventies or whatever. And so I was responsible for designing and creating all of that. Then I said to Clarence [Smith] and Ed [Lewis] and Susan [Taylor] that I thought there was money on the table that was being left by virtue of the fact that when we normally go to a concert they play some music between acts, right we'll be back, you know, and now we're back, you know, want to the stage so and so like in that little block; we should be something that's going to generate revenue. So I created all of these little moments where a host could come on stage and interact with the audience and they could be sponsor driven and they could sell them. So, since we've done that they now, in fact, have been able to increase the revenue for Essence in ways that we didn't start out in the first year. So I'm very proud of that.