Robert A. Fishman to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award for Television Direction at 75th Annual DGA Awards

Robert A. Fishman

December 20, 2022

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter announced today that Robert A. Fishman will become the fifth Director to receive one of the Guild’s top accolades, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction. The Award, which will be presented at the 75th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, February 18, 2023, honors Fishman’s legendary career as a Director of televised sports.

In announcing the award, Glatter said, “The DGA is thrilled to recognize Bob Fishman for his unprecedented contributions to the direction of live sporting events over a legendary 50–year career. From the first live coverage of the Daytona 500 to Tonya Harding’s broken lace drama at the 1994 Olympics to the NCAA Final Four this year, Bob has been the quintessential storyteller in live sports, directing across the broadest possible spectrum. Bob’s mantra has always been, “Don’t miss the live action.” And he didn’t miss one moment – bringing the action, and the stories behind the action, to life in ways that have influenced his peers and generations of sports fans. In every sport he touched – whether baseball, football, basketball, tennis, auto racing, figure skating, or horse racing – Bob always brought his special magic, that commitment to capturing what he calls ‘true emotion’ in his frame and sharing it with viewers nationwide. For his unique body of work combining the art of storytelling, live action, and the power of television, we are incredibly proud to present Bob with this honor for Lifetime Achievement in Television.”

As a Director of televised sporting events, Fishman’s resume is unparalleled. During his half-century tenure at CBS, he has helmed 39 NCAA Final Fours, 27 US Open tennis championships, 21 Daytona 500s, three Olympic Winter Games, two World Series, numerous NFL and NBA playoffs, college football, Triple Crown horse races, and so much more. He has garnered 20 Emmy Award nominations with an even more impressive 16 wins such as Outstanding Live Sports Series for NFL on CBS and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2019; Outstanding Playoff Coverage for NCAA Basketball on CBS; and Outstanding Live Sports Series for the 1990 and 1991 NCAA Basketball Tournaments and for the 1988 NCAA Basketball on CBS.

Fishman was recognized by his peers with a DGA Award nomination in the Musical Variety category for his 1996 special, Sergei Grinkov, Celebration of Life and another in the Sports category for his 1988 telecast of the NCAA Basketball Championship, Oklahoma vs Kansas. He has won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Sports three times: for his direction of the American League Championships Series Game 4 in 1990, US Open Tennis in 1989 and NCAA Basketball Championship Syracuse/Indiana in 1987.

Fishman was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2019, where he said, “I have one goal as a Director, and that’s to capture emotional moments. Directing for me — whether it’s film or sports or anything else — is about capturing those moments that have true emotion.”

A DGA member since 1972, Fishman seemed destined for a job in the world of sports. Born in New York City and reared in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, he grew up listening to Dodgers games on shortwave radio and dreaming of being a baseball announcer. While earning a degree in broadcasting at Boston University, he fell in love with the art of directing and behind-the-scenes production, landing a job at CBS News in 1972 as a Production Assistant and Associate Director. He got his first taste of the Director’s chair when the lead Director for CBS News’ coverage of the Apollo 17 launch fell ill, and Fishman was tapped to helm CBS Morning News segments hosted by the legendary Walter Cronkite. He would later go on to direct the trailblazing CBS Sports’ pregame show, The NFL Today, and also began directing auto racing, college football, and a variety of events for the CBS Sports Spectacular anthology series.

But his real breakthrough came in 1979 when he was assigned to direct the Daytona 500 for CBS, marking the first time the entire race had been broadcast live from flag to flag, where he captured the epic last lap crash between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison that allowed Richard Petty to win, and Yarborough and Allison’s famous fight on the track after the race. Another career-making moment came in 1981, when CBS Sports won the broadcast-TV rights to the NCAA Final Four, and Fishman was selected to direct the 1982 championship game where he caught one of the most memorable finishes in sports history, freshman North Carolina guard Michael Jordan sinking a jumper in the closing seconds to beat Georgetown.

In addition to redefining televised coverage of auto racing — where he was the first Director to use the in-car camera — and college basketball, Fishman’s versatility has covered every major sport including NFL and college football; three Olympic competitions and ceremonies including figure skating at the 1992 Albertville, 1994 Lillehammer, and 1998 Nagano Winter Games, and the Opening Ceremony in Nagano; US Open tennis tournaments, NBA Playoffs and World Series games, and various events at three Pan American Games. He was also the first Director to put a handheld camera in the starting gate in horse racing to see the shot of the jockeys and horses leave the starting gate and won Eclipse Awards for his work at the prestigious Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes.


Robert A. Fishman accepts the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award for Television Direction

About the DGA Lifetime Achievement Awards:

The DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction was created by the Board of Directors in 2015, joining the Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction as the two highest honors bestowed by the DGA. Winners are nominated by a blue-ribbon committee of prominent television directors and approved by the present and past presidents of the Guild.

Past recipients of the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction: 
  • 2019    Don Mischer
  • 2016    Joe Pytka
  • 2014    James Burrows; Robert Butler
75th Annual DGA Awards Key Dates
  • Tuesday, January 10, 2023: Television, Commercial and Documentary nominees
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2023: Theatrical Feature Film and First-Time Feature Film nominees

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