Producer: Roots, The Thornbirds
Prestige television did not begin with The Sopranos. The mini-series was the original home for quality programming, and David L. Wolper was the man who first perfected the form. His most famous mini-series, Roots, still holds as the third most-viewed television show of all time. His other famed mini-series, including The Thornbirds and North and South, were not as widely viewed, but reached for a level of professionalism and quality not often seen on television. Though HBO's formula of high-caliber series, with name actors in limited seasons and big budgets, feels new, the playbook for this sort of work was developed by David L. Wolper.