Submitted/John Tibbetts

John Tibbetts, associate professor of film and media studies, is shown with Meryl Streep after an early-'80s interview. Tibbetts is working with the Center for Digital Scholarship to make a series of interviews he conducted with actors and directors available to scholars and the public.

Film prof makes movie star interviews available through KU ScholarWorks

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For the full archive ot Tibbetts' interviews, visit KU Scholar Works

Like many of us, John Tibbetts had some old videotapes he was holding on to. Instead of putting them in a box and letting them gather dust in the basement, he’s found a way to preserve and share his videos, which happen to feature his interviews with the likes of Dustin Hoffmann, Meryl Streep, Christopher Reeve and Tim Burton.

Tibbetts, associate professor of film and media studies, has partnered with KU ScholarWorks to make available his archive of video and audio interviews he did with actors, directors and musicians during his career as a journalist. He was a journalist working with CBS television and various radio entities while also teaching in an adjunct role. His collection spans interviews he did from about 1980 until the last few years.

The idea to make the interviews public for students, scholars and the public was born in a conversation with Jackie Davis, former director of the Lied Center of Kansas, now the executive director at the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts in New York.

“The idea was, ‘Could we have an archive of these interviews?’” Tibbetts said. “My main concern years and years ago was simply preserving them.”

The thought of sharing them for research purposes was intriguing. He then approached Debora Ludwig in KU Libraries, who put him in touch with Wade Garrison, librarian in the Center for Digital Scholarship. They’ve since digitized and uploaded nearly 100 interviews. They are all available on a site called “Over the Rainbow” at managed by KU ScholarWorks.

The goal is to eventually archive several hundred video and audio interviews as well as drawings and paintings Tibbetts made of the interview subjects.

The online repository is home to countless volumes of research, publications and data generated by KU faculty members and researchers. Garrison said the videos are an example of the way the service can help share new formats of data with students, scholars and the world at large.

“What KU ScholarWorks can be is not just a place for ‘traditional scholarship,’” Garrison said. “It can be a home to any sort of data file that represents a faculty member’s work.”

Because he was an educator at the time he was performing the interviews, Tibbetts said he often formed his questions with the intention of having an interview that would be suitable for classroom purposes. After asking Richard Donner about working with Mel Gibson on “Lethal Weapon 2,” he could ask technical questions about how to properly mount cameras to film a car chase.

Garrison said the materials could be of value to students and faculty in film and media studies as well as disciplines such as communication studies, American studies and journalism. Tibbetts hopes the interviews not only are valuable academically, but also culturally.

“I always tell my students ‘These materials have never been cited in film research,’” Tibbetts said. “My first dream is that these are available for scholars. Or just anybody who’s interested in seeing Jeff Bridges talk about ‘Tron’ in 1983.”

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Susan Mercer, associate director, Institute for Policy and Social Research
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