Brandon Stoddard, 77, a television executive who played a key role in the 1970s classic


and other pioneering miniseries, died Monday at his home in Los Angeles.

The cause was bladder cancer, said his wife, Mary Anne Dolan.

Other miniseries he oversaw as an ABC executive included the World War II-era saga The Winds of War, the romantic Australian tale The Thorn Birds and the Roots: The Next Generations sequel.

But Mr. Stoddard's impact was felt far beyond miniseries. During a succession of ABC jobs, he helped steer to the small screen such 1980s series as thirtysomething, Roseanne, The Wonder Years, China Beach and Full House.

Broadcasters during that era dominated the TV landscape and threatened to become faceless corporate behemoths, yet Mr. Stoddard was known for working closely with writers and producers and trying hard not to impose on their creative vision.

He also ventured into theatrical movies as the head of ABC's motion picture division that turned out Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep and directed by Mike Nichols.

Mr. Stoddard was born March 31, 1937, in Bridgeport, Conn., and raised in nearby Southport.

His parents refused to buy a television set when they became available, so he bought his own with earnings from odd jobs.

His parents "would make cynical remarks about 'the industry' and 'the business,' " he said, "which probably instantly attracted me to it."

He went to the private Deerfield Academy prep school and graduated from Yale in 1958.

After a stint in the Army, Mr. Stoddard took a job in advertising with a direct tie to television - he helped create campaigns aimed at getting major companies to sponsor TV shows - and that led to working in the field.

In 1985, his network career reached a peak when he was named president of ABC Entertainment. But after about three years, he suddenly resigned, to the surprise of many.

"It's just no fun anymore," he said in a 1989 interview. - L.A. Times