With the assistance of a dozen bureaus and 18 reporters and correspondents on two coasts, the 38-year-old Sanders has compiled Everyman's guide to the best of what's coming in the months ahead.
TV critic Jeff Jarvis and TV correspondent Jane Hall screened every pilot considered for the new season, while Sanders confesses, "I just watched the ones they recommended." And what is the upshot of all those bloodshot eyes? After a few bearish years, Sanders predicts a bull market in television. "Eight or nine good shows," he pronounces with confidence. "This is the year of the Old Faces—William Conrad, Dabney Coleman, Dennis Weaver, John Ritter."
Two of Sanders' fellow senior editors, Peter Travers and Ralph Novak, weighed in with the best prospects in movies and books. Picture researcher Sarah Rozen went through more than 500 photographs to find the best pictures for our report.
All of this input might have daunted someone less hardy than Sanders, but the Long Island native had early training in big tasks. His first job came at age 14, when his father, Lou, put him to work as a reporter on the weekly newspaper he owns, The Mineola American. Two years later, Lou began taking month-long vacations, leaving the entire editorial operation to little Richard. His mother, Grace, business manager of the paper, was no help. She decamped with Dad.
Sanders, whose wife, Laurie, manages a print shop on Long Island, majored in film and television production at NYU but returned to print once he left school. "If I had graduated in 1981 instead of 1976, I'd probably be making rock videos today," says Sanders. We're glad he got out in '76.