Archive for the ‘"Shogun"’ Category

A Conversation with Richard Chamberlain – Now Online

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Actor Richard Chamberlain sat down with the Archive of American Television for three hours and detailed his television work. The entire interview is now online. Below are some excerpts from this extensive interview:

Richard Chamberlain on the wild popularity of Dr. Kildare.

I think people are fascinated by the medical profession.  They’re fascinated by situations of life and death. Everybody knows that someday you’ll get sick or break something, or have a problem and need a doctor and people find doctors like Gillespie and Kildare wonderful because they care about you, they listen to you, they help you.  I think all of those things made the show very, very attractive.  Also it was very well-produced and very well-written for its time. We had amazing guest stars, and amazing guest directors. But mostly I think it’s in the human realm, it’s a situation which people would die to be in, if they were gonna die or close to it, with getting the best possible care from people who really cared about them.

VIDEO CLIP: Richard Chamberlain on the character of Dr. Kildare.

Richard Chamberlain on playing John Blackthorne in the Shogun miniseries.

I read a lot about him, because he was a real person.  I read a lot about that history, what Japan was like.  Japan was an unbelievably cohesive society at the time.  I mean, whatever your station in life, that’s where you were, you were allowed to eat certain things, you were allowed to dress certain ways,  you were allowed to be certain places.  And that was it.  There was no social mobility whatsoever.  You were stuck for your life, and so was your family, forever.  It was a really tough culture.  Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. And Blackthorne, of course, had to cope with all that, and even take a bath, which was unheard of in Europe at the time.  It was wonderful being in Japan, and having the Japanese crew, and the Japanese wardrobe people, and make up people and all that.  It was really good.

Richard Chamberlain on The Thorn Birds.

The basic premise of “The Thornbirds” was ‘let’s make the best most high-class tragedy driven soap opera of all time.’ I don’t mean to denigrate it.  It was brilliantly done, and brilliantly cast, and a wonderful story, but the absolute top of the heap of pure soap opera I think.   I often am surprised when I think about it that it was, and remains so successful because it was one tragedy after another, after another, after another, after another, after another. Nobody came out on top in that show.  Everybody — it was so sad, one thing after another.  And these wonderful people, wonderful characters, and Father Ralph was an extraordinary character.  He was so driven and so torn three ways. I mean, it’s one thing to have your heart ripped apart in two directions, but his was in three directions.  First of all, he loved God, and had a genuine vocation. Secondly, he was enthralled by the power and glamor of the church, and thirdly he really loved Meggie.  It was soul-mate love.  It was real, real love.

Richard Chamberlain on his decision to reveal his homosexuality in his autobiography.

Judith Regan, who was ReganBooks, and a very hot publisher had asked ‘what would you like to write about? ‘ And I said, ‘I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately, I’ll write about life.’  I thought I had some ideas about how we could live our lives better.  So I wrote five pages and sent them to her, and she liked it and said we were on.  So I was writing basically a philosophical treatise, but they kept saying ‘you’ve got to make it more personal  so people know where these ideas came from.’ So I made it more and more personal. I didn’t want to write about being gay in it because I knew that during the publicity campaign for the book that’s all anybody would want to talk about, and of course that’s what happened.  But it was during the course of writing the book that suddenly all the self-dislike, all the misconceptions I had about being gay vanished, absolutely vanished.  It was a kind of miracle, I think in fact, and then suddenly I was on national television talking about being gay because that’s all they wanted to talk about.

See the full interview, where he discusses these and many other topics in-depth at

Full Interview Description

In his Archive Interview, actor Richard Chamberlain talks about his life-long interest in acting. He discusses his first television role on Gunsmoke and describes at length his experience on Dr. Kildare, one of TV’s first medical dramas. He goes on to recount his roles on two of television’s most memorable miniseries: playing John Blackthorne on Shogun, and portraying the unforgettable Father Ralph on  The Thorn Birds. He also speaks of his stage and television work in London as well as his ventures into feature films, where he socialized with the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Federico Fellini on set. He touches on his forays into music recording and on what it’s like to be an actor who also happens to be gay. And be sure to watch for his tale on how he was mistaken for a serial killer in Colorado while filming the NBC miniseries, Centennial. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the one-hour interview on February 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA.

Casting Executive Ethel Winant’s Interview is Now Online

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Casting Executive Ethel Winant’s interview is now online. Ms. Winant discusses her early years casting for live anthologies, her role as one of the first female network executives, and her experiences as a network casting executive for CBS and NBC.

Click here to access Ethel Winant’s entire 7-part interview.

Here are some excerpts:

From Part 4

Q You were one of the first female network executives. What was it like to be the only woman at the top?

I’d been the only woman for so long that I never thought about it. I mean there were things that you gotta do. Like, in the executive dining room there was a bathroom which had no door, no lock. So, for years,when I went to go to the bathroom, I would go outside, take the elevator, go down and go to the lady’s room. And, finally, I just said, well, I’m not going do this anymore. I figured out that if I took my shoes off and left my shoes outside the door that these guys, because they would all go in together, that they would know that I was in the bathroom. They wouldn’t walk in. I was always the only woman. For years, and years and years.

From Part 7

What advice would you give someone who’s starting out as a casting director?

It’s hard now, I think it’s harder to be a good casting director now because the world is so much bigger. I used to have this really simple advice which was to watch a lot of television, watch a lot of movies, start making lists for yourself and every time you see somebody that you like, write their name down. If you watch a television show, if you watch a movie, if every time you go to a play, keep lists, keep cards, do all that. It’s really what it’s about — seeing as many people as you can, going to as many plays, workshops as you can. I don’t think there’s any way to learn it.

Interview description:

In her 7-part oral history interview, Ethel Winant (1922-2003) discusses her start in television as a volunteer for Studio One, produced by Worthington Minor. Winant talks about her shift into casting and her job with David Susskind’s Talent Associates. Winant speaks about her experience as one of the first, high-ranking female executives in television, working for CBS and NBC as well as her encounters with the Blacklist. Winant’s fondest memories in television focus on her work as a casting director for Playhouse 90, and the talented people she worked with: John Houseman, John Frankenheimer, Martin Manulis, Fred Coe and Hubbell Robinson. Additionally she talks about casting such classics as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Shogun. The interview was conducted on August 7, 1996 by Sunny Parich.