Archive for the ‘"MacGyver"’ Category

Books: A Memoir by Archive Interviewee John Rich

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

A recent book, Warm up the Snake: A Hollywood Memoir (The University of Michigan Press), recounts Archive interviewee John Rich’s life in the trenches as one of television’s premier directors and producers. Rich boldly recounts his work on many classic series (and episodes) including The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gilligan’s Island, All in the Family and MacGyver as well as his longtime involvement in the Directors Guild of America. It’s a humerous, no-holds-barred look behind the scenes at some of our favorite shows and also gives readers a glimpse into what makes a great director.

From Warm Up the Snake:

During my days as an NBC stage manager, I witnessed plenty of foul-ups that no one could have invented. One day I was assigned to monitor the time and placement of a live commercial insert within a program, produced by an outside advertising agency. The program featured “Dunninger, the Mental Wizard,” a see-all know-all “mentalist” act. As the NBC representative, I had little to do but sit in the control room behind the production team and observe the action with my notepad at the ready. The first two sales pitches went as planned, but as the program neared its end, the director became concerned that the time would run out before the final commercial. He instructed the stage manager to “give Dunninger a speed-up and signal we have one minute to go.”

The stage manager obeyed, but the mentalist’s pace continued as before. The director called, “Give him 30 seconds!” No response. “Speed him up, we’re not going to make it!” Pandemonium reigned as the performer talked right into the NBC systems cue, cutting off transmission. The last commercial was lost: disaster. I made my notes, and joined the angry mob as they boiled out of the control room and confronted a bewildered Dunninger. “W lost the last commercial: the agency men screamed. “Why didn’t you take our cues?”

“What cues?” Dunninger asked.

“The three or four speed-ups, the one-minute, and the thirty-second cues we gave to the stage manager.”

Dunninger was irate. “Why don’t you put the son of a bitch where I can see him? What do you think I am, a mind reader?”

John Rich’s Archive interview is now online.
Click here to access all 14 parts.

Interview description:
John Rich was interviewed for nearly seven hours in Los Angeles, CA. Mr. Rich talked about his start in television as a stage manager for NBC, where he worked on The Colgate Comedy HourT. He eventually got his start as a director on The Ezio Pinza Show. He talked numerous shows he directed throughout his career including I Married Joan, The Ray Bolger Show, Our Miss Brooks, Gunsmoke, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, and All In the Family, which he also produced. He also discussed directing pilots for Maude, The Jeffersons, Barney Miller, and Newhart. Mr. Rich also discussed executive producing Benson and MacGyver. The interview was conducted by Henry Colman on August 3, 1999.

Radio Play Podcast Features A Look at TV’s Early Days

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007


On Saturday evening, July 7, Southern California residents can tune in KPCC 89.3 FM to hear the L.A. Theatre Works’ radio theatre production of The Ruby Sunrise by Rinne Groff, starring (Archive interviewee) Henry Winkler, Jason Ritter, Elisabeth Moss and Asher Book. The most recent offering in L.A. Theatre Works’ award-winning radio drama series, “The Play’s the Thing,” The Ruby Sunrise is directly inspired by the story of Philo Farnsworth and the early days of “live” television. In it, a spirited 1920s girl works independently to develop electronic television. Twenty-five years later, her daughter, now working at a television network. vows to bring her mother’s story to the small screen during “TV’s Golden Age”. Winkler stars as a 1950s television producer with Jason Ritter as his underling writer. Other regional and nationwide radio stations presenting The Ruby Sunrise are listed below, as well as podcast information*.

The program also features a discussion about early television with Karen Herman, director of the Archive of American Television, and writer-producer Phil Savenick, an expert on the history of television. Excerpts from the Archive’s collection include insights from the late Elma Farnsworth, widow of television inventor Philo Farnsworth. NEW: Click here to read a transcript of the entire interview with Phil and Karen and to find out how to save on tickets to upcoming L.A. Theatre Works performances.

*Tune in!
Nationwide radio broadcasts include:
89.3 FM KPCC Southern California, Saturdays 10:00 p.m
94.1 FM KPFA Northern California, Sundays 7:00 p.m.
94.9 FM KUOW Seattle, WA Fridays 10:00 p.m.
89.7 FM WGBH Boston, MA, first Sunday of month 10:00 p.m.
91.1 FM KRCB Sonoma County, CA Saturdays 6:00 p.m.
89.9 FM KUNM Albuquerque, NM bimonthly, Sundays 6:00 p.m.
XM Satellite Radio Nationwide (Sonic Theatre Channel), Saturdays 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. (EST)

How to Podcast “The Play’s the Thing”
As of July 7, free podcasts of The Ruby Sunrise are available here. Copy and paste into your preferred podcasting software to automatically receive all monthly episodes of “The Play’s the Thing” broadcasts.

Also, we’ve just posted Henry Winkler’s full Archive interview online!

Interview Description:
Henry Winkler was interviewed for two-and-a-half hours in Los Angeles, CA. Winkler discussed his early years, his early passion for acting, and his struggles with then-undiagnosed dyslexia. He chronicled his early career in New York, where he acted on stage and in numerous commercials and his subsequent decision to move to Los Angeles, where he was quickly cast as a guest actor on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He detailed all aspects of the role for which he became most known, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on the hit sitcom, Happy Days. He discussed his casting, Fonzie character, working with the cast (particularly Ron Howard), and the iconic status (and occasional mayhem it generated) of Fonzie. He spoke about his transition to directing and producing, which included being executive producer of MacGyver, and his later acting projects including Arrested Development and The Practice. The interview was conducted on November 10, 2006. Click here to access Henry Winkler’s 5-part interview.