Archive for the ‘"Waltons"’ Category

Producer Lee Rich Dies at 85

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the passing of Lee Rich, best known as one of the founders of Lorimar Productions. Rich served as executive producer on The Waltons, Eight is Enough, Dallas, and Knots Landing. Earlier in his career, he worked for advertising company Benton & Bowles, where he helped package The Danny Thomas Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. He left advertising to form Mirisch-Rich Productions, where he produced Rat Patrol and Hey, Landlord; briefly returned to advertising at the Leo Burnett Agency; and then formed Lorimar where he remained until 1986, when he became Chairman of MGM/UVA.

Here are some selections from Rich’s 1999 Archive interview:

On packaging shows at Benton & Bowles:

We had to explain to clients what television was all about. We had to explain to them what would happen to their sales, and it wasn’t as easy as everybody thought. It was fine to say, “hey I’ve got a great show,” but if it doesn’t do well, forget it. The Dick Van Dyke Show was that far from being canceled… We would try to get clients into television spots before we got them into programming. Because then we could prove to them that their market share was going up. And then it was like a child growing up. Everybody had to learn; everybody had to make mistakes. Everybody was extremely competitive. But the end result was an advertiser had to feel comfortable and his sales had to be up.

On the relationship between Benton & Bowles and the networks:

Well in those days we were the largest place; we placed the greatest amount of television of any advertising agency in the country and had tremendous clout over the network. Really tremendous clout. Our clout came from obtaining time periods that were advantageous to us. For example, on Monday night from eight-thirty to ten o’clock was all General Foods: Danny Thomas, Andy Griffith, and Gomer Pyle, they were all General Food shows. Then Procter and Gamble had time periods of their own, on NBC and on ABC. But that was where the strength came in, that was the clout that we had in placing the television shows.

On how The Dick Van Dyke Show was brought to Benton & Bowles:

Carl Reiner did a pilot, which he starred in it and it was basically The Dick Van Dyke Show. He then brought that pilot to us and we all recognized that the idea was a great idea, but Carl was not right for it. We talked to Carl and Carl recognized that he wasn’t the star for it, but he did write it. We talked about doing it and finding somebody else to play the lead, and we talked about a lot of people, and we finally came down to Dick Van Dyke. They flew into New York, met me, we watched Dick Van Dyke in “Bye, Bye Birdie,” and we then met with him after the theater, and that was it. We hired Dick Van Dyke.

On the origin of Dallas:

On the storylines on Knots Landing:

In many ways Knots was, except for Larry Hagman, Knots was a better show than Dallas. More real story lines, and we had female villains. We had Donna Mills. I remember when we cast her, I said to her, “you want to be a villain?” And she said, “Great!”

On his proudest achievements:

Watch Lee Rich’s full Archive Interview here, and read his obituary in Deadline here.

Art Director/Graphic Designer Louis Dorfsman Has Died — Interview Online

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Louis Dorfsman, who designed every aspect of CBS’s branding for forty years until his retirement in 1991, has died at the age of 90. In his later years he was the creative director for the Museum of Broadcasting (now the Paley Center for Media).
Mr. Dorfsman was interviewed by the Archive in May of 2000 by the Paley Center’s Television Curator Ron Simon.

Below is Part 2 of his interview, where he describes working at CBS.

Additional segments of his interview are available here.

Interview Description:

Mr. Dorfsman talked about his earliest experiences in his field, which included being an assistant for Display Guild, which produced numerous exhibits for the 1939 World’s Fair. He described his long association with CBS, that began in 1946 as a staff director in the art department. Dorfsman described his legendary work in the 1950s for CBS radio, during that medium’s waning days. He described his eventual move to television, becoming the Director of Design for CBS, Inc. He described his influential work at CBS in print and television advertising, and his pioneering use of typography. He talked about the erection of Black Rock, CBS’s headquarters on 52nd Street and his work on the interior of the building, including his cafeteria wall collage. He described the fall television season campaigns at CBS and his well-known campaigns of such shows as The Waltons, which helped boost its ratings. He described his design of two books for CBS, Field of Vision (1962), on football; and a commemorative book on the 1969 moon landing.

"Star Trek" Fanfare Composer Alexander "Sandy" Courage Has Died at Age 88 — Archive Interview Online

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Alexander Courage won an Emmy Award as principal arranger for the ABC special Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas and was a nominee for his work on Medical Center. Mr. Courage was interviewed in 2000 by TV’s Greatest Hits author Jon Burlingame.

Jon Burlingame has authored a tribute to the composer at filmmusicsociety.org.

Alexander Courage’s five-part interview can be accessed here.

Interview description:

Courage described his work as a conductor, arranger, and composer in network radio on such series as: “The Screen Guild Theater,” “The Adventures of Sam Spade,” and “Hedda Hopper’s This Is Hollywood.” He described his entrance into feature filmmaking as an arranger at MGM, detailing his screen highlights on such musical classics as Showboat, The Band Wagon, and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. He talked about his entrance into composing for television at Revue Productions. He detailed his work on the MGM series National Velvet and talked about several pilots he made there as well. Switching to 20th Century Fox, he described his work on such feature films as The Pleasure Seekers and Doctor Doolittle. For television at 20th he worked on such series as: Daniel Boone, for which he composed dozens of episodes. He described in detail his work on the series Star Trek for which he wrote the familiar fanfare, theme, and music for the two pilot episodes, as well as several later episodes. Courage spoke of his extensive work on The Waltons for which he composed over one hundred episodes. Other shows discussed include: Judd For The Defense (for which Courage wrote the theme and music for several episodes), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and several Academy Award telecasts. He discussed his later work for television, which included the television movie QBVII (with Jerry Goldsmith), and the television special Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas, which earned him an Emmy Award.