Posts Tagged ‘“Playhouse 90″’

Remembering Producer Norman Felton

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Noted producer Norman Felton died Monday, July 2nd, at the age of 99 in Woodland Hills, CA. Best known for producing the hit series Dr. Kildare and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Felton began his television career in Chicago — during the medium’s first commercial years and worked on such groundbreaking series as Garroway at Large, and These are My Children. He then went to Hollywood where he worked on Robert Montgomery Presents, Playhouse 90, and Studio One and others, before starting his own Arena Productions company. He was interviewed for 4-1/2 hours by Lee Goldberg for the Archive of American Television in 1997. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On being executive producer of the landmark dramatic anthology series Playhouse 90 in 1959, when the sponsor censored the word “gas” in “Judgement at Nuremberg”

The producer was Martin Manulis, Herb Brodkin, a couple of others. The network [CBS] did want me to have somebody overall in charge, and so I’d make comments to the producer and I would follow through with it. On the “Judgement at Nuremberg” teleplay,  the gas company was a principle sponsor and they said they said they would pull out if we used the word “gas” on the show. Because  how you told the story of Judgment at Nuremberg and Holocaust without using the word seems– Herb Brodkin, who was the producer — ridiculous, and I felt the same way.  The network tried to get me to do something about it.  I said, “there’s nothing that can be done about it.” They said, when they got close to air time,  “we can’t give up the gas company. We promised them that we will take out the word.” It was all live. Herb Brodkin believed that we were going to do it, and I said, “Herb, I’ve got to tell you that that’s what they’re going to do  and I can’t do anything about it. If it’s going through where we are, I might be able to get to the guys who are supposed to bleep that word out, but they tricked me, II don’t know if I could have done anything and they’re sending an engineer over here with someone and if the word is used we’ll bleep it.” And that’s what happened. And he was furious.  I said, “I warned you that that was going to happen.” There was nothing that I could possibly do.  It was the worse thing for the gas company.  It got the worse publicity it could possibly have when it came out that the word was bleeped out…. We didn’t have people telling us what to do until the advertisers came along.

On the creation of television’s Dr. Kildare

I wanted to do a medical show.  I hadn’t been able to do it because at CBS they said, as the other networks did, who wants to go to a hospital?  That’s the last place –  a person comes home from their job and they’re going to turn on television and see sick people?  But in radio, I did plenty of them. I did a series of a medical nature, and I did in Chicago, while I was in radio  for the AMA. I didn’t latch onto any property. [Another company had done a failed pilot featuring Dr. Kildare.] The reason it was called Dr. Kildare was after-the-fact they turned me down.  They didn’t want to do another one. They didn’t want to do anything medical.  I said, “well, I want to do one, and I did.  It was a very successful pilot. E. Jack Neuman was a fine writer. I said I want to do a medical show, and we had two or three discussions and one, he said, “I got a good idea, this is the story. I know it has to be set in a hospital. There are two gangsters who had a fight between them, and but one is on one floor and another is another floor of the hospital and they still are enemies.” I said, “Jack, before we do anything, why don’t you take a week off, go to a hospital, go around there.  That’s what I want you to do for the next week. I don’t want to see you around here.  Don’t come on the lot.  Go to a hospital.”  So he did.  And when he came back, I never heard about those gangsters again. He said, “it’s terrific! I followed an intern and what they go through, and how they operate is just terrific with patients, and themselves and– so I said  go ahead, and write it. It was a half hour script.  Because that’s what my contract at that time, was, we expected a half hour. I went over to NBC with it and they liked it to much they said, “we’ll make you a deal.”  When the word got out that I sold this, then I think somebody in the board in New York said,” is it going to be Dr. Kildare?”  Bob [Whiteman] said, “no, it’s not like those old movies at all.  It’s the story of an intern.” And they said, “can’t he be called Dr. Kildare?” He pointed out, as did the network, that it was a valuable title to get started with, the people would opt to tune it in.  So, that’s how it got its name, is after-the-fact.

Video: On the genesis of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

On the appeal of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In the sixties, there were a lot of  just unrest in the family. It was an escape.  It was good against evil.  And also, the thing that they liked was it was different nationalities.  At I cast two men in the leads who were short and not big husky men because, on business on Dr. Kildare, I was in London for a meeting, and when I was leaving, a lady, who was a comptroller, came to me and said, “why is it in America that you always have leading men who are big tall, sexy– so called– looking fellow, and why are they always American?”  I said, “I don’t know. I guess because that’s what people seem to like when they see them.”  But the more I thought about it, as time went on, when it came to do the Man From U.N.C.L.E, I’m not going to do it.  And that’s what made me like David McCallum and Robert Vaughn. They were slim and they were not big, as they used to say, ballsy men. That’s the expression that was used.  So it worked. I think today, some of the kids say that’s something that they really can identify more with, because they’re younger than most of the heroes were in the western shows.

SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: HTTP://EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG/INTERVIEWS/PEOPLE/NORMAN-FELTON

How to Direct, Via Master Director John Frankenheimer

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

John Frankenheimer (1930-2002) directed some of television’s most acclaimed productions on Playhouse 90, Climax! and Danger. In his interview from 2000, Frankenheimer speaks in detail about his craft, techniques, and some of his favorite people to direct. He shares tales of working with Edward R. Murrow and in the clip below, describes the valuable lessons he learned from the legendary David O’ Selznick:

Watch John Frankenheimer’s full interview here:

http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/john-frankenheimer

About this interview:

John Frankenheimer (1930-2002) was interviewed for six hours (in two sessions) in Century City, CA. Frankenheimer gives a vivid description of his early television work as an assistant director on You Are There, Danger and Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person. He speaks about his first directorial assignments on You Are There and Danger and recalls making a name for himself directing live anthology dramas (“The Comedian” and “Days of Wine and Roses”) on Climax! and Playhouse 90. He discusses his feature film work and his return to television to direct the acclaimed programs Andersonville for TNT and George Wallace for HBO. Michael Rosen conducted the two-part interview on March 21 and April 13, 2000.

Writer Del Reisman Has Died– story editor for “Playhouse 90″ and “The Twilight Zone”

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Del Reisman, who served as the President of the Writers Guild of America, west from 1991-93, has died at the age of 86.  Reisman wrote for such series as Peyton Place and for many years served as a story editor on shows of the classic era of TV— Matinee Theater, Playhouse 90, and The Twilight Zone.

Reisman’s Archive interview was conducted on October 28, 2003.

Interview description:

Del Reisman (1924-2011) was interviewed for six hours at the Writer’s Guild of America, west in Los Angeles, CA.  Reisman looked back on his early years growing up as a “studio brat” observing his mother at work as a secretary at Universal Studios in the 1930s.  He described his entry in television as a reader on the anthology series Four Star Playhouse.  He detailed his most prolific period in television as an associate producer/ story editor on such television series as: the “live,” daily color anthology Matinee Theater, the prestigious ninety-minute anthology Playhouse 90, the classic filmed anthology The Twilight Zone, the popular crime series The Untouchables, the western series Rawhide, and the drama The Man and the City.  He discussed his work as story consultant on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place, for which he wrote the cliffhanging final episode (the series was canceled without a finale).  He also talked about his later work as a freelance writer of such 1970s series as The Streets of San Francisco and Little House on the Prairie.  Finally, Reisman described his long service to the Writers Guild of America, west for which he ultimately served as President from 1991-93.  Other subjects discussed include the Hollywood blacklist and the McCarthy era, as well as Reisman’s work (at the WGA) to restore the credits of blacklisted writers of feature films made in the 1950s-60s.  The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski .

David Shaw’s Archive Interview Is Now Online!

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Writer David Shaw’s five-part interview is now available for viewing on Google Video. Shaw was one of the most prolific writers during television’s “Golden Age.”

In part 2 of his interview, David Shaw talks about his work as a writer on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, one of the key dramatic anthology series of the “Golden Age,” for which he wrote the most teleplays of any single writer.

From Part 3:

Q: There was a term called “kitchen sink” dramas. What did that refer to?

A: It referred to many of the Philcos that are family dramas. With family problems. They weren’t shoot ‘em ups, they weren’t crime, they weren’t sexy. They were just family dramas…. They’re not too far away from soap operas, really. But they’re easy to produce and didn’t call for big sets or lavish outdoor production.

Q: What is the legacy of Philco-Goodyear Playhouse?

A: I think that it was the beginning of good drama on television.

Q: How important do you think [Philco-Goodyear Playhouse producer Fred] Coe was to what is referred to as the “Golden Age of Television”?

A: How important? He was it! Fred was it. There was nobody like him.

Interview Description:

Shaw discussed his prolific career as a television writer that began in 1949 for the ABC “live” dramatic anthology series Actors Studio. He spoke in great detail about his work on the series Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, for which he contributed the most teleplays of any writer. For Philco-Goodyear, Shaw commented on several of his individual teleplays and talked about working with legendary producer Fred Coe. Shaw described knowing and working with other such figures of the “Golden Age of Television Drama,” as director Delbert Mann, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and actress Eva Marie Saint. Shaw discussed several series for which he served as a story editor including Mr. Peepers and The Defenders. He described his teleplays for Producer’s Showcase (including his Emmy-nominated adaptation of “Our Town”) and the six shows he wrote for Playhouse 90. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on August 31, 2004.

Click here to access David Shaw’s entire interview.

"Twilight Zone" and "Playhouse 90" Story Editor Del Reisman’s Archive Interview is now online

Friday, August 4th, 2006


This video is Part 8 of Del Reisman’s 12-part interview. In this segment, he talks about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Click here to access the interview.

“I always knew when [Rod] came to the Twilight Zone offices because I’d hear the Coca-Cola machine going… he had a coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He needed neither of them. I mean, he was tremendously energetic on his own.”

Del Reisman’s six-hour Archive of American Television Interview is now available for viewing on EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG

Interview Description:

Reisman begins by looking back on his early years growing up as a “studio brat” observing his mother at work as a secretary at Universal Studios in the 1930s. He describes his entry in television as a reader on the anthology series Four Star Playhouse. He details his most prolific period in television as an associate producer/ story editor on such television series as: the “live,” daily color anthology Matinee Theater, the prestigious ninety-minute anthology Playhouse 90, the classic filmed anthology The Twilight Zone, the popular crime series The Untouchables, the western series Rawhide, and the drama The Man and the City. He discusses his work as story consultant on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place, for which he wrote the cliffhanging final episode (the series was canceled without a finale). He also talks about his later work as a freelance writer of such 1970s series as The Streets of San Francisco and Little House on the Prairie. Finally, Reisman describes his long service to the Writers Guild of America, west for which he ultimately served as President from 1991-93. Other subjects discussed include the Hollywood blacklist and the McCarthy era, as well as Reisman’s work (at the WGA) to restore the credits of blacklisted writers of feature films made in the 1950s-60s. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on October 28, 2003.