Posts Tagged ‘“Twilight Zone”’

Writer/Producer William Froug Turns 90!

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Happy 90th birthday, William Froug! Froug started out as a radio writer at CBS, transitioned to television, and wound up producing some of the medium’s biggest hits. He served as a producer on The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, and Gilligan’s Island, among others. When he left production, Froug began teaching screenwriting at UCLA and authored several books on the subject, including The Screenwriter Looks at the Screenwriter and Screen-writing Tricks of the Trade.

Here are some selections from his 2011 Archive interview:

On the secret to writing for radio:

What’s the secret? I think the secret is just keep making it up as you go along. I really do. It’s one sentence at a time. I never had an outline for anything I ever did. Ever. Just start writing. If you can entertain yourself, there’s a chance you can entertain somebody else. That was my philosophy. I kept myself amused and I’m a short attention span guy. But each sentence would surprise me. I never knew what was going to happen next, and that kept me going. If I’d had an outline I would have dropped it long ago.

On working with Rod Serling as a producer on The Twilight Zone:

On why The Twilight Zone has continued to be a popular series after all these years:

I think Rod Serling. He wrote great scripts. That’s why. Stories were great. By and large they are great.

On being the Executive Producer in Charge of Drama at CBS:

It really meant I read all the scripts for dramatic series – met with the producers of dramatic series. Let them know I was going to be reading their material and make suggestions from time to time. I was greeted like cancer, you know. The blank stares “You think you’re going to tell us how to produce our series?” I’d been a line producer. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But that was the job. So I read their scripts. Never said a word.  Never met with them. That was my job.

On why he began teaching screenwriting at UCLA:

It’s in my blood. I can’t explain that. Like what made me have to be a writer? I just knew I wanted to be a teacher. I just knew I had to do it and I love it. When I first started at CBS in radio, in the very beginning, I started a course one night a week in radio writing at CBS in one of their offices. Had about three or four people show up. But I had this urge to teach. It’s just in me. There’s no “what led me to it” anymore than what led me to be a writer.

On producing Bewitched:

I didn’t have anything to do because Bill Asher actually produced it and directed it and correctly took the credit and was married to the star. There was no role for me there, really. He just wanted somebody to be the titular producer, who he could then blame for anything that went wrong. He wasn’t interested in me as a producer. He was looking for a fall guy, basically. Because when he had battles with his wife, he didn’t have anybody to blame. Now he could blame me. That’s all right.

On his philosophy on screenwriting:

Basically, find a clear line. The key is to find a line. The storyline is king.  And Page 1, Line 1 is when the story must start. You pick up the script. Page 1, Line 1, the reader has got to know what kind of story he’s getting and what kind of genre to expect. Is it going to be a mystery? Is it going to be a comedy? What’s it going to be? I called it the opening signal: Page 1, Line 1. Then you’ve got to grab the audience within the first five pages, preferably the first two. That’s very important.

Happy 90th birthday, William! Here’s to many, many more!

Watch Froug’s two-hour Archive interview here.

The Monsters Were Due on Maple Street Fifty Years Ago Today

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

One of The Twilight Zone’s best remembered episodes— and a staple of Twilight Zone marathons— is the first season’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Scripted by Rod Serling, it’s one of the series’ social commentaries– on how easily ones neighbors can turn against each other. It stars Claude Akins and Jack Weston, and among the supporting cast is young actor Burt Metcalfe. Metcalfe would become an Emmy-nominated producer (M*A*S*H) in later years. Watch what he had to say about this early acting foray along with Twilight Zone producer Del Reisman (who talks about how Rod Serling created The Twilight Zone specifically to tell these kinds of stories) on the Archive’s new page for “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”

“The Twilight Zone” Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

The Twilight Zone debuted on October 2, 1959 and has become one of the crown jewels of classic television over the last fifty years. Series creator Rod Serling won two Emmy Awards for the series, for which he wrote a staggering 92 episodes.

The Archive of American Television has interviewed many of the contributors to The Twilight Zone, including writers Richard Matheson, Earl Hamner, Jr., and George Clayton Johnson; associate producer Del Reisman; directors Lamont Johnson, Richard L. Bare, Richard Donner, and James Sheldon; actors Cliff Robertson, William Shatner, George Takei, and Maxine Stuart.

To ring in the Zone’s 50th, the Archive premieres new pages for Rod Serling and classic episodes “Eye of the Beholder” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to our website, http://emmytvlegends.org, featuring clips from the Archive’s interviews.

Click on the links below to access our new pages:

Rod Serling page

The Twilight Zone: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” page

The Twilight Zone: “Eye of the Beholder” page

Director Robert Butler’s Archive Interview is Now Online!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007


Director Robert Butler was responsible for creating the look and feel for many classic television series in a career that spanned five decades. His full Archive of American Television interview is now available online, including detailed accounts of directing the first episodes of Batman, Moonlighting (pilot telefilm) and Hill Street Blues.

Click here to access Robert Butler’s entire five-hour interview.

Interview description:
Butler began by describing his early years breaking into the business as an usher at CBS. He described his experiences in various behind-the-scenes capacities on such classic “live” anthology series as Climax! and Playhouse 90. He described his first break in television directing on the comedy/drama series Hennesey. He detailed his many and varied assignments in series television in the 1960s on such series as The Detectives, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Defenders, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes, The Twilight Zone, Batman, and Star Trek. Butler described his work in the 1970s on television movies (such as Columbo MOWs and James Dean) and feature films. He extensively described his groundbreaking work on the look of Hill Street Blues, for which he directed several of the initial episodes (including the pilot). He talked about his later work on such series as Remington Steele, Moonlighting (the telefilm pilot), Out on a Limb, Midnight Caller (which he also executive-produced), Sisters, and Lois & Clark. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on January 14, 2004.

James Sheldon’s Interview is Online

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Director James Sheldon’s Archive of American Television Interview is now online.


In part 4 of his interview, Sheldon talks about working with James Dean in “live” television. James Dean appeared in about twenty television productions in the early 1950s before embarking on his feature film career.
PRESS THE PLAY ARROW IN THE PLAYER ABOVE TO WATCH THE SEGMENT NOW.

James Sheldon directed one of the quintessential episodes of the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone— “It’s A Good Life,” in which a boy (played by Billy Mumy) holds an entire town in fear demanding that they think “good thoughts” or face his wrath. As Rod Serling describes in his introduction to the episode: “….Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.” Sheldon discusses “It’s A Good Life” and the other five episodes of The Twilight Zone he directed in Part 5 and Part 6 of his interview.

Interview description:
James Sheldon was interviewed for over three hours in New York, NY. He spoke about breaking into the business as an NBC page, and after a few years in advertising, turning his attentions to directing for television. He described his work on several shows from the 1950s including such diverse fare as: sitcom Mr. Peepers, daytime variety series The Eddie Albert Show, military anthology West Point Story, and drama The Millionaire. He also spoke in great detail about working with then-budding actor James Dean in two “live” television productions of Armstrong Circle Theater and Robert Montgomery Presents. He discussed his work on the anthology series The Twilight Zone, for which he directed such classic episodes as “It’s A Good Life” starring Billy Mumy. Other series he discussed included Family Affair and My Three Sons. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on April 6, 2005.

See the full interview here.

"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.