Creating Television: Conversations with the People behind 50 Years of American TV

By Robert Kubey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Writer-Producers
Creating Breakthrough Television

If you were to focus on the early days of dramatic television, and writers like Paddy Chayefsky and Rod Serling, you might conclude that television was a writer's medium. Before the The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling wrote classic television dramas such as Requiem for a Heavyweight, and Paddy Chayefsky wrote Marty. Each was quickly made into a movie.

Serling, like no television writer before or since, became extraordinarily well known introducing and providing an epilogue for each episode of The Twilight Zone, many of which he wrote. In producing and writing The Twilight Zone, Serling was among the industry's early “hyphenates”: a writerproducer and unquestionably a television auteur.

The Twilight Zone was a breakthrough. Serling used the series— miscategorized as science fiction in the view of some—to tell searching, thought-provoking stories about the human condition: the compelling and serious stories he wanted to tell on television but could not have on a regular basis if he had stuck with the melancholy weight and style of Requiem for a Heavyweight. To this day, The Twilight Zone is in a class by itself.


SETTING THE SERIES TEMPLATE

In series television, the producer puts a system together, a production apparatus of writers, coproducers, directors, actors, editors, and technical crew members. The beauty of a series is that once developed, the sets, writers, and continuing characters are all in place and each week's program can be produced in time for its air date. The producer, along with senior writers and others, develops the series' plan for the season, and then oversees the creation and production of episodes, each at a different stage of development. Producers sometimes have more than one series on the air at a time—Lee Rich once had eight.

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Creating Television: Conversations with the People behind 50 Years of American TV
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Creating Television - Conversations with the People Behind 50 Years of American Tv *
  • Chapter 1 - Bringing Television Creators to Life 1
  • Chapter 2 - Individual Creativity in a Collaborative Medium 9
  • Interviews 21
  • Chapter 3 - Creating the First Decade 23
  • Chapter 4 - Creating Breakthrough Television 121
  • Chapter 5 - A Different Kind of Writer 187
  • Chapter 6 - A Different Kind of Producer 231
  • Chapter 7 - Two Directors 283
  • Chapter 8 - The Actors 307
  • Chapter 9 - The Agents 395
  • Chapter 10 - A Different Kind of Executive 445
  • References 481
  • Photo Credits 485
  • Index 487
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