20180720

DYNASTY

In November 1988, the 200th episode of the TV series, 'Dynasty', went on air. 'The Los Angeles Times' observed, "The Reagan era ends in '88." Esther Shapiro reminded, "We sort of anticipated the Reagan era, viscerally. We picked up on the glitz and glamor of it, we predicted what would happen with the stock market years before it happened. The pomp and circumstance, the new wealth - all of that was reflected. We've used up what would be in the daytime soap operas about 25 years of story." 

11am November 11, 1918: World War I ended. Germany signed an armistice that had been prepared by Britain and France. In 1917, the Russian Revolution started. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. However the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 was blamed for laying the groundwork for World War II in 1939 (some 20 years later). 

In 1940, F. Scott Fitzgerald died before completing his final novel, 'The Last Tycoon'. The Roaring Twenties in America was considered the Jazz Age, the Boom, a time for peace and "a period of wild economic prosperity, cultural flowering and a shaking up of social mores." In 1920, the publication of 'This Side of Paradise' turned F. Scott Fitzgerald into an instant celebrity. But it was his third novel, 'The Great Gatsby' (1925) that was highly regarded. 

In November 1982, 'Dynasty' threw a party choosing the 1920s as its theme. It was the start of Reaganomics. Richard Shapiro conceded, "We do tend to be of a liberal persuasion, personally and politically, but our daughter accuses us of being the world's primary disseminators of capitalist propaganda." Esther Shapiro expressed, "Critics dismiss it as trash, but, we do create women (characters) who are not victims, and it's pure entertainment for women - that's something that has been looked down on. It is basically not only a women's power fantasy, but the fantasy of a woman (Krystle) who is married to a man of power and very comfortable with that. We did not want to send out the message that all women have to be the same thing." 

Speaking to 'The New York Times' in 1983, Robert Mason Pollock explained the writing out of a major character on 'Dynasty', "If the story gets stuck, writing a character out is often the best solution. A good example was Cecil Colby, played by Lloyd Bochner. As long Alexis was married to him, her story really couldn't move forward. If he died, though, she could become the richest widow in Denver. So, with great sadness, we sent him to his reward. Cecil's death not only advanced the plot, it gave us a whole new level to operate on."

In one scene on 'Dynasty', Krystle and Alexis were looking to buy a dress for the Roaring '20s party. At the Westlake Costumers boutique for fitting, Alexis remarked, "Oh that must have been one of the most wonderful carefree days. People innocently pursuing their pleasure-filled lives unaware of what lay in store for them when the crash hit." 

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929: The stock market crash of 1929 resulted in a loss of some $25 billion. In his State of the Union address in 1928, Calvin Coolidge noted that America had never "met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time." In 2002, Ben Bernanke publicly acknowledged the role of the Federal Reserve in the crash, saying that the mistakes made by the Fed had contributed to the "worst economic disaster in American history." 

After the crash, the Dow Jones would not recover to its pre-crash peak until 1954 (some 10 years after World War II). Following the crash, the US and the rest of the Western industrialized world spiraled downward into the Great Depression (lasting some 10 years) until World War II which helped pull the country out of a Depression by 1944. 

To throw a Roaring Twenties party "in all its excess, euphoria, and underbelly", sloe gin fizz was said as important as the costumes, three tiered chandelier and the food. During the Prohibition era, liquor bottles were covered with brown paper bags. Esther Shapiro maintained, "It ('Dynasty') was a trek into fantasy." John Forsythe added, "It was a revival of MGM pictures of the '30s and '40s. Anytime you have a fallow time in the country, there are audiences looking for something." 

Aaron Spelling insisted, "People love to laugh at the rich … Part of the fun, is seeing Joan Collins the next day after almost being killed on 'Dynasty', wearing a turban and eating caviar in the hospital, which is much more fun than watching someone wearing a bandage-headband and eating a Big Mac." Esther Shapiro made the point, "I'm not sure money brings happiness, but it does bring control. I'm not endorsing Reagan, but there are certain things the Democrats could learn from him, like being effective. I've always wanted control and the program is about people fighting for control over their lives. Money helps you to get control of your life." 

'The Los Angeles Times' continued, "'Dynasty' was a lavish serial that some characterized as television's embodiment of national excess during the Reagan years." Aaron Spelling reasoned, "Just to watch what they're wearing is entering fantasyland. Watching the cars and costumes is part of it, we try not to repeat the gowns. I don't know how long Hollywood can keep on making these farming movies like the one with Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek and Sally Field - they're hardly where farmers want to go to. People want to see a house with a staff of 12 servants. 

"Andy Warhol just did a 'Love Boat' (in 1985).  He loved it. The first thing he wanted to do was go over to the 'Dynasty' set. I can't imagine Andy doing a show without real style. I'm sick of people in this town who look at the party in these shows and say, 'The ice sculpture is too large.' Of course it's too large. Everything on them is too large. That's the point.'' 

In 1991, 'Dynasty' returned to television. The mini-series was shown up against the baseball World Series. Esther Shapiro stated, "We wanted to satisfy the fans and let them know what happened, but we felt it was so long ago (when the series left the airwaves) and what was happening was kind of vague. We wanted to do it lighthearted.

"But there's also some melodrama. There's a real story. But we also kind of wanted to reflect the changes that went on between the '80s and the '90s. And one of the things that the country is looking at is the buying up of America, which really affects an entrepreneurial family like this." President Reagan declared in 1985, the '80s was the age of the entrepreneur.

As reported, "The more cost-conscious '90s are reflected in the production of the mini-series. There wasn't the money in the budget to re-create the opulent sets from the original series, so 'The Reunion' was filmed at various locations." Aaron Spelling concluded, "We think it would be fun to bring 'Dynasty' back for a two-hour movie a year, or another mini-series every two years. We have not given up hope that 'Dynasty' will never die. It may continue forever."

20180717

RAY WISE

In 1996 and 1997, Ray Wise played Edward Burton in the Aaron Spelling's series, 'Savannah', "The thing I like most about 'Savannah' is that more happen in 50 minutes of our show than 5 or 6 hours of other shows." 'The New York Times' observed, "The modus operandi in this kind of project is to keep plot developments moving as fast as possible because, if viewers are given a chance to think, nothing makes any sense." 

'Variety' voiced, "Outrageous as it plays, writers James Stanley and Dianne Messina Stanley know how to whomp out a slew of attention-getting stories and surprise turns in good if bizarre storytelling tradition. Dedicated watchers can't predict what the characters will do any more than the inmates can, but it makes entertaining TV." 'The New York Times' concluded, "Say one thing for Mr. Spelling and his collaborators: No one does it better." 

In episode 9, Edward Burton announced his candidacy for the state senate. In one scene, Reese was heard talking on the phone to the press, "My father makes a perfect addition to the state government. He possesses all the qualities of a good politician. Senate certainly deserves him." Lane asked Reece afterward, "Exactly what are the qualities of a good politician?" Reese replied, "He's a master at telling people exactly what they want to hear." 

After 'Savannah' ended its run on WB in February 1997, Fox ordered 'Pacific Palisades' from Aaron Spelling without requiring a pilot to be filmed first. The series was created by Dianne Messina Stanley and James Stanley. It was understood Fox first ordered six episodes of the series based solely on the Stanleys' pilot script and commissioned seven additional scripts. 

As reported, "The last episode of 'Savannah' completed filming on February 12, 1997 and the first episode of 'Pacific Palisades' began shooting on February 28, 1997." Dianne Messina Stanley remembered, "We were still doing post-production on one while we were doing pre-production on the other. Right around Christmas (1996), we literally would spend mornings with one staff doing scripts for 'Savannah' and afternoons with another staff working on a bible for 'Palisades'." 

Set in the pricy SoCal enclave of Pacific Palisades, James Stanley stated, "Fox has said that they would like it to be 'Knots Landing' for the '90s. Whether it turns out that way, we're still not sure. But we think that there will be the opportunity to be a little more serious than we were in 'Savannah'." In all, 13 episodes went on air between April and July 1997. 

Speaking to Scott Pierce, James Stanley recounted, "Initially, they (Fox) wanted 'Melrose (Place)' 10 years older - this was a pilot that was written for NBC. What happened was ... well, who knows what happens? They passed, although, personally, we think that 'Friends' hit, so every show went younger. So we looked at the show again, and we rewrote it so that it was a younger show. And it worked, actually, better that way for us. 

"It's better for him (Aaron Spelling) if we can wrap things up after six in terms of selling it overseas, but he said, 'Just tell the best story'. He has enormous confidence based on what he's seen and just talking to the network." Kinney Littlefield noted, "Classic vamp Joan Collins joins the cast April 30 (1997) to counterprogram Ellen's coming-out-of-the-closet episode the same night on ABC."

Originally the 'Pacific Palisades' project was known as 'Brentwood'. However, Aaron Spelling revealed, "With what's happened in Brentwood, we just thought we should change the title. So now it's 'Pacific Palisades'. It's like 'Melrose' three years later. The people are real estate agents, architects, a plastic surgeon. So they're all not living together in an apartment building."

Of the story, Dianne Messina Stanley added, "It's about young professionals in Southern California. We like to say they're young people who have it all, it just isn't paid for yet. They're living a little bit on the edge." James Stanley pointed out, "Los Angeles has this sense of glamor, and they have bought into it." Of the couple (played by Michelle Stafford and Jarrod Emick) who moved to Pacific Palisades from the Midwest, Dianne Messina Stanley made known, "Oh, a lot of it is from personal observation."

Dianne Messina Stanley clarified, "We're both Midwesterners, and we've been here (in Hollywood) awhile. But I'm still a small-town girl, and I'm still kind of amazed sometimes by the things I see. Everyone has different tastes, so I'm sure there are some people who would like to see more drama or melodrama. But, for the most part, we find that people do enjoy it. And I like doing comedy more in this kind of a show, because - unlike a sitcom - you don't have to do set-up, gag, set-up, gag.

"It can just be a fun scene coming from the characters. We think that, without getting into necessarily heavy-handed storytelling, that we can make observations about people and life and situations that are still of some value. We are able, occasionally, to deal with an issue - whether it's alcoholism or child abuse or whatever - and bring a point of view to an audience that might not tune into a show that's just about that."

Finola Hughes told 'The Orange County Register', "Pacific Palisades is where Aaron said his characters would move from Melrose Place, after they made it. The way the Stanleys have written the show, there's a real sense of humor. And of course every Spelling show is about conflict." In preparing for her role, a woman with "traditional values'', Finola Hughes admitted, "Actually, I spent a very long time trying to choose the perfect lipstick to prep for Spelling. I decided on a very neutral sheer color from Francois Nars. It's called Dolce Vita.''

In 2003, Darren Rea spoke with Ray Wise about the movie, 'Jeepers Creepers 2'. In their conversation, Ray Wise remarked, "I don't think that the movie going public, or the television viewing public, are as well read as we were in the past. There's not as many people that tend to read the great novels and plays that are available to them. I think there is a definite lack and deficiency in that today.

"I've had the kind of low key career that is ideal for me. It's meant that I have been able to go back and forth between bad guys and good guys, playing the whole spectrum of characters all across the board. That's been a lot of fun. Of all my roles, Leland Palmer in 'Twin Peaks' was the one that had the biggest impact on the world, but even after that I wasn't typecast, so I feel very fortunate in the way my career has progressed.

"I loved playing Leland Palmer, because I did it over such a long period of time - all of the television episodes and then the movie. (In a movie) you play the character and do a week's worth of work and it lasts on screen for an hour and then that character's finished. You never go back to it and you write it off and move on to the next thing. Whereas with Leland Palmer it was week after week and I got a reoccurring character who evolves over time. It was rather like living another life."

Of  playing characters in real-time strategy video games such as the 'Red Alert' series, Ray Wise made the point, "Acting is acting. There's a lot of live action in computer games now (in 2003), and I played The President of the United States in those games and I really enjoyed it. They set up these little scenes, they had full sets and you're in costume. It's just like making a television show or movie and there you are in the game. I've played the games and I really like them and I enjoyed doing them."

20180714

SAVANNAH

Backed by Warner Bros. and Paramount and managed by former Fox executives, WB and UPN joined Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC in 1995 to make up the six broadcast TV networks. At the time, WB and UPN offered programming schedules for three nights a week only. The viewing nights on WB were Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. 

Jamie Kellner of WB reportedly approached Aaron Spelling to produce a show catering to the 18-to-24-year-old women demographic about lives south of the Mason-Dixon Line. From the outset, Aaron Spelling made known, "It's really important that I tell you the truth about this show. This is not something that we created. This is not something that started with us." 'The New York Times' expressed, "This is an egalitarian society that exists only in Southern (comfort) fantasies." Scott Pierce observed, "Mimi Kennedy plays the haughty society matron like a sublime shark."  

Set in Georgia against the backdrop of "Southern passion, romance, wealth and power", 'Savannah' sought to explore the troubled relationships of three girlfriends, the blonde Reese Burton, the redhead Peyton Richards and the brunette Lane McKenzie. All joined by life-long friendships but divided by their bloodlines. 'Entertainment Weekly' pointed out that if Alexis of 'Dynasty' was the perfect rich witch for the Reagan Era, Peyton could be the definitive pinup for the Age of Buchanan (Patrick J. Buchanan was campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination at the time).

Dianne Messina Stanley and James Stanley developed the series by relying on every technique they learned from their years working on shows such as 'Knots Landing'. E. Duke Vincent emphasized, "'Savannah' is a night-time soap opera, so obviously there are characters that are more sensational than citizens. You can accommodate the local lore, traditions and practices, but you can't be confined by that." 

Chris Kaltenbach summarized the first season: "A, B and C are best friends. A is marrying D, who is really in lust with B, who has really hated A all these years. So D tells B he'll divorce A after he's gotten all her money and marry B. Only problem is, A had D sign a pre-nuptial agreement, which ticks off B when she finds out. So she decides to ruin D, who it turns out is a real slime, having stolen umpteen thousands from C's trust fund over the years. C discovers what D has been doing and sets out to confront him - with help from E, a former boyfriend who's recently divorced and still carries a torch for C." 

George Eads revealed playing D (Travis Peterson) was his first big acting job. George was working at a Hollywood athletic club at the time and couldn't leave to go to the audition, "so I asked my boss if I could go get a hamburger at the Burger King. Honestly, I went and drove right by Burger King and went to the audition. I had a short time, learned the lines on the fly, and went up and all of a sudden I was up in Aaron Spelling's office." 

Aaron Spelling was impressed, made a call to George Eads' agent and asked for some film of the young actor's work to be sent over. Aaron recounted, "There was the longest dead silence on the telephone I've ever heard in my life. But he has been amazing - a tough role to play, very little experience and he is not only one of the nicest guys in the world to work with, but I really think he kicks butt in this." Of his character, George Eads conceded, "At first, I wasn't excited because I thought, gosh, this guy's a real jerk. Then I thought, well, it's about the work. This is what I do. Let's commit to it and make him jerk a la mode. Super jerk." 

The first 12 episodes shown between January and April 1996 in the 9pm Sunday slot averaged 3.6% households ratings and 5% audience share (about 4 million viewers a week watched). The second season (22 episodes shown on Monday nights between August 1996 and February 1997) averaged 2.5% households ratings and 3% audience share (about 2 million viewers a week watched). 

As reported, "From July 19 until August 4, 1996, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Summer Olympic Games, the largest event in the city's history. For the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognized National Olympic Committees were represented at the Games." 'The Washington Post' reported, "During the first season, the producers tried to duplicate the look of Savannah as much as possible while filming in Atlanta, but to get the feel of the city, they actually had to go there." 

E. Duke Vincent elaborated, "This year (the second season) we went down there and filmed for eight days (during the Olympics) and we plan to go back. The people of Savannah are not jaded. We were welcomed with open arms." 'The Washington Post' continued, "Thousands of people turned out to cheer the cast when they participated in the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade and received the key to the city." 

Mayor Floyd Adams Jr., a Democrat, told 'The Washington Post' 'Savannah' had helped promote local tourism, "It's not really representative of the community, but that's not a bad thing." 'The Washington Post' continued, "Some secondary location filming is done in Savannah, so there are a few sites in the series that one familiar with the city would recognize. Brian Knopp, a sales manager for the River Street Riverboat Company, believes that any publicity the city and its attractions receive is good.  

"The paddle-wheel steamer used in some of the opening sequences is the one docked in Savannah. Even though the show's current (in 1996) storyline involves a riverboat casino, those shots are not done on the city's S.S. Savannah - which was rechristened in honor of the show." Thelma Hodges lived in Savannah all of her 88 years told 'The Washington Post', "I think it's great. It has different little scenes of Savannah. It's (the series location) just like Savannah. Really, it's a little bit of truth and a little bit of television."

20180711

KNOTS LANDING

Sandy Dvore designed the main title of 'Knots Landing' for the seasons 1987-89. Sandy Dvore shared with fans on his website, "I created the logo and the opening title paintings for the project. I went to a meeting at MGM with the executive producer and the producer, a woman named Catherine (Mary-Catherine Harold). She said, 'We saw your sample tape and we are going to let you, and one other designer submit your ideas, and then, we will choose one of you for the project.' 

"I said, 'I see, you get my idea for free and then what's it worth ... you already got it.' The executive producer laughed, he knew me for years. He looked over at me and her and said 'How much?' I told him. He said 'Okay.' I went back to my studio and did a painting fast. I didn't like it and threw it out in the garbage. My lady friend said, 'Where is the painting you did?' I said, 'I threw it out.' She went to the garbage and it was still there." Sandy Dvore also designed the logo for 'The Young and the Restless' in 1984. 

David Jacobs had said, "We paint on a relatively small canvas compared to 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty'. We are more fragile. We can't upset the balance of believability." David Jacobs also made the point that 'Dynasty' spent much more money on clothes and sets than 'Dallas'. 'Knots Landing' was considered a poor relation. "When 'Dallas' goes to Paris they'd be bumpkins. When 'Knots Landing' goes to Paris they'd be tourists. But when 'Dynasty' goes to Paris they'd have apartments there." 

Speaking to 'Soap Opera Digest', Aaron Spelling remarked, "I think 'Dynasty' was right for what happening in our country at the time." In 1996, Aaron Spelling offered the world 'Savannah', described as "a young 'Dynasty' ... with a little touch of 'Gone With the Wind' if it were done in 1996." Scott D. Pierce noted, "And that isn't too far off the mark (because) the real credit here goes to the husband-and-wife executive producer/writing team of Jim Stanley and Diane Messina Stanley (of 'Knots Landing'). The show is shot in Atlanta and Savannah itself and has a particularly lush feel to it - up to and including the musical score. If you miss 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty', 'Savannah' may just be the thing for you."

When 'Knots Landing', the series, concluded in 1993, David Zurawik of 'The Baltimore Sun' lamented, "The '80s are ending - at least on television." Along with shows such as 'Quantum Leap' and 'The Wonder Years', 'Knots Landing' was regarded one of "the last major holdovers from TV as we knew it then … Their departures mean big changes in the look and feel of prime time.

"Just as the politics of the '80s lingered until George Bush's defeat last year (in 1992), so has an '80s sensibility lived on in prime-time TV. That sensibility includes nostalgia, much talk of family and a preoccupation with material goods and success … And there is no programming genre more of the '80s than the prime-time soap opera.

"In one way or another, all the prime-time soaps were about rich people, great clothes, fabulous homes, big corporations, power, sex and families. Those were also among the major concerns of the culture at large during the '80s. It is no accident that a show featuring J.R. Ewing was one of the most popular on TV during a time when Donald Trump was a high-gloss celebrity. It is also no accident that Blake Carrington of 'Dynasty' so resembled President Reagan.

"Of all the prime-time soaps, 'Knots Landing' capitalized least on the worst aspects of the '80s … In the main, the characters in ('Knots Landing') were not fabulously rich like those in 'Dynasty' or 'Dallas' ... The show stayed suburban (middle class - OK, upper middle class) in outlook, which made it possible for viewers to identify with the characters in a way they never could with the richer-than-life Ewings, Carringtons or Channings.

"Maybe the most appealing difference between 'Knots Landing' and the others, though, was the primacy of the female characters and an emphasis on relationships." Michele Lee mentioned, "It's the women who understood my character and would warn Kevin (Dobson) when he was out in a supermarket never to cheat on me … The conversations I had with Mack in bed at night struck home - that's what I was told. We represented hope for a working marriage."

David Zurawik continued, "In this way, it was more like the daytime soaps than anything else in prime time. The rest of '80s TV was very much about patriarchy. From 'Miami Vice' to 'Dallas' and 'The Cosby Show', men were firmly in control. But on 'Knots Landing', the women were in control." Speaking to KNT News Services in 1986, Ted Shackelford acknowledged, "'Knots Landing' appeals mainly to a female audience, and women want to see women in aggressive, take-charge roles."

David Zurawik continued, "Abby Cunningham was the one who made things happen. She was the J.R. Ewing of 'Knots Landing'. And the yin to her yang was Karen MacKenzie. And then there were Valene Ewing and Paige Matheson. These are memorable characters. The only man on the show who could ever really play in their league was Greg Sumner. And while he had all the earmarks of a J.R. Ewing, he never managed to wrest control away from the women.

"But as distinctive as it has been in some ways, 'Knots Landing' ultimately is a soap opera. And prime-time TV in the '90s has no place for soaps … There are other aspects of 'Knots Landing' that make it out of sync with the '90s. It's virtually all-white at a time when the audience seems to be looking for shows that more accurately reflect the diversity of American life. There was an African-American family, the Williamses but the producers and writers never involved them in the flow of the series."

Speaking to 'The Washington Post' in 1988, David Jacobs elaborated, "We decided to write it colorblind. It's just a new couple coming to Knots Landing, and here are their problems. We're not doing it this way because it's safe - we're doing it because it's good." Lawrence Kasha added, "We try to have our characters behave as characters naturally behave."

David Zurawik continued, "It's also about getting rich, when the audience seems more interested in shows about getting by. Think 'Roseanne'. No one in the Conners' household is ever going to be named US trade representative to Japan (reason to send Donna Mills' character off 'Knots Landing'). Or think about the schedule of new shows for next fall (1993-94), which ABC introduced this week (in May 1993).

"Three of the 11 new shows deal with single mothers 'trying to make ends meet', in the language of the network descriptions. Each of the shows signing off this week and next (in May 1993) is rooted in the '80s and out of step with '90s TV in one way or another. 'The Wonder Years' is about nostalgia for the suburbs and the '60s. 'Quantum Leap' is about an actual longing to return to the past. On the other hand, '90s shows are about the here and now whether it's in glut of prime-time newsmagazine or in ripped-from-the-headline made-for-TV movies."

20180708

KNOTS LANDING

Since 1980, a serial drama usually concluded its season with the requisite cliff-hanger in spring to keep "viewers on pins and needles all summer" until the season-opening resolutions in the fall. On the 'Knots Landing' cliff-hanger in 1988, the season finale was described as "the most daring thing we've done on the series in nine years.

"There's a full, uninterrupted act and a half of two characters going at each other in one room. It's brave, it's exceptional writing." Joan Van Ark considered the writing as "a gift from the writers. Thank you God, and thank you writers, brave and daring. The show never did this before and I loved the challenge of it. Because of the writers' strike, I don't know how they plan to resolve it."

The cliff-hanger, Harvey Shephard of CBS insisted, "They're very important. Right before summer, the cliff-hanger builds to a crescendo and brings them back in the fall." However David Poltrack of CBS maintained by delaying the cliff-hangers until May (for the sweeps), the networks had a smaller pool of viewers than during the winter, when more people were at home and watching TV.

The cliff-hanger on 'Knots Landing' first went on air in May 1988 was regarded unprecedented for series television because the scene was uninterrupted for 20-plus minutes by other plots. Teri Austin observed, "Most shows look like MTV with two-minute scenes. This was really more like doing a play." Of the four most popular prime-time soap operas in the 1980s, three were on CBS and one on ABC.

David Poltrack of CBS pointed out, "Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights are covered, people don't stay home every Saturday night and on Sundays and Mondays you have an established pattern of mini-series and major films that pull people away. For example, when CBS had 'Emerald Point N.A.S.' on Monday nights (in 1983-84), NBC had one big movie after another. So Tuesday is the only night that has the potential (except 'Paper Dolls' 1984)."

'Dynasty', 'Knots Landing', 'Dallas' and 'Falcon Crest' had been mostly successful in their time periods. Of the four, David Poltrack remarked, "The characters (in 'Knots Landing') are right out of middle-class America and are a little more believable than those in the bigger-than-life fantasies." It was noted the networks normally would not end canceled programs with cliff-hangers.

By 1988, Leonard Katzman believed the genre had used up a lot of material and proposed the episodic format change instead of relying on the continuing plot. The self-contained stories would feature guest stars for each episode such as on 'The Love Boat', 'Fantasy Island' and 'Arthur Hailey's Hotel'. At the time, programs such as 'L.A. Law' featured one-episode stories together with stories that would continue over several episodes.

Leonard Katzman told the 'Los Angeles Times' "contained stories make each episode viable for summer reruns and for several economic reasons, including boosting their value in syndication." Leonard Katzman said simply, "In all of television production, there is creation and there is execution. Creation is what gets a show on the air; execution is what keeps it on the air. I think I've executed the show."

Rick Kennedy of 'Scripps Howard News Service' reported in 1988, "With a new decade approaching (the 1990s), historians have begun tagging the 1980s as the era when we worshipped wealth. No TV series has better reflected that than the sinister, 'Dallas', which quietly marks its 10th anniversary in (April 1988). The fact that 'Dallas' is popular worldwide 'seems to mean the show's appeal is something fairly simplistic,' said Clifford Hardie, associate professor of English at Wilmington College.

"'My hunch is society's fixation with wealth has a lot to do with it.' Elliot Gorn, director of the American Studies program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio contends the pathos in 'Dallas is more complex than one might think. 'People watch 'Dallas' in order to distance themselves from its characters. The fact that the characters are wealthy and never happy is reassuring to people. 'Dallas' is a way of looking at wealth and convincing yourself you don't want to be that way.'"

Of the episodic format, Esther Shapiro begged to differ, "One of the things that people traditionally liked is the fact that you're building on a story, and people want to know what's going to happen. Generally, in an hour show (that is not serialized), you have to do a lot of exposition to introduce a new story, since each new character and story will need to be explained."

Harvey Shephard of CBS reasoned, "Every television show reaches a point where it experiences audience decline, usually after five or seven years. When a show with key individuals has been on for so many years, you sort of run into dry spells as far as storytelling avenues are concerned. There are only so many stories about the oil or wine industries."

Mike White worked in advertising made the observation, "We use up television programs so fast. With the soaps, you probably get tired of watching the same casts of characters going through basically the same kinds of problems. Or maybe it's the whole titillation thing, which was one of the reasons for their success. Titillation that is continual isn't titillating anymore; it's boring. These shows also lose their believability. They get more and more bizarre, and after a while you say, 'I don't need this.'"

Most TV series filmed 22 episodes a season, 'Knots Landing' had produced up to 30 episodes per season. Lawrence Kasha acknowledged, "You don't want to repeat yourself … It's hard. We used to do them on a seven-day shoot and now because of the expense we do them in six days. It's non-stop. We don't do reruns because we are serialized. We take Christmas week off, but it's just that one week." 

Lynn Marie Latham told 'Soap Opera Digest', "We always say that 'Knots Landing' is about people who take out the garbage and do home permanents, so we feel that our best dramas come from personal stories." Bernard Lechowick added, "Our hallmark comes from David Jacobs: 'This is a show about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.'"

Lynn Marie Latham also stated, "We try to have story lines that deal with family dynamics. We feel very strongly about children's rights. And our art director, Ray Markham, has created one of the best sets I've ever seen on television, the Sumner Group office on Stage 20. The set, where he puts elevators and glass room partitions, has given us ideas to write."

Speaking to Libby Slate on Stage 25 at the former MGM Studios, Michele Lee who was preparing  to make her directorial debut discussed Karen MacKenzie's addiction to prescription drugs. "That was one of my most favorite periods of time but also my least favorite, because I had to become lethargic, inactive, and certainly the antithesis of what my character usually is. As an actress, though, I got to do a little stretching."

William Devane discussed writing for 'Knots Landing', "The script needs to be done in five days; I don't enjoy having to work that hard because I always wait till the last minute to do anything. So they gave it to me on a Friday, and I had the weekend, which helped. They looked for an episode in which my character dominated, which naturally makes it easier."

On 'Dynasty', "(The character of) Alexis' idea of breakfast is champagne and grapes in bed, where she reclines on embroidered Pratesi sheets." TV shows such as 'Dallas', 'Dynasty' and 'Falcon Crest' "offer a unique vision of America: one in which the backyard is a polo field and houses are so vast one practically needs a passport to get from one wing to another."

Tom Trimble was the art director of 'Dynasty'. Of the show's style, "We like to think of it as good taste. The Carringtons are old wealth, with a quiet elegance. They like very fine and rich things (including the reproduction of Winterthur furniture, French marble-topped chests and lots of accessories). Alexis represents new money. Alexis took out all the older furniture and put in flashy Italian pieces with two metal palm trees." Tom Trimble told the press in 1987 he drew inspiration for the set from home design magazines, "I go through them frequently. 'Architectural Digest' is, of course, my bible."

20180704

KNOTS LANDING

Michele Lee directed the final episode of the 1991-92 season of the TV series, 'Knots Landing'. Speaking to 'The Morning Call' in March 1992, Michele Lee enthused, "I'm starting to prep to direct the cliff-hanger. I've been directing for the last three years (since the 1989-1990 season), but this is the first year that I'm directing the cliff-hanger." 

Karen, Michele Lee observed, "served as a symbol of strength and hope and survival for the female … I do feel unique. I have a chance to portray such a positive role model for women in a show that portrays so many aspects of real life. Karen is a female who exemplifies goodness and morality and has never swayed from this. There aren't too many women on TV of her strength. I think that's because I'm you - I'm all those ladies out there. I am that viewer of 'Knots Landing'." 

Of scenes between Karen and Valene, Michele Lee told Deborah Wilker, "If we're (Michele and Joan Van Ark) doing a scene and we have to connect and we're not quite there, we'll look at each other, and I know this sounds corny, but I'll hum the (show's) theme song. There's just something in the theme that touches a note with us, just some emotional connection. I'll hold her hand, gaze into her eyes, sing a couple notes and we're there." 

The 'Knots Landing' theme was composed by Jerrold Immel. Ron Grant, Joel Rosenbaum, Christopher Klatman, Lance Rubin and Larry Riley also produced music for the teasers and scenes. In an interview with Randall D. Larson in 2011, Jerrold Immel recounted, "The last six or seven years of 'Knots Landing' (around 1987), that was the period where more and more producers were looking for electronic scores.

"I had been connected to 'Knots Landing' – David Jacobs, who created that, produced it and everything, became a very good friend; he told me that he suggested me for the score because he heard something else that I had done on television and thought that I was the right guy. Once I did, he naturally had other projects that he wanted me to do and eventually I think I did probably about five or six series for David alone.

"In fact I got a nomination for a score that I did for 'Knots Landing' that was all digital. I used four keyboard-synthesists, a percussionist, and a woodwind player who played the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). That score was a very grim score – I went to the coldest colors I could find and found them with this, and that score got a nomination. Anyway, around 1987 the producers came to me and said 'we would like to take the show into electronic music and we need to do smaller budgets.'

"So I formed a team then with Craig (Huxley) because he had the performance and programming skills, plus the Synclavier, and I had already worked with him on 'Megaforce' (1982). So that became a logical partnership. In addition to 'Knots Landing' we went on to do other things – we did one feature film which was really awful ('The Retaliator' 1987), but we also did a show for Leonard Katzman, 'Walker, Texas Ranger' with Chuck Norris.

"That show was a deal between Chuck Norris and CBS – they had a partnership on it. Leonard Katzman was brought in because they were having trouble finding an identity with it, and he called me in (around 1994) to do a new Main Title for it. So I took Craig with me on that, so he and I came up with a new theme and did the scores for several episodes. I believe John Parker also did some episodes, and also electronically; I only did it for half a season.

"Chuck Norris didn't like anything that Katzman brought so he started out by firing the writers and then pretty soon he was firing the editors and eventually got to me. It wasn't that he didn't like the music, it was just that somebody suggested to him that he could sing a song and that would be the theme and he could make lots of money that way, so that was the end of my theme! And it was also the last thing that Craig and I did together."

Of 'Knots Landing', Michele Lee maintained, "The reason for the show's success: One, they have to keep coming up with new story lines to keep the characters interesting and two, television reflects so many things, politically and otherwise. A character goes through changes as the country goes through changes. If you skip a beat, your show fails."

At the time, "There's a part of Karen that's been missing for a while, because it's been missing in America. Part of her character used to be her deep involvement in social issues. She worked for the American Civil Liberties Union. She was the liberal of the cul-de-sac. When the Equal Rights Amendment was promoted, she was involved in it.

"Also Save the Whales. There was always talk of her being a demonstrator who was arrested in the '60s. Think about it. For a while there, we only dreamed about how we were going to get rich. All of a sudden we started helping our community again. So now (in 1992) I think it's time for Karen to get active again. Because that's what's happening in America."

In 2008, 'The Writers Life' magazine interviewed Camille Marchetta. Of writing for the TV series, 'Dallas', Camille Marchetta recounted, "For the couple of years I was on the show, I was the story editor. Arthur Lewis, the executive-story editor, the producer, Leonard Katzman, and I were the entire writing staff. We would work out story lines together, take turns writing scripts, and use freelance writers for every fourth or fifth episode. Of course we all disagreed, and a lot. That's the fun of story meetings.

"But the disagreements never got nasty. We all liked and respected each other too much for that. In the room, Leonard Katzman had the final say; but of course we had Lorimar and CBS executives to contend with. Though, the more successful we got, the more they left us alone to do as we wished. I only worked with David (Jacobs) on the mini-series and found him to be very kind and generous and totally supportive of my work – though he rewrote my entire script. But that happens all the time, and often has to do with production changes. By the time I joined the staff, David had moved on, to create and produce 'Knots Landing'."

The final weekly episode of 'Dallas' went on air in 1991. Michael Hill of 'The Baltimore Sun' described 'Dallas' as "a cultural touchstone." Of its impact, "Almost single-handedly, it created the genre of the prime-time soap, and its meteoric success cluttered the development of all three networks for the next several years with attempts to duplicate the hold its labyrinthian plot held on the American consciousness.

"Only two shows - the still-popular 'Knots Landing' and ABC's 'Dynasty' - succeeded, and both were worthy, interesting contributions to the medium. But, beyond that direct impact, the fact that 'Dallas' proved that the viewing public would not only put up with continuing story lines, but was fascinated by them, opened up a whole new world to prime-time programs."

David Jacobs made the point, "I don't think 'Dallas' gets enough credit for that. Before 'Dallas', in almost every show - 'Barnaby Jones', 'Kojak', 'McCloud', whatever - the idea was to have the hero stay the same from week to week. After 'Dallas', even in shows that were not soaps, there almost had to be an acknowledgment in this week's episode of whatever happened last week."

Michael Hill continued, "The result of being freed from the restraints of a static weekly formula was to allow for much more complex storytelling, to let characters grow and develop more naturally, to make the medium more responsive and immediate. Certainly some shows continue to find success with the old formula - 'Murder, She Wrote', 'Matlock', 'Hunter' - but many more ran through the opening that 'Dallas' created to a higher plane of prime-time television. It can be argued that if 'Dallas' didn't exist, then neither would 'Hill Street Blues', 'St. Elsewhere', 'L.A. Law' or 'thirtysomething'; that even shows like 'Cheers' would look different. Clearly television would be a more barren place."

Of scriptwriting, Camille Marchetta offered, "Imagine this: you spend weeks, sometimes months of your life working on a script; you do the best job you can; in fact, you think you've done a pretty good job. Full of pride, excitement, expectation, you turn it in – only to find out that a huge number of people (the producer, production company executives, network executives, etc.) think you've missed the goal - by an inch, by a few feet, by a mile, it doesn't matter - you've missed it.

"It's like giving birth to a child, presenting it to the world, and instead of praise for the perfection of your baby, what you get is a litany of its failings. It hurts. Always. That's when, if you really want to be a television (or film) writer, you have to step back, take a breath, remind yourself that there's no way on earth you could have delivered the ideal script they've been carrying around in their heads since long before you began writing. You were destined to disappoint. It's not your fault.

"Also, their concerns are different from yours. You want to create a masterpiece. Sure, they'd like a masterpiece too, but one that's brilliant - their way, not yours, and will earn them a lot of money too. Your job, as a paid writer, is to give them what they want. So, lick your wounds, try to make sense of their (sometimes conflicting) notes, and look for a way to rewrite the script that will both protect its integrity and meet their needs. It's not always possible, but a professional writer has to try."

Post 'Knots Landing', Donna Mills formed her own production company after securing several development deals with the networks. In 1990, Donna Mills spoke to 'Scripps Howard News Service', "I like making decisions. There's something very satisfying about making decisions. Sometimes they're right and sometimes they're not. But I find that more bad things can happen from indecision than from bad decisions.

"As an actress, you get some feedback when your show is on. People come and tell you - sometimes they tell you it's not so good - but at least you have some feedback. As a producer, there are long, long periods of time when you're developing a project when there is no reward, and no monetary award. As a producer in television, you don't get any money until the network orders it."

Michele Lee also mentioned in 1992, "I've got two properties in development. I'm producing and acting in my next movie for CBS, which is going to be done during my hiatus from 'Knots'. This will be the second movie I'll be producing. I'll be doing the pre-pro (pre-production) in April (1992) and physically shooting it in May (1992), which will give me about a month off before I have to report back to work (on 'Knots Landing').

"I'm very good with story and script and a producer really needs to be if you're going to develop a script or an idea. I think my network has been very supportive of me in terms of my talent. They want me in movies and my movies do well for them. I'm not exclusive. I can work for other networks, but CBS tries to find movies for me and they're my family. Again, that goes back to my need to have my people around me."

Of Donna Mills, Luaine Lee reported in 1990, "She and her partner have already lined up part of the financing in the Soviet Union for a six-to-eight-hour mini-series, 'A Pride of Royals' based on the relationships between Kaiser Wilhelm, Czar Nicholas and King George V. Mills would not star in this production." Donna Mills continued, "I just pitched a series to CBS that I don't want to be in. It's an hour dramatic series. But it sort of took us a long time to get an appointment.

"They said if I wanted to be in it, they would see us immediately. Since I didn't want to be in it, they weren't quite so anxious. It's hard to tell because people are always nice. I have never thought it was a detriment to be a woman, to be blond, to be attractive, or whatever. Because of that, they'll always be courteous. Then it's up to you to prove you can be more serious. But at least it opens the door."

Playing Karen on 'Knots Landing', Michele Lee told 'Scripps Howard News Service' in 1992, "It brought with it a certain notoriety. It was like, 'Oh, yes, Michele Lee, she's on this show. So let's get her on X.' Or 'We need her because she has a TVQ. The audience knows her.' It has afforded me the opportunity I never would've had. It has opened the door to my directing. It opened the doors for me to produce movies, which I would've had a more difficult time doing.

"I do a movie a year on my hiatus and it is Karen who started it all. I've been in front of a small camera with my family basically because I marry crews and the actors I work with and they become family. It's very comfortable ... I like to look at the whole. I love connecting the dots. That's what acting my role is: connecting the dots to make a whole."

Speaking to Jay Bobbin of 'Tribune Media Services' in 1989, Donna Mills discussed the making of the TV movie, 'The Lady Forgets', which was not filmed in sequence. "A television filming schedule is always compressed, so we did in four weeks what they do in a feature film in 16 weeks. It was really hard, and we'd shoot in the daytime one week and at night the next, so I kind of felt like I had jet lag for three weeks straight … I did other TV movies and mini-series during hiatuses from 'Knots', but those are very short periods of time off and you never sort of let go of the series character you're playing - in my case, Abby … When I look back on it, the character Abby was always there, since I knew that I'd still have to play her 10 months a year.''

In 1998, Michele Lee played Jacqueline Susann in the movie on the USA cable network. "In terms of my enthusiasm for the piece and the woman that I played, yeah, she's one that you could chew up the scenery with. This woman was someone who kind of shoved doors open. She didn't just open new doors - she slammed them open. She had an incredible sense of humor. It was a very frightening and, at the same time, exhilarating character."

Author Barbara Seaman remarked, "I think that our society finally caught up with her. She was just about 30 years ahead of her time. Her behaviors were considered indecent and improper for a woman in the 1960s and early 1970s. But today (in the 1990s) her behavior is much more acceptable. Women are allowed to be more assertive and ambitious."

Michele Lee also spoke to 'Knight-Ridder/Tribune', "She represented something that was, I think, pre-feminist, although at the time I'm sure people didn't see it that way. She made things happen for herself … I equate her in some ways to Madonna, Barbra Streisand or certainly Oprah. These are women who are self-made, who know what they want and how to market themselves. These are businesswomen."

20180701

KNOTS LANDING

Speaking to the 'Chicago Tribune' in 1993, Michele Lee explained 'Knots Landing', "This has been essentially relationship drama. We tapped into the hearts of all people; you'd be surprised at the different demographics who watched our show. Even if it wasn't their exact dream, we represented some part of the American dream for our viewers. That is one of the reasons why they watched. 

"People can poke fun at the melodrama, but it can excel at multi-levels of storytelling. We always had a sense of humor that was uncanny and I don't mean tongue in cheek. Our responsibility to the viewers was very, very heartfelt. I look back and am astounded at my absolute adoration and love for my character. I'll really miss her. Karen was a girlfriend (to me). She symbolized hope for marriage and love and good things to happen for justice to prevail. 

"Our emotional stake in the show was one of the reasons it was on so long. It had a real soul and a heartbeat. I'm a 'Knots' fan. I always watch the show. As a female, the only way I can explain the longevity of the show is that there has been an innocence about it. Even though it sounds corny, it has shown where we were at as a society at that given time, with a gentleness and a hope." 

David Jacobs told Deborah Wilker, "The most successful shows on TV all feature families at the core. We've never been timely; we've never been trendy. We never cared whether Reagan was president. We never tried to be 'Hill Street (Blues)'. 'Knots' will always be the kind of show you take to bed with a bucket of popcorn. Right now (in 1992) I think 'Knots' could run forever. This show wasn't ready to come to an end. If it had, it would have been like someone who was still healthy, but had a heart attack. Like when my grandfather died at 74. He wasn't ready." 

Ted Shackelford added, "'Knots Landing' has been entertainment and escape. And society really needs it more than it has ever needed it, in an edifying way, not a violent one. Gary was basically a reactor not an initiator. He was part of the hysteria. All the women he was involved with were manipulators, except for Val, and that was part of the appeal."

Douglas Sheehan played Val's second husband offered, "We can't sit and wait for Gary and Val to find happiness. Life isn't like that. It’s not just 5 minutes in the sack, roses and flowers. It's living together – finding dirty clothes in the bathroom. Passion is but one ecstatic moment." Joan Van Ark observed, "I'd say it has a level. We take a borderline realistic situation, heighten it a bit, and react to it as realistically as possible. A realistic basis usually produces the better storyline."

Like all other traditional television shows on prime time then, each episode of 'Knots Landing' contained teasers and the opening credits. But unlike most other series at the time, 'Knots Landing' did not have the obligatory melodramatic final freeze-frame ending to keep viewers in suspense until the next episode. "In acting," Nicollette Sheridan believed, "everything has to come from some point in you, maybe pull some string that hasn't been pulled in a while. A lot of this business is being in the right place at the right time with the right thing."

Michele Lee maintained, "We've always been a service-oriented show. We're always giving subliminal messages to the audience … We use realistic acting, unlike the stylized approach on 'Dynasty' and 'Dallas.' What makes us different from 'Dynasty' or 'Dallas' is that we're not just dealing with people who have a lot of money, although we have gotten a little upscale in recent years (to 1987). But we exemplify middle-class values."

Ted Shackelford insisted, "If people watch 'Knots Landing' and are entertained by it than I’m happy. The main thing I have to remember is I'm providing entertainment for the masses, not creating art." Donna Mills said she watched 'Knots Landing' when it was on air because "that was the only time we got to see it. We didn't get to see our work except for when it was on the air because a lot of the time we were filming very close to our airdates so we were taping it and cutting it right away so we never got to see the 'dailies' or anything. We just have to see it on the air."

The final weekly episode went on air in May 1993. About 14% of the 93 million plus TV households at the time were counted watching (roughly 13 million homes with TV sets). It was the 13th most popular program that week, tied with 'The Wonder Years'. Michele Lee made known, "Originally, we didn't know. In year two or three, we were saying, 'Gee, this could last 7 years'. And in year ten, eleven and 12, I was saying, 'If they play their cards right, this could go 20' which I still maintain it probably could have … People who never watched our show will never know how delightful our show was on so many levels for so long."

In 1983-84, politics was introduced on 'Knots Landing' and in 1984-85, lobbying was explored. Lobbying was described as "a form of free speech and petition and these are constitutional rights … In its widest sense, it merely means getting people (legislators, lawmakers) to do what you want them to do." One commentator stated, "In a perfect world every individual would have equal influence on the government. But I don't know any democratic government that operates without lobbyists. So there’s no point, passing a law saying it can't be done."

In the 1988-89 season, the character of Greg married Abby for a political wife in order to run for elective office. Initially Greg announced his candidacy for mayor in the general election. After finishing his 6-month term, Greg planned to take a high cabinet post in Washington, "after all I do dump lots of dough in this party." However based on exit poll margin, Greg suffered a narrow defeat 52% to 46%.

It was reported in 1986, "In essence, former high-level public servants are cashing in on knowledge and expertise obtained at taxpayer expense. What has happened is that the American government has become a finishing school for highly paid lobbyists for foreign interests. People who have had the privilege to serve at the highest levels of government have chosen to use the status, insider's knowledge and special access they acquired in office on behalf of foreign interests."

However "they are 10-per-centers, the people who allegedly help people get contracts or things for which they are paid. If there is a place for abuse in the system, that is probably where it takes place." Hence "to restore the trust of the people in their government" Congress passed a bill on lobbing law in 1995. "For too long, Washington’s influence industry has operated out of the sunlight of public scrutiny. This new law will require professional lobbyists, for the first time, to fully disclose who they are working for and what legislation they are trying to pass or kill." 

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