20170327

JANA WENDT

It was reported in 1990 one in 4 Australians watched Jana Wendt on 'A Current Affair' making her the most famous and most watched woman in Australia. "It's not a personal power that I have; it's a power to do with the program and its viewing audience. So it's not me. Really, if tomorrow I walk away from the program, my power is pretty close to zero," Jana insisted. 

The 5 years between 1988 and 1992 was described as "phenomenally successful" for 'A Current Affair'. When the Prime Minister of Australia or Rupert Murdoch or Kerry Packer would like to address the biggest mass audience they could reach directly, they went on 'A Current Affair' to talk to Jana Wendt. At the time Jana Wendt was one of the "most highly trusted" TV interviewers on Australian television.

Hence she would "avoid taking a personal stand, especially of the political kind." Jana stated, "Obviously, I have to interview people who have different opinions from mine, even people I might dislike, but it is my job to try and be as balanced as possible and to show as much information as I can so that the viewers can make up their own minds."

"'aCA' tabloid? If you were saying that it is tabloid in the sense that 'Hard Copy' is tabloid, if that were your benchmark for tabloid, I would most certainly object. But if tabloid means addressing the widest possible audience, which means it’s capable of covering a wide range of stories and making them palatable to a wide audience, then yes, we are tabloid – unashamedly," Jana told Mark Lawrence of 'Fairfax Media'. John Westacott explained, "Jana is measured every 15 minutes of her professional life. It is not easy. People comment on what she is wearing every night. It's about her hair or clothes. She is not bossy boots, but demands excellence. There is enormous pressure on her." 

Peter Meakin recounted, "When the show began 20 years ago (in 1971), it was much more local in content but over the years it has become much more international in scope, with more overseas stories and issues." By 1992, "the market for current affairs shows is saturated at the moment, with 4 networks showing at least one current affairs show a night, and maybe there's only room for two. But we will be one of them and the only way to do that is through the program content and the appeal of the presenter."

Gerald Stone observed, "I also think that (Mike) Willesee in his early days - and I'm sure he would be the first to agree - went for a format where 'A Current Affair' turned into a bit of a freak show, with stories on  UFOs and women in trailer parks – it was not a high class program. Whereas, I think, under Jana, her natural interest was to do the more serious stuff." 

During a debate on his bid to buy Fairfax newspapers in 1991, 'A Current Affair' ran 3 minutes over time which led Kerry Packer to comment, "Make sure they run all the ads." The debate was important according to Max Walsh because "I forecast that if Tourang did win Fairfax then one of the two would gain complete control of the media empire by moving to a majority equity position (through a lobbied change in government policy) or it would be broken up and shared between them." 

In August 1990, Kerry Packer reclaimed channel Nine back from Alan Bond and immediately ordered budget cuts - 'A Current Affair' by 7.5%. Jana Wendt, who was on vacation in Noosa (Steve Leibmann stood in for Jana) when Kerry Packer cut her budget reportedly told colleagues she would leave if the new regime was to attempt to direct editorial policy on 'A Current Affair'. Kerry Packer's return marked Sam Chisholm departure to the UK to join Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television and Jana Wendt was the first to make the announcement on 'A Current Affair'. In his 25 years at channel Nine, the network commanded a third of Australia total viewing audience and nearly 40% of total advertising revenues.

"It's been sad seeing so many good people retrenched. I think everybody knows someone who has lost their job, but so far the word from 'up there' is that 'A Current Affair' is doing well. You need a lot of money to run a program like this properly," Jana told 'Fairfax Media' back in March 1991. John Westacott informed followers, "There had been a 7.5% budget cut and we have retrenched one producer, a reporter and a casual switchgirl in Melbourne. However, I have not had one (editorial) instruction, phone call or direction. I haven't heard from Mr Packer. We are actively planning next year (1991)."

In January 1992, after Paul Keating had become Prime Minister, he went on 'A Current Affair' to talk to Jana Wendt. Paul Keating's appearance attracted a 30 rating in Sydney and a 33 rating in Melbourne. AGB Australia called 1,062 Australians before and after the Paul Keating interview with Jana Wendt. It was reported, "Of the 400 who responded to the second survey, those found him arrogant dropped from 70% to 33%, those who thought him sincere rose from 38% to 53%, evasive dropped 64% to 55%, aggressive from 56% to 13%, and credible up from 38% to 48%."

Working on 'A Current Affair', Jana described "the sheer excitement of a daily program where you know in the morning if there is any sort of hot issue, political or otherwise, you are more than likely to have the privilege of being able to interview someone, from the PM down. (It is) that access to the epicentre of what goes in that very few people in Australia have."

In 1992, 'A Current Affair' "was almost unstoppable, with an average 40.8% share of Sydney homes in the 6.30-7:00pm time slot. The performance of 'aCA' is all the more important because Nine's strength has traditionally been the 6:00-7:00pm line-up in east coast cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) which has provided the foundation for its evening ratings."

1991 marked a "historic year for the TV industry" because for the first time the A.C. Nielsen electronic people-meters began measuring the audience instead of the AGB-McNair hand-written diaries. 'A Current Affair' was the most watched regular program on television that year, attracting over 2 million viewers each night, with one week in June "Jana Wendt soared to a Monday night peak of 38 points and did not fall below 30 all that week."

The week before 'A Current Affair' attracted 38 points, in May 1991, Jana Wendt walked out on the program for 2 days reportedly offended by a story showing topless women sales assistants working in a Geelong hardware store in Melbourne. Ray Martin stood in for Jana did not know why he was called in until the second night and gave no reason on air for Jana's absence.

The staff member at channel Nine Sydney studio made known, "She was pissed off but she doesn't want any publicity about it. She wants it to remain a private matter between her and channel Nine. The buzz was she was really offended. After that night's show she got up, walked out without saying a word and didn't turn up for 2 days."

Of the ratings, Peter Luck made the comment, "Even the people at channel Nine are mystified by the incredible figures in the half-hour news/half-hour current affairs combo. In fact, if television people spoke, as they do in radio, about 'shares' rather than ratings, Jana Wendt and Brian "Hendo" Henderson would look even more amazing.

"Their shows, for example, have been rating as high as 36-37. That is 36% of 100% of existing TV sets. But if you look at it in terms of 'shares' that would be 36 in relation to the 70% of sets being used – in other words, more than 50% of the audience." The news and Jana Wendt were "absolutely dominating between 6 o'clock and 7:00pm each weekday in Sydney." In 1991, 'A Current Affair' attracted a season average of 657,500 viewers from 1,219,000 television households.

The rise of Jana Wendt was one of the success stories of 1982 when she became the first female reporter on '60 Minutes'. As noted in 1990, "When her contract with 'A Current Affair' expires at the end of 1992, Jana will be staring at 15 years in TV journalism, most of it as a 'celebrity.'" Jill Singer maintained, "I can't see that sort of Jana Wendt phenomenon happening again. She was marketed very well and she came along at a time when few women were doing what she was doing. There are women now who are just as good, but Jana's success was probably as much a factor of the times."

"I got into TV by accident and when I did, I wondered if I'd chosen the right profession," Jana Wendt born in May 1956 told Christopher Day back in 1990. "To be in journalism a natural curiosity has to drive you. I have developed a lot more since the early days. I was pretty lazy then. The effort you thought you had to put in to get a decent story was far short of the mark."

"When Jana Wendt entered the arena in the late 1970s (in 1978 Jana showed up at channel Ten's Nunawading studios applying for a job), women were largely restricted to 'good news' stories, the magistrate's courts and reading the weather. It was an industry dominated by men. Jana Wendt changed that. When she moved from co-hosting the news to become the fourth reporter on '60 Minutes', she was a sensation.

"Her move to host 'A Current Affair' in 1988 was similarly successful and each new ratings survey helped to cement her position as number one. Viewers liked the idea of having their information delivered to them by a female – an unlikely scenario 15 years earlier (back in 1979). Jana Wendt had a big following and the program rated its head off," it was reported.

Fluent in 4 languages (Czech, English, French and Italian), Jana was said could not speak English until she was 6. Her parents Karel and Bohumila Wendt fled (the then) Czecholoslavia in 1948 and settled in Melbourne in 1951. The first English expression Jana learned at the Catholic primary school in East St Kilda was "Oh, my goodness!"

Jana's friend Julie Kantor who father Milan was married to Rupert Murdoch's sister Anne, and had worked with Jana's father Karel in the early 1950s when they edited the Czech dissident newspaper published in Melbourne, 'Hlas Domova' told 'Fairfax Media', "He is a man who was an exile from Czecholovakia in every sense of the word. When he escaped from his home he knew he would never see his parents again.

"He worked as a storeman here although, intellectually, he could have been anything. They didn’t have a color television until recently and they still don't own a car. It was many years before they bought their townhouse in Kew. We all watched Jana become dangerously beautiful." Jana's mother stayed at home to look after her child before finding work at Myer.

"I have really dreadful features," Jana complained. "I have a tremendous Slavic jaw, slit eyes, a square face. My face is the shape of a TV set, and that's not good I can tell you. Yuk!" On reflection, Jana told 'Fairfax Media', "Look, let's not be coy: if you sit in front of a TV camera with any regularity you want to make yourself look presentable, so that when people see you they aren't sickened by the vision. So there is that element – for men and women – where you have to smarten yourself up … But, to go back to your original question – will there ever be a time when people who are really plain looking can make it? – I have to tell you that I don't think TV is ever going to be terribly tolerant of people who are really, really plain. That's disastrous, of course, because the vast majority of humanity is reasonably plainish."

It was reported George Negus initially objected to Jana Wendt joining '60 Minutes' because of her age.

Jana: It was an all-in brawl. We had a disagreement. It was lunch with some people who got together to learn to like each other. The numbers dwindled and just George and I remained. In the wee small hours, the voice rather quiter gets louder. By 3:00am you really don't like each other.

George: It was an argument about how people think about their jobs, how they should do the job and how they shouldn't.

Jana: It was about journalism. I was very lucky. And it was tough at the same time. It makes rigorous demands on you. If you don't measure up you are quickly at the bottom again.

George: She's the fastest learner in journalism, certainly our sort of journalism.

In 1993 after the proposed Barbara Walters-style special, 'On Assignment', was dropped because of costs, Jana took a year off to do a degree in linguistics. "But the word is that the one special which did make it to air cost a lot less than $600,000 to make, because most of the expense was in start-up costs that were to be spread over the planned 2-year life of the show. No other reason apart from money has been given for the axing of the show," it was reported.

Ray Martin recalled, "I did a contra-deal with Continental Airlines and the Beverly Willshire Hotel and my special on Paul Hogan cost $9000 to make." Jana remembered, "It was an interview program with people who were not necessarily superstar people. It was an idea that was not appropriate for them. His (Ray's) shows have a … massive audience."

Peter Meakin made the observation, "Her inclinations are less tabloid, or less mass appeal." Derryn Hinch remarked, "She wants to be Australia's Barbara Walters – you know, travel the world and interview famous people for her own weekly television show. And you know what? I'd much rather watch Jana Wendt interview Boris Yeltstin than Bob Hawke interview Boris Yeltstin."

In 1994 Don Hewitt of the American '60 Minutes' was considering asking Jana to join the team. When Jana renewed her contract with channel Nine for 2 years and returned to '60 Minutes', one report would to be aired on the CBS edition. Don Hewitt told 'USA Today', "She's dynamic looking. She commands the screen. She leaps into your living room. She's just nifty." Bruce Gyngell had voiced, "I think Jana Wendt is a genuine star, she has great charisma and talent … Jana Wendt would be successful anywhere in the world. She is without doubt the strongest person in Australian television."

In 1996, channel Seven signed Jana Wendt on a 3-year contract to host the 'Witness' program. 'Fairfax Media' reported, "The cost of Jana Wendt's contract with Seven is understood to have been around $1.6 million in the first year, $1.85 million in the 2nd year, rising to $2.1 million in the 3rd and final year. The commercial value of a personality such as Jana Wendt is immense. She delivers advertisers keen to be connected with such a high-profile journalist."

In return, Jana secured for 'Witness' interviews with Rupert Murdoch, Binyamin Netanyahu, Benazir Bhutto, John Howard and Greg Norman all went on air between April and August 1996. 'NBC Dateline' requested Jana's story on Benazir Bhutto so the program could show it in the U.S. in the 1996-97 season. Of its ratings, Peter Meakin told 'Fairfax Media', "Jana is not driven by commercial considerations in terms of story judgment.

"Jana gave us all a stiff lecture about how we'd all dropped the ball and she was going to show us the way to the promised land. The thing it needs to do is more stories with mass appeal and to be a little less self-indulgent. It's not really a commercial program yet. I wouldn't have launched that sort of show anyway. But Seven would have to leave the show where it is for at least the rest of this year (1996) and probably next year (1997) as well. You don't hire a talent like Jana Wendt then pull the show after a couple of months."

"Not too many people turn down the opportunity to be paid money like that. Money is not so much of an issue," Jana said of her association with the 'Witness' program. "The program bore my name. I don't take that lightly. I went out on a limb publicly all around the country saying this is what this program is going to be … I knew when I went into this I was risking a lot. Potentially I was risking 2 years' salary and future employment but I did it.

"Had I wanted to sit on a pile of money as some people would have you believe, I'd still be sitting in the studio at channel Seven. That was the easiest way of earning lots and lots of money. I think frequently people who make television programs treat their audience as though they were fools. What I was really seeking was reassurance from them (channel Seven) that we had the courage to go on with the program we all agreed we were going to do.

"And the fact channel Seven stood me down simply because I was exercising that right is a cause of great disappointment to me. My employment options are extremely restricted. The television market is very small. I recognize how brilliantly well I have been paid for many years. I'm very lucky." In 1998, ABC signed a contract of less than $1 million with Beyond International to produce 10 half-hour episodes of Jana Wendt interviewing world figures.

Peter Abbott made the point, "People (such as Bill Clinton) of that stature expect to be interviewed by someone of stature, and I think Jana is one of the best interviewers in the country. No doubt her name is attractive to ABC." Jana said of 'Uncensored', "The list (of guests) we ended up with was the list I wanted. I'm passionate about ideas.

"The idea of doing the simplest thing on television, sitting down with someone and exploring their life and ideas, was very appealing, especially to someone who has spent years cutting interesting bits out of people's conversations. Often, people with accumulated wisdom don't have the chance, in this world of quick grabs, to express it. If you can provide thought-provoking interviews filled with ideas that will make at least some people stop and think, then it's a half-hour reasonably spent."

20170325

HILL STREET BLUES

The Mary Tyler Moore Enterprises production of 'Hill Street Blues' which ran for 7 seasons between January 1981 and May 1987 was regarded one of the "true chroniclers of their times (the 1980s)." Veronica Hamel played public defender Joyce Davenport. Occasionally being called Victoria "because it has 4 vowels and a V," Veronica told Harry Harris of the 'Philadelphia Inquirer', "I miss soft pretzels with mustard, cheese sticks and – a big favorite where I lived (grew up in Kensington, Philadelphia) – veal loaf." 

Veronica's story: "I modeled for more than 10 years (since 1960). I was among the top earners right from the beginning: high fashion, commercials, 'Vogue', 'Harpers Bazaar'. I'm 5 foot 8. At first I posed for 'Inquirer' and 'Bulletin' fashion ads. I also did some runway work at Bonwit's and John Wanamaker. I wasn't good at it, but it was at Wanamaker's, after another New York agency had made an offer, that Eileen Ford saw me selling cosmetics. 

"I think I was always interested in acting. I was in plays in elementary school. When I went to my first acting class in New York, I loved it. If I was going to be an actress, I felt it should be before the rose faded (Veronica was 36 in March 1981) and I had to leave. It's not easy to walk away from security, but I did – cutting off the modeling completely – eight years ago (around 1972). 

"I did off-Broadway shows, I was really an apprentice. Not only were apprentices not paid, but you'd be expected to bring in props. You'd drag it all in – your own clothes, the carpet from your own house, even the cat and dog! … I came out to the West Coast five years ago (around 1975), because my agent felt that was where I should be if I wanted things to happen. He thought it would happen faster for me on film because I was a film type. 

"My first job here was with Telly Savalas in a 'Kojak' episode. After that, I was a series guest. In 'Dallas' I was an ex-prostitute trying to go straight as a model. I became a victim of J.R. – aren't we all? I was a daughter-in-law in 'The Gathering' and David Duke's wife in '79 Park Avenue'. But the most impact for me was in the Irwin Allen films. It all sort of snowballs. People see more and more of you; they get more familiar with your work. 

"I never considered myself sexy. I've always been very, very thin. You have to stay slim for modeling, and unless you're a character actress you have to stay slim to pay the rent. When I was offered 'Charlie's Angels' I had just come to California. Being in demand happened very quickly. I auditioned for 'Charlie's Angels' at my agent's request. He was hoping I'd find it hard to turn down a solid contract. I did get a firm offer, but I couldn't see accepting it. It was not something I could grow with.

"I thought 'Charlie's Angels' would be a successful series, but that was the trouble. I like to honor contracts. In exchange for celebrity and money, you owe it to your employers to believe in their show. Celebrity can be a very frightening thing … When it's celebrity as an actor, everything is blown out of proportion. So why go into acting at all? I love it. It's something I have to do. If you don't have to do it, it's not an easy life.

"Only 1% of all actors earn more than $20,000 a year (in those days). I'm one of the privileged few. I've been in the position of waiting for months for something worthwhile to come along, then having to compromise in order to pay the rent, but now (in March 1981) I'm blessed. I never thought when I was doing bits and pieces in elementary school and junior high that I'd get to this point. 'Hill Street Blues' is my moment of glory."

Daniel J. Travanti played police captain Frank Furillo, "I will always be the son of practical farmers from the hills of eastern Italy who knocked their brains out for a buck." At the time of 'Hill Street Blues', Daniel confessed to being a recovering alcoholic who before 1973, drank a bottle of vodka a day "by the tumberfull". By 1981, Daniel had made commercials for Almadén wine and told 'People Weekly', "I can still smell drinks across the room. Margaritas make me salivate. But sobriety is the keystone of who I am now."

Daniel's story: "It was 1972 and I was in Los Angeles when the earthquake hit. I slept throught it. I was so drunk. In 1972, I was on tour. We had been on the road for a year when I cracked up. It was horrible. I began trembling on stage, and I tried to ignore it, but I couldn't. My knees buckled. I turned pale and almost collapsed. They had to bring the curtain down. After that crack-up on stage I went to get medical help. The doctors said it was all 'mental', because I was under pressure.

"I didn't know I was an alcoholic at the time. I thought we all just drank and got drunk and had fun. I used pills for the next 60 shows. It didn't stop me shaking, but I got through my performance every night. I finally admitted I had a drinking problem and went to Alcoholics Anonymous (around August 1973). They help in a practical way, a day at a time. I would not have been able to remember the lines, let alone land the part.

"I still attend AA meetings. I'm a sober alcoholic but sometimes I still want a drink. There's the danger – nobody's ever cured of alcoholism. It's not a thing you ever lose. You're living in recovery. I hope I never fall back to my bad old ways, and with a bit of luck and help from my friends, I won't." In 1979, Daniel won a role in the daytime soap opera, 'General Hospital' before playing Frank Furillo in 'Hill Street Blues'.

'Hill Street Blues' won in total 26 Emmy Awards. Diana Muldaur made the point, "The Emmy doesn't produce fame, nor does it provide a salary boost. It's not a popularity contest. It's a very honored award bestowed by people's peers for what they think are the best achievements of the year. That means a lot to careers. One thing the Emmy can do is to save a show from being canceled. The network may take a second look at a low-rated show that is so honored."

Michael Warren played officer Bobby Hill told 'Gannett News Service' in July 1981, "We're the lowest-rated show in the history of television to be renewed for another season (1981-82). I think the critics saved the show. We've got a strong cult following of viewers, and we're picking up new viewers every week. It's almost been a comedy of errors." When 'Hill Street Blues' went on air in February 1981, NBC "plugged" the first 5 episodes into the 10:00pm time slot on Saturday with no promotion. Michael Warren remembered the 'Hill Street Blues' episodes "weren’t even being listed in 'TV Guide.'"

The network then changed its time slot to Tuesday at 9:00pm but "with large newspaper ads and promotion commercials on NBC" before moving 'Hill Street Blues' to its 3rd time slot on Thursday at 10:00pm. Michael Warren believed, "I think if they put us on a night, keep it there and promote us," 'Hill Street Blues' may attract better ratings.

'Hill Street Blues' was described as a gritty comedy drama or "dromedy". The program sought to explore "the day-to-day activities of the cops working out of a squalid inner-city police station." 'Hill Street Blues' featured multiple storylines often continuing into the following episodes. Michael Warren offered, "Daytime soap operas do this all the time. But nighttime audieces are so locked into sitting down for one hour and watching the beginning, middle and end of a show, that when you continue (the storyline to next week) they seem to be offended.

"A lot of thinking people are turned off by it (TV). But this show ('Hill Street Blues') causes them to think and feel, it's not the pablum normally on TV. I think there's a lot of interest in giving the audience more than T&A shows." Michael Warren argued, "TV is making a mistake of not trying to educate through TV, it can entertain and educate. If people had a better idea of the stress and problems police go through every day, maybe there would be more respect for law enforcement."

"I've always said that the (audience's) lowest common denominator is not so low, its attention span not so short. Maybe I'm just an optimist," Grant Tinker told Associated Press of the first season of 'Hill Street Blues'. "We all know that Saturday night is an unlikely night for a cop show … It's yet to be shown that a cop show can succeed on Saturday night and we're yet to get our heads above water with this one ('Hill Street Blues').

"But if we're right, that is, if this is really a good show, then the audiences will find it and they'll be back. We had the same problem with 'Lou Grant' at first. But we're giving the audience a little bit of a hard job. It isn't done episode by episode, with everything wrapped up by the end of the hour. That's something we're looking at. And, maybe inner city problems represent a threat to the audiences. I don't know. Those elements may be making our climb more of an uphill one, but those are the elements that I happen to like about the show."

20170324

DYNASTY

In the 1984-85 season, 'Dynasty' was ranked the No. 1 program on television attracting a mass audience, averaging 21.2 million TV households (or 25% of the 84.9 million American households with TV sets at the time). 'Dynasty' beat 'Dallas' by an average of 250,000 TV households per episode that season. The 1985 cliffhanger attracted 39% share of the audience in its time slot (roughly 22 million TV homes were counted watching). 

At that time George Peppard was playing the former army colonel John "Hannibal" Smith in the action drama 'The A-Team'. In a conversation with Gary Deeb of 'News America Syndicate', George Peppard made known, "It was 1979. I got hired to play Blake Carrington in this ABC pilot for a series that was then called 'Oil' and later got renamed 'Dynasty'. It cost $3 million to make this 3-hour program, which was the most expensive pilot in TV history. But I was getting hassled throughout the production. 

"The President of the network sent me some acting notes, suggesting changes in the way I was portraying the character. There was nothing offensive about it, but it put me in a predicament. I knew I was doing the best I could and I knew it was good. If that was not what they wanted, I knew I was going to be a very unhappy man and they would be unhappy with me. In the simple code of an actor, you don’t discuss your character with anyone except the director. 

"I sent him a telegram offering to resign. He sent me a telegram back, saying, 'No, no – everything's okay.' And then a week later, they fired me. And at a cost of about $2 million, they reshot all my scenes, with John Forsythe taking over the role. It was a $3 million pilot which then became a $5 million pilot. And as for Forsythe, I don't mind admitting that he does a much better job with that part than I ever could have done. 

"When I worked for Universal Studios, they didn’t call me George Peppard; they called me that - Peppard. They figured, quite correctly, that I was the type of person who would jeopardize his own income in order to try to preserve the quality of a program – and in their view, that made me not only dangerous, but also probably a little bit insane. That could be what caused my dismissal from 'Dynasty'. 

"I mean, I was doing the very best I could – giving the best performance I was capable of. But they didn’t seem to like anything about it. When that happens, you know there have to be other factors at play. At any rate, I’ve no complaints. My firing turned out to be the best thing in the world for the program, for the network, for Johnny Forsythe and for me." 

"The role of Blake Carrington was simply too arresting a challenge to pass up," John Forsythe told Marilyn Beck over lunch at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel back in 1982. "Instead of playing another father of three children, or the uncle of a niece who gets dropped off on his doorstep, I’d be portraying a man who’s powerful, manipulative, ruthless, loving, tender, virile – all the things I aspire to be. 

"Seriously, I did need a challenge. I didn’t return to TV because I needed money or work. But I had decided that if I was going to continue as an actor, there had to be something for me more meaningful than 'Charlie's Angels'. Remember, before I started doing television confections, I was a serious New York actor. Unfortunately, in the TV medium, when you do something, you’re expected to continue to do the same thing. 

"I had fought being typecast in my 'Bachelor Father' and 'To Rome With Love' sweet-guy mold with movie portrayals in which I could show my nasty side, in 'In Cold Blood' and '…And Justice for All'. And when 'Dynasty' came along, well, I was ready for the challenge of playing a complex character again. I said, 'What the hell, John, they'll be paying you well, ABC loves you, the producers love you, you'll get more love at the studio than you do anywhere else.' So I said yes – and I'm still glad I did.

"This is not an easy racket. It's a tough racket. With constant deadlines and strain – and the added tension of working too often with selfish people off on terrible ego trips. We just don't put up with that (displays of temperament). We have a job to do and with the large size of our cast, there's simply no room for anyone to play star. Even with all the problems attendant to TV, the show is a pleasure. Being a 64-year-old sex symbol is a hell of a weight to carry. But I have no desire for change. At my age, I don’t want to have to start driving a truck."

Initially John Forsythe disclosed, "They wanted Blake to be the guy you loved to hate – with no redeeming qualities. But I resisted. I saw him as the prototype of the big, successful business man: powerful, money-hungry, but honest and tender with those he loves. I know a lot of guys like that, and that's how I wanted to play Blake Carrington. I simply didn't want to be another J.R. Ewing. Then, fortunately, Joan Collins joined the cast and helped take the pressure off me in that arena by playing the woman you love to hate." On reflection, John Forsythe remarked, "For the first 5 or 6 years, I thought, for a soap opera, it ('Dynasty') had some real values." 

Pamela Sue Martin played John Forsythe and Joan Collins' on-screen daughter. She surprised the show's producers when she decided to leave the series at the end of the 1983-84 season. Pamela explained to the press in 1986, "I'm one of those people who work to live, not live to work, and I was willing to take the financial risk and back off my career for a while."

At the time she was working on the project 'Torchlight'. Pam continued, "I worked 3 years on that film. It's a decent picture. We couldn't keep it afloat in the theaters but it's doing bangup business in video rentals (at the time). I left 'Dynasty' because it ceased to be a creative environment. The idea of success was a Joan Collins fur coat. People were losing their individuality and becoming images.

"They weren't too happy about my not wanting to continue, and they tried to talk me out of it, but couldn't. I was pretty clear about my intentions, and they said they understood and would leave the door open for me to return in case I changed my mind. Deep in my heart, though, I knew that would never happen. Once I move on from something, as the old saying goes, 'You can't go home again.'

"I did miss out on a lot of money – I'm not stupid. But I made the choice. In the beginning, it was fun. But it all got to be the same. I knew I had to change that. After they tried unsuccessfully a couple of times to lure me back, they said: 'Look, we've been holding this part open for you all this time and if you don't come back we're going to hire another actress to play the part.'

"I know they've left the door open. It's there for me … for Fallon to return. I said fine, and that was it. Life on your own isn't always as comfortable as people think. What I found most desirable about being away from series work is the independence. I think with getting older, it's getting better. The more wisdom you get, the more you appreciate. I'd like to be an actress who kicks around for a long time without being a household name."

Of the movie, 'Torchlight', "It was fraught with frustration. It's such a push and struggle to get a film made, (but) I wanted to tell a story and write a film. I am part of the '60s, a generation that separated itself from the status quo, and that meant drug use. (‘Torchlight’) deals with the past decade and the runaway use of cocaine. There is an entirely different approach to drugs now (in 1985).

"'Torchlight' doesn't deal with society's dropouts. It's about professional men and women, doctors, lawyers and executives, being introduced to coke socially, people who never experimented with drugs in the '60s. Coke is a rampant social problem all over the country and that's what I wanted to get across in this picture. This is a tragic contemporary love story. If audiences are moved by the picture and become involved with the characters, then it might convince them to stay away from drugs. But we're not trying to hammer anything into their heads. This is a subtle story of what happens to people involved with drugs. Audiences will get the message."

Some 25% of each episode of the series 'The A-Team' featured action. George Peppard told 'United Press International' in 1983 'The A-Team' had broad family appeal because "the concept is male-female humor. This part is an actor's dream come true. My character is very big on disguises. In the pilot I play a Chinaman, a 70-year-old skid row drunk and a Mexican. It's the best role I've ever had in my career. Now I've got the best of both worlds. The disguises allow me to play a wide range of characters, and yet Smith is essentially a leading man, the guy who sets up all the con operations. Best of all, I get to play straight comedy for the first time in my life and I’m enjoying every minute of it."

20170323

DYNASTY

By December 1982, the TV series 'Dynasty' began to attract a weekly audience share of over 40% in its time slot. "Nobody anticipated the show would become such a monster - one of the biggest in the history of television, and popular around the world," Pamela Sue Martin recalled. John Forsythe added, "(Aaron Spelling) has his finger on the pulse of America. During the Depression of the '30s, people flocked to the theaters to see the kind of glittery MGM pictures because they removed them from the problems of the day.

"The women on 'Dynasty' dress better than the women on 'Dallas' (until Lorimar hired Travilla in 1984). We're vastly different in every conceivable way from 'Dallas'. They have money but they don't show it; we show it." In July 1982, Nolan Miller spoke to Cheryl Blackerby, "A few years ago, the whole attitude toward clothes was that they didn't matter. The studios thought no one would pay attention. Most of the studios would want the stars to look very glamorous but they wouldn't pay for the clothes.

"That's not possible, as you well know. If you could look rich and glamorous without spending money, everyone would be doing it. The studios are learning that clothes are very important. Our mail, which is incredible, proves that. We've found that the glamorous things just are not available when we need them. This year (the 1982-83 season) we will be making even more.

"ABC is much less strict than CBS. We had no one standing over us saying, 'You can't do that.' There are no concrete rules about taste. We know where the line is. 'Charlie's Angels' came in during that period when the no-bra look was in vogue. We were the first. Up to that point the networks were very careful. Even a jersey dress could be considered suggestive.

"(On 'Charlie's Angels') we cleaned out the shops on Rodeo Drive for those girls. They all had their favorite shops. Farrah (Fawcett) liked a certain shoe shop. Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson loved Alan Austin's beautifully tailored pants, jackets and silk shirts. I've always believed an actress needs to be comfortable in her clothes to feel more comfortable in the part.

"In the beginning of the show we made Jackie very classic. Farrah was going to be avant-garde and Kate was going to be very tailored. But the stars had definite ideas about what they should wear on the show. And they all liked the same kind of clothes. After a couple of seasons I gave up trying. But we won't get into 'Charlie's Angels' stories. It's all passé. I'll just say it was a hectic show.

"(On 'Dynasty') Linda (Evans) is a casual, classic kind of person like the character she plays, so we let her wear a lot of silk shirts and pants, the kind of clothes she likes off the set. Joan Collins is not like that. She loves very glamorous things, clothes that border on the theatrical. She plays a very showy person who's very impressed with all that's artificial in life. She is more flamboyant, an international jet-setter.

"The show ('The Love Boat') has a large guest cast and many times the show is cast at the last minute. I'll call the guest stars and tell them they have 9 changes and what those changes are. If they don't have anything right we will shop for them, but many, many times they wear their own clothes. Polly Bergen was a recent star in the show and she brought in beautiful clothes for us to select from. She probably has the best wardrobe I've ever seen. It's incredible. There's no studio that would spend the kind of money on clothes she does.

"The producers feel we will be going a bit beyond what the public wears. It's what the public expects. The characters should be larger than life. This year (the 1982-83 season) we will concentrate more on clothes. Joan will be coming into a lot of money and will be even richer and even more glamorous." At Lorimar Productions, Richard Egan disclosed, "We try to be as diplomatic as we can but the script and the director dictate the clothes (not the stars)."

"I can say we have a very healthy allowance," Richard hinted. However not many stars could keep the clothes because "if everybody got them, they would be taking clothes home in carloads. Some clothes we have to buy in triples and quadruples, one for the stunt man and several changes for the actor if he's going to fall in the water or be in an accident or something."

In separate interviews with 'Gannett News Service' and 'Tribune TV Log' in 1986, Pamela Sue expressed, "After the first year or two, it ('Dynasty') became a cliché of itself. Playing Fallon was like a trout going upstream. The show began to have no rhyme or reason. It was better the first year when we had set writers. But it became like a subway, with people getting on and off. It didn't make any sense. I realized this animal was getting bigger and bigger and swallowing me up.

"They (the cast) created these monsters for themselves. People were losing their individuality and becoming images. I felt that I had a fairly open door to go back for a while. They originally wanted me back before they went and got somebody else, but I told them I really wasn't up to it ... Once I move on from something, as the old saying goes, 'You can't go home again.'"

In 1981, "What comes out in 'Dynasty' is the ever-present subconscious attraction between daughter and father but in this case, we're talking about an individual, a girl who's grown up without a mother, been surrounded by millions of dollars and tons of servants, and with her father as the only authoritative figure in her life. But he's gone from home on business a lot of the time and she finds she has a great need for intimacy with him since he's the only person she's been able to be close to while growing up.

"She's still young and is going through an identity crisis of asserting herself. Although she is somewhat promiscuous, she's not completely drawn to any other man, with the exception of Cecil Colby, who is powerful and handsome like her father. She's also rich, and that in itself is an isolating factor in establishing intimate human relationships.

"I believe that people repeat situations continually choosing 'pieces' of personalities and responses in an unconscious desire to recreate certain emotional situations to remind them of what they once knew. But again, I think it's important to stress the fact that we're all different and unique. One can't generalize. Some people are more sensitive and impaired by events that happen along the way than others.

"That's why I wouldn't say that most daughters unconsciously seek out men that remind them of their fathers. I don’t think I do. Fallon has always fancied herself the mistress of the house, its leading female character and the only other person with any authority in it. Then her father marries his secretary, someone she feels is beneath her and everybody else in her world, and she becomes terribly resentful because both her place in the house and her place in her father's affection have been usurped by this socially inferior woman."

In 1985, Emma Samms as the new Fallon joined John James in the spin-off series, 'The Colbys'. "When you suddenly get $500 million, as my character did, you change," John James pointed out. "He's now a leader of the pack. Before, he was kind of a 'yes man' to Blake Carrington. Now he stands on his own two feet. It's a stretch for me and the character. Jeff was a little naïve before and manipulated by people. He doesn't allow that now."

At the time Pamela Sue Martin, the old Fallon was filming the TV mini-series, 'Strong Medicine' based on Arthur Hailey's bestseller. First shown in April 1986, 'Strong Medicine' explored the pharmaceutical industry. "I have been made more aware recently of problems in the industry. I have friends struggling with incurable diseases, but they can't get some drugs.

"That has to do with legalizing experimental drugs. Difficult choices have to be made. You don't want to give out Thalidomide; we know what happened then. That subject matter is touched on briefly in the film. Basically, though, this film is a personal story and about life within this structure. Celia Grey, my character, is an ambitious careerwoman but not a stereotype.

"She rises to power without being a bitch or a vamp. This character is strong and interesting and moves forward in a positive way. It was a positive role for a woman and it's not a matter of my making it so. It was easy to play because I agree with all the things about her. When I lived in one room in Chelsea, England, making 'Strong Medicine', I realized how simply I could live."

On 'Strong Medicine', Dick Van Dyke voiced, "I'm Pamela Sue's mentor. I start as the head of sales, but when Douglas Fairbank's character dies I become the company president. We have what we consider a real breakthrough drug which Sam Neill pushes through without regard to the safety factors when he becomes fed up with the foot-dragging. His drug has disastrous side effects … He's our villain in the story. I think being able to play a good villain is a remarkable talent."

In October 1987, Pamela Sue co-starred with Tim Matheson in 'Bay Coven', about a young couple from Boston who bought their dream home in New England and discovered in the village they were surrounded by a 300-year-old witches' coven. "This is a mood piece, something that really has to be experienced. It's very lovingly made, and made with a cinematic sensibility, and that's not something you get very often from television.

"Anyone who's into movies is going to get really involved in the visual style of it, and the fact that it creates a mood with subtlety, rather than by pouring out gore. It's a reactionary piece, because the audience will go through the picture and experience everything as my character does … her paranoia, her intuition and her reasoning. It's a very reactionary piece."

As Krystle, Linda Evans described the first year of 'Dynasty', "In the series, my husband, Blake Carrington, is very much in love with me and puts me above the children. That makes for an added resentment on the part of his daughter Fallon. Krystle has never been taxed with such problems before. She's gone to work, made enough money to live on, come home and had fun with friends. Now, suddenly, she encounters not only an aggressive stepdaughter but enters a whole new way of life."

20170322

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN

Some 43 years after 'Leave Her To Heaven' was made (back in 1945 after the end of World War II), Timothy Bradshaw rewrote and Christian I. Nyby directed the remake of the same film in 1988. Loni Anderson played the role Gene Tierney originated and Patrick Duffy played the role Cornel Wilde originated. Based on Ben Ames Williams' 1944 bestseller which was noted for its "subtle psychological overtones", the 1988 version changed its name to 'Too Good To Be True' because "Fox owns the rights to the title … and didn't want to relinquish it." 

'Too Good To Be True' won its time slot when it went on air back in November 1988 (attracting 31% share of the audience; 19.9% ratings, about 17.9 million households were counted watching) against 'Monday Night Football' (27% share; 15.7% ratings) and 'Murphy Brown' (22% share; 14.7% ratings) and 'Designing Women' (23% share; 15.3% ratings). 

Shot on location around Bass Lake in Sierra, Navada, in the Maine woods, on a ranch in New Mexico and in Warm Springs, Georgia, 'Leave Her To Heaven' was the first psychological drama to be filmed in color instead of black and white back in 1945. The picture told "the uncompromising story of a girl who wanted a monopoly on the thoughts and interests of the man she loved."

Twentieth Century-Fox publicists said Gene Tierney was selected to play Ellen Berent because "there was no precedent for casting the role of Ellen Berent. There had never been another girl like her, at least on the screen. She was young, American, beautiful and lovable; and at the same time, she was a psychopathic demon. The most logical choice for her part seemed to be Miss Tierney, who first found fame as a glamor girl but had made a determined and successful fight to become a versatile actress."

Of the part, Gene Tierney told 'United Press' in 1945, "Oh, she's about as mean as they come. A totally despicable girl without a saving grace to her name. The studio really must have battled to make you take the part. I was simply dying to play it right from the moment I read the book. I was scared to death someone else would get it. I've been the pretty young wife in too many pictures now in which everyone else got the meaty parts."

Film critic Edwin Schallert expressed, "Gene Tierney, in fact, has a role to play that is veritably psychopathic in its violence, yet so solidly motivated that you view her as a thoroughly human, if also thoroughly poisonous heroine. She is the hopeless victim of a selfishness so consuming that when it manifests itself in love, she sacrifices everything for possession, and for vengeance when she cannot possess.

"Her various actual crimes, as revealed in the feature include two murders, one of prenatal character, and finally a suicide which tends to throw the guilt attaching to her death on an innocent person. In other words, even from the grave she reaches back into life to harm. Miss Tierney enacts this sordid virulent role in a manner that will prove strangely arresting for those who look on."

'Leave Her To Heaven' was hailed as "an amazing study of a character, and the 'powers of darkness' at work through the medium of a single woman, whose hate is even more sinister than her love. And both are sinister beyond belief." Gene Tierney elaborated, "I have a young (on-screen) brother-in-law who's sort of an invalid. I resent the attention my (on-screen) husband gives him so I eliminate him by just letting him drown when I could have saved him. Much simpler than swinging a sash weight. I dispose of an unborn child by falling down stairs. And then I commit suicide in such a way as to throw suspicion on my (on-screen) sister – Jeanne Crain – because I think my (on-screen) husband – Cornel Wilde – is interested in her. You see, I'm determined not to let go of him."

'Leave Her To Heaven' was noted for being "produced with great care, and very daringly, under the supervision of William A. Bacher and the direction of John M. Stahl." The picture was "far away from that boy-meets-girl fodder so often discerned on the screen (at the time). John M. Stahl maintains a highly pitched mood and fast pace that is overwhelming in its intensity and emotional impact."

Gene Tierney portrayal of Ellen, Edwin Schallert believed, "It is even the kind of interpretation that may win the Academy award. This rather depends on the mood of the voters, as it will represent a wide swing away from their prior selection. It is admirably accomplished in the insidious phases." Another critic remarked, "Even in her death she (Ellen) endeavors to hold on to her possession with a terrific passion, even plotting to have her half sister tried for her murder and subjecting her husband to the disgrace of a prison sentence. For the first time the movie exploits Gene Tierney's extraordinary talent to the fullest - passionately warm and murderously cold by turn."

In the 1988 version, Loni Anderson told Nancy Mills of 'Asbury Park Press', "If this character weren't so hideous, you'd feel sorry for her. She's pathetic in her possessiveness and her jealousy. She does the most terrible things. The only (favorable) thing you can say about her is that she loves her husband. But the love is a sickness, a mad, jealous, obsessive possession.

"You don’t get punished for it. You don't have to go to prison. You can get all those nasty feelings out and there are no consequences. We'd finish a scene and the crew would say, 'Get away from me,' and go like this (Loni made a cross with 2 index fingers). I've been wanting a role like this for years. It's such a nice departure and a real challenge. People ask me, 'Did you play her with dark hair?' It goes back to that old cliché; blondes are sweet, redheads have a hot temper and brunettes are evil. I did it as a blonde. I used to have dark hair, and I never considered myself evil."

20170321

DALLAS

In the "television society" of 1980s, Patrick Duffy (born on March 17 also known as St. Patrick's Day) played Bobby Ewing, "the symbol of goodness on a generally wicked TV show ('Dallas')." Patrick pointed out, "I am not privy to future scripts – none of us is. We generally get scripts about 2 episodes ahead of what we're filming. About every 7 days we get a new script. 

"Certain characters, the victim characters, are able to go in and say, 'Hey, listen, what are you planning for my character? Give me an idea of what direction you want to go.' But a character such as mine basically performs the same function all the time anyway, so I really don't have that concern or interest." Patrick played Bobby for 7 seasons before deciding "to go on to other things". The season without Bobby, Leonard Katzman regarded "the season that didn't exist" and as televised, "was all passed off as Pam's dream." 

Without Bobby "('Dallas') lost 3 million viewers last season (1985-86). The only thing they're happy about is it finished ahead of 'Dynasty.'" Hence it was decided to resurrect the character of Bobby Ewing. The 'Chicago Tribune' conceded, "In TV terms, the returning of Bobby Ewing is bigger news than the return of General Douglas MacArthur, the return of the Jedi – even the return of Godot."

In total, Patrick played Bobby for 12 seasons. It was noted, "The names of the 12 disciples of Jesus were the foundation stones of His church, several even wrote portions of the Bible." Patrick told the press in 1997, "I'm one of the lucky actors in television. I don't make a lot of big waves, there's no tsunamis happening. But there's a constant activity, and that's the way I prefer to live my life."

Speaking to 'Gannett News Service' in 1988 about his movie, 'Unholy Matrimony', Patrick made the point, "That would be a trap, to try and go 180 degrees from Bobby. There are a lot of similarities in the natures of people who decide to do good. I'm not a good actor when it comes to how I figure on doing things. I'm not real set in my ways. If it works, I will go ahead and do it.

"With this role (Sgt. John Dillman), I just wanted to make sure that everything the character did, he did without thinking. Action first, then you can see him going through the process of thinking if that was a good idea. There’s the instinctual element. I treated the story like fiction, so I didn't have to avail myself of extraneous outside information. In other words, I avoided a sense of reality. That's something I've done all of my life.

"The story is 15 years old (dating back to 1973). Dillman now is off the force and pursuing private practice. Our story goes through this case, when his whole attitude changed." Directed by Jerrold Freedman, Patrick said of the movie, "It seems as if police officers on the beat go through a crisis period in their profession. They tend to think they put more garbage back on the street than they lock up.

"We still have the best form of law enforcement, but it's also a system that allows ample opportunity for the guilty to go free. At some point, (I found) in my discussion with officers, they have to decide whether it's all worth it or not. We fictionalized a beginning that would show Dillman at that crucial moment. Something has to change, or he has to get out. So it was not with panic, but with absolute determination, that he became obsessed with the case."

'Dallas' celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 1988. Leonard Katzman reminded, "We play it straight, although we sometimes take it to extremes. We've never taken ourselves as seriously as some other shows. 'Knots Landing' is the most reality-based show. We have our own reality, but it's a fictitious reality." In one episode, Gary Ewing said, "Are you playing both sides against the middle."

Derived from Faro, one of the most popular games in the U.S. after poker in the 19th century, the phrase "playing both ends against the middle" was said referred to the way the dealer provided for a double bet by a player, meaning to use each of two sides for one own purpose. According to the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette' editorial in October 1969, "But, while playing both sides against the middle is the name of the parliamentary – constitutional game, such efforts have their dangers."

Associated Press gave an example, "The price war began to play both ends against the middle on June 13 1951. A large New York department store, Gimbels, advertised cigars reduced between 28% and 48%. The same store in the same ad advertised a bargain price on a book titled 'How to Stop Smoking.'" In another example, a reader wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper in March 1953, "It seems to me that Karl Marx Communism and Big, Big Capitalism have at least one thing in common. They know how to play both ends against the middle. And the middle seems to be the United States government. It aways foots the bills."

It was understood "the intuitive and practical politician knew how to play both ends against the middle most successfully. A politician must learn how to play both ends against the middle on touchy issues so that no matter which way the ball bounces he will be able to say 'I told you so'. This is an essential part of his political hedge-ucation."

Rob Kyff of the 'Hartford Courant' Connecticut elaborated back in March 2011, "The term 'play both ends against the middle' describes a crafty ploy: either playing up to 2 opposing people or policies so that you'll be on the victorious side no matter who wins, or manipulating 2 opponents into a conflict with each other in order to benefit oneself. For example, a teenager goads her older brothers into a fight with each other; their parents ground them both; she gets to use the family car."

About 80% of the 'Dallas' exteriors were filmed on location before the crew returned to Los Angeles to finish shooting on the soundstage. "I do enjoy going to Dallas. It's like you've established a second life there. It literally becomes a second home. We rent houses instead of staying in hotels, because, I guess, we're still sort of an oddity … an attraction of sorts," Patrick recounted.

At the end of the 1983-84 season, Patrick spoke to the press, "Several years ago (back in 1979-80) I went to them with a viable argument that I was a frustrated person, the character was being shortchanged, and I asked to be let out of the show. They came back with offers of a bigger role for Bobby, but for Bobby to be the central part of the show would not make 'Dallas' successful. The show wouldn't be successful if I were the central figure. I don't think they even plotted the show with the idea that J.R. would be the central figure – that was just an accident, a very fortunate accident for all the people involved, myself included. I'm not looking for an enticement to stay. I’m just looking for ways to stretch."

On 'Dallas' Victoria Principal played Pam Ewing. In an interview after 'Dallas' dramatic 1984-85 season, Victoria shared, "I started out getting great parts like that in Judge Roy Bean (1972) but, over the years, the parts became increasingly less than what I wanted to do in terms of my acting ability. I wasn't happy about the parts I was doing, I wasn't happy with a lot of things. So I decided to change my profession. I became an agent. And I was good, very good. I liked it a lot. I love making deals.

"A friend of mine dropped off the pilot script of 'Dallas' at my house. He said I should read it and thought there was a part in it I would like. I read it that night and was absolutely entranced with the part of Pam. As I was an agent, I called the producers and made my own appointment to read for the role. I knew that this was going to be a hit. And, using partly my head and partly my heart, I read it and recognized that moment to be one of those times in life where you say: 'If this happens, my life will change.' And it really did.

"'Dallas' broke all the rules. It was a continuing show with no beginning, middle or end. It was the very first show in the U.S. to do that. I knew it was going to work from the very beginning, and I loved the character of Pam. For a time I thought Pam was very weak. It was an aspect of her character I wasn't comfortable with." Victoria then lobbied writers and producers to make Pam strong "and they did."

"In this last season where Bobby died, Pam grew – she became strong and as a personality had far more depth. While I'm playing Pam it is very real to me. I become Pam. I am not pretending. It's reality. But then I leave Pam at work and go home – and then I'm myself. My father was in the air force and I grew up all over the world. We traveled non-stop. For me it was rough, I think because we traveled around so much, always changing schools and friends, that probably fostered my ambition to be an actress. I lived in my own world. I had a fantasy universe."

Linda Gray played Sue Ellen. Her story, "The real Linda Gray is a million miles removed from Sue Ellen Ewing. While I am working all day long people are fiddling with my hair and my make-up. At weekends, I just wash my face, pull my hair back in an elastic band, get on my horse and ride to the top of the nearest hill. I even have a hammock up there to lie in and contemplate nature. The kids know to leave me alone when they see me in it." 

20170319

STORY

'The Story Behind The Story' first went on air in 1990. The program was created to go up against '60 Minutes'. Richard Kiley of 'A Year In The Life' (1989) and Jane Wallace were the hosts. "We did a pilot (in 1990), were picked up for 3 shows, and then finally picked up for 3 more (broadcast in 1991) – but don't have any idea if the network intends to continue with the program," Richard told the press at the time. 

In 1993, Richard Kiley could be seen in the production of 'Matthew'. As understood, Matthew lived along the shore of Lake Galilee in a town of Capernaum. At that time, the Roman Empire controlled all of Palestine. Richard as Matthew informed viewers, "Although I am a Jew, I worked as a tax collector for King Herod of Galilee who paid tribute (tax) to the Roman government. My cooperation with Rome made me an outcast in my own community. 

"However when Jesus the Christ looked at me and said 'follow me' I left everything and became what it is - Disciples. I am writing this gospel to show through the writings of the Lord, the prophets and the songs that Jesus of Nazareth (son of David, the son of Abraham) is the long awaited Messiah." It was noted the word "follow" was most frequently used in many of 21st century social media. 

In 1982, Steven E. deSouza and Harve Bennett of 'Star Trek' produced the TV series, 'The Powers of Matthew Star'. In the pilot, the character of Matthew was called David Star. Peter Barton told 'Starlog' magazine, "I firmly believe that UFOs exist; everyone through the ages has had their version of them and there seems to be evidence more than ever that they are out here. Even something like Matthew's powers are not all that improbable when you stop to think that we only use something like 5% of our brain. Maybe someday we'll be able to open our minds up and pour in all knowledge; then all you would have to do is ask the right question and the answers would be there." 

'The Story Behind The Story' sought to examine unreported aspects of the big events by re-telling front-page stories from previous decades using modern perspective. "'The Story Behind The Story' maybe even deplorable but it's pretty darn good," Tom Shales of the 'Washington Post' acknowledged. "It offers what some journalists call 'sidebars' – features that illuminate some little aspect of a bigger story. Truth be told, 'The Story Behind The Story' is a slick, sharp and engrossing hour." 

Journalist Jane Wallace maintained, "This is not a sleazy, syndicated tabloid show. I turned down lots of those shows. John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer (of 'Unsolved Mysteries') are former documentary producers who know what it means to do real stories. The level of research is extreme." 'The Story Behind The Story' primarily focussed on "all the other stuff, off to the side, that doesn’t get reported in big stories. 

"As a reporter, I know it's always there. It's the kind of stuff reporters tell each other. It's an intriguing concept, and it grabbed me right away. The approach to the stories is intelligent. I wouldn't sign up with these folks if I didn't feel they had high standards. There's nothing at all 'tabloidy' about the show." Mike Hughes remarked, "All of our lives would be better if Richard Kiley narrated them. He would give them clarity and perspective. He would add lyrical moments of verbal beauty." Verbal beauty because the Emmy-winning actor "gave feeling to the words." On reflection, Richard Kiley conceded, "Orson Welles was the quintessential narrator." 

Mark Dawidziak offered, "There's a really neat idea lurking in 'The Story Behind The Story'. The basic concept is to isolate a fascinating smaller side story to a headline-making event. In fact, the title should be 'The Story Beside The Story'. Although 'The Story Behind The Story' again and again aims at the right targets, the disappointing special repeatedly misses the mark. 

"The unconvincing re-enactments are clumsily edited into actual news footage of the events. Pivotal information is left out. Historical context – crucial to many of these stories – is missing. And shallow, quick-hit treatments of intriguing topics often raise more questions than they answer. 'The Story Behind The Story' explores territory that could lead to a very entertaining series. The journey, however, is a bumpy ride. Substantial subjects are subjected to an approach to television that lacks substance."

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