"In a serial, every change has a domino effect. It was very much like running a marathon and being told a mile-and-a-half was cut out of the track. All of a sudden your pacing is different," Jeff Freilich told 'The New York Times' in 1988. In discussing the 1987-88 season of the TV series, 'Falcon Crest', Jeff Freilich expressed, "I believe the only way to keep a show alive and fresh in the long run is to make it reborn. You tend to take things for granted unless you shake up the stories and change the direction your characters might be going in."
As told to 'The Los Angeles Times', "Ultimately, you don't want to do eight stories that involve different characters. You want to do three stories that involve everyone in the cast." The character of Maggie, "She's the core of the show. Maggie's problems relate most closely to the kinds of problems our audience has." In 1985, Lee Rich called Jeff Freilich to take over as co-executive producer of 'Falcon Crest', "So, I made lots of changes and turned 'Falcon Crest' into a show that I would want to watch."
In an interview with Marc Bradley in 2003, Jeff Freilich told fans, "When I first took over 'Falcon Crest' ... I didn’t want to change the series so radically that the audience would lose interest … Television is a very stressful, very exhausting business because you only have seven days to film a one-hour show and only a week or two to write it … Ideas need to be challenged, then changed and change takes time.
"I immediately called Mark Snow who had just purchased a synclavier — one of the early, high-tech synthesizers — and asked him to score almost the entire season. Then, I went to Hawaii with my family to try to conceive of the entire season’s worth of stories on my own … But, most importantly, I decided to make 'Falcon Crest' less of a tedious soap opera and more of a twisty, dramatic mystery. Life in California’s wine country is filled with intrigue and violence. 'Falcon Crest' needed more of both of those qualities.
"In addition, I wanted to completely change storylines. Peripheral characters had no meaning in the stories I had planned for season 6 (1986-87). Each of my two seasons (1986-88) on 'Falcon Crest' was planned differently. Season 6 was completely built around my ability to convince Kim Novak to return to the screen. We planned the season around a single storyline and added subplots as we went along.
"We did not know how the season would end until halfway through the year (by episode 14). Season 7 was very different. We knew exactly what would happen at the end of episode 28 before we exposed a single frame of film. We planned the whole season for Melissa to take control of Falcon Crest. But, each season involved the same creative process. I would independently conceive of a 'shape' for the season, a general beginning, middle and end, as if I were writing a novel.
"Then, I would meet with the other writers for several hours a day for several weeks. We would share our ideas and argue over twists and new characters. It was like plotting a 28-hour movie and took an enormous amount of time. But, it was crucial we had a specific direction. 'Falcon Crest' suffered in the past from plotting that was done with no preparation, at the last minute. A tight thriller has to be carefully conceived. Elements are introduced, and then paid off much later.
"Characters have to have secrets that surface at the right moments. This kind of storytelling must be well thought out … I wanted to start my first season of 'Falcon Crest' in the most spectacular way possible. I wanted to attract as much publicity and attention as we could. I had made a creative decision to bring lots of big names to 'Falcon Crest' and create interesting, 'campy' roles for them. Joanne Brough began calling agents to see who was available or who might be interested.
"'Vertigo' was always one of my favorites of Hitchcock. We researched Kim Novak's whereabouts and Joanne discovered that Kim might be interested in returning to the screen — but only on certain terms. I had to fly up to her home near Monterey and present my ideas ... I suggested we 'remake' 'Vertigo' on 'Falcon Crest' … In creating a parody of Hitchcock I intended to make a statement: 'Falcon Crest' would become more of a thriller — and 'Falcon Crest' would have a sense of humor.
"Bringing Kim Novak to 'Falcon Crest' also announced that there would be many surprises on the show and that we would attract actors that would appeal to the audience. It was my idea to develop a storyline for Kim that paralleled 'Vertigo', but it was with many people's help that the story succeeded, not the least of all Kim … Take my word, working on 'Falcon Crest' was fun more often than not.
"After the success of season 6 in which 'Falcon Crest' once again rose to the top of the ratings, we made a decision to introduce the concept of short-term, high profile guest stars to attract an even larger audience. Many notable actors approached us requesting to be on the show. I made a list of all the actors with whom I had never had the pleasure of working and asked them to join us. Most of them agreed.
"As a child, I was a fan of the film 'Gigi' and was eager to work with Leslie Caron. The writers and I created the character of Nicole Sauguet. She served two very important purposes: first, she helped shroud the disappearance of Chase in mystery, giving him a past that Maggie was never aware of. Second, she helped introduce the key component of the entire season, the conspiracy of The Thirteen. Leslie exceeded my expectations and was a delight to have on the set.
"While I was directing the courtroom show (season 6, episode 27 'Chain Reaction'), the other writers would sit with me while the set was being lit and we would plan season 7 together. It was a difficult job, but once we decided that Angela would lose Falcon Crest to Melissa things got easier. It was exhausting. At the end of a 28-episode season, even the most imaginative writers run out of ideas. But, somehow we created an interesting season 7 despite our fatigue.
"I believe any film or television show must have a point of view. 'Falcon Crest', for example, in season 7 dealt with the concept that a small group of very powerful men conspired to dictate economic and political policies ... I also believe that television, particularly, is not a platform from which to preach. It is entertainment and can never be taken too seriously. There is a way to make a point and be amusing at the same time. So, rather than write true-to-life stories, we wrote dark parodies."