It was said, "No other voice reaches into so many homes as television." In the 1980s on television, David Jacobs observed, "'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' deal with the very rich. 'Knots Landing' was more middle class." In business news, Consuelo Mack, the presenter of 'Today's Business' pointed out, "The days of the old, conservative, impenetrable Wall Street brokerage houses are long gone. It's a wide-open environment now (in 1986) with tremendous opportunity. If you're good, you'll succeed – man or woman. One of the things I enjoyed most at Merrill Lynch was the meetings we'd have every morning to discuss the state of the world – political events, social trends, the climate; the big picture." She stressed, "Almost half the people getting MBAs today (in 1986) are women. Believe me, they're interested in business news."
Robert Ginty told television producers in 1983, "The population is growing, but audiences are getting smaller all the time, and that should tell us something. What's happened to the Frank Capras of the film industry? Capra told American stories." Making the point, "If all the music you ever heard was the Musak in an elevator, you'd have a very limited idea of what music is." Hence "you don't need studios to make movies and you don't need $40 million to make one." Robert believed, "Kids shouldn't go to the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles to learn the business. They should stay in their home towns and make films about what they know best. Our greatest playwrights wrote about themselves and the regions they came from. But people tend to believe that a person from Minneapolis or St. Louis can only succeed in the picture business if he goes to Hollywood and makes a film about New York."
"Film editing is, to a large degree, a cumbersome trial-and-error process," Sherry Sontag of The New York Times told readers in 1986. "Movies are not shot from beginning to end, but location by location, camera angle by camera angle, producing hours of short clips that average only 90 seconds. A working film print, made up of the combined clips, is then repeatedly cut and spliced until an editor and director are satisfied. Making a splice takes about a minute. Finding the right footage can, and often does, take a half-hour, if the material is part of the tangle of film on the editing floor."
In 1986, there was another technological revolution in the art of movie-making with the development of new electronic editing systems. Since 1924, the industry standard films editing system was Moviola which at the time sold for about $11,000 or rented for approximately $65 a week. On the market in 1986, there were George Lucas' EditDroid and Ediflex and Montage. They were reportedly sold for roughly $150,000 or rented for about $2,500 a week.
In the 1986-87 season, electronic editors made the most impact in the television industry because television programs wound up on videotapes affecting the post-production budgets. Lorimar-Telepictures used the Ediflex on 15% of its shows including 'Dallas' because most of which were shot on film for better resolution which would then get transferred onto tape. The electronic editing systems could save production companies as much as $15,000 per hour-long episode with the putting in of dissolves and opening titles. However some producers, relied on distribution profits such as Aaron Spelling Productions, were avoiding the new editing systems because they finished their work on film, not tape to satisfy the European buyers who requested film copies.
Experts told the press in 1983 "videotape has a shelf life of 5 to 20 years" so "tape must be transferred periodically to new tape to insure longevity, but each transfer lessens quality." In 1951, acetate film replaced nitrate film. Color was an issue. Until 1951, many movies on the big screen were produced with the 3-strip Technicolor process but then the studios converted to the inexpensive one-strip Eastman film which faded in time. It was understood half of the 21,000 motion pictures made before 1951 had become extinct and at the time over one-third of all motion pictures and television programs made since 1951 had become endangered species. Alarmed, the American Film Institute held a banquet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 1983 to kick off their campaign which called "The Decade of Preservation."
"Motion pictures are the most fascinating of all the arts," Bette Davis declared. "They can be educational as well as entertaining; even the most frivolous may have a little bit to say. I have a slight hunch that I won't be around here 10 years from now (say in 1993). I'll probably be glad I'm not around here 10 years from now (say in 1993). But I hope my films will be." Bette Davis died in 1989 at the age of 81 years old at the American Hospital in Paris. At the time she was attending the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.
In March 1987, the final "make-or-break" episode of 'The Colbys', described as "the most bizarre cliffhanger ever seen on television", cost Aaron Spelling Productions close to $500,000 for special effects from John Dykstra for a scene (after editing) lasted about 4 minutes. Normally the network paid the production companies a licensing fee per episode but the production companies paid for the costs of producing the program. At the time, the production companies could recoup the costs on the syndication market. The scene, the last scene of the final episode, featured the character of Fallon Colby on board a spaceship along with a human-shaped alien from outer space.
Maxwell Caulfield described 'The Colbys' as an "American superfamily. The adults are the power brokers and the kids ape the parents. We're all smitten with the same goal, the acquiring of wealth and the destruction of the family members within our immediate vicinity. My character is always creating crises for himself between the sheets. I think that's going to reach a head. In fact I know it is, since we already taped it. I had one sentence at the beginning of last week's show (episode 47, 'Betrayals') and I got a full paycheck for it."
Believing "we are not alone", Fallon's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was said "has really piqued viewers' curiosity. The mail has doubled since Fallon left in the UFO." 'The Colbys' finished the 1986-87 season ranked the 64th most popular prime time program on television. There were 83 programs on the A.C. Nielsen Company list. 'The Colbys' attracted 10.4 million households out of the 87.4 million American homes with TV sets at the time. 'The Cosby Show' was the No. 1 program attracting 30.5 million households.
In an interview in 2008, Richard Shapiro recounted, "That (the cliffhanger) was my own bit of lunacy but we were - and there's been stories about alien abduction at the time. I don't remember the couple that reported that they have been taken away in a spaceship and examined and probed and then brought back down and so I just knew, 'That's it! They take Fallon up.' I think, in fact, it could of work…Well, it would of! What really would of been there was an examination of psychology because it might not have been real and that's the way I would have gone with it but it got out of hand."
Gordon Thomson remembered in 2009, "At the time a man called Bill Ball was one of the producers of the show...Producers answer to head writers and we were at a dinner party at Bill's house. He told us that one morning - 1 o'clock in the morning - the phone rang. It was Esther. 'Get a pencil! Get a piece of paper! Richard has an idea! Aliens!'…That's a true story. 'Fallon is going to be abducted by aliens!'"
In 1997, 'Sunset Beach' marked Aaron Spelling's foray into daytime television. He said at the time, "I wanted this to have a great, really different look, so we thought, 'Oh, wow, let's shoot on tape and transfer it to film! Very expensive, and it didn't work. I have to take the blame for that. It was so bright and over lit."