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CHUCK HESTON

'The Colbys' ended its run in March 1987. Some 11.9% of the 87.4 million American TV homes were counted watching 'The Colbys' in the 1986-87 season. 'The Colbys' concluded with a cliffhanger showing the character of Fallon Colby going off into space on a UFO. It was, as Ron Weiskind remembered, "literally out of this world." Charlton Heston concurred, "It’s close to that." 

In 1987, unidentified flying objects was staging a comeback. Of 'The Colbys', soap specialist Scott Pierce argued, "It was easier to accept that a full season of 'Dallas' was a dream than that Fallon was whisked away in a UFO. If Steven Speilberg were dead, he'd be rolling in his grave. Why would aliens want Fallon?" The network spokeswoman, Rachel McCallister, begged to differ, "It has really piqued viewers' curiosity. The mail has doubled since Fallon left in the UFO." 

The producers of 'The Colbys' reportedly spent close to $500,000 for the alien and spaceship scene. Charlton made known, "They hired George Lucas' company to do the special effects." John Dykstra created the 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' like scene for 'The Colbys'. At the time, the network had not decided whether to continue with 'The Colbys' or cancel the series. Charlton revealed should 'The Colbys' return for another season, Esther Shapiro had some "changes in mind. She thinks, and I agree, that it's a mistake to try to carry too many separate plotlines at the same time. It's too hard to sort out, except for the people who watch us every week. 

"Instead, the plots next season (for the proposed 1987-88 season) may concentrate on one small group of characters at a time, in plotlines that carry over no more than 3 to 4 episodes. But I think Esther's idea is creatively an excellent one, and might have an economic benefit as well." David Poltrack of CBS made the observation in November 1986, "It ('The Colbys' sister show, 'Dynasty') really has lost the audience and does not seem to be getting it back. Once you lose the loyalty in a soap opera, it can drop pretty quickly, as ABC has seen with 'The Colbys'. If people stop watching for a couple of weeks and lose track of the story, they can become disinterested." 

In the April 1987 'Reason' magazine which catered to the "free minds and free markets", one article asked, "The Constitution: Betrayal of the Revolution?" and another, the uncensored Charlton Heston interview with Bill Kauffman. 

Of presidential candidates, Chuck observed, "In retrospect I feel that the public in their wisdom had chosen correctly in picking Eisenhower twice. It's a curious thing. We don't think well of our presidents when they are serving. Even Kennedy, with such a short presidency, was beginning to lose his remarkable appeal to the American people when he was suddenly sainted by death. If we look back over the years, at least in my lifetime, Roosevelt was widely vilified. So was Truman. Eisenhower was regarded as a bumbler by large segments of the press. It is curiously true that it is usually the press that leads this assault." 

Of the press, "They tend to confuse right with responsibility. It is their right to criticize. It is their right to stand in opposition, but it is not their function. We are certainly freer for the fact that they have the right to be skeptical. That it should therefore follow that they become increasingly skeptical is a proposition that I think doesn't stand up under scrutiny." 

Of the civil rights movement, "I think that movement has become radicalized. I knew Dr. King. I was proud to have followed him. I am very proud of the fact that I led the arts contingent on the civil rights march in the summer of '63. In many ways, I think it was the high-water mark of the civil rights movement. It has been widely credited - that single event - with being responsible for the passage of the Civil Rights Act the following year (1964) in the Congress." 

Of Martin Luther King, Jr, "He was not a saint. He was a man, even like Moses was a man. He was a charismatic and effective leader who recognized the importance and the capacity for non-violence to succeed. Even men who knew him then, like Jesse Jackson, have not recognized that." 

Of violence, "Non-violence is, it's impossible in the world to support such an idea." 

Of being a conservative, "There are a number of people in the film community who have public perceptions as conservatives. My guess is that while you're conservative economically, on the so-called social issues you're probably more tolerant." 

Of drugs and alcohol, "I think narcotics and, for that matter, alcohol, and even tobacco are enormously costly ingredients in our society. The government not only has the right but the responsibility to take whatever draconian measures are necessary. There was for a time a feeling that certain drugs like marijuana and LSD were essentially harmless. And I think the position on that is changing - the medical position. I suppose we will have to consider steps that we have dropped back from, such as putting really heavy political pressure on the countries - which are fortunately few and small and weak - that are responsible for most of the drug traffic. The profit is so enormous that the traffickers will take enormous risks."  

Of sex on the screens, "I think the filmmakers have discovered, except for the few hardcore pornographic films which appeal to a limited audience, that the mechanics of sex are not as erotic to watch as people imagined. They're comical. The physical mechanics of sex are pretty funny unless you are engaged in them. Then they are, of course, marvelous. But in the mainstream film market, certainly in television, sex is handled fairly discreetly now (in 1987). I think the abuse of extraordinarily graphic violence and language presses much closer to the tolerance of public taste."

Of films such as 'Soylent Green', "The prime motivation in making almost any film is success, because film is the art form of the 20th century. It is also the only art form whose raw materials are so horrendously expensive that the artist cannot afford to buy them for himself. Therefore he must borrow money from someone who expects to get it back, and that's fair. Therefore, it is simply necessary for a film to succeed. Now we've all had individual failures, but you can't have too many, or you don't get any more sets of toy trains to play with."

Of films and politics, "Well, who said politics was essentially verbal? Lenin in 1921 observed very presciently that motion pictures were the most powerful tool ever invented to shape the way we thought. He was right. Political films can be successful. They're very hard to do because they tend to turn into sermons, which can be very boring. But 'Soylent Green' is not boring. 'The China Syndrome', with which I disagree most violently as an undertaking, is not boring."

Of his TV role between 1985 and 1987, "In 'The Colbys', I got to invent Jason Colby, who is a sympathetic figure who can be ruthless in business but unlike Larry Hagman in 'Dallas' and Blake Carrington in 'Dynasty', Jason Colby will not lie or cheat to achieve his end. He will be uncaring of the business fate of a rival, but he is a man who does his best and keeps his promises and whose goal is to go through his own front door every night justified. 

"Esther Shapiro, who was responsible for inventing 'Dynasty' and 'The Colbys' says her inspiration was that marvelous BBC mini-series, 'I, Claudius'. Because, she said, it is about very rich, very powerful, absolutely ruthless people who indulge their ambitions, their physical appetites, untrammeled. And she said in the modern world, politicians do not have that kind of ugly way, but the very rich do. And she's quite right. And there's the pleasure of the opulent rooms and the beautiful gowns and the Rolls Royces and the private jets. They like to watch that kind of carryings on. Curiously enough, in the beginning, 'Dynasty' had an extensive storyline involving the oil workers - the drillers on the rigs and so on - but they found that every time they did one of those stories, people were not so interested."

Of acting, "Actors are widely regarded as drunks, braggarts, and wife stealers. Probably to some extent! Actors, after all, began as itinerant vagabonds wandering from village to village, when most people never moved more than 5 or 10 miles from the place they were born. And actors wandered around sleeping in stables, gulling the locals with the old three-walnut-shells-and-a-pea gag and doing somersaults and walking on their hands and then sleeping in the stable - if possible, with one of the local girls. 

"I think we all like to think of ourselves as pretty knowing people, and actors are no exception, but actors are themselves patronized. Look at how firmly set is the obviously incorrect presumption that for some reason, actors are unqualified for political service, when obviously they're better qualified than most people because of their clear communication skills. Performance skills are widely deplored, even by politicians, but you cannot be effective as a political leader without them. Winston Churchill was an extraordinary actor. So is Castro. So was De Gaulle. Roosevelt. Jack Kennedy. Even to the extent of readily identifiable props and wardrobe. Castro hasn't been in the Sierra Maestra for 25 years (since 1962), but he still goes around in combat fatigues - and so he should."

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