20161023

JACLYN SMITH

In 1988, Jaclyn Smith took viewers on a journey "into the world of international political intrigue" when she starred in the 4-hour TV mini-series, 'Windmills of the Gods'. Based on Sidney Sheldon's 1987 blockbusting book, Jackie played university professor, Mary Ashley from Kansas who had been selected by the president to become the U.S. ambassador to Rumania. Viewers were told Mary had written articles for 'Foreign Affairs' and understood the Warsaw Pact. 

Shot on location in Bucharest, Rumania; Chile; England; France, Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, North Carolina, Miami and Washington DC; Part I of 'Windmills of the Gods' attracted a rating of 19.0% and a 28% share of the audience. Part II attracted a rating of 17.4% and 27% share of the audience. In his review, John O'Connor remarked, "If nothing else, Mr. Sheldon thinks big." 

John Leonard added, "Grave questions of American foreign policy, East-West relations, international terrorism, and surplus wheat are asked in the mini-series as a d├ętente-minded U.S. president wants Mary Ashley to go to the Iron Curtain country as U.S. Madam ambassador to meet with the president of Rumania who opposes globalism. Mary does believe in a Common Market for all the nations of the world." 

Sidney Sheldon told the press, "I knew that 'Windmills of the Gods' would be about a woman ambassador. I didn’t know who she was, what the story would be. I start with just a character. I enjoy women. I love women. They’re more complex, more vulnerable. Put a woman in jeopardy, and it’s more entertaining. You know James Bond will get out of it, but you’re not sure about a woman." 

Jaclyn Smith made the observation, "(Mary Ashley) is first of all a wife and mother. Although under strange circumstances, she's appointed ambassador to Rumania. She's a very strong woman, in command. She's never been out in the business world. She's had a man taking care of her and she has two beautiful children. She has a strong sense of decency and morals and values. There's a lot of me in the role. I find that I'm a very moralistic person. That may sound conceited, but what the heck. I think I have good values. I have conservative values, old-fashioned values. She appreciates life and so do I. I wasn't a rebel growing up. I listened to my parents. I still listen to them and seek their approval." 

Between 1976 and 1981, Jaclyn Smith enjoyed high "Q" (likability) rating with viewers playing Kelly Garrett on 'Charlie's Angels'. 'People Weekly' observed, "From the halcyon days of 'Charlie's Angels', its ratings share reached a celestial high of 67." Leonard Goldberg believed, "I think, for whatever reason, when 'Charlie’s Angels' came along, it hit a nerve with women in the audience - women of all ages. And the guys didn’t mind looking at them either. It seemed to become part of the fabric of our society. Nothing we envisioned when we first started the show. 

"The genesis of 'Charlie's Angels' started even before 1974. Television was going through kind of a back alley, realistic, gritty, down and dirty kind of period with 'Baretta' and shows like that. Aaron (Spelling) and I were talking one night and we always tried to go against the grain, so we thought we should do a show that is very glamorous, very pretty, very romantic. 

"We came up with this high style idea about 3 beautiful private-eyes. They were named Alison, Katharine and Lee and we called it 'The Alley Cats'. Not the classiest title ever to come down the pike. We pitched the idea of the show to Barry Diller and Michael Eisner, who were then running ABC, at a breakfast meeting. They responded, 'That it was the worst idea we have ever heard. Could we please order breakfast?' Subsequent to that, we had done a TV movie, 'The Affair' with R.J. Wagner and the late Natalie Wood. 

"As part of the arrangement, ABC was to put up $25,000 to write a pilot script which would be owned by our production company and R.J. Wagner’s production company. Eventually I received a notice saying that the time was up, and I called Michael Eisner. I said, 'Look, you’re going to have to send us a check for $25,000 and you have nothing to show for it. Why don’t you let us write a script? At least you will have a script to show your management.' He said, 'Fine, write anything you want.' 

"So, I told Aaron, 'Why don’t we write what we always wanted to write?' and he thought it was a great idea. I called R.J. Wagner since he was going to be our partner and he said, 'I think it’s a terrible idea, but I don’t know anything about making TV.' So we went ahead and had a script written and that's how 'Charlie's Angels' got started." It was reported, "When Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg presented their new idea to Fred Silverman, he liked what he heard and suggested the writing team of Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts to bring all the ideas that Spelling, Goldberg and Kate Jackson had created during their brainstorming session into a TV pilot script. Silverman had worked with those writers at CBS, where they created the hit show 'Maxim'."

The 90-minute pilot movie was filmed in late 1975 and went to air on March 21, 1976. 'Charlie's Angels' was neither a blockbuster nor a special event when the pilot movie made its TV debut but "when the show debut, it exploded, just exploded on the scene," one former network executive recalled. 'Charlie's Angels' reportedly embarrassed its competition at the time by winning a monster 48% share of the audience. Leonard Goldberg insisted, "We didn't set out to change the world. What we had in mind was a 33 share basically. That's all we had in mind."

Director Allen Baron theorized, "It was the right thing at the right time and it was just luck out." Leonard Golberg remembered, "('Charlie's Angels') got like a 48 share and Aaron and I looked at each other and we said, 'There's something here!' and the network couldn't believe it either. I mean it was a giant rating." Fred Silverman added, "'Seinfeld' which was the biggest hit of the decade, you know, the '90s, averaged about a 31, 32 share. ('Charlie's Angels') got a 55."

Nolan Miller expressed, "All of a sudden, almost overnight, (Charlie's Angels) became hysteria. I mean it's just like an explosion." The network decided to rerun the pilot and still attracted big audience. One production worker recounted, "If it wasn’t for the physical appeal of its 3 stars, particularly Farrah (Fawcett), it would be an also-ran. Frankly, many of us were surprised when in the few weeks of the survey period, it grabbed a 59% share of the market. This means that something like 23 million people were watching – and that’s some giant-sized audience."

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