20180223

TELEVISION

In 1841, John Fairfax built his publishing empire. However the dynasty ended some 149 years later in 1990, when fifth-generation Warwick Fairfax's take-over attempt at the running of the family-owned business proved unsuccessful. His $2.55 billion privatisation plan ended when the banking syndicate led by ANZ decided to place Fairfax (worth $1.3 billion at the time) in receivership (total debts of $1.7 billion).

Five days after his 27th birthday, Warwick Fairfax, with a Master of Business Administration at Harvard took control of the family company (at 11am on December 7, 1987), some 3 months after the October 1987 share market crash. Mary Fairfax told the press her son was motivated by "Jesus Christ and journalism" and was critical of the banks, "We had $1.7 billion in debt. (Rupert) Murdoch's debt is over $13.8 billion, but they are allowing him a three-year moratorium."

The company reportedly applied to the Federal Court in Sydney for the appointment of Ian Ferrier, a founding partner of the Ferrier and Hodgson insolvency firm, as provisional liquidator to the John Fairfax Group Finance Pty Ltd. The John Fairfax Group was at the time for sale. The banks were seeking new investors to take control. Initially Janet Holmes a Court's Heytesbury Holdings publicly expressed interest. Laurie Connell, founder of merchant bank, Rothwells was paid as much as $27 million as corporate adviser defended Warwick Fairfax's $2.55 billion bid for John Fairfax Group telling the press the market fall assisted "us because it will get the bid over more quickly."

In July 1991, Canadian media baron Conrad Black (20% equity - newspapers foreign investment limit), the San Francisco-based investment house Hellman and Friedman Capital Partners (10% non-voting shares) and Kerry Packer (15% - maximum allowed under the cross-media rules because he controlled channel Nine with a shareholding of 38%) were the public face of the Tourang consortium's bid to take over Fairfax publishing empire.

In October 1991, former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam campaigned against any sale of Fairfax and debated over foreign ownership of the Australia's print media. Around that time, the Australian parliamentary committee began its public hearings into the Tourang's take-over bid of Fairfax newspapers. Following public outcry over Tourang's bid, Kerry Packer called Jana Wendt to debate the issues of concentration of media ownership (Kerry Packer) and foreign ownership of media (Conrad Black) on 'A Current Affair'.

Kerry Packer's unprecedented TV appearance on his own channel and Jana Wendt decided on the spot to extend the show to run an unprecedented three minutes overtime saw the ratings went through the roof. According to A.C. Nielsen, 'A Current Affair' attracted a peak rating of 36 points in Sydney, 33 points in Brisbane, 26 points in Adelaide, 25 points in Melbourne and 23 points in Perth.

Margo Kingston reported, "Jana Wendt has a unique position at Nine. Although, generally, she chooses not to control the content of 'A Current Affair', she demands – and is given – total autonomy over her interviews. She is impossible to influence professionally and never takes a party line. She is such a ratings getter, and so integral to Nine's image, that she can and does say what she thinks."

After the debate, Max Walsh made the comment, "Shareholder democracy is a flaky concept everywhere in the capitalist world, especially in Australia where not one single major public company has a majority of individual shareholders … Where the rest of the world is celebrating the triumph of market-based capitalism and, at the political level, the political virtues of pluralism, Australia is flirting with the idea of slipping back into media-led feudalism."

Jana Wendt: You are the richest man in Australia with vast commercial interests. How much influence does your money bring with it?

Kerry Packer: Not very much.

Jana Wendt: You are – whatever your access to the Prime Minister – regarded as a very powerful man indeed. Do you see yourself as someone with a lot of power?

Kerry Packer: No, I don't. I mean I was brought up in a family that exercised a lot of power, I saw my father exercise power and he did exercise it. And I have never exercised it. And that's a deliberate intention on my part.

Jana Wendt: Never, in any of your commercial interests, never exercised any power at all?

Kerry Packer: Oh, I don't know what any power means. But by and large, I do not exercise power. I do not try to exercise power, and I certainly haven't used any influence that I have for my own benefit in running companies.

Jana Wendt: You inspire fear in lots of people, including some of your employees. Is that the way you prefer it?

Kerry Packer: It's not a matter of preferring it. If you're going to be a nice fellow and you're going to be the person everybody loves, then you're probably going to find out in life that the things that should be done, aren't done … The navy, all the places which have been used to authority over a long period of time separate the captain from the crew.

They recognise that, they give the captain his own cabin, they give him where he eats his own meals, they accept the fact that he's not going to be a popular person. I have accepted the fact that I'm the captain of my ship and I will do what I have to do to get the jobs done that I need to be done. And that doesn't make me popular. I know that. But that's the price of being successful. And that's a choice I made a long time ago.

Of interviewing Kerry Packer, Jana Wendt stated, "When you are interviewing your boss, there is a certain element that enters your thinking, especially this boss, who’s at the heart of a major political controversy. You have to make sure every question is appropriate, and that you’re not open to allegations of bias either for or against him. To get Packer on was to get at the greatest source of the Fairfax conflict – its knife-edge.

"And to have a debate with Fairfax journalists was the best of all possible worlds. Packer really was a wonderful scoop. It is the story. And it was acutely interesting and opportune to interview a man who keeps himself so far out of the public spotlight. My intention was never to query him directly about Fairfax matters. Because there had been such a widespread debate on that, we wanted to give the (Fairfax) journalists open slather.

"So I wanted to make my bit personal and talk about him and his power in general. After all, there is the attraction that he’s Australia’s richest man. Interviewing the boss is terribly sensitive and difficult. Anything you say can be taken two ways: you’re either accused of being too soft or not soft enough. That’s why I thought the best way to tackle it was on a personal level, and get them to do the specifics.

"We saw two sides of Kerry Packer, and that was my aim at the outset. There is endless press speculation about what Kerry Packer's real intentions are, or are not. Mr Packer is certainly large in life, but what is written about him makes him even larger than life. So going public personalises his image a lot." Some 2 million viewers were watching.

In November 1991, Kerry Packer withdrew from the Tourang's bid. In December 1991, the government approved the restructured bid by Tourang under foreign investment guidelines. John Fairfax was sold to Tourang for $1.5 billion. Fairfax owed ANZ-led banking syndicate $1.270 billion. Tourang's offer was chosen because it was the only offer which allowed the banks to complete the sale before Christmas 1991. In 1996, Conrad Black sold his 25% controlling shareholding to New Zealand's Brierley Investments for about $553.8 million. The decision to sell followed his unsuccessful attempt to increase his shareholding to 50% because the Federal Government would not allow foreign owners a bigger stake in the Australian media.

20180221

MIAMI VICE

Tourism in Miami was up by 10% in 1985. On TV, the series 'Miami Vice' was Universal Television's hottest export. In the US, 'Miami Vice' was most popular with men ages 18 and 45 and Yuppies. Outside the US, 'Miami Vice' found success in England and Canada. The 'Los Angeles Times' noted, "Music is an integral part of the show's appeal. Geared to the MTV generation, without all the up-to-the-minute music, the show wouldn't be the same." 

In November 1985, 'Miami Vice (Music From The Television Series)' became the biggest-selling album ever. In less than 3 months, the 'Miami Vice' album became the second album of music from a TV series to top the Billboard's album chart. Twenty six years earlier in 1959, the Henry Mancini music from the 'Peter Gunn' series also reached No. 1 on the Billboard's album chart. 

'The Sunday Star' reported in January 1986, "'Miami Vice' remains the standard-bearer of the rock-TV merger. At its best, the soundtrack of 'Vice' merges '80s contemporary hit radio with the eclecticism of early '70s FM programming." 'The New York Times' added, "By using rock vidoes in a dramatic context, the series has demonstrated, even more convincingly than MTV, the power of video to promote records." 

Music coordinator and associate producer Fred Lyle insisted, "A song being in the Top 10 or not is not what influences what songs go on 'Miami Vice'. The song has to fit the scene to make it in the show." 'The New York Times' also pointed out, "'Miami Vice' – both the series and the album – may represent the culmination in popular culture of America's decade-long romance with cocaine, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system, is an anesthetic, and costs a bundle. Two songs on the album - 'Smuggler's Blues' and 'Vice' - talk directly about the drug trade." 

The 'Miami News' expressed, "'Vice' is the most interesting musically and lyrically as it paints a seamy, sordid picture of our fair city. When 'Vice' is heard by the local chamber of commerce, coronary units will be working overtime for a week. Grandmaster Melle Mel runs through a marvelously electric and wicked rap about how Miami's streets are populated only by professional hit men, luxury condo-owning prostitutes, smuggling cocaine mules and flowing blood money. 

"The hook comes when Mel says they claim it never snows in Miami, but now (in December 1985) there's snow on the beaches, snow on the streets, snow everywhere you go. 'Vice' is such a riveting, explicit musical excursion into Miami's dark underbelly that it makes Glenn Frey’s 'Smuggler's Blues' – also a look at Miami's cocaine trade – sound like the theme song to 'Sesame Street'." 

Speaking to 'Knight-Ridder News Service' in April 1985, Philip Michael Thomas enthused, "After 16 years (since 1969) in this business, it's all happened in six months. In six months, we've become a world-wide phenomena. Six months ago (at the start of the 1984-85 season), it was who is Don Johnson and who is Philip Michael Thomas? The recognition has been so rapid, it's mind-boggling. It's like wild time."

Of the success of 'Miami Vice', Philip Michael Thomas believed, "We happen to have an incredible team of people – cast, crew, editors – an incredible team. The editors are phenomenal. They have their fingers on the pulse. With the advent of MTV, we’re ushering the golden age of television into the platinum age. We’re sizzling. I like the idea of giving people an eargasm as well as an eyegasm. 

"There's also an incredible chemistry between me and Don Johnson. The first time we read together, it was an explosive, magical moment. We both knew at that moment that it was right. We do the impossible each week. It’s getting closer and closer to doing a major motion picture each week. To do that in seven days is phenomenal. It's nice to be in this place – part of the winning team. You can parlay your talents from this place, and I intend to parlay them right to the top. I didn't get into this business to make $1.86. I got in to make it big. It's so nice being at the top! 

"The pilot was incredible, but the first few episodes lacked. I caught a repeat the other night (in 1985). There's been a major jump. There's a sense of timing and style and rhythm that's becoming automatic. It's definitely jelling. Next year (the 1985-86 season), we'll open with a two-hour movie shot in New York, Puerto Rico and Miami. I expect shows will copy us, but, hey, a carbon copy is never as good as the original." 

Keyboardist-drummer Jan Hammer, then 37, immigrated to the US from the former Czechoslovakia in 1968 shortly before the Russian invasion. His 'Miami Vice' instrumental theme reached No. 1 on the Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. Speaking to the press, Jan Hammer elaborated, "In most cop shows, a lot of the scoring is predictable. You see a car chase and you're going to hear a certain kind of music. It's almost scoring-by-the-numbers. I approach each episode as a movie, something fresh for which I'm writing all original music. That kind of brainy, intellectual music (his career began with the Mahavishnu Orchestra) for music's sake is way in my past. I got bored with it about 10 years ago (in 1975). I'm much more into fun music now (in 1985)." 

When the story, camerawork, performances and music all come together, Jan Hammer maintained, "It can be pure magic. I can see it already. Even the older shows are starting to inject our techniques. The whole fabric of our show was designed from the ground up. For example, you can always make undercover cops into glamorous and good-looking people. It's harder to do that with lawyers or doctors or someone who has to dress for success."

As reported in 1985, "While in Los Angeles at a movie meeting in March 1984, a friend introduced Jan Hammer to producer Michael Mann, who was then assembling the 'Miami Vice' concept. Hammer, whose musical ideas meshed with Mann's, wound up composing the music for the pilot, which evolved into scoring the series. Because of his 'Miami Vice' sound tracks, Hammer is in demand to score movies." 

Jan Hammer made known, "I've turned down more money to do sound tracks (due to time) than I've made in the last five years (1980-85). That's a horrible feeling. It's amazing, but when I took the job the show didn't exist. And I wrote the theme before I even had the job, just playing around in the studio. I've tried to do so many things with this show. Some work, some don't; the major point is this is something that comes naturally to me. It's not labored. Music is definitely one of the major characters. I don't know what billing it should get – I guess it depends on the show. But it is a definite departure from the usual. 

"They (the characters created by Johnson and Thomas) are opposite poles of the same magnet, and it translates beautifully into music. Crockett is supercharged, leaning over the edge; Tubbs is outwardly cool, but inside there's turbulence that is never manifested. They are beautiful characters. There is so much more depth to what I do, and what the show is about. Some of what we do may suggest that, but it's an oversimplification. People just need to have a handle.

"They (the record companies) think instrumental music is a poor second cousin to vocals. They saw me as a jazz artist. My audience was a complete rock audience yet they saw me as jazz. I still can't believe it. I've gotten used to companies missing all the buttons, MCA (Records) pushed all the right buttons. It amounts to spending the extra amount of money on promotion. That's crucial to the album's success.

"Whey they (the sound mixer) mix in sound effects – the screeching tires, the gunshots – they turn down my music. The special effects sometimes are too loud for my tastes. Special effects are great but they're not the key to our success. Music is more important. I've had problems with this at the beginning of last season (1984-85) and of this season (1985-86), I'm trying to take care of this problem now." 

Jan Hammer also made the observation, "I don't want to start repeating myself. It's inevitable if I'm doing scores about the same characters in the same locale. In two years (at the end of the 1985-86 season) that's 44 shows. It's hard to stay fresh doing that much original music. I could stay on the show, but it wouldn't be worth it to them to keep me. After this season, they couldn't afford me. 

"Other shows recycle music and use stuff over and over. They take the show's theme and restate it a thousand different ways. I could do the same thing, write some stuff and then recycle it ad nauseam. But I prefer writing all new music for every show. That freshness is important to the show. But I've created a monster for myself. It's incredibly hard work. I can get adventurous and interesting because I have no one telling me what to do. From the very beginning I haven't had anybody telling me what to do. Michael Mann gave me a free rein."

20180218

JANA WENDT

After 13 years at channel Nine (1982-1995), high-profile journalist Jana Wendt "sent shockwaves through an industry not known for its shockability" when she signed a 3-year contract with channel Seven to host the flagship public affairs program 'Witness' in 1996. The decision was said would bring Jana back to political centre-stage. "At Nine, she was one of many big fish in a big pond. At Seven, she will be the big fish in a little pond," it was reported. 

Tony Barber, former host of game show 'Sale of the Century', told 'Fairfax Media' in 1991, "Winning is the religion at Nine (in Melbourne). Good ratings, like prayers, are offered by the Programming Prophets (accompanied by the Vestal Virgins from Publicity) to the high altar of the Sales Department, to invoke the pleasure of great gods of advertising.

"Bad Ratings are the TV sin that dare not speak its number. 'Aberration', 'bad sample', and 'they had the Queen Mother on that night', the only grudging admissions that the veil of the temple had been dented. Beating the others (Seven and Ten) was one thing. Beating Sydney was seen to be almost as important. It was a matter of pride that new programs and specials did better 'here' (Melbourne) than 'there' (Sydney).

"I felt this was to do with GTV (Melbourne channel Nine) not being seen as some sort of outpost of the centre of empire (TCN, Sydney). Also Sam (Chisholm) was in Sydney and Melbourne. Managing directors were 'driven' by Sam. Some to distraction. Some to early retirement packages. Sam was the highest of the high priests. The instrumentality of (Kerry) Packer pre-1983, he became omnipotent during the (Alan) Bond era, and unnecessary after it."

It was understood the rivalry between the two largest cities in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne dated back to 1901 when Australia was federated, in part because of the location of the national capital. Eventually Canberra was chosen, situated in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – in the middle between Sydney and Melbourne. Richard Glover clarified in 2017, "For much of our European history, the Sydney-Melbourne rivalry was a dominating conflict."

Jane Cadzow reported, "Nine has a stronger star system than the other networks. Now (in 1991), with Seven gaining in the ratings, it is more dependent than ever on the drawing power of celebrities such as Jana Wendt, host of the top-rating 'A Current Affair'. Wendt is Nine's biggest single asset, delivering more than two million viewers a night. Independent media analyst Peter Cox calculates that the movement of Wendt and her audience from Nine to Seven would be enough to put Seven slightly ahead in the ratings in the biggest and most important markets, Sydney and Melbourne."

George Negus remarked, "I doubt that people like them (Jana Wendt and Ray Martin) would be doing what they're doing (hosting 'A Current Affair' and 'The Midday Show') if Nine were more receptive to their suggestions. It's (Seven) a more fertile ground for ideas and that's terribly important to me. I got a bit tired of running into brick walls." Media analyst George Sutton expressed, "They (Nine) are spending very little money on new product (at the time)."

'Fairfax Media' pointed out, "Nine wins the ratings in Sydney and Melbourne because of the massive lead it establishes each weekday between 6pm and 7pm. In Sydney, where the main bulletin has been read by Brian Henderson (since 1964) and in Melbourne by Brian Naylor (since 1978), Nine's 6pm news often has twice as many viewers as both other commercial networks combined. The news is followed by Jana Wendt's 'A Current Affair', the most watched program on television (at the time). Television is in Kerry Packer's blood. His father, Sir Frank Packer founded Nine in 1956 but it was Kerry Packer who nurtured the network to pre-eminence. He is acknowledged as a master of the game.

"As with the news, 'A Current Affair's' domination must, in part, be attributed to the canny promotion of personality (such as the "Lady Writer on the TV" campaign). Like Brian Naylor, Jana Wendt has become a familiar and respected authority figure. Nine successful investment in the pulling power of Naylor and Wendt flows across the board." Hence in December 1995, when then Seven managing director Gary Rice lured Jana Wendt from Nine, "he signed the most valuable individual in Australian television."

Of the 'Witness' program, Jana made the comment, "We're a blend of different cultures here … and there are different styles within those cultures – it's real melting pot. So trying to merge those different approaches is extremely interesting." Gary Rice maintained, "We don't expect 30s from the outset – though if we got good ratings from the start, we would be delighted. Jana Wendt is a wonderful woman, but she is not the Messiah. Nor is 'Witness' the Second Coming. Jana is an extremely talented anchor and reporter, and the program is designed to be quality public affairs television. 'Witness' is public affairs, designed to be top quality – a program that is not only informative, but is also entertaining."

However there was disagreement over the program content and Jana reportedly requested "for more say in selection of stories, more editorial say." Jana spoke to 'Fairfax Media' in November 1996, "I can honestly say I have never seen as cohesive a unit. Ever. The people inside the unit came to the program for one reason: to do commercial current affairs that was better than the rest and I suppose reset some old standards … because they were sick and tired of the obvious abandonment of these values in other mainstream current affairs programs.

"We set a very big goal for the program … that we would take the definition of current affairs TV back to its original meaning. I think that meaning has been distorted almost beyond recognition over the years. We made large claims about restoring the definition, giving stories their proper place and worth, making these news priorities the trademark of the program.

"This was Peter's (Peter Manning) first time coming to commercial TV, and that is a very, very difficult thing to embark on. I had more than 15 years in commercial TV (1979-1996) ... on two of the highest rating current affair shows on TV ('60 Minutes' and 'A Current Affair'). I am well aware of some of the commercial pressures that can be applied. I am not naïve enough to think commercial TV should be like the ABC, but it should be high-quality, eminently watchable.

"It's never my intention to do personality profiles, but I think we should treat them differently from our commercial competitors. OK ... If we’re doing star profiles, it’s wise to approach them with a tad more scepticism. It’s hard to run a program as a mass collective. I think what’s important is the person at the top of the tree reflects the feelings of others on the program. I don’t think I know a person in TV who has fewer management aspirations than I.

"What I want is freedom to walk out of the office, cover the stories I desperately want to cover … People should do what they do best. Reading the autocue is not what I do best ... I was hired to do a very specific program; I wasn't hired to do '60 Minutes' mark 2. I wasn't hired to do anything even approximating that. I think we should be able to tell our audience with a clear conscience that we're a serious program, that we'll be dealing with issues that they deal with seriously, and that we will not be neglecting popular stories."

JOHN SEBASTIAN

John B. Sebastian had "a history of writing rock'n'roll songs that even today (in 1976) are unmatched in their poetic and melodic genius." In 1976, co-creator and producer Alan Sacks commissioned the gentle-voiced folk-rock singer John Sebastian of the good-time pop-rock band Lovin' Spoonful to write the theme song for the TV sitcom, 'Welcome Back, Kotter'. 

Co-creator and star Gabriel Kaplan played the Brooklyn-born teacher who was returning to teach in his old high school from which he had graduated 10 years previously. John Travolta played Barbarino. Applying his wide, skillful use of the harmonica, the song John Sebastian wrote turned out to be an overnight top-of-the-charts hit. Records producer Steve Barri of Warner Bros. believed, "John found the groove himself. He wrote a song that people of any age could relate to. It's a style he perfected with the Spoonful." 

Speaking to the 'Sentinel Star' and King Features Syndicate, Inc., John Sebastian recounted, "They said, 'Write the theme song,' and I said, 'What's the title?' and they said, 'Kotter', and I said, 'Gimme a chance!' So I read the original treatment (the 10-page storyline) and wrote 'Welcome Back' and the next week they made that the show's title. Then a few weeks later, some network guy had a flash of brilliance - 'If we call it 'Welcome Back', it'll sound like a nostalgia show. So we should call it 'Welcome Back, Kotter'.' 

"Here was this little premise called Kotter. The gist of the story was that this underachiever, who was pretty smart in school, got his first job at his old high school. It was great and Kotter loved it. Anyway, I imagined this guy's situation, like, what it would be like if I ever became a teacher at my old school – how I would want it to be. I think the way it turned out, all I was doing was helping Alan Sacks to lay out the original plans. 

"Like (the song) 'Daydream', I wrote 'Welcome Back' in 15 minutes. Generally, they're hits if you write them fast. The idea that can be put down in 15 minutes is very often simple enough to be commercial. I've never been anti-commercial. I want a lot of people to hear my music. Commercial is just likable. I strive to make music that's likable." 

Speaking to 'The Washington Post' and the 'Los Angeles Times', Steve Barri explained the growing popularity of TV themes in the American Bicentennial year, "It's a combination of things. Some of it is just coincidence, but a lot of it has to do with the way ABC went about programing their shows last fall (the 1975-76 season). See, they wanted to catch the young audience during the family hours (8pm-9pm Eastern Time), so they geared their shows to the younger market. With shows like 'Welcome Back' and 'Happy Days' they reach the kids, who are the ones really into records and record-buying." 

In February 1976, the theme from the Aaron Spelling's TV series, 'S.W.A.T.' (Special Weapons And Tactics) topped the singles list (three months before 'Welcome Back' achieved the same result in May 1976). Steve Barri continued, "We (the band Rhythm Heritage) took a chance. What they had been playing on TV was only 60 and 65 seconds long, but it had a strong rhythmic thing, a disco feel similar to 'Shaft', going for it. So we repeated the beginning a few times, added an instrumental break. 

"'Welcome Back' is like any traditional hit song in that it has something you can relate to quickly. What I always look for in a song is something that will grab the listener before he's 30 seconds into the song. You have to have a hook by then. I hadn't even seen the show 'S.W.A.T.' but my son liked the show and the theme and wanted a record of the theme but none was available. When I heard the song it reminded me of the 'Shaft' theme. I thought it would make a good single. 

"The producers of the show were thrilled that we were interested so I got some studio musicians (Rhythm Heritage) and recorded a single. We decided to make it a disco number so that radio stations would have added incentive to play it. That was a wise decision, as it turned out. The single broke in discos in New York and Philadelphia. It grew into such a disco hit that the stations had to play it." 

Of the themes on TV, "We had to rework and stretch all those (less-than-a-minute television) themes (to at least two-and-a-half minutes). For instance on the 'S.W.A.T.' theme we took the basic music and turned it into a disco number by doing things like adding an instrumental break. On 'Welcome Back' I went to work with John Sebastian and added a chorus and a harmonica solo. All you have to do is be careful to maintain the feel of the show and not to add anything that doesn't fit the main theme music." 

In June 1976, the song 'Happy Days' performed by Pratt & McClain reached No. 5 in the singles list. Steve Barri elaborated, "It was a case of they're being in the right place at the right time. We needed somebody to do the song, and they were available." The 'Los Angeles Times' reported, "Pratt and McClain's 'Happy Days' was a case of Steve Barri supplying a product to meet a demand. Paul Drew, an executive in the RKO radio chain, informed a music publisher (song writers Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox) about the many requests for a 'Happy Days' single and stated that if an adequate one were recorded, his stations would play it. The publisher told Steve Barri, who responded immediately." 

Steve Barri continued, "We were looking for a top Top 40-type song for this new group (Pratt & McClain). The 'Happy Days' theme was a natural for their first record. About two days after I heard about the idea we had put together a record and had given it to the stations. They started playing it right away even though it wasn't in the stores until nine days later. I don't really care for the record but it's still a great way to break in a new group. 

"Whether I do more of these TV themes isn't that important. What is important is that television producers now recognize that a good marketable theme can have great publicity value for a show. So these producers may start hiring more quality singers and writers to come up with themes. The television theme business may become a good outlet for material and a good way to expose artists." 

In 1970, John Sebastian went solo, "It was just about time for us (Lovin' Spoonful) to break up. The chemistry of the original aggregation was gone. We figured we had had a good three, four years (1965-69) and that was enough." Manager Bob Cavallo observed, "He was in a second adolescence. He made a lot of money touring. With him and his guitar, he could pick up a couple hundred thousand dollars a year (in those days). In New York, even in the worst part of his career, he was worth $7,500 per concert."

It was reported after a successful Woodstock Festival performance, "critics began reacting rabidly to John’s tie-dyed sacharine image. To the hip establishment, he became a cloying throwback to an earlier, naively innocent day." Bob Cavallo pointed out, "John wrote a hundred songs in three years and then 25 the next four. His interest just leveled off." 

John Sebastian voiced, "It didn't take too long to realize there was nowhere to go with it. I stopped at the point where I realized my music and humanity in general was taking a toll. I'm not an altogether kind, gentle, beautiful person. I thought the abuse I took was very silly. Tie-dyeing implied a lot of things to different people. I was just enjoying some really serious tie-dyeing." 

John Sebastian was the son of a classical harmonica player. He grew up in Greenwich Village (also known as "The Village") in New York City. Since the early '60s, John Sebastian stated, "The Village was a boiling point for styles, from the old Mississippi blues guys to Jewish banjo players in their 20s. I profited tremendously from the exposure, the Bleecker and MacDougal (streets) clubs and coffeehouses. There was no other group that drew on those experiences, sources. Shortly after it (Lovin' Spoonful) disbanded, I went to California, mostly for professional reasons." 

The 'Sentinel Star' reported, "The first basic change in the Village had started and other musicians left. The streets became ruled by the drug users and it was no longer inspirational, or safe, to stay." John Sebastian continued, "The real death came when a popular coffeehouse in the Village got eaten by a fast-food chain. But now (in 1976) the coffeehouse is back and other coffeehouses are struggling along. A renaissance is happening."

20180215

SOAP OPERAS

"I like to watch daytime television serials," Dan Wakefield wrote in the 1976 book, 'All Her Children'. "This even though I am not necessarily a housewife, a maid, or an account executive for a leading detergent. I am, irrespective of age, sex, or profession, a devoted fan of one or more of the Monday-through-Friday soap operas. As we all know, the origins of socially aberrant behavior can be found in childhood.

"I grew up in the Midwest in the 1930s and 1940s and hurried home from grade school to listen to radio soap operas. Sometimes on sunny afternoons I sat indoors with ears glued to the radio. For a healthy American boy to sit indoors and listen to radio soap operas when he could go outside and play baseball or building a treehouse was bad.

"Worse still, at least two or three days a week I feigned an upset stomach in order to stay home and lie around listening to the soap operas that were on during school hours. Despite this neurotic behavior I lived up to most of my responsibilities as a budding good citizen – I was named a member of the Traffic Squad of School No. 80 when I was 12.

"For several years I thought I was the only boy in the sane and civilized world who listened to such stuff. Then in the sophomore year of high school at a party people my own age started talking about 'Ma Perkins', 'Stella Dallas', 'Helen Trent', 'Just Plain Bill' and 'Our Gal Sunday' in which the announcer, in stentorian tones, told us – and we never tired of hearing it - 'This is the story that asks the question: Can a girl from a little mining town in Colorado find happiness with the rich and titled Lord Henry Brinthrop of Blackswan Hall?'

"I was a latecomer to television soap operas, primarily because I was a latecomer to television of any kind, I am of the last generation in America that grew up without the tube. When I went to Columbia University in the early '50s no student would have been caught dead owning a television set. We were intellectuals, you see, and at that time all self-respecting intellectuals feared television would fry the minds of the masses, make free men into Orwellian robots, and in general turn all of Western culture into a vast wasteland.

"The only television program my friends and I watched in college was the Army vs. McCarthy hearings, a daytime 'show' respectable to watch because it was news and history. There were crises, threats, challenges, and even tears as careers and policies hung in the balance. Tune in tomorrow and see whether good will triumph over evil! For pure soap opera, all it lacked was organ music."

In 1976, then 25-year-old Manuela Soares who graduated from Rutgers in 1973 with a degree in comparative literature, would watch all 14 daytime dramas on television during the week in order to write summaries of soap operas plot lines. As editor-and-chief of the 'Daily TV Newsletter' (founded in July 1974 and had up to 12,000 subscribers paying $24 a year for 48 issues), Manuela's job was to keep track of 70 plot lines a week by watching two TV sets. "After a while, you get so you can manage to do other work and keep an ear on the TV set. Of course, the music is helpful. You can tell there's something coming up, just judging by the music."

Dan Wakefield continued, "Perhaps, like many other people, I started watching daytime television in a time of crisis. It was the holiday season of 1965, and while consider any holiday season a time of crisis, this one was especially a downer because it was the first after I had been divorced. As an innocent intellectual, I had no idea that the masses out there in videoland were watching everyday stories that dealt with drugs, divorce, abortion, mental illness, loneliness, despair, and other such subjects that were mostly taboo in the '60s in prime-time viewing.

"By the time of the Nixon-McGovern campaign in New Hampshire (in 1972), I had become a follower of one daytime serial, 'All My Children'. The small true touches, the accurate rendering of contemporary styles and feelings was one of the things that fascinated me about the program. But I can’t pretend I got hooked on it because of some sociological interest.

"In the spring of 1971 I was living in Los Angeles and recuperating from writing a novel. I choose the word ‘recuperating’ advisedly, believing, as George Orwell said, that writing a book is like 'having a bout with a long illness,' and, as after any long illness, one requires a recovery period. By 1974, 'All My Children' has become the object of a growing cult of avid fans across the country. The 'All My Children' phenomenon is part of a confluence of different forces making soap opera respectable.

"Soap opera really is the same basic concept of serial drama as old as storytelling, as old as 'The Arabian Nights' and 'once upon a time' and 'in our next episode we shall learn what happens to...' It is the old form of serial storytelling practiced by Dickens and Dostoevsky and Henry James as they shaped their novels in installments to be read in sequential issues of periodicals.

"Beyond the pure entertainment I began to be fascinated with what must lie behind it – the professional skill and imagination involved in turning out a continuous story five days a week, 52 weeks a year, with a cast of several dozen characters interacting with one another in daily situations dramatic enough and believable enough to hold the interest of a mass nationwide audience. And this without the lures of cops, crime, eroticism or violence."

Trained at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and Northwestern University, Evanston, Dr. June Singer wrote the book, 'The Unholy Bible' in 1970. Speaking to Patricia Schofler of the 'Chicago Tribune', Dr. Singer stated vision a person experienced, or being able to visualize something or someone when the person was half asleep and half awake were fairly common because a lot of people, particularly creative people, saw in visual terms.

Dr. Singer maintained these visions were the opening to the unconscious, "The trick is to allow conscious defense to slip and be open to these visions, to be open to feelings, impressions and particularly to dreams, and to recognize symbols and to use the imagination and see what symbols lead to. I was interested in what man does that is not directed by intellect, as expressed in art and psychic manifestations like E.S.P. - even ghosts. Though I do not believe in ghosts, I thought there must be a reason why there is so much interest in the supernatural."

Dr. Singer pointed out both Carl G. Jung and William Blake experienced these visions and were capable of communicating with their unconscious. It was understood some people were able to do this through psychodelic drugs, but that Jung and Blake were able to create a dialog with their unconscious without artificial stimuli as had mystics of all ages.

Dr. Singer said through therapy a person could learn to hear messages from the unconscious and to carry on an active relationship with the unconscious. Dr. Singer described a stable person as one "who can live with tension, take responsibility for his own acts including his errors, and who is aware that he cannot accomplish everything by his will alone and therefore accepts limitations, while trusting the unconscious to provide sources of energy to grow and develop as long as he (or she) lives.

"Most of us are taught that where there is a will there is a way, and that if we work hard and study hard, we will succeed. Some find they cannot. There is something working at cross purpose with this will. They are angry when they would like to be pleasant, drunk when they would like to be sober. There are many unknowns. They want to know these unconscious forces working against them. So they go into analysis to figure out what they are."

As reported, manifesting the unconscious were fears. The analyst could help the patient to learn what his or her unconscious was saying, to confront the unconscious and to use the unconscious to solve problems and to make the patient a more well-rounded personality. "Analysis is a way of developing ones innate potential through self-knowledge. It is a difficult way because one sees potential for greatness but also for the negative things. We are potentially strong and potentially weak. We make the best of the strong and become aware of the pitfalls."

A believer of Jungian psychology, Dr. Singer said although Jung was a member of the Sigmund Freud circle for 12 years, he separated from Freud because he felt man was motivated by more than one major drive, where Freud felt man was driven by the desire for sexual fulfillment. "Man is looking to find meaning in life and in the cosmos, to find himself in personal ways and transpersonal or in relation to the created world. He is looking for the source of his energy as Freud said sexual fulfillment is. Jung felt that sex is not just a physical impulse but a way to create – to meet one's opposite and create something new whether it is a child or a spiritual creation like a piece of art."

Jung also did not believe that all problems stemmed from the way parents treated a child when the child was under two years old. "It may happen that way, but neurotic problems may happen at any time – a change of job, marriage, crisis of middle age, when the children leave the nest and parents find their relationship not more than holding a family together or losing a beloved one.

"Freud finds the problem in infantile sexuality with parents at early age. Therefore, for a long time parents were blamed for what was wrong. This is hard on parents and gives the child the chance to shrug off dealing with his own responsibilities. So with Jungian analysis, instead of going back, we are more interested in the purposeful direction, in finding the right life goals for him."

Jung also believed that in every woman there was a masculine element, and in every man there was a feminine element. These elements were largely unconscious. Therefore, the man carrier of this feminine element, for example, had in his unconscious the qualities usually associated with the female such as "tenderness, an earthy quality of wisdom, a maternal nurturing nature.

"Women carry these qualities traditional expressed by men – incisiveness, a kind of abstract way of thinking and reasoning, a certain decisiveness, a particular kind of power drive. This is a kind of preform of what women's liberation is coming into now (in 1970). She has qualities and she needs to develop these qualities associated with the male to be well rounded.

"And she can develop these without being unfeminine, by confronting the unconscious. The same with men who can use tenderness without being unmasculine. Jung saw far into the future. Only today (in 1970) are men starting to wear flamboyant clothes, pay attention to their children, show them care and affection without being afraid of expressing it."

Dr. Singer elaborated that Jung felt there was a difference between men and women, but that they were equal. "They are biologically different which made society put them into these roles. Today (1970), women are not at the mercy of biology. They can choose of and when they want children. They can develop specific feminine qualities or blend the masculine and feminine depending on how much is brought into the conscious or as to how much is desirable for her own goals.

"Ideally, we should be well-balanced, not be clingingly dependent nor asserting independence by giving up qualities that make us women. Because a woman goes to the office and functions efficiently does not mean she cannot come home, cook and be a good marital partner. She should not be ashamed to function with these qualities that society says are masculine. She should not feel that it will compromise her delicious femininity."

Dan Wakefield observed, "It occurred to me that daytime TV serials are one of the major forms of storytelling for a whole segment of our society. Yet they are largely neglected in any serious discussion of contemporary entertainment. Yet by 1971 daytime programming (comprised soap operas and game shows) accounted for an estimated 75% of the revenue of the major networks."

20180212

SOAP OPERAS

At the time of its cancellation in 2009, 'Guiding Light' was the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history. The soap opera made its radio debut in 1937 before moving to television in 1952. By 1972, some 50 million viewers in total (mostly women ages 18 to 49) watched the then 16 half-hour daytime dramas on television between 10am and 3.30pm. The soaps normally featured five acts (with different stories-within-stories) separated by commercials. 

The popularity of the Monday-to-Friday soap operas generated some 1000 to 1500 jobs for actors, actresses, stagehand, grips, cameramen, hairdressers, makeup artists, costume and set designers, musicians, directors, associate directors, producers, publicists and writers. At the time, the cost of a weekly production was said to be over $1 million. 

It was said, "the soaps are a sort of mirror of our society." Ann Marcus of 'Knots Landing' told 'The Morning Call' in 1981 soap operas were studied for their sociological import and were even used by mental institutions in group therapy sessions "to get people to start talking about their own problem." At the St Ambrose College's Galvin Fine Arts Center in 1981, Douglas Sheehan told some 600 guests, "I think we have a bigger, better, more intelligent audience than any other forum. I think prime-time is coming to the soap operas. 

"When I started at 'General Hospital', I tried to apply rules of Shakesperean acting to the soap. That means studying what all the other characters have to say about your character. Well if you watch soaps, you know that doesn't apply at all. But it is just as difficult. You have to apply the rules of (Rudyard) Kipling, 'Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do or die.' On our show, they keep a board with each character's name and the number of letters he receives. You have no idea how important your letters are to the network. Once an actor gets audience equity on a show, he can start commanding a storyline." 

Soap viewer John Holshouser of Brown Jewelry Co. noted in 1976, "Some people need this type of entertainment. They use it to compare their own problems and make themselves feel better." Another fan, Garnetta Barbour added, "I don't get emotionally involved with them. I don't think you should watch these stories too seriously or try to copy them in your own life, because if you do, you're bound to get only trouble." 

Arthur Hill maintained, "Even the unreality of a soap opera is special because it's ordered unreality – satisfying our need for order. We're all driven by the same needs." Bryna P. Laub expressed, "Conflict is what life's all about, and soap operas reflect the lives of the people that are watching it. The major things are romance, money and illness." 

Larry Haines made known, "You would be surprised at the number of erudite people who are addicted to the soap opera. I've been recognized by a former first lady of the land who was addicted to 'Search For Tomorrow'. Soap operas fill a tremendous void in a lot of people's lives. What else can the average wife watch other than a game show (on daytime)? We do a lot of good for shut-ins and elderly people who have nothing else to do. People who can't read because of failing eyesight are also in our audience." 

B Donald Grant believed, "The women who watch our shows (on NBC) are busy women – occupied, involved in civic activities, PTA, politics. We can give them sophisticated themes along with entertainment. In fact, you can get away with a lot more frankness on daytime TV than on some of our so-called 'serious' nighttime shows. People believe desperately in these characters. And they're looking for something familiar to identify with – and something unusual or bizarre to fantasize with." 

Bridget Dobson concurred, "People like to watch interesting characters and hopefully you'll have an exciting story. But on an established soap you can have a poor story but people will still watch if they like the characters." Pat Falken Smith pointed out, "Soaps are unlike any other medium as far as writers (and viewers) are concerned. They can't go back to reruns. They have to go on." 

On 'Days of our Lives', Melinda O. Fee played Mary Anderson, "I have no idea (who the phantom writers are during the Writers Guild of America strike in 1981). All I know is we're handed a new script every morning when we show up for work at NBC. There is no credit for the screenwriter, but there's generally a name on the script giving credit for the story. It's a mystery to me who writes them. 

"On almost all soap operas the story lines are projected a year in advance. I'm sure the outlines for our series were all planned ahead of the strike. The producers and directors never let the cast know what turns the story lines will take. They don't want us projecting our characters with knowledge of what is going to happen to them weeks or months ahead of time." Douglas Sheehan explained, "If we read ahead, we tend to act ahead, and anticipate the results of the plot." 

Critic Jon-Michael Reed observed, "Soaps today, like 'General Hospital', use better filming techniques, more locations and innovative lighting. The plots, the situations are appealing to a much wider audience. Now (in 1981), shows, like 'General Hospital' use many moving cameras, and even shoot in different locations. In the old days, if it didn’t happen in the living room or the kitchen, it was never shown." 

Bryna P. Laub made the point, "Soap opera are the only repertory we have left in this country, unless you're one of the chosen ones who can get into A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theater)." Melinda O. Fee continued, "I felt a great ambivalence about going back to a soap. You always give a lot of thought to a long-term commitment. Just as sure as you sign up, along come some very good and tempting offers. That’s what happened to me this time. I was offered a prime time series and a play at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The series went on the air and was renewed.

"But I went ahead with 'Days of our Lives'. I like the steadiness of employment in the soaps. I’m the only one of my coterie of actors who is working these days (in 1981). Soaps pay the actors by the day. Prime time series pay the cast on a weekly or monthly or annual salary. If you work five days a week in a soap the salaries are comparable to nighttime series. Of course there are no superstar salaries. They don’t exist because of the large casts in soaps.

"An hour show like ours has 25-30 running characters which means I work maybe three or four days a week. Soaps are good exposure for actors. I may get only three good scenes a month – scenes I can really sink my teeth into. But soaps are watched by people who count in this industry. There's a greater cross-section of acting competence in soaps now than there was five or 10 years ago (back in 1971).

"There are newcomers who do 'attitude acting' instead of really getting into their parts. But the acting is improving all the time. As an actress it’s more fun to play bitches than straight roles. My parts have been more dimensional and unpredictable than most. There is a special rhythm and sound to soaps, different from prime time. The pace is slower on the screen but it’s a lot faster on the set. It’s almost like doing theater with a new script every day."

Back in 1972, Larry Haines who played Stu Bergman in 'Search For Tomorrow' told 'Universal Press', "There's no such thing as a minor actor; there are only minor parts. The big advantage is that you work more frequently as a feature or supporting player than you do as a star. A star has to wait for the proper vehicle and the proper vehicle may come along only once every three years or so. The star also has to draw the public.

"If you do a play written by an unknown playwright and directed by an unknown director and you are the star, it's a tremendous responsibility. Everything hinges on you. So the pressure is there. Eli Wallach was a character actor for a number of years (before becoming a star). I don't think Jason Robards started as a star. I think Dustin Hoffman is another good example. So is Gene Hackman. The other night (back in 1972) I saw 'The Godfather' and I think Al Pacino will really zoom to super stardom. You just have to be seen in the right thing at the right time by the right person.

"Soap opera is one of the big sources of income for character actors in New York. It's about all we have in live television right now (in 1972). All the series are being shot in Hollywood … In soap opera, you have a new script to tackle every show. That keeps your mind alert, keeps you from getting bored. In the theater, however, you have to say the same thing night after night for a long run.

"The difficulty with soap opera is the speed with which it's done. There is not that much time to prepare or rehearse. We come in at eight o’clock in the morning and we have our first blocking and work to about 9.30. Then we are off to make-up and costume and we don't get back into the studio until 10.15. Then we have a dress rehearsal. We may work on it for a little more than two hours and that's it. Next we tape the show and it's 2 o'clock before we're through."

On soap operas, it was common to see the long dissolves while the organ played and the actors looked at each other until the commercial appeared. Larry Haines elaborated, "If the show is playing too fast, the director may take more time on a dissolve to stretch out the time. Then it's purely mechanical (acting) and you have to cooperate. Sure, it's uncomfortable. But it's one of the mechanical difficulties of television. Let's not lose sight of the fact that we are playing in a world of make believe and we do have to create situations and story lines to hold an audience. If we didn't, we wouldn't still be on the air. A soap opera is a cliff-hanger; but that's been an established fact since the early Pearl White serials and serial novels."

It was understood daytime soap operas on the major networks accounted for about $1.2 billion a year in advertising profits. However by 1996, the number of people watching soaps started to fall to 16 million viewers and the viewers were said getting older and were not being replaced with a comparable number of younger viewers. In 1996, the $35 billion consumer-product Procter & Gamble spent an estimated $206 million to advertise products like Tide laundry detergent, Crest toothpaste and Ivory soap on soap operas and spent another $90 million producing three daytime dramas, 'As The World Turns', 'Another World' and 'Guiding Light'.

At the height of soap operas popularity in 1976, 'Soap Opera Digest' was the people's choice of magazine at many newsstands and supermarket checkouts (circulation of 1.2 million). 'Soap Opera Digest' was originally a grassroots homegrown publication before the Hearst Corporation began distributing the magazine following a strong TV advertising campaign.

Editor-in-chief Lynn Leahey remembered in 1992, "It just exploded. We (soap operas) were a well-kept secret for a while. Then other people caught on to what kind of market this was. A lot of women going back to work are no longer watching every day. Magazines allow them to keep up with soaps. Not everyone has time to watch five hours a week even if you tape them. Soap magazines let you to keep up the fun habit of watching soaps even if you don't have the free time to always watch them."

Ruth A. Gordon recalled, "Before our first issue came out (in 1975), we already had readers." It was mentioned profits from the magazine came mostly from subscriptions (50 cents to $1 an issue) with subscribers comprised "a cross-section of America". 'Gannett News Service' reported in 1980, "As daytime serials have become more and more established, publishers jumped on the bandwagon. The first soap publication was 'Who's Who in Daytime TV', an annual started in 1967 by Paul Denis of the 'New York Post'.

"In 1969, he took the plunge with the first monthly in the field, 'Daytime TV'. So successful was the format that it was widely imitated by as many as 28 separate publications at one time. The market couldn't support that many, though, and had a mild collapse. There are about a dozen magazines left by 1980. As the gossip 'soap' mags flourished, an even more interesting development took place, housewives who happened to be soap opera fans created their own soap magazine format, incorporating a month's worth of story lines. They sold them to friends and neighbors at first and eventually wider audiences."

A spokesman for ABC told the press in 1981, "There is no question that daytime programming is a very important revenue center. They're very important to the company." Pat Falken Smith argued, "We're not exactly soap operas anymore and we're not exactly appealing to the coffee-klatch housewife. We have become a national fad. We have become a cult among university students to a point where many universities don't bother to schedule classes then." 

Hockey defenseman Ron Greschner revealed in 1980, "I've been watching soap operas for about four years now (since 1977). It works into my schedule. We play at night, what better thing is there to do in the afternoon? I enjoy them. I begin by watching 'Ryan's Hope' and I don't turn the dial from ABC all afternoon. About 4pm I take a nap and then head off to play in the game. I guess you could say I'm hooked because now (in 1980), during the off-season when I head to the beach, I find myself taking along a portable television."

Football linebacker Harry Carson confessed, "I don't care what anybody says. They're (soap operas) not just for women. A lot of guys can't pass up certain stories and I don't see why they should be ashamed that they watch them. I'm not ashamed. You know, it's getting to the point where a lot of people know me as the guy who watches soap operas, rather than the All-Pro football player. The other day (in 1980) after practice a bunch of fans came up to me. They didn't want to talk football. They wanted to know what I thought about this one character on 'The Young and the Restless' or what I thought was going to happen on 'One Life To Live'."

20180209

DALLAS

At its peak, 'Dallas' was seen by over 400 million viewers throughout the TV-watching world. Patrick Duffy maintained, "'Dallas' is the great American TV series. We're not doing Shaw or O'Neill or the greatest piece of theater in the world. But I do think we're very good at what we do." The original concept was Pam versus the Ewing family. David Jacobs explained, "This is a poor girl who marries into a rich family – and her own family's enemy." 

However Lee Rich changed the concept because it was too narrow, "so we made it a total family drama and gave Pam a totally different character." Victoria Principal added, "If you want to make something bigger than life, there must be some element of reality. That's the family." Of the change, Victoria voiced, "Whatever concern I had about that was offset by its success. Would I rather be a leading performer in a show that runs five weeks or part of an ensemble that runs for many years. The latter, of course. Because of my years as an agent I have an ability to stand back and look at the project as a whole." 

In the beginning Pam was a woman "who wasn't reticent to share her feelings with anyone. She was someone who had her feet on the ground but who was not above throwing up her hands on impulse and running away with someone for the weekend – which is how she met Bobby. I liked that she was not simple … that she wasn't predictable. After five years (by the 1983-84 season), I felt her to be boring. The material I was given was basically a person who was not stimulating." 

Leonard Katzman reasoned, "Because the show is based on relationships instead of action stories, it's even more difficult to keep those relationships fresh." The idea of Pam dreamed the whole 1985-86 season was "very creative". Leonard Katzman continued, "There are only 'X' number of ways to bring someone back from the dead. It was the big summer, if you'll remember, of 'Miami Vice' versus 'Dallas'. And Bobby coming out of the shower effectively won that battle for that year (1986-87). His coming back that way created a storm and controversy. And 'Dallas' was on everyone's lips again. And that's what this business is all about." 

As executive producer, it was understood Leonard Katzman did everything from writing, directing, post-production, reviewing the dailies and scouting locations from Russia, Austria, Germany, France to Hong Kong to negotiating contracts and arbitrating disputes. Leonard Katzman elaborated, "TV is a producer's medium. Feature films are a director’s medium – once the feature gets started, it's the director's show. And producers sit by idly. And I'm not on to sit idly by. So television is my medium. The pressure's very stimulating ... if you can stand it." 

When Victoria Principal's contract with Lorimar-Telepictures expired at the end of the 1986-87 season, the spokeswoman for the 'Dallas' producers told the press, "They agreed to disagree, and the split was amicable." Victoria recognized, "Any attempts to bring me back to the show would have to be measured in dollar signs … and I think they were very serious." However Victoria Principal decided to leave to launch her own TV-movie production company and the Principal Secret skin-care line. 

Victoria Principal: "I'm also producing, frankly, because some of the parts I want to play I didn't think anyone but myself would offer me so I produce, and I give me the part. There are some things that the executive producer wanted the actress to do, but as the actress I didn't want to do them. Generally, the executive producer won. One day, for instance, the actress had a scene early in the morning and wanted to take the rest of the day off. But the executive producer felt it was more economical to have her do one more scene at the end of the day. 

"Another time, the producer felt that since the wardrobe had been made for the actress she should pay half price to take it home. But the actress wanted it and we gave it to her. Even before I became a producer, I never hesitated to express my feelings about a scene. If we had disagreements, we'd work it out. But at no time would I say, 'Hey, look, I'm executive producer, and this is how we're doing it!'

"That would be defeating the whole process of hiring people who you think are the best at what they do. It's fulfilling to be on both end … but it is not always an easy relationship, constantly being my own watchdog about fairness … There were things the producer wanted the actress to do that maybe the actress didn't want to do. It's been a real juggling act."

After 'Dallas', Victoria Principal found herself being typecast, "Forget the audition part! They wouldn't even let me come in and read. (For the TV movie 'Mistress') we had to talk them (the producers) into seeing me, simply meeting with me in the same room ... And that took six weeks! It's not overstating to say that I crawled and scratched and did everything else professionally to get this part. 

"I'm not foolish enough to believe I can come right out of the bag as a full-blown comedic actress. Not that I don't have the ability to, but I think the public will have trouble accepting me as such. I realized there was a certain tone of voice someone would use to me because of the way I looked. He would not give me the benefit of the doubt that I could understand what was being said or had the ability to create or produce a project. It offended me, and there still is great rage.

"I own several properties (scripts) that I think would make good series but I want to have deep artistic involvement. It would have to be done by my company. Doing a series is a grueling lifestyle. In order to live that lifestyle it would have to be a project I believe in. It would have to be one from the heart. The best of all worlds in terms of lifestyle is a half-hour comedy. I do have one I like. But for one-hour dramas, outside of 'Murder, She Wrote', there are no shows starring women (in 1989). 

"First, you entertain, but if I did a series I'd want to do something meaningful. If you can touch someone and cause them to think, you've reached TV's potential. Even if you disturb or upset someone – as long as you make the audience feel something. They (nighttime soaps) probably have a life of their own but I'm not producing them. The projects I have done for the five years (1989-1993) have been about subjects I thought were important but they were dark and grueling, and not one of them did I just walk away and bounce back from. There was a recovery period. My New Year's resolution was to lighten up this year (1997)." 

During 'Dallas', Victoria Principal wrote three best-selling fitness books for Simon & Schuster. After 'Dallas', Victoria Principal promoted the 'Diet Principal' book. She spoke to Shirley Eder, "At one time, Shirley, I was very fat. So fat I couldn't work as an actress and I realized I had to lose the weight or change my profession. I chose to lose the weight, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my life going up and down in pounds, as so many women do … so I learned how to diet and enjoy eating at the same time.

"They are all my recipes and if correctly followed, are not fattening. Some I created myself, others I saw in magazines and doctored them, when I tried them out at home, to fit my 'Diet Principal'. If they had oil or butter in them, I'd take the butter out, or reduce the oil and replace it with a spice. Most times it worked. I love to cook. Cooking is to me like painting is for some people. I not only like it to taste, I love the presentation of it. I have a housekeeper who cleans, but I cook. 

"Sometimes on Sundays I would cook up all these things and freeze them in pints, then during the week I could take them out in the morning and heat them up when I got home at night. It varied between five and seven in the morning. We (Victoria and then husband) seldom finished until six or seven at night. My housekeeper may have left the onions and the peppers cut up for me to put into whatever, so that the minute I came home, I’d take the makeup off, get the food started, jump into a shower, come back and finish cooking it. Harry (plastic surgeon Harry Glassman) and I would then sit down and have a later dinner together. As a matter of fact he lost 10 pounds on the diet."

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