"Individual producers are all as different as our fingerprints are. Producing can be a business of preoccupying oneself with the casting, or with finding source material, or with going to premieres. But in my case it's simply a profound interest in the text."
About This Interview
In his two-hour Archive interview, Dick Berg (1922-2009) speaks about his early interest in athletics, dramatics and music (as a member of a three-piece jazz band). He relates his arrival in Hollywood in 1943 and becoming a third assistant director in westerns at Republic Studios. He talks about his return back East to hone his craft as a writer (while running an art gallery), with such initial projects as an unrealized pilot for a series to star Claude Rains, whom he got to meet. He talks about some of his early writing for television, becoming "a hot property" when he began writing for the "live" anthology Studio One, establishing himself with the original teleplay "The Drop of a Hat." He speaks about moving back to Los Angeles where he began to work on such prestigious television series as Playhouse 90. He describes the genesis of the John Cassavetes' starrer Johnny Staccato, for which Berg had written the pilot under the aegis of Universal executive Jennings Lang. He acknowledges his transition to producing for television, beginning with the detective series Checkmate, for which he reveals that he delivered each show in just five production days. Berg describes the presentation he filmed in order to get Universal's bid for a new anthology series picked up by NBC. He discusses how they ended up taking two anthologies— one of which became Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, with Berg as producer, which needed to get off the ground within just a few months ("it was some challenge"). He comments on the writers, directors and stars who worked on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre and relates some memorable production stories. He comments on acclaimed miniseries he produced (and wrote) notably, The Martian Chronicles and Space. Other television projects he speaks about include: anthology series Alcoa Premiere, two-part television movie Wallenberg: A Hero's Story and the unrealized miniseries of Norman Mailer's "The Deer Park." He also acknowledges his tenure as the President of the Hollywood Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. A. Scott Berg conducted the interview on December 10, 2008 in Brentwood, CA.