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Summer 2010 Press Tour


Mike Connors, Actor
Robert Conrad, Actor
Linda Evans, Actor
Martin Landau, Actor
Nichelle Nichols, Actor
Steve Boettcher, Executive Producer
Mike Trinklein, Writer and Producer
August 4, 2010

The Beverly Hilton Hotel

© 2010 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). All rights reserved.

All TCA Press Tour transcripts are prepared immediately following press conferences. They are provided for your convenience and are not intended as a substitute at press conferences. Due to the speed with which these transcripts are prepared, complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

STEVE BOETTCHER: Brings back a few memories. Good

afternoon, everyone. I'm Steve Boettcher. I'm one of

the producers of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION. Thanks for

allowing us to be here. Thank you very much.

Today we honor the pioneers of television, both on the

screen and in this room. But before we bring them

out, an important announcement we'd like to make.

We're proud to tell -- the next season, this coming

season, that PIONEERS OF TELEVISION will have a

brand-new host, a man who himself is a television legend,

an actor who tied the record for playing the

longest-running character in television history. Of

course, it's Kelsey Grammer. We appreciate his great

talent, but we're even more encouraged with his

enthusiasm for pioneers of television and this

project -- Kelsey Grammer, our new narrator for


Our quest is to bring you the people, the entertainers

who conquered a new medium and brought joy to

millions. This upcoming season offers four brand-new

episodes focusing on the icons of science fiction,

crime dramas, local kids television, and westerns, and

we have five of the stars here today to talk with you

about those formative years. But first, here's a

quick reminder of some of their early contributions.

(Clip shown.)
MIKE TRINKLEIN: Today, we're honored to have five --
Today we're honored to have five icons of America

television here with us on this stage.

ROBERT CONRAD: (Holding up sign to his chest, showing

his name.)

MIKE TRINKLEIN: I'm Mike Trinklein, and I'm one of the

producers of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION, and I have the

great privilege to introduce them to you. I'll be

brief because I know you know them well.

Ladies first. Nichelle Nichols began her career as a

singer touring with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

Gene Roddenberry cast her in the break-through series

"The Lieutenant." Her standout performance there

earned her a place in Roddenberry's next project. You

probably know it, "Star Trek." It was the first time

on television that an African-American woman played a

role other than a servant. One of Nichol’s biggest

fans, as you saw, was Dr. Martin Luther King, who

personally encouraged her to stay on "Star Trek."

She's appeared in numerous "Star Trek" films, had a

recurring role on NBC's "Heroes" and served on boards

at NASA and the National Space Society, Nichelle

Next to her, or in the middle, is Linda Evans. Linda

Evans starred in one of the most popular series in the

1980s as Krystle Carrington on "Dynasty." But her

breakthrough role came a bit earlier on a classic

western "The Big Valley" with Barbara Stanwyck, the

only TV western with two women in major roles. Linda

Evans also guest-starred on a wide range of classic TV

Series, from "Bachelor Father," where she played a

young girl with a crush on John Forsythe, to "The

Untouchables," "Rockford Files," even "Mannix." And

she cooks, recently winning the competition on the

reality series "Hell's Kitchen," Linda Evans.
Mike Connors -- Mike Connors is best known for playing

the title role in "Mannix," a classic crime drama that

revived the genre in 1967.
MIKE CONNORS: (Hand gesture, firing imaginary gun.)
MIKE TRINKLEIN: Produced by Bruce Geller, "Mannix"

ran eight seasons. He also starred in "Tightrope," an

unconventional series with a distinctive film noir

style. Later, he starred in "Today's FBI." Along

the way, Mike Connors did guest shots on many of TV's

most memorable series; "Gunsmoke," "Have Gun - Will

Travel," "Maverick," and "Perry Mason." What you may

not know is that Mike Connors very nearly replaced

Raymond Burr on "Perry Mason." Ask him, Mike Connors.
Robert Conrad -- Robert Conrad burst onto the --
NICHELLE NICHOLS: (Standing up.)
MIKE TRINKLEIN: There he is. Bursting once again.

Burst on "Hawaiian Eye." That was his first big

series, but it was his role as James West in "The Wild,

Wild West" that would make him a household name.

Later, Robert Conrad starred in "Baa Baa Black Sheep"

and won rave reviews for his role as a French trapper

in the miniseries "Centennial." He also starred in

"High Mountain Rangers," "A Man Called Sloane," and

others. He did guest shots on many iconic series from

"Mission: Impossible" and "Maverick" and "Columbo" and

even "Mannix." He even co-starred -- even hosted

"Saturday Night Live." Today, he hosts a very popular

radio talk show. Robert Conrad.
And Martin Landau. Martin Landau's career began in

television's Golden Age on shows like "Playhouse 90"

and "Omnibus." He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice

to play Mr. Spock on "Star Trek." Instead, he chose

to work on the other side of the lot as Rollin Hand on

"Mission: Impossible," a role that made Martin Landau a

household name. In the early 1970s, he starred in the

innovative science fiction series "Space: 1999." His

movie roles won accolades. He remains a busy actor

with recurring roles on "Without a Trace" and an

especially memorable part in "Entourage" as the

determined Bob Ryan. Martin Landau.

Those are our panelists, and now I turn it over to

you. I'm done and time to talk to them.

QUESTION: For whoever would like to take it on the

panel, at the time you were making these series, did

you feel like you were pioneering television or did

you realize the impact much -- only much later?

MIKE CONNORS: Who are you asking?
QUESTION: Anyone who would like to answer.
ROBERT CONRAD: Oh, I thought when I was first on

television in black and white for Warner Bros. for

$315 an episode that I'd end up a millionaire and

pioneer, but that didn't happen. All I can say is I

was so happy to have been surfing during "Hawaiian

Eye" and horseback riding during "Wild West" and

flying airplanes during "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and

being next to these beautiful women. That ain't bad,

huh? Works for me.
MARTIN LANDAU: When I first started in television, it

was back in New York, and it was before tape. It was,

you know, Kinescopes and live television, literally,

and we felt we were pioneering because there were

about 25 sets in the country.
And so -- but then again, with "Mission: Impossible,"

you know, the government -- some of the alphabet soup

in Washington used to call and say, "How do you know

about that?" And it was all fiction, I mean, things

that were way ahead of our -- you know, I played a

chess champion with a computer the size of a

television set, when, in fact, to have that capability,

you'd have to have an entire floor at the IBM building

at that time; today, in your pocket. But in the

sense, yeah, I felt we were pioneering in areas that

were -- had not been traveled before.
MIKE CONNORS: You know, I think Marty will agree with

me. Early on in live television, I think it was

matinee theater --
MARTIN LANDAU: That's right.
MIKE CONNORS: -- an hour at noon. It was interesting

because the chairs that you sat on were about so high.

And when you sat, because the cameras weren't that --

when you sat you went (indicating) and sat on a chair

here, because the cameras wouldn't go up and down and

around. So -- there were a lot of things you did in

those early days that, yeah, they were pioneers.

There were new inventions every day. And today, what

they've got on television is just unreal. In those

days, we did all the action live. You drove the

cars. You did the fights. You fell off of buildings.

Today it's all done in front of a blue screen. So,

yeah, when I look back on it, I remember I was tired,

and we invented a lot of things.

MARTIN LANDAU: That's exactly right.
QUESTION: This is for Linda. "The Big Valley" seems

to have stood the test of time more than a lot of

westerns of its day, and it's -- was rerun on Starz

recently, and Jessica Lange is doing the movie version,

I guess, and I think Jack Nicholson is -- his daughter

is playing your character. I'm just wondering what you

think, why it stands the test of time more than some of

the others -- because it was “soapier” or more modern in a

LINDA EVANS: Well, I think Barbara Stanwyck certainly

was the big draw.

ROBERT CONRAD: That's what you think.
LINDA EVANS: Well -- and I think that they created a

very interesting family that appealed to a lot of

people, and it was just good watching. It was good

westerns, and I don't know. I think -- I didn't ever

really watch much TV. I never have. So I can

honestly say I really haven't watched "Bonanza" and I

don't -- I don't know why people choose which show to

QUESTION: For the actors --

NICHELLE NICHOLS: I think that, to answer that first

question also -- that I think there's a very

interesting question of did we know that we were

pioneers. I think not.

But I knew that something was very, very different in

Gene casting me as -- on the command crew, fourth in

command, as Lt. Uhura. It was rather interesting to

me to be cast on the show because I came up in musical

theater, and somehow I was, like, really on my way to

break through and do all of the things that I really

wanted to do on Broadway. And I took "Star Trek"

because I thought it would be a nice adjunct to my

resume, and I'd get to Broadway quicker and as a star.

And -- and suddenly -- and I still think that way, but

"Star Trek" interrupted my career.
And I kind of got stuck there. As a matter of fact, I

even tried to leave after the first year, the first

season, because I thought, “Oh, this is going nowhere

for me.”
And I told Gene I was going to leave the show on a

Friday evening. And Saturday, that next day, he said,

"Please don't leave. Don't you see what I'm trying to

do here?" And so that -- that next evening, as fate

would have it, I was being one of the guest

celebrities at an NAACP fund raiser. And one of the

fund raisers came up to the dais and said,

"Ms. Nichols, there's a fan. There's a person here

who says he's a big, big fan of yours. He's your

biggest fan." And I thought it was a Trekkie, and so I

said, "Sure." And I stood up, and I looked across the

room, and there was Dr. Martin Luther King walking

towards me with this big grin on his face. And he

reached out to me and said, "Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am your

greatest fan." And he said that -- that "Star Trek"

was the only show that he and his wife, Coretta, would

allow their three little children to stay up and

watch, because while they were marching, every night

you could see people who looked like me being hosed

down with a fire hose and dogs jumping on them because

they wanted to eat in a restaurant. And I think it

was just a encounter that started out. But the marches

began and here I was playing an astronaut in the 23rd

And when I told Dr. King I was leaving the show, I

never got to tell him why, because he said, "You

can't." And he explained to me just what I've just

said and that what Gene Roddenberry had done with

producing "Star Trek" was to establish who we were in

the 23rd century. “Here you are on the command crew in

the 23rd century, fourth in command while we're

marching.” So we are there and what we do today is the

And so I went back and told -- he told me a lot of

other things that were so complimentary that I blush

to think of it, but he was dead serious. He said,

"You're part of history, and this is your

responsibility even though it might not have been your

career choice."

So I went back and told Gene Roddenberry on Monday,

because he'd asked me to think about it over the

weekend, and if I still wanted to leave he -- I would

have his blessings. And I went back, and I told him

about Dr. Martin Luther King. And Gene Roddenberry

was a 6-foot-3 guy with muscles. He was a big

hack-nosed guy. He was a -- had been a motorcycle cop

and flying hero in the second world war. And he sat

there with tears in his eyes. He said, "Thank God

that someone knows what I'm trying to do. Thank God

for Dr. Martin Luther King." And I told him if he

still wanted me, I would stay, and he took out my

resignation and had -- and it was all torn up where I

had given it to him. And he put it in the drawer. It

was all torn up, and we were friends. And I stayed and

I've never looked back. I'm glad I did.

QUESTION: For any of the other actors, can you talk

about a signature -- could you talk about a moment or

a signature story from any of your series that stands

out still today?

NICHELLE NICHOLS: We can't hear you.
QUESTION: A moment or a story from one of your

signature series that still stands out today, some --

a favorite memory.
NICHELLE NICHOLS: Well, I just told mine, so --
QUESTION: You did, yes. So anybody else have one?
MIKE CONNORS: When they called and said you're picked

up for another year.

QUESTION: Anyone? Linda, anything from you?
LINDA EVANS: Well, I loved working with Barbara

Stanwyck because she was such a powerful women in the

industry, and I loved that she did her own stunts. I

mean, Mike says the guys did the stunts, but very few

women did their own stunts, and she was extraordinary

in her position for stunts.

And I remember the first time she said to me, "Well,

you know, we're doing the burning house next week, and

I'm going to do it." And the producer said, "Well,

would you mind being in the -- you know, not using a

stunt double because you should be there if we're

going to shoot her?" And so I thought, “Okay, well,

how dangerous could this be?” And all of a sudden, I'm

tied up, and the house is on fire, and the flames are

licking, and I'm thinking, “Oh, gosh, we could

die from this.” And once in, in fact, she got a

concussion from an earthquake that we had in the show.

And she just was strong. She was not afraid to break

convention. She loved doing things that were unique

for her time. And I felt very privileged to be there

with her when she did these things.
MIKE CONNORS: And I also think -- I've heard from

many people that worked with her -- that she was

probably one of the most loved actresses in the

industry. Isn't that right?

LINDA EVANS: Well, she was respected by every crew

that she every worked with. She knew the name of

every crew member. She'd say, "Hey, Sam. How is your

dog? Richard, is your mother doing okay?" She was a

real people person. She never put herself as a star.

She never pretended that whole star system. She'd

say, "Audra, show up on time and know your lines.

Don't make any trouble." And because of her, I know

that I was a professional all my life. I can honestly

say, I was never late one day in my life in working

ever, ever, ever because of her. She was an

extraordinary mentor to me and really helped me

understand what it was to be a professional.

MARTIN LANDAU: You know, what Linda is talking

about, and I guested on that show playing --

actually, in those days, if you weren't in the

series, you were the bad guy, and I played a lot

of those. But I also played Chiricahua Apaches,

and I played a lot of Mexican characters, and on

that show, I played a Hispanic character-driven.

And I worked with Barbara, and she was amazing to

work with. I mean, she was, first of all,

accepting and generous, but I found that, you

know, in those days, I mean, what I was doing in

those days would be politically incorrect today.

I wouldn't be playing Native Americans. I

certainly wouldn't be playing Chicanos and Hispanic

characters. I think, if I did, there would be

picket lines outside the studio. But in those

days, it was all kind of you never knew what you

were going to do when you were guesting. In fact,

when they showed those brief bits of the shows, I

was practically on every one of them. I wasn't on

"Mannix" because --

MIKE CONNORS: We were shooting at the same time.
MARTIN LANDAU: -- it impossible to cross the way

at the time, and I worked with Robert, too. In

fact, he beat the hell out of me on that show.
ROBERT CONRAD: You had it coming.
MIKE CONNORS: You know, getting back to what you

were saying, I think I can speak for all of us.

We were all very lucky. We started at a time

where we had the opportunity over the years, both

in motion pictures and television, to work with

some of those big stars, who I call real stars --

the Cary Grants, Joan Crawfords, and the

Stanwycks, and the Gables, and that, to me, is

what stood out in my life is those times that I

worked with those real stars, their attitude, the

way they carried themselves, the way they did

things. It was really a lesson that I feel sorry

for the young people today that never had that

chance to see what it's really like and how you

should be, because a lot of the young people don't

really appreciate where they've been and where

they've come, and I think I'm speaking -- when I

say that those were great experiences working with

those people.
MARTIN LANDAU: Again, I was a New York actor from

the theater, and I came out here with a play, and

the next thing I knew, I was on a set with Alfred

Hitchcock directing Cary Grant, James Mason, and

Eva Marie Saint --
MIKE CONNORS: Great picture.
MARTIN LANDAU: -- "North by Northwest." I was

amazed, again, at how giving those people were and

how professional they were and how trained they

were and disciplined and down the line. You know,

I worked with a lot of wonderful, wonderful

ROBERT CONRAD: I was Juanito, the

non-speaking Indian.
MARTIN LANDAU: What did he say?
ROBERT CONRAD: That's right. I had to fall off a

horse, and if the part was offered to me today,

I'd play it again.
Now, having said that, sitting next to this lovely

lady, who told me about her commitment to her

race, I think it's courageous. I didn't know it.

I love you for it. Sammy Davis [Jr.] threw a party for

me, a dinner party for me, and the reason he did

it was because I was, according to Sammy,

responsible for integrating the series "Wild Wild

West." And he got up and made a little speech,

and then I got up and said, "Sammy, sit down."
And he said, "Why?" I said, "Well, one reason,

I'm taller than you are, and the other reason is

it didn't happen like that." I hired some guys

that were African-American that were qualified,

period. I never thought about it for another

reason, and I was given credit for something that

I probably wasn't entitled to. So I had to

straighten it out. Now I want to share this with

you before this is over. I have the privilege of

being on a show that attracts five and a half

million listeners every Thursday from to 3:00 to

5:00,, Robert Conrad, and it's played

eight hours. It's the weekend with Robert

Conrad [PM Show with Robert Conrad], and I have these

people as my guests every show, and it's a delight. I

retired from the business by choice. I ran my own

company for 20 years. The only other actor that ever

owned his negatives, and he only owned a partial part

of those negatives was Mike Landon. I directed. I

produced. I wrote. I starred in, and I hired all

my friends, family, and also my dog.
When I was trying to pitch at one of those

horrendous meetings that you go to at the network,

and I was saying, "You know, I was in this movie,

and Richard Brooks," and the guy stopped me right

away and I said, "Pardon me?" I said, "Well,

Richard Brooks, he directed," and he said, "Who is

Richard Brooks?" I knew I was in trouble.
Richard Brooks is one of our great directors, and

that's what the industry is. Pitching is hard. I

get headaches afterwards, and it's all kinds of

politics, and for these people, us, to achieve the

success that we have, being honored by PIONEERS OF

TELEVISION, I thank you for that. I thank Mike

and Jennifer Horn who are with me on CRN and Erin,

the vice president, for coming, and I thank you

people for coming because it's a great honor to

us, and they don't know it, but I'm going to get

their agent, and every one of them is going to end

up doing my show.

NICHELLE NICHOLS: You've got me.
ROBERT CONRAD: I've got you, baby, for sure.
That's it. I'm done. Anything?
QUESTION: Is there any show on the air right now

that's been on over the last decade or so that

you've been a really big fan of that you've wanted

to either be a cast member when you were younger

or guest on now? Anybody on the panel.

MIKE CONNORS: Well, you're asking is there any

show that we watch that we'd like to have been on?

Is that what you're asking?

MIKE CONNORS: Well, I'm a frustrated song-and-dance

man, and I'd love to have done the comedy shows

ála "Everybody Loves Raymond" or that type of

show, I'd love to have done it. But in our

business, once you're kind of type-cast as a

certain type, it's very difficult to switch. They

just can't see you as a comedian or whatever when

you're supposed to be a tough guy or vice versa.

However, I used to love doing -- and I think

Martin if you -- The Dean Martin Show, Bob Hope,

Frank Sinatra -- doing those shows with Jonathan

Winters and all were great pleasures, those

variety shows that are no more. And to get up and

do bits and sketches with those guys and gals was

just terrific, and those are the type of things

I'd like to have done.

MARTIN LANDAU: Those were fun shows. I mean, I

did "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Smothers

Brothers Show,” and the Johnny Winters show in

those days, and they were really a release and a

great deal of fun. But I also have recently -- you

know, I did "Entourage." Doug Ellin had written

that role for me, and there was only one script,

and it was a three-episode arc, and he kept

saying, "Do you want to do it?" And I said,

"Well, let me see the next script." And he says,

"It's not written yet." I said, "Well, then write


And then he took me out to dinner, and I said,

"You know, if there's three shows, can I see how

it ends?" "Well, it's not written yet." And I

said -- well, anyway I read three of them, and I

loved it, and I did the show with those young

guys, and it was a lot of fun. Then I also worked

with Anthony LaPaglia on "Without a Trace" playing

his father, who he didn't get along with, as a

character-driven -- and who also had the beginnings

of Alzheimer's. So I did a number of those over a

couple of seasons. So I've kept my foot in the

QUESTION: For the actors, I just wondered, we've

come through a period now, where the anti-hero has

been the big fascination on television. "The

Sopranos," I guess, would be the biggest example.

Do you see a return to more of the action hero

shows like "Mannix," "Mission: Impossible" that we

once enjoyed -- "Hawaii Five-0" is a new show this

fall. Do you see that pendulum perhaps swinging

back to the kind of shows that you did?

NICHELLE NICHOLS: I think so. I think you see

more ensemble shows like "CSI" and that has good

writing to it. I also see a trend or an

opportunity for, not just one African-American on

a show, but shows that are produced and written

by. I'm the executive producer right now on a

film that I know is an Academy Award -- maybe two or

three characters in it. It's not all black. It's

not all white, and I'd like to see more of that.

It's called "Omaha Street." It's really about

loss and pain and rising above that. It's about a

woman's strength that she moves through her pain

to help a young man who has known nothing but loss

in his life since he was 6 years old. So it's all

about life, the beauty of it and the pains that go

with it, and in this case, about redemption. It's

such a beautiful story, and I'm determined to have

it produced. We're in preproduction, and I think

if we -- I really admire people like Jada Pinkett[Smith],

who produces her show that she stars in, and you

have an array of characters. They look like all

of us, and you can look on television today and

see yourself. That's something that a gang, going

back to my beginning, of Dr. King said, “It is so

important that you're on the show, showing the

future because little girls can look on that show

and see themselves.” And I didn't know. I thought

he meant just color-wise, but young women of all

colors have come and said to me, "Because you were

on there, I became an engineer because I believed

I could." There's a woman who has eight

televisions -- eight radio shows, eight -- what

are those things that gives you television?
NICHELLE NICHOLS: -- Stations, and she told me some

years ago when she just had one that, because of

Uhura, she thought she could and so she did. And

it just, to me, confirms that what people see and

what little children are looking at, they're

believing it, and that's why I think that we

really need to -- a lot of the reality shows are

making young people think that's the way it is.

And I think we maybe have to start taking TV back

over and the images that are out there that are

representing us. I'm lucky enough to have twin,

well-educated brainiacs who are writers too, who

happen to have what I think is going to be an

incredible and the finest of that reality shows

can be as opposed to the lowest form.
QUESTION: Just to sort of follow on this, part of

the appeal to some of the action stars was that they

kind of were politically incorrect. You know,

they smoked. They drank. They were womanizers.

Do you think --
NICHELLE NICHOLS: Well, they're all up here.
ROBERT CONRAD: You've got that right.
MIKE CONNORS: Wait a minute. If I get your

question right, you want to know if it will make

that cycle and what makes it so?
QUESTION: Well, would "Mannix" be a hit today?
MIKE CONNORS: Well, I think it's the thing that

has made motion pictures or entertainment popular

all of its life. What made the western popular,

what makes the crime show popular, what makes good

drama, and that is the public has somebody to pull

for or pull against. That's the basic, I think,

of television is you want to root for somebody or

root against somebody.

MIKE CONNORS: And I think the writing in those

days was just that. It was very separated.

Today, with all due respect, there's some very

good stuff on television, but so many of the

writers get so clever with their writing, that you

don't know who you're pulling for or for what or

what's going on.
NICHELLE NICHOLS: Or why it's not --
MIKE CONNORS: You turn to your wife and say,

"What did he say?" you know, and I think that's a

problem. You've got to have a definite feeling,

"I'm with her or against what's going on there."

That's my opinion.
ROBERT CONRAD: Who is Jada's husband?
ROBERT CONRAD: Didn't he play me in a movie or


You're right about crossing over. Now I'm going

to play Martin Luther King.

MARTIN LANDAU: What we're talking about here are

character-driven pieces. I mean, most of

television, in those days, was

character-driven. You got to know the

people, and you wanted to spend time with them.

The same thing exists in motion pictures. It's

harder and harder to get a movie made today that

is character-driven. If there aren't any

car chases or fireballs or characters climbing up

and down buildings, it's very hard to get the

movie made. I have a movie coming out in

September with Ellen Burstyn, which is an

older-couple love story. It took us a year to get

the right distributor for it because --

MIKE CONNORS: (Pinching Martin Landau's cheek.)
I didn't know you cared.
Love story, I'll be very interested when Marty

talks about a love story.

MARTIN LANDAU: And it's a picture that took

awhile to get a distributor who really cared about

the movie, and it went to festivals and was

received well, but none of the big distributors

wanted the movie. And maybe we were two old

folks, and anyway, it's finally going to come out

in September, and we're pleased with it, and the

people understand the movie. And, again, we're

talking about getting to know people on the

screen, and, you know, I mean, I don't know much

about "Spiderman" other than the fact that he

climbs -- you know, hangs off buildings.

QUESTION: A couple of questions. First one is

sort of a simple one. Martin, was that you

fighting with Robert Conrad on that little clip?
MARTIN LANDAU: Yeah, it was. Technically, he

beat the hell out of me.

ROBERT CONRAD: That's right. He lost.
MARTIN LANDAU: I lost. I mean, Robert was very,

very handy in those. I mean, really handy.

QUESTION: And for Linda, why do you think Barbara

Stanwyck went and made a TV show? I mean, she was

arguably one of the leading actresses of the first

half of the 20th century. What do you think drove

her or motivated her to make a TV show? Back in

those days, it wasn't exactly as popular for

feature actors to do TV as it is today.
LINDA EVANS: I don't think she was afraid of what

people thought. I think that's one of the

characteristics about her that I just loved is she

did what she wanted to do, and she loved to act.

She loved to express herself. And it was a medium

that was opening up that she could be the

matriarch in the family, be a powerhouse and show

women that she could be in charge of this family

and kick ass with everybody on the show. I think

she just loved it. I think she loved the

challenge of it.
QUESTION: For the producers, a lot of these shows

have had retrospectives before or genres where

we've had these actors on stage tell their stories

before, but some of the stories that we hear in

this are unique. Can you talk a little bit about

your process of whether the conversations you

have with the actors, to try to mine fresh stories,

are things that the audience doesn't already know

about these shows that we've loved for 50 years?
STEVE BOETTCHER: Is that for us?
QUESTION: The producers.

MARTIN LANDAU: What was the question?

STEVE BOETTCHER: The question is basically why is

PIONEERS so great of a show? And why is it

different than other shows?
You know, I think what's different is we're trying

to drive a program that's not the history of

television. It's character-driven, to get

back to what you said (indicating Martin Landau)

and tell the inside stories. We do extended

interviews with our pioneers, and that's really a

goal of ours is to get to our pioneers and have

them be part of this program and sit down for

hours and hours of interviews, and then it's -- I

guess it's the research that we do going into the

interviews to remind them of moments early on in

their life when they were in a certain program or

beginning their career and those kind of things.

So our goal is really all about the pioneers and

getting those inside perspectives.
MIKE TRINKLEIN: And hey, you know, "Wild Wild West"

without Robert Conrad, it's not "Wild Wild West." And

that's true of every single show up here. These are

people who made you want to watch. The scripts were

fine, but really it's the people, the pioneers. And

that's what we're trying to focus on, are these

individuals and their ability to really connect with

an audience in a way that is really special.

MARTIN LANDAU: You know what amazed me? Just a few

minutes ago, you suggested a story that I told maybe,

I don't know, 15 years ago.
STEVE BOETTCHER: 22 years ago.
MARTIN LANDAU: 22 years ago. He said, "Do you

remember telling that story?" And I said, "Yeah, but

how do you know it?" He said, "I know a lot about

you." And obviously you do.

STEVE BOETTCHER: Charges have been dropped. I've

seen it.
MARTIN LANDAU: But the story, if you want me to --

STEVE BOETTCHER: Please do, please do. It's a --
MARTIN LANDAU: When I was doing "Mission:

Impossible," a Russian journalist came on the set, and

said, "Mr. Landau, I'm from Pravda, and I would like

very much to talk to you." And I said, "Well, that's

fine." And we arranged an interview. And he said,

"You know, before we start, I want to tell you,

Mr. Landau, it's very embarrassing." I said, "What's

embarrassing?" He says, "I live in New York, and I'm

a correspondent, and I" -- "my son is" -- "he speaks

English without an accent, unlike me. But it's very

embarrassing." And I said, "What's embarrassing?" He

said, "My son says to me the other day, 'Pop, how come

all the bad guys talk like you?'"
That's the story.

STEVE BOETTCHER: Yeah. But it wasn't Russian. What

was the language? It wasn't Russian.
MARTIN LANDAU: Well, it was Slavonian.
MARTIN LANDAU: We made up names.
ROBERT CONRAD: Can I ask a question? Are my

daughters here? Did they -- no, okay.

MARTIN LANDAU: -- were fighting Cold War.
ROBERT CONRAD: No, I'm not paying that American

Express bill. The hell with that.

STEVE BOETTCHER: Another question right here.
QUESTION: Just wondering about the -- first of all,

for Linda, the notion of a remake of "The Big Valley"

with Jessica Lange. Do you have any thoughts on that?

And for the rest of the people, how big were -- how

important were ratings back then, or stressful? Did

you look at things week to week and "Oh, my God, we've

got to take Robert Conrad's shirt off again to spike

things"? Or was it sort of a different level of

pressure? But first, Linda, about --
LINDA EVANS: Where are you? I can't see you.
QUESTION: Right in the center here.
LINDA EVANS: Oh, there.
LINDA EVANS: All right. Well, "Big Valley" being

made into a movie with Jessica Lange has got to be

just amazing. I'm -- I think she's an incredible

actress. She -- only she could probably pull off

Barbara Stanwyck's character. I think she's going to

be amazing. And I think it's very beautiful that

they're going to bring something -- a western like

that back to the public. I'm looking forward to

seeing how they are going to take the fact that

everything is action today into a show that really had

very little action. I'm thrilled that Lee Majors is

going to be in it, and I think it's beautiful. I'm

sure that every show that's up here is going to be

made into a movie at some point because --

ROBERT CONRAD: You're right.
LINDA EVANS: -- these were the shows that people


QUESTION: Mr. Conrad?
QUESTION: I'm over here to your left if you care.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir.
ROBERT CONRAD: I came out two years ago.
What's the question?
QUESTION: I want to touch on two areas with you.

First, "Battle of the Network Stars."

You were legendarily -- just legendarily competitive

in that show.

QUESTION: Also, your relationship with television

critics, it was kind of hate-hate, I think. We had

a --
-- lot of dialogues. You were very blunt about

expressing your opinions and what you thought of TV

critics. So could you touch on those two areas, just

any reminiscences on "Battle of the Network Stars" --

QUESTION: -- and is all forgiven now between you and


The first question was did I like working with women

on the "Wild West" show?

QUESTION: No. "Battle of the Network Stars."
ROBERT CONRAD: I know. "Battle of the Network

Stars" got me a million dollars.

I got into an argument with Telly Savalas, a

legitimate argument. And I did this (makes a fist).

I did that. And Bill Livingston, the president of

Eveready, said, "Did you see that guy on TV? Did you

see that guy that was going like that (making a fist)

on national TV?" And the next thing I knew, they

showed it six times during the football championship,

and I went, "I dare you. I dare you to call it,"

whatever. And thank goodness for "The Battle of

the Network Stars." You know, one of the things I

noticed is how competitive the actors were, because I

was an athlete prior to being an actor. And I saw

Farrah Fawcett and another beautiful girl -- I can't

remember her name -- and they didn't have pants

on, and they were rehearsing for running

around the track on bikes. And these women were doing

it. And I thought, "Gosh, that's how competitive we

really are," because it's a tough, tough, tough

business, acting. And I've got three daughters that

are -- two daughters that are in it, and one's --

NICHELLE NICHOLS: That are not here.
ROBERT CONRAD: I know. No American Express. We did

Now, as far as the critics are concerned, I -- I find

it interesting. And I want to be brief because I want

to hear what my friends here have to say because

they'll be on my show Thursday. In any event, no, I

think critics are entitled to an opinion. But I've

become really a wonderful actor the older I get. It's

bizarre. I'm becoming a great actor in rerun. I

think the fact that I took my shirt off and, you know,

was a macho man offended many, not me. You should

have seen my dressing room.
But in any event, I've always liked the media. My

mother was a PR agent, and she also had a radio show.

And I think that media is entitled to their opinions,

and I just don't think they're right sometimes. And I

want to be able to say that. And I'll give you the

bottom line. I want all of you media people to

understand one thing: It is all about ratings. Make

no mistake. I would stay up all night waiting for

those ratings to come in. "Did we make it? Did we do

it?" And I did that for 20 years, and at the end I

couldn't do it anymore. And I told my daughter -- we

still had a commitment at CBS -- I said, "We're done.

Dad wants to shut down the office. It's been a great

run. We're done." And then I did this radio show for

two to four weeks. That's all it was going to last.

It's going into its third year. And I don't like it;

I love it. I never met an actor I didn't like, and to

be able to interview actors on national --

international television -- radio, because it goes to

Europe, is delightful. The answer to the question

about critics? You're entitled to your opinion.

You're not right most of the time --

-- but you're entitled to it.
QUESTION: Question for Mr. Connors. In the

introduction, it was said that your show redefined the

detective genre. And it would certainly seem that

after "Mannix," detectives on television had a little

more of an attitude, a little more sort of sense of

mischief to them. And it sort of pushed it in a bit

of a different direction. When you watch detective

shows now, and even maybe cop shows now, do you feel

like you and Joe Mannix kind of have a little bit of a

fingerprint on all of them?

MIKE CONNORS: Yes. I don't want to sound -- what? --

egotistical or anything, but what we decided when we

were doing "Mannix" is that that character was going

to be more like the average human being, that he could

cry, he could get emotional, a pretty girl could take

advantage of him and make a sucker out of him, and all

of the things that happen to us every day and never

shown. So that's what we set out to do, is to get rid

of just that hard one-way private eye that was

cynical, tough, threw away those great lines that

everybody wished they could say, and make him a more

realistic person and make the show as real as possible

without going overboard. And I think that caught on.

So many people said to me over the years, "We love the

fact that you would get emotionally involved with

people and even show the results of a tear or

something." And I think a lot of that took hold. And

the sense of humor. Jim Garner, you know, he had

such -- with that "Rockford Files," such a great sense

of humor and a reality about that show. And I think

there was an era there where the shows -- the private

eye shows, the detective shows took a kind of a

switch, and I'd like to think that our show was kind

of one of the forerunners on that, yes. I think it

made a difference.
QUESTION: And have you had any favorites in the years

since that you've seen on TV that you really thought,

you know, "This guy or this woman has really got it"?
MIKE CONNORS: Well, just recently. What is the

fellow's name that's on -- "Mentalist," is it?

QUESTION: Simon Baker?
MIKE CONNORS: What's his name?
QUESTION: Simon Baker.
MIKE CONNORS: Yeah. He has -- there are certain

people that just kind of stand out. They're a little

different, offbeat, just a little different. But I --

now first thing I look for is -- besides news, is one

of the old great movies. Even though I've seen it

before, if that's on, that's what I want to see. So I

don't watch that much of the serial shows anymore.
QUESTION: A then-and-now kind of question. I like

what Mike Connors was saying before about he was

privileged to be part of working with such great

stars, feature stars, and Martin Landau talking about,

you know, falling into working with Alfred Hitchcock

and Cary Grant and all. You all have such a

tremendous respect for those that went before you. I

think that's lacking with performers now, for the most

part, that they don't have a sense of their history,

those who went before them that they can learn from.

Now, for each one of you starting -- and briefly,

please -- Marty, would you start by saying what one

bit of advice would you give today television

performers, not -- can't call them stars yet, but a

performer, that they could learn from you?
MARTIN LANDAU: Well, you know, I'm involved with The

Actors Studio. I run the West Coast Actors Studio

with Mark Rydell. The New York Actors Studio is run

by Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel. And

we stand for -- to get into The Actors Studio, you do

a series of auditions. Dustin Hoffman will tell you

he auditioned nine times before he got in. He's

actually lying. He only auditioned six times.

But when I became an actor, it was about doing

theater. I was in New York, and television was in its

infancy. What I've noticed over the years is the

different attitude about the theater, about acting,

and about what drives an actor -- a person to become

an actor and the seriousness with which -- you know,

we all have senses of humor, and we all helped each

other in odd ways back in those days. When you'd run

into an actor, and you'd tell him, "There's a reading

going on, and I'm not right for it, but go and get

that part." And that sort of thing, that doesn't seem

to happen anymore. Actors become actors today to

become television stars, which was the last thing in

the world -- I mean, we did television to supplement

our -- you know, again, it was early days of

television. But we were 3,000 miles away from film,

and we were thinking about doing a play on Broadway in

which the actor -- the curtain goes up, and the actor,

for two hours, is not in anyone else's hands but

himself. The director's work is done. The

playwright's work is done, and the actor -- so it took

a certain degree of skill to start with and extreme

talent, when people like Monty Clift and Marlon Brando

and Jimmy Dean, who was a very close friend of mine,

came along, you saw individuals who were very devoted

and very gifted. There's a different attitude amongst

young people today.
QUESTION: Can I jump to Linda and for the actresses

out there? Because you walk into a room; all eyes go

on you. You have that charisma, the glamour,

old-Hollywood glamour. What advice would you have for

young actresses today to capture that magic?
MARTIN LANDAU: Well, I would still say --
MALE PANELIST: She's asking Linda.
MARTIN LANDAU: Go ahead, please.
LINDA EVANS: When you say "capture the magic," I

think if there was a formula, there would be --

everyone would be doing it. I never wanted a career.

I was discovered. I was shocked as anyone that my

career has lasted as long as it has because it was not

a driving force, like he's saying. There are people

who live and breathe acting and studying and for the

art. I somehow have just gone through my life and

retired and come back and retired and come back. I

think the thing that has worked for me is that I

never -- I never wanted to be a star. I never needed

that. I just put myself wholeheartedly into anything

that I did, was as professional as I could be. And

life just led me in different directions where -- I

was saying earlier that when I went up for "Big

Valley," I didn't even go up for "Big Valley." It was

a movie that they were doing. And the director said

to me when I read for the movie, "That's the worst

reading I've ever heard." I went, "Whoops, okay." And

I got up to leave. He said, "But you have a quality.

Come back here. I want to talk to you. We're doing a

project called 'The Big Valley.' Read it." And by

the grace of God, I did the show. So it's not so

simple. I have no experience, the way you have, of

the industry. And everybody's individual. We're not

going to be able to say to anybody else how to do

life, how to do your career. It's just the way we've

each individually done it.

QUESTION: For Mr. Connors. We were advised in the

introduction to ask you about almost taking over for

Raymond Burr on "Perry Mason," so I'm asking.
MIKE CONNORS: You want to know what happened there

with that?

MIKE CONNORS: Well, it's the same old story. Money

came into the business. Raymond Burr -- they wanted

to renew his contract, and he was giving them a bad

time about money. They wanted to give him so much.

He wanted more than that. So they came to my agent,

and they said -- I had done a guest spot on it at one

time, and they said, "We would like Mike to play

Raymond Burr" -- "to play the character" -- what's his

MIKE CONNORS: -- "Perry Mason in one show. And if we

don't settle with Raymond Burr, we'll give Mike the

series." And so my agent told me. I said, "Hey, that

sounds great." But I later found out that they did

that because they knew if word got out that they were

hiring me or any actor to do that part, that Raymond

Burr would be a little easier to deal with. And sure

enough, he came around and signed the contract. And

they said to me, "Thank you very much. You served

your purpose." So that's what it was all about. Had

he not signed the contract, I may have ended up being

Perry Mason, but he signed the contract.

QUESTION: How do you compare the residuals from back

in the '60s, '70s, and '80s to today?

ROBERT CONRAD: (Laughing.)
NICHELLE NICHOLS: By the weight.
ROBERT CONRAD: That's a heart attack.
MIKE CONNORS: What was the question?
ROBERT CONRAD: Who wants to answer that one? Me as a

producer, do you want me to answer it? Today the

economy has changed significantly, and actors are

being well-rewarded for their art because it's a very,

very tough business. And I applaud those actors that

are making a million dollars an episode. I go back to

thinking when Jack Warner was paying me $315 a week.

I could drive on the lot. I had my own parking, my

own dressing room -- God, I wish I knew you (referring

to Linda Evans) then -- anyway, my own dressing room

and a gym to work out in and to study acting. So it

worked. I liked Jack a lot. I respected him. But

today these actors are being well-compensated, and I

applaud it.

I was offered a series six weeks ago. All I had to do

was say yes. They were going to do it, unfortunately,

in New York and/or maybe Toronto. And I'm finished.

I do radio, and I love it. I could not be happier.

And I think I've made that perfectly clear to all of

you. And before this all ends, I want to thank you

for the interview, and thank you for coming.
STEVE BOETTCHER: Can we move -- I think Phil is

giving me the sign to move to the reception right now.

We can continue our conversation in the reception.

We're right next door in the Terrace Room. And let's

all meet there and continue on.

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