Bernie Oseransky

Production Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his over two-hour Archive interview, Bernie Oseransky discusses his early years in television as a page at CBS Television Studios. He speaks of transitioning to managing budgets on early live shows such as Playhouse 90 and Climax, and working for Ziv Television as a Production Coordinator (essentially performing the duties of a Unit Production Manager), and then moving to Four Star Television. He chronicles his return to CBS as a Production Manager and tells how he earned the nickname, "Budget Bernie." Oseransky then details his work on Hawaii Five-O with star Jack Lord on-location in Hawaii, and explains the role of a Production Manager. He describes how he became an Executive in charge of production for CBS and then for MTM, where he worked on Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere and Newhart, among others. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on August 28, 2012 in North Holllywood, CA.

"You always learn from your experiences. You know, I never was a screamer, but I saw how other people would sometimes use that way to get things done. Learn to be very flexible and not to be rigid. Don't get discouraged. Keep at it and be persistent, but don't be persistent in a way that you rub somebody the wrong way. And somehow you'll get it done. And if you don't, you then, you adjust… It was a challenge and I enjoyed it. And it was rewarding once it got done."

Highlights
Bernie Oseransky on getting his start in television as a page at CBS television in the 1950s
01:42
Bernie Oseransky on the theme song for Hawaii Five-O; and its popularity
01:06
Bernie Oseransky on working with Grant Tinker while he was an executive at MTM and Tinker was at NBC
02:24
Bernie Oseransky on his role as studio manager on Perry Mason  and working with Raymond Burr
01:11
Bernie Oseransky on Steven Bochco's departure from Hill Street Blues; on revising the entire budget for the show
02:58
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood; early memories of television; on his education; on enlisting for the Korean War working as a radio mechanic
On getting a job as an usher at CBS Television Studios; on working on budgets on early live television shows such as Playhouse 90, Climax; on deciding he wanted to work on the production-side of television; on meeting Rod Serling 
09:20
On what he saw and learned as an usher at CBS Television City; on meeting Elvis Presley; on what he learned from being an usher
On going to work for Ziv Television as a "production coordinator" essentially performing the duties of a Unit Production Manager; on managing budgets at Ziv
On the production schedule at Ziv Television; on the longevity of some of the older shows; on moving to Four Star, owned by Dick Powell, in 1960; on his nickname "Bernie Budget"; on returning to CBS as a studio manager; on working on Perry Mason; on how Four Star was different from Ziv Television
On working on Wanted:Dead or Aliv e and Dick Powell Theater; on returning to CBS Studios in 1963; on Perry Mason and his role as a studio manager
On getting a job at the new television production company Mirisch-Rich
06:55

Chapter 2

On how he came to work on Hawaii Five-O as assistant production manager, then production manager; on the challenges of a location shoot on Hawaii; on balancing his home life with shooting in Hawaii
On his busy schedule while working on Hawaii Five-O; on the premise of the show; on working with local officials in Hawaii
05:42
On working with local Hawauiin officials on Hawaii Five-O; and with the military; on the theme song; on the challenges of shooting off the mainland
14:57
On the reception of Hawaii Five-O by the local people of Hawaii where the show was shot; on the input from CBS; on the modern version of the show
02:20
On his promotion; on leaving Hawaii Five-O in its 10th season and returning to L.A.; on becoming an executive in charge of production for CBS

Chapter 3

On who directed the most episodes of Hawaii Five-O; on transitioning from CBS to MTM productions with Mary Tyler Moore and Grant Tinker; on his role as an Executive in charge of Production
12:42
On working on Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere, and Hill Street Blues ; and other shows while at MTM; on the challenges of being a production manager
On Fresno, Newhart; on changes at MTM and in television over the years; on his advice to aspiring television executives; on his proudest career achievement and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Fresno

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Bernie Oseransky on Fresno, a mini-series with Carol Burnett
01:25

Hawaii Five-O

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Bernie Oseransky on the production of Hawaii Five-O and the challenges of shooting it in Honolulu; on the locations for the soundstages
04:41
Bernie Oseransky on casting Hawaii Five-O; the role of "Danno" was not originally James McAurthur
Bernie Oseransky on working with Hawaii Five-O star Jack Lord
01:27
Bernie Oseransky on the premise of Hawaii Five-O  and Jack Lord's relationship with producer Leonard Freeman; on dressing the sets with props from real homes
02:49
Bernie Oseransky on the cooperation from the local police in Hawaii while shooting Hawaii Five-O; on using military equipment
01:02
Bernie Oseransky on the theme song for Hawaii Five-O; and its popularity
01:06
Bernie Oseransky on the titles designed for Hawaii Five-O; by Reza Badiyi
01:33
Bernie Oseransky on working with local Hawaiin police for crowd control on Hawaii Five-O when the show became popular
01:53
Bernie Oseransky on the reception of Hawaii Five-O  by the local people of Hawaii where the show was shot
02:20
Bernie Oseransky on the legacy of Hawaii Five-0
00:43
Bernie Oseransky on the Hawaii Five-0 reboot
01:23

Hey Landlord!

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Bernie Oseransky on the Mirisch-Lee production Hey Landlord with Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
05:05

Hill Street Blues

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Steven Bochco on Hill Street Blues; 
01:12
Bernie Oseransky on Hill Street Blues; how he worked with the script as the Executive in charge of Production
00:40
Bernie Oseransky on Steven Bochco's departure from Hill Street Blues; on revising the entire budget for the show
02:58
Bernie Oseransky on the documentary feel of Hill Street Blues; on the production challenges
01:58

Lost

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Bernie Oseransky on how Lost leased the original soundstage used by Hawaii Five-O in Hawaii
01:07

Newhart

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Bernie Oseransky on Newhart; on working with Bob Newhart
Bernie Oseransky on having George McGovern appear on Newhart  and his memories of working with him in 1972 when he was a presidential candidate
01:59
Bernie Oseransky on the final episode of Newhart; on not knowing about the final twist until he saw Suzanne Pleshette
01:16

Perry Mason

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Bernie Oseransky on how he came to work on Perry Mason as studio manager
01:38
Bernie Oseransky on his role as studio manager on Perry Mason and what that job entailed; on Raymond Burr; 
04:07
Bernie Oseransky on the final episode of Perry Mason
01:25

Playhouse 90

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Peter Lorre and director John Frankenheimer on the set of Playhouse 90 when he was an usher

St. Elsewhere

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Bernie Oseransky on St. Elsewhere, which he worked on while an Executive at MTM with Abby Singer and Tom Fontanta
01:16
Bernie Oseransky on the cast of St. Elsewhere; Howie Manel, Denzel Washington
Topics

TV Theme Songs

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Bernie Oseransky on the theme song for Hawaii Five-O; and its popularity
01:06
Professions

Production Professionals

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Bernie Oseransky on deciding he wanted to work on the production side of television while he was still an usher at CBS studios in the 1950s; on his duties as an usher
Bernie Oseransky on what he learned as an usher at CBS Studios early in his career
01:17

Television Executive

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Bernie Oseransky on being an Executive in charge of production; on what that job entails; on the difference between that and Production Executive
01:17
Bernie Oseransky on being an Executive in charge of production on Hill Street Blues; on the challenges of that show and working within a budget
00:53
Bernie Oseransky on the difference between a comedy series and a drama series from a production point of view; on a typical production workweek
02:03

Unit Production Manager

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Bernie Oseransky on managing the budgets for shows as a UPM (called "production coordinator" at the time) at Ziv Television
01:50
Bernie Oseransky on the challenges of shooting Hawaii Five-O on location in Hawaii, as opposed to Los Angeles and shooting in "pineapple juice"
01:22
Bernie Oseransky on what makes a good production manager
00:55
Bernie Oseransky on what it means to be a good production manager; on working with local crews as PM on Hawaii Five-O; on location in Hawaii
01:22
Bernie Oseransky on advice to aspiring production managers "be able to roll with the punches"; on what he looks for first in a script, to spot potential problems
01:59
People

Edward Asner

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Ed Asner
00:26

Reza Badiyi

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Bernie Oseransky on the titles designed for Hawaii Five-O; by Reza Badiyi
01:33

Steven Bochco

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Bernie Oseransky on Steven Bochco's departure from Hill Street Blues; on revising the entire budget for the show
02:58

Raymond Burr

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Bernie Oseransky on his role as studio manager on Perry Mason  and working with Raymond Burr
01:11

Leonard Freeman

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Bernie Oseransky on Hawaii Five-O producer Lenny Freeman; on how he handled one instance when props went missing from the set
02:27

Jack Lord

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Hawaii Five-O  star Jack Lord
01:27
Bernie Oseransky on working with Hawaii Five-O star Jack Lord; on some of the difficulties he presented to the production
01:27
Bernie Oseransky on a rare display of hospitality by Hawaii Five-O star Jack Lord ; on some of the challenges he presented
02:07

Peter Lorre

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Peter Lorre when he was an usher on Playhouse 90
01:07

Howie Mandel

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Bernie Oseransky on working with the cast of St. Elsewhere, and a prank Howie Mandel played on him
00:55

George McGovern

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Bernie Oseransky on having George McGovern appear on Newhart and his memories of working with him in 1972 when he was a presidential candidate
01:59

Elvis Presley

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Bernie Oseransky on meeting Elvis Presley; on introducing him to the star of Hawaii Five-O (Jack Lord) years later
02:13

Pat Robertson

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Bernie Oseransky on how it came about that Pat Robertson took over MTM Productions

Rod Serling

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Bernie Oseransky on getting to meet Rod Serling while he was an usher at CBS Studios; on his impressions of Serling
01:25

Abby Singer

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Bernie Oseransky on taking over for Abby Singer at MTM Productions as the head of production on St. Elsewhere and other shows
00:50

Aaron Spelling

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Aaron Spelling while at Four Star television; on his nickname "Bernie Budget"
Bernie Oseransky on working with Aaron Spelling on his very early work
00:44

Grant Tinker

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Grant Tinker while he was an executive at MTM and Tinker was at NBC
02:24

Frederic Ziv

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Bernie Oseransky on working with Fred Ziv at Ziv Television

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