David L. Wolper

Producer/ Documentarian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly five-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Producer David L. Wolper (1928 - 2010) talks about forming his first company, Flamingo Films, with father and son friends Joe and Jim Harris. He discusses many of his documentaries, including the "Race For Space," "Hollywood: The Golden Years," and "The Making of a President," among others. Wolper fondly recalls working with his long time friend Mike Wallace, as well meeting and working with oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau. He talks about two classic sitcoms, Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter, as well as the many television movies and specials he produced.  Wolper also discusses in great detail his three highly acclaimed ABC mini-series, Roots, The Thorn Birds, and North and South. Morrie Gelman conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on May 12, 1998.

"I got my philosophy of filmmaking from making 'The Race For Space' and I never changed it from that first show. I want to entertain and inform, not just inform and not just entertain. I want to do both in the same piece."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
David Wolper on the success, criticism, and impact of Roots
David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space
David Wolper on fighting for key scenes in Roots
David Wolper on why he thinks Roots was right for the time it came out, and its impact
Producer David Wolper on the development of The Thorn Birds
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years, influences, and education
On transferring to USC; befriending Art Buchwald; leaving school to start a film syndication company

Chapter 2

On working in early film syndication
On working on the syndication and sponsorship (by Kelloggs) of Adventures of Superman
David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space

Chapter 3

On making The Race for Space; on the documentary genre

Chapter 4

On developing The Making of the Presidency, National Geographic Specials, and developing his company

Chapter 5

On some of his 1960s docudramas

Chapter 6

On producing Sandburg's Lincoln, Chico and the Man, Welcome Back Kotter.
On first hearing of Alex Haley's Roots

Chapter 7

On developing and producing Roots

Chapter 8

On censorship issues with Roots; on Roots: The Next Generation; on The Thorn Birds; on North & South

Chapter 9

On producing North and South; on his involvement with the Olympics throughout his career; on other events he produced including Liberty Weekend; on his then-current projects

Chapter 10

On the impact of cable and the then-current status of the industry; on how he would like to be remembered; on some of the people he worked with over his career

Chapter 11

On some of the people he worked with in his career (continued); on his family
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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David Wolper on befriending Art Buchwald at USC; on a prank they played at the 1948 Academy Awards

Adventures of Superman

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David Wolper on working on the syndication and sponsorship (by Kelloggs) of Adventures of Superman

Chico and the Man

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David Wolper on executive producing Chico and the Man; the casting of Freddie Prinze
David Wolper on the cast of Chico and the Man

Divorce Hearing

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David Wolper on the syndicated series Divorce Hearing

Making of the Presidency, The

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David Wolper on developing The Making of the President, National Geographic Specials, and developing his company

North and South

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Producer David Wolper on North and South

Race for Space, The

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David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space
David Wolper on making The Race for Space; on the documentary genre

Roots

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David Wolper on first hearing about Alex Haley's Roots
David Wolper on the origin of Roots and finding out about Alex Haley's book, and the development of the hit miniseries
David Wolper on the success, criticism, and impact of Roots

Sandburg's Lincoln

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David Wolper on producing Sandburg's Lincoln

Thorn Birds, The

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Producer David Wolper on the development of The Thorn Birds

Welcome Back, Kotter

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David Wolper on selling Welcome Back Kotter to ABC
David Wolper on Welcome Back Kotter
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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David Wolper on fighting for key scenes in Roots

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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David Wolper on seeing television for the first time at the 1939 Worlds Fair

Minorities

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David Wolper on the origin of Roots and finding out about Alex Haley's book, and the development of the hit miniseries

Moon Landing

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David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space
Genres

News and Documentary

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David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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David Wolper on the origin of Roots and finding out about Alex Haley's book, and the development of the hit miniseries
David Wolper on why he thinks Roots was right for the time it came out, and its impact
People

Jack Albertson

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David Wolper on the cast of Chico and the Man

Art Buchwald

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David Wolper on befriending Art Buchwald at USC; on a prank they played at the 1948 Academy Awards

Redd Foxx

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David Wolper on how comedian Redd Foxx almost was cast as a slave on Roots

David Gerber

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David Wolper on the syndicated series Divorce Hearing

Freddie Prinze

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David Wolper on executive producing Chico and the Man; the casting of Freddie Prinze
David Wolper on the cast of Chico and the Man

John Travolta

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David Wolper on Welcome Back Kotter

Mike Wallace

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David Wolper on the genesis and production of The Race for Space

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