Dick Berg

Producer / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
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.

"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."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Dick Berg on his producing style
Dick Berg on working on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Firehouse 
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on wanting to become a writer; on his experiences in World War II
On moving to California; on the first time he saw television and meeting Rod Serling; on his early writing jobs and writing "The Drop of a Hat" for Studio One  directed by Franklin Schaffner
On writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents;  on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist; on working on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
On working on various live television productions with David Susskind for Kaiser Aluminum Hour;  on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man;  on being under contract to Universal and deciding to get into producing on the series Checkmate

Chapter 2

On producing Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater;  on producing various episodes of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater including "Something About Lee Wiley," "Slow Fade to Black," "The Game," and "Small Rebellion"
On producing Alcoa Premiere;  on the end of anthology shows on network television and becoming President of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Television Academy); on producing various feature films
On producing various movies-of-the-week including Thief, Footsteps, Firehouse, Class of '63, and Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style;  on executive producing the miniseries' The Word  and Space
On executive producing the miniseries' The Martian Chronicles  and Wallenberg;  on producing the movie-of-the-week A Rumor of War;  on producing the series Dolphin Cove  and other projects

Chapter 3

On executive producing the made-for-television movies Pronto  and Rated X; on attempting to adapt Norman Mailer's "The Deer Park" for television; on his producing style and advice to aspiring producers; on how he'd like to be remembered 
Shows

Alcoa Premiere

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Dick Berg on producing Alcoa Premiere  in which he cast a young Robert Redford for the episode "The Voice of Charlie Pont"
Dick Berg on producing "The Dark Labyrinth" and other episodes of Alcoa Premiere 

Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre

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Dick Berg on producing Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 
Dick Berg on working with Rod Serling on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  and his struggle with the networks 
Dick Berg on producing "Something About Lee Wiley" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater directed by Sydney Pollack
Dick Berg on producing "Slow Fade to Black" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  written by Rod Serling
Dick Berg on producing "The Game," "Small Rebellion," and other productions for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater
Dick Berg on working with Bob Hope on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 

Checkmate

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Dick Berg on being under contract to Universal and deciding the get into producing on the series Checkmate

Johnny Staccato

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Dick Berg on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 

Kaiser Aluminum Hour

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Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour

Kraft Television Theatre

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater and Studio One

Playhouse 90

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Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90

Robert Montgomery Presents

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Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents

Studio One

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater and Studio One
Dick Berg on writing "The Drop of a Hat" for Studio One  directed by Franklin Schaffner
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
Topics

Advice

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Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers

Anthology Drama

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 

Historic Events and Social Change

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II

Hollywood Blacklist

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 

Television Industry

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist
Dick Berg on the end of anthology shows on network television and becoming President of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Television Academy)
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers

War

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II

World War II

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II
Professions

Producers

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Dick Berg on his producing style
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man

Classic Anthology Series

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Dick Berg on working on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
Dick Berg on being under contract to Universal and deciding the get into producing on the series Checkmate
Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man

Drama Series

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Dick Berg on producing the series Dolphin Cove  and other projects

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Thief 
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Footsteps  starring Richard Crenna
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Firehouse 
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Class of '63
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case
Dick Berg on executive producing the miniseries The Word  and Space
Dick Berg on executive producing the miniseries The Martian Chronicles  and Wallenberg
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week A Rumor of War
Dick Berg on executive producing the made-for-television movies Pronto  and Rated X
People

Richard Crenna

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Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Footsteps  starring Richard Crenna

Bob Hope

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Dick Berg on working with Bob Hope on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 

Sydney Pollack

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Dick Berg on producing "Something About Lee Wiley" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater directed by Sydney Pollack

Robert Redford

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Dick Berg on producing Alcoa Premiere  in which he cast a young Robert Redford for the episode "The Voice of Charlie Pont"

Franklin J. Schaffner

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Dick Berg on writing "The Drop of a Hat" for Studio One  directed by Franklin Schaffner

Rod Serling

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Dick Berg on the first time he saw television and meeting Rod Serling 
Dick Berg on producing "Slow Fade to Black" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  written by Rod Serling
Dick Berg on working with Rod Serling on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  and his struggle with the networks 

David Susskind

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Dick Berg on working on various live television productions with David Susskind for Kaiser Aluminum Hour

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