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."

Highlights
Dick Berg on his producing style
01:25
Dick Berg on working on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
04:54
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
03:51
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Firehouse 
00:54
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
00:40
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on wanting to become a writer; on his experiences in World War II
13:41
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
15:28
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 
13:20
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
14:50

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"
20:59
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
09:34
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
14:20
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
07:14

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 
12:18
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"
03:42
Dick Berg on producing "The Dark Labyrinth" and other episodes of Alcoa Premiere 
02:03

Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre

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Dick Berg on producing Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 
08:13
Dick Berg on working with Rod Serling on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  and his struggle with the networks 
02:32
Dick Berg on producing "Something About Lee Wiley" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater directed by Sydney Pollack
02:50
Dick Berg on producing "Slow Fade to Black" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  written by Rod Serling
01:09
Dick Berg on producing "The Game," "Small Rebellion," and other productions for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater
05:42
Dick Berg on working with Bob Hope on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 
00:33

Checkmate

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Dick Berg on being under contract to Universal and deciding the get into producing on the series Checkmate
07:20

Johnny Staccato

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Dick Berg on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
04:54

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
03:42
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour
00:34

Kraft Television Theatre

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater and Studio One
02:05

Playhouse 90

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Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
03:51

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
03:42

Studio One

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater and Studio One
02:05
Dick Berg on writing "The Drop of a Hat" for Studio One  directed by Franklin Schaffner
02:53
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
01:27
Topics

Advice

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Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
00:40

Anthology Drama

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
04:58
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
03:42
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
03:51
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
01:27

Historic Events and Social Change

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II
01:33

Hollywood Blacklist

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist
00:54

Industry Crossroads

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist
00:54

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

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
04:58
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
03:42
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
03:51
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
01:27

Television Industry

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Dick Berg on his experiences with the Hollywood Blacklist
00:54
Dick Berg on the end of anthology shows on network television and becoming President of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Television Academy)
02:31
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
00:40

War

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II
01:33

World War II

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Dick Berg on his experiences in World War II
01:33
Professions

Producers

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Dick Berg on his producing style
01:25
Dick Berg on advice to aspiring producers
00:40
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man
01:21

Classic Anthology Series

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Dick Berg on writing for Kraft Television Theater  and Studio One
04:58
Dick Berg on writing "Hollywood Award Winner" for Kaiser Aluminum Hour  and "The Clay Pigeon" for Robert Montgomery Presents
03:42
Dick Berg on writing "The Right Hand Man" for Playhouse 90
03:51
Dick Berg on writing "Man Under Glass" for Studio One 
01:27
Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man
01:21

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Dick Berg on working on writing features for Universal and creating Johnny Staccato 
04:54
Dick Berg on being under contract to Universal and deciding the get into producing on the series Checkmate
07:20
Dick Berg on writing SuspicionAlfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Third Man
01:21

Drama Series

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Dick Berg on producing the series Dolphin Cove  and other projects
01:27

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Thief 
02:00
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Footsteps  starring Richard Crenna
01:43
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Firehouse 
00:54
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Class of '63
00:28
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style
00:38
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case
01:01
Dick Berg on executive producing the miniseries The Word  and Space
06:16
Dick Berg on executive producing the miniseries The Martian Chronicles  and Wallenberg
05:05
Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week A Rumor of War
00:42
Dick Berg on executive producing the made-for-television movies Pronto  and Rated X
01:55
People

Richard Crenna

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Dick Berg on producing the movie-of-the-week Footsteps  starring Richard Crenna
01:43

Bob Hope

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Dick Berg on working with Bob Hope on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater 
00:33

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
02:50

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"
03:42

Franklin J. Schaffner

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Dick Berg on writing "The Drop of a Hat" for Studio One  directed by Franklin Schaffner
02:53

Rod Serling

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Dick Berg on the first time he saw television and meeting Rod Serling 
04:09
Dick Berg on producing "Slow Fade to Black" for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  written by Rod Serling
01:09
Dick Berg on working with Rod Serling on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater  and his struggle with the networks 
02:32

David Susskind

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Dick Berg on working on various live television productions with David Susskind for Kaiser Aluminum Hour
04:54

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