Esther Shapiro

Show Creator / Producer / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her nearly four-hour Archive interview, Esther Shapiro talks for an hour-and-a-half solo and for two-and-a-half hours with her husband/writing partner Richard Shapiro. She discusses her work as an executive story consultant for the 1973-74 series Love Story and details her tenure as Vice President of Novels and Limited Series at ABC, developing projects such as Masada, Roots: The Next Generations, and Ike. In the joint interview, the Shapiros describe creating the hit prime-time drama Dynasty. They speak of the characters and the actors who played them, recall some of the well-known storylines, talk about behind-the-scenes production details and comment on the enduring international popularity of the show. They also touch on the short-lived spin-off series The Colbys and offer their thoughts on why the show didn't match the success of the original program. They outline their early partnership, writing for the daytime soap opera Love of Life, as well as the television movies Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, Minstrel Man, Intimate Strangers and John Steinbeck's East of Eden. B-roll consists of several photos from Dynasty. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview on May 7, 2004 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"We began thinking of a series that had everything that you're not supposed to put on television: rich people, the Midwest, older women - particularly strong and powerful - lots of business, entrepreneurs, greed, opulence... all the Donald Trump stuff."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Esther Shapiro on why miniseries worked well for the TV audience of the 1970s
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on majoring in comparative literature; on meeting her husband/writing partner, Richard Shapiro; on her early memories of television
On becoming a freelance writer; on some of their early writing and the limited number of female writers in the 1960s; on working at Warner Bros.
On being Executive Story Consultant on Love Story with George Schaefer; on moving to Europe; on getting hired by ABC's Brandon Stoddard to start the miniseries department
On her role as an Executive and how much writing she did while she was still an Executive

Chapter 2

On her fellow executives at ABC
On developing the miniseries Pearl, Friendly Fire, and Ike; on projects she wanted to do, but didn't get to
On developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation; on structuring a miniseries
On why miniseries worked well for the TV audience of the 1970s and '80s; on developing the miniseries Masada; on why she left ABC; on starting to create Dynasty

Chapter 3

On becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions; on how she classifies herself (writer, producer...)
On meeting her husband, Richard Shapiro, at UCLA; on her writing partnership with her husband

Chapter 4

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD SHAPIRO: On becoming a writing team; on writing for Manhunt; on pitching
On Richard continuing to write solo; on the pair writing for the soap opera Love of Life
On writing the made-for-TV movies Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, Minstrel Man, and Intimate Strangers

Chapter 5

On writing scenes of conflict; on their involvement with the TV miniseries East of Eden
On creating Dynasty; on casting Joan Collins as "Alexis Carrington"
On the cast of Dynasty  - John Forsythe and Linda Evans

Chapter 6

On Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty; on the stars of the show
On the producers of Dynasty; on audience reaction to the show, merchandizing, and memorable storylines (including the catfights)

Chapter 7

On "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty; on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans; on the Moldavian Wedding Massacre
On their favorite storylines, why the show ended, and the legacy of Dynasty
On the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys; on writing Emerald Point, NAS and Heartbeat
On creating Richard and Esther Shapiro Entertainment; on then-current projects

Chapter 8

On whether or not they'd work in television again; on advice to aspiring television writers; on the highlight of their careers
On career regrets and how they'd like to be remembered
B-roll photos from their career: of a New Yorker magazine cover, a personal telegram, and the Dynasty cast
Shows

Bonanza

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Bonanza

Colbys, The

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Charlton Heston's input on the scripts of The Colbys
Richard and Esther Shapiro on why The Colbys wasn't successful; on the alien abduction storyline

Dallas

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty

Dynasty

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Esther Shapiro on her fashion inspiration for Dynasty
Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling wanting to work with her and Richard Shapiro and starting to develop Dynasty
Esther Shapiro on balancing her executive duties while still working on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the pilot for Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the title of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling's involvement with Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on how Dynasty  reflected the 1980s
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the development and pilot of Dynasty  
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the costumes of Dynasty  
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star John James
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Pamela Sue Martin and her character "Fallon Carrington Colby" and Emma Samms, the second actress to portray the character
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Gordon Thomson ("Adam Carrington")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Heather Locklear ("Sammy Jo Dean Carrington")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Diahann Carroll ("Dominique Deveraux")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on production on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on audience reaction to Dynasty and the show's popularity overseas
Richard and Esther Shapiro on merchandizing on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the catfights between "Alexis" and "Krystle" on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Moldavian Wedding Massacre on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on notes from the network on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on their favorite storylines and episodes of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on why Dynasty ended
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty reunion
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the success of Dynasty and how it affected them
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the legacy of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty collection at Marshall Field's

Emerald Point, N.A.S.

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing Emerald Point, NAS

Friendly Fire

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Esther Shapiro on developing the TV movie Friendly Fire

Heartbeat

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing Heartbeat

Ike: The War Years

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike: The War Years

Intimate Strangers

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers

Love Story

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Esther Shapiro on being Executive Story Consultant on Love Story with George Schaefer
Esther Shapiro on the plot of Love Story

Love of Life

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for the soap opera Love of Life and how it helped them later when creating Dynasty

Manhunt

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Manhunt

Masada

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Masada

Minstrel Man

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man

Pearl

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Pearl

Roots

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Esther Shapiro on how Roots compared to Roots: The Next Generation

Roots: The Next Generations

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
Esther Shapiro on her contributions to Roots: The Next Generation

Route 66

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Route 66

Sarah T.--- Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers

Characters & Catchphrases

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty

Diversity in Television

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Esther Shapiro on the limited number of female writers
Esther Shapiro on being a female writer in Hollywood and whether or not having a male writing partner helped her
Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty

LGBTQ

View Topic
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty

Minorities

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man

Pop Culture

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty

Television Industry

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the challenges facing an independent production company

Women

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Esther Shapiro on the limited number of female writers
Esther Shapiro on being a female writer in Hollywood and whether or not having a male writing partner helped her
Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC
Professions

Executives

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Esther Shapiro on her role as an Executive in ABC's miniseries department
Esther Shapiro on becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions

Show Creators

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on their pitching style

Writers

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on advice to aspiring television writers
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for the soap opera Love of Life and how it helped them later when creating Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on creation of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast, producers, audience reaction, and memorable storylines on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines and the legacy of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Esther Shapiro on getting hired by ABC's Brandon Stoddard to start the miniseries department
Esther Shapiro on why miniseries worked well for the TV audience of the 1970s
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Pearl
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
People

Marlon Brando

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Esther Shapiro on casting Marlon Brando in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation

Diahann Carroll

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Diahann Carroll ("Dominique Deveraux")

Marcy Carsey

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Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC

Joan Collins

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on what Joan Collins brought to the character of "Alexis Carrington" on Dynasty

Douglas S. Cramer

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty

Barry Diller

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on working with Barry Diller at FOX

Robert Duvall

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike

Linda Evans

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  - Linda Evans
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty

John Forsythe

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on John Forsythe on Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on cast changes in the pilot of Dynasty  
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  - John Forsythe

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Esther Shapiro on working with ABC founder Leonard Goldenson
Richard and Esther Shapiro on ABC founder Leonard Goldenson's reaction the pilot of Dynasty  

Charlton Heston

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys  - Charlton Heston as "Jason Colby"
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Charlton Heston's input on the scripts of The Colbys

Rock Hudson

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty

John James

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star John James

Fay Kanin

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Friendly Fire, written by Fay Kanin

Ernest Kinoy

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation

Heather Locklear

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Heather Locklear ("Sammy Jo Dean Carrington")

Nolan Miller

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Nolan Miller's costume design on Dynasty

Toni Morrison

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on consulting with Toni Morrison on the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man

Peter O'Toole

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Masada

George Peppard

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on cast changes in the pilot of Dynasty  

Elaine Rich

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty

Katharine Ross

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys  - Katharine Ross

George Schaefer

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Esther Shapiro on being Executive Story Consultant on Love Story with George Schaefer

Richard Shapiro

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Esther Shapiro on meeting her husband, Richard Shapiro, at UCLA
Esther Shapiro on her writing partnership with her husband, Richard Shapiro

Mel Shavelson

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike

Fred Silverman

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Esther Shapiro on working with Fred Silverman and Anthony D. Thomopoulos at ABC

Aaron Spelling

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Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling wanting to work with her and Richard Shapiro and starting to develop Dynasty
Esther Shapiro on becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling's involvement with Dynasty

Barbara Stanwyck

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on working with Barbara Stanwyck on The Colbys

Brandon Stoddard

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Esther Shapiro on getting hired by ABC's Brandon Stoddard to start the miniseries department

Irving Thalberg

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Esther Shapiro on her father's friendship with Irving Thalberg

Anthony D. Thomopoulos

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Esther Shapiro on working with Fred Silverman and Anthony D. Thomopoulos at ABC
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the pilot for Dynasty

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