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."

Highlights
Esther Shapiro on why miniseries worked well for the TV audience of the 1970s
02:13
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
02:48
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
03:33
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
04:00
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
02:10
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
09:21
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.
06:20
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
09:53
On her role as an Executive and how much writing she did while she was still an Executive
02:47

Chapter 2

On her fellow executives at ABC
05:28
On developing the miniseries Pearl, Friendly Fire, and Ike; on projects she wanted to do, but didn't get to
10:48
On developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation; on structuring a miniseries
05:32
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
06:59

Chapter 3

On becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions; on how she classifies herself (writer, producer...)
06:01
On meeting her husband, Richard Shapiro, at UCLA; on her writing partnership with her husband
01:19

Chapter 4

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD SHAPIRO: On becoming a writing team; on writing for Manhunt; on pitching
06:10
On Richard continuing to write solo; on the pair writing for the soap opera Love of Life
08:32
On writing the made-for-TV movies Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, Minstrel Man, and Intimate Strangers
13:44

Chapter 5

On writing scenes of conflict; on their involvement with the TV miniseries East of Eden
05:27
On creating Dynasty; on casting Joan Collins as "Alexis Carrington"
19:36
On the cast of Dynasty  - John Forsythe and Linda Evans
03:49

Chapter 6

On Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty; on the stars of the show
15:50
On the producers of Dynasty; on audience reaction to the show, merchandizing, and memorable storylines (including the catfights)
13:02

Chapter 7

On "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty; on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans; on the Moldavian Wedding Massacre
06:10
On their favorite storylines, why the show ended, and the legacy of Dynasty
05:17
On the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys; on writing Emerald Point, NAS and Heartbeat
13:18
On creating Richard and Esther Shapiro Entertainment; on then-current projects
05:42

Chapter 8

On whether or not they'd work in television again; on advice to aspiring television writers; on the highlight of their careers
04:51
On career regrets and how they'd like to be remembered
00:46
B-roll photos from their career: of a New Yorker magazine cover, a personal telegram, and the Dynasty cast
03:53
Shows

Bonanza

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Bonanza
01:23

Colbys, The

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys
02:19
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys
02:17
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Charlton Heston's input on the scripts of The Colbys
01:03
Richard and Esther Shapiro on why The Colbys wasn't successful; on the alien abduction storyline
03:16

Dallas

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty
01:00

Dynasty

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Esther Shapiro on her fashion inspiration for Dynasty
00:45
Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling wanting to work with her and Richard Shapiro and starting to develop Dynasty
01:09
Esther Shapiro on balancing her executive duties while still working on Dynasty
00:33
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
03:33
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the pilot for Dynasty
00:55
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the title of Dynasty
01:10
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling's involvement with Dynasty
02:37
Richard and Esther Shapiro on differences between Dallas and Dynasty
01:00
Richard and Esther Shapiro on how Dynasty  reflected the 1980s
01:38
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the development and pilot of Dynasty  
02:58
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
04:00
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the costumes of Dynasty  
01:45
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  
03:49
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty
00:56
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star John James
01:02
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
02:45
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
02:43
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Gordon Thomson ("Adam Carrington")
00:38
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Heather Locklear ("Sammy Jo Dean Carrington")
01:56
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Diahann Carroll ("Dominique Deveraux")
02:59
Richard and Esther Shapiro on production on Dynasty
02:36
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty
01:25
Richard and Esther Shapiro on audience reaction to Dynasty and the show's popularity overseas
03:05
Richard and Esther Shapiro on merchandizing on Dynasty
03:55
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the catfights between "Alexis" and "Krystle" on Dynasty
01:18
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty
01:09
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
02:10
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty
01:15
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty
02:33
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Moldavian Wedding Massacre on Dynasty
01:32
Richard and Esther Shapiro on notes from the network on Dynasty
00:50
Richard and Esther Shapiro on their favorite storylines and episodes of Dynasty
01:25
Richard and Esther Shapiro on why Dynasty ended
01:13
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty reunion
00:39
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the success of Dynasty and how it affected them
00:55
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the legacy of Dynasty
01:05
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty collection at Marshall Field's
00:44

Emerald Point, N.A.S.

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing Emerald Point, NAS
01:53

Friendly Fire

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Esther Shapiro on developing the TV movie Friendly Fire
01:46

Heartbeat

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing Heartbeat
01:15

Ike: The War Years

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike: The War Years
02:05

Intimate Strangers

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
03:02

Love Story

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Esther Shapiro on being Executive Story Consultant on Love Story with George Schaefer
01:29
Esther Shapiro on the plot of Love Story
00:33

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
07:50

Manhunt

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Manhunt
00:32

Masada

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Masada
02:43

Minstrel Man

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
07:04

Pearl

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Pearl
03:35

Roots

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Esther Shapiro on how Roots compared to Roots: The Next Generation
00:28

Roots: The Next Generations

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
02:48
Esther Shapiro on her contributions to Roots: The Next Generation
01:34

Route 66

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing for Route 66
00:51

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
03:38
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
02:19

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
02:19

Characters & Catchphrases

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
04:00

Diversity in Television

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Esther Shapiro on the limited number of female writers
00:27
Esther Shapiro on being a female writer in Hollywood and whether or not having a male writing partner helped her
02:45
Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC
01:25
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
07:04
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
02:43
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
02:10
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty
01:15

LGBTQ

View Topic
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Jack Coleman ("Steven Carrington")
02:43
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines on Dynasty - on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality
02:10
Richard and Esther Shapiro on "Steven Carrington's" homosexuality on Dynasty
01:15

Minorities

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
07:04

Pop Culture

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
04:00

Television Industry

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
02:19
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the challenges facing an independent production company

Women

View Topic
Esther Shapiro on the limited number of female writers
00:27
Esther Shapiro on being a female writer in Hollywood and whether or not having a male writing partner helped her
02:45
Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC
01:25
Professions

Executives

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Esther Shapiro on her role as an Executive in ABC's miniseries department
01:33
Esther Shapiro on becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions
01:32

Show Creators

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on their pitching style
01:06

Writers

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on advice to aspiring television writers
01:28
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
07:50
Richard and Esther Shapiro on creation of Dynasty
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast, producers, audience reaction, and memorable storylines on Dynasty
28:52
Richard and Esther Shapiro on memorable storylines and the legacy of Dynasty
11:22
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys
09:00

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Esther Shapiro on getting hired by ABC's Brandon Stoddard to start the miniseries department
05:00
Esther Shapiro on why miniseries worked well for the TV audience of the 1970s
02:13
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Pearl
03:35
Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
02:48
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic
03:38
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
07:04
Richard and Esther Shapiro on writing the made-for-TV movie Intimate Strangers
03:02
People

Marlon Brando

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Esther Shapiro on casting Marlon Brando in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
01:22

Diahann Carroll

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Diahann Carroll ("Dominique Deveraux")
02:59

Marcy Carsey

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Esther Shapiro on fellow female executives at ABC
01:25

Joan Collins

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the creation of Joan Collins' character ("Alexis Carrington") on Dynasty
02:21
Richard and Esther Shapiro on what Joan Collins brought to the character of "Alexis Carrington" on Dynasty
01:39

Douglas S. Cramer

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty
00:44

Barry Diller

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on working with Barry Diller at FOX
00:57

Robert Duvall

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike
00:18

Linda Evans

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  - Linda Evans
01:11
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Linda Evans' character "Krystle Carrington" on Dynasty
00:56
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty
02:33

John Forsythe

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on John Forsythe on Dynasty
00:20
Richard and Esther Shapiro on cast changes in the pilot of Dynasty  
01:18
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the cast of Dynasty  - John Forsythe
02:38

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Esther Shapiro on working with ABC founder Leonard Goldenson
02:18
Richard and Esther Shapiro on ABC founder Leonard Goldenson's reaction the pilot of Dynasty  
00:48

Charlton Heston

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys  - Charlton Heston as "Jason Colby"
01:10
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Charlton Heston's input on the scripts of The Colbys
01:03

Rock Hudson

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Rock Hudson's kiss with Linda Evans on Dynasty
02:33

John James

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star John James
01:02

Fay Kanin

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Friendly Fire, written by Fay Kanin
01:26

Ernest Kinoy

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation
00:18

Heather Locklear

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Dynasty star Heather Locklear ("Sammy Jo Dean Carrington")
01:56

Nolan Miller

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on Nolan Miller's costume design on Dynasty
00:36

Toni Morrison

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on consulting with Toni Morrison on the made-for-TV movie Minstrel Man
00:59

Peter O'Toole

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Masada
01:30

George Peppard

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on cast changes in the pilot of Dynasty  
00:32

Elaine Rich

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the producers of Dynasty
00:44

Katharine Ross

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on the actors and characters on The Colbys  - Katharine Ross
00:16

George Schaefer

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Esther Shapiro on being Executive Story Consultant on Love Story with George Schaefer
00:35

Richard Shapiro

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Esther Shapiro on meeting her husband, Richard Shapiro, at UCLA
00:43
Esther Shapiro on her writing partnership with her husband, Richard Shapiro
00:32

Mel Shavelson

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Esther Shapiro on developing the miniseries Ike
02:05

Fred Silverman

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Esther Shapiro on working with Fred Silverman and Anthony D. Thomopoulos at ABC
01:18

Aaron Spelling

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Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling wanting to work with her and Richard Shapiro and starting to develop Dynasty
01:09
Esther Shapiro on becoming Senior Vice-President at Aaron Spelling Productions
01:32
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the idea for Dynasty
02:33
Richard and Esther Shapiro on Aaron Spelling's involvement with Dynasty
02:37

Barbara Stanwyck

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Richard and Esther Shapiro on working with Barbara Stanwyck on The Colbys
00:28

Brandon Stoddard

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Esther Shapiro on getting hired by ABC's Brandon Stoddard to start the miniseries department
01:26

Irving Thalberg

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Esther Shapiro on her father's friendship with Irving Thalberg
00:58

Anthony D. Thomopoulos

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Esther Shapiro on working with Fred Silverman and Anthony D. Thomopoulos at ABC
01:18
Richard and Esther Shapiro on the pilot for Dynasty
00:55

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