Robert Halmi, Sr.

Producer / Executive


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Robert Halmi, Sr. (1924-2014) speaks about his early years learning the photography trade from his father. He discusses his political difficulties in his native Hungary and his move to the United States in 1950, where he arrived with five dollars, a small suitcase, and a Leica camera. He tells how he came to work as a stringer for Life magazine, where his assignments included working in Africa. He describes his transition from a still photographer to motion picture photography, shooting documentaries for television. Halmi then explains how he came to produce television movies, approaching the financing through advertisers, rather than the networks themselves, starting in 1979 with My Old Man, an adaptation of a Hemingway short story. He discusses his interest in adapting novels (even oft-filmed ones) and his reasons for doing so, speaks of how he visualizes his projects, and explains how he begins each production with concept art (before the screenwriting process). He outlines his association with Hallmark Hall of Fame, a series he had watched in the '50s and under whose aegis he made several successful projects, starting in the 1980s. Halmi talks about running RHI Entertainment LLC, where he serves as Chairman, and shares his hands-on, on-location approach to his projects. He provides production stories about several of the movies and miniseries he made throughout his career including: Terrible Joe Moran, Lonesome Dove, Scarlet, Gulliver's Travels, and Animal Farm. Karen Herman conducted the interview on May 18, 2007 in New York, New York.

"Don't sell out to the networks."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Izzy & Moe
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the miniseries Lonesome Dove
Robert Halmi, Sr. on advice to aspiring producers
Robert Halmi, Sr. on adapting books for TV movies
Robert Halmi, Sr. on re-making the classics every 30 years
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on learning photography from his father; on his early life in Budapest; on being a radio broadcaster on Radio Free Europe
On moving to the United States; on becoming a stringer for Life magazine; on his international assignments
On his early memories of television; on watching Hallmark Hall of Fame; on working on documentaries; on producing the 1979 television movie My Old Man and financing it directly through advertisers, rather than the networks
On producing the TV movie Nurse

Chapter 2

On producing several TV movies for CBS; on producing the TV movie Gulliver's Travels; on his casting process as a producer; on hiring writers
On adapting books for TV movies; on the challenges of visualizing interior monologues; on political correctness on television
On historical realism in his projects; on producing the TV movies Izzy & Moe with Art Carney and Jackie Gleason, and Terrible Joe Moran, starring James Cagney
On producing the TV movies Barnum, Choices, and Mayflower Madam

Chapter 3

On his association with Hallmark Hall of Fame; on his commitment to family entertainment; on his company, RHI, and his initial partnership with Hallmark
On his business side and his creative side; on re-making classic books as films every 30 years; on producing the TV movie Moby Dick; on how special effects have advanced
On becoming Chairman when Hallmark bought RHI; on producing the TV movie The Incident and the feature film "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge"
On producing the TV movie The Josephine Baker Story for HBO; on how cable has affected the TV landscape
On producing Lonesome Dove; on what makes a great miniseries; on producing the miniseries In Cold Blood

Chapter 4

On producing The Odyssey; on filming on location; on producing Rear Window and Animal Farm
On producing the miniseries Dinotopia and DC 9/11: Time of Crisis; on producing The Five People You Meet in Heaven
On then-current projects; on reacquiring Hallmark; on the key to his success; on career achievements and regrets; on advice to aspiring producers; on how he'd like to be remembered
B-roll of production drawings
Shows

Animal Farm

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing Animal Farm and using CGI

Barnum

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Barnum, starring Burt Lancaster

DC 9/11: Time of Crisis

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing DC 9/11: Time of Crisis

Dinotopia

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the miniseries Dinotopia

Five People You Meet in Heaven, The

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Gulliver's Travels

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Gulliver's Travels

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on his association with Hallmark Hall of Fame and Hallmark buying RHI

In Cold Blood

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the miniseries In Cold Blood

Incident, The

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing The Incident

Izzy & Moe

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Izzy & Moe

Josephine Baker Story, The

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie The Josephine Baker Story for HBO

Lonesome Dove

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the miniseries Lonesome Dove

Mayflower Madam

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Mayflower Madam, starring Candice Bergen

Moby Dick

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Moby Dick

My Old Man

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the 1979 television movie My Old Man and financing it directly through advertisers, rather than the networks

Noah's Ark

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on the challenges of producing the TV movie Noah's Ark

Nurse

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Nurse   

Odyssey, The

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing The Odyssey

Rear Window

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing Rear Window, starring Christopher Reeve

Scarlett

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on the bidding war over the source material and producing the TV movie Scarlett

Ten Commandments, The

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on the challenges of producing the TV movie The Ten Commandments

Terrible Joe Moran

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Terrible Joe Moran, starring James Cagney
Topics

9/11

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing DC 9/11: Time of Crisis

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the 1979 television movie My Old Man and financing it directly through advertisers, rather than the networks

Advice

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on advice to aspiring producers

Criticism of TV

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on his commitment to family entertainment

Historic Events and Social Change

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie about abortion, Choices
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing DC 9/11: Time of Crisis

Sex & Violence

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on his commitment to family entertainment

Television Industry

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the 1979 television movie My Old Man and financing it directly through advertisers, rather than the networks
Robert Halmi, Sr. on his commitment to family entertainment
Robert Halmi, Sr. on how cable has affected the TV landscape
Robert Halmi, Sr. on advice to aspiring producers
Professions

Executives

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on becoming Chairman when Hallmark bought RHI

Producers

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on being a hands-on producer
Robert Halmi, Sr. on his casting process as a producer and how he creates his own drawings to envision the look of a project he's working on
Robert Halmi, Sr. on hiring writers as producer

Television Executive

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on becoming Chairman when Hallmark bought RHI
Genres

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the 1979 television movie My Old Man and financing it directly through advertisers, rather than the networks
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Nurse  
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing TV movies
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the miniseries Lonesome Dove
Robert Halmi, Sr. on what makes a great miniseries
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing TV movies and miniseries
Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing TV movies and miniseries
People

Candice Bergen

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Mayflower Madam, starring Candice Bergen

James Cagney

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Terrible Joe Moran, starring James Cagney

Art Carney

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Izzy & Moe and reuniting Art Carney and Jackie Gleason after they refused to work together for years

Jackie Gleason

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Izzy & Moe and reuniting Art Carney and Jackie Gleason after they refused to work together for years

Burt Lancaster

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie Barnum, starring Burt Lancaster

Walter Matthau

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing The Incident

Paul Newman

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the feature film "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge"

Christopher Reeve

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing Rear Window, starring Christopher Reeve

George C. Scott

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Robert Halmi, Sr. on producing the TV movie about abortion, Choices

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