William Blinn

Writer/ Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, William Blinn talks about some of his first writing for television in a variety of dramatic genres for such series as Bonanza, Here Comes the Bride s and The Interns. He speaks thoroughly about writing the teleplay for the landmark television movie Brian's Song, for which he won an Emmy and a Peabody Award. For Brian's Song, he talks about the casting of the telefilm, researching the real-life people on which it was based, and the audience reaction to the movie. He details his work on the popular 1970s series The Rookies and Starsky and Hutch. For Starsky, Blinn describes his creation of the series and talks about the 2004 feature film adaptation. Blinn speaks in great detail about his work as the head writer of the landmark television miniseries Roots.  He talks about working with Roots author Alex Haley on the miniseries outline, talks about cast members, discusses many of the miniseries' dramatic moments, and offers his opinion of its legacy. He also talks about producing the popular series Eight Is Enough and Fame, describing the ups and downs of working on both of these shows. Additionally, he speaks about his teleplay for the movie A Question of Love, one of the first television dramas involving a lesbian theme. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on October 7, 2005 in Encino, CA.

"It's not enough just to tell the truth.  Then you're doing the History Channel. There's something to be said for that, but it may not always be compelling. And it's not enough just to be interesting, because then you're doing Paris Hilton and her elephant. You know it'll be interesting, but it's cotton candy. If you can tell the truth in an interesting way, then you accomplished something."

Highlights
William Blinn on the chemistry between Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on Starsky and Hutch and the actors fighting for better scripts
02:33
William Blinn on working with Debbie Allen on Fame which she choreographed
William Blinn on Eight is Enough; its casting, and cancellation
William Blinn on advice he would give aspiring writers
03:38
William Blinn on the best thing he ever wrote- a pilot for NBC
05:38
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early childhood and education
On first beginning to write for television in the early 1960s

Chapter 2

On Bonanza, The Invaders, Gunsmoke and working for Screen Gems
On Brian's Song and adapting it from the book

Chapter 3

On Brian's Song; James Caan; on the racial issues with the show 
On winning an Emmy for Brian's Song; The Rookies with Aaron Spelling
On writing a TV movie that would become the pilot of Starsky and Hutch
02:26

Chapter 4

On Starsky and Hutch; on his input casting the lead roles; on getting the film rights
13:33
On the genesis of Roots and adapting the book for television

Chapter 5

On Alex Haley and Roots; on the research, casting, and other details about the miniseries
On why he believes he was hired to adapt Roots for television; on specific characters, why it had to be filmed in English

Chapter 6

On Roots; specific scenes
On the reaction of the African-American community to Roots; on its legacy

Chapter 7

On Eight is Enough; its concept and casting; on a project with Gena Rowlands
On Fame and adapting it from the movie to television
On a typical workweek on Fame; on the choreography by Debbie Allen; on fan favorites; on leaving the show
26:48
On his proudest achievements; on advice to aspiring writers
05:38
Shows

Bonanza

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William Blinn on storylines he wrote for Bonanza and the origin of those ideas

Brian's Song

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William Blinn on the genesis of Brian's Song which he wrote
William Blinn on adapting Brian's Song;  James Caan's performance
William Blinn on the legacy of Brian's Song; its emotional impact

Eight Is Enough

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William Blinn on Eight is Enough which he developed based on a book 
William Blinn on Eight is Enough; its casting, and cancellation

Fame (1982-87)

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William Blinn on developing Fame for television
William Blinn on a typical workweek on Fame; working with Debbie Allen
26:48

Invaders, The

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William Blinn on The Invaders for which he wrote an episode

Roots

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William Blinn on the genesis of Roots; meeting Alex Haley
William Blinn on Alex Haley and Roots; on the research, casting, and other details about the miniseries
On the famous scene in Roots where Kunta is held up under a star-filled sky
William Blinn on specific scenes in Roots; taking dramatic licenses
William Blinn on the reaction of the African-American community to Roots; its use in education
William Blinn on the legacy of Roots

Starsky and Hutch

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William Blinn on writing a TV movie that would become the pilot of Starsky and Hutch
02:26
William Blinn on the pilot of Starsky and Hutch and the relationship between the lead characters
03:02
William Blinn on "Starsky's" car on Starsky and Hutch and casting the lead roles
01:16
William Blinn on his input casting the lead roles on Starsky and Hutch
00:37
William Blinn on "Huggy Bear" on Starsky and Hutch
01:28
William Blinn on Starsky and Hutch going to series and the success of the pilot episode
01:02
William Blinn on the chemistry between Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on Starsky and Hutch and the actors fighting for better scripts
02:33
William Blinn on having little control over the scripts on Starsky and Hutch
00:42
William Blinn on the 2004 feature film version of Starsky and Hutch
01:22
William Blinn on Paul Michael Glaser as "Starsky" on Starsky and Hutch
00:48
William Blinn on how he came to have the film rights of Starsky and Hutch
00:42
Topics

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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William Blinn on the first time he saw television and the impact it made on him

Diversity in Television

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William Blinn on "Huggy Bear" on Starsky and Hutch
01:28

Historic Events and Social Change

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William Blinn on "Huggy Bear" on Starsky and Hutch
01:28

Minorities

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William Blinn on "Huggy Bear" on Starsky and Hutch
01:28
Professions

Writers

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William Blinn on advice he would give aspiring writers
03:38
Genres

Western Series

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William Blinn on the elements and formula of Westerns on television, the "horse-operas"
People

Debbie Allen

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William Blinn on working with Debbie Allen on Fame which she choreographed

Paul Michael Glaser

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William Blinn on his input casting the lead roles on Starsky and Hutch
00:37
William Blinn on the chemistry between Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on Starsky and Hutch and the actors fighting for better scripts
02:33
William Blinn on Paul Michael Glaser as "Starsky" on Starsky and Hutch
00:48

David Soul

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William Blinn on his input casting the lead roles on Starsky and Hutch
00:37
William Blinn on the chemistry between Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul on Starsky and Hutch and the actors fighting for better scripts
02:33

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