Thu, 09/03/2009

Former TV Academy President Dick Berg Has Died at Age 87-- Interview Online Soon

Dick Berg served as the president of the Television Academy's Hollywood Chapter in the mid-60s; he distinguished himself in the industry as a writer and producer starting in the Golden Age of Television and as a three-time Emmy nominee for Bob Hope Presents the Chryler Theatre, Wallenberg: A Hero's Story, and Space.

Dick Berg's two-hour Archive interview was conducted by his son, biographer A. Scott Berg on December 10, 2008.

Interview Description:
Dick Berg spoke about his early interest in athletics, dramatics, and music (becoming a part of a three-piece jazz band). He related his arrival in Hollywood in 1943 and becoming a third assistant director in westerns at Republic Studios. He talked 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 talked 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 spoke about moving back to Los Angeles where he began to work on such prestige television series as Playhouse 90. He described 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 acknowledged his transition to producing for television, beginning with the detective series Checkmate, in which he revealed that he delivered each show in just five production days. He described the presentation he filmed in order to get Universal’s bid for a new anthology series picked up by NBC— 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 commented on the writers, directors, and stars that worked on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre and related a couple production stories. He commented on acclaimed miniseries he produced (and wrote) notably The Martian Chronicles and Space. Other television projects he spoke about included: 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 acknowledged his tenure as the President of the Hollywood Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.