OFF CAMERA: Conversations with the Makers of Prime-Time Television by Richard & William Link Levinson

OFF CAMERA: Conversations with the Makers of Prime-Time Television

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Levinson and Link, creators of more than a dozen TV series, including Colombo and Murder, She Wrote, interview several top industry pros, who tell about the business from both the artistic and the economic sides. The economic side is so overwhelming that the artistic really cannot be said to exist. This is a readable, absorbing, personal but objective book about laborers whose produce is for the most part strips of banal film used to support commercials. Among the interviewees: drama producer Steven Boccho (Hill Street Blues); writer Steven Kandel (Mike Hammer, Paper Chase); drama director Karen Arthur (Cagney and Lacey); actress Angola Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote); producer Gary Goldberg (Lou Grant, Family Ties); comedy writers Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf (I Love Lucy, All in the Family); comedy director Jay Sandrich (The Cosby Show); director David Green (""In television you can't improvise much, because the clock is ticking away, and you know that every tick represents money being spent. . . So it isn't appropriate for you to sit around thinking""); agent and packager Bill Haber; independent supplier Aaron Spelling; and NBC Entertainment Division head Brandon Tartikoff. Few of these people are as well-known as their counterparts in feature films, but they are fantastically active, well-paid folks. Goldberg tells about the heavy action producing a series comedy each week while editing last week's tapes and casting next week's show. Writer Stephen Kandel likes writing to formula and says of the poor ratings for Dustin Hoffman's Death of a Salesman: ""A steelworker who has just seen half of his friends laid off for life is not someone who wants to go home and deal with serious sociopolitical problems. He doesn't want to see Death of a Salesman. . .he's just been living Death of a Steelworker. He wants to watch a half-hour sitcom. He wants to watch Lady Blue. He wants to watch fantasy."" Recommended, especially for students.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1986
Publisher: New American Library