Monday, August 23, 2010

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HEIDI - Part Two - June/July 1978

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The evil Luzern cousins were played by two of my favorite and favored actors -- Walter Brooke and Amzie Strickland.  I had known Walter Brooke since 1952 when I was an assistant director at the Chevy Chase Summer Theatre in Wheeling, Illinois -- just north of Chicago.  You can read about Walter in the archives to the right in the DETOUR GOING NOWHERE episode of THE FUGITIVE.  I had known Amzie since 1955 and you can read about her in the AN APPLE A DAY episode of THE FUGITIVE -- again in the archives to the right.

Another favorite and favored shows up next as secretary to Elizabeth’s father;  Marlyn Mason and you can read more about her in the archives in THE FBI episode, THE ESCAPE

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On the way home, they stop off for Heidi to be enrolled at the Catholic School For Girls where Elizabeth is a student.  We selected one of the old mansions in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles to be our school.  Ironically the establishment was in fact a nunnery.  

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My friend and producer, Charlie FitzSimons, was a black Irish, devout Catholic with a Satanic sense of humor.  He said of the impressive building we were using, “Isn’t it interesting that the residents here have taken the vow of total abstinence in order to live in such magnificent opulence.”

The Mother Superior was played by a wonderful actress and my friend, Molly Dodd, whom I met in 1954 when I did the lighting for a production in which she appeared of THE ROSE TATTOO at the Players Ring Theatre in Hollywood.  Molly later acted in productions I directed, first in 1958 in THE ICEMAN COMETH at Gilmor Brown’s Playbox at the Pasadena Playhouse and in 1960 on the main stage of the Pasadena Playhouse in a production of THE GOLDEN FLEECING.  Molly was married to a writer, Bud, and I spent quite a bit of time at their home in Laurel Canyon.  When we were doing the latter play, Bud gave me a copy of a pulp fiction novel he had written; he wrote under different names in different genres.  This was a Grand Guignol thriller -- WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?.  Yes, Bud was Henry Farrell.  He had sold the rights to the novel a couple of years before, and he knew that it had been resold a couple of times since.  When Robert Aldrich acquired the property for his great Bette Davis-Joan Crawford production, Bud did not get to do the screenplay, but he was closely associated with Mr. Aldrich.  In 1962 he took me on the set once.

Bud told me a remarkable story.  He spent one evening with Robert Aldrich, socializing and drinking.  Weeks later he came home one day and said to Molly, “Do you remember the night several weeks ago when I came home and told you I had told Robert Aldrich an idea for a film?  Do you remember what that idea was?”  Molly’s replay was, “No.  Why?”  Bud said, “Well he called me today and he wants to buy it.  And I can’t remember what I told him.”   Well somehow Bud remembered.  The idea turned out to be HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, the successful followup to BABY JANE.

As they arrive at the Wyler home in Zurich, I must emphasize we did not go to Switzerland to film it.  Our Wyler home was in the elegant Hancock Park section of Los Angeles, one of my favorite areas in which to film.  The mountains behind the mansion were matted in later during post production.

The butler in the Wyler home was actor Bartlett Robinson, whom I had directed before in THE NIGHT OF THE DRUID’S BLOOD on THE WILD WILD WEST.  Casting director, Jimmy Merrick, suggested him for the role and I hastily agreed.  Bartlett told me he was totally surprised but pleased  when the offer came.  No casting call; no audition.  Just a chance to go act, avoiding  the rat race.  He had retired to one of the beach towns south of Los Angeles; his reason for retiring -- the profession just wasn’t fun any more.  According to the IMDB, Bartlett made only three more film appearances after this in episodes of LOU GRANT.

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Let me tell you again how the musical numbers were done.  Buz Kohan had been recorded playing the song on the piano.  Katy and Sherrie each had a small receiver in one ear and they sang to the accompaniment they were hearing.  Take by take, these scenes were filmed live singing performances.  The orchestration was added later in postproduction.

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Shooting schedules were planned logistically.  There was the option of building a cave set at the Selznick studio for the Grandfather-Wild Man scenes  or finding a live cave to film.  Since there was not a full day’s work in the cave, a live cave would necessitate a company move during the day.  Moves took time.  The finding of our School for Girls in the Los Feliz area lessened the problem.  That location was very close to Bronson Canyon, where I had filmed a cave sequence in BREAD AND CIRCUSES on STAR TREK.  So that’s what we did.  We filmed all of the scenes at the girls’ school (exterior and interior) on the first Monday back in Los Angeles after our Colorado sojourn; and then we moved to the nearby Bronson Canyon cave for the remainder of that day’s work.  The following day we reported to the Selznick Studio in Culver City where we completed filming the production.  

We were scheduled to complete all of the scenes in Daniel’s office in one day -- the first Friday of our schedule in Los Angeles.   We started the day in the outer office doing Marlyn Mason’s song.  That went off without a hitch.  Then we moved into Daniel’s office, where we started with John Gavin’s musical number.  That took the rest of the day to complete, leaving a lot of work still to be filmed in these offices.  Wonderful Charles FitzSimons was right there on the front line with me to rearrange our schedule.  We were already booked to film the Hancock Park house on the following Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday and Thursday we were booked for the Columbia Ranch to film the Dorfli village sequences.  Some cuts were made in the script, which we knew was already running long, to free up the following Friday to finish off Daniel’s office.       

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The exterior of the school with the ground covered with snow turned into a funny problem.  The special effects seemed more like soap bubbles than slushy snow, almost like the effect of a giant washing machine overflowing and spewing out gallons of soap bubbles.  Since it was not feasible to bring in other equipment to correct the problem, we were faced with the challenge of not letting it show.

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Buz’s song for Mady had another beat beyond what you’ve seen where she softened and sang of her private dreams.  I wanted to keep Mady angry at Dan for the scene that followed, so I delayed that final bit of music; and here is where we used it.  

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The day we did the exterior of the Hotel Bonaventure, again with snow on the ground, did not present the problem we later had at the school.  Our snow effect that day looked like real slushy snow.  In fact we stopped traffic in downtown Los Angeles, as cars driving by were astounded at the snow surrounding the hotel on that warm July day.

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I thought the sequence in the kitchen with the mad chef, Andre, could be a very funny scene.  But I knew it needed some help.  I didn’t feel the collapsing souffles alone were enough.  I wanted someone reacting to them to punch up  the joke.  But I knew it would require more than an extra doing special  business.  It was going to require a very good actor.  But there were no lines to the role.  I presented my problem to casting director, Jimmy Merrick.  He found me rubber-faced Vernon Weddle.  I was so pleaed with Vernon’s work, I used him again in episodes of YOUNG MAVERICK and TRAPPER JOHN, M.D. and the pilot of DYNASTY -- all within the next two years.  And those times he got to speak.

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Again, if this were a feature film, we would probably have taken the two girls to New York for their THIS IS CHRISTMAS musical number.  But under the circumstances I think the art department deserved credit for what they accomplished with a few hanging stars and a treadmill. 

I overheard girl talk conversations between Sherrie and Katy regarding the scene in the toy shop.  Sherrie was concerned that she would not be able to produce the tears she felt the scene required.  Katy was coaching her on how to approach the problem.  Now let’s face it; Katy was not the singer that Sherrie was and Sherrie was not the actress that Katy was.  So if Sherrie’s final effort was more like Jane Withers than Margaret O’Brien -- well she certainly deserved an A for effort.

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John didn’t have the problem doing the lovely ballad Buz had written for him that he had later in the schedule with the WOMEN number.

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Now you didn’t think I would end this epic without milking the final tears out of Katy (and you) or without giving Allyn Ferguson a chance to come front and center with his background music finale.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HEIDI - June/July 1978

My mother passed away in Iowa in March after a two year battle with cancer.  Soon after I returned to the west coast, Robert Jacks, former producer of THE WALTONS, called to inform me that Will Geer had passed away.  He said he didn’t want to have me learn about it in the newpspapers.  I had been booked to direct their opening episode of the coming season.  Andy White, the current WALTONS producer, told me that their plans were to make it a memorial to Will Geer’s character of the Grandfather.  He said the episode would start with the family gathered around his grave as they reminisced about the past.  It did not take long for me to realize that the combination of my mother’s recent passing and my relationship with Will (you can read in the archives to the right about our final time together on the episode, GRANDMA COMES HOMES) could make this a very painful situation to endure.  I explained my feelings to Andy and I was very sympathetically released from the commitment.

A short time after that my friend, Charles FitzSimons called to tell me he was producing a two-hour film for television for Pierre Cossette Productions.  It was to be another stab at retrieving one of literature’s seemingly indestructible characters, Heidi, this time in a modern setting.   Did I want to come aboard?  The chance to work with Charlie again produced a resounding “yes”.  As we began work around the first of May, Charlie told me he thought we should turn the John McGreevey script into a musical.  I never questioned him as to his reasons; I suspected he felt just another telling of that often-told story, even in a modern setting, wasn’t quite going to justify doing it  yet again.  I agreed.  I had dabbled in musical sequences (THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY, the burlesque theatre sequences in one of THE WALTONS, the musical sequences in CASABLANCA) but a book musical -- that was new territory.  I liked the idea.  So Charlie and I went to work reconstructing the script, eliminating sequences to make room for the musical interludes we planned.  Charlie hired Buz Kohan, one of the fine comedy writers in Hollywood, noted for his contributions through the years to so many Award Shows.  But Buz was also a composer, although his musical involvement through the years had been secondary to his comedy writing.  Charlie and I met with Buz and told him where in the plot we wanted songs and what we wanted the songs to be.  We sent him home to start composing -- music and lyrics.  Now I must finally tell you what a daunting task we had set for ourselves.  Our projected start of filming was just six weeks away.   

We hired my friend Jim Merrick, one of the best casting directors in town, to cast our production.  The Grandfather was easy-- Burl Ives.  We had three youngsters to cast:  Heidi; her friend in the mountains, Peter; and the runaway she meets, Elizabeth.  Both Heidi and Elizabeth were going to have to be able to sing.  Jim brought in three people to audition for us:  Katy Kurtzman for Heidi, Sherrie Wills for Elizabeth and Sean Marshall for Peter.  We immediately said yes and cast all three, thereby antagonizing the community of childrens’ agents who demanded that we give their clients a chance to audition.  But time was short and we stood our ground.

The two other principal roles were Daniel Wyler, Elizabeth’s father,  and his secretary, Mady.  They too had to be singers.  The secretary again was easy -- my friend, Marlyn Mason.  Daniel proved a little more difficult.  We checked the availability of a couple Broadway singing stars (I’m afraid I can’t remember who) but they were not available.  I don’t know who knew that John Gavin was a singer -- Charlie or Jimmy.  But he ended up being our final choice.  There was a large supporting cast, but that too was no problem.  Most of them came from my list of preferred performers, and I trusted Jimmy’s opinion on those few people he recommended that I hadn’t worked with.

Ideally any Heidi production should be filmed in the Swiss Alps.  But this was television.  An acceptable substitute was our own Rockies.  As difficult as it may be to believe, Charlie and I did not go to scout the mountain locations.  We sent our production manager and production designer out to Aspen, Colorado, to do that.  Their main chore was to select a scenic location where Grandfather’s alm hut would  be constructed.  Charlie and I busied ourselves finding the local locations.  The first two weeks (ten days) of filming were going to be on locations in Los Angeles. 

For Daniel Wyler’s New York hotel we chose the Hotel Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles.  The hotel was very modern, and it was totally circular.  The representative who guided us on our tour of inspection told us of an incident when a patron of the hotel had come up to her and asked where he could find a pay telephone.  She said, I told him there was one over there in the corner.  His reply was, “What corner.  There isn’t a f_____g corner in this whole damned hotel.”   And he was so right.  The hotel would be our base for filming the first four days.

We were going to need a Swiss village.  Charlie and I went up to Solvang, but, charming as it was, it wasn’t suitable.  Too Danish instead of Swiss.  We checked the MGM back lots, but they were in a disturbingly sad state after years of neglect.  We decided on the Columbia ranch, where their village setting with some renovations could be converted into our Swiss village of Dorfli.  This also pleased me because I had done a lot of filming at this site, mostly on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY.

In an incredibly short time Buz Kohan came in to play and sing for us the songs he had composed.  We were astonished at his speed and pleased at his accomplishment.  Now if this had been a feature, the next step would have been to score his work for orchestra and then have a recording session with the singers and the orchestra.  Those recordings would then be played back on the set at the time of filming with the actors lip-synching to the prerecorded music.  But that could not be done in the short time before we were scheduled to start shooting.  So it was arranged for Buz to have individual sessions at a piano with the five performers who would be singing (Burl Ives, Katy Kurtzman, Sherrie Wills, Marlyn Mason and John Gavin).  At these sessions he would ascertain the key in which their numbers needed to be played and the tempo.  Buz would then be recorded playing these numbers on a piano; these recordings would be used as playback for the actors to sing to in a live performance before the camera.  Then Allyn Ferguson would orchestrate and conduct the musical arrangements that would be joined with these original sound tracts at the final dubbing of the film.  Sounds simple?  It was.  Except when Allyn Ferguson heard Buz’s recordings, he rebelled.  To put it bluntly he didn’t want his musical orchestration to include Buz’s piano playing.  Charlie and I put our heads together and came up with the solution.  Rather than having Buz’s accompaniment played back on speakers which the sound track would record, we would have a small speaker (the size of a hearing aid) that the performer would wear in his ear -- the ear away from the camera.  The actor would hear the music to sing to, but the sound department would not be recording it.  At dailies and in all of the assemblages up until the final orchestrated sound tract was created, the singers would appear to be singing with no accompaniment.  And that’s how we did it.

We completed our ten days of filming in Los Angeles on the second Friday.  Saturday morning I flew out to Aspen, Colorado, and spent the weekend scouting the other mountain locations I would be needing for the following ten days.  One of the areas I found was an enchanting lake surrounded by high peaks.  I thought it would be an ideal  location to open the film.  


But naturally there was a problem. Guided tours went through there starting at 9:00am.  We would have to be finished and cleared out of the area by that time.  My opening sequence at the lake was a musical number, almost a minute of which occurred at this location.  I had planned six camera setups for the sequence at this site plus two more setups for the ending montage.  Again my normal average was three setups an hour.  With a 5:15am crew call to start filming at 7:00am, that was cutting it very close, but I decided to go for it.  So let’s start the show.

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There was a fairly recent new ingenious camera tool available  -- the Steadicam.  But those early Steadicams were not the light, easily maneuverable ones they have today.  The one we used was a very heavy contraption.  I know, I tried it on to get the feel of it.  And I mean -- it was heavy  -- but effective.

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No, the opening shot in the village was not in Colorado.  It was filmed at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank.   The  matted in mountains were added in postproduction.   

After using the Steadicam at the Columbia Ranch, I also planned a more complicated shot in the mountains.  As the two children ran away from the Wild Man, the camera was to chase them down the slope.  Part way down our camera operator stepped into a hole, tripped and down he went.  The gate on the camera upon hitting the ground flew open.  Fortunately one of the crew saw it and immediately slammed the camera gate shut, thereby saving most of the take we had shot.  The camera operator ended up with a badly sprained ankle that had him hobbling around for the rest of the production. 

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That sequence looked like it had two steadicam shots running down the hill.  That was the genius of Gene Fowler, our great editor.  The take started aiming up the hill as the several kids, two-legged and four-legged, came over the crest;  the camera then chased them down the hill until the accident.  The end of that take as the camera fell to the ground was of course unusable.  And there was nothing to cut to.  So Gene started with the second part of the shot (running down the hill), and just before the camera veered to the ground, he cut to  the first part of the shot with them coming over the crest of the hill.  Thus he used every frame of film that survived to maximum advantage.

When I was preparing to film my first wide establishing shot of Grandfather’s alm hut, I went with the camera crew down the slope to where I felt the camera would be set up.  As I turned back to the alm hut, I was stunned.  There was no roof.  I was told the production designer had said I wouldn't  be needing one.  We didn’t get the wide establishing shot that day.  A roof was soon built, installed and then I got my shot.

The interiors of the alm hut were the last sequences to be filmed.  To repeat, the first two weeks were local Los Angeles locations; then two weeks in Aspen and a final week at the old Selznick Studio in Culver City, the very studio where GONE WITH THE WIND had been filmed.  

Katy Kurtzman was an amazing youngster.  If tears didn’t flow from her eyes  quite as copiously as they once had from Margaret O’Brien’s eyes, the flow was more than adequate; by the fifth week of filming I had buckets in the can.  With two hours of tears ahead, I didn’t want this early sequence to become too tearful.  So my suggestion to Katy  when she heard Grandfather’s new plans for her was, “You must not cry.  You must not let him see you cry!”  What a pro!

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On our second day at the Selznick studio when we went to the projection room at noon to view the rushes for our first day’s work, we we handed a big surprise.  The film projectors wouldn’t work.  No matter what the projectionist tried, he couldn’t get them to function.  I wasn’t too disturbed by this.  In fact I thought it was kind of exciting.  Just think -- those projectors were obviously so old they had probably been used to screen the GONE WITH THE WIND dailies.  Talk about ghosts of the past.  By the following day new projectors had been installed and from then on we were able to view our dailies.

I’m going to let you view the next musical sequence before I discuss it.

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To remind you, both Burl and Katy were singing to the piano accompaniment they were hearing in a small receiver in their ear.  Their individual solos had respective individual tracks; but for their duet they were singing to the same track.  Again if this had been a feature with the singing prerecorded, they would have sung together on the recording stage and everything would have been in sync.  But each part of the duet was filmed separately and later  put together in the editing.  I was concerned when I first saw it by the fact that they were not in sync and asked our editor, Gene Fowler, if there was any way to pull up the film to put them in sync.  Gene, whom I trusted implicitly, assured me there was no reason to make any adjustments.  And he was so right.  Heidi and her Grandfather at this point are not in sync; the fact that their singing is not in sync adds to this.  Only when they sing “Amen” are they united in prayer.

In the next sequence the mountain slope where Elizabeth follows Heidi and Peter was the second sequence of my first day filming in Colorado.  (An interesting sidebar:  the day’s schedule had me filming five sequences on this slope; two of them did not make the final cut because of time.)  There was someone from Switzerland visiting the set that day.   When asked what he thought of our using the Rockies to fill in for the Alps, he commented, “It’s all very nice.  But we don’t have red poppies in the Alps.”  Our art department had decorated the slope with plastic red poppies to make it look more real.

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It was a beautiful, warm (but not hot) comfortable day on the slope.  But at the end of the day I suddenly became violently ill.  I immediately crawled into bed, shaking with the chills.  I had sunstroke.  Our production manager hovered over me, helping when he could and worried about filming the next day.  Somehow through the night I recovered so that the next morning I was able to return to the set.  But before I did, I went shopping and found a wide-brimmed blue denim hat.  Thirty-two years later I still have the hat and can be seen walking the beach of Carmel wearing it. 

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I had a paperback copy of the novel, HEIDI, which I pored through, using a multitude of paper clips to mark incidents I thought could be included in our script.  The following sequence was one of them.  But when it came time to trim our show in the editing room (we were very long) I was about to cut this.  Charlie, very wisely, kept it in.

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I once asked Katy how she approached doing a scene.  Her remarkable concentration and emotional involvement truly fascinated me.  Her answer was so simple.   She shrugged her shoulders and said, “I just believe.”

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The sequences in the next two clips of Peter following the Wild Man to the area by the river and then Peter’s rescue from the river were filmed at Independence Pass on Independence Day (and the day after), 1978.

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Sean Marshall’s mother, and rightfully so, was very concerned about her son being placed in that "raging river".  We had one of the crew go down and stand in the water by the rock where Peter was going to be placed.  She felt reassured when she realized the water came to just a couple inches above the man’s knees and the river was not as treacherous as it looked.  The cliff was also not that steep.  The challenge to make it look more dangerous was met by the use of wide angle lenses and a careful selection of camera angles to film it.

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To be continued



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

THE GRANDCHILD - July 1977 (The Waltons)

The beginning of the sixth season of THE WALTONS found me returning to Walton’s Mountain, where I found a major change had taken place.  Richard Thomas, his five year contract at an end, had flown the coop; which also  meant that John-Boy had left for New York City to pursue his writing career. Hereafter his character would remain a part of the series by an occasional reference to his New York advancement or when someone would say they had written to tell him of some event on Waltons Mountain. The format for the rest of the show stayed the same.  It was still the adult John-Boy (voiced by THE WALTONS creator, Earl Hamner) who narrrated the opening and closing for each episode just as if he were present to note in detail the weekly happenings on Waltons Mountain.

As I wrote before, when the series first began, each episode opened with THE WALTONS billboard.

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But the demands of television to hook the audience early to prevent them from dialing to another network was difficult for a show like THE WALTONS.  Its stories started slowly and quietly, hardly competition for openings like Quinn Martin productions (THE FBI, CANNON, DAN AUGUST) that hooked their audiences by presenting violent and exciting crimes.  So THE WALTONS soon emulated another of QM’s productions, THE FUGITIVE, by opening with a climactic moment from later in the story.

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Hardly as exciting as a killing, but still tantalizing.  And there were changes here too.  Michael Learned and Ralph Waite were no longer co-starring;  they were now starring.  But they still alternated weekly with whose billing came first. And did you notice that Michael Learned no longer had to be billed as Miss Michael Learned.  Obviously CBS’s fears that the audience might think the mother was being portrayed by some male in drag had been alleviated.  Also did you note the absence of Ellen Corby from the credits.  She had recently suffered a stroke and would not return to the series for another year.

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THE GRANDCHILD was a two hour episode written by Rod Peterson and Claire Whitaker, Mr. and Mrs. Peterson in real life and the authors of THE FIRESTORM, an exceptional script I had directed the previous year.  THE GRANDCHILD had a thirteen day shooting schedule, an improvement over the eleven and a half days that I had had to film the two hour THE CONFLICT three years earlier.

Ralph is not as common a name as Bob or Dick or John.  So I very, very seldom had to contend with having other Ralph’s on the set.   But that was not the case this time.  Beside me there was Ralph Waite, our assistant director, Ralph Ferrin; and to add a little more confusion to the mix, the actor playing Mary Ellen’s husband, Tom Bower -- his middle name was Ralph.

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This was the least typical Waltons script handed to me so far; another strange one written by the Petersons was still in my future.  That is not a complaint; nor is it a criticism.  Just a statement of fact.  Walton stories didn’t veer too often from human drama into melodrama.  Nor was I unhappy with the veering.  Melodrama is fun to do.  And challenging.

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Wind machines,  Lightning machines.  Rain machines.  All contributed to the work of John Nickolaus, a superb director of photography who had replaced Russell Metty on the series.  We not only filmed several THE WALTONS together, but later in 1978 John was my cameraman on a film for television, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HEIDI.  This was another first for me on THE WALTONS;  in fact it was an only.  The exteriors of Ab’s shack and the country road were shot night for night.  They had to be filmed that way; we could not have created the lightning effect shooting day for night.  And the rain storm would not have been as effective.     

Ab, the grandfather, was played by David Hooks.  Fourteen years earlier when he was a New York based actor, I had directed David in episodes on NAKED CITY (COLOR SCHEMES LIKE NEVER BEFORE) and EAST SIDE WEST SIDE (AGE OF CONSENT).  You can view both of those shows by visiting the archives to the right of this column.

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I was a big admirer of the musical, A CHORUS LINE when the national company played at the Shubert Theatre in Century City.  I saw it six times.  So when I saw we were going to need a dancer for this episode, I asked Pam Polifroni, our casting director, to get one of the dancers from that show for our production.  She brought Trish Garland in to meet with me and she was hired.  I gave her the script and explained what I was planning.  It was agreed she would create her own choreography.

For our theatre we selected the Mayfair Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.  Just a few blocks up from the ocean, it was a small theatre that bounced back and forth between being a movie house and a performing arts theatre for smaller productions.  It was a charmer.  Imagine my shock the morning we worked there when Trish arrived -- on crutches.  She assured me there would be no problem; she would be able to perform.   And she did.  My admiration for her knew no bounds.  It was a known fact that the dancers in A CHORUS LINE constantly experienced injuries.  If you’ve ever seen a production of that musical, you know what a strenuous ordeal those performers were put through.  But here was one performer who was not going to pass up a job (the IMDB notes this as being her first film assignment) because of some bad gams.  A real trouper in the show must go on tradition!

When Grandpa finds out where Jason is performing, he arranges a trip to the theatre.

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I have to take a moment here to talk about my reaction to A CHORUS LINE.  The first time I saw it, I remember at the final curtain being totally wiped out by the message I got from the production.  Cassie, in order to get a job that she was desperate to receive, had to perform at less than her capabilities in order to qualify.  That message really resonated and disturbed me.

Remember the short teaser that began this episode?  Here is the sequence that clip came from.

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If you looked closely you may have noticed the opening clip was not EXACTLY the same as the later scene.  This was a case where the opening teaser was planned and scripted.  It needed its own opening and its own closing.  Most times the scene would be selected AFTER the film had been assembled and the clip would be a duplication of the later scene.

This show gave me a chance to return to one of my favorite locations -- Franklin Canyon.  Doctor Curt goes looking for Cassie.  Her home at this time was a construction we found at the Canyon.  But our art department did a fine job of embellishing it -- articles of furniture, the torn curtains at the window (wonderful to shoot through) and even cobwebs, spun not by spiders by by our artful technicians.

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Finally!  It had been a long wait from my interneship at Blair Hospital (DR. KILDARE), but I was finally going to get my chance to officiate at the birth of a baby.

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If you remember, earlier I said that the script for this episode veeered toward melodrama.  Now did you think I would make a statement like that and not deliver?

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I’ve spoken before about MIchael’s concern about having to be just a presence in scenes without having any dialogue.  And I’ve stated that I thought she didn’t realize the power of her presence.  But then there were those times when she was more than just a presence.

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