The Gravesite

What Lew Hunter says about "Just Say Yes: Memoirs of a Geezer

"Wonderful!  All 'remember when' in the most glowing ways.  His superlative memory book will keep me going for weeks with the uplifting things he did, which trigger my personal uplifting things. No matter what vocation anyone has had, these "memoirs" can well help the pain of the leaves falling off the tree. "

Lew Hunter, screen writer, network executive with Disney, NBC, and ABC, TV producer, originator of the UCLA Master Class in Screenwriting and author of Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, the best-selling book on screenwriting.

Debbie Reynolds

How John Broke into Broadcasting

Debbie Reynolds " "" "The Debbie Reynolds Show"

Since his efforts to break into broadcasting had been unsuccessful, he finally decided to start at the very bottom, and became a page at NBC.  Six months later he was selecting recorded background music for Matinee Theater daily dramas, followed by an eight year stint as an NBC Broadcast Standards Program Policy Editor (so-called censor).  This led to the position which had become his goal:  Manager of Film Programs, where he supervised for NBC such shows as Bonanza, I Dream of Jeannie, Ironside, The Man from Uncle, Then Came Bronson, The Debbie Reynolds Show, The Monkeesand a series shot in London with Lord Lew Grade called The Strange Report.

In 1970  the management  changed at MGM-TV and Graves moved over to become Director of Current Programming.  He was the executive in charge of the award-winning Medical Center, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, GE Monogram Documentaries, and several syndicated talk shows.  Since executive regimes at this level tend to change about every two years, 1972 gave him the opportunity to become a producer.  He helmed Assignment Vienna, with Robert Conrad, an eight hour miniseries filmed on location in Vienna, Austria for MGM-TV and the ABC Television Network.

Assignment Vienna (short exerpt from "Just Say Yes: Memoirs of a Geezer"
Bodies flying through windows do so with ease in Hollywood productions - because the glass is really a sheet of sugar and shatters easily.  When we finally found a Viennese artisan who could fashion such a window for an action sequence, the day of shooting turned out to be in the middle
of a record-breaking heat wave, and the sugar glass, instead of shattering into a thousand pieces, bent to the touch--a gooey, taffy-like mass.  The English stunt man shrugged, and went flying through a real window.........John Graves on Assignment Vienna

Read more chapters of "Just Say Yes: Memoirs of a Geezer " and more mini reviews

Another teaser from the book....

Just What Does A Producer Do? - exerpt from Assignment Vienna on location

When the executive regime at MGM-TV changed in 1972 (it seems to happen about every two years at that level) my job as Director of Current Programming was eliminated in the re-organization.  My boss (who was also to be eliminated) offered me the opportunity to produce a mini-series we had been developing called Assignment Vienna," to be shot on location in that city--in five weeks.  I accepted.  I had never produced anything in my life, though I had been around production for some twenty years.  I'd learn the hard way--by doing it.  "It" turned out to be the biggest nightmare of my life, but also a fabulous six month education, and door-opener. more exerpts

Click to view John's work in feature film

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Barbara Eden

Barbara Eden

I Dream of Jeannie

The Monkees

The Monkees

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

“And the Golden Globe goes to Medical Center!” This was the good news which our MGM-TV table had been waiting for. The producers, Al C. Ward and Frank Glicksman, accepted the award, while a bald Cicely Tyson beamed on. Since I was the executive responsible for this, and every other series at MGM-TV, I beamed too!

“I wish the NBC censor would take his hand off my knee.” So remarked Michael Landon during a silent, darkened lull in a rough cut screening of Bonanza on the Paramount lot. (I was actually across the room.)

“You’ve got the job.” Barry Diller, then Vice President of Programming for the ABC Television Network, had just hired me as a West Coast Program Executive for the network. But I got a much better job offer, so I went to Australia instead.

Susan Strasberg, actress and daughter of Lee Strasberg, founder of The Actor’s Studio and Method Acting, was a guest star on Assignment Vienna, which I was producing. Before every take, she would sit huddled into a ball, somewhere where it was dark. When the call came to shoot the scene, she would emit an extended, deafening, bloodcurdling scream. She said it cleared her of inhibiting obstructions.
The day before, the two of us spent the day in Vienna’s finest boutiques, trying to find just the right ensemble for an elegant scene in which she had to be “dressed to the nines.” Fortunately, even after five or six shoppes, she didn’t feel the need to clear any inhibiting obstructions and we found a nice dressy suit.

When Ray Bradbury and Charles Schulz played a frenzied match of tennis singles while attending the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I was their ball boy.

    Hollywood Show Links

    I Dream of Jeanie Online / Bonanza / The Monkees

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