is a genuine yum-yum
Steele” is remarkably fresh entertainment confection, a genuine yum-yum
way: If you have food memories of such breezy, intelligent delights as
“The Rogues” and ‘The Avengers” you might well enjoy the classy echoes
from those shows that brighten this new NBC comedy-drama about a pair
immensely attractive private eyes ‘Remington Steele” debuts at 10
(Channel 4, in Detroit}
stars as Laura Holt a private investigator who invents a male boss
Remington Steele in order to get clients. Delicious complications
when the fantasy man actually appears on the scene in the person of
dapper and sexy Pierce Brosnan.
to such pedestrian glop as ‘Matt Houston” or “Knight Rider,” “Remington
Steele” absolutely glistens.
produced by MTM, a sure sign of quality. The excellent theme music is
Henry Mancini. The support cast fine. And the writing, much of it from
executive producer Michael Gleason, sparkles.
stylish, champagne wit to the entire affair.
is temporarily subdued by thugs, he snappily responds: “May I get up or
do you prefer me in the groveling position? And when he is about to
Zimbalist into a steaming fury concerning his identity as Remington
be jauntily says, “Years from now, when you talk of this, be kind.’
Kerr to John Kerr, Tea and Sympathy,’ 1956.”
your typical Boss Hogg television dialogue.
appealing about this hour of adult escapism is the genuine romantic
generated between Zimbalist and Brosnan. And that heat is so believable
because “Remington Steele” offers the viewing audience a pair of
intelligent lead characters who will likely never grovel for our
NBC. A modern man, a modern woman and a marvelous, entertainment are
blessings of “Remington Steele."’
Blarney Vol. 1 No. 1984
Times: A Stylish Success
May 15, 1983
these days to be trapped between the programming high road, with series
such as ''Hill Street Blues'' and ''Cheers,'' and the exploitative low
road, with violent concoctions like ''The A-Team.'' But in fact, the
is beginning to look strongest in the crucial middle ground of its
most notably with a stylish private-eye series entitled ''Remington
Currently shown on Tuesdays at 9 P.M., immediately following ''The
this MTM Enterprises production is frequently witty and it features
surely must be the most attractive couple on television's entertainment
daughter of Ephram Zimbalist Jr., and granddaughter of the famed
plays Laura Holt, a young woman who has set up her own detective agency
only to find that many clients prefer male detectives. She then invents
a male boss named Remington Steele, who always happens to be busy
when clients visit the office. But then one day a man claiming to be
Steele does indeed show up and begins to assert his authority at the
Played by Pierce Brosnan, the terribly suave Steele spends much of his
time being either amused or mysterious.
clearly, demands more than a little faith in the inventiveness of the
But the results in the show's first season have been generally
The show attempts, rather successfully, to generate the kind of
glamour that has been marketed in every male-female detective romp from
''The Thin Man'' to ''Hart to Hart.'' The touch is light, and the
effects are nicely appealing. Steele, for instance, is a movie buff. In
the first episode, Laura Holt discovers that he has had passports
himself as Douglas Quintain in England, Michael O'Leary in Ireland,
Fabrini in Italy, John Murrell in France and Richard Blaine in
As it happens, each name was filched from characters that had once been
portrayed by Humphrey Bogart. In other episodes, Steele has been heard
quoting from ''Tea and Sympathy'' and has used films such as
and ''Murder on the Orient Express'' to help solve his own mystery
has something of the cool American look - quietly chic and ready to
elegantly, just about any social situation. She has some of the
restraint that was the hallmark of Grace Kelly, a quality that makes
reluctant but uncontrollable attraction toward Steele all the more
apparently irresistible Steele, with a name like Pierce Brosnan, it
come as no surprise that the actor playing him was born in Ireland.
in England for much of his life, he was first seen in this country as
dashing hero of the mini-series ''The Manions of America,'' Agnes
saga of an Irish family battling its way to prominence in this country.
Mr. Brosnan has dark good looks, which are carefully framed in
Steele'' with a dark-toned, well-tailored wardrobe. The longer he hangs
around in this series, which has been renewed for next season, the more
likely he is to become a favorite matinee idol.
inspiring unusual viewer responses. A reader from Reading, Pa., has
to verse to describe Steele's appeal. She writes: ''Remington Steele is
my ideal/A bit of a heel/ A touch of schlameel (sic)/ But always
And lots and lots of sex appeal/ So who cares if he isn't real!''
the kind of loyalty from which stars can be made.
Washington Post: Stephanie Zimbalist- 'Remington Steele' - Who's In
this series," said Stephanie Zimbalist, star of "Remington Steele" on
"I was sold a bill of goods. I wasn't always very happy last season.
not be specific," she said. "All I can say is it's better this
in its second season, has been doing well amid a sad season for NBC,
with the network's only run-away hit, "The A Team," to give NBC a
Tuesday evening of Nielsens.
stingy on specifics, but she offered a number of nonspecifics
her unhappiness last season and her relative contentment this year.
emerged was at least a sketch, if not a full portrait, of a star who's
had to adjust to the intensity of the spotlight on her costar, Pierce
the Irish import featured recently on the cover of People magazine, as
well as some shifts in the story line of a show in which she's supposed
to be the more-equal of two partners. She pointed out that she really
have to let herself in for the aggravation in the first place.
just fine before the series came along," she recalled. "I was doing
movies- of- the- week a year. I thought the series would be good for
The first year contained some lessons. "We were both overwhelmed by it
all," she said. "There was a lot of pressure on both of us. I learned
ego, too. If I'm there and someone says to Pierce he's wonderful, you
ouch! You have to put those things aside. You have to recognize ego as
a negative force."
the question of keeping the show on course. The original premise for
was that Zimbalist's character, Laura Holt, is a crack private
But she's hampered by the reality that potential clients shy away from
a female PI. Solution: Give the agency a male name: Remington Steele.
along comes Pierce Brosnan as a playboy with a mysterious past and
the same name as her agency. As a private investigator, he can't find
way around a corner; but as a front man, he's perfect. In some
however, there's been a tendency to lapse into a traditional TV
with the man calling the shots and the woman doing a lot of screaming.
"The only thing I'm troubled by is when they go away from the show's
said Zimbalist. "I'm troubled when they forget that she's in
is coming along as a detective, they sometimes forget that I control
agency and the purse strings.
change that relationship, they change my character. That (a strong
Holt) is why I took the show."
been other changes in the show that have gone over well with its stars
and the audience. Doris Roberts has been added to the cast and has had
some nifty comic turns as an IRS investigator who becomes a member of
a different look to the characters this year. "For me," said Zimbalist,
"they wanted a softer look --fewer business suits, more silks. Whenever
he can, Pierce gets out of suits and into more casual things. It
things up considerably.
rid of my house--it was blown up in the first episode this fall. Now I
have a loft. It says
the character--it's more expressive." Zimbalist brings to her role a
12 movies, two miniseries, "Centennial" and "The Golden Moment." She
Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., Strasberg Institute and Dance
West in Los Angeles, the Juilliard School in New York, and Canada's
School of Fine Arts.
Stephanie, whose parents live in Georgetown, shows horses, belongs to a
art school in Sweden and has taught skiing.
Efrem, son of a concert violinist father and opera star Alma Gluck,
a lofty place in series television, having starred in "The FBI."
Zimbalist played Inspector Lewis Erskine, the
cool and professional FBI agent, from 1965 to 1974. Stephanie has a
and a brother and has always enjoyed the backing of her family.
me is the moral support. No matter what we do, the family supports each
other," she said.
taping 'The Tempest.' I sent him flowers."
Evening Press: Private Eye Capers At Caton
the popular TV detective was at stately Carton House, in County
searching for a prize racehorse called Xanadu.
arrived from Phoenix Park in a stolen rolls and quickly pinpointed the
missing racer to a small stable at me rear of the building.
he was introducing Emmet Bergen and a grim accomplice to the shovel.
a splendid black pin-stripe suit, had been closeted behind the stable
for an incredible length of time, for him, three full takes. This is
fifth set-up of the day and according to Irish location manager, Don
they are already breezing through the script. The routine is apparently
two rehearsals and one take.
Pierce Brosnan, as Steele, and Stephanie Zimbalist, his co-star, miss a
line it is an event according to veteran director Seymour Robbie.
of the day they expected to have seven and a half minutes in the can.
they were due to return today for another seven and a half.
on to Dublin airport and the Phoenix Park tomorrow, and the Sally Gap,
Annamoe Roundwood, Trinity Hall in Rathmines, The Docker’s Pub, The
Boat, The Regent Cinema and St. Michael’s Prep School, Aislesbury Road
in Dublin next week.
days Executive Producer Gareth Davies hopes to have a full fourty-six
a half-minute episode back with his bosses at MTM Enterprises In Los
and Xanadu back in his well-grazed paddock.
him are the formidably built Marie Come, as a villain called Mrs.
and Frank Kelly, as her henchman, Skeggs.
to the waist as we spoke, accused himself of real thuggery in the
“I’m doing my damndest to shoot someone. I’m going around with a loaded
shotgun trying to find someone to shoot.”
a chase through the intricate shrubbery in a pony and trap, expressed
satisfied with the way the work was going
first visit to Ireland since he made “The Manions of America” here in
He may now return on a more regular basis.
in Wimbledon, which he intends to sell. And he hopes to buy a new one
in the slightly clipped tones of his TV persona, has formed a film and
television production company with his wife Cassie, which they have
Killkenny Productions. This is to enable them both to branch out as
producers and actors.
the evil Skeggs is plotting wanton villainy just wide of the new set-up
and Brosnan departs once more to put him down.
series of “Remington Steele” will begin a new 22-week run in the States
on September 25th. The Irish episode, which is being made at a cost of
just over $900,000 is the fourth.
made before the company decamped for six weeks in Europe was co-written
by the co-star of the show Stephanie Zimbalist.
of “77 Sunset Strip” star Ephrem Zimbalist, Jr., Stephanie is a
natural and articulate advocate of “Remington Steele”.
she turned the show down twice, mainly because she didn’t want to be
but eventually succumbed to the sunny mixture of comedy, mystery and
so sure that it is really appreciated here or in Britain, but she
that it is her favorite TV show- with the situation comedy “Cheers”.
character, Laura Holt has followed Steele to Ireland after learning he
is in a sanitarium. He has apparently come here on the promise of
about his father. He stumbles on a plot to kidnap the racehorse and
amnesia when he is clubbed by Kelly’s flunkies.
about his ability at karate. True to the show’s format of aping old
Steele is involved in a double chase similar to Richard Hannay in “The
likely to tell here if he betters the crooked Conmee and her crew, but
he does go on to further adventure in Cannes and Malta.
Blarney Vol. 1 No. 1984
Irish Times: Actor Steeles punter’s hearts
of course, two stars of “Remington Steele, but only one of them was
in Meath. The Meath one moved through the Phoenix Park races on
afternoon in the centre of a little riot. “Ah he is, though, isn’t he,
he’s reely gorgeous!” the women demanded of their own unfortunate
as they clamoured for Pierce Brosnan’s autograph.
moved his co-star, all by herself, edging her way politely through the
crowds, ignored. It was only when they turned the cameras on Stephanie
Zimbalist that the crowd felt it might be worth asking for her
if they couldn’t get through to the gorgeous Mr Brosnan.
Brosnan’s wife was there too, very much so. Through the entire
filming, Cassandra Harris didn’t move further than four yards from his
elbow. She looked like a woman wearing her diamonds, but not entirely
they shouldn’t have been left in the bank vault.
you not to look directly at our actors or at the cameras,” the director
implored, “just make like you’re watching the racing.”
but don’t stand in front of the cameras,” gorgeous Mr Brosnan
Your Heart Away” - what else?- — our own Godfrey Quigley is plaing a
ignominously described on the shooting script only as “Fat Man”, who
his Rolls Royce stolen. He spent most of the day sitting, very hot in a
morning suit, at the wheel of the biggest, sleekest, glossiest open top
Rolls ever seen in a teenage fantasy. “One could get very used to
Park racecourse people were purring with delight over the whole thing.
The racecourse looked enchanting, all roses and white railings and silk
dresses and silky horses shimmering in the sun. All over America
be looking at this next winter and thinking Ireland really looks like
They should be prosecuted under the Consumer Information Act.
Nov 15, 1984 Vol 1, Issue 5
Magazine: Stephanie Zimbalist Interview
went to a state dinner at the White House not too long ago. Her date
no star, prince or potentate. It was her married half brother, Skip. "I
thought I'd meet somebody exciting there," she sighs. "It was wonderful
company, but everyone was there with a mate, except Stefanie Powers.
sure she was hoping the same thing." No luck.
the beautiful, befreckled star of Remington Steele, daughter of Efrem
Jr., sweet and sophisticated at 28, the kind of woman any man would
to take home to mother, has no boyfriend. Believe it or not, "I've
met anyone who has convinced me to say, 'No, I'm not gonna take the
Spielberg film, I think I'll stay here and have a baby.'" she says.
course, tried. Stephanie came close with rock composer Tony Berg. "But
he is married now and has a child." she says. Then there was Gregory
(Trapper John, M.D.), a frequent co-star. "It was pretty much a flash
the pan," she says. "We had a romance going when we did Centennial. Our
friendship is very solid, but our romantic thing was pfft."
about Stephanie is that she doesn't whine about being alone. "I'm never
going to be the woman behind the man," she promises. "I will never get
married to the head of General Motors.
be the wife of a superstar. For those women, their lives are somebody
will never be a 'Mrs. Blabidyblah!'"
nonetheless, a homebody in an odd sort of home for a star: a
bungalow in L.A.'s unfashionable Studio City, with peeling green paint
that's just being replaced and no central
"I'm more interested in life than lifestyle," she says. "Lifestyle
you have to drive a certain car. I drive a 1979 Volkswagen diesel, and
that's why I drive one on the show." She
money--around $20,000 per episode--in real estate and also saves it to
one day make her own shows. Stephanie and childhood best buddy Robin
recently wrote a script for Remington (that still hasn't aired).
they hope to produce TV movies. Stephanie is a professional woman
and proud of it. "When I do interviews, I like to talk about that," she
says. "You would think the women's magazines would want that, but all
want to know is my bra size." To her, TV is just a job. "I want to live
the way I live," she says, "so I can go back to who I was before all
a three season success that every week has Zimbalist and co-star Pierce
Brosnan solving crimes and almost falling in love or into bed.
been rumors of strain between them. "I wouldn't say our relationship is
always smooth sailing," says Brosnan. But Zimbalist says reports of
have been exaggerated. "In a fun sort of
publicizing of some feud has brought us closer together," she says. "I
think it had to do with shooting an episode last season at a school.
students swarmed around him, and I'm walking along and feeling like
lunch. I was saying that was hard to deal with sometimes and he said,
you can go for it! All you have to do is play sexy.' It was a nice
but the tabloids took it and made it out that I was jealous. I'm not
Jr. of FBI fame, doesn't think that Stephanie got her series because
can play sexy. What dad would? She go it, he says, "because she came
an extraordinary range of parts. She been blind (The Love Boat), she's
been one-legged(The Long Journey Back), she was killed by a
she was a murderess (The Babysitter) and she once had a test-tube baby
close to her family: mother Stephanie; half sister Nancy, 40; half
Skip, 37; and grandfather Efrem (Sr.), a classical musician of
repute. Ask Stephanie what kind
does want, and she'll tell you about Skip. "I think I want a clone of
brother," she says. "He's the greatest guy." As a family, the
are very...very straight. "My father was
for that," says Efrem Jr. "He set a wonderful example for all of us. He
had a long, honorable career. But the adulation meant nothing to him."
now 94, lives in Reno, Nev. "My grandfather," says Stephanie, "is
the greatest man I'll ever know. I adore him... Every Tuesday night at
10, he turns on the show and watches me. He takes a nap during the day
so he can stay up an watch." She's the kind of young woman any
would be proud of. Any man at all.
With class, smarts and luck, NBC has become the Cinderella network of
batter is Brandon Tartikoff, a sharp-fielding spray hitter in his sixth
season as president of NBC Entertainment and third baseman on the
softball team. As Tartikoff steps to the plate against the Warner Bros.
squad, a giant radio in the bleachers begins to blast out the driving
song from Miami Vice. Inspired, Tartikoff slaps a double, leading NBC
a four-run inning. The team's "music manager" puckishly announces that
all who have not hit safely must henceforth bat to the somewhat less
quickening theme from Punky Brewster.
softball games in Burbank, Calif., as in their offices nearby,
and his NBC crew radiate the highly competitive, slightly giddy elan of
a Cinderella team, up from nowhere to challenge the league leader. They
have every reason to feel peacocky. After running dead last in )
audience ratings for nine years, NBC since September '84 has scrambled
to within a tenth of a rating point of the dominant network, CBS, in
arcane but widely accepted Nielsen yardstick of "television homes." For
those who count heads rather than houses, NBC leads in the number of
24.9 million to CBS's 23.2 million and ABC's 22.3 million, according to
Nielsen. NBC also delivers more of Madison Avenue's prized target
the 18-49 age group; here ABC is second and CBS last. Says Joel Segal,
executive vice president for broadcasting at Ted Bates Advertising: "By
the standards of practically any advertiser NBC is No. 1."
make money by selling viewers, in bulk and by demographics, to
NBC has done this so successfully that, since Grant Tinker was named
of the network in 1981, an estimated $5 million of red ink has been
into a projected $200 million profit for 1985. But what has NBC sold
on? Mostly a feast of slick weekly series in three broad categories:
traditional situation comedy, led by last season's phenom The Cosby
(2nd in the yearlong Nielsen ratings to CBS's Dallas) and including
Ties (3rd), Cheers (9th), Night Court (19th) and The Facts of Life
a quartet of red-meat adventure shows, from The A-Team (6th) and
(12th) to Miami Vice (33rd, with a bullet); and three Emmy-laden hours
from Tinker's old production company, MTM Enterprises. Hill Street
(31st), St. Elsewhere (52nd) and Remington Steele (21st) may not
the Nielsen families, but they wow the yup-scale viewers every
covets. They have helped establish NBC's reputation as a Bloomingdale's
among networks, the class act of mass-market TV.
the former doormat network found itself in a record hot streak: 14
weeks as No. 1. But Tinker cautions, "That's not to be confused with
in the fall, when the new season starts, but it's a lot better to win
than to lose 14. It suggests that nothing has come off our fastball
To fall back in the new season, we'd have to have another of our
collapses. And I just don't see it." If momentum means as much to a
success as it does to a baseball team's, then NBC is wellfixed for the
prime-time pennant race. This summer viewers got steamed up over Miami
Vice, which found a regular perch among the top ten shows. Moviegoers
a bimedia star of Family Ties' Michael J. Fox, whose Back to the Future
and Teen Wolf were the biggest box-office winners of the past two
Fox could be the first teen throb since John Travolta to commute
a sitcom and movie stardom. Just another lightning stroke of NBC
and luster to the new season's prime-time competition, which promises
be the tightest in years, NBC has lured the executive producer of Back
to the Future, Steven Spielberg, to mastermind a suspense anthology
called Amazing Stories. With Hollywood's alltime hitmaker anchoring the
Sunday night lineup, and with a flock of summer comers, Tinker figures
that "this fall may be the time when NBC blows right by everybody."
seems energized by the thrill of the chase. "In the past," he says,
time a show bit the dust, you figured you'd be joining it. This kind of
pressure is easier."
valve is self-mocking humor, long an NBC staple. On his Late Night
David Letterman has provoked "feuds" with NBC stars Mr. T and Today's
Gumbel. Among Letterman's supporting comedy cast is a silver- haired
who purports to be one "Grant Tinker"; he recently celebrated NBC's No.
1 status by offering lunch money to habitues of the network commissary.
The real Brandon Tartikoff, who has been host on Saturday Night Live,
play himself next week on a comedy special called Bob Hope Buys NBC?--a
needling joke in itself, since NBC was the only network that did not
to concern itself with a serious takeover threat in 1985. Tartikoff can
even joke about the "downside" of the Miami Vice whirlwind: "It has
a lot of middle-aged men with potbellies to start wearing pastel Armani
jackets over T shirts, and for that I'm eternally sorry."
as 1981, only outsiders (and Johnny Carson) were cracking jokes about
An air of frantic desperation hung over the place as then Chairman Fred
Silverman threw onto his schedule, and then pulled off, one expensive
after another. To the savviest TV producers, "it was as if NBC didn't
recalls Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties). "We didn't go there with an
idea, because we knew it would be crucified." Silverman, who had earned
a reputation as a programming wunderkind at CBS and then ABC earlier in
the '70s, was also scalded by the boycott of the Moscow Olympics, which
left him with $34 million worth of dead summer air. Moreover, there was
turmoil at the top of NBC's parent corporation, RCA: three presidents
four chairmen within a decade. It was not until the fifth chairman,
Bradshaw, hired Tinker to run NBC in July 1981 that hope and trust were
restored to the network. Says Steven Bochco, whose Hill Street Blues
been spawned by Silverman and produced by Tinker: "The day Grant went
NBC, the industry's attitude toward that network changed profoundly,
of his accession, Tinker outlined his master plan: "Try to attract to
the best creative people, make them comfortable, give them whatever
they need, and then get the hell out of the way." It surprised no one
Tinker, who would be cast as a noble Senator if Hollywood still made
about noble Senators, proved to be a man of his word. But two funny
happened: his plan worked, to NBC's profit as well as its honor, and it
was implemented by Brandon Tartikoff. At the time, Tartikoff was
to be Silverman's Silverman: a hard-driving guy with a passion for the
lowest common denominator. But as Tinker and Tartikoff discussed the
chessboard of prime-time scheduling, they realized they saw eye to eye
on many things, especially the need to lure the handful of producers
could set NBC on the high road to success. In the process, according to
Goldberg, "Grant brought out the best in Brandon, as an executive and
a man." Now 36, Tartikoff has become Tinker's tinkerer.
both a master and a child of the medium. Son of a Long Island clothing
manufacturer, young Brandon split his spare time between playing
and critiquing TV shows. At Yale, where he was graduated with a B.A. in
English, he took tutorials with Novelist Robert Penn Warren. Called
one day to analyze a D.H. Lawrence story, Tartikoff suggested,
it be better if the girl had first seen the guy over here in his other
setting, and then met the other person over there?" As Tartikoff
the incident, "He stared at me for a moment and said, 'Have you ever
of going into television?' He was serious."
He took a job at a New Haven TV station, while playing semipro baseball
for the New Haven Braves. Soon he was at Chicago's WLS-TV, run by Lew
who introduced him to Fred Silverman. From Erlicht (now president of
Entertainment), Tartikoff picked up programming smarts; from Silverman,
he learned the importance of loving TV. Even today Tartikoff can
about his job as if he were a kid who has just been deeded the - candy
store. "In movies," he says, "unless you make E.T., you reach maybe as
many people as watched a TV show that got canceled last week. With
there's something wonderful in knowing that, if you hit, 50 million
are watching and enjoying what you've done. Wherever you go--on the
in a restaurant, at a party--you hear about it. And that shared
is so exciting."
ago, Tartikoff had few viewers with whom to share the experience. Hill
Street Blues may be the finest dramatic series American TV has
but in 1981 it was a glorious anomaly on NBC's schedule. "It was also
very first show whose demographics were young, urban and upscale,"
says. "Consequently, nobody saw it, because the other 21 hours of NBC's
prime time had mostly rural appeal and skewed older. Its lead-in shows
were utterly incompatible; first Walking Tall, then B.J. and the Bear.
If you can find one person in America who actually watched all three
we should give him a Hill Street jacket or something."
about devising a compatible, competitive schedule from the rubble of
legacy. It was no simple task. As Media Analyst Anthony Hoffman points
out, "The producer of a TV series wants to get on the air, get a hit,
it on long enough to have 120 episodes" that can be lucratively
to local stations. But a new show is unlikely to become a hit on a
in shambles. Further, as Tartikoff notes, "a producer coming to NBC
he might have to run against Dallas or The Love Boat. That's part of
problem of being last--you don't get to bat against your own pitching.
There was one thing we could offer good producers, though: that they
make the show they wanted to make." That promise applied to Steven
in 1981 even as it does today to Steven Spielberg. "I started my career
directing TV," Spielberg says, "and my shows were often changed by the
networks in ways I didn't like. When I returned to TV, I wanted the
freedom I have in feature films. NBC gave me those assurances, and
been true to their word."
Tinker made the equally enticing promise that NBC would give the
time to find good new shows. That patience was frequently tested in
first two years. Before it won eight Emmys in September 1981, Hill
regularly dwelled in the lowest-rating's precinct. During the fall of
Cheers was dead last, and Co-Producer Les Charles wondered % if "maybe
we should call NBC and tell them it'll get better. Instead we got calls
from Brandon saying, 'Don't worry. We'll give it time.' " Soon after
Ties made its debut, Tartikoff found himself slinking into Tinker's
"I'd say, 'Family Ties just got a 16 share, and the renewal notice is
this week and we won't get to see another rating before we have to
or cancel.' And he'd say, 'Brandon! Is the show still good? Do you
the ratings are going to improve? Then pick it up.' " Tinker insists
was no altruism in his strategy. "You're spending less money," he
"when you stick with the stuff you bought in the first place." As it
NBC's quality shows, however low-rated, were attracting what
call a quality audience. Mad. Ave. ad mavens were discovering that a
long applied to magazines--that 1,000 New Yorker readers are more
than 1,000 National Enquirer readers--made sense in prime time as well.
Says Tartikoff: "When you pull a tab on the St. Elsewhere audience, you
find that many of them don't watch any other entertainment show on
TV. They're well-educated, well-paid people whom certain advertisers
eager to reach because they can't be reached in these numbers anywhere
else on TV. So we can make a very good living off St. Elsewhere even
it earns only a 24 share."
pay off. Last season Hill Street's rating was about 13% lower than that
of its CBS competition, Knots Landing, yet both sold a 30-sec.
slot for about $200,000. And while viewing of all network programming
by 4% in 1984-85, NBC increased its share of the 18-to-49 group by 10%.
NBC also benefited from the shrinking of the network audience --15%
1980. The threshold for ratings success was shrinking, thus giving
with more specialized appeal a fighting chance for survival.
was revving up its Rolls-Royce schedule, but its financial graph was
De Lorean. A quick hit was in order, and Tartikoff lucked into it at
Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney title bout in Las Vegas, where he saw Mr. T,
fresh from Rocky III, monopolizing the crowd's attention. Back in Los
Tartikoff penned a legendary proposal to Producer Stephen Cannell:
Warrior, Magnificent Seven, Dirty Dozen, Mission: Impossible, all
into one, and Mr. T drives the car." Cannell cobbled up The A-Team,
won a 40 share in its first season and pulled hard-to-find adult male
back to prime time.
season, NBC introduced nine series, all of which were canceled. Worse,
most of the shows were about as sophisticated as a mud- trucking derby.
"The saddest kind of failure," says Tartikoff, "is when you aim low and
miss. At least when you aim higher and miss, you can hide behind your
and say, 'It's the audience's fault.' " Fortunately for Tartikoff, one
night in the dead of that bleak winter his baby daughter was crying,
Dad decided to keep Mom company. He switched on The Tonight Show, where
Dr. William H. Cosby, Ed.D. (U. Mass.) was telling a story about
aged parents trying to instruct their kids in the facts of life. Next
Tartikoff phoned Cosby's agent and floated yet another of his
haiku: "A black Family Ties." The following autumn The Cosby Show
the first sitcom smash since Mork & Mindy in 1978, cemented NBC's
schedule, and propelled the network toward No. 1.
that laurel this season? Tinker and Tartikoff are pinning many of their
hopes on Amazing Stories, which is slotted on Sundays at 8 p.m. against
CBS's Top Ten sleuth game, Murder, She Wrote. Traditionally, notes
"people go to CBS for 60 Minutes, and many of them just sit there all
long, through some rather indifferent programming. With Amazing Stories
we're asking them to get up and change that dial. And if we do hear the
thunder of dials across the land, the whole face of Sunday night will
because maybe they won't come back to CBS." NBC is spending about
per half hour--twice the budget of an ordinary show--and has committed
to 44 episodes, or two years on the schedule. As Spielberg notes wryly,
"Amazing Stories means a lot of money to NBC--a lot of money going out,
so far." Says Tartikoff: "If it fails, it will be an expensive failure.
But if we capture viewers at 8 o'clock, it will be a major and very
takes prime-time TV not so much back to the future as forward to the
when series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone
viewers on a different adventure of the imagination each week. Because
Spielberg has enlisted such directors as Martin Scorsese, Brian De
Clint Eastwood, Paul Bartel and Peter Hyams (Mr. E.T. will direct two
his own the first season), each of the Stories promises a distinctive
Hyams' episode boasts sepulchral lighting and tension as taut as piano
* wire; Bartel's is a slapstick black comedy; Spielberg's two shows are
wistful parables about death as creative transcendence. Each offers a
frisson, to be relived on Monday morning at the playground or around
the daunting challenge that Amazing Stories faces. Prime-time series
loyal viewers by their familiarity, not by offering a vagrant
each week. The operative word-of-mouth phrase is "you ought to see,"
"you should have seen." Amazing Stories has no continuing characters,
or stars--not even a regular host, like Hitchcock or Rod Serling.
may prefer to settle in with Angela Lansbury's rumpled caginess in
She Wrote instead of taking a chance with the faceless brilliance of
the CBS programming chief who preferred to retool The Twilight Zone
than take a chance on Spielberg's anthology of original stories, is
that Amazing Stories is actually his network's secret weapon. Shephard
predicts "a high initial tune-in sample" of the NBC show, followed by a
return to tele firma. And if that does not happen, all CBS has to do is
contrive to let a Sunday-afternoon N.F.L. broadcast run overtime, thus
pushing 60 Minutes back by ten or 15 minutes, and 60 Minutes loyalists
will miss the first half of an Amazing story. That is precisely the
CBS used to shoot down ABC's Mork & Mindy when that hit show
the CBS Sunday lineup in 1979.
be faulted for encouraging Hollywood's top talent to put big visions
the small screen. Nor can the NBC brass be accused of gambling
on one show. The network's other new series, including Hell Town,
Robert Blake as a vigilante priest, and the highly touted sitcom The
Girls, have decent shots at survival. So do any number of new entries
the competing networks' rosters. Tartikoff, one of whose ten TV
is the famous "All hits are flukes," is sanguine about the immediate
"We won't be surprised," he says, "if CBS and ABC, even by sheer luck
by stepping in it, come up with a Cosby-size hit. In that case, we'll
have to regroup--and for the past three years we've been pretty good at
prime-time schedule is the most stable of the networks', Tartikoff has
time to devote to the rest of the broadcast day. The Today show, the
bracing of the three sunrise coffee klatches, has mounted a strong
on longtime ratings champ Good Morning America at ABC, while the CBS
News continues to flounder with the abrupt departures of Anchors Bill
and, last week, Phyllis George. The Saturday-morning kidvid schedule
No. 1. Carson is still king of late-night, and Letterman the hippest of
clown princes. Only daytime is a slum for profits when it could be a
mine; ABC's supremacy with its afternoon soaps helps it lead NBC in
network profits, despite the tailspin ABC has taken in the evening.
NBC's afternoon schedule has begun to mimic the NBC prime time of the
'80s: its ratings are still abysmal, but its share of women in the 18
49 age group now rivals CBS's. Each week Tartikoff hosts a "Santa
lunch," in which he and his staff watch the network's newest soap and
how it and other daytime fare can be improved. Tinker knows habits die
hard among the soap watchers. "It's like turning an ocean liner
that the two Mr. T's will accomplish this feat; they have worked
enough in prime time. The trust they lavished on producers has resulted
in fruitful relationships. Tartikoff is especially well liked because
participates fully in a show's creation, unlike the committee that runs
CBS. ABC has more severe problems. Lew Erlicht strikes the flagellant's
pose when discussing last year's flop shows: "We had to ask ourselves
each case, 'Why did this show fail?' And usually the answer was: 'It
" As for ABC Broadcast Group President Tony Thomopoulos, Analyst
maintains that he "went Hollywood" when he took over. "That is a
mistake," Hoffman says of Thomopoulos' style. "The production community
in Hollywood likes to feel that they're the dazzlers. Tartikoff is
enough not to compete. Compared to Thomopoulos, he's just an average
who does his job and does it well."
slob" maintains a sense of humor about his good fortune. "Sure, it's
he admits. "Where last year I'd have seats in the left-field stands,
I have seats in the center-field stands." And at his weekend softball
almost everyone stops by for a "Hi, Brandon." Between innings on a
Saturday, an NBC secretary brought her little Sarah to meet Tartikoff.
"Sarah, this is Mr. Brandon," she said. "Do you know who he is? Do you
remember the dog named Brandon on Punky Brewster? Well, this is the man
he's named after." Unimpressed, Sarah stuffed the hem of her dress into
her mouth and turned back toward the action on the field.
of Missouri-St. Louis Women's Studies Newsletter
love a mystery!
That's the name of an old myster show, but it's also true for me, which
is why I've decided to review the women characters on the current TV
eye/detective mystery shows. This does not include the new police shows
(e.g. Cagney and Lacey) or spy shows (e.g. Scarecrow and
mystery shows on TV are:
Like a Fox, I had Three Wives, Magnum P.I.; Simon and SImon,
and Murder She Wrote.
and NBC's Riptide and Remington Steele. Three of the
have women in central roles: Murder She Wrote (Jessica
Moonlighting (Maddie Hayes), and Remington Steele (Laura Holt).
the infamous I Had Three Wives, since I consider the central
character's three ex-wives who help him solve crimes to be throwbacks
the 'cute as a button helpful secretary; previously the only (almost
women character seen on mystery shows.
background, the professional woman dectective is a fairly new character
in mystery literature. Famous women dectectives have traditionally been
amateurs who fall into it as nosy busybodies (Agatha Christie’s Miss
women in other professions who get involved in detecting by accident
Cross’s Kate Fansler), or wives of athe male central character (the
Mrs. North or Dorothy L. Sayer's Harriet Vane).
the counterparts to Ellery Queen, Spenser, Mike Hammer, or even Lord
Wimsey been? If we are to believe the literature, they've ben waiting
their senior male partners to die violently, leaving them the agency
debt of course) as well as a juicy murder to solve (as happened to
Steiner's dectective in Murder on Her Mind and P.D. James's female
has been somewhat kinder -- typically there have been no deaths
any of our main characters into the leadership role of a dectective
Television seems to be trying to attract the 'new woman' by offering
female main characters -- with 'dectective' being one of the most
My question is: Is television showing us real women who are capable of
rational thought and physical action in these new detectives? Or are
creating new glorified girl fridays? The answer seems to be "yes." The
networks are giving us all of the above.
Hayes (Cybil Shepard) in "Moonlighting"
top model has entire fortune embezzeled, leaving her broke except for a
few tax shelter investments that make no money. One tax shelter is the
Addison Dectective Agency. She intends to sell, but is convinced not to
by David Addison (Bruce Willis), the agency head. The agency is renamed
the Blue Moon detective agency (Blue Moon shampoo was the source of
lost fortune), and Maddy becomes an "equal partner" -- with no
is shaky and the show is shakier. The writing tells the tale. Typical
consists of one character repreating what another character just said
a highter pitch, and the original character repeating what was just
etc. Both characters are made to look dumb, with Addison always getting
the 'good' lines, as in this example of 'snappy repartee:'
I just don't think...
o.k. -- you look great.
sexist dialogue is added to nonstop sexual innuendo. Addison takes
opportunityÊtoojoke about Maddy being an "ice queen" or to
the agency name by saying "It's because she only wants to do it once in
a blue moon." If I were Maddy, I would seriously reconsider selling to
regain self-esteem, if nothing else.
Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) of "Murder, She Wrote."
is a famous mystery writer who also solves crimes in her spare time,
amazing police and creating publicity for her books. It's hard to point
out this show's flaws when Jessica is suca a likable character.
she is too perfect. She always has the right answers and we never see
trying to work out the solution. She seems so nearly sexless that it's
easy to imagine someone saying "Let's remake the TV series based on the
Ellery Queen character, but do it with a woman this time." The writing
on this show is excellent. It's truly difficult to figure out
before Jessica reveals the culprit, but there should be more conflict
human error and more emotion in this main character.
Holt, (Stephanie Zimbalist) of "Remington Steele."
apprentices as a private dectective and opens her own agency. She
the agency name when it becomes obvous that a woman detective is not
clients, adn creates a fictional male boss. A mysterious man steps in
assume the boss's identity and Laura must choose to either go along
his charade or produce the "real" boss.
comes closest to showing a real woman dealing with some of the real
that women in our modern society deal with, from job discrimination in
the public world to agonizing over her personal relationship with this
man who suddenly appears to assume the identity of her fictious boss.
of us who have watched the show regularly have also seen both main
grow more dependent on each other, both professionally and personally.
The characters have not remained static and cardborad, but have
realistic personalities with all their attendant quirks. For example:
chocoholism, which is shown as a hysterically funny obsession when
offered candy, and "Remington's" penchant for attempting to solve all
by comparing them to plots of movies.
give the writers credit for handling the personal relationship between
Laura and "Remington" in an intelligent and restrained manner. Rather
go for the easy laughs with innuendo and tasteless jokes, a la
the character's frustrations and worries are explored. The personal
is there, but how do they handle it and remain professional? The show
been broadcast for three seasons and they have yet to manage a real
They have walked into bedrooms together and discovered dead bodies, not
romance. Because this show in its attention to detail draws the viewer
into the characters' world and makes that world real, even the most
mystery plots become interesting. The exploration of women's roles and
male/female relationships is particularly enjoyable, as the writers do
not opt for the "easy answers." As an aside, this show even has a
secretary" (Mildred Krebs, ex IRS investigator, played by actress Doris
Roberts) whom you can enjoy as a full character who contributes more to
the plot than a pretty face or nice legs for the detective to admire.
show has my recommendation for a pleasant, relatively nonsexist hour of
action and humor with a believeable female main character.
discussed above will be returning to the fall schedule. "Remington
and "Moonlighting are both aired on Tuesday evenings; "Murder, She
is broadcast on Sunday evenings. The other new private eye series being
aired by the regular networks this fall "Lime Street" and "Spenser For
Hire," appear to have no regular central female characters.
DESERVED: PBS"s "Mystery!" series is beginning its new season on
October 24 with an adaptation of P.D. James's Death of an Expert
This is to be the first in a series of five adaptations of works by
writers. Support women's works -- if you like what you see this season
on "Mystery!" let KETC/Channel 9 know. They are viewer-supported. .
UM-St. Louis Institute for Women's and Gender Studies.
'Remington' didn't have a future
Lawler, Television Editor
and retentions can be odd animals. A lot of jaws wagged when NBC axed
Steele," despite its placement in the top 20, but kept Fred Dryer's
It wasn't all James Bond's fault, says NBC, because Pierce Brosnan
have done both 007 and Remington.
Entertainment President Brandon Tartikoff's rationale for what was,
his move. Calling the cancellation of the Stephanie Zimbalist-Pierce
starrer "a tough decision,"
explained the factor that go into such a decision:
look at things in terms of where it's going to play on our schedule,
we thought the cushiest position that we could play 'Remington Steele'
was time period where it was, Saturday nights at 10. We looked at the
of 'Remington Steele,' which was in a state of decline on Tues. nights
the year before, moved it to Saturday night (where "Hunter" had played
the year prior.) With a higher
(audience) than 'Hunter' had when it was in the same time slot,
was doing slightly less than 'Hunter.' 'Hunter' next year win be a
show and 'Remington' was
going into its fifth season.
interest in the show," Tartikoff's explanation continued, "we concluded
the season with the so-called wedding of Remington and Laura which got
a 29 share. Now, a 29 share, I guess in
is a great rating. But if you look at the 29 and 'they got married',
about as high as we'll see with this show. The competition that
saw facing us for next season ('Twilight
"Spenser: For Hire") we thought actually a little tougher than the
we faced last season (the second hour of the CBS movie and "The Love
creatively, it had peaked, It bad done 88 to 90 stories, and with shows
like that you're looking at diminishing returns. How much can you
think there was much upside to the renewal of 'Remington' and
we thought that 'Hunter,' being a younger show, could have more upside."
said "Remington" retained its quality to the end, and that as a reward,
its writer /producer Michael Gleason was now off somewhere [on
Take This Job & Shove It
on Remington Steele, Pierce Brosnan sounds off on his battle to be the
new James Bond
WHO'S LOVED TOO MUCH
the man who would be 007, finds himself behind the eight ball as he
returns to Remington Steele
Pierce Brosnan, "too much like a job." Admittedly a good job, with more
than good pay. In a series that made an obscure Irish actor into an
TV star. With a role that painted him
slightly devilish. And an image that made him the perfect, obvious,
choice to become the next Bond, James Bond. Although Brosnan had
prospered as the roguish title character on NBC's detective series Reminton
Steele, "I had just had enough," he says. In fact, "I'd had enough
after two years, but I'd signed a seven-year contract." Brosnan was
-- "really relieved" --when Remington Steele was cancelled last
the emphasis on the past tense: was cancelled, was relieved. For just
it seemed that Brosnan, 35, had snagged one of the most sought - after
and profitable roles in movie history, he now finds himself once again
tied to Remington Steele, and he is not pleased.
the last two months, Brosnan thought he had fulfilled an ambition of
standing, to replace Roger Moore as 007. He had settled in London.
he had closed a chapter of his career, he had taken to occsionally
Steele and the high life in L.A. He had all but signed for The Living
Daylights, the $40 million Bond film originally scheduled to begin
shooting this month. Then, ironically, the prospect of Brosnan as Bond
revived NBC's interest in its show. The network saw a promotional
in beaming the man who would be Bond into America's living rooms --
after more than 10,000 furious fans phoned and wrote NBC protesting the
cancellation. This summer, Remington has greatly improved its ratings
reruns. In the halls of NBC, programming chief Brandon Tartikoff joked
about his booboo, "Anybody can cancel a show in 59th place. It takes
guts to cancel one in ninth place." Consequently, just last
three days before options on the Remington cast expired, NBC
it official: The show was renewed
as a midseason replacement.
the legendary producer and protector of the James Bond film properties,
Cubby Broccoli, has been making like Dr. No. Although he had
negotiating a three-picture deal with Brosnan, Broccoli didn't want his
007 tainted by television. "He's not going to have another company
on our publicity," says a Broccoli aide. To accomodate the movie's
MTM, the production company responsible for Steele, even suggested
the season's first episode in Europe. "Obviously it would be to our
to have Pierce playing Bond, and we're not giving up on the idea," says
Steele executive producer Michael Gleason. "Anything we can do, we are
more than willing to do." But Broccoli has remained dicidedly cool to
measures. The net result for Brosnan is a career catch-22: Because Remington
cancelled, Brosnan could do Bond. But because he might be Bond, Remington
was uncancelled. And because Remington was uncancelled, Brosnan
may not be able to be 007. The choice for Brosnan seems clear: Bond or
decision has started a worldwide scramble for another Bond, while
on The Living Daylights has been postponed to late September.
producers talked to 60 aspirants in one recent week alone. Earlier Mel
Gibson and Bryan Brown were considered but not screen-tested.
model Finlay Light was tested and so was Sam (Kane & Abel) Neill,
was a front runner at last check. But the players change constantly.
Broccoli saw The Taming of the Shrew in London, new rumors
last week that actor Timothy Dalton was the first choice. If you are a
handsome, breathing male with a British accent, you are a candidate.
not talked publicly about his dilemma since Remington's revival
created it. But he was positively voluble when last interviewed in
basking in the afterglow of what he considered
screen test for Bond--and in the midst of filming a kind of warm-up for
the part, Frederick Forsyth's thriller The Fourth Protocol, in
Brosnan plays a KGB bad guy. Had Steele been
said, "I would have risen to the occasion, but I would have gone back
work reluctantly, just gritting my teeth. . . .
[of the Bond offer], if it had gone a fifth [season], I would have been
pissed off. . . . No risks were being taken, I wanted the show to get a
little more hard-edged, but they
keep it like it was." He was particularly distressed by Moonlighting,
which bears more than a passing resemblance to Remington. In
that show was created by Glenn Gordon Caron, a
writer. "Moonlighting [is] a direct steal which has just done
in a different, much fresher way," Brosnan said. "At least they take
Co-star Stephanie Zimbalist apparently
those people are doing at Moonlighting exactly what we're
to be doing at Remington Steele."
on Remington apparently involved more than creative
Almost from the start, stories of discord between Brosnan and Zimbalist
were common,. Although the series was
primarily as a vehicle for her, he got more mail and publicity. To
the character, Brosnan said, "I'd look at old Cary Grant movies, steal
a little bit from him and mix in my own
In some respects, it was a cross between John Cleese, Cary Grant and
Bond." Zimbalist was clearly dissatisfied with the show's shifting
"I have to do something," she told one interviewer in 1983, "or when
show goes off the air, all anybody is going to remember is that Pierce
Brosnan starred in it." If her relations with Brosnan were occasionally
frosty, they were positively frigid with his wife, actress Cassandra
who reportedly saw Steele as a stepping-stone to superstardom for her
a show that
relies on character chemistry, there was little combustion. As Brosnan
put it, they "were never progressing in the relationship. . . . There
all this kind of cat and mouse, old
. . . The people who were behind it were never courageous enough to
"Well, let's just throw it up in the air, what we can do next, how we
keep it alive.' " On that he and
were agreed, and the producers' notable idea for invigorating the show
--having them get married--infuriated both of them. During production
this year, Zimbalist said: "if they
marry Remington and Laura, they can find themselves someone else to
Laura. That is not the character I signed to play." And, of course, in
the season's last episode, Laura and Steele were married. Brosnan
"There was a lot of tension about that." Exec producer Gleason
"Pierce and Stephanie are both quite vocal when it comes to their
Although weddings are usually Nielsen bonanzas, the union did nothing
television was no longer the most becoming medium. "You learn bad
as an actor [on TV]. As the season goes on, you take short cuts,
sets in. Then your confidence goes." With it goes some measure of
"The word 'star' doesn't mean an awful lot to me. 'Good actor' and
the respect of one's peers means more. You don't really get much of
doing a show like Remington Steele."
of last season, Brosnan wanted to leave Los Angeles as well as the
Despite the comforts of a home in the hills, "I was becoming so
All it became was money--get as much as you possibly can. I just find
you can become a very boring person living in L.A. I tell you, living
on a day-to-day basis is vacuous, terribly fake." So he particularly
the prospect of shooting
features in London: "It's extremely civilized working here".
long considered playing Bond a career goal, but only recently has he
that prospect with passion. In fact, when he was first mentioned as a
he was reticent. "I said, 'Why do I want to do it? It's become an
" But the idea kept coming back. Roger Moore told a newspaper that
was his hand- picked successor. The mushrooming attention made Brosnan
reconsider. So, no doubt, did the lack of attention given Brosnan's
a quick fizzle released last March. Finally, he said, "I thought, if I
don't do Bond and some other guy gets it and I've been such a strong
I'm going to be really pissed off."
begun to feel almost as if fate had assigned him the role. Bond, he
was "part of my upbringing." Among the first films he saw when he moved
from Ireland to England in the early '60s
flicks. "For an Irish boy, age of 11, really green, very naive,
Catholic upbringing, it was just mindblowing." Some 20 years later, he
would meet the maker of those movies face-to-face. It was 1981, and
miniseries, The Manions of America, was set to premiere in
He and wife Cassie had had to borrow $3,500 to pay for their trip to
but soon he was cast as Remington Steele (after Anthony Andrews turned
down the role). Cassie, it so happened, was playing one of Bond's
girls in the 1981 flick For Your Eyes Only--and they were
to dinner at Broccoli's estate. "I remember turning to Cassie that
in this old Rent-a-Wreck car, and I was joking the whole way home
'My name's Bond, James Bond.' I said, 'This is it, darling, there's no
now'--little knowing that five years on, one would be stepping into the
role. There are a lot of funny things that happen in one's life."
A few weeks ago, Brosnan returned to L.A., and there, barring strikes
other acts of a merciful God, he will begin shootin Remington Steele
Entertainment Weekly: Guilty
Pleasures: Remington Steel
While other girls were sneaking their first
cigarettes and going to Duran Duran concerts, I was crouched on the
sofa in a state of deep longing, watching Remington Steele.
Never mind how bad Pierce Brosnan's hair looked
in the '80s. This was, and is, embarrassing, because the NBC series was
so square. Its hero was a gold-cuff-link-sporting,
silk-shirt-wearing fop. He cracked cases by relying on his encyclopedic
knowledge of classic Hollywood movies. His very name--invented, the
story went, by PI Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) to lend masculine
clout to her struggling agency--sounded like drugstore aftershave.
(What on earth did Holt murmur to him when they finally consummated
their five-season flirtation--oh, Remington?)
Never mind. Zimbalist's character was such a
dandy role model for an adolescent girl: strong, feminist--never mixing
business with pleasure (well, almost never); never letting us forget
that she did the work, even if he took the bows. The
show's plots, many plundered shamelessly from Agatha Christie novels
(amnesia, art heists, And Then There Were None), were in fact
immensely satisfying whodunits bundled into neat, hour-long packages.
And then there was the most delicious mystery of all: the ongoing
question of Steele's true identity. At times, nobody seemed to
know who the hell he was--not the writers, not even the character
himself. Which, along with his relationship with Holt, made him a sex
symbol almost as dashingly enigmatic as...James Bond.
And don't forget, every title of every
episode of the show was a pun on the word "Steele." Like "You're Steele
the One for Me." What can I say? It's Steele true. --Alexandra Jacobs
& Maddie: Interview with Glenn Gordon Caron
Klauss & Diane Hopkins
from full article here
know that you wrote for "Remington Steele" before you did
Did the inspiration come from seeing what you could do, what you
you could do better with a detective show, or did it come from
"Obviously, I used some of the experience that I gained on Remington
I was with Remington Steele for a very, very short time. I was there
just for the first 10 episodes. And I was there largely because I sort
of made it a mission in my life to work with a guy named Bob Butler who
directed the pilot for Remington Steele. And really, he sort of came up
with the premise for Remington Steele. He'd been carrying it around for
years. Michael Gleason developed it for television, but the original
was actually Bob's. And I really wanted to work with Bob Butler. I got
to Remington Steele, worked with Bob. At a certain point, Bob was
I decided to leave. So I really wasn't there as long as a question like
that would suggest, although I did contribute a tremendous amount of
to those first 10 episodes. I think they all, if not all, then most,
went through my typewriter at some point. And I still am very fond of
friendship with Pierce. And we were both sort of new to television, so
we, you know, he and I developed a relationship. I think I was also
the first writer over there who recognized that he could be funny. In
original conception, I don't think he was thought of as particularly
I think Stephanie was thought of as sort of the person who was going to
lead the charge of the show, and she's a wonderful actress. But, it
became clear to me hanging around with Pierce, that he had a huge funny
bone and so I really tried to write to that."
TV preview: ABC's pilots are at the head of the class (Excerpt)
ABC's 2004 pilots, my thoughts turned to 1982, when I began getting
to watch television. Back then, I was absolutely frightened by how much
I liked NBC's new class of shows. After all, it was a struggling
that appeared lost.
a rookie critic falling in love with several new shows. It made me fear
that I didn't have the cynicism for the job, and cynicism was something
I'd never been accused of lacking in my previous life as a sportswriter.
I know that there might never be another NBC season like 1982, when
with Ted Danson, "Family Ties" with Michael J. Fox, "St. Elsewhere"
Denzel Washington and "Remington Steele" with future James Bond Pierce
Weekly: 'Remington Steele' We're Dyin' For. . . ''Remington Steele''
EW wants pre-''Bond''
Sept 10, 2004
Long before he was assuming identities
and seducing gorgeous women as super-suave spy James Bond, Pierce
Brosnan was, well, assuming identities and seducing gorgeous women as
super-suave ''detective'' Remington Steele. For four glorious seasons
on NBC, Brosnan's con artist-turned-investigator brought dandyism back
into vogue. Nattily attired and generous with arcane film factoids, the
pseudo-sleuth coasted on the diligence of his colleague (Stephanie
Zimbalist) but oozed such charm that she -- and audiences -- adored him
anyway. Now that Brosnan's had his fill of martinis and international
mayhem, why isn't the show that jump-started it all on DVD? Fox, which
holds Remington's rights, says the show is indeed ''on its radar,'' but
we're Steele waiting. . .
Sun Times: Show found perfect man of 'Steele' in Brosnan
suave and dashing in a tuxedo, solving crimes in exotic ports of call
the globe. He also had the beautiful girl at his side in some pretty
situations. And though it cost Pierce Brosnan the chance to star on the
big screen as James Bond, "Remington Steele" made him a star in every
of the word. And he eventually did wind up with the
film role, anyway.
Steele," which premiered in 1982 on NBC, featured Brosnan as the title
character, a "fictional" private detective concocted by female P.I.
Holt, played by Stephanie Zimbalist (since nobody apparently wanted to
hire a woman for such precarious work). When Steele shows up at her
the two strike up an interesting business enterprise in which Holt
the brain power and Steele provided the brawn, of sorts. Steele's modus
operandi was his use of an incomparable knowledge of big-screen classic
films to solve many of their cases.
first season, all 22 episodes, has just been released in a four-disc
set by Fox Home Entertainment.
creator/writer Michael Gleason, whose television writing credits
"My Favorite Martian," "Maverick," "Peyton Place" and "McCloud," talked
to the Sun-Times about the hit show.
the show come into being?
actually came to me with the initial idea of a female P.I. who can't
work because she's a woman. So I decided, what if she creates a
male private investigator, and he actually shows up one day. So I wrote
the pilot from that scenario.
always know you had your man in Pierce Brosnan?
into the casting meeting and we were all like, "This kid's gorgeous!"
read for the part, we loved him instantly, and after we held our ground
with the network [which wasn't sure about going with a relatively
Brosnan], they gave us the green light to hire him.
have visions of James Bond in your head when you created the Steele
no. But Pierce knew how to wear clothes, he spoke beautifully. He was
elegant in manner. And he could do comedy, which was key to the role.
he and Stephanie were just two consummate pros. They were faithful to
lines in the scripts. I would sit on set and just marvel at the fact
those were my words being delivered brilliantly by these two actors.
Zimbalist and Brosnan had such a chemistry on-screen.
clicked. There was a professional spark there that just came through.
was critical to the show's success.
a lot of backlash toward the show because a woman had to have a man
for her company?
Stephanie would get tons of letters from women's groups because her
was a beautiful, smart, strong woman. Laura Holt was the brains.
Remington Steele was the sex object.
TV Guide: Pierce Brosnan's Pell's Palsy
Question: Here's a weird question. Do I remember something
about Pierce Brosnan having a stroke when he was doing Remington
Steele, or am I imagining that? — Dana S., Betterton, Md.
Televisionary: You're not imagining it, Dana, but you're
a little off. Brosnan, who costarred with Stephanie Zimbalist on
the NBC sleuth show from October 1982 to March 1987, was hit with
Bell's palsy, a partial paralysis of the face, just before a
Tonight Show appearance. According to a 1984 TV Guide story and
interview, the actor at the time believed he contracted a virus
that led to the condition after shooting some shirtless scenes in
a river. That may have been it, but months of 14- to 16-hour days
didn't help his health, either, and when he walked onto the
Steele set and collapsed, leading a doctor to prescribe 12 days
off, Brosnan returned after just three.
Times: Vintage Steele
she'd written for a popular TV series had become something of a
As she watched it decades later, she remembered why.
wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award-winning film "Violet."
in my office when the call came from Fox TV. The studio was releasing a
DVD collection of the first season of "Remington Steele." Was I willing
to be interviewed for a special feature about my experiences writing
the show, and an episode of mine they wanted to highlight?
It was a name out of my past. I searched through my office for tapes of
the show, pulling each one out like old evening wear stored in the back
of my closet. That night I watched them, not knowing what to expect
all these years. Like a classic little black dress, each episode held
It was clever. It had charm. It was funny.
Steele" was the first television series for which I wrote, a first job
for many of its writers. Most of us were young. Single. Just married.
having flings. And the irreverent tone of the show fit us like a snug
staff worked out stories together, throwing ideas around in a
free-for-all, filled with inevitable one-upmanship. The beginning shows
centered around Remington. Who was he? What was his past? The only
I presented the revolutionary notion of writing about the brains behind
the operation, Laura Holt. There had to be more to Laura than the
professional we saw on the screen. What about lovers? What if an old
turned up? My husband had just returned from a business trip to Rancho
Cucamonga, a name intrinsically funny to me. There were wineries there.
What if we set the story in a winery? What if? What if? My episode,
Steele," was born.
maw of a weekly television series means writing quickly. Long nights. I
wrote my script. Did rewrites. On the first day of shooting, I drove
to the location—a winery, yes, in Rancho Cucamonga. There were the
Director. Camera and cables. All this hullabaloo.
kids, I didn't grow up in a media-saturated culture, where cashiers, as
well as studio heads, can recite weekend box-office receipts. You
on the TV and images appeared on the screen, like magic. You never
how. Now there was magic of another kind, seeing a world made real
of the words I'd written.
episodes for "Remington Steele," went on to different shows, wrote
for television and features. "Remington Steele" went off the air.
night, I watched the DVD, special features and all, for the first time.
As I listened and watched, I realized that in the paradoxical way our
discards its products ever faster, only to reclaim them in order to
profit from—the past, "Remington Steele" had become something timeless.
of the first season, the executive producer told me that "Vintage
was being submitted for an Emmy that year. It didn't win. It didn't get
a nomination. But promise beckoned in that first blush of working life,
the heady bouquet of the future rose.
whether on the glittering road to the Emmys, or in the satisfaction of
filling the first blank page of a script, a single truth moves the
and tears called forth from the audiences that Norma Desmond so
calls "those wonderful people out there in the dark": In the beginning,
there is the word.
& Vision Magazine
Talking TV on DVD with Remington Steele's Michael Gleason
Mike Mettler sits down with the co-creator of Pierce Brosnan's NBC
"romantic-comedy/mystery" series to chat about the Season 1 DVD, the
show's famous quoted movie lines, and how Steele really got his name.
It must be very satisfying for you to see one of your
pet creations finally make it to DVD.
My wife and I were just watching the DVD, and it looks terrific. It was
fun to see again after all these years.
You did commentary tracks on the first two episodes
[“License to Steele” and “Tempered Steele”] along with your co-creator,
Robert Butler. That must have been a nice memory jog for you.
Yes. The funniest comment came from Bob while we were watching the
pilot. He said, “You know, we weren’t as bad as we thought we were.
This is pretty good.” [laughs]
The show hasn’t really been in syndication lately, so the DVD is a good
way for people to touch base with it again — or attract people who’ve
never even seen it at all.
That’s true. It went five years — four and a half seasons [1982–87].
It’s tough when you mention to somebody a show that occupied your life
seven days a week for years, and they look at you blankly.
As far as the format itself goes, how do you feel about
getting a TV series onto DVD? Do you enjoy watching shows that way?
Yeah. I think it’s terrific. Glenn Caron — Glenn Gordon Caron — is a
close friend of mine, and he was with us as a chief writer [and
supervising producer] for the first half of the first season [12 of 22
episodes]. He just had the first two seasons of his show Moonlighting
come out together on DVD, and that’s a wonderful set.
Glenn did an interview for the Remington DVD, and he was telling me
they had problems clearing the music rights for the Moonlighting DVD.
That’s because he used a lot of different sources. We, on the other
hand, had Henry Mancini. [Mancini wrote the themes for the show and the
How was it, working with Mancini?
He was terrific. Almost hard to believe we had him.
And how perfect for him to have put a bit of an Irish
twist on Remington’s character theme. [Pierce Brosnan, who played
Steele, is Irish.]
Henry was such a wonderful guy. He even came to the first table reading
for the show to get a sense for the characters and who was playing
them. A lot of composers won’t do that. But he was actually there to
find out who these people were.
In the commentary for “Tempered Steele,” you note that it was
technically shot as the pilot, but it wasn’t aired that way.
When we went in and pitched the concept to NBC, they gave us the
go-ahead. But they also said that sometimes they greenlight a great
pilot but then don’t get a great series out of it. So they said, “Give
us Episode 6 first so we can see what we have here.” And after they
picked it up, they said it would be wonderful to then see how Laura and
Remington met. So “License to Steele” was the first to air [October 1,
1982], but “Tempered Steele” [October 8, 1982], which was slightly
rewritten, was actually our pilot episode.
Another interesting thing in the “Tempered Steele”
episode itself is a comment by Laura [Holt, the real brains behind the
detective agency, played by Stephanie Zimbalist] about where she got
the name Remington Steele — that she got it from a typewriter and a
football team. [Gleason chuckles] Now is that where you got the name
Bob Butler came up with the name. He liked “Remington” because it was a
firearm, and he just felt “Steele” was a strong name. For the show, I
thought we should make how she came up with the name a little funnier.
Yeah, I always wondered if there was a Pittsburgh
Steelers fan on staff or not.... Were there any other character names
bandied about for Steele?
That was the only name. And it was a lock. I think it’s a great name.
During your “License to Steele” commentary, you guys
mention how Phil Casnoff [who plays Ben Pearson, an agent whom Steele
impersonates in a previous scene] did such a great job as Frank Sinatra
[in the 1992 TV miniseries Sinatra]. He later played a Russian
character on Oz, the HBO prison show.
Yes, he was excellent! I loved him in that. I loved that show; it was
It’s interesting to see what people become later on.
And he was wonderful in our show. He added some seriousness to
Remington’s mocking attitude.
Who was mainly responsible for the movie lines that
Remington would always be spouting?
I have to plead guilty to that. A few of the people over there [at the
network] wanted me to take them out, but I’d never seen that on a show
before. And we found that as we went along, in the few episodes where
we didn’t have them, viewers got upset.
We were trying to do a 1930s Thin Man/ romantic-comedy/ mystery show.
And the opinion was, because we were trying to do that, maybe the movie
references were kind of soft. But they were one of the most popular
things in the series, so I’m glad I held onto them.
You’d always look forward to that every episode,
thinking, “What hard-boiled movie line are we going to get this time?”
On the commentary, I note how those references really helped with plot.
They’d trigger a character, a plot point, a tic, something.
And when in doubt, have somebody wear a fedora, right?
That was Stephi’s idea, and I thought it was a terrific one. She looked
so damn good in them.
Have you spoken to her about the DVD at all? She’s not
in any of the extras.
I’d been looking at some of the interviews and no, she’s not on them.
Maybe she’ll be on future ones.
Anything not on the DVD that you thought, “This would
have been a cool extra to include”?
It’s interesting. We never really had a blooper reel. We had two of the
most professional actors I’ve ever worked with. I was talking to Pierce
about this, the fact that he was trained in England. American actors
tend to come in and want to rewrite the script from start to finish.
Because of his background, he’d say the lines as written, and so did
I would always say, “If you don’t like a line, let me know and I’ll
change it. Don’t go changing things. Because when we’re trying to do
jokes, the rhythm of the line is very important, and any extra words
will screw up the rhythm of the joke. And we’re also trying to do
mystery, so don’t be saying, ‘He was killed by a knife,’ when he was
killed by a shotgun, you know?” But they did it beautifully, and we
held the guest stars to say the words as written.
As a writer, that must have been a great thing to have
people respect your work to that degree.
It was beautiful, it really was.
Ever any talk of doing a “Where are they now?” update
for the show?
Actually, no. But Pierce has been talking about doing a Remington
Steele feature. He wouldn’t be Remington, but he’d be in it.
He had very fond memories of Remington in the interview he did for the
DVD. He was very kind toward the show. And now he’s a big movie star.
[laughs] So it all worked out, just like one of our plots.
Were there any stories you didn’t get a chance to write
for the show that you would have liked to have done?
When Laura and Remington got married, I would have liked her to say,
“We can’t work together now because we’re married.” So he would go off
and start up his own agency but pay someone to hire Laura to work on
his cases — which she wouldn’t know. So at night, when they’d have
pillow talk, she’d tell him about her case — his case. And I thought
that would have been funny if he was using her as an investigator and
she didn’t even know it.
He could have hired the Blue Moon Detective Agency to do
it. I don’t suppose since you were on NBC and Moonlighting was on ABC
that you could have crossed over the characters. Was there ever any
talk of doing that?
Well, Pierce did a guest shot on Moonlighting, a cameo. I have to
assume it was after we were off the air.
[Brosnan appeared in “The Straight Poop,” an episode
during Moonlighting’s third season on ABC that aired January 6, 1987.
In his uncredited cameo, Brosnan says that he and Maddie Hayes (Cybill
Shepherd) considered working together but instead decided to go their
separate ways. Steele was still on the air then — but just barely. The
last installment of the five-episode final season aired April 17, 1987.]
One last thing: Would you be able to do this show today?
No, I don’t think so. I mean, we have lady bounty hunters on TV now, so
I don’t think anyone would believe that people wouldn’t go to a female
private eye. It was a series of its time. In the ’80s, you wanted
Humphrey Bogart and Sam Spade to be your private eyes, not a pretty