Lee Rich Co-Founder of Lorimar Dies at 93

 

Sad News.   Lee Rich has passed away.  We’d love to hear your memories of Lee…

 

TV mogul Lee Rich dies at 93

Exec co-founded Lorimar, headed MGM/UA

By Pat Saperstein  Variety Breaking News 5/25/12
 
Rich
 
Lee Rich

Influential TV mogul Lee Rich, who ran Lorimar Television and later MGM/UA, and won an Emmy for producing “The Waltons,” died Friday at in Los Angeles. He was 93 and died of lung cancer.Rich founded Lorimar Television with Merv Adelson and Irwin Molasky in 1969, starting out as a producer of TV movies. When Earl Hamner Jr. brought Lorimar the TV movie project “The Homecoming,” Lorimar produced the well-received pic and then sequel “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” which served as a pilot for “The Waltons.”

“Lee Rich was a giant in the television industry who produced some of the most iconic series in the history of the medium and influenced audiences worldwide,” said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO, CBS Corporation. “He also served as an early mentor to me while I was at Lorimar, providing valuable guidance for which I will forever be appreciative. I will miss him as a friend and colleague and offer my sincerest condolences to his entire family.”

Emmy-nommed five times (it won best drama series in 1973), the folksy family series “The Waltons” ran on CBS from 1972 to 1981. Lorimar’s biggest hit was primetime soap “Dallas,” which ran from 1978-1991, and the company also made hits including “Eight is Enough,” “Knot’s Landing” and TV movies such as “Sybil” and “Helter Skelter.”

“He was one of the greatest producers to ever come out of advertising and he knew talent better than anyone else,” said Norman Lear.

After Lorimar merged with Telepictures, Rich took over as chairman of MGM/UA in 1986, which the L.A. Times said at the time “sent a signal to the movie-making community that MGM/UA was going to make a serious attempt at restoring some of the glory and profitability once associated with these venerable studios.” Over the next few years, the studio made pics such as “Moonstruck,” “The Living Daylights” and “Rainman” and TV series “Moonlighting.”

“Lee Rich was an indelible talent who helped to shape the television landscape,” said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, co-chairman and chief executive officers of MGM. “Lee’s role as chairman and CEO of MGM/UA and the prolific body of work he created throughout his career continue to inspire the work we do today.”

After stepping down in 1988 from MGM/UA, his Lee Rich Productions was based at Warners, and he served as producer on feature films such as Sidney Lumet’s “Gloria” and Wesley Snipes starrer “Passenger 57.” His most recent project, the feature film “Replay,” is currently in development at the studio.

“Lee’s passion for television, his business acumen and his love of the creative process made him an extraordinary mentor for all of us who had the good fortune to work for him,” said Bruce Rosenblum, President Warner Bros. Television Group and Chairman & CEO, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. “Lee was a creative force who established the gold standard for independent production companies, and the Lorimar/Warner Bros. merger was transformational for Warner Bros. Television. ”

Rich got his start in television after attending Ohio U., working in the TV department at ad agency Benton & Bowles in the late 1950s.

He packaged and sold early TV hits such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Danny Thomas Show,” working essentially as another producer at a time when the advertising business had substantial influence on TV shows.

Rich left the agency in 1965 to form Mirisch-Rich Productions, which producted “The Rat Patrol” and “Hey Landlord.”

In later years, the outspoken Rich had strong opinions on the problems of the TV and film bizzes. He questioned the dependence on boxoffice grosses in a 1992 L.A. Times interview, saying, “It’s fine to do movies and say, ‘We made big grosses,’ but you’ve got to go back and ask, ‘How much did it cost?’ and ‘Where do you make your profit?'”

Rich is survived by his partner, actress Pippa Scott; son Michael Henes, daughter Jessica Rich and her partner Frank Chiocchi, daughter Miranda Rich Tollman and her husband Brett, daughter Blair Rich, and son Anthony Rich; and seven grandchildren.

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NEW Dallas Series is Greenlit.

Well it’s happened — the next generation of Dallas is here.  Thank goodness they took the time to grab three of the original series regulars, Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman to reprise their roles. 

For those of us who were there on the lot for the original — especially us females — you’ll remember Patrick for his sweet smile and “Mornin’ Darlin’ every time we ran into him and of course Larry, gliding by on his scooter while somehow keeping his hat from sailing off into the mill or the commissary — which ever came first.

Here is the announcement from the Hollywood Reporter along with a link to the one minute video sneak peek.

So, how does everyone feel about the new TNT show?  Let me know and I’ll include your comments.

“There has been a lot of speculation as to how TNT’s new version of Dallas will play out. Monday night, the network premiered the first ever promo for the series during the season premieres of Closer and Rizzoli and Isles.

The short peek has all the old aerial shots of sprawling landscapes and lots of family drama. Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray reprise their roles, which apparently finds new heirs, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe, carrying on old rivalries.

The series also stars Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo and Brenda Strong.

Written by Cynthia Cidre (The Mambo Kings, Cane), TNT’s Dallas premieres in summer 2012. Michael M. Robin directed the pilot and will also executive produce the series.”

Video Sneak Peek  http://wp.me/pXsmR-1W

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Sneak Peek of TNT’s Dallas

Dallas Series One Step Closer

January 16, 2011 Leave a comment

According to Variety, TNT-TBS Programming Chief Michael Wright has high expectations for the new version of Dallas.

Can Cynthia Cidre pull off a new version that will resound with viewers of the original Dallas, plus a brand new audience whow weren’t alive when Kristen shot JR?  For those of us who were on the lot for the original series, we can’t wait to see what happens next!

TNT programming chief Michael Wright told Variety that “expectations remain extraordinarily high” for the series and praises writer Cynthia Cidre on her updated scenario, which he calls “compelling”. 

We’d love to interview Cidre to get her take on the remake.  And it still remains to be seen if any of the original cast members will show up on, or even join the cast of “Dallas”.  But we have a feeling if 10 gallon hats begin popping up on set, Larry Hagman will be under one of them, to oversee all the action as the now-grown Christopher and John Ross duke it out in the executive suite. 

Here’s the latest from Variety.  http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118029854?refcatid=14

Lorimar Actors Showing Up All Over Primetime

October 15, 2010 2 comments

A few weeks ago, it was Bronson Pinchot on NBC’S “Chuck”.  By the way, we haven’t seen any other Bronson sightings on the show, so we’re wondering if he’ll actually be allowed to speak in any upcoming episodes.  “Chuck” producers — are you listening?

But now that the new season of primetime shows has progressed, we’re spotting actors from Lorimar shows everywhere.  Let me know if I’ve missed any, but so far we’ve seen:

Bill Devane, formerly of “Knots Landing” guest starring on “NCIS”. 

Sela Ward, formerly of “Sisters” joining the cast of “CSI: New York”

Bronson Pinchot, formerly of “Perfect Strangers” on “Chuck”

And of course, continuing his role as Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Patrick Dempsey, who starred in Lorimar’s first movie “In The Mood”.  Does anyone remember its original title??? 

If so, leave a comment and I’ll tell you if you’re correct.  No looking it up on the Internet Movie Database, now.  That wouldn’t be sporting.

Did we miss any other appearances of former Lorimites?

Was that Bronson Pinchot?

September 29, 2010 3 comments

Was that Bronson Pinchot?  On NBC’s Chuck? 

Just a few minutes into “Chuck”  Monday night, Chuck and Sarah (Zachary Levi & Yvonne Strahovski) were undercover at an event in Milan.  It was a huge set filled with 80 or 90 dress extras, dancing, drinking cocktails and milling around, each unrecognizable from another.  Chuck spotted the villain, a beautiful blonde in a tight sparkly dress and began to cross over to her when the camera stopped a beat on a man in a dark suit.  It was just for an instant but long enough to make anyone watching wonder who it was and why they wanted us to notice him.  Even though it was just two seconds of film, we knew that face – especially since we spent a good deal of time with it at Lorimar on Perfect Strangers.  It had to be Bronson Pinchot.  But it was too fast to be certain!  And after watching the rest of the episode and waiting for him to appear again – which he didn’t – we were wondering if it was just someone who looked like him.  A lot like him. 

Through the magic of On Demand (thanks Comcast!), we watched the beginning of Monday’s episode again and this time paid attention to the credits.  Sure enough, Bronson was a special guest star and a few minutes later came the party scene and the long camera pause.  It was definitely Bronson and the camera and the producers definitely wanted us to see him. 

Which makes us wonder…  Is there a guest shot coming up in the future?  Will the elusive character be a new villain?  An ally?  They wouldn’t have set it up that well without an encore right?  Well we sure hope so – it’s been too long since we’ve all had a chance to see Bronson back on TV.    Here’s to another appearance on “Chuck”, Bronson, and this time, we hope it comes with lines!

For another view of Bronson and “Perfect Strangers”, be sure to visit our  Lorimar Television Group Comedy page.

Babelgum Pays Web Video Creators for Content

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I thought this Fast Company article was interesting when I read it the other day. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/148/babelgum.html

Finally there is a web video site that is paying creators for content.  Kind of a hybrid between web and network, or cable or as the article puts it, “with a Sundance vibe”.

I was curious to see what our group thinks about it.  Does anyone produce web content?  Or would you consider doing a project as web content to get it out there and create buzz to attract network/cable attention?

Let us know what you think…