Submitted for Your Approval: Rod Serling
YouTube / Joel Sanderson
In 1970, Professor James Gunn of the University of Kansas interviewed a variety of science fiction writers for his "Science Fiction in Literature" series. Among the interviewees was Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, winner of many Emmys, and inveterate chain-smoker. But the Gunn/Serling interview was not released until recently, due to licensing issues with his TV clips. Joel Sanderson posted the video on YouTube, writing:
This footage from an unreleased film in that series featuring an interview with Rod Serling, which wasn't finished due to problems with obtaining rights to show footage from Serling's work in television. This reconstruction is based on the original workprint footage that was saved on two separate analog sources since the audio track was separate. Re-syncing the footage was a long involved process as the audio track didn't match the film and there was substantial sync drift. While not perfect, there's a lot of interesting information on writing for television in the dialogue with Serling as well as a prophetic statement about his health at the beginning.
If you enjoy science fiction, or writing, or the state of television writing in 1970, this is a goldmine. Note that Serling died just five years later. Sit back and enjoy.
"We could never begin to do 2001. Kubrick would put us out of business in three days of shooting. So we're sort of the poor relation of science fiction in the mass media, and you'll note that most of the science fiction that is tackled on television is 'bedroom' and 'living room' science fiction -- small scale."
At the start, the film magazine has tailed out, but audio is still present. Sample quote: "Star Trek, I thought, was a very inconsistent show, which at times sparkled with true ingenuity and pure science fiction approaches, and other times was more carnival-like, and very much more the creature of television than the creature of a legitimate literary form."
The Mike Wallace Interview
If that's not enough Serling for you, check out this Mike Wallace interview from way back in 1959. I'm pretty sure Wallace mistakenly addresses Serling as "Ron" at the start.
"Writing for Television" Interview
In this interview, Serling speaks with writing students about writing for television. I'm guessing this is from the 60s. Sample: "It's the easiest thing on earth to come up with an idea, and the hardest thing on earth is to put it down [on paper]."
American Masters Documentary
And here's a complete ninety-minute documentary on Serling from the PBS series American Masters.
For more coverage of Serling, check out Happy 50th Anniversary, Twilight Zone! For Serling's last words, see The Surprising Last Words of 11 Entertainers. If you want to own the whole Twilight Zone run on DVD or Blu-ray, it takes only 28 discs.