Thinking how truly hard it is to get a movie up and into production, I remember feeling certain about QUIZ SHOW despite every glitch that came up. It was the script, and everyone’s reaction to it, that held the undertaking together. Getting to production took 2-3 years. When you hear about how such and such a film took “years”, usually “10 years”, to get made, there’s a rock-solid script in the mix that gathers the same or different people over time. Actually, no matter what the myths are, a script from development into production is normally in the works for at least 4 years!
QUIZ SHOW, the movie, took its time because of distribution and directors; but development was pretty steady on the minute we had Paul Attanasio to write it. My what a good, organized, logical, grown up writer – even though he was somewhat new at the time. Kind of in the mold of Barry Levinson who was going to write it at first, but had scheduling problems. When he couldn’t do it, Gail Mutrix from his and his partner Mark Johnston’s office, and Richard and I came up with writers and vetted them as to their strengths: ability with complexity, characters, povs, setting up context (this story took place in the 1950’s), dialogue etc. Paul – someone Gail was working with on early “Homecide: Life on the Streets”- was perfect. He handled the subject and the multiple characters’ hopes and fears with great skill.
Richard and I were in London making Prisoner of Honor (with Ken Russel directing – that’s another story, and written by another wonderful, grown-up writer, Ron Hutchinson) so we got drafts of Quiz Show by mail and did notes by phone. It was a great and satisfying period. We were very proud of the movie. (Richard and I had been approached by Dick Goodwin writer of the auto-biographical book from which the story came “Remembering America: Voice from the Sixties”, and we were proud of having championed the story and made it happen through thick and thin. Richard was never going to play a part – we were strictly producers on that one.