From My Three Sons to Major Dad: My Life as a TV Producer

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Scarecrow Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 181 pages
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Over the course of his five-decade career in television, John Stephens produced many hit shows, including My Three Sons, Family Affair, Gunsmoke, How the West Was Won, and Simon & Simon. He also produced a number of failures, including The Smith Family (starring Henry Fonda and Ron Howard) and arguably the worst Movie of the Week, the pilot to Wonder Woman (starring Cathy Lee Crosby). Along the way, Stephens encountered the usual--and not so usual--difficulties that accompany work on such projects. While others may have seen these events as obstacles, Stephens regarded them as opportunities. And when an opportunity did not yield the most favorable outcome, he made the most of it by rendering the experience into an amusing anecdote. It is with this lighthearted approach that Stephens recounts his lengthy career in From My Three Sons to Major Dad: My Life as a TV Producer. From Arness to Zsa Zsa, the author reveals everything about the making of episodic television: casting stars and guest stars, handling actors in various states of inebriation, fixing scripts, hiring and firing directors, and filming on location. From Brian Keith's colorful vocabulary to Fred MacMurray's well-known frugality; from Jimmy Stewart's guest appearance at scale to the rising egos--and subsequent demands--of Simon and Simon's pair of stars, it's all here. Beginning in the 1950s, Stephens chronicles five decades of work in the television industry--from his early days as a casting director to his triumphant swan song, creating and producing the hit series Major Dad. Whether you're an industry professional or one of the many millions of Americans glued to their TV sets every night, you'll enjoy this informative and entertaining memoir.

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About the author (2005)

\John G. Stephens began his television career in 1953 as a story reader. He worked his way up to casting director, then producer. In five decades of work, he produced some of television's most popular series.

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