Producer: A Memoir

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Scribner, May 11, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 416 pages
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"It was David who first led me to understand the meaning of the word producer....He had a vision, he organized, he was there from conception to delivery, every time. It was his clairvoyance, his engagement, his encouragement, that made a Wolper production a joy to work on....I marvel at the variety of enterprises that have borne the David L. Wolper name, undertakings of quality, prestige, compassion, and distinction."

-- Mike Wallace

From one of the most successful and influential producers in the entertainment industry -- responsible for classics such as "Roots, The Thorn Birds, L.A. Confidential, " and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" -- comes a fascinating memoir of life at the very hub of Hollywood.

David L. Wolper and television were both born in 1928, and their futures would be forever linked, as Wolper grew up to become one of the most significant television producers. His entrepreneurial talents were obvious from the start, when he sold homegrown radishes to his mother for a penny each and delivered sealed envelopes for the wiseguys who hung around New York's Copacabana nightclub.

Part salesman, part visionary, Wolper began his television career in 1949 by peddling films to the newly created TV stations across the country. He left the distribution business in 1958 when he produced his first award-winning television documentary, Race for Space, about the competing U.S. and Russian space programs. From that point on, Wolper's career skyrocketed. His company, Wolper Productions, has created thousands of hours of diverse programming, including the two highest-rated miniseries of all time, "Roots" and "The Thorn Birds;" such landmark spectacles as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics; hit comedies like "Welcome Back, Kotter;" the classic movies "L.A. Confidential" and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory;" film biographies of John Lennon and Elvis Presley; and acclaimed documentaries with Jacques Cousteau and the National Geographic Society.

Despite Wolper's staggering success and his countless Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, he remains street-smart, wry, and surprisingly down-to-earth. Told in a conversational, comfortable voice, "Producer" is filled with funny and surprising anecdotes about such varied personalities as Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace and John Travolta, the Kennedys and Richard Nixon, and legends Orson Welles and Federico Fellini.

By combining flexibility, resourcefulness, and determination, Wolper produced some of the landmark documentaries, films, miniseries, and entertainment events of the twentieth century. "Producer" is the engaging and inspiring memoir of a true pioneer.

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Producer: a memoir

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One of the earliest and most respected of Hollywood's independent television producers, Wolper (b. 1928) is forever linked to the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley's book. The epic not only ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

David L. Wolper has worked in the television and film worlds for more than fifty years. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.

David Fisher has dedicated his life to eliminating hypocrisy at a profit. He is a man of intrigue and mystery. He is the author of the prize winning novella "Conversations with my Cat, Hard Evidence: Inside th FBI's Sci-Crime Lab, /I> as well as the best-sellers "Gracie" with George Burns, "The Empire Strikes Back" with Ron Luciano, and the reference book "What's What" he lives in New York City with his fantasies.

Mike Wallace, May 9, 1918 - Mike Wallace was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 9, 1918. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts. After graduating college, Wallace became a newscaster announcer and continuity writer for the local radio station, Wood Wash, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1939 to 1940. In 1940, he joined WXYZ Radio in Detroit Michigan for a year as a newscaster, narrator and announcer on such shows as The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet. He then became a freelance radio worker in Chicago, Illinois, as an announcer for the soap opera Road of Life, from 1941 to 1942, as well as Ma Perkins, and The Guiding Light. He acted in The Crime Files of Flamon, was a news radio announcer for the Chicago Sun's Air Edition from 1941 to 1943. In 1943, Wallace joined the U.S. Navy for three years until 1946. From 1946 till 48 he announced radio programs such as Curtain Time, Fact or Fiction, and Sky King. He was the host of Mike and Buff with his wife, in New York City, from 1950 to 1953, and the host of various television and radio shows as well as narrator of various documentaries from 1951 to 1959 Wallace starred in the Broadway comedy Reclining Figure, in 1954. He joined the organized news department for DuMont's WABD-TV in 1955, became an anchor in newscasts and a host for various interview shows from 1956 to 1963. Wallace has been a CBS News staff correspondent since 1963 and the co-editor and co-host of 60 Minutes since 1968. He is a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, of which he was the executive vice-president from 1960 to 1961. He has received 18 Emmy Awards, Peabody Awards in both 1963 and 1971, the DuPont Columbia Journalism Award in 1971 and 1983. Wallace has written books about his experiences in interviewing some of the most famous people in the world as well as his own life experiences, such as, "Mike Wallace Asks: Highlights from 46 Controversial Interviews, "A Mike Wallace Interview with William O. Douglas, "Close Encounters," with Gary Paul Gates, "60 Minutes Into the 21st Century!" and "5 Badfellas: In a Lifetime of Interviewing, It's Not the Heads of State You Remember But the Guys Named 'Lunchy.'

Columnist Art Buchwald was born in Mt. Vernon, New York on October 20, 1925. At the age of 17, he dropped out of high school and joined the Marines. He served from October 1942 to October 1945 and then enrolled at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study liberal arts. In 1948, he left the university and traveled to Paris where he worked as a correspondent for Variety magazine and later as a columnist for the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He returned to the United States in 1962, wrote more than 30 books, and had a column in The Washington Post, which dealt with political satire and commentary. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1982, was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1986, and received the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He died of kidney failure on January 17, 2007.

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