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Creative Side--1
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Creative Side by Richard Lindheim,
co-Creator of The Equalizer

EQZ Viewers' Newsline (Fall 1988)

The Equalizer was conceived by Michael Sloan and myself during a lunch at La Serre restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles sometime in the Fall of l98O to the best of my recollection. Michael and I were both producing BJ And The Bear at that time, had become good friends as well as shared office suites at Universal Studios, and had decided to try and develop future projects together.

Unlike the 1985 Broadcasting magazine description of McCall, there was no thought of a "Dirty Harry with a heart of gold." Rather, Michael and I were talking about heroes in film and television. We both felt that TV heroes were simply bland, good-looking guys, and it made the task of writing episodes difficult because the leading character had no personality. Each week, then, we had to introduce a guest character or antagonist with a problem to be solved. I had the theory that dangerous men were very interesting to viewers. While it was a form of character portrayal that had worked well in motion pictures, it was totally absent in television.

Michael and I began evolving a character who was dangerous, a man who had actually killed people. We knew this would make the networks nervous, so we downplayed the assassination aspect, although never abandoned it. Through our lunch and subsequent conversations to follow, we evolved the Equalizer character, giving him the back story of CIA work (the network would not let us call it CIA), and his final disgust at what he was doing and a desire to change his life and make amends for what he had sometimes done in the name of country.

We had always intended the character to be a mature man, but we never initially had any thought of Edward Woodward, although Michael knew Edward from years past. We described the character prototypically as a James Coburn type.

From this genesis of character we filled in the remainder of the concept. Not wanting him to be another private eye, we selected the ad in the newspaper, and established the character of Control.

We then pitched the idea to all three networks and were turned down. No one was interested.

In the following year, as BJ was winding to a conclusion, I was asked by Universal to become an executive. I left producing to put on a suit and tie. Michael made a new contact with Viacom Productions and left the studio. Having made the new deal, Michael wanted to leave Universal early, rather than having to wait the several months until the present contract expired. The studio granted him the early release on the condition that he owe them one pilot script. Michael agreed.

Twelve months passed, and the accounting department called to state that Michael Sloan owed Universal Studios one pilot script, and that it had not been delivered. We contacted Michael and he readily agreed to do any project we desired. No one had any ideas, so Michael suggested that he write the pilot script for The Equalizer, since he had liked the idea so well. It was agreed and Michael wrote the same pilot story we had conceived a year earlier. It was sent to all three networks for consideration and rejected. The then head of ABC Programming wanted to buy the title, but not the show.

A year or two later, there was a change of programming executives at CBS and they were in dire need of new product. The new drama executive, Carla Singer, read Michael�s "Equalizer" script and liked it. She wanted a few changes. However, Michael had by this time gone from Viacom Productions to MTM Productions. Universal requested and MTM granted permission for Michael to perform the revisions. It was done quickly. Carla recommended the script to Harvey Shephard, then head of programming for CBS, and the pilot was ordered. Again, Universal requested Michael�s services from MTM. Again, they agreed but stipulated that he would not be available to produce the series if it was bought.

Then began the casting process. In early conversations Michael mentioned Edward Woodward, but the thought was rejected. All the networks were convinced that British actors would not work on American television (even though Angela Lansbury was a hit on Murder, She Wrote). The casting choices for Robert McCall were poor; the date for the start of production was approaching and there was no Equalizer. Universal and CBS were going to have to abandon the project or postpone it. In a crisis meeting at CBS Michael again mentioned Edward Woodward. Harvey Shephard was still skeptical, but agreed to consider it if Edward would "read" for the part. Edward was contacted in England and made a videotape, which was sent to us.

The tape arrived in the European PAL configuration, and therefore had to be converted before it could be seen on U.S. television sets. On it a bearded and chubby Edward Woodward appeared. He had just finished King David and had put on the beard and weight for the film. Nevertheless, the reading was magnificent, and upon seeing it Harvey Shephard immediately agreed to get him. This was a Friday. Edward was contacted, told to shave the beard and appear in New York on Monday to begin filming.

And so The Equalizer began. The production of the pilot itself was fraught with problems, but that is another story.

Home | 4 New Shows | Equalizer Movie | Duo To Script | Mad Magazine | Get Tough | Welfare Hotel | All New York | New TV Hero | Squeeze | Jolly Good Shows | Child Death | Gray Panther Creative Side Part 1

Home
4 New Shows
Equalizer Movie
Duo To Script
Mad Magazine
Get Tough
Welfare Hotel
All New York
New TV Hero
Squeeze
Jolly Good Shows
Child Death
Gray Panther
Creative Side--1
Creative Side--2
Creative Side--3

 

  

Creative Side by Richard Lindheim,
co-Creator of The Equalizer

EQZ Viewers' Newsline (Fall 1988)

The Equalizer was conceived by Michael Sloan and myself during a lunch at La Serre restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles sometime in the Fall of l98O to the best of my recollection. Michael and I were both producing BJ And The Bear at that time, had become good friends as well as shared office suites at Universal Studios, and had decided to try and develop future projects together.

Unlike the 1985 Broadcasting magazine description of McCall, there was no thought of a "Dirty Harry with a heart of gold." Rather, Michael and I were talking about heroes in film and television. We both felt that TV heroes were simply bland, good-looking guys, and it made the task of writing episodes difficult because the leading character had no personality. Each week, then, we had to introduce a guest character or antagonist with a problem to be solved. I had the theory that dangerous men were very interesting to viewers. While it was a form of character portrayal that had worked well in motion pictures, it was totally absent in television.

Michael and I began evolving a character who was dangerous, a man who had actually killed people. We knew this would make the networks nervous, so we downplayed the assassination aspect, although never abandoned it. Through our lunch and subsequent conversations to follow, we evolved the Equalizer character, giving him the back story of CIA work (the network would not let us call it CIA), and his final disgust at what he was doing and a desire to change his life and make amends for what he had sometimes done in the name of country.

We had always intended the character to be a mature man, but we never initially had any thought of Edward Woodward, although Michael knew Edward from years past. We described the character prototypically as a James Coburn type.

From this genesis of character we filled in the remainder of the concept. Not wanting him to be another private eye, we selected the ad in the newspaper, and established the character of Control.

We then pitched the idea to all three networks and were turned down. No one was interested.

In the following year, as BJ was winding to a conclusion, I was asked by Universal to become an executive. I left producing to put on a suit and tie. Michael made a new contact with Viacom Productions and left the studio. Having made the new deal, Michael wanted to leave Universal early, rather than having to wait the several months until the present contract expired. The studio granted him the early release on the condition that he owe them one pilot script. Michael agreed.

Twelve months passed, and the accounting department called to state that Michael Sloan owed Universal Studios one pilot script, and that it had not been delivered. We contacted Michael and he readily agreed to do any project we desired. No one had any ideas, so Michael suggested that he write the pilot script for The Equalizer, since he had liked the idea so well. It was agreed and Michael wrote the same pilot story we had conceived a year earlier. It was sent to all three networks for consideration and rejected. The then head of ABC Programming wanted to buy the title, but not the show.

A year or two later, there was a change of programming executives at CBS and they were in dire need of new product. The new drama executive, Carla Singer, read Michael�s "Equalizer" script and liked it. She wanted a few changes. However, Michael had by this time gone from Viacom Productions to MTM Productions. Universal requested and MTM granted permission for Michael to perform the revisions. It was done quickly. Carla recommended the script to Harvey Shephard, then head of programming for CBS, and the pilot was ordered. Again, Universal requested Michael�s services from MTM. Again, they agreed but stipulated that he would not be available to produce the series if it was bought.

Then began the casting process. In early conversations Michael mentioned Edward Woodward, but the thought was rejected. All the networks were convinced that British actors would not work on American television (even though Angela Lansbury was a hit on Murder, She Wrote). The casting choices for Robert McCall were poor; the date for the start of production was approaching and there was no Equalizer. Universal and CBS were going to have to abandon the project or postpone it. In a crisis meeting at CBS Michael again mentioned Edward Woodward. Harvey Shephard was still skeptical, but agreed to consider it if Edward would "read" for the part. Edward was contacted in England and made a videotape, which was sent to us.

The tape arrived in the European PAL configuration, and therefore had to be converted before it could be seen on U.S. television sets. On it a bearded and chubby Edward Woodward appeared. He had just finished King David and had put on the beard and weight for the film. Nevertheless, the reading was magnificent, and upon seeing it Harvey Shephard immediately agreed to get him. This was a Friday. Edward was contacted, told to shave the beard and appear in New York on Monday to begin filming.

And so The Equalizer began. The production of the pilot itself was fraught with problems, but that is another story.

Home | 4 New Shows | Equalizer Movie | Duo To Script | Mad Magazine | Get Tough | Welfare Hotel | All New York | New TV Hero | Squeeze | Jolly Good Shows | Child Death | Gray Panther | Creative Side--1 | Creative Side--2 | Creative Side--3

This site was last updated 01/27/07