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HBO Wants Science Fiction

Late 1980s, HBO approached me to create a scripted science fiction series. The premium cable channel -- profitable at that time because they featured sports events and music specials, no scripted series -- was ready to evolve and become a network. They hired me to develop a weekly series of sci-fi dramas. They wanted the “STAR WARS,” “CLOSE ENCOUNTERS,” “TWILIGHT ZONE” audience.

I teamed with the Nederlander Organization, mostly known for producing and managing the best Broadway theatres in New York, but now exploring other entertainment arenas. We worked with Gladys Rackmill and John Manulis for a year, and we got almost 50 of the world’s greatest science fiction authors (Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, etc.) to agree to write episodes of what would be a dramatic anthology, weekly adventures exploring tomorrow – “FUTURETALES.”

We delivered scripts, set designs and budgets, for three episodes: “TEACH 109,” original story written for me by Isaac Asimov, script Richard Kletter – “SHAPE,” story Robert Sheckley, script David Loughery – “PASSENGERS,” story Robert Silverberg, script Robert Crais. It was a winning package in my book, but during the year of development (for which we were paid nicely), HBO experienced a corporate change of mind, and decided to stick with what was already working, and not compete with the three all-powerful networks. Clearly, they’ve changed their mind again.

When I moved to Hollywood and met Al Ruddy (Academy Award-winning Producer of Best Pictures “THE GODFATHER” and “MILLION DOLLAR BABY”), he loved “FUTURETALES” and helped me pitch it a couple of places. Al called it “the Masterpiece Theatre of Science Fiction.”

“FUTURETALES” is unproduced, but I think now more than ever our unhappy world desperately needs to explore tomorrow.


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