LORIMAR PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
On February 1, the TV producers LEE RICH, MERVIN ADELSON and the investor IRWIN MOLASKY, together with other investors, including DOLLY PARTON, BOB JACKS, SANDY GALLIN and HARRIS MASLANSKY, found a new production company.
LEE RICH becomes the company president, MERV ADELSON becomes the chairman of the supervisory board.
The company operates under the name of LORIMAR PRODUCTIONS, Inc., the name being a blending / acronym of the first name of MERV ADELSON's ex-wife (LORI) and the initials of the company's main shareholders — M (MOLASKY), A (ADELSON) and R (RICH).
The new company at first resides in a small office building on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA. But soon after that, the production office moves to THE BURBANK STUDIOS (formerly and nowadays again known as WARNER BROS. STUDIOS) in Burbank, CA, which were founded by JACK and HARRY WARNER and their two brothers in 1926.
LORIMAR's first big TV hit is the Christmas special "The Homecoming", written by bestselling author EARL HAMNER. The show is broadcast by CBS (COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM), the biggest TV network in the U.S.
Out of "The Homecoming", writer EARL HAMNER develops the worldwide immensely successful LORIMAR TV production "The Waltons" based on his own childhood memories.
Being an outstanding innovative production company, LORIMAR creates the mini-series as a completely new genre of TV shows. LORIMAR's first mini-series is "The Blue Knight".
LORIMAR is the first U.S. production company to work on a concept for a completely new TV show genre: the prime time soap opera. These new plans are based on the concept of daytime soap operas, which have been established shows on TV for several decades, but are meant to be of higher quality in any way as they are supposed to provide thrilling entertainment during prime time (approximately 9:00 to 11:00 PM). Therefore, the new prime time soaps are intended to feature popular movie or TV celebrities in both main rôles and as special guests. The new soaps are not entirely filmed at low cost on sound stages at the studios; in addition, exterior filming at high costs is done on location in order to evoke the viewers' interest.
Being vice president of series development, businessman MICHAEL FILERMAN (president of MF PRODUCTIONS, Inc.) works on a concrete concept for the first prime time soap opera together with scriptwriter DAVID JACOBS and an extensive production crew.
Designer PAUL PASCARELLA creates a new company logo. LORIMAR's corporate image is now expressed by its new dynamic logo, i.e. the unique copyrighted LORIMAR typeface.
DAVID JACOBS presents CBS executives a plot outline for a TV show about five families living in a cul-de-sac neighborhood. The show that will later become "Knots Landing" is rejected by CBS because the network considers this draft as not spectular enough to become a success on TV at that time.
After that, DAVID JACOBS, MICHAEL FILERMAN and other LORIMAR staff members, including scriptwriter and director LEONARD KATZMAN, work out a concept for series about a wealthy family from Texas doing business in the oil industry. Insider call this first draft "The LINDA EVANS Project" because the character she is intended to play, Pamela Barnes, is meant to be the leading rôle of the show. After several script revisions, this idea is given up. LINDA EVANS calls off, and the part goes to VICTORIA PRINCIPAL while J.R. Ewing becomes the new main character of the show. ROBERT FOXWORTH is asked to play this rôle, but the actor refuses. Finally, LARRY HAGMAN is cast as J.R. Ewing. After CBS decides to order a soap style mini-series, the shootings for "Dallas" begin in fall this year.
On April 2, the world première of LORIMAR's new soap opera "Dallas" is aired on CBS, America's most watched TV network. The show's pilot and the following five episodes are such a big success that LORIMAR gives up its plans for a limited mini-series and revamps the project into a long-running TV show instead. While the show's first season is aired weekly as of September 23, it becomes apparent that "Dallas" is going to be a hot spot on TV. The storylines about the wealthy Ewing family is soon sold to over 150 countries and quickly becomes the most famous TV show of the world unbeaten by any other TV production ever since.
LORIMAR soon aims to expand its market share by developing a "Dallas" spin-off in order to build on the success of "Dallas". For this spin-off, DAVID JACOBS re-uses his former concept of middle-class families living in a blind alley. Besides the development of TV shows, LORIMAR also produces made-for-TV movies, preferably for CBS, too. JOANNE BROUGH, a program development executive at CBS, moves over to LORIMAR in September where she is named director of creative affairs.
On December 17, CBS airs the pilot show, which is followed by weekly episodes of the first season of the new "Dallas" spin-off series entitled "Knots Landing". This show was developed around some of the supporting rôles from "Dallas" by DAVID JACOBS and MICHAEL FILERMAN and now features the stories about these characters. "Knots Landing" is the story about four families living in a fictional neighborhood in Greater Los Angeles and becomes a big success for LORIMAR, too.
AARON SPELLING PRODUCTIONS, LORIMAR's biggest competitor, is inspired by LORIMAR's success with soap operas and announces the première of "Oil", later renamed "Dynasty". At first, this show sounds like a cheap copy of the "Dallas" storyline.
The battle between wealthy oil producers in Denver, CO débuts on ABC on January 10.
LORIMAR has established its market share with the help of both its soap operas and several TV movies and now tries to strengthen its position by producing another TV series: MICHAEL FILERMAN and LEE RICH produce the soap opera "Flamingo Road" based on a novel by ROBERT WILDER for NBC (NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY). The show deals with the problems of the bold and the beautiful residing in the posh Flamingo Road in Truro, a fictional small town near Tallahassee, FL.
LORIMAR lures director and writer JEFF FREILICH away from UNIVERSAL TELEVISION. FREILICH is famous for fast-paced and extremely thrilling storytelling. In LORIMAR's time of prosperity, his name is connected with almost every successful show produced by LORIMAR.
LORIMAR has the biggest success in its history with the cliffhanger of "Dallas" featuring J.R. being shot before the traditional summer hiatus. The question "Who Shot J.R.?" soon becomes a topic in the news around the globe and remains a well-kept secret until the disclosure at the beginning of the new season.
LORIMAR buys the insolvent ALLIED ARTISTS PICTURES CORPORATION and thus now owns the rights of the corporations' exclusive movie library, including the early productions of MONOGRAM PICTURES (e.g. "Cabaret" and "Papillon").
Another one of LORIMAR's big hits is "The People's Court", the first innovative on-screen courtroom reality show, in which real-life litigants can have their civil law claims solved by judge JOSEPH A. WAPNER.
LORIMAR is going public in order to gain more stockholders' equity for the fast developing company because the company management plans to invest into other projects. Homemade commercials with LORIMAR's famous TV actors make the company's going public quite easy. "J.R. has his Ewing Oil stock, but I've got my LORIMAR stock!" becomes LINDA GRAY's (Sue Ellen Ewing on "Dallas") legendary slogan.
With the growing need of more and more office space, LORIMAR rents an office building on the lot of the famous METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS (MGM) and moves its headquarters there. The MGM STUDIOS are located in Culver City, CA and are part of media mogul KIRK KERKORIAN's MGM / UA COMMUNICATIONS company. Most of LORIMAR's productions, however, are shot at the BURBANK STUDIOS, except for a few shootings at rented sound stages at MGM.
LORIMAR's answer to the success of "Dynasty" is developing another soap opera. Award-winning author EARL HAMNER, who literally is one of LORIMAR's "men of the first hour" and just finished his work as executive producer of "The Waltons" after nine successful years, is now chosen to write a concept for the new show. After several drafts, HAMNER creates the story about a wealthy vintner family in Northern California's Wine Country.
The news about who is cast for the main rôle on LORIMAR's new vintner saga is quite striking: After negotiations with BARBARA STANWYCK did not materialize, movie diva and Academy Award winner JANE WYMAN plays the new wine queen. This news is even more striking since WYMAN is RONALD REAGAN's ex-wife and REAGAN was elected U.S. president just the year before. After the revision of EARL HAMNER's original pilot show, "The Vintage Years", which remains unaired and will be locked away in some archive for the next 25 years, the soap opera is renamed "Falcon Crest" and makes its début on CBS on December 4 — at 10 PM, right after "Dallas" in order to attract the same audience.
LORIMAR's going public is very successful. The net value of the stocks has greatly increased since the shares were put on the market.
The sound stages at the BURBANK STUDIOS are too small for all the different LORIMAR productions. LORIMAR intends to buy a studio of its own.
Despite the great success of many of its productions, some of LORIMAR's shows do not live up to their expectations. Although "Flamingo Road" has quite good ratings, NBC is unhappy with the series because its market share was smaller than the one of SPELLING's "Hart to Hart", which was aired on ABC at the same time. "Flamingo Road" is given the ax after two seasons although JEFF FREILICH drafted a spectacular groundwork for an unbelievable third season.
LORIMAR rents more office buildings and sound stages at the MGM STUDIOS in Culver City, CA. Almost all LORIMAR productions are shot there now.
"Falcon Crest" is the only LORIMAR show to be shot at the CBS-FOX STUDIOS (formerly REPUBLIC STUDIOS, CBS-MTM STUDIOS from 1985 on, CBS STUDIO CENTER from 1992 on) in Studio City, CA.
LEE RICH and MERV ADELSON found the LORIMAR subsidiaries MARILOR, a music company, and ROLIRAM, a distribution company.
Besides, LORIMAR takes over an advertising agency named KENYON & ECKHARDT.
LORIMAR's stock price increases from $ 20 up to $ 31 per share within six months.
Because of its numerous productions, the TV industry calls LORIMAR "The Fifth Network" (among the big four U.S. TV stations CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS).
At the height of LORIMAR's success with a book value of $ 300 million, LEE RICH announces he intends to retire and sell his shares.
LESLIE MOONVES, formerly working for 20TH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION, becomes the new president of TV movie and mini-series department at LORIMAR.
MARY McCARTHY, an investment specialist and senior vice president of corporate development at LORIMAR, discusses a merger between LORIMAR and TELEPICTURES CORPORATION. The latter is a distribution company for TV productions with a net value of approximately $ 300 million which was founded by MICHAEL JAY SOLOMON and others. LORIMAR and TELEPICTURES CORPORATION finally decide to merge. This results in LORIMAR acquiring international distribution rights of more than 3,500 hours of broadcasting.
LORIMAR buys more advertising agencies which are merged with KENYON & ECKHARDT and folded into a new subsidiary named BOZELL.
On April 21, the new holding created as a result of the merger between LORIMAR and TELEPICTURES CORPORATION is named LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES. The legal form of the new entity is also a corporation.
In the meantime, KIRK KERKORIAN breaks up MGM / UA COMMUNICATIONS. He sells the rights of all MGM productions to TBS (TURNER BROADCASTING SYSTEM); the MGM STUDIOS are first sold to TED TURNER, then to LORIMAR for $ 160 million and deferred obligations in September. The legendary MGM STUDIOS are now renamed LORIMAR STUDIOS.
LEE RICH sells his share in LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES and leaves the company he once founded. Under his aegis, LORIMAR produced over 850 episodes of 48 TV shows, gained 106 Emmy nominations and won 36 Emmy awards. RICH has written a piece of TV history by revolutionizing prime time television and developing TV series genres. After leaving LORIMAR, he becomes chairman and CEO at MGM / UA. MERV ADELSON now holds the majority of shares in LORIMAR.
MICHAEL JAY SOLOMON becomes the new president of LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES.
LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES reorganizes its subsidiaries. The made-for-TV sector is now called LORIMAR TELEVISION. LORIMAR still expands greatly. Numerous LORIMAR affiliates are founded, including KARL-LORIMAR PRODUCTIONS and several other entities.
Internal problems arise at LORIMAR due to the reshuffle of executive positions. LESLIE MOONVES becomes the new executive in charge of creative affairs.
Changes in key positions of the LORIMAR's regime negatively affect the productions of the company — in season 1988-89, the producers and production staff are replaced on nearly all TV shows; in some cases, even the actors are recast.
LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES goes on expanding and buys shares of WARNER COMMUNICATIONS.
Aerial view of LORIMAR STUDIOS (formerly MGM) in Culver City, CA.
In the past nine years, LORIMAR made it to the number one supplier of TV productions on the U.S. TV market.
LORIMAR TELEVISION managed to buy 15 % of the shares of WARNER COMMUNICATIONS. LORIMAR plans the acquisition of the company.
In the meantime, STEPHEN JAY ROSS, chairman of WARNER COMMUNICATIONS, Inc., merges that company with TIME, Inc. The newly formed media holding, TIME WARNER, Inc., fights off LORIMAR's hostile takeover and manages to acquire of LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES on January 11.
LESLIE MOONVES becomes president of LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES. MICHAEL JAY SOLOMON becomes president of WARNER BROS. TELEVISION. MERV ADELSON becomes vice president on the board of TIME WARNER.
LORIMAR TELEVISION becomes a division of TIME WARNER and goes on producing TV productions independently from its sister company WARNER BROS. TELEVISION. The headquarters of LORIMAR-TELEPICTURES are relocated to WARNER BROS. STUDIOS in Burbank again. LORIMAR STUDIOS in Culver City are traded to COLUMBIA PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT — in exchange, COLUMBIA left THE BURBANK STUDIOS which once again were named WARNER BROS. STUDIOS. Shortly after this, COLUMBIA PICTURES STUDIOS become SONY PICTURES STUDIOS after the merger of COLUMBIA and SONY.
The management of TIME WARNER, Inc. completely restructures its holdings.
In July, LORIMAR TELEVISION is fully absorbed into WARNER BROS. TELEVISION, thus the independent company disappears. LESLIE MOONVES now becomes president of WARNER BROS. TELEVISION and works for the company until November 1995. After his leaving, he becomes president of CBS.
Some Major Productions by LORIMAR
- "The Homecoming" (1971)
- "The Waltons" (1972-1981)
- "The Blue Knight" (1975)
- "Sybil" (1976)
- "Helter Skelter" (1976)
- "Eight is Enough" (1977 – 81)
- "Dallas" (1978 – 91)
- "Knots Landing" (1979 – 93)
- "Secrets of Midland Heights" (1980-81)
- "Flamingo Road" (1980 – 82)
- "The People's Court" (1981 – 93)
- "Falcon Crest" (1981 – 90)
- "King's Crossing" (1982)
- "Boone" (1983-84)
- "Love Connection" (1983 – 99)
- "Hunter" (1984 – 91)
- "Thundercats" (1985 – 87)
- "ALF" (1986 – 90)
- "Mama's Family" (1986 – 90 version; distribution only)
- "The Hogan Family" (1986 – 91)
- "Perfect Strangers" (1986 – 93)
- "Max Headroom" (1987)
- "Full House" (1987 – 95)
- "Midnight Caller" (1988 – 91)
- "Family Matters" (1989 – 98)
- "Gabriel's Fire" (1990-91)
- "I'll Fly away" (1991)
- "Reasonable Doubts" (1991 – 93)
- "Homefront" (1991 – 93)
- "Sisters" (1991 – 96)
- "Step by Step" (1991 – 98)
- "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" (1992 – 97)
- "Time Trax" (1993 – 94)
LORIMAR produced a number of motion pictures sporadically, most of which were originally distributed by PARAMOUNT PICTURES. In the late 1980's, they had a film production and distribution unit known as LORIMAR MOTION PICTURES.
- "Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" (1978, distributed by WARNER BROS.)
- "Cruising" (1980)
- "The Big Red One" (1980)
- "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1981)
- "S.O.B." (1981)
- "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982, LORIMAR / PARAMOUNT co-production)
- "The Last Starfighter" (1984)
- "The Morning After" (1986)
- "The Boy Who Could Fly" (1986)
- "Running on Empty" (1988)
- "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988)
- "Bert Rigby, You're a Fool" (1989)
Some Major Stars Who Started Their Careers at LORIMAR
- HALLE BERRY (first serious prime time rôle on "Knots Landing")
- MICHAEL DUDIKOFF (first rôle on "Dallas")
- BRAD PITT (first prime time rôle on "Dallas")
- GARY SINISE (first rôle on "Knots Landing")