RIP, David Wolper

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Wallingford
Posts: 4525
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

RIP, David Wolper

Post by Wallingford » Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:52 pm

David Wolper, producer of 'Roots,' has died
By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer Lynn Elber, Ap Television Writer – 36 mins ago



BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – David L. Wolper, whose 1977 miniseries "Roots" — a generational saga of an American family — became a landmark in television history, has died. He was 82.

Wolper's spokesman, Dale Olson, said Wolper died peacefully in his Beverly Hills home Tuesday evening while watching television with his wife Gloria. Olson said Wolper died of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease.

During a long career, Wolper also produced the children's classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." But his TV work remained his best-known accomplishment, particularly "Roots," based on the best seller by Alex Haley. The ABC series was seen in whole or part by 130 million people — more than half the country — when it ran for eight nights in 1977.

"I make it happen," Wolper said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. "Who bought Alex Haley's book 'Roots' for TV? Me. I hired the director, hired the writer. I put them all together. I'm like the chef. If I mix all the ingredients right, it's going to taste terrific. If I don't, it's not going to come out good."

The miniseries chronicling of Kunta Kinte, enslaved as a teenager in 18th-century West Africa to be sold in America, and his descendants represented a different kind of family story, one told from the black perspective. It was based on Haley's novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winner that mixed accounts of his own ancestors with fiction.

Among the large cast were John Amos, Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, Cicely Tyson, Olivia Cole, Madge Sinclair and Richard Roundtree. Newcomer LeVar Burton, who played Kinte as a youth, became an instant star. The series won a slew of honors including nine Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.

In 2002, he produced a 25th-anniversary special on the impact of "Roots," which aired on NBC after ABC turned down the idea.

"I think it was an important milestone in the history of television," NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said at the time. "It introduced the miniseries. It showed what you could do if you had the courage of your convictions to put something on like that."

Wolper also produced several other miniseries, including the 1979 sequel "Roots: The Next Generations," "The Thorn Birds" and "North and South."

Before becoming a titan in the miniseries genre, Wolper had a series of highly successful TV documentaries, including the Emmy-winning "The Making of the President 1960."

At the 1964 Emmy Awards, "The Making of the President 1960" received four trophies including program of the year, which was then the top award. "What a moment for me," Wolper said.

He also produced the National Geographic special "The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau," which opened up the ocean depths for television viewers. He recalled Cousteau as "exactly as he appeared to be on the screen, a brave man who believed, passionately, in what he was doing and loved the oceans of the Earth."

Always game for something new, Wolper branched out into docudramas such as "The Trial of Lt. Calley," sitcom hits "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Chico and the Man," and films including the Academy Award-winning "L.A. Confidential."

He produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, featuring a spaceship floating mysteriously above the Coliseum (it was hitched to a blacked-out Army helicopter), and New York's 1986 extravaganza celebrating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty.

Wolper called his 2003 memoir simply, "Producer."

In it, he reminisced about the 1971 "Willy Wonka." He said it was his only work specifically for children, though he "always hoped kids would learn from and enjoy my documentaries."

For the title role, he said Gene Wilder was perfect casting for a character with "a magical quality about him, the joy of a child in a man's body. ... The role fit him tighter than one of Cousteau's wet suits."

Wolper's producer roots go back to the 1950s, when he turned footage of the Soviet space program — which he bought out from under the TV networks' noses — into "The Race for Space." The film was a hit in syndication and an Oscar nominee.

Before that, he first entered the entertainment industry by selling old movies to TV stations.

He said he welcomed the relative anonymity that came from staying behind the scenes.

"I make the money and I don't have to take the abuse some of the stars do, opening up their personal life. I can go into a restaurant, sit down and have a nice meal without being harassed.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger can't do that," he said.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Wallingford
Posts: 4525
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:31 pm
Location: Brush, Colorado

Re: RIP, David Wolper

Post by Wallingford » Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:09 pm

Here's imdb.com's complete list of Wolper's productions:

Roots: Celebrating 25 Years (2002) (TV) (executive producer)
The Mists of Avalon (2001) (TV) (executive producer)
Legends, Icons & Superstars of the 20th Century (2000) (V) (executive producer)
"Celebrate the Century" (1999) TV mini-series (producer)
To Serve and Protect (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Family Shield" - USA (alternative title)
"A Will of Their Own" (1998) TV mini-series (executive producer)
Terror in the Mall (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary: No Guts, No Glory (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
L.A. Confidential (1997) (executive producer)
Surviving Picasso (1996) (producer)
The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years (1996) (TV) (executive producer)
Prince for a Day (1995) (TV) (executive producer)
Murder in the First (1995) (executive producer)
Without Warning (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Golf: The Greatest Game (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
On Trial (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
"Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III" (executive producer) (3 episodes, 1994)
... aka "North and South Book III: Heaven and Hell" - USA (DVD title)
- Episode #1.3 (1994) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.2 (1994) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.1 (1994) TV episode (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Sam Snead (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Mickey Wright (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Jack Nicklaus (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Heroes of Open (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Patty Berg (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Ben Hogan (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Gene Sarazen (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Arnold Palmer (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Lee Trevino (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Bobby Jones (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Byron Nelson (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Heroes of the Game: Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1994) (TV) (executive producer)
Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald (1993) (TV) (producer)
The Flood: Who Will Save Our Children? (1993) (TV) (executive producer)
Celebration of a Life: Steven J. Ross Chairman of Time Warner (1993) (TV) (executive producer)
Celebrations (1992) (TV) (executive producer)
Bed of Lies (1992) (TV) (executive producer)
"Best of the Worst" (1991) TV series (executive producer)
Dillinger (1991) (TV) (executive producer)
When You Remember Me (1990) (TV) (executive producer)
Murder in Mississippi (1990) (TV) (executive producer)
The Plot to Kill Hitler (1990) (TV) (executive producer)
Warner Bros. Celebration of Tradition, June 2, 1990 (1990) (TV) (executive producer)


Roots: The Gift (1988) (TV) (executive producer)
Imagine: John Lennon (1988) (executive producer) (producer)
What Price Victory (1988) (TV) (executive producer)
"Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story" (1987) TV mini-series (executive producer) (unknown episodes)
The Betty Ford Story (1987) (TV) (executive producer)
Liberty Weekend (1986) (TV) (executive producer) (producer)
"North and South, Book II" (executive producer) (6 episodes, 1986)
... aka "Love and War" - USA (subtitle)
- Episode #1.6 (1986) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.5 (1986) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.4 (1986) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.3 (1986) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.2 (1986) TV episode (executive producer)
(1 more)
"North and South" (executive producer) (6 episodes, 1985)
... aka "North and South Book I" - USA (DVD title)
- Episode #1.6 (1985) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.5 (1985) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.4 (1985) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.3 (1985) TV episode (executive producer)
- Episode #1.2 (1985) TV episode (executive producer)
(1 more)
His Mistress (1984) (TV) (executive producer)
The Mystic Warrior (1984) (TV) (executive producer)
"Los Angeles 1984: Games of the XXIII Olympiad" (1984) TV series (producer)
"Casablanca" (executive producer) (5 episodes, 1983)
- Divorce Casablanca Style (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Cashier and the Belly Dancer (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Jenny (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Master Builder's Woman (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Who Am I Killing (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
"The Thorn Birds" (executive producer) (4 episodes, 1983)
- Part 4 (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Part 3 (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Part 2 (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
- Part 1 (1983) TV episode (executive producer)
Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) (TV) (executive producer)
Murder Is Easy (1982) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Agatha Christie's 'Murder Is Easy'" - USA (complete title)
This Is Elvis (1981) (executive producer)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981) (executive producer)
... aka "Nostradamus" - Europe (English title) (TV title)
Small World (1981) (TV) (executive producer)
The Silent Lovers (1980) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Moviola: The Silent Lovers" - USA (alternative title)
The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War" - USA (alternative title)
This Year's Blonde (1980) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Moviola: This Year's Blonde" - USA (alternative title)
... aka "The Secret Love of Marilyn Monroe" - USA (reissue title)


"Roots: The Next Generations" (1979) TV mini-series (executive producer)
Roots: One Year Later (1978) (TV) (executive producer)
"Roots" (1977) TV mini-series (executive producer) (unknown episodes)
Victory at Entebbe (1976) (TV) (executive producer)
"National Geographic Specials" (executive producer) (28 episodes, 1965-1976)
- The Animal Nobody Loved (1976) TV episode (executive producer)
- In Search of the Great Apes (1976) TV episode (executive producer)
- This Britain: Heritage of the Sea (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
- Bushmen of the Kalahari (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Big Cats (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
(23 more)
Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur (1976) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka "Collision Course" - USA (short title)
I Will Fight No More Forever (1975) (TV) (executive producer)
"Get Christie Love!" (executive producer) (22 episodes, 1974-1975)
- I'm Your New Neighbor (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
- A Few Excess People (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
- A Fashion Heist (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
- From Paris with Love (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Big Rematch (1975) TV episode (executive producer)
(17 more)
The Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond (1975) (TV) (producer)
The Honorable Sam Houston (1975) (TV) (executive producer)
"Lincoln" (executive producer) (6 episodes, 1974)
... aka "Sandburg's Lincoln" - USA (complete title)
- The Unwilling Warrior (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
- Prairie Lawyer (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
- Crossing Fox River (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
- Sad Figure, Laughing (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
- Mrs. Lincoln's Husband (1974) TV episode (executive producer)
(1 more)
Monsters! Mysteries or Myths? (1974) (TV) (producer)
Up from the Ape (1974) (executive producer)
... aka "The Primal Man" - USA (alternative title)
Flight: The Sky's the Limit (1974) (TV) (producer)
Visions of Eight (1973) (producer)
... aka "Olympic Visions" - USA (TV title)
Wattstax (1973) (executive producer)
The 500 Pound Jerk (1973) (TV) (executive producer)
Of Thee I Sing (1972) (TV) (executive producer)
Make Mine Red, White and Blue (1972) (TV) (executive producer) (producer)
Two Is a Happy Number (1972) (executive producer)
... aka "One Is a Lonely Number" - USA (original title)
King, Queen, Knave (1972) (producer)
The Crucifixion of Jesus (1972) (TV) (producer)
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) (producer)
The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971) (executive producer)
"Appointment with Destiny" (1971) TV series (producer) (unknown episodes)
I Love My Wife (1970) (executive producer)
The Unfinished Journey of Robert Kennedy (1970) (TV) (executive producer) (producer)


Frank Sinatra Jr. with Family and Friends (1969) (TV) (executive producer)
Making of the President 1968 (1969) (TV) (executive producer)
The Bridge at Remagen (1969) (producer)
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) (executive producer)
Sophia: A Self-Portrait (1968) (TV) (executive producer)
Hemingway's Spain: A Love Affair (1968) (TV) (producer)
The Devil's Brigade (1968) (producer)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1968) (co-executive producer)
A Nation of Immigrants (1967) (TV) (executive producer)
The Big Land (1967) (TV) (executive producer)
The Legend of Marilyn Monroe (1966) (producer)
"A Laurel and Hardy Cartoon" (1966) TV series (producer) (unknown episodes)
The Incredible World of James Bond (1965) (TV) (producer)
Miss Television U.S.A. (1965) (TV) (executive producer)
"Hollywood and the Stars" (executive producer) (30 episodes, 1963-1964)
- The Wild and Wonderful Thirties (1964) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Great Directors (1964) TV episode (executive producer)
- What a Way to Go: An Extravaganza in the Making (1964) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Odyssey of Rita Hayworth (1964) TV episode (executive producer)
- The Oscars - Moments of Greatness: Part 2 (1964) TV episode (executive producer)
(25 more)
Kreboizen and Cancer: Thirteen Years of Bitter Conflict (1964) (TV) (executive producer)
A Thousand Days: A Tribute to John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1964) (TV) (executive producer)
The Making of the President 1960 (1963) (executive producer)
Project: Man in Space (1963) (TV) (executive producer)
Biography of a Rookie: The Willie Davis Story (1963) (TV) (executive producer)
Escape to Freedom (1963) (TV) (executive producer)
Hollywood: The Great Stars (1963) (TV) (executive producer)
Americans on Everest (1963) (TV) (executive producer)
"Biography" (executive producer) (64 episodes, 1961-1963)
- Admiral William Halsey (1963) TV episode (executive producer)
- Colonel John Glenn (1963) TV episode (executive producer)
- David Ben-Gurion (1963) TV episode (executive producer)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1963) TV episode (executive producer)
- Eamon De Valera (1963) TV episode (executive producer)
(59 more)
Hollywood: The Fabulous Era (1962) (TV) (executive producer)
D-Day June 6, 1944 (1962) (TV) (executive producer)
D-Day (1962) (TV) (producer)
Hollywood: The Golden Years (1961) (TV) (executive producer) (producer)
The Rafer Johnson Story (1961) (TV) (executive producer)


The Race for Space (1959) (TV) (executive producer)
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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