Writers on Film


David Koenig Shoots Columbo

Season 1, Ep. 72


Columbo was arguably the most popular and most unique television mystery series ever—even though, within two minutes of the titles, the audience already knew the murderer’s identity. The show captivated tens of millions of viewers for 69 adventures produced over 35 years. Yet if star Peter Falk had gotten his way, it would have run far longer.

Columbo was never formally cancelled, just subtly killed off. Twice. Who was to blame? The temperamental lead who would rather work in movies? The budget-conscious studio, exhausted with the star’s demands? Or was it the meddling television studios, searching for a younger, hipper replacement?

Discover the solution in Shooting Columbo: The Lives and Deaths of TV’s Rumpled Detective. Author David Koenig takes you behind the scenes to witness the creation and making of every case, from the pilot Prescription: Murder (and its earlier incarnations on The Chevy Mystery Show and on stage) to the final special, Columbo Likes the Nightlife.

You’ll discover the origins of the Lieutenant’s unseen wife, the lethargic Dog, the wrinkled raincoat, the wheezing 1959 Peugeot, and “Just one more thing....” The narrative draws on scores of exclusive interviews with the show’s writers, producers, directors and other creative personnel, as well as previously unpublished studio records, including scripts, memos, production reports, casting sheets, and business diaries. They will transport you to the harried story conferences, the heated confrontations, and take... after take... after take... of filming.

The “shooting” of Columbo was filled with backstage intrigue and larger-than-life personalities who, through it all, created unforgettable classic television.

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Sam Wasson's Hooray for Hollywood

Season 1, Ep. 82
The real story of Hollywood as told by such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Frank Capra, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Harold Lloyd, and nearly four hundred others, assembled from the American Film Institute’s treasure trove of interviews, reveals a fresh history of the American movie industry from its beginnings to today. From the archives of the American Film Institute comes a unique picture of what it was like to work in Hollywood from its beginnings to its present day. Gleaned from nearly three thousand interviews, involving four hundred voices from the industry, Hollywood: The Oral History, lets a reader “listen in” on candid remarks from the biggest names in front of the camera—Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Harold Lloyd—to the biggest behind it—Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Jordan Peele, as well as the lesser known individuals that shaped what was heard and seen on screen: musicians, costumers, art directors, cinematographers, writers, sound men, editors, make-up artists, and even script timers, messengers, and publicists. The result is like a conversation among the gods and goddesses of film: lively, funny, insightful, historically accurate and, for the first time, authentically honest in its portrait of Hollywood. It’s the insider’s story.  Legendary film scholar Jeanine Basinger and New York Times bestselling author Sam Wasson, both acclaimed storytellers in their own right, have undertaken the monumental task of digesting these tens of thousands of hours of talk and weaving it into a definitive portrait of workaday Hollywood.