For some reason, we here at TVWriter™ love this article. Who’d a’thunk? (Keep reading and you’ll probably figure it out.)
by Anthony McGlynn
Canceled due to studio politics, the Silver Surfer animated series is one of the more distinctive parts of the Marvel nineties TV canon. The 13 episode season, the first and only, ran from February 1998 to May 1998 on Fox Kids as part of the ongoing relationship Marvel had with Saban Entertainment. Unfortunately, mid-production of this show, the two companies parted ways, and this cartoon was one of the casualties.
Thanks to Disney+, fans all around the world will be able to watch Silver Surfer online, as Silver Surfer will now be streaming in full. Developed by Larry Brody under the leadership of Vice President of Fox Kids Sidney Iwanter, the series merged CGI and cel-shading animation to some impressive results, even by today’s standards, and in the wake of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, serves a reminder of what’s achievable within comic book adaptations.
Here’s how to watch Silver Surfer streaming online:
How to Stream ‘Silver Surfer’
Silver Surfer is one of the fan-favorite Marvel animated series that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream Silver Surfer and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
‘Silver Surfer’: Overview
When Was It On TV: February 1998 – May 1998
Creators: Larry Brody
Starring: Paul Essiembre, James Blendick, Colin Fox, Gary Krawford, Camilla Scott
Synopsis: After managing to cut himself away from the control of Galactus, the cosmic hero searches for his lost homeworld amid the vastness of space.
NOTE FROM LB: A TVWriter™ visitor just called my attention to this exceedingly generous review/reminiscence of one of the most meaningful shows of my career, the Silver Surfer Saturday morning cartoon show, and rather than just sit and grin about it, I thought it would be a good thing to share with the rest of you.
The only thing that could’ve made this 2018 article from io9 even better would have been if it had for God’s fucking sake included my name and those of the super talented collaborators I worked with to make this such an exciting series!!!
by Charles Pulliam-Moore
Though most of the ‘90s weren’t a great time for Marvel’s comics, they were a golden age for serialized cartoons starring the company’s characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men. But it’s not often that people bring up the short-lived, delightfully-Canadian Silver Surfer series that ran for one season on Fox in the spring of 1998.
Though it was canceled due to a rights disagreement between Marvel and Saban, Silver Surfer is one of the best animated series to come out of the studios’ partnership and, looking back on it almost 20 years later, the show holds up surprisingly well. What’s most impressive about Silver Surfer is how the series manages to stay true to much of the comics source material while including messages condemning the evils of imperialism and slavery in a kids show.
As in the comics, Norrin Rad’s homeworld Zenn-La is thrust into the ongoing conflict between two of the most powerful races in the galaxy: the Kree and the Skrull. The three races find a common enemy in Galactus, the eater of worlds, who arrives to announce that he intends to devour Zenn-La to sate his never-ending hunger. Desperate to save his people, Norrin sacrifices himself to become Galactus’ first herald, a cosmically-empowered scout who flies through the universe in search of energy-rich planets for his new master to consume, in exchange for Zenn-La being spared.
Norrin’s transformation into the Silver Surfer locks away the memories of his life before he became a messenger of death and destruction, establishing a novel concept that changes his relationship with Galactus in an interesting way that makes sense for a TV series.
Unlike most of his stories, where the Surfer’s keenly aware of where he’s from and why he works for Galactus, Norrin’s amnesia allows him to enjoy something of a mentor/mentee relationship with the planet-eating entity. Norrin still makes a point trying to select energy-rich planets that aren’t inhabited by sentient life for Galactus, but his ignorance about the nature of his enslavement makes it so that he travels through the cosmos largely unaware of the reason he first stepped onto the silver surfboard. All of this takes place as the Watcher surveys from an uncharacteristically close distance that’s representative of the show’s cosmic (and decidedly grandiose) cast of characters….
NOTE FROM LB: The following report about the 5 yearish long lawsuit between the stars and creators and and producer of Bones – profit participants all – has absolutely nothing to do with the ongoing dispute between Hollywood writers and agents.
I repeat: They have nothing to do with each other.
On the other hand, the Bones fight and last week’s settlement do shed a great deal of light on a way of thinking that I think explains much about the history of the WGA-ATA rift.
Read on, my friends, and keep your eyes peeled between the lines.
Fox Settles ‘Bones’ Suit, Ending Profits Case That Stunned Hollywood
by Eriq Gardner
After nearly half a decade battling the creative team behind one of TV’s biggest hits, Fox has finally reached a settlement that will end the huge lawsuits over profit sharing for Bones. On Wednesday, the parties filed dismissal papers in Los Angeles Superior Court. The dispute draws to its conclusion, but amid continued consolidation in the media sphere and new streaming platforms being launched by studio giants the brawl over Bones is not likely to be forgotten anytime soon.
Back in 2015, actors Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, Kathy Reichs (a forensic anthropologist who authored the Temperance Brennan novels that formed the basis for the series) and executive vp Barry Josephson went to court with the allegation that they had been defrauded by Fox of their rightful profit participation in a show that ultimately lasted 12 seasons. The profits, or lack thereof, became heavily dependent on what Fox’s studio division (a production arm now owned by Disney) charged Fox’s distribution affiliates — a broadcast network, foreign stations and, especially, the part-owned Hulu — for rights to air and stream the show. The main issue in the case was whether Fox undercharged license fees to its sister companies to derive much of the spoils of the series to the detriment of those expecting honest accounting.
Awarding $179 million in damages, Lichtman rejected Fox’s proposition that Bones was just a middling show with middling ratings that would have been canceled but for higher license fees. The arbitrator saw evidence of multiple frauds on Fox’s part, including the underhanded way the production company attempted to limit its liability over the years by having creative talent sign releases. Additionally, Lichtman found it nearly inexplicable that the Fox studio producing Bones permitted its parent company to exploit streaming rights and license those rights to Hulu without much of anything in return.
But the truly shocking part of Lichtman’s decision was his attack on Fox’s top television executives (many of whom now work for Disney). The arbitrator said these individuals “appear to have given false testimony in an attempt to conceal their wrongful acts” and that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox at large has taken a “cavalier attitude toward its wrongdoing” while exhibiting a “company-wide culture and an accepted climate that enveloped an aversion for the truth.”
Lichtman believed in the necessity of punitive damages given Fox’s “reprehensible” fraud.
The parties then went back to open court, and an L.A. judge in May trimmed the award down to $51 million on the basis that Deschanel, Boreanaz and Reichs were entitled to actual damages and legal fees under their Bones agreements, but not any punitive damages….
LB’S NOTE:Speaking of where I live now that I’m, erm, sort of retired, here’s another perspective on the city where I abided for about 30 years (with, I admit, a few breaks in places like Santa Fe, NM and – God help me – Orlando, FLA.
by Larry Brody
Throughout my career, one of the most asked questions, usually uttered in a voice so filled with resentment and contempt that makes me want to pull out the AK I don’t (and never will) have and start blasting always has been:
“If I want to write for film or television, do I have to live in L.A.?”
And my answer, with the sweetest smile and mildest tone of voice I can muster, always has been
After which, complete with gasps and looks of anguish the response always has been:
“Ohmigod! No! NO! NO!!!”
Followed most of the time by the questioner taking quick look around for the nearest exit and then, as though propelled by the biggest booster rocket in the U.S. or Chinese or Tesla – excuse me – SpaceX storehouse a run for that very door.
I’ve lived with this for years. But why? What’s the reason for all this hoohah? Why the horror at not being able to write, say, The Good Place, from Iowa City or Oshkosh? I mean, c’mon, what’s the problem?
Maybe we can figure it out by first going through the reason for my answer. Instead of smacking our collective head against the wall in dismay, let’s just ask another question:
“Why? Why do screen and TV writers have to live in L.A.?”
This is a legitimate line of inquiry, to be sure, and there are all kinds of legitimate answers. It boils down to the fact that L.A. is a company town and even now, with the rise of online platforms of all kinds and sizes, showbiz still is the company. If you want to work here, then you have to live here. This is where you make the friends and contacts who will help you make your career.
Simple, no? So why does that seem so horrific to the wannabes at the writers conferences? Why do they react so violently? What do they have against moving to L.A.? Is it the uprooting? Is it the city? Is it the fact that they’ve always had the idea that as writers they are above and beyond the shmoozing engaged in by mere mortal men?
Hey, friends, shmoozing’s the name of the game – just about every game. Let’s face it. No matter what our job titles, we’re all salesmen, selling ourselves. If you want to live the life of the hermit writer, if your heart goes pitter-patter at the thought of staying all alone in your attic ala Emily Dickinson, then TV and screenwriting ain’t for you.
A poem, after all, is an end in itself. Ditto a short story, a novel…anything written to be read. But scripts are written to be performed. Scripts don’t exist all alone. They’re the foundation of a production involving one Acme Ton O’People. So you have to be the kind of person who can stand all those people, who can get along with producers and directors and crew members and even…shudder…actors.
More than get along. To succeed in showbiz you have to actively like all those folks. In fact, it goes further than that. In my experience, the writers who succeed in television and on screen do so because they love the whole package. They don’t merely want to be writers, they WANT TO BE IN SHOWBIZ. They love the whole lifestyle.
The writers who make it are the men and women who grew up as the most frantic of fans. While they were living in Dubuque their bodies tingled at the very words, “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Hollywood and Vine.”
They’re the men and women who read every entertainment column in every local newspaper and magazine, who dreamed of the day their pictures would be in “People” and their privacy invaded on Access Hollywood.
They’re the men and women who love driving down the freeway and looking at the car beside them and seeing that it’s driven by Denzel Washington. The men and women who think that Denzel should be just as thrilled to turn and see them.
The writers who make it love the sun and the surf and the smog, the bikinis and the beautiful people. To them, plastic surgery is a sign of success.
They think a day without a meeting is a day that never was, and the first thing they do when they get a deal is pop for the down payment on a new Porsche. When they get another deal they buy a house in the hills, with a black bottom swimming pool and a coke dealer living next door.
They look at the blacked-out windows of a passing limo and wonder who’s inside and pray to God On High that someday soon others will wonder the same thing as their limos roll by.
They know that regardless of how overpriced and under-tasty the food may be there’s no better restaurant in the world than whichever one is today’s darling. Because they’re there to see who else is there, and to feel fuzzy all over because across from them a middle-aged guy is saying, “Option…” and behind them a bare midriffed babe is saying, “Gross receipts.”
The writers who make it are the men and women who live for the day that their names will be in the gossip columns and they’ll be interviewed on the red carpet at every premiere. They’ll do anything for the time when they can make an Oscar or Emmy acceptance speech, and wave and say, “Thanks, Ma.” They are driven by demons that demand fame and fortune and won’t take anything else. They need more than a blank page to fill, they need glamor and glitz.
Showbiz life is harsh. The Money Gods are impatient, and the rivalry is intense. What makes all the long nights of work and the kissing up worthwhile is the Hollywood Lifestyle, because thatÕs the drug the successful ones crave.
Believe me, I’ve been there, I know. Wives, kids, love, loyalty…those things don’t mean a thing next to getting that great showrunner job.
So, to all of you who keep asking me, “Do I have to live in L.A.?” I say the real question should be:
“Why would you want it any other way?”
If you’re reading this, you probably already know who Larry Brody is. If you need to know more, a good place to start would be HERE. Or HERE. This post is an adaptation of an article on one of TVWriter™’s very own Writers’ Bulletins Resource Pages, which are laid out for all to see, free of charge and/or obligation, HERE.
Back in the dim, dark 1970s, before most TVWriter™ visitors were even imagined, let alone born, our founder, Larry Brody, got his first TV writing staff job on a little-remembered series called The Magician.
At the beginning of the 2018 holiday season while Team TVWriter™ was beginning its vacation, LB was contacted by entertainment journalist Ed Gross and interviewed for a piece Ed was writing for Closer Weekly on the late Bill Bixby, star of The Incredible Hulk (where he shared the titular role with Lou Ferrigno), The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Favorite Martian, and several more series including, yep, that self-same The Magician.
With The Courtship of Eddie’s Father ending in 1972, the following year Bill on the part of Anthony “Tony” Blake, described by Wikipedia as a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes as needed.
“This was supposed to be Bill Bixby’s breakthrough into dramatic television. Fresh off The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Bixby was considered a top audience draw when The Magician premiered in 1973,” Ed [Robertson] writes at tvparty.com. “Both NBC and Paramount Pictures had high hopes for this light action drama about a troubleshooting illusionist named Anthony Blake. But fate intervened, in the form of a Writers Guild strike in the spring of ’73 that threw a wrench in production schedules throughout television… The strike didn’t settle until late in the summer, effectively wiping out the early months of prep time that can often make or break a new series.”
…As Ed explains in his article, the network and studio saw Blak as a “modern-day swashbuckler,” while Bill “wanted a show with more of an aesthetic appeal, particularly with regard to how the magic was performed each week.”
Larry Brody was among the second batch of writers brought in when the staff went through a shake-up. “[Producer] Paul Playdon’s idea was to forget about reality and make the villains as over the top as the hero, which I loved,” Larry enthuses. “I was a kid in my mid-20s, and this was my first staff gig, so I looked forward to what seemed like pure fun, letting my imagination roam and bringing the medium something. The good news was that we did indeed to get use our wildest imagination. The bad news was that because this was a mid-season revamp, we had absolutely no time to properly prepare. We had to jump in and turn out script after script pretty much in real time.”
He admits that he started the show a fan of Bill, but didn’t leave that way. “Because of our time crunch,” Larry reflects, “Bixby didn’t get to see many complete scripts; mostly just the next day’s pages. I was so busy writing that I never went on set and so never officially met him. The only times I saw him were at dailies, when he would come in with an entourage — a secretary, a valet, and serving tray with a bottle of wine and some glasses — and, not speaking to anybody else, sit at the front of the room and play sophisticated movie star, sipping and watching yesterday’s scenes….”
Explains Larry, “Before this show, I’d liked Bixby as an actor, because, to me, he had the perfection combination of comic timing and ‘serious drama actor’ looks. I think he made the best he could of his talents, but he couldn’t really light up the screen, because of the script situation. Bixby made his contempt for the writing staff known throughout the half season by never even bothering to learn a lot of the dialog, preferring to ad lib and encouraging the other actors to do the same. The result was that key information — the reason a scene even existed — often got omitted during the filming, which meant that we had to try and shoehorn it into the next set of pages ad hope the info reached the screen the next day.
“I don’t believe that this was entirely Bixby’s fault, by the way,” he emphasizes. “Paul Playdon had experience as a writer on Mission: Impossible, but as far as I know, he’d never produced before. And David Chase and I were pretty much noobs to the industry. Bixby didn’t reach out to us with his concerns, and we didn’t know how to reach out to him. In terms of the storylines, and what we used to call the ‘all running, jumping, and no standing still’ look of The Magician, the series was solid, but with more communication and genuine collaboration between the writing staff and the star, it could have been much, much better.”