| NEW ZEALAND TV WEEKLY||January 13, 1969 pp. 31-33 |
|The first series of Raymond Burrs new Ironside show is running out on New Zealand channels, but with its popularity here, coupled with American ratings that lift it to the Hit-show category, you can rest assured hell be back on your screens. Even Burr himself admits he is gratified with the shows success to date.|
The Boss is a Perfectionist
By Frances Sales
|Over at Universal Studios in the valley outside Hollywood, there are jubilant smiles these days.|
Smiles on a movie or Television lot always mean that something is a hit, and in the case of Universal, the biggest smiles are coming from the people who work for and with a company known as Harbour Productions.
This is the production company of actor Raymond Burr, whose hour-long Television series, Ironside, is doing just splendidly, thank you. Good old Ironside
theyre saying at the studio as they look at the all-important audience ratings and survey the heavy sacks of fan mail that are coming in to praise the show.
Now it can be admitted that many knowledgeable TV people had their doubts that the hypnotic-eyed Mr. Burr could top his Perry Mason series. An awful lot of people thought Ray was crazy to call it quits with P.M., explains one of his associates. They thought he was ill-advised to end a good thing, but the show had gone on for years and he had done as much as he could with the character. He didnt want to go through life simply as the actor who played Perry Mason.
| Raymond Burr and the cast of his old Perry Mason TV series
I live for the present and the futurePerry Mason is just a memory now, says Burr.|
|Now hes appearing as a completely new character and after more than a year of the series hes increasingly enthusiastic. He loves doing the show and is very happy that the public has accepted him in a new role.|
Burr himself insists that much of the credit for the success of the series goes to the writers. Weve got some of the best in the business, he said recently. Old professionals, and several young writers whove turned out very fine work.
|How does Burr feel about his character of Chief Robert T. Ironside, the former Chief of Detectives of the San Francisco Police Department, after playing the character for a number of months? Being extremely honest, he smiles, I feel like this is only the beginning
There are so many facets of Ironside that havent yet been tapped.|
I am still exploring and working on Ironside. I dont really know all about him yet myself. And as an actor this is a very stimulating feeling.
|Because Burr feels so strongly about top-notch scripts, he personally approves each story before it is put into production. And as a man who has a lot of say-so about the series, hes very interested in seeing that the other characters in the showDetective-sergeant Ed Brown, Officer Eve Whitfield, and Ironside aide and companion, Mark Sangerhave an equal chance to develop their characters as Ironside continues filming. (The first series is concluding on New Zealand channels.)|
|One of the episodes that we recently completed, the actor reveals, deals with how Eve Whifield came to work for Ironside
The story gives her character more validity and it also goes back to the day before Ironsides accident.|
The episode will mark one of the few times viewers will see the man who is now confined to a wheelchair walking around. I get a lot of fan mail asking if Im really crippled, Burr says quietly.Of course Im not! Im gratified that its all so convincing, though.
Another Ironside episode, soon to be filmed, is based on an idea suggested by Burr himself. He also plans to make his directing debut with the episode.
When the series was first screened, it appeared that the other three regulars had little to do. Gradually, Don Galloway, Don Mitchell and pretty Barbara Anderson have had their roles built up. All three seem very happy with their roles on the show. Its a big thrill when we get fan mail, grins Don Mitchell, alias Ironsides aide, Mark Sanger.
|Yes, happiness that comes with a hit show is very much in evidence on the Ironside set, and it extends all the way up to San Francisco, 450 miles up the Pacific Coast, where the cast and crew frequently film. Whenever we film up there, says a crew member, Ray and the others are mobbed everywhere they go.|
I suppose were doing a good public relations job for San Francisco!
|There are no plans to make any dramatic changes on the series. We have one goal, says executive producer, Cy Chermak, to keep the quality high.|
Perfectionist Burr sees to that. With his Harbour Productions heavily involved in the financial and production end of the series, hes as much boss of the series as anyone could be. And when something isnt right, he doesnt hesitate to say so.
Like many others, hes concerned with the violence on TV accusations that recently swept America. I dont think our show has ever been concerned with unnecessary violence, Burr declares. On the other hand, Ironside constantly encounters the violence that anyone connected with the police does, and hes been a victim of violence.
But this is not the key motivation of the show. Principally, were exploring relationships among people.
The doubting Thomases have been silenced. Raymond Burr has done it again. Hes proven that he could make a new character every bit as convincing and fascinating as the much-loved Perry Mason. I live for the present and the future, he concludes, Mason is just a memory now.