Glen A. Larson


Glen A. Larson Biography

Glen Albert Larson (born January 3, 1937 in Long Beach, California) is an American television producer and writer best known as the creator of the television series Battlestar Galactica, Quincy, M.E., B. J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy, Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider.

Career

Larson began his career in the entertainment industry in 1956 as a member of the vocal group The Four Preps, with whom he appeared in one of the Gidget films. The Four Preps ultimately produced three gold records for Capitol, all of which Larson himself wrote and/or composed: "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)", "Big Man", and "Down By The Station." A later member of the Four Preps, David Somerville, and a session singer he knew, Gail Jensen, later collaborated with Larson to write and compose "The Unknown Stuntman," the theme from The Fall Guy; series lead Lee Majors performed this song over the opening titles.

After working for Quinn Martin Sr. on productions including The Fugitive, Larson signed a production deal with Universal Studios. His first hit series was Alias Smith and Jones, a Western which described the activities of Hannibal Heyes and Jedediah "Kid" Curry, concentrating on their efforts to go straight. (George Roy Hill's film, scripted by William Goldman, about Butch Cassidy and the "Sundance Kid" is commonly believed to have been the inspiration for the series.)

Larson was involved in the development for television of The Six Million Dollar Man, based on Martin Caidin's novel Cyborg, into the successful series, and was one of the program's early executive producers.

Larson later secured a then-unprecedented $1 million per episode budget for Battlestar Galactica. Originally, the series was intended to be called Adama's Ark, and the show incorporated many themes from Mormon theology, such as marriage for "time and eternity" and a "council of twelve." Larson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in real life, had been working on the concept since 1968, and Gene L. Coon had been providing guidance and mentoring to him through the writing of its earliest incarnations. Larson is credited with coining the word "battlestar," a contraction of the phrase "line-of-battle starship", after being convinced to rename Adama's Ark to include the word "star" in the title in some way, in order to capitalize on the popularity of the then recently-released mega-hit, Star Wars. He is also credited with creating the faux curse word "frak."

Even with its generous budget, the series often recycled effects shots; it was canceled after one season. The pilot episode of Galactica, entitled "Saga of a Star World" in the program continuity, was edited into a two-hour theatrical release in North America and Europe (a second theatrical release, titled Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack, was compiled by re-editing other episodes of the series). After the series was canceled, Larson went on to create a relatively low-budget sequel to the series, titled Galactica 1980, which was set many years later, when the Galactica had reached Earth. This series was less successful than the original and was canceled after 10 episodes.

Larson re-used some of the sets, props, costumes, and effects work from Galactica for the light-hearted sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1979. Based on the famous comic-book character created in 1928 by Philip Francis Nowlan, Larson co-developed the series with Leslie Stevens. The feature-length pilot episode was released as a theatrical film in March 1979 and grossed $21 million at the North American box office. The weekly television series began in September 1979, running for two seasons until April 1981.

In the 1980s, Larson garnered further success as one of the creators of Magnum, P.I., which ran from 1980-88. Additionally, Larson created The Fall Guy, which ran from 1981-86. Larson's next prominent series was Knight Rider, which featured science-fiction elements with a light-hearted action-adventure scenario and limited violence. These basic elements characterized much of Larson's output throughout the 1980s with Automan, Manimal and The Highwayman, though all of these series were unsuccessful and none lasted more than a single season. Larson's popularity declined, though he made a brief comeback in the 1990s with an adaptation of the Ultraverse comic Night Man, which lasted two seasons.

In 2003, Battlestar Galactica was remade for the Sci-Fi channel as a miniseries; it was followed by a 2004 series, that, unlike the original, lasted multiple seasons and followed the Galacticans all the way to Earth. Larson was not involved in any capacity with the new series, which Ronald D. Moore had developed, though he did receive a screen credit as "Consulting Producer." Much was different in the new series, which was now aimed at mature audiences rather than being family fare like the original. The Cylons were now created by humans, and some of them now even looked human; there was more moral duality, complexity, and nuance in both humans and Cylons; the social commentary was more explicit; and the resolution of the "Earth" problem was different. After the series ended in 2009, a short-lived prequel series, Caprica, followed in 2010. Larson was not involved with this series either, though he was given a screen credit for the creation of certain characters. In February 2009, media sources reported that Larson was in talks with Universal Pictures to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen, though any potential feature film would not be based on the recent Sci-Fi Channel series remake, but would possibly be based on the original series. Although Bryan Singer was listed to direct and co-produce, the project stalled for some time before being reannounced in 2011 by Singer himself. The film version was now no longer a continuation of the original series but rather a complete remake.

Criticism

Despite his success, much criticism has been aimed at Larson for his perceived general lack of originality arising from the fact that many of his television series are seen as small screen "knock-offs" of feature films. The noted sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison once referred to him as "Glen Larceny" for the notorious similarities between Larson's shows and cinema blockbusters, for example, Alias Smith and Jones was taken from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; McCloud from Coogan's Bluff; Battlestar Galactica from Star Wars; B. J. and the Bear from Every Which Way but Loose; Automan from Tron; The Fall Guy from Hooper; and Buck Rogers was simply a remake of the original comic book and film serial character.

In The Garner Files, the autobiography he dictated to Jon Winokur, James Garner stated that Larson stole a number of plots of The Rockford Files, which was jointly produced by Stephen J. Cannell's and Garner's production companies, then used them for his own shows, putting different characters in them. Garner's group complained to the Writer's Guild and Larson was fined, but Larson allegedly persisted in plagiarism: he later copied the theme music from The Rockford Files for one of his shows. Garner reported to Winokur that when Larson subsequently showed up on the "Rockford" set, he put his arm on Garner's shoulder saying, "I hope there are no hard feelings, Jim." After Larson ignored a warning by Garner to take his hand off, Garner punched him so hard that Larson "flew across the curb, into a motor home, and out the other side."

Lawsuit against Universal Studios

In July 2011, Larson launched a lawsuit against Universal Studios, alleging a decades-long fraud and claimed the studio had not paid him a share of the profits owed from the television shows he produced while working with them. Larson's involvement with Universal had begun in the 1970s, and his contractual agreement had secured him net profits from the revenues generated by the shows he worked on as a producer, including The Six Million Dollar Man, Quincy, M.E., Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider.

This was not the first legal wrangle Larson had had with the studio, as there had previously been a disagreement over ownership of rights to the Battlestar Galactica property. It was ultimately determined that Larson no longer owned the television rights to the property, but retained feature film rights.

Awards and Honors

  • Emmy Award
    • 1978: Nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, for Quincy, M.E.
  • Grammy Award
    • 1979: Nominated for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special, for Battlestar Galactica (nomination shared with Stu Phillips, John Andrew Tartaglia, and Sue Collins)
  • Edgar Award
    • 1973: Won for Best Episode in a TV Series Teleplay, for McCloud, "The New Mexico Connection"
    • 1981: Won for Best Episode in a TV Series Teleplay, for Magnum, P.I., "China Doll" (with Donald P. Bellisario)
Larson also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television industry.

Producer filmography

  • It Takes a Thief (1968) (TV series) (associate producer) (producer)
  • McCloud (1970) (TV series) (executive producer) (producer)
  • The Virginian (1962) (TV series) (executive producer) (1970"1971)
  • Alias Smith and Jones (1971) (TV series) (producer)
  • The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women and War (1973) (TV movie) (executive producer)
  • The Six Million Dollar Man: The Solid Gold Kidnapping (1973) (TV movie) (executive producer)
  • Sin, American Style (1974) (TV) (executive producer)
  • Get Christie Love! (1974) TV Series (executive producer)
  • Switch (1975) (TV series) (executive producer)
  • Quincy, M.E. (1976) (TV series) (executive producer)
  • Benny and Barney: Las Vegas Undercover (1977) (TV) (producer)
  • The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977) TV Series (executive producer)
    • This was based on the Stratemeyer Syndicate novels credited to "Franklin W. Dixon".
  • Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977) TV Series (executive producer)
    • This was a television development of Stratemeyer Syndicate novels credited to two fictitious authors, "Franklin W. Dixon" (as noted above) and "Carolyn Keene."
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978"1979)
  • The Islander (1978) (TV movie) (producer)
  • Sword of Justice (1978) TV Series (executive producer) (producer)
  • Evening in Byzantium (1978) (TV) (executive producer)
  • A Double Life (1978) (TV) (executive producer)
    • This is the pilot installment of Sword of Justice, which starred Dack Rambo in the lead. Larry Hagman was the villain in this story, which predated his and Rambo's characters in Dallas also being antagonists.
  • B. J. and the Bear (1979)
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (TV series) (1979)
  • The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo (1979) TV Series (producer)
  • Battles: The Murder That Wouldn't Die (1980) (TV) (executive producer, uncredited)
  • Galactica 1980 (1980)
  • Magnum, P.I. (1980) (also joint writer, with Donald P. Bellisario, of pilot)
    • Donald P. Bellisario took over as primary executive producer after the pilot installment, "Don't Eat the Snow In Hawai'i."
  • Nightside (1980) (TV movie) (executive producer)
  • The Fall Guy (1981) TV Series (executive producer)
  • Fitz and Bones (1981) TV Series (producer)
  • Knight Rider (1982)
  • Terror at Alcatraz (1982) (TV) (executive producer)
  • Rooster (1982) (TV movie) (executive producer)
  • Manimal (1983) TV Series (producer)
  • Automan (1983) TV Series (executive producer)
  • Cover Up (1984) TV Series (executive producer)
    • Model-turned-actor Jon-Erik Hexum died as a result of a prank with one of the prop pistols (while on set, he jokingly placed a blank-loaded .44 Magnum prop gun to his temple and pulled the trigger). Australian actor Antony Hamilton replaced Hexum for the rest of the show's only season.
  • In Like Flynn (1985) (TV) (executive producer)
  • The Highwayman (1988) (TV series) (executive producer)
  • The Road Raiders (1989) (TV) (executive producer)
  • Chameleons (1989) (TV movie) (executive producer)
  • P.S.I. Luv U (1991) TV Series (executive producer)
  • One West Waikiki (1994) TV Series (executive producer)
  • Night Man (1997"1999)
  • Team Knight Rider (1997) TV Series (executive producer)
  • The Darwin Conspiracy (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
  • Millennium Man (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) (mini) TV Series ("consulting producer")*
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004) TV series ("consulting producer")*
  • Knight Rider 2008 (2008) TV series ("creator")*
  • Caprica (2010) TV series ("consulting producer")*
(* Although credited as "Consulting Producer" on the 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica and its spin-off Caprica, Larson actually had no direct involvement with either series.)




This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Glen_A._Larson" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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