When Hollywood Tries to Get It Right


July 5, 1983: Calendar writer Judith Michaelson has a most enjoyable story about De Forest Research, founded in 1952 by Kellam de Forest and located on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. At that time, the company had seven researchers, 16,000 books, as well as magazines and photos.

De Forest’s work was divided between research on factual questions and “script clearance,” such as checking to be sure characters’ names, license plate numbers, addresses and other details didn’t wrongly identify an actual person.

The firm had many industry clients, Michaelson said, although Universal and Columbia had their own in-house research staffs. It charged $150 for a half-hour sitcom to $4,000 to $5,000 for a feature film, Michaelson says.

Also in the July 5, 1983, issue of The Times:

Jerry Cohen profiles actress Virginia Mayo, then 60,  for a series on aging. At that time, Mayo was doing dinner theater after being unable to get more work in films.

In the theaters: “Twilight Zone: The Movie,”  “Koyaanisqatsi,” “Return of the Jedi” and “WarGames.”

July 5, 1983, Porky's II  

The company was sold to Thompson and Thompson in 1997 according to the finding aid at UCLA’s Performing Arts Special Collections. The collection consists of 600 boxes of movie and TV scripts that is a bonanza of Norman Lear sitcoms (“All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son” and “Fernwood Tonight,”) some cop shows (“The Rookies,” “Barnaby Jones”)  and some of the big prime-time soaps of the era (“Dallas”  “Falcon Crest” and “Santa Barbara.)

And as a plus, there’s a trove of “Wild, Wild West” scripts from the 1960s.

The list includes “The A-Team,” “All in the Family,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Benson,” “Burke’s Law,” “Cannon,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Chico and the Man,” “Dallas,” “Falcon Crest” and “Fernwood Tonight.” (I never realized Harry Shearer wrote so many episodes of “Fernwood.”)

Also: “Maude,” “One Day at a Time,” “Remington Steele,” “The Rookies” and “Sanford and Son.”  (I didn’t know Richard Pryor wrote a couple of “Sanford” episodes.)  Plus “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “The White Shadow.”

What’s this? “Oral Roberts and the Miracle of Seed Faith,” a Jan. 23, 1982, script by… Sid and Marty Krofft?

On UCLA’s Mediascape blog, Michael Kmet writes that in an interview, de Forest said he found a conflict while doing script clearance on “Chinatown” and suggested the name Noah Cross after finding that Joshua Cross — as he was named in Robert Towne’s script — was an actual person who was still alive.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1983, Film, Hollywood, Libraries, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When Hollywood Tries to Get It Right

  1. A recent discussion of the KD research service–all accomplished before the internet!



  2. Interesting tid-bit about Noah Cross. I had thought the character name was a brilliant touch by Robert Towne, since both Cross and the Biblical Noah profited from a flood.


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