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Thread: 1968 article about H50 and Leonard Freeman

  1. #1
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Here's an article about Five-O and Leonard Freeman, from a 1968 issue of the L.A. Times TV Weekly.

    Behind The Scenes: Producer Tries Island Magic
    By Hal Humphrey
    L.A. Times TV Times, November 17-23, 1968

    About the most distinguished characteristic of the CBS-TV series Hawaii Five-O is the fact it is filmed entirely in the islands. All except one episode, that is, which was done in Hollywood to allow executive producer Leonard Freeman to catch up on his shooting schedule. The script of that one had Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) returning to the mainland to see his sister, who had a problem.

    McGarrett, in case you haven't caught up with him yet, is one of a four-man state police unit for the seven Hawaiian Islands, which is responsible only to the governor and the attorney general.

    "I went to Honolulu three years ago for the purpose of setting a TV series there, and during an interview with Governor Burns, he told me about this unit. He gave me my series right there, something a little different than another Naked City or Dragnet, and with the faces of Hawaii I figured it would have a new look," says Freeman.

    This was soon after he'd produced Mr. Novak, the NBC series about a high-school teacher (James Franciscus), which was a good show, won many awards (including the coveted Peabody), but was cancelled in its second season.

    "When NBC replaced Mr. Novak with My Mother the Car and Please Don't Eat the Daisies, I admit I was, shall we say, a bit shaken," recalls Freeman. "I'm doing a police series now because I realized that the life-and-death issue in drama is the only saleable thing as far as TV is concerned."

    The only salve Freeman finds for his conscience in Hawaii Five-O is the fact that Caucasians are frequently in the minority in many episodes, and that sometimes he can make a statement about mankind without reaching for it in a particular story.

    "We've managed to build up quite a stock company of local actors," he says. "For example, in one episode we had 23 speaking parts and only four of the actors were from Hollywood."

    Two of Lord's three assistants - Kam Fong and Zulu (Gilbert Kauahi) - are Hawaiian born. James MacArthur, the third man, is the son of Helen Hayes and the late author Charles MacArthur. Richard Denning came out of retirement on Maui Island to be the governor, and Morgan White, a disk jockey in Honolulu, plays the attorney general.

    This is Lord's second series. The first was Stoney Burke, the rodeo rider. In Hawaii Five-O he's strictly the dedicated cop. In the two-hour movie which kicked off the series in September, Lord had a flirtatious romance with Nancy Kwan, but in the series there's no time for women for Steve McGarrett (Lord).

    Oddly enough, CBS considered a Hawaii-based series more than 10 years ago. It was to be called Hart of Honolulu, and the late Dennis O'Keefe had been signed to play the writer-adventurer hero. Harry Ackerman was CBS' Hollywood program chief then (he's at Screen Gems now), and after he left Hart of Honolulu was shelved.

    "If I'd known what I know now, I might not have done a series in Hawaii," says Freeman. "The logistics are back-breaking. We take eight days to shoot one episode, because of all the moving around we do, and there's lots of commuting between Hollywood and Honolulu."

    Added to these problems, Freeman's series has The Flying Nun and Bewitched opposite on ABC, and half of Daniel Boone and Ironside from NBC, not the best spot in the TV schedule, although Freeman claims there are no "good spots."

    "TV is a Kamikaze mission. No matter where your show is, the odds are very bad," he maintains.

    For interior shots in Hawaii Five-O, Freeman converted an old ammunition depot into a studio in Oahu, so obviously he's not superstitious.

  2. #2
    Just one problem with this article:

    “I went to Honolulu three years ago for the purpose of setting a TV series there, and during an interview with Governor Burns, he told me about this unit. He gave me my series right there, something a little different than another Naked City or Dragnet, and with the faces of Hawaii I figured it would have a new look," says Freeman.

    Obviously Freeman is bending the truth there. Governor Burns couldn’t have told him about this unit because no such unit existed then or now. I guess Freeman was really trying to “sell” the show to the audiences by embellishing things. In fact Freeman says in other interviews that they came up with the 5-0 moniker because Hawaii was the 50th state. So he’s basically contradicting himself. I do know that Governor Burns played a big part in helping get the show off the ground to be filmed in Hawaii. No doubt that played a great deal in Freeman making the Governor (Richard Denning) a fairly important part of the show, with McG answering directly to him.

  3. #3
    Five-O Home Page Author Mr. Mike's Avatar
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    Strictly speaking, what you say above is true, but...

    From H5O FAQ:

    Is there a real "Hawaii Five-O" -- a state police agency?
    No. Guidebooks have to keep telling tourists that Hawaii does not and never did have a state police force. According to Karen Rhodes,a "Five-O"-style police unit was proposed by governor John Burns (who was in office from 1962-1973), but apparently didn't get anywhere, possibly because the legislature didn't want to fund it or for some other reason. Leonard Freeman had a conversation with the governor, who told Freeman of the idea, and that's where the idea for the series came from.

  4. #4
    Originally Posted by Mr. Mike View Post
    Strictly speaking, what you say above is true, but...

    From H5O FAQ:

    Is there a real "Hawaii Five-O" -- a state police agency?
    No. Guidebooks have to keep telling tourists that Hawaii does not and never did have a state police force. According to Karen Rhodes,a "Five-O"-style police unit was proposed by governor John Burns (who was in office from 1962-1973), but apparently didn't get anywhere, possibly because the legislature didn't want to fund it or for some other reason. Leonard Freeman had a conversation with the governor, who told Freeman of the idea, and that's where the idea for the series came from.
    Ah ok, didn’t know about that tidbit.

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