J’Accuse

Listen to the tone of the questions Mike Wallace throws at Twilight Zone maestro Rod Serling in this 1959 interview. He all but accuses him of whoring out by making a commercial TV series, of not trying hard enough as a writer, of running away from conflict with nervous advertisers, of going for the dough. Over and over he says to Serling: “You made your bones as an award-calibre writer on live dramatic TV in the ’50s, and now you’re writing below your potential because there’s big money in a network series…how big is your swimming pool?” And Serling was on the brink of becoming a legend.

  • Arthur Crittare

    This from a pro wrestling announcing cigarette shilling game show regular.

  • cinefan25

    It’s definitely funny to see Wallace criticizing and attacking someone who was on the verge of creating a show that completely revolutionized the television medium and had an incalculable impact on American pop culture.
    I agree, too, with Arthur. Anybody who helped to bury a 60 Minutes news story out of fear of a major lawsuit has absolutely no right to accuse someone of whoring himself out and doing something just to earn more money.

    • Perfect Tommy

      Of course, this interview took place decades before the events in “The Insider”. At the time of this interview we are obviously looking at two men who love their tobacco. (I guess one thing we can learn from this interview is that journalists should be careful of accusing artists of being sellouts. Such things would never happen in these parts.)

  • Breedlove

    I read an article about Mike Wallace a couple years ago and, while I can’t remember the details, the gist of it was that he was a complete asshole. Treated everyone like shit, that sort of thing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.puim Jeff Puim

      He’s well known to have been a prick to practically everyone.

  • Brian Bouton

    Jeff, you’re entirely missing the context of this interview considering it was 1959, and working for television in any capacity as a serious writer was considered slumming. Serling goes on to challenge that notion with his groundbreaking series but that hasn’t happened at this point.

    The assumption at this time would be that Serling would write for film, the stage, or novels if he had any serious point to make. Television was for morons at the time devoted to passing time with inoffensive variety hours, dramatic fluff, and the novelty of national programming.

    • Brian Bouton

      Hell, the man is talking about how they can’t show a dog birthing puppies in the 50s because it was considered sexually provocative.

  • Correcting Jeff

    Given Jeff’s attitude towards television *today*, I wouldn’t be shocked if 1959 Jeff would be sneering just the same at Serling.

  • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

    Serling was around 35 years old in this interview, but he looks maybe ten years older than that. Must be the smoking.

    It’s amazing how mesmerizing it is to listen to Serling speak considering that he barely moved his jaw. He’s also so well spoken and thoughtful, even in the face of such withering criticism from Wallace.

    I miss guys like this.

  • Hollis Mulwray

    Most people of a certain age can vividly recall something Serling wrote. Not just the ironic twists – stories about beauty, memory, fear, greed, cowardice. That is a legacy. Serling made as much of a mark on the American culture as did inventors, scientists, educators, and media figures. Mike Wallace after his death was revealed as a grumpy tool. Tough on fat guys who turn back odometers but cowering in the presence of Khomeni, “His words not mine Iman” I present this for your approval.

  • Dakkar

    You can hear his characters when Rod Serling speaks. It’s a pity this kind of erudition has been lost.

    And listening to Mike Wallace pick and dig, I realize where The Dick Van Dyke Show got it’s inspiration for their “Ray Murdock’s X-Ray” episode.