Filming TZ’s “Where is Everybody?” Went Smoothly — Minus One Costly Mistake
Not many TV shows get off to a solid start. Even ones that go on to become classics need time to get the formula just right.
That wasn’t the case with The Twilight Zone. “Where is Everybody?” proved to be an ideal introduction to that land of shadow and substance. But that doesn’t mean it had a trouble-free production.
Just ask Earl Holliman. In a 1987 interview that’s excerpted in “The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia”, he recalled:
It was a joy to do, except the first day. It was very cold on the universal back lot, and it’s hard to do scenes all by yourself — you’ve got nobody to play off.
We were working very hard, starting early in the morning, and now it was dark. We were just about to quit when I heard the camera operator say “Uh-oh.” It seems that he had forgotten to do something, and we didn’t have one single useful foot of exposed film. That whole day was for naught.
I went home feeling terrible. It turned out I had a 102° fever. When you watch the pilot, you’ll see that I sound very hoarse in those first few scenes. That’s not character work, that was me being hoarse.
It took nine days to produce that inaugural episode. Even if you subtract that first, wasted day, it’s easy to see why it took more than a week to do. An enormous amount of care and effort went into making it, and you can see every dime of its $75,000 estimated cost right there on the screen. It’s really a short, high-quality feature film.
In a thank-you note to his leading man, Serling said, “Your performance was outstanding, full of dimension, shading, and a fantastic believability. In short, Holliman, you’re one hell of an actor!”
Hard not to agree, especially when you know that a production snafu made it a bigger job than he expected, and that he carried on while battling a high fever!
Ever wonder where Serling got the idea for the episode? Try this post. And did you know that “Where is Everybody?” almost didn’t have Serling’s narration? Try this post to hear what the opening credits would have sounded like, and hear a flub that Serling corrected before the episode was finalized.
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!