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Ray Bradbury Sacrilege
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Phil, the book by Joel Engel, the better of the two Serling biographies, page 222, says the three successful TZ lawsuits were "The Parallel," "A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain," and "Sounds and Silences." "In all three cases a judge deemed the plaintiffs' original stories sufficiently similar to warrant damages, but the final products as seen in the series seemed substantially dissimilar." The out-of-court case would make four.

It seems that these judge(s) and the author are taking similarly opposite stands as me and some other people. A lot of times all they have to prove is access, and yet, it's so unfair--I've heard of cases where there was DEFINITE access and SUBSTANTIAL similarities where those in power got away with theft, and other cases (like these) where based on the flimsiest of similarities someone had to pay through the nose!

The same page of the same book tells of a woman named Constance Olmstead who wrote a piece in praise of Serling in "Los Angeles Magazine" in September 1962. Ray didn't exactly say "Let's All Kill Constance," but he went over there and damn near tore the office apart. I don't know if Constance Olmstead is still alive, where she would be now, or whether she'd remember what was said 40 years ago if so. (This is the part in which Engel really implies he saw what Serling wrote to Bradbury--I also know of another person who definitely saw the letter, so it DOES exist. Sam, I do hope you can locate this letter and any possible others!)

The Gordon F. Sander biography is even more interesting on this point, if both the author and the informant have their facts straight. Pages 192-193 say, "I was at a dinner party with Ray Bradbury," writer Marvin Wald recounted. "The Twilight Zone had just started. Bradbury said that all of the science fiction writers in Hollywood were furious because, they said, Serling wasn't a true science fiction writer like they were, and he was stealing all their plots. They were going to boycott the program. Bradbury felt that Rod became world-famous by taking the work of all of these people, in an area that these people had struggled in for so long.... They were jealous because he was not a part of that world."

If this guy has his timing right, which I have no reason to believe he has not, it seems Ray and possibly others had it in for Rod from the very start! They weren't even going to give him a chance to try in "their" field. If he really was stealing their plots it's understandable, but others have said that was not the case. (See an article on the California Sorcerers writing group by the same author as the Martin Sloan article.) George Clayton Johnson's remarks on the situation also appear here, but of course it will be of much greater interest to hear Ray's own viewpoint.

What Ray seems to have said in the link I posted in "Ray Speaks His Mind" (his exact words weren't quoted, but--) is that Rod Serling knew next to nothing about SF in particular or writing in general--he was merely a "television commentator" who went and read a few stories from Ray's basement.

Documented facts support that this is PATENTLY, ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE! Rod was not proficient at all forms of writing, certainly (for instance, long prose), but he had won three Emmy Awards, all for writing, before ever even meeting Ray, two more for the TZ, and at least one more for "Storm in Summer," a television play which also provoked a confrontation with a writer of whom this was the second work of Rod's similar to his. One of the books describes a face-to-face meeting between Rod and the guy at which the other guy was so upset he was shaking. Rod assured him he had not stolen his work, and he said, "God, I hope not." Becoming known as a television commentator happened after his writing career was established and was partly Rod's own fault. His great looks and voice made him a natural for quality programs starting with TZ, but his pathological need for attention caused him to accept offers he maybe shouldn't have including some programs beneath the dignity of someone of his reputation (things from which Ray would have walked off had he even shown up in the first place.) It's this sort of thing I meant by Rod's "split personality."

As for influences, even if Rod had not read a lot of SF and Fantasy, he had enjoyed horror films as a kid. The horror genre is EXACTLY how I was introduced to Ray's work as a kid--through an Alfred Hitchcock anthology, strangely enough as it is to say. I was watching "Night Gallery" before I was reading Ray's work, and it was the horror/macabre aspect which attracted me. I got into the Sci Fi, Fantasy, and other aspects later--much younger than Rod was at this time, it is true, but isn't it good to be attracted to the field, at any stage?

Sam, I am glad you were able to snap Ray out of his selective amnesia, as I call it, and am sure it is. When Zicree did his book, Ray said he didn't remember events all that well after twenty years. This was not strictly true--Ray has claimed to be blessed with "almost total recall from birth" and could have remembered if he wanted to. He just didn't want to.

As for "great minds," yes. I would love to do a parallel pointing out all the similarities and differences between them. It only just STARTS with them being from the same generation, both small-town American boys, both the youngest in the family and the only other child with a substantially older brother, both brought up in established "conventional" religions and then converted to Unitarianism. There are plenty of other similarities as well as some important differences. The most striking, to me, being the self-confidence issue. It's hard for any reasonably middle-of-the-road personality to even IMAGINE having Ray's excessive confidence or Rod's desperate level of insecurity. Not sure why all the bitterness years later except that it was not only a personality issue but one of professional jealousy. Rod was a very slick mover who fit the Hollywood scene despite not wanting to "go Hollywood," where Ray refused to play the industry's games. He should have had a lot more major projects long ago but refused to put up with the bull which often accompanies the business.

My guess would be that Ray was charmed by Rod and liked him at some point--otherwise he would not have felt so seriously betrayed. And, yes, I believe there is a Fifth Dimension in which Rod has found happiness and he and Ray are actually good friends.

Sam, I know what you mean by "giving away your fire." My latest little talk with Ray made a deep impression!
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, dandelion, for expanding the detail on the Ray/Rod dispute. I'm going to have to get Engel's book, as well as Sam's. I now understand why you feel so conflicted when watching TZ!

It was interesting to read about the plagiarism suits against TZ. Two of the episodes you mentioned are listed in Zicree as not being part of the TZ syndication package. The lawsuits must be the reason they have been consigned to oblivion.

I am quite saddened to learn of the hostility between Ray and Rod, as for years I have argued that some of those TZs were loving tributes to Bradbury. And, in fact, they are still that, if watched in isolation and in ignorance of all this gory detail.

You are right to remind everyone of Serling's proven success as a writer. Great though some of TZ was, this is nothing compared to the quality and power of his early TV work. "Heavyweight" and "The Comedian" (the one with Mickey Rooney) are among the best pieces of American TV drama I have ever seen.

Meanwhile... does anyone know of how Icarus Monfgolfier Wright came to be turned into a short film? Did Bradbury and Johnson actively collaborate?

- Phil
Posts: 5023 | Location: UK | Registered: 07 April 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As to Ray professing 'total recall'.... I'll wager what he means is ...
...all things pertinent and necessary building blocks to his identity...presented when he was born, picked-up by him, and efficiently assimilated.

Most of us run thru those early years unbeknownst of many sign posts... only to gradually understand years later that we missed out on a lot, including who we are, because we were young and foolish. But those 'items' that foster brilliancy are there the moment we are born...and even before...a gift... to 'identify' so early on.

The act of remembering those crucial moments, are like the act of kindess that cover a multitude of sins. They cover a vast multitude of situations...under a cover of timeless recall...

[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 03-20-2004).]
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Absolutely, Phil. I see the reference in
"Walking Distance" as a straight tribute, with none of the ulterior motives assigned by Ray. I see the reference in
"A Stop at Willoughby" as an expression of Rod's frustration with the situation, and it pains me to see both of them and know the problem was never resolved during Rod's life, nor, seemingly, forgiven after his death. It seemed Ray assigned these bad motives to Rod and then saw everything connected to him through that filter.

Which leads me to another observation regarding the biographies. Engel's is extremely sympathetic to Rod's wife, Carol Serling. The other biographer, Sanders, mentioned having met her several times early on in his work and not getting along. His portrayal is extremely unsympathetic of Carol. Engel presents ways in which Rod wronged Carol as being results of his own struggles with powerful and conflicted personality traits (read these books and look up NPD sometime) and not her fault, while Sanders as good as states she brought the problems on herself by her own attitude--a viewpoint based, it seems to me, on his own negative perceptions. Just an example of how a bad experience with someone can color one's perceptions.

One of the saddest aspects of the whole thing is how discontented Rod was--not just to rest on his laurels, but even to acknowledge his earlier praise was deserved. Extremely strange and sad that someone so gifted should be so insecure, but not "proof" that his gift was borrowed or stolen.

The episodes in question were restored for the current Sci Fi Channel syndication. "The Parallel" is WONDERFUL, "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" is good, "Sounds and Silences" was no loss at all--universally acknowledged as among the worst of the Zones. About the only one as far as I know that is not run is "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," which I have not seen since my school days many years ago.
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I bought a cheap copy of Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge a number of years ago at a discount store. This TZ piece is masterful and TV at its dramatic and artistic best. You should try and locate a copy and watch it again.
Posts: 333 | Registered: 12 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Owl Creek is available for purchase and rent on DVD and video on the current collections. Good stuff with a special intro by Serling and the last episode run if memory serves.
I am often saddened by Serling's being so insecure and disquieted but he was so encouraging, supportive and complimentary to others. A bio I have on Clara Bow prints a really sweet response to a letter she had written him in which she expressed insecurities about herself. He is definitele as enigmatic as the Twilight Zone.
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm pretty sure Earl Hamner's "The Bewitchin' Pool" was the last episode run.

Absolutely, I think even the dislikable aspects of Serling's character, the things I strongly feel Ray very well may have picked up on, are directly attributable to his extreme insecurity.

For instance, one thing Ray HATES, a real red flag to him, is insincerity. Ray is one of the few people in the world who has developed the art of the truly gracious "No." When he says no, he really means it, and can do so without losing any respect from himself or the other person. Actually, he is the best at "Sorry, no," of anyone I have met, seen, or heard of in the world and may not appreciate how terribly difficult it is for many other people.

The Engel biography describes how Serling was forever verbally making promises and entering into deals he had either absolutely no means or no intention of fulfilling, or both. His agent then would have to follow him around breaking agreements he had made at parties, because Serling hated face-to-face confrontation. He liked the feeling of being seen as a good guy and this was his idea of being mister "Nice Guy." Now, Rod might have gotten along great in Japan, where he actually spent some time with the occupying forces after the war, and where they have developed a whole array of nuances of language for this, but can you imagine how this would piss off a straightforward, no bull guy such as Ray? (Who always reminds me of Jesus' "Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.")

George Clayton Johnson speculates Rod made promises to Ray he had no way to keep because the network wouldn't let him keep. Whether Rod knew this at the time would be hard to say. See above for my assessment of the network--a heartless bunch of bastards who screwed over Rod and are now out after his fans.

The one character trait I find hardest to take is hypocrisy. Rod did seem to have a bad habit of being nice to a person's face, saying he was listening to them and that they were interesting, when he didn't mean it (unlike Ray--who the minute he gets bored, abruptly lets a person know to get lost). A person had to know him for a long time, or hear the facts from another person, to get onto it.

Several such incidents occurred when he was out drinking with friends. I'm sure I don't have to elaborate on how a group of guys out drinking and trying to be funny revert to high school age. He would be all nice to someone's face and then make a mean remark behind their back. For instance, he went up to this girl he had known in high school, kissed her on the cheek, called her by name, and had her in tears for remembering her and being so nice. When he went back to his friends, he said, "How could I forget her? She was the ugliest thing I ever saw!"

Thing is, unlike a real creep (such as, say, John Huston) Rod seems never to have humiliated someone in front of himself or others to their knowledge! The person always came away with the impression of Rod as really nice, and the realization that they'd been had would hit later and require another source to inform them. There is also the issue of tastes in humor, not only what seems funny when a person is slightly drunk, in a group, and awful when sober, alone, but just differing humor. Rod had an off-color sense of humor not everyone appreciated, and could really offend people when he was trying to be funny, which, as George Clayton Johnson recalls, he did with the California Group.

The hypocrisy subject is difficult for me as it reminds me of an experience with one of my college professors. I'd gone back to visit, and only a certain number of people who'd seemed particularly nice or caring were on my list to look up, including this one professor who'd had me really fooled. When I went to the English Department to ask about his schedule, the secretary went into the room where he was. With a heavy door closed and machines running, I'm sure he thought I couldn't hear him, but he had a very deep resounding voice and I will never (twenty years, folks!) forget his words. "Oh, she's a former student, one of these hangers-on, and I don't care if I never see her again." I went to my sister, who still attended the college, absolutely bawling, my point being, why did he pretend to care if he didn't? If people can't be nice, it's all the more important that they be at least sincere, but he was among those who just couldn't manage either! So my sister went to his office at the appointed time and totally bitched him out, while I went to see one of my real friends, a guy who remarked on how strange it was that Humanities professors, who work all the time with arts created from emotion, can be some of the most unfeeling jerks around!

I don't believe for a moment that Rod was ever really mean at heart, and I do believe he did himself more harm than he ever did anyone else, but I am left with the impression he probably left a string of hurt feelings along the way just from the manner he chose to deal with people. Engel notes he didn't last long in psychotherapy probably because he'd lied to himself so long, then with lies to cover the lies, it was just too much to peel all the layers down to the truth.

Oh, I guess it's like that poem, "He is more to be pitied than censured," but it would be a waste trying to make Ray see that due to the matter-of-fact directness of his own approach.
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good info, Dandelion.
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I met Serling once, while he was coming out of a restaurant, arms piled high with white wrapped carry-outs. Myself, I skooted out of the bushes like a startled rabbit, laying hold of my 'prey' before 'it' got away. And I met nothling less than a welcoming smile.

We chatted so briefly as he got into one of those custom made vehicles, that I expressed to him ...looked like a great fantastic old copper inlaid printing press I saw in Chicago years before. He stood about up to the bottom of my ears, his eyes were both badly bloodshot, but that smile was steady and endearing.

He answered questions about writing, and the passion needed for it. And I continue to think fondly of that moment ...long after his car literally swallowed him up with all those groceries, and he was gone...
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What a priceless memory, Nard. I will carry your recollection of that night with me now (vicarious living I guess, but not so sinful I think) every time I see the Twilight Zone or think of Serling. Thanks for sharing.
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Great memory, Nard. Do you remember the make or color of the car? He had several custom vehicles. Greentown, if you like that more are to be found on the TZ site on the message board under the heading "The Bard."

Last summer I visited Forrest J. Ackerman and asked him about Serling, who he called "a very nice man who was every bit as pleasant in person as he seemed on television." These are close to his exact words, and, of course, I can always check the tape. Unfortunately, it was ALL I could get him to say about Rod. He talked at length about people he knew well, including Ray.

Another thing strange to say: I know I had the Alfred Hitchcock anthology in which I first discovered Ray out from the library the same month and year that Rod died. Wouldn't it be eerie if I read the story ("Homecoming," of all things) on the very day Rod passed away?

Wild speculation here: I wonder if it's possible that Ray resented Rod because he felt he could do better and didn't give it his best shot, where he seemed to hate John Huston not nearly as much, because he felt he was doing as well as he could? Or did he just feel Huston was more original himself, and gave more credit to his sources, than did Serling? Heard a story on NPR Sunday which reminded me of this whole issue. The host of the show mentioned a certain blues singer who once went off right in the middle of a set, ranting and raving about how people had stolen from her and not given her credit. They told a story of how Janis Joplin recorded one of her songs, and when they met the blues singer got all over her about how those who PERFORM the song get famous and can buy a big house and drive a Porsche car, while those who WRITE the song get nothin'--not only in terms of money, but even recognition. Joplin listened to this for some minutes, looked at the people with her, plunked a $20 bill on the table, and left.

It's also possible that Ray did hate John Huston as much as or more than Serling but was not as obvious in stating it--perhaps in part because Huston lived years longer than Serling and could still have come after him, heh-heh. Anyhow, it took about 25 years to process his experience with Huston into writing "Banshee." Wonder how it would come out if Ray fictionalized his experience with Serling--or if he did inspire a fictional character of Ray's I failed to recognize.

Rod once said "The Twilight Zone" was easy to write "because I don't have to write an Act 3, just end with, that's the way it is...in the Twilight Zone." He could have been talking about his own life! It seemed to end at a point when he thought, and perhaps others agreed, that he was sort of a washed-up has-been past the strongest point of his powers. I maintain, that's because his life HAD no Act 3! Just broke off at the end of Act 2 with, that's the way it is.... I personally feel he could have gone on to other great things--perhaps written that novel or even revived radio. Look how well Garrison Keillor has done for that medium with his musings! And Rod was just as good a storyteller and speaker!
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Know what's unique about the name Ray Douglas Bradbury? It has absolutely no e's and no m's in it--two of the most common letters in the English language! (Now, if his name had been Raymond, it would be a different story--but it wasn't.) Ray seems to have missed the "m" particularly, considering how many titles and characters he named with M and sometimes double Ms, which was perhaps inspired by Marguerite. He also misses the "e" to some extent, as he pronounces his name "Bradberry," not "Bradbury."

Typing out the names Rodman Edward Serling or Cornelia Margaret Ada Shields requires lots of e's and m's. This has bothered me for some time now. The common denominators here seem to be "r" "a" and "d," which should reveal something totally rad!
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The color of the car was red...don't ask what color red, because it was getting dark...so I would say, at most, dark red. How's that !!?

by the way...
Ray's great teacher and friend. Her name was....
Leigh Douglas Brackett

see: http://www.altfactor.gr/cgi-bin/websf2.cgi?brackett2

[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 03-22-2004).]
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you, Nard. Now I feel so much better. The colors of the cars I remember seeing mentioned were black, white, and purple, but if I run across a red one I'll let you know.

I feel so much better now, because William Shakespeare had both m's and e's and we are all inspired by him. No d, but a p is just as good. Also, my favorite show, "Emergency!" has not only m's and e's in the title, but the main character was a doctor named Brackett. I never made a Bradbury connection there (except that both are in
Los Angeles--duh!) till what you said just now. I feel so much better now, knowing that all good things in the universe really are connected to Ray Bradbury. Thanks again and wishing you a happy spring.

BY THE WAY...although October is Bradbury's favorite month, the time during which I think of him the absolute most is spring...particularly dandelion season!
Posts: 7136 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Now you have MY interest. I'm really into cars....and had NO idea what Serling's was. Since you mentioned he was into custom cars, exactly what sorts of cars did he have. I usually can pick out cars from an off beat Lancia to a Clenet. But not THAT one...
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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