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Serling solution

Sep 2, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Thanks to reruns, most viewers today are familiar with Rod Serling as the host and creative force behind “The Twilight Zone,” which originally ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964.
But Mr. Serling was actually one of the most acclaimed writers in the early days of TV, when live dramas were a programming staple.
Ultimately, Mr. Serling grew frustrated by advertiser interference in his dramas. In a 1957 essay he wrote, “A few years ago on a program called `Appointment With Adventure,’ I was called in to make alterations in some of the dialogue. I was asked not to use the words `American’ or `lucky.’ Instead, the words were to be changed to `United States’ and `fortunate.’
When told that these changes must be made, Mr. Serling thought he was the subject of a joke. No, no joke, he was told. “Appointment With Adventure” was being sponsored by a particular brand of cigarettes, and both the “American” Tobacco Company and “Lucky” Strikes were competitors.
“In television today,” Mr. Serling continued in his essay, “the writer is hamstrung and closeted in by myriad of taboos, regulations and imposed dogma that dictate to him what he can write about and what he can’t.”
Thus a few years later Mr. Serling escaped to “The Twilight Zone,” a world of fantasy and science-fiction where he could sometimes write about serious issues, but since they were disguised as fantasy and science-fiction, sponsors didn’t interfere.