Paramount Stories is a 13 part series that recounts the first fifty years of the legendary studio thru the eyes of its founder, Adolph Zukor and a number of actors, directors, producers and writers. Utilizing interviews with Mr. Zukor and appearances by numerous paramount alumni, we trace the path of the studio from its inception at the turn of the last century to its emergence as one of the largest motion picture studios in the world.
The series of 15 shows is spread over 3 seasons. Each season has a predominant theme that ties-in the different aspects to the Paramount story. These are:
SEASON ONE: DREAMERS
1. Zukor’s Journey to America. The immigrants journey, Zukor recounts his leaving a small town in Hungary with no future to coming to America and helping start a new industry; feature films.
2. Queen Elizabeth and the birth of the feature-length Film. Mr. Zukor brought the first feature film to America and then went on to become one of the earliest feature film producers. Show 2 looks at the creation of the studio system and movie palaces .
3. The Hollywood Dream Factory: Show three traces how Hollywood built up its image as a dream factory and how thousands came west looking for fame and fortune. The show traces several legendary talents careers.
4. Roddenberry’s Trek: Star Trek Story as told by Gene Roddenberry and the original cast members.
5. The Making of Paramount Stories: a 60 Year Saga. The final Paramount Stories episode is a half-hour documentary that explores the backstory of how the series started as a proposal written in 1961 and went through decades of near misses before it finally was completed. An insiders look at Hollywood.
SEASON TWO; CULTURE CLASH
6. Paramount Scandals. Paramount in the 20’s was home to several of the biggest ‘scandals’ to hit Hollywood, including the Fatty Arbuckle rape charge and the murder of William Desmond Taylor.
7. Paramount and the censorship of movies. Hollywood had to abide by a stringent censorship code, largely created as an answer to Paramount star Mae West. This is the story of how the ban came about.
8. The war years. The studio was instrumental in creating films to support our war efforts. We examine how the studios participated in WW1, WW2, Korea and the Cold War; a story rarely told.
9. The Creation of the Television industry. Paramount developed one of the first TV stations in the world in 1932. After WW2, it became KTLA. Paramount also produced a number of legendary TV shows over the years, including Bonanza and Star Trek.
10. Race, sexism and Hollywood: A look at the battle faced by minority groups and women in trying to break the barrier to employment and creative expression.
SEASON THREE; LEGENDS
11. Paramount’s Legendary Stars. Episode 5 chronicles legendary names like Valentino who are still familiar today as well as actors like Sesue Hayakawa, a matinee idol who broke the color barrier in 1915
12 .Cecil B. Demille and the creation of the epic film. Paramount director CB DeMille created the ‘epic’ feature film, the larger than life motion picture that has entertained audiences for nearly a century.
13. Betty Boop and Popeye: The Max Fleischer Story. Animator Max Fleischer is still remembered today for his legendary stars Betty Boop and Popeye. This is his story
14. Elvis comes to Paramount: Paramount Producer Hal Wallis signed Elvis in 1956 and for a decade, Elvis could be found producing his features at Paramount. An insiders story about those years.
15. Legacy: How did Paramount effect our global popular culture? What lasting influence has the studio system had on entertainment now and likely in our future? These and other questions will be looked at in this episode.
In 1961, Adolph Zukor 2nd and his business partner, former Elvis Presley promoter Trude Forsher began conceptualizing the greatest TV spectacular of all time. It was The Paramount Story, the history of Paramount Studios on its upcoming 50th anniversary, and who was better able to tell the story than the grandson of Paramount’s founder, Adolph Zukor.
In 1967, after years of unsuccessful pitching, they thought their chances might increase if an interview was completed with Grandpa Zukor. In November 1967, they filmed the only known interview with Mr. Zukor, as he retraced the history of his creating Paramount and the feature-film industry. However, within a short time, their production company ended, and so did the TV special. At least for the moment.
I was handed the interview in 1975 and spent 2 years editing a first cut. I began pitching the story and it opened up doors that allowed me to produce numerous other films about Hollywood history, capturing many moments in the history of the studio. This has been a project that has been on my list to complete for many years.
Below are clips from different shows I produced that illustrate different shows in Paramount Stories. The top clip features Mr. Zukor’s journey. Directly below, Jackie Cooper describe shooting a film as a child actor on the Paramount Lot. The middle clip is narrated by actor/producer Henry Wilcoxon retelling how is boss, legendary director CB DeMiille treated an extra on the Paramount lot in the 1930’s. The next clip is the Fatty Arbuckle story, the first set of scandals Zukor had to temper as studio head. The final video is a trailer for Roddenberry’s Trek in which the creator of the Star Trek franchise tells how he created the series.
Show 13, The Making of Paramount Stories is a half-hour documentary that explores the backstory of how the show’s how the series started as a proposal was written in 1961 and went through decades of near misses before it finally was completed.