Media Jobs, Rights Under FBI Thumb in Secret History of TV Show

J. Edgar Hoover was furious. ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds had just mocked him on the 6 o’clock evening news, and the network let him do it. Someone was going to have to pay for this. Reynolds would be investigated, and if ABC didn’t fire him, Hoover would yank one of their most popular shows off the air. It was Thursday, Nov. 19, 1970, a week before Thanksgiving. Nixon was in the White House, John Mitchell was Attorney General, and Watergate was just an apartment building and office complex in Washington, D.C.

In those days, Hoover wasn’t just the most powerful man in law enforcement; he was a powerful force in the television industry, as well. From 1965 until his death in 1972, Hoover controlled one of ABC’s top-rated shows – “The FBI,” which starred Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as the straight-arrow FBI Inspector Lewis Erskine.


And Hoover didn’t just control the show figuratively. As revealed in 5,000 pages of FBI memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Hoover controlled the hit TV show literally, having final approval over every word in every script and over the hiring of every cast member, writer, director, producer and crewmember. He even approved the show’s sponsors.

(Source: Hollywood Today)

Classic Movies, Film Business, TV

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