Leonard Goldberg: A lively salute

Goldbergpaley_2Only a been-there/greenlit-that showbizzer like Leonard Goldberg could bring together the motley crew of Sumner Redstone, Michael Eisner, Leslie Moonves, Jerry Weintraub, Bill Blinn, Harry Sloan, Jonathan Dolgen, Arnold Kopelson, Ed Zwick and Peter Bart on a night when there was a compelling boxing match on TV.

But the Paley Center for Media months ago dated Thursday night for its salute to Goldberg’s long career in film and TV, and his friends and longtime colleagues weren’t about to let him down, not even for the spectacle of Biden vs. Palin.

It is a testament to Goldberg’s legacy as an innovator and successful producer that the conversation was much more a lively discussion about television’s present and future than it was a rose-colored nostalgia trip back into the past.

“The problem is, it’s nobody’s money,” Goldberg opined when the conversation turned to the ever-spiraling costs of TV production.

During the years of his very fruitful producing partnership with Aaron Spelling in the 1970s and ’80s (count the hits: “The Rookies,” “SWAT,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Family,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Fantasy Island,” “Hart to Hart”), Goldberg recalled, “if we went over budget, it was our money. We decided when we would (need to) go over budget, because it was our money…If more people were given the opportunity to independently produce (today), I think you’d see people figure out ways to do it for less.”

Variety boss Bart moderated spirited debate about the state of the biz, then and now, among Goldberg, Eisner (his former underling at ABC), writer Blinn (who penned “Brian’s Song” and “Starsky and Hutch” for Goldberg) and multihyphenate Zwick (who cut his teeth in his 20s on “Family”).

(Pictured above, from left, Eisner, Goldberg and Bart.)