After more than 50 years in the biz, nobody is more surprised than Leonard Goldberg that he’s exec producing two series on the 2011-12 network primetime schedule.
“If anyone had told me three years ago that I’d be back in series television with two shows, I would have said, ‘I’d like you to pass me whatever it is that you’re smoking,’ ” he jokes.
Goldberg, whose varied career has included turns as a producer and an exec at ABC, Screen Gems and 20th Century Fox, was pressed into series duty two years ago by CBS Corp. topper Leslie Moonves, who asked him to come up with an idea for a drama series for the Eye. (Goldberg is a board member at CBS Corp.)
Goldberg’s idea became “Blue Bloods,” the police family ensemble led by Tom Selleck that was a strong performer in its frosh season. Then last year ABC got serious about developing a new spin on “Charlie’s Angels,” and who better to help steer it than the man who launched the original series with his partner Aaron Spelling back in 1976.
“I asked for my old Wednesday 10 o’clock time period back,” he jokes, “but they wouldn’t give it to me.”
In fact, ABC is so high on the “Angels” redo that Goldberg shepherded with writers/showrunners Miles Millar and Al Gough (he’s known the duo since their film school days) that the show has been dispatched to one of primetime’s toughest slots, Thursday 8 p.m.
Goldberg is jazzed to be back in the swirl of TV production with two very different shows. “Blue Bloods” is a family character drama with the overlay of crime stories — Tom Selleck had media buyers “lined up halfway across Lincoln Center” for photo ops at CBS’ upfront party, Goldberg notes. “Angels” is lighter in tone but rooted in the same notion that inspired the original series, which came about just as Goldberg and Spelling became fathers of daughters.
“1976 if you remember was a moment for female empowerment,” he says. “This was a way of saying that woman can be strong and smart and can kick ass and still be beautiful.”
When the new-model “Angels” got the official nod from ABC earlier this month, Goldberg could hear the voice of his late partner in his head, celebrating and giving him the sage advice: “Buddy, don’t make it too hifalutin.’ Give the people what they want.”