Peter Anthony Andrews
Iconic NBC, Columbia, MGM Exec

Oversaw Rockford Files, Columbo, Little House, CHIPS,

Chico and the Man, Emergency!, Midnight Special, Police Woman;

Creative Consultant for Year of Living Dangerously, Poltergeist and More!

Article and Interview

If you were at a Hollywood party with fifty-year TV/Film mogul Peter Anthony Andrews, who held top level executive positions at NBC, Columbia and MGM and who today is CEO of Paco Global Entertainment, Dallas-based TV and feature film production, packaging and distribution company, you could call out: “Hey! Mr. Terrific of the Big Event!” Andrews, who says “Terrific” and “Hit” as many times as Lou Gehrig had base hits, would immediately shake your hand, for this guy never met a stranger.

Legendary entertainment industry pioneer Peter Anthony Andrews will be the focus of an upcoming “DocuBio” (being filmed for a 2023 release) of his fifty years in the ever-changing industry; and of an autobiography Mogulizing With the Tycoons (currently being written). Andrews, who has launched many careers in show business, founded the Women and Minority Writers Workshop in 1976 at Warner Brothers. His first novel Harlem’s Chosen Crew will be published in the spring of 2023. Bidding for the film rights has already begun.

Andrews was promoted to the position of vice president of dramatic programing at NBC in 1976. He oversaw an $80 million budget for scripts and pilot productions. He was the first person to hold the position of executive vice president of dramatic programing at a television network; and he was the youngest, at 26, to hold this position. And, he happened to be African-American.

For the paradigm is baseball in the entertainment world of lifelong athlete Peter Anthony Andrews: he is on deck for the next “Hit” and “Home Run”; at bat for elevator “Pitches”; rah-rahs for a World Series “Big Event.” “When I was five in 1950, I lived for Saturday when Dad would take me to see the Dodgers,” recalls Andrews. “Maybe because I was captain of all my baseball and basketball teams, I was a leader.”

In fact, as vice president of dramatic programing at NBC-TV in the seventies, Andrews, graduate of University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and who attended Yale Drama School, was one of the first to coin the term Event Television. At NBC-TV, Andrews oversaw: Ninety-Minute Mystery Movie Wheel Format Shows (Columbo, MacMillan and Wife, McCloud airing in rotation); TV Miniseries; World Premiere Made-For-TV Movies; and even a program called The Big Event.

Andrews oversaw 1970s TV shows which were—in the words of an ingratiating Internet writer—“Simple, clean and fun—but most of all, fun!!!”: The Rockford Files; Little House on the Prairie, CHIPs, Emergency!, Wonderful World of Disney, Police Woman, Police Story, Chico and the Man, Quincy, Adam-12, Ironside, Midnight Special, Banacek, Black Sheep Squadron, Petrocelli, Serpico, Man From Atlantis, Gibbsville, Born Free, Doctors’ Hospital, The Deputies, The Magician, The Invisible Man—and—as Andrea True Connection would belt out over the airwaves in the Bicentennial year of ‘76: “More, More, More!”

Like champagne shooting from a bottle, Peter Anthony Andrews’ encore was landing executive positions at Columbia Pictures and MGM during a brief 1980-83 Hollywood Golden Era of over fifty fantastic movies, launched by hopeful cinematic wonders like ET: The Extraterrestrial and Annie. During this time, Peter Anthony Andrews was creative consultant on movies like Wargames, Year of Living Dangerously, Poltergeist and Rocky III. Andrews begins this interview by talking about his childhood.

ANDREWS: I was born in Jamaica, Queens, the middle of six children. My father Earl was an entrepreneur, very smart, handsome, well-built great athlete, a charismatic guy who ran a linoleum, tile and carpet business. Though he had a sixth grade education, he said, “The one thing they can’t take away from you is education.” My mother Lillie and her sister-in-law Becky opened a restaurant, Victory Café, near what was then Jamaica Racetrack. They were both great cooks. They made homemade cakes and pies. It was a soul food restaurant. Lillie was an exceedingly patient, brilliant, religious woman who ran a beautiful household.

FAX: Between the ages of ten and thirteen, you first became interested in the performing arts as a part of the musical theater program at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

ANDREWS: They had a play called “Sliding Down a Moonbeam.” (laughs) I memorized everybody’s part so they made me the lead. Look that play up; it’s so cute. The Sandman. But I couldn’t sing. Like Richard Burton, I said the words. When I was thirteen, my Dad was killed as the result of a car accident. My mother decided to sell the restaurant and concentrate on raising the children. She later managed a Gertz Department Store employee restaurant. Cecil Watkins, who ran my AAU basketball program and who was NBA community affairs director, became my surrogate dad. As a freshman at Jamaica High School, I was the first student in 40 years to letter in baseball and I was captain of the basketball team. I was all-city basketball. I graduated from Jamaica High in 1964, then went to Phillips Exeter Prep and graduated in 1965. I entered University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance and Commerce on an academic scholarship in 1965 and graduated with a degree in economics in 1969. I was captain and MVP of the University of Pennsylvania basketball team. Billy Dee Williams and I became friends: I followed his Broadway shows and he followed my Penn basketball games on TV.

When I wasn’t playing basketball in the off season, they used to try out all the pre-Broadway shows at Philadelphia’s Walnut Theater. I saw Margaret Leighton and E. G. Marshall in The Little Foxes and Leslie Ugandan in My First Roman, the latter which didn’t make it to Broadway. I went to the theater a lot—nobody knew it. It was almost like when my basketball career ended, I was predestined to go to Yale Drama School and get involved in theater and the performing arts.

I studied theater management at Yale from ’69 to ‘70. In September, 1969 at Yale Drama School, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held its world premiere. I was the company manager in charge of getting Paul Newman, director George Roy Hill and agent David Begelman. I got to meet all three. Paul was just fabulous, a great, soft spoken guy—he’d gone to Yale the year before he came to Hollywood. After graduation, I worked as a journalist in Madrid.

FAX: You were a staff writer/associate producer for Harry Belafonte Enterprises from May, 1970 through December, 1972.

ANDREWS: I went back to New York, and was able to get an introduction to a gentleman by the name of Charles Schultz. He went by Chiz. He hired me. He’d gone to Exeter and was Harry Belafonte’s executive vice president of his company in New York. Harry had a three-picture deal with United Artists. He had already made The Angel Levine (1970). Chiz and I came up with the script for Buck and the Preacher (1972), starring Belafonte, Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. I was associate producer (uncredited) on Buck and the Preacher and of the fifteen-minute theatrical feature Durango: Behind the Scenes of Buck and the Preacher. The third picture of Harry’s UA deal was Uptown Saturday Night (1974). Harry passed on Shaft, then on Sounder, both of which became hits. As much as I loved and respected Mr. Belafonte, I was getting impatient. When the offer came to go to NBC, I decided I was going to go to Hollywood and get closer to the action.

FAX: You were a program executive in prime-time dramatic programing at NBC-TV from January, 1973 through December, 1974.

ANDREWS: This was the time when the networks were suddenly realizing they had no executives of color, and it was time to open those doors. I was in the right place at the right time. I managed existing shows: Ironside, Wonderful World of Disney, Adam-12, Emergency.

FAX: The 1970s “TV Cop/Detectives With a Quirk” were: Longstreet (needed guide dog); Barnaby Jones (needed walker); Kojak (needed lollipop); Baretta (needed bird); Starsky and Hutch (needed brakes); Cannon (needed Jenny Craig); Columbo (needed to spit the marbles out of his mouth); and Ironside (needed wheelchair). What did you think of Raymond Burr, who played Ironside?

ANDREWS: I was a rookie, and I was assigned to his show, all the supporting cast members were very warm and friendly. I do know we used to have these press junkets where we announced our seasons and shows. Raymond was always very pleasant with the press; he had a nice, cordial side.

FAX: Tell us about working for Disney.

ANDREWS: I drove to Disney, across the street from NBC, on Wednesday afternoons. Lou, their program executive, would screen what Disney suggested NBC air. The only episode I had a problem with was Davy Crockett where Hans Conreid referred to “those crazy Redskins.” I said, “It’s derogatory.” Later, Ron Miller, president of Disney TV, called my office and asked, “Can you come for a meeting next Wednesday?” I said, “Sure!” I went over there in my Jaguar and marched in, wearing my Movado watch and Sulka Italian silk tie looking all sparklin’. Ron, six-foot-five, had a giant office. I shook his hand and reiterated my decision. He said, “You’re a new program executive, correct? How long have you been on the job?” I said, “Two months.” He said, “Okay, fine, nice meeting you, Peter, take care, ‘bye.” He called NBC CEO Herb Schlosser, who said, “We’re backing Peter.”

FAX: Adam-12 (1968-75) starred Martin Milner and Kent McCord.

ANDREWS: A half-hour Jack Webb deal, slightly boring, day in the life of two LA cops. Martin Milner had a terrific career after Adam-12. He was incredibly talented but didn’t know it then.

FAX: Emergency! (1972-77) was another Jack Webb hit.

ANDREWS: No city in America even knew the word paramedic until Jack launched that show in association with the Los Angeles Fire Department. They created that whole concept of paramedics, and every city in America now has that institution within their framework.

FAX: And The Magician (1973-74) with Bill Bixby was cool.

ANDREWS: The Magician was brilliantly produced, a fabulous show from Paramount. I regret the audience never found it. Maybe it was our scheduling or promotion: I don’t know to this day. Bill Bixby was wonderful and really talented. You want certain shows to hit because you love them and they’re well done. And the audience doesn’t agree with you. So it makes you human.

FAX: Bixby was beloved for having played reporter Tim O’Hara in My Favorite Martian. Barbara Britton, who played Tim’s landlady Mrs. Brown, popped up on a late episode of The Magician.

ANDREWS: In those days, because there were only three networks, the audience had a lot more familiarity with these satellite characters (laughs) in hit TV shows. She was a satellite character to a TV show, and so to pollinate another show, reuniting former people, the press loved that, and you usually got a few extra goodies in the press. TV Guide would put their photos in and say: “Guess what! Tim and Mrs. Brown reunite on The Magician.” Same thing happened when Tony Dow and Ozzie Nelson guest-starred on Adam-12.

FAX: The anthology series Police Story (1973-83)?

ANDREWS: It was a Tuesday night slot; hard-hitting; reality-based; the LAPD was the elite police force.

FAX: Born Free (fall 1974) starred Gary Collins.

ANDREWS: I thought it would possibly be a hit because the music and movie were such hits. It was a nice show–but nobody really cared.

FAX: You became vice president of prime-time dramatic programing at NBC from January, 1975 through October, 1976.

ANDREWS: This was a quality control oversight job. Proudest day of my life. I had to make sure everything was A-OK before putting something on the air. We were paying different studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, MGM–for their TV shows. We had to make sure the studios were spending the money efficiently and giving us quality product. I oversaw a program, the scripts, the stars, the directors, and more importantly, what night of the week and what time the shows went on the air. Scheduling. Programing and counter programing against CBS and ABC. There were only three networks.

FAX: A Day in the Life?

ANDREWS: I lived in the Hollywood Hills. At first, I had a TR6 sports car. I had to go only one exit on Ventura. I listened to 96 R&B/News Radio; “Me and Mrs. Jones” was airing a lot. NBC was at 3000 West Alameda, a big, beautiful building with six or seven big soundstages in what Johnny Carson called Beautiful Downtown Burbank. My second-floor office had dark brown carpet and three TVs. My first secretary was Vickie Wagner: tall, lean, like a model, blonde hair, very efficient. I looked at the ratings—overnights–that came in from New York. This was followed by meetings. At 11 a.m., I saw the dailies. We had two screening rooms, which had comfortable, navy-colored seats. Someone from Broadcast Standards—the censors—and the producer or associate producer would be with me. The latter just wanted to hobnob and get the heck off the lot at Universal. They needed an excuse to come to the network. I made notes: inconsistencies; too much dialogue; more car chases. We later screened the full episode to an audience of 400 at Preview House, an audience testing center on Sunset Boulevard. We ate lunch at The Smoke House, near Paramount–they had a garlic bread, it was just delicious; or the Brown Derby or Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood. I was left fielder for the NBC softball team. Dennis Weaver’s son was on the team. Hell of a nice kid, like his Dad.

FAX: During the 1974-75 season, NBC had the highest rated Friday night lineup in the history of three-network television: Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, Rockford Files and Police Woman. Why did you schedule Sanford and Son opposite The Brady Bunch on ABC?

ANDREWS: It’s called counter programing. The audience that sought out Norman Lear’s All in the Family-type comedy was certainly not the Brady Bunch audience. Redd Foxx was funny; it was Norman Lear at his best.

FAX: You were the program executive overseeing the production of the pilot for The Rockford Files (1974-1980). Jim Rockford (James Garner) was an easygoing private investigator, a modern-day Maverick, whom some have called one of the best characters in TV history. The Rockford Files was a national treasure.

ANDREWS: The pilot didn’t test too well. People thought it was like a goof. They didn’t think it was serious. It was almost all comedy. NBC had the ability to give you a list of every actor and actress and what their TV Q Rating was. It was done in two ways: likeability and performance. James Garner’s Q Rating was through the roof. He gave you a great performance and you wanted James Garner in your living room for your family in prime time. Because he was just a wonderful person. And the stories were kind of fun. He had no violence. He didn’t get shot all the time. Plus, Rockford Files was developed by Roy Huggins, who had created The Fugitive, Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. Universal had a great production unit delivering Rockford Files to us. Steve Cannell—the great Steve Cannell—that was one of his first big hits.

FAX: It seemed like so many of your big shows came from Universal.

ANDREWS: I was always there; in September, 1974, I met Steven Spielberg, who had directed the TV movie Duel. He was cordial, friendly, warm, and just a wonderful young man, and he respected the fact that I was a heavyweight executive at NBC. He had just wrapped Jaws.

FAX: You oversaw Little House on the Prairie (1974-82), one of TV’s highest-rated shows.

ANDREWS: First of all, Universal delivered a rough cut of the pilot—with no music or sound effects–to NBC. Michael Landon came over to meet me to view it in the screening room. When the screening was over, the lights came up. Michael looked at me and said, “Wait–I know what you’re thinking. This is terrible. They’ll never order this as a series. But I have a two-pilot deal: I have a beautiful script that I brought with me that I’ll give to you. It’s called Matthew Brady, about the Civil War photographer. That I think would make a fabulous series. I’d like to play him and star in that. And NBC has agreed to finance it, per my post-Bonanza talent deal.” I said, “Well, we’ve got to take this to New York, and show it to NBC’s president and head of programing and see what they say.” Michael said, “If they don’t like it, I’ll hire you to be vice president of my company, and you can produce Matthew Brady and leave NBC.” We screened the pilot in New York. The lights come up and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!: “Peter, this is magnificent. When do you think we should put it on the air?” I said, “Monday night, eight o’clock, against football. It’s great counterprograming.” The rest is history; it became a gigantic hit.

FAX: Angie Dickenson played Sgt. Pepper Anderson in Police Woman (1974-1978).

ANDREWS: Angie guest starred as a female cop in an episode of Police Story (1973-87), which I oversaw. She was so terrific, the ratings were so high, I said to NBC programing vice president Terry Kegan—whose job I ultimately got—”Terry, look at this. We’ve got a potential spinoff hit.” Angie had Rockford’s audience hand delivered to her.

FAX: Chico and the Man (1974-77) starred Freddie Prinz as Chico Rodriguez, whose tagline was “Look-in’ Good!”: and Jack Albertson as garage owner Ed Brown. In Season One, Chico and the Man was in the Top Ten despite killer competition Kolchak: The Night Stalker and Kung Fu. In one episode, Jack Albertson reunited with his Poseideon Adventure wife Shelley Winters, who played a character named Shirley Schrift.

ANDREWS: Because the Chico and the Man pilot was shot on film, I was assigned as the program executive to oversee the production of it. Then they turned the show over to the comedy department. James Komack, the executive producer, who had produced The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and Welcome Back, Kotter, brought Chico and the Man to NBC. At first, the NBC comedy department didn’t want to buy it. Jimmy Komack didn’t need supervision. He was a brilliant, wonderful producer. I loved this show. It was a big hit until Freddie took his own life during Season Three. It was a beautiful, symbiotic situation. You could only find something like this in America: the idea of two generations, a young Latino and an old white guy, who can run a business and be friends.

FAX: The Friday night NBC Midnight Special (1973-81) was a glimpse into another era showcasing the likes of Donna Summer, The Village People, Olivia Newton-John, The Bee Gees, The Spinners, Peter Frampton, Billy Joel and Elton John.

ANDREWS: It was loud and boisterous; the audience loved it; it was an easy show to oversee, good production values. Burt Sugarman knew what he was doing, from top to bottom, great producer. That was taped at NBC Studios. I enjoyed it. But I couldn’t stay in the studio—it was too loud for me. I was in the control room and in my office.

FAX: The TV Wheel Format originated on NBC’s Four in One (1969-1970), rotating Night Gallery, McCloud, San Francisco Airport and The Psychiatrist. It was renewed for the 1971-72 season. In the fall of 1972, NBC began airing the 90-minute NBC Sunday Night Mystery (TV Wheel Format rotating Columbo, McMillan and Wife and McCloud, and in most seasons a fourth show like Hec Ramsey, Amy Prentiss or Lannigan’s Rabbi). During the 1973-74 season, an NBC Tuesday Night Mystery, then NBC Wednesday Night Mystery, followed! Pretty groundbreaking.

ANDREWS: It really was; they were ninety-minute and two-hour formats. We did some ninety-minute Columbos and some two-hour Columbos, and MacMillan and Wife and all of them. Economically, The TV Wheel Format was terrific. They were special shows that were expensive and terrific pieces of business. Audiences planned dinner around them. So, for example, you got to see Columbo once a month. That was exciting for audiences. If we had him on every week, maybe it wouldn’t have been as popular. The NBC Sunday Night Mystery became An Event—Event Television. Hec Ramsey, played by Richard Boone, struggled. It was Columbo Out West, booting and very boring, canceled after a few episodes. Amy Prentiss was weak, but it was okay, a knockoff on that Liz Taylor-Richard Burton movie The VIPs. They were stuck at the airport or something. Lannigan’s Rabbi, which starred Bruce Solomon, right before he played Sergeant Foley on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, failed. That was a disgrace. (laughs) A joke.

McCloud, Columbo and MacMillan and Wife were well produced, well written: all the top guys at Universal worked on and delivered those shows to us. Those were automatic shows; those were like Sunday night—Bam. McCloud (1970-77) was a rip-off of Clint Eastwood’s Coogan’s Bluff. Dennis Weaver, who played a lawman/cowboy, was a great, nice man. Peter Falk became a superstar—albeit a strange and demanding one–through Columbo (1971-78). Everybody loved Rock Hudson and Susan St. James in MacMillan and Wife (1971-77).

FAX: The NBC Wednesday Night Mystery also rotated Wheel Format shows, one of which was Banacek (1972-74), starring George Peppard.

ANDREWS: I liked Banacek. It failed because Peppard was arrogant, rich, an elitist, had a limousine, and was a womanizer, in a way. Steven Bochco had great writers on it, but Americans just didn’t buy George Peppard. In MacMillan and Wife, Rock Hudson was disarming and charming. In contrast, in Banacek, George Peppard was anything but.

FAX: Speaking of Peppard, you once met his Breakfast at Tiffany’s co-star Patricia Neal, who appeared on NBC’s Movin’ On (1974-76), a Convoy trucker show.

ANDREWS: My favorite time in the private screening room at NBC was with Patricia Neal, who had won an Oscar for Hud. She guest starred in Movin’ On and I got to show her that episode (11/18/75). Just me and her. And what a wonderful, classy lady. She had rehabilitated greatly from her stroke. This was the first thing that she had done after the stroke. She was a fading movie star. But what a world class lady. Patricia Neal–I can hardly hold myself together. We had a wonderful time. Great, handsome woman. And still charismatic even after recovering from a stroke.

FAX: The year 1975 saw the finales of Adam-12 and Ironside. The press reported that Martin Milner would leave Adam-12 to star in ABC’s Swiss Family Robinson (1975-76), but that Adam-12 would continue with Kent McCord and Mark Harmon.

ANDREWS: They just told that to Jack Webb to massage his feelings. Jack’s brand of the righteous cop, half-hour show had been very good. Jack had made the LAPD famous and LA wanted their city to be portrayed as a law-and-order city. So Jack Webb served an important role for LAPD, and for the NBC-TV audience, because his police shows had really replaced the western. And the audience loved it–it was right on time.

FAX: What was going in in the eighth and final season of Ironside?

ANDREWS: They were coming after us on Thursday nights in that time slot. Ironside was soft and the ratings were declining. I tried to promote it and get big guest stars for ratings. Every time I’d get a big name, Raymond Burr wouldn’t show up for work! Desi Arnaz played Dr. Domingo, a Cuban detective, on a couple of late Ironside episodes. By that time (laughs), this is horrible, Ironside could have leaped out of the wheelchair, flipped off a diving board into a toboggan in a one-piece bathing suit and I don’t think that would have helped our ratings. I was happy Raymond resurrected Perry Mason in thirty top-rated Made-For-TV movies. It was commercial, easy to do, and it worked.

FAX: Doctors’ Hospital (1975-76) was another George Peppard lallapalooza.

ANDREWS: He was already arrogant. Now you’re making him an arrogant, elitist neurosurgeon, so that’s a double turnoff for him and that show.

FAX: Ellery Queen (1975-76) starred Jim Hutton.

ANDREWS: Soft and silly, didn’t get great ratings, not a disaster just okay, a Universal show. Yeah, Jim Hutton, wow.

FAX: Joe Forrester (1975-76) starred Lloyd Bridges as a beat cop.

ANDREWS: One of my favorite shows, a spinoff of Police Story. Lloyd and I became exceedingly close friends. I never missed Sea Hunt as a child. Joe Forrester was more about the relationship between him and the people of the community. It never caught on but it was a good, noble try. Lloyd’s sons Jeff and Beau were always hanging around. We had good scripts. David Gerber was executive producer.

FAX: Saturday Night Live premiered on NBC in October, 1975. How did this affect you?

ANDREWS: Lorne Michaels created that; NBC bought the show at 30 Rock in New York. When I heard the first rumblings about Saturday Night Live, I felt so hopeful because we could promo some of our NBC dramatic shows between commercial breaks. Also, we were happy we had a hit in other areas—especially comedy. Outside of Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man leading into our Friday night, there were no comedy hits on our schedule for years.

FAX: NBC also had a big block of time called The Big Event.

ANDREWS: The Big Event was a program concept that NBC president Paul Klein advanced to fill a time slot. It just meant we didn’t have a show. He did a show with Dustin Hoffman and New York City actors at a movie wrap party or something. The ratings were so low it was embarrassing.

FAX: I saw The Father Knows Best Reunion (5/15/77) and Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas (12/18/77) on The Big Event. From 1976-80, The Big Event varied between ninety-minute, two-hour and even three-hour formats! The 1976 TV premiere of Gone With the Wind was a two-parter and The Godfather Saga (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II) was a three-parter.

ANDREWS: Every third or fourth weekend, one of those kinds of goodies aired, but that is not a consistent time slot for an advertiser base and a revenue base that you build a network on. I had nothing to do with it; it was done out of New York, and people in New York who wanted to act like they knew something about programing and were creative. It was everything including the kitchen sink, a desperate attempt to fill a time slot! Paul Klein did have one show he picked that was El Cheapo but became a big hit for a minute: Grizzly Adams (1977-78). I had nothing to do with the show. The guy that played Grizzly Adams was a wonderful drinking pal of mine.

FAX: During the 1976-77 season, NBC began airing Made-For TV Movies on The Tuesday Night World Premiere Movie. I liked Irwin Allen’s Made-For-TV Movies Flood! (11/24/76) and Fire! (5/8/77).

ANDREWS: Those were not only about disasters, but they were disasters ratings wise and cost wise! Paul Klein ordered that. The NBC Sunday Night Mystery was the precursor to ninety-minute or two-hour Made-For-TV Movies. NBC didn’t even realize that’s the form that they created and programed on Sunday night.

FILMFAX: Event TV also included miniseries.

ANDREWS: I oversaw the miniseries A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (3/27/74), starring Cliff Robertson and Diane Baker. We remade that movie. Diane was charming and wonderful and as sweet as pie, fine actress and a beautiful woman and lovely to work with. I was the executive in charge of the two-part miniseries Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers (1976). It starred Kirk Douglas, was based on a bestselling book, and was produced by Warner Brothers. Kirk was a great guy, brilliant.

FAX: The Quest (1976) was a western starring Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson.

ANDREWS: Good pilot, but they just didn’t pick it up.

FAX: Quincy, M. E. (1976-83) joined The NBC Sunday Night Mystery TV Wheel Format in December, 1976.

ANDREWS: I oversaw the Quincy pilot. Of all these shows, my favorite was Quincy. Lou Shaw, a friend, wrote the pilot. I knew Jack Klugman on the set; he was a nice man. Lynette Metty, who played his girlfriend, was a sweetheart, lovely person to work with.

FAX: Black Sheep Squadron (1976-78)?

ANDREWS: I didn’t work on that, but Robert Conrad and I became very close buddies.

FAX: David Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie starred in Serpico (1976-77).

ANDREWS: It was on Friday night, but ABC and CBS counter-programed it with hit movies so nobody got to see it. I knew David Birney very well. Terrific, Dartmouth, Shakespearian-trained actor. His wife Meredith was pregnant at the same time as my wife, so we took those classes together. I liked David so much, very fond of him, and Meredith, both. Nice people. We had high hopes for Serpico, because David Birney’s television likeability was exceedingly high, and Serpico was a hit movie, but that Friday night time slot didn’t help us.

FAX: Gibbsville?

ANDREWS: John O’Hara’s short stories, with John Savage and Gig Young. One of my favorite shows. But it was ahead of its time, too intellectual, too highbrow, but brilliantly done, great acting. That’s when they started accusing me of being too highbrow and not commercial at NBC in terms of programing ideas.

FAX: In 1976, you launched The Warner Brothers Women and Minority Writer’s Workshop.

ANDREWS: Alan Shayne, Warner Brothers president, said, “We need new writers. Why don’t you do a workshop? On Saturdays, Warner Brothers could provide a room with coffee and donuts, and we could figure out a curriculum.” I said, “Why don’t we do this. They have to pick a show that’s already on the air that’s a hit that they like and feel they could write for. If they write a good enough script, I’ll submit it to the producers.” I did the workshop for two years. It still exists.

FAX: You were vice president of creative development of dramatic programs at NBC from October, 1976 through December, 1979.

ANDREWS: That was to listen to pitches for potential dramatic hit shows. It was my job to assign their writers to write the pilot, and then, if the script was good—I’d commission fifty scripts. Out of fifty, I maybe shot twelve pilots. Out of twelve pilots, two or three got on the air.

FAX: CHIPs (1977-83) starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox.

ANDREWS: Rick Rosner, who was getting ready to leave the network, gave me the pilot, which he’d shot on 16mm. He put a camera on a motorcycle and made a five-minute presentation. Adam-12 on Motorcycles, an hour comedy-drama.

FAX: What about Mulligan’s Stew (fall 1977) with Elinor Donahue?

ANDREWS: B-O-O-O-O-O-R–ING. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

FAX: Man From Atlantis?

FAX: Yes, I had my fingerprints on that celluloid disaster. It was too soon for those kinds of fantasies. The actor who starred in it, this was his first job. As soon as The Man From Atlantis got out of the water, he evaporated.

FAX: David Cassidy of The Partridge Family starred in a Police Story episode which was a pilot for David Cassidy—Man Undercover (1978-79).

ANDREWS: That was an attempt at Police Story, trying to put a teenager agent in high school, but it didn’t work.

FAX: Project UFO (1978-79)?

ANDREWS: A Jack Webb attempt at Adam-12 in Search of UFOs. Jack said, “I’ve got lightning in a bottle.” He had government files on UFO sightings. Limited in scope, something to humor Jack with.

FAX: You developed Harris and Company (1979).

ANDREWS: The precursor to Cosby. Instead of putting it on a Sunday night where I wanted it, they put it on Thursday nights against Mork and Mindy. During this time, I taught a counter-programing course at USC Film School on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

FAX: The Deputies (1979) was an NBC pilot.

ANDREWS: Broke my heart, I loved that show. Don Johnson’s first pilot. Quinn Martin produced it, and NBC was scared to order it; they didn’t think anybody wanted to see a western.

FAX: Sister, Sister was filmed in 1979.

ANDREWS: Maya Angelou, a Writer’s Workshop student, was the first African-American woman to write this Made-For-TV Movie, a pilot starring Diahann Carroll, Rosalind Cash and Irene Cara. By 1979, NBC had slipped to Number Three, and we had no comedy. They decided Fred Silverman had made ABC number one and he had had great success at CBS, so maybe he was the answer. So over a seven year period, I had had five presidents at NBC Entertainment: Larry White, Martin Antanosky, Irwin Siegelstein, Paul Klein and Fred Silverman–none of whom had vision, though Silverman thought he did.

FAX: I’m sure you were thrilled about Silverman’s show Supertrain (1979).

ANDREWS: I worked on that! It was a disaster! The worst stupid idea Fred Silverman ever had, one of ‘em. Based on Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder’s movie Silver Streak. Yeah, he thought it would be a hit for TV. He built a model of a train on a set at MGM. And it was a disgraceful disaster, an unmitigated piece of trash. Did I say something about it at the time? No–what is there to say? It was a horrible script, a horrible idea, why are you putting it on? That’s another reason I left NBC, to happen to be associated with stuff like that. Fred Silverman was not exactly my idea of a great career.

FAX: By this point, B.J. and the Bear, Bionic Woman, James at 16 and Buck Rogers in the 21st Century were part of the lineup. Shogun (9/80) with Richard Chamberlain pulled out the stops.

ANDREWS: Epic Television, a spectacle. At this point, Fred Silverman leapfrogged Brandon Tartikoff over me to be the head of NBC’s west coast division. They made me vice president of special projects. I thought, “That sounds like the twelfth man on an NBA team.” I was offered the vice presidency position of Twentieth Century-Fox. David Gerber offered me a job as a partner in his company. Warner Brothers’ Allen Shayne said, “Peter, come to Warner’s, you can do everything you want.” David Susskind was a nice, charming, brilliant man. We had a nice lunch at the Brown Derby, never forget it. What a wonderful, classy guy. That wasn’t big time enough for me. But it was flattering that he would offer me the job as president of his production company. Richard Pryor interviewed me to be head of his production company. I also taught a course at Yale Drama School during this period.

FAX: Legendary Hollywood powerhouses David Begelman and Freddie Fields played vital roles in your subsequent career moves at Columbia and MGM. David Begelman had originally worked for talent agency MCA; he left to co-found talent agency Creative Management Associates (CMA) with Freddie Fields. In 1973, Begelman became president of Columbia Pictures and turned the studio around with hits like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Meanwhile, in 1969, CMA president Freddie Fields—with Begelman—had created First Artists, which got the best package deals for Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Dustin Hoffman. Freddie Fields was responsible for packaging The Godfather, The Towering Inferno, Shampoo, Funny Lady, Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But by 1978, Fields—now Paramount president—was fighting battles at his own studio.

Peter, you ended up becoming a partner with these two guys in the Begalman-Fields Company. What do you remember about working with them? What characteristics did they have that led to their force in the industry?

ANDREWS: David Begelman was a real outward guy, aggressive, tough negotiator, knew how to schmooze people. David and Freddie had learned their craft from Lou Wasserman, founder of Universal Studios and MCA agency. David Begelman took on Wasserman’s personality. Freddie Fields, married to Polly Bergen, had class, style, sophistication, charm, great taste, and was well-read, a creative genius and wonderful producer. Everybody liked him: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Barbra Streisand, everybody wanted to go to his parties and hang out with him. David was the negotiator, hard-driving, tough guy studio head and Freddie was Captain Smooth on the sidelines.

In 1978, David and Freddie launched the Begelman-Fields Company. It was a three-year, $500 million, guaranteed-five-picture deal. Begelman was president, Freddie Fields was the first partner, and I was named the second partner. Our offices were in the then-new Colgems Building.

I learned from both David and Freddie and was very fortunate to have their full support and admiration, and to have been in partnership with them. I was fortunate enough to have gone to Columbia with them and then on to MGM with them. It was a milestone in my career and was a big part of my rise in Hollywood.

FAX: What did you do at Columbia when you first went there in January, 1980?

ANDREWS Developing, buying, selling television programs and motion pictures. I worked closely with Freddie, who developed a lot of wonderful features. I sold projects exclusively to CBS. I developed a Wheel, like the Mystery Movie Wheel at NBC. I spent several months and a lot of money putting all the greatest writers together, the scripts, directors. There were four programs: International Journalist; a hospital show; and two others. David—but mainly Freddie–loved it, as did Tom Tannenbaum, executive vice president of Columbia TV. Kim Lemasters and Bud Grant at CBS looked at it, mulled it over, and thought it was too expensive. I also developed Beyond Westworld, a take on the movie Westworld, with Lou Shaw. Michael Crichton was the writer.

During my last few weeks at Columbia in late 1980, I bumped into Paul Newman, shortly before he starred in The Verdict. He was warm and friendly. I thought Hollywood was very unkind to him. He should have won Oscars. I guess Hollywood thought of him as a pretty boy rather than an actor. Cool Hand Luke and all that.

FAX: How did you end up at MGM in December, 1980?

ANDREWS: Businessman Kirk Kerkorian took over MGM and hired David and Freddie away from Columbia in late 1980. David, now MGM president, said to me, “Peter, I’ll make you executive vice president of MGM TV.” When I moved into Dore Shary’s huge, former office, I got chills. I oversaw the operations of the MGM studios and of all the producers on the lot, and catered to whatever they needed. I spent some time plucking stuff out of MGM’s library and repackaging it and syndicating it in domestic and global syndication.

My job at MGM was really to try and resurrect and reinvent their television division. MGM had CHIPs, Fantasy Island and Hart to Hart, which helped. That was a tough job because Universal, Paramount, Fox, Columbia and smaller companies like the Mary Tyler Moore Company pitched shows and there were only three networks.

FAX: In October, 1981, MGM acquired United Artists; the merged companies became MGM/UA Entertainment Company. David Begelman, now MGM/UA president, named you executive senior vice president of the television division.

ANDREWS: That’s right; meanwhile, Freddie was doing movies at MGM/UA. They needed some television shows to air in prime time. I put McClain’s Law; Chicago Story; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; The Yearling; Empire; and miniseries Buffalo Soldiers together in a short time.

FAX: You were at MGM from late 1980 through 1983—an era when Hollywood seemed showered with stardust. In a way, I indirectly shared this time in Hollywood with you as a graduate student at USC Film School. I remember in late May, 1982 standing at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, staring at a gargantuan, seemingly quarter-mile paneled billboard reading “Annie—The Movie of ‘Tomorrow!’” over Grauman’s Chinese Theater with the Hollywood Hills at scarlet/coral sunset in the background. It gave me chills. There was so much promise in the air: E.T.: The Extraterrestrial; Annie; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; Chariots of Fire; Tender Mercies; Trading Places; Officer and a Gentleman; Rocky III; Jaws 3-D; My Favorite Year; Black Stallion Returns; The Verdict; Psycho II; Wargames; For Your Eyes Only; Tron; Popeye; The Outsiders; Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan; Neil Simon’s Seems Like Old Times; Gandhi; Tootsie; Beastmaster; Conan the Barbarian; Great White; The Sting II; Superman III; Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Octopussy; Never Say Never Again; and Tex.

ANDREWS: I couldn’t agree with you more. Stars aligning over Hollywood at that moment? Perfectly said. Like never before in my experience. I was excited through the roof. It was almost like every studio suddenly had a diversity of dramas and each drama produced a viable, new, wonderful fruit that would do well at the box office.

With E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Spielberg made a picture that he thought was reflective about his childhood and about his love for imagination and kids. Suddenly, kids were taking a big role in solving problems in a movie that they could go see and feel great about. They could even leave feeling more superior than their parents. And that’s what that movie did and accomplished. E.T. became the worldwide hit of its time and continues to be so.

I was very cordial with Ray Stark, who produced Annie. I recognized that Albert Finney was important to that film because he was a Brit. This gave Annie clout with Great Britain. One of the things I learned from Freddie Fields was international marquee cluster casting. In those days—even now—big studios try to do it. You’re putting together a package. If you can do that, it just opens up markets for you. Ann Reinking, one of the costars in Annie, was the girlfriend of a guy at the Paul Allen Company. They were serious. Ann was a famous, fine dancer: I met and knew her; she was talented, gorgeous, fabulous. Carol Burnett is a superstar and she’s been magnificent in everything, like a Lucille Ball.  Annie was a very, very, very well produced, well-put-together motion picture. it was an Americana movie, it was a title that people loved, and it would guarantee families to go see it. David Begelman, Freddie Fields and Frank Price all felt comfortable that the money was safe.

FAX: What did you do at MGM/UA from 1981-83?

ANDREWS: I was also working with Freddie Fields, newly named president of United Artists, as a creative consultant doing marketing and distribution, helping him put together what he was going to do at United Artists. MGM and UA were one and the same: we were on the same lot.

I was learning how to develop movies like: Cannery Row, Shoot the Moon, Diner, Victor/Victoria, Rocky III. I worked on Poltergeist with Freddie. When those dailies came in, it became obvious that it was destined conceptually to be a major hit. Freddie knew it, I knew it, everybody knew it. It was on its way.

Beastmaster, My Favorite Year, Trail of the Pink Panther, Year of Living Dangerously–I put a lot of time on that one. Black Stallion Returns. Coppola’s original Black Stallion, I loved it, loved it, loved it; I just remembered it was a terrific experience. The boy Kelly Reno was talented and brilliant, I loved him. Mickey Rooney in anything was great. The Black Stallion Returns was a polished, extremely successful follow-up. And more movies: Octopussy, Wargames, Curse of the Pink Panther, Christmas Story, For Your Eyes Only.

FAX: At what point did you start your own company?

ANDREWS: I was tired of being a suit. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and produce films. After leaving MGM in June, 1983, I launched my own company Paco Global Entertainment.

I produced, wrote and directed The Fourteenth Annual NAACP Image Awards (12/4/83). It took place at the Hollywood Paladium, and was hosted by Robert Guillaume. Stars included: Eddie Murphy, Cicely Tyson, Lou Gossett, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mister T, Lena Horne, Anne Baxter, James Brolin and Connie Selleca. Cicely Tyson was a nice, lovely lady, classy, quiet, kept to herself. She had great longevity and brilliance. And she was Miles Davis’ girlfriend. And I knew Miles Davis very well. Mr. T and I had a great respect for one another. He was a very nice gentleman. And I didn’t see him as a caricature or any of that stuff that made him famous, you know. Privately, he was just a very brilliant, lovely person. He was so good on the Image Awards stage. Just kept everybody calm and he was cooperative. It was just a magical taping of a wonderful variety show for me as a producer writer. It’s a credit I’m very proud of. Eddie Murphy won the Best Actor award for Trading Places. Best Actress award went to Jennifer Beals of Flashdance. Outstanding Male Artist award went to Lionel Richie. Of all my hundreds of productions, this was my favorite.

FAX: While Paco Global Entertainment was flourishing, you simultaneously spent some time teaching. How did that come about?

ANDREWS: I worked with some buddies from Philadelphia and we started a charter school, where I taught a TV production course for seven years. Then the education system hired me to run a TV studio at Edison High School. But since 1983, Paco Global Entertainment has represented major clients in finance, distribution, marketing and packaging content for global exploitation in all markets and media.

FAX: Tell us about Paco Global Entertainment from the eighties through the present.

ANDREWS: I was a production consultant on Freddie Field’s miniseries Glory (1989), starring Morgan Freeman, Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington. I developed the TV series Phoenix Rising, by Stephen Kronish (Wise Guy); and a CBS pilot Sting Sisters, in association with Fred Weintraub. I also produced and wrote: Color Me Dorothy, an off-Broadway show; Celebrity Showboat, a special starring Cab Calloway and Della Reese; and Story of a People, hosted by Robert Guillaume.

FAX: Your 1992 movie Importance of Being Earnest was really cool.

ANDREWS: A buddy of mine was putting up the money. I wrote a translation of the Oscar Wilde masterpiece and we shot it at the Joan Crawford mansion in two weeks. What a great black cast. And that movie has never been distributed, I’m getting ready to release it in February of 2023. Finally.

FAX: Give me the names of a few of your other projects

ANDREWS: I also produced: Crimes of the Heart; Ultra-High Frequency; Legend of Hannibal and Mister Sippi; Rough Diamonds; Pick and Role; Are You Protected?, a CBS pilot.

FAX: Paco Global Entertainment has some explosive TV series coming up. Can you give us a preview?

ANDREWS: American Diamond, a four-part series of aspiring players coming to America; Arena, about a family that owns a pro basketball team; Babies by Sarita, an unusual, warm show; Basketball Bunch, highlighting the finest high school basketball players; Cemetery Mary, a drama-comedy about a psychic detective; City Brawls, pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts; Helping Heroes, about our veterans; Miracle Journey, a Christmas treat; Money Riders, about African-American jockeys; and Paradise, an atmospheric period piece about the Paradise Hotel.

FAX: What are Paco Global Entertainment’s upcoming theatrical motion pictures?

ANDREWS: Chevalier and Antoinette, a romantic story involving Marie Antoinette; Dust, a plot surrounding a haunting family secret; Hair Metal Moon, about a vintage band’s reunion tour; Higher and Higher, the Jackie Wilson bio; Midnight Dancer, a murder mystery; Revenge of the Dogmen, a Halloween chiller extraordinaire; and Rules of the Game, about a high school basketball team.

FAX: In conclusion, you were in Hollywood in the seventies and early eighties: a more innocent era which evokes great emotions of longing and nostalgia in Americans. What one word would you use to describe how you felt about that era?

ANDREWS: Magic. People make up our universes, don’t they? They have an impact on you. Yeah. Barry Gordy, Diane Baker, Della Reese, Ted Turner, Brock Peters, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Jim Garner, Michael Landon. Gosh, it was exciting. Freddie Fields, the great producer. David Begelman. I really, really liked Jackie Cooper greatly. Hollywood royalty, The Little Rascals, he was well-read and intellectual and just such a wonderful, wonderful person. And having this interview, you’re making me reflect back. I think the seventies and early eighties was one of the greatest times of my life. You know?  So, seventies and early eighties, yes, back to your point, the seventies and early eighties were great, but I’ve got to tell you—2022, 2023 and beyond with Paco Global Entertainment in Dallas is going to be The Biggest Event ever!