- Hardcover: 376 pages
- Publisher: BearManor Media (October 15, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1629331643
- ISBN-13: 978-1629331645
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,063,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series (hardback) Hardcover – October 15, 2017
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Chuck Harter has captured the intensity of this project, which even as children, my siblings and I could feel around us. My father traveled the country - and even out of the country - for years, dedicated to understanding the modern high school. He also traveled to receive a multitude of awards for the program, though it aired only two seasons.
My dad was a dedicated researcher, and he saw a project through from start to finish with intensity and pride. This was his baby, as Harter says - and it was magnificent.
I have had the opportunity to review several of the episodes, and frankly, it is hard to believe how relevant the subject matter remains. The character development is phenomenal.
I am an investigative journalist - and I know what it takes to research. I also know how hard it is to make a subject come to life, to retain the interest of the reader, to convey the intensity of events and to do it all in a comprehensive, linear fashion that is easy to read. "It t'ain't easy," as my dad would say. But he did it.
Harter also criss-crossed the country - to get interviews, including with a die-hard fan of the series who was a student-extra on the show. It is extraordinary. I happened to know how hard it was to get some of those interviews with people like my stepmother, Dick Donner and so forth.
One thing they all had to say was that dad was a great guy to work with. That was satisfying to see. That is a personal note, and one that I cannot help but to include in this review.
Hollywood has changed dramatically, and the television industry has no resemblance to what it was fifty years ago. Those actors and writers had to pass ethical screenings. Imagine that. 90% of TV wouldn't get through the censors today. So those scripts, which were absolutely cutting edge, had to walk a discreet line to come into our living rooms. Harter conveys the momentum and urgency to portray real high schools, real students, and real teachers in an era of "Our Miss Brooks."
Topics such as teen pregnancy, dropping out, racism, bullying, drugs, financial problems for teachers, romantic interests for teachers, and my favorite - the teacher who married one of his students - and she has a drinking problem that she brings to school... these are heady and relevant today, and they did not treat them with kid gloves. They ate them up.
So, for the person who is a fan of old television series, I heartily recommend this book. You will be astonished at the quality of information that is in this book about my dad, of course, and Dean Jagger, James Franciscus, and the rest of the cast. You have to buy this book to add to your collection.
For the screenwriter - I recommend the incredible "Writer's Guide," a feature at the back of the book. It was my dad's description of the characters and the meaning and the purpose of this series, and it was intended to make sure that whoever took over the writing of the series knew what he set out to do. This invaluable description will show anyone what distinguishes a great writer from a good one.
Unfortunately, given the modern-day business of screenwriting, it probably doesn't matter anymore. Its all about the money. But great is great, and if you are a writer like me, you want to know.
For the fan - it is a cornucopia of great stuff.
It seems that the series will soon be released on DVD, and if you read this, you will be chomping at the bit.
Harter aced it.
Finally, the book was published October 15th, 2017 and available on Amazon. My book arrived last month. I pre-ordered it in June of this year.
It is great. Mr. Novak is my favorite TV series of all time. Everywhere in the book are stories from behind the scene as well as reviews of the limited 60 episode award winning (47 total in two years) tv series from 1963-65 that today’s generation has never seen.
Mr. Novak has come back to life!
The author did an amazing job interviewing many of the cast who are still living, the writers, and even technicians in Hollywood as well as a few of the students who played extras while they were at John Marshall High School in L.A. where the series was shot the first year.
Mr. Novak was televisions first attempt at a real drama series dedicated to teachers, schools, and students. The scripts were reviewed by a NEA panel week after week. One of the awards was the NEA School Bell National award in 1964.