MR. NOVAK: AN ACCLAIMED TELEVISION SERIES (SOFTCOVER EDITION) by Chuck Harter

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978-1-62933-163-8

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The Peabody Award-winning series (1963-1965) followed the experiences of a young, tough-minded, idealistic high school English teacher on his first job, and featured stars James Franciscus, Dean Jagger, and Burgess Meredith. Guest stars included Richard Donner, Claude Akins, Eddie Albert, Ed Asner, Frankie Avalon, Diane Baker, Herschel Bernardi, Beau Bridges, Richard Chamberlain, Johnny Crawford, Pat Crowley, Robert Culp, Kim Darby, Tony Dow, Howard Duff, Lillian Gish, Don Grady, Joey Heatherton, Sherry Jackson, Walter Koenig, Marta Kristen, Martin Landau, Cloris Leachman, June Lockhart, Claudine Longet, Vera Miles, Lois Nettleton, E. Jack Neuman, Robert Walker, and Beverly Washburn.


The series’ hallmark were inspirational tales of great integrity, but triumph turned to tragedy, when a chain of disastrous situations caused an abrupt cancellation. Learn how the series was conceived, developed, broadcast, and received by both critics and viewers.


243 illustrations. Index. Includes a complete episode guide with full credits, plot descriptions, vintage reviews, and appraisals by the author.


Appendices include:

  • Novak TV Series Awards 1963-1965
  • Jack Neuman’s Writers Guide
  • Novak’s Graduation Advice: Think
  • Principal Vane’s Speech to New Teachers
  • James Franciscus’ Columns for ‘TEEN Magazine (1963-1965)
  • Novelization of the Two-Part Novak/Dr. Kildare Rejected Script “The Rich Who Are Poor” by E. Jack Neuman
  • The Novak Game

About the author: Chuck Harter is a writer and musician, and his previously published books include Superboy & Superpup: The Lost Videos; Superman on BroadwayJohnnie Ray: 1952 The Year of theAtomic RayLittle Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon. He also wrote the television documentary Hey! Hey! We’re the Monkees, and has appeared as a commentator on many TV programs including North Mission Road, Cops: America’s Most Wanted, Places of Infamy, A & E Biography, Mysteries and Scandals, and Unsolved Mysteries.


“I’m so pleased that Chuck Harter is bringing the Mr. Novak experience to a wider audience. After you’ve read his detailed, behind-the-scenes account, I hope you’ll consider yourself part of the Novak family.” -Richard Donner

“Chuck Harter has produced a superlative book that is both fascinating and informative. Long life to Mr. Novak! and three cheers for Chuck Harter!”-Martin Landau


“Reading this book by Chuck Harter brought back many satisfying memories. You don’t have to have been an actor . . . just a student to appreciate the skillful way in which he unfolds the stories behind the cameras.” -Walter Koenig


The Mr. Novak television series was a landmark in the development of dramatic television. It starred James Franciscus with Dean Jagger and featured cutting-edge scripts, first-class production values and exceptional acting. It was the first program to portray teachers and students realistically. "Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series" by author, musician and popular culture consultant Chuck Harter is a profusely illustrated study that features: Comprehensive coverage of the original filming and air dates; An episode guide with vintage reviews and fresh perspectives; Interviews with over 35 actors who appeared on the show including Walter Koenig, Martin Landau, Beau Bridges, Tony Dow, Ed Asner, June Lockhart, and Sherry Jackson; Archival interviews with the series' stars and producers; A complete list of the many awards the series received, and so much more. Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Mr. Novak" provides the reader with a complete and comprehensive profile of one of the finest TV series that ever aired. "Mr. Novak" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Television History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mr. Novak" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629331638, $30.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95). 
- Wisconsin Bookwatch
Chuck Harter's MR. NOVAK is a terrific book on the making of a short-lived, little-known (because it's hardly been rerun), but widely-acclaimed (in its time) TV series that starred James Franciscus as a teaher and Dean Jagger as his principal. MR. NOVAK followed the successful DR. KILDARE template, a series made by the same studio and developed by E. Jack Neuman, the writer/creator of this series, and it was undoubtedly an inspiration for the much-more sucessful ROOM 222, which came along years later. Harter's book benefits enormously from his extensive research and numerous interviews with the key players of the show, both behind the camera and in front of it (some interviews were conducted personally, others gleaned from press reports and other sources). In many ways, MR. NOVAK is a story of opportunity lost -- the series was a critical and popular hit in its first season, but then was sabotaged by financial and creative studio and network meddling in the second season, which included a misguided change in the writing and the loss of key cast members. You don't have to be a fan of MR. NOVAK to enjoy this book -- in fact, I've never seen a single frame of the program. But I found the book fascinating anyway. The book comes with a detailed episode guide and two great bonus features -- E. Jack Neuman's "bible" for writers on the series and the synopsis of a two-part cross-over episode with DR. KILDARE about VD that was nixed at the last second by skittish NBC (the synopsis is inexplicably titled "a novelization" by Harter, which it most certainly is not). There are a lot of valuable lessons that current TV professionals -- writers, producers, and executives -- could learn from reading this detailed examination/appreciation/history/post-mortem of what could have been a landmark series in TV history if not for its death from self-inflicted wounds.  -- Lee Goldberg
" Although its glory years were in the past, MGM enjoyed a last hurrah in the 1960s as the studio behind such popular shows as Dr. Kildare, The Man from U.N.C.L.E and Mr. Novak, a serious-minded drama that tackled challenging issues on a weekly basis. I was a dedicated fan and remember the program with fondness. Harter has done yeoman service in tracing the history of the series, interviewing actors who were guest stars alongside series regulars James Franciscus and Dean Jagger, and providing an exhaustive episode guide. Anyone with even a passing interest in Mr. Novak, or the workings of network television in the 60s, should find this a valuable resource."
- Leonard Maltin

 Review from Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

 

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