MacGyver Producer Michael Greenburg, in his second cast and crew story, remembers fellow MacGyver Executive Producer, John Rich. Rich died earlier this year after an almost 50-year career in television. Here Greenburg writes about lessons learned from Rich while editing MacGyver.
Just when I thought I knew a lot about filming, my career collided with the great John Rich. I probably learned the most about shooting for television from John. “Keep it simple, stupid” was one of his many memorable mantras. Basically, tell the story, don’t confuse it.
In the early years of MacGyver, John spent most of his time in the editing room. After we had spent a 15 hour day on set filming, I would be called into John’s editing room for my debriefing on scenes that we had shot sometimes weeks before. I actually enjoyed those sessions and felt fortunate that one of the great television directors of all time was still so passionate about the craft and so willing to share his experienced and well tested tricks of the trade. John could’ve just camped out by his mailbox opening residual checks from “All in the Family.” But, making shows better and the television experience better was his mission, maybe even his life blood.
There are a lot of elements to John’s mentorship, all of which are focused on grabbing the audience and then once you have them, not giving them a chance or an excuse to change the channel. John’s method of operation became contagious. He knew that I would disseminate the intel from these late night sessions to all the keys on set and that the show would be better. John Rich was right.
MacGyver became one if those rare long running series that is still talked about today all over the world and will be talked about tomorrow as evidenced by this global website twenty years after we wrapped the series.
John would be very proud of the sustained impact of MacGyver.
Stay tuned… to be continue…