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Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977$
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Joshua Glick

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293700

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293700.001.0001

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Hard Lessons in Hollywood Civics

Hard Lessons in Hollywood Civics

Managing the Crisis of the Liberal Consensus

(p.107) 4 Hard Lessons in Hollywood Civics
Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977

Joshua Glick

University of California Press

As Wolper Productions continued to make documentaries and experiment with fiction, the studio provided a professional entry point for promising talent and off-and-on employment for filmmakers involved with New Hollywood features. This chapter investigates Wolper Productions’s output during a period in which the film and television industries faced a precarious financial situation. The studio helped create a political imaginary for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Additionally, Wolper Productions’s forays into programs with Jacques-Yves Cousteau charted a fresh path for nonfiction. Packaging American history or capturing recent events, however, soon proved to be a troublesome venture. Wolper Productions’s prospective adaptation of William Styron’s novel The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) was one of the earliest attempts by a major studio to make a commercial film about black power themes and figures. The opposition to the film, however, resulted in a public relations disaster for Wolper Productions. Wolper and his circle came to understand the importance of having community support from the minority group the studio sought to represent.

Keywords:   Nat Turner, Lyndon B. Johnson, Great Society, New Hollywood

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