Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour
By Scott Skelton and Jim Benson
Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour is a compelling and comprehensive look at the making of dramatist and pop-culture icon Rod Serling’s last anthology series. One of the most unusual and innovative television series of its day, Night Gallery captured the imagination of a generation of viewers with its brilliant mix of classic horror-fantasy tales and stories reflective of the mod, revolutionary mood of the late 1960s.
For the first time, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour reveals the inside story of the young artists who got their start on the show, many of whom would later achieve fame in the industry. Night Gallery helped launch the careers of Steven Spielberg, Diane Keaton, Mark Hamill, John Badham, Lindsay Wagner, Jeannot Szwarc, Deidre Hall, and many others. It also marked the directorial debuts of Steven Spielberg, John Astin, and Leonard Nimoy. Also: uncovered for the first time in any book, new revelations regarding Steven Spielberg’s sometimes tumultuous tenure on the show, including an attempt by an NBC executive to ban him from the industry.
Four years in the making, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour features more than 160 interviews with virtually every actor, writer, director, producer, and technician involved in the show. With evocative and often humorous anecdotes, this book details the day-to-day creative struggles among the talented filmmakers who fought for innovation in an industry that understood only conformity. Also explored: intimate firsthand reports of Rod Serling’s battles with NBC, Universal Studios, and producer Jack Laird, and archival proof that Serling was not rewritten as aggressively as past biographies have reported.
Illustrated with rare, never-before-published photographs, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour examines a studio system that, long before The X-Files, refused to acknowledge the commercial potential of a horror-fantasy TV show. The series was so popular among young people that students at Harvard and Yale created Night Gallery viewing clubs, and fans bootlegged 16 millimeter dupe copies of the show in a pre-videotape era. Night Gallery’s sponsors actually begged NBC not to cancel it—to no avail.
Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour features a lineup of interviews that reads like a mid-’70s Who’s Who of Hollywood: Leonard Nimoy, Lindsay Wagner, John Astin, Leslie Nielsen, Desi Arnaz Jr., Richard Thomas, Sydney Pollack, Roddy McDowall, Zsa Zsa Gabor, William Windom, Pat Boone, Sondra Locke, Stuart Whitman, Phyllis Diller, John Saxon, René Auberjonois, Joanna Pettet, Joseph Campanella, Richard Kiley, James Farentino, Michele Lee, Bradford Dillman, Henry Darrow, and many more.
Literate and engrossing, humorous and ironic, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour is a must-read for any fan of Rod Serling, of television, or of the industry itself. Not a fluff-filled, “just add water” TV companion, this book deserves space on the bookshelf of anyone who remembers their weekly visits into the eerie darkness of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. . . .
Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour is available from Syracuse University Press for a list price of $34.95 (paperback) and $69.95 (clothbound). You can order it directly by telephone (order line: 800-365-8929 or 315-443-2597), from your local bookstore, or from Amazon.com.
“If you’ve bought this book, you’re in possession of a unique and astounding document. It’s inexhaustable. It’s huge. It’s an extraordinary documentation of a landmark series. The authors have given us history, with mountains of detail, written with style. You have a great read ahead of you!”
—John Astin, from the foreword
“A must-read! Rod Serling was a very close friend, and one of the greatest writers I ever knew. Anyone who is interested in the last chapter of his career must take this after-hours tour.”
—Aaron Spelling, producer
“It is simply grand to have such a comprehensive and responsible examination of the remarkable Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. And the employment of the recollections of so many artists involved provide an added yeast. In short, it’s delightful!”
“This Night Gallery guide presents a fine running commentary on the stories, the writers, the actors, and all that were a part of the Gallery. A most comprehensive and critical study of the program.”
—Carol Serling, widow of the show’s creator
“Scott Skelton and Jim Benson have set a new standard for this type of book. Make no mistake: what you hold in your hands is nothing less than the most thorough, most exhaustive, most painstakingly researched book ever written on a television series.”
—Mark Dawidziak, author of The Columbo Phile and The Night Stalker Companion
“Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour should be required reading for anyone contemplating writing a book on the history of a TV series: They need to know just how high the bar has been raised.”
“Scott Skelton and Jim Benson have availed themselves of every possible opportunity to ‘paint the true picture’ of the Gallery’s history. This volume contains the answers to virtually every question one could conceive regarding Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. It is no exaggeration to suggest that a new standard for television research has been set here. This is essential reading for aficionados of Rod Serling and fantastic television.”
“There’s this beautifully written book called Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson. It’s about the old ’70s television series, Night Gallery. They do a chapter on every episode that ever came out and all of the actors, actresses, and directors. It’s a fantastic read. I can’t describe how beautifully written it is. The writer’s use of words and the English language are fantastic. You need to get it.”
—Philip Anselmo, singer-songwriter for Down and Pantera