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Fred Freiberger

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(written from a Production point of view)
Fred Freiberger
Fred Freiberger.jpg

Fred Freiberger

Gender: Male
Date of birth: 19 February 1915
Place of birth: New York City, New York
Date of death: 2 March 2003
Place of death: Bel-Air, California
Roles: Producer

Fred Freiberger (19 February 19152 March 2003; age 88), also credited as Charles Woodgrove, was the producer of the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series (1968-69). He was offered the producer's job for the first season but instead opted to take a vacation he had already planned. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 65)

Time as TOS producer

The third season was seen, in general, as less satisfying by some fans, certain actors, [1] production staff, writers, [2] and even at least one future writer. [X]wbm Although Freiberger was the lead producer, most written accounts of the season absolve him and deny any drop in quality was a result of his leadership.

Rather, a number of factors led to the less enthusiastic reception. These included budget cuts (down to US$180,000 per episode, from US$185,000 in season two and US$200,000 in season one) – combined with an increase in the principal casts' salaries; the departure en masse of most of the original writing staff and general malaise/decreasing interest of some of the remaining production staff after the hiring of executive story editor Arthur Singer, who seemed to demonstrate a lack of knowledge or caring about Star Trek; [3] the absence of Gene Roddenberry; and the perceived neglect of the series by NBC (such as shifting time-slots as well as story meddling, and the reduced budget). (See also: season three background information.)

Furthermore, it contained some of the most dismally-received TOS episodes, including "Spock's Brain" (Up Till Now: The Autobiography) and "The Way to Eden". [4]

Yet both Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura (p. 189) and William Shatner in Star Trek Memories (pp. 264–72) deflected blame from Freiberger for any perceived deficiencies in the quality of the third season, instead ascribing it to negligence and mishandling by NBC.

Nichols wrote:

"...you saw fewer outdoor location shots, for example. Top writers, top guest stars, top anything you needed was harder to come by. Thus, Star Trek's demise became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I can assure you, that is exactly as it was meant to be....In the third season [the] new producer Fred Freiberger did everything he could to shore up the show. I know that some fans hold him responsible for the show's decline, but that is not fair. Star Trek was in a disintegrating orbit before Fred came aboard. That we were able to do even what we did is a miracle and a credit to him. One day Fred and I had an exchange, and he snapped at me. Even then, though, I knew he wasn't angry with me but with his unenviable situation. He was a producer who had nothing to produce with." (Beyond Uhura, p. 189)

In Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, Herbert F. Solow and Bob Justman defended Freiberger as well. They instead blamed Roddenberry for "abandoning" the series:

  • "[Gene] Roddenberry moved away from the Star Trek office building and into a small single room at the other end of the lot, turning his back on the series although he continued to draw his Executive Producer salary." (p. 395)
  • "It wasn't too difficult to understand Freddie's pain. Not only was he thrown into a nest of feuding actors at a recalcitrant studio; but when the show's captain, Roddenberry himself, deserted ship and turned over his command, Freiberger was suddenly alone at the top." (p. 396)
  • "To this day, Freiberger continues to fend off the negative comments advanced by Roddenberry, Nimoy, and other series regulars relative to Fred's creative guidance of Star Trek's final year." (p.398)
  • They even quote Freiberger as stating it was one of the most unpleasant experience of his life: "My ordeal in a German prison camp only lasted two years. My travail with Star Trek has spanned twenty-five years and still counting." (p. 395)
  • Furthermore, Freiberger claimed, "When I went on Star Trek, Roddenberry, who had thought the show was dead after the second season, had given out seventeen story assignments... for whatever reason. I honored those assignments... I may have cut off a couple of them because they didn't work out, so let's say there were 15 out of 22 that were not mine." [5]

Other work

Freiberger served as a writer or producer for many television series including Iron Horse (created by James Goldstone and Stephen Kandel), The Six Million Dollar Man (also produced by Harve Bennett), The Fugitive, The Wild Wild West ("The Night of the Dancing Death", directed by Harvey Hart, featuring Peter Mark Richman, Arthur Batanides, and Byron Morrow), Bonanza, Have Gun, Will Travel (which included Gene Roddenberry as one of the head writers), Wanted: Dead or Alive (including "The Pariah", featuring Bill Quinn, "The Matchmaker", featuring Clegg Hoyt, "The Conquerors", featuring Paul Carr, "Call Your Shot" and "Ransom for a Nun", both directed by Don McDougall, the first featuring William Schallert), Rawhide (including "Incident of the 100 Amulets", featuring Whit Bissell, "Incident of the 13th Man", featuring Paul Fix, "Incident of the Shambling Man", featuring Gene Nelson, "Incident at Dangerfield Dip", featuring Phillip Pine and Bert Remsen, and "Incident of Fear in the Streets", featuring Corey Allen and Whit Bissell), The Big Valley ("The Long Ride", featuring John Harmon), Ben Casey ("I'll Get on My Ice Floe and Wave Goodbye", featuring Garry Walberg), Starsky and Hutch (starring David Soul, including "Terror on the Docks", featuring Garry Walberg, "Kill Huggy Bear", featuring Hamilton Camp, and "Moonshine", directed by Reza Badiyi), and The Dukes of Hazzard. In 1976-77 he served as producer on the second season of the cult science fiction series Space: 1999, which starred Martin Landau and Nick Tate. Freiberger fired most of the supporting regular cast from the first season, including Clifton Jones.

In film, he was best known as the writer-producer for the cult film classic The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, which included special effects from the legendary animator Ray Harryhausen.

Life outside television and film

In World War II, Freiberger was interred for twenty-two months as a German prisoner of war. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 395)

Star Trek interview

Further reading

See also

External links

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