Sunday, February 9, 2014

Michael Filerman Dead at 75

Michael Filerman, an executive at Lorimar Productions who helped develop the TV dramas DALLAS, KNOTS LANDING AND FALCON CREST before moving on to produce Broadway plays, died January 25 in Los Angeles. He was 75.

A Chicago native born May 4, 1938, Filerman earned a degree in communication arts from the University of Illinois in 1960.

While serving in the Army Reserve, he met Fred Silverman, who soon began making his mark as a television executive. Silverman offered Filerman a job at Chicago's WGN-TV as a general programming executive in 1962, then brought him to CBS in New York as director of the network's daytime TV programs in 1967.

In the early 1970s, Filerman moved on to series development, first with Paramount and then with Lorimar beginning in 1976.

He became executive producer on DALLAS, the series about a feuding, oil-rich Texas family created in 1978 by David Jacobs. Filerman continued developing the prime-time soap opera genre by serving as executive producer on FLAMINGO ROAD, set in small-town Florida and showcasing actress Morgan Fairchild; FALCON CREST, starring Jane Wyman as matriarch of a powerful family of vintners; and KNOTS LANDING, about a group of couples living in a suburban cul-de-sac.

"Life can be real dull, and in 48 minutes we have to show something that's different than the lives we lead," he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview. Countering criticism of the shows, he added, "If people are telling me my shows are trash, then the American public likes trash. It's obvious people are watching; everybody is watching."

He was also executive producer for SECRETS OF MIDLAND HEIGHTS, EMERALD POINT, N.A.S., SISTERS, THE CLIENT and other TV series.

Filerman had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, said his friend and fellow producer Jack Grossbart.

In recent years, Filerman's Broadway credits included the Tony-winning revivals "The Norman Conquests" and "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" and the 2012-13 hit "Nice Work if You Can Get It" with Matthew Broderick.

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