East Side/West Side (1963-1964 television series)

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East Side/West Side
East side - west side - two title cards.jpg
GenreDrama
Created byDavid Susskind
Written byEdward Adler
Robert Alan Aurthur
George Bellak
Robert J. Crean
Edward DeBlasio
Millard Lampell
M.L. Paterson
Arnold Perl
Robert van Scoyk
Allen E. Sloane
Irve Tunick
Directed byJohn Berry
Marc Daniels
Herschel Daugherty
Tom Gries
Alex March
Daniel Petrie
Allen Reisner
Ralph Senensky
Jack Smight
Ron Winston
StarringGeorge C. Scott
Elizabeth Wilson
Cicely Tyson
Linden Chiles
Theme music composerKenyon Hopkins
Composer(s)Kenyon Hopkins
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26
Production
Executive producer(s)David Susskind
Arnold Perl
Daniel Melnick
Producer(s)Don Kranze
Larry Arrick
CinematographyJohn S. Priestley
Editor(s)Sidney Meyers
Running time45–48 minutes
Production company(s)Talent Associates, in association with United Artists Television and the CBS Television Network
DistributorUnited Artists Television
Release
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 23, 1963 (1963-09-23) –
April 27, 1964 (1964-04-27)

East Side/West Side is an American drama series starring George C. Scott, Elizabeth Wilson, Cicely Tyson, and later on, Linden Chiles. The series aired for one season (1963–64) and was shown Monday nights on CBS.

Set in New York City, the show explored issues of urban life, some of them grim. Though it won critical praise, it also generated some controversy. TV Guide ranked it #6 on their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".[1]

Synopsis[edit]

The series centers on Scott in the role of Neil Brock, a New York City social worker who worked for the private agency Community Welfare Service, with his secretary, Jane Foster, played by actress Cicely Tyson (this was the first time an African American starred in a television drama)[2]. Episodes of East Side/West Side covered topics relevant to the inner city, with many controversial issues explored. A typical example came in the first two episodes, when Brock investigated a prostitute and her child ("The Sinner"), followed by a story involving statutory rape (“Age of Consent”).

In an effort to open up the number of possible stories, Brock resigned from his job in the latter portion of the 1963–64 season to work for a New York congressman, Charles W. Hanson (Chiles); the characters played by Elizabeth Wilson and Cicely Tyson soon disappeared and Barbara Feldon is introduced as Brock's girlfriend for one episode.

Despite the high quality of both the writing and acting, the show's penchant for taking on touchy topics forced many potential advertisers to avoid sponsorship of the show, while a number of local stations across the country also chose not to present the program to their viewers, it is said that CBS programming head James Aubrey clashed with Scott regarding the direction of the show, which also was a factor in the cancellation.[3]

The December 23, 1963 episode, "Creeps Live Here," was originally scheduled to be broadcast on November 25, but was postponed as CBS wrapped up their four-day coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

East Side/West Side ran in the 10 p.m. Monday time slot opposite ABC's medical drama about psychiatry, Breaking Point and NBC's Sing Along with Mitch starring Mitch Miller; the show's executive producer, David Susskind, began a letter-writing campaign to government officials, newspaper editors and other prominent individuals. Susskind's request was an attempt to elicit positive feedback to encourage renewal of the series. However, the effort failed when the show was cancelled on January 28.

Cast[edit]

  • George C. Scott as Neil Brock
  • Linden Chiles as Congressman Charles Hanson (Episodes 19–26)
  • John McMartin as Mike Miller (Episodes 19–26)
  • Cicely Tyson as Jane Foster (Episodes 1-22)
  • Elizabeth Wilson as Frieda Hechlinger (Episodes 1-22)

Conception and development[edit]

East Side/West Side started as a vehicle for George C. Scott, who had recently came to prominence after acclaimed theatrical performances and a series of important films. On January 3, 1962, CBS and United Artists announced that they were beginning preparations for an hour-long drama starring Scott, to be launched during the 1963-1964 season.[3]

Scott did not like the idea of the show being prepared for him, and threatened to abrogate his agreement with CBS. James Aubrey, the president of CBS at that time, introduced Scott to an independent producer David Susskind. Susskind turned to his friend Robert Alan Aurthur, a talented television playwright, who offered an unproduced script of his, My Three Angels, centered around a trio of inner-city social workers. Aurthur rewrote the script to fit Scott and renamed the project East Side/West Side, a reference to the two halves of upper Manhattan as bisected by Central Park; the main protagonist was Neil Brock, played by Scott — a tough, impatient, temperamental case worker. With the approval of Aubrey and his newest television star, David Susskind began production on Aurthur’s pilot script, a story about a teen gang killer and his path through the legal system, now called It’s War, Man.[3]

The central location of the series was the Community Welfare Service (CWS), a private agency that served as home base for three social workers dedicated to solving the everyday problems, major and minor, of the denizens of an impoverished Manhattan neighborhood. According to George C. Scott, the setting was chosen deliberately to get his character out of the office and maximize the audience’s exposure to the real streets of New York.[3]

In November 1962, Susskind attended the New York City Social Work Recruiting Committee and announced his plans to create a television series built around the social work profession, he and his staff were provided with appropriate literature and were engaged in discussion of story ideas and scripts. In January 1963, Bertram Beck, Associate Executive Director of National Association of Social Workers (NASW), informed chairs of his organization of Susskind's interest in producing a show about social workers and requested that they send story ideas to the producer. Beck carried the responsibility of consultant and technical adviser for the series, he read scripts, made editorial comments and changes, and handled much of the mail from social workers who wrote to NASW about the series.[4]

It's War, Man resembled an episode of a courtroom procedural The Defenders and gave little indication of the shocking, socially-conscious show that East Side / West Side would become.[3]

Social context[edit]

During the 1950s, the Eisenhower Administration accepted the doctrine that "economic growth would itself, by diffusing prosperity, reduce inequalities and resolve social problems; the progressive tax structure, expanded welfare services, mass public education, and the G.I. Bill all served the twin aims of economic growth and income redistribution".[5] However, by the mid-fifties it became clear that economic growth alone "was not distributing its benefits as expected".[5]

In 1962, Michael Harrington, in The Other America, exposed the misery and deprivation of a "new" poor; this group, left out of the nation's economic growth and represented by the sick, disabled, old, minorities of color, and members of female-headed families, had not benefited from post-World War prosperity. In January 1963, Dwight Macdonald provided an exhaustive summary of previous studies on poverty in an important article titled "Our Invisible Poor" in The New Yorker magazine, he stated that mass poverty persisted and that it was one of two grave social problems, the other being the relationship of poverty to race. He concluded that the federal government was the only force that could reduce poverty and make the lives of the poor more bearable. Between 1961 and 1964, grants were provided to combat the problems of the "new poor" through improving educational facilities, youth programs and, in general, improving their physical and social well-being.[4]

John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign heightened the public's consciousness of poverty. Once elected, he established the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime which sponsored employment programs, manpower training, remedial education, anti-discrimination activities and neighborhood service centers in several cities. The Area Redevelopment Act, passed in 1961, provided federal dollars to improve public facilities and to provide technical assistance and retraining. In 1962, Congress enacted the Manpower Development and Training Act; the reform efforts of the late 1950s and early 1960s culminated in the War on Poverty, initiated by the Administration of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Episodes[edit]

EpisodeTitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProduced
1"The Sinner"Jack SmightEdward DeBlasioSeptember 23, 1963 (1963-09-23)2
A mother, who is also a prostitute, must battle the parents of her baby's father for custody.
2"Age of Consent"Ralph SenenskyTeleplay by: Irve Tunick
Story by: David Michael-James
September 30, 1963 (1963-09-30)7
A teenage romance goes awry when the girl's father (Carroll O'Connor) charges her boyfriend with statutory rape.
3"You Can't Beat the System"Jack SmightRobert Van ScoykOctober 7, 1963 (1963-10-07)4
Brock offers a Korean War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder the opportunity to volunteer to work with the sick.
4"Something for the Girls"Richard WhorfEdward DeBlasioOctober 14, 1963 (1963-10-14)9
A wealthy socialite, guilty of numerous unpaid parking tickets, is "sentenced" to serve as a social worker for 30 days.
5"I Before E Except After C"Daniel PetrieTeleplay by: Arnold Perl & Ossie Davis
Story by: Ossie Davis
October 21, 1963 (1963-10-21)8
A dedicated schoolteacher (Howard DaSilva) is faced with the problem of delinquent students.
6"No Wings at All"Marc DanielsAllan E. SloaneOctober 28, 1963 (1963-10-28)11
A father (Theodore Bikel) must deal with the challenges and struggles of raising an adult son who is intellectually disabled.
7"Who Do You Kill?"Tom GriesArnold PerlNovember 4, 1963 (1963-11-04)12
A black couple (James Earl Jones and Diana Sands) struggles to deal with life in the slums, but their world falls apart when tragedy strikes their baby.
8"Go Fight City Hall"Marc DanielsWilliam M. AlltmasNovember 11, 1963 (1963-11-11)6
After being evicted from his apartment due to urban renewal, a man begins to lose his faith in the importance of the individual.
9"Not Bad for Openers"Nicholas WebsterEdward AdlerNovember 18, 1963 (1963-11-18)10
A cab driver (Norman Fell) with a gambling problem finds a wallet containing a large sum of money.
10"No Hiding Place"Herschel DaughertyTeleplay by: Millard Lampell
Story by: Millard Lampell & John Gabriel
December 2, 1963 (1963-12-02)13
The issue of Blockbusting is explored as a black couple finds suburban life difficult until they are befriended by their neighbors.
11"Where's Harry?"Tom GriesStanley R. GreenbergDecember 9, 1963 (1963-12-09)14
An emotionally disturbed suburbanite (Simon Oakland) abandons his family after 20 years of married life.
12"My Child on Monday Morning"Daniel PetrieRobert J. CreanDecember 16, 1963 (1963-12-16)5
Parents of a mentally disturbed child seek out Brock's assistance.
13"Creeps Live Here"Walter GraumanPhillip Reisman, Jr.December 23, 1963 (1963-12-23)3
Semi-recluse tenants are faced with the prospect of losing their home.
14"The $5.98 Dress"Ron WinstonWilliam AltmanJanuary 13, 1964 (1964-01-13)16
Brock rushes to the aid of a mother with four children who is abandoned by her irresponsible and erratic husband.
15"The Beatnik and the Politician"Allen ReisnerRobert Van ScoykJanuary 20, 1964 (1964-01-20)17
A folk-singing beatnik (Alan Arkin) stirs up a storm with his odd friends in a sedate neighborhood.
16"One Drink at a Time"John BerryEdward AdlerJanuary 27, 1964 (1964-01-27)18
A Bowery resident (Maureen Stapleton) desperately tries to reform her derelict boyfriend.
17"It's War, Man"Daniel PetrieRobert Alan ArthurFebruary 10, 1964 (1964-02-10)1
Despite heated public opinion against him, Brock helps a teenage gang member accused of murder.
18"Don't Grow Old"Herschel DaughertyEdward DeBlasioFebruary 17, 1964 (1964-02-17)15
An elderly construction worker who is forced out of his job by age discrimination, becomes frustrated by his inability to find a new job.
19"The Street"Ron WinstonMillard LampellFebruary 24, 1964 (1964-02-24)19
After a teenage girl is abused by her mother's boyfriend, she runs away and tries to survive on the streets. Brock shares a career crisis with his girlfriend, portrayed by Barbara Feldon.
20"If Your Grandmother Had Wheels"Tom GriesAllan E. SloaneMarch 2, 1964 (1964-03-02)20

Brock attempts to help a wheelchair-bound man concentrates all his energies on walking again.

Guest star: Alex Cord as Sam
21"The Passion of the Nickel Player"Charles S. DubinEdward AdlerMarch 9, 1964 (1964-03-09)21
Brock comes into contact with a 12-year-old boy actively engaged in the numbers racket.
22"Take Sides with the Sun"Alex MarchAllan E. SloaneMarch 16, 1964 (1964-03-16)22
Brock receives an offer to work as a legislative aide to Congressman Charles Hanson and debates whether to leave his current position.
23"The Name of the Game"Charles S. DubinMel GoldbergMarch 23, 1964 (1964-03-23)23
A union leader (Daniel J. Travanti) and an industrialist battle each other in the negotiating of a new labor contract.
24"Nothing But the Half Truth"Alex MarchRobert Van ScoykMarch 30, 1964 (1964-03-30)24
Brock considers quitting his new position with Congressman Hanson, when Hanson doesn't follow through on promises made by Brock on a television discussion show. David Susskind appears as the television host, along with Scott's real-life wife Colleen Dewhurst.
25"The Givers"Tom GriesGeorge BellakApril 13, 1964 (1964-04-13)25
Brock and Hanson must battle pro-business lobbyists in their bid for legislation that would stiffen penalties for contracting fraud.
26"Here Today"John BerryTeleplay by: Allan E. Sloane
Story by: Allan E. Sloane & Matthew Andrews
April 27, 1964 (1964-04-27)26
Brock writes a series of articles highlighting the plight of the poor, but is unable to get them published anywhere. He finally finds one paper that can do so, but the paper itself is about to be taken over, with its style of journalism certain to be neutered.

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1964, the series received eight Emmy Award nominations, including one win for Outstanding Directorial Achievement awarded to Tom Gries for the controversial November 4, 1963 episode entitled, "Who Do You Kill?". The episode, which also garnered a writing nomination, as well as acting nominations for supporting actors James Earl Jones and Diana Sands, explored the aftermath of a child's death from a rat bite in a Harlem slum.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roush, Matt (June 3, 2013). "Cancelled Too Soon". TV Guide. pp. 20 and 21
  2. ^ "Cicely Tyson Biography". Biography. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bowie, Stephen (2007). "East Side / West Side". Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Andrews, Janice (December 1988). "Neil Brock, Social Worker: Twenty-Five Years Later". scholarworks.wmich.edu. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Rein, Martin; Marris, Peter (2018). Dilemmas of social reform: poverty and community action in the United States. Taylor & Francis. p. 10. ISBN 1351522302.

External links[edit]