Lost Interview with Andy Griffith On the Set of Salvage-1

Here is a real Salvage-1 gem. this is an interview with Andy Griffith taken on the set of Salvage-1 by writer Kent Demaret. Kent was an accomplished freelance writer who went on to become the bureau chief of both Life Magazine and then People Magazine. Kent was also a North Carolina resident. His interview with Griffith is revealing and at times troubling. Griffith shares intimate details of his life, loves, loses and even regrets for quitting the Andy Griffith Show. Enjoy this rare Salvage-1 Treat.

 

What It Is, Is The Tough Game Of TV Ratings

That Veteran Andy Griffith Is Playing Again.

By Kent Demaret For US Magazine

 

             The light goes on at 5:30 am and Andy Griffith reaches for a Moravian Church Missal on his bedside table. To begin the morning with a verse and a hymn. Then he picks up his script for the days shooting. “I’ve always studied early in the morning,” he says in a tone of resignation, “and now it’s a habit to get up at 5:30—whether I want to or not.” He dresses and breakfasts quickly and hops into his 1969 Rolls for the five minute drive to Burbank. His headquarters at the studio is a customized bus 33 feet long. Between setups in the shooting schedule, he catnaps for 10 minutes or grabs a snack. His favorite is peanut butter and Mayonnaise on crackers. In some ways Griffith is the homespun, humorous sheriff of Mayberry. The role he portrayed on TV for so long. But he is not the man of bottomless patience, the real-life Andy is quite capable of seismic explosions when pushed too far. “He doesn't do it as much as he used to.” says Dick Linke, his longtime manager. “Andy has matured in that way. But if he decides to let it out, everybody better watch out! Among the things that can push Griffith over the edge are cast members who:1) show up late for a scene (he never does.) 2.)haven't learned their lines. (he always has.) and 3.) try to perform under the influence of alcohol (he permits himself a single vodka gimlet at lunch, provided he doesn't have to be back on set within two hours.) Andy insists that directors explain exactly what they want in each scene and should one try to brush him off with a “trust me on this one.” he admits “I really loose my cool.” I don't trust anybody on my work. I want to know what I’m doing all the time and why. His intensity and perfectionism, Griffith concedes, can make life difficult for those around him. Close friend and TV colleague Don Knotts recalls once trying to console Andy when he was having trouble getting an audience involved in a play they were performing. “You cant do it every time,” Knotts later said soothingly, whereupon Griffith whirled on his pal, shouting, “Well you can damn well TRY.”

            These days Andy is trying as hard as ever in a new weekly series called “Salvage-1”, in which he plays a junkyard dealer who sometimes operates with a space rocket instead of a pickup truck. The pilot show had his salvage team of scientist and astronauts going to the moon to retrieve all the valuable scrap left behind by NASA. In other episodes his intrepid crew brings back a World War ll bomber from the jungle, tows an iceberg from the North Pole and performs other such bizarre if implausible feats. It’s really an “old-fashioned action-adventure fantasy.” Griffith says of the series, “It’s not going to change the face of television, but we do have a chance to do something different. It’s delightful nonsense and it’s non-violent.” The Neilson numbers for the early shows were decent if not spectacular, the reception of the critics mixed. On the plus side, the series has already been sold to the British commercial TV. On the minus side, the schedule for shooting the 12 part series has fallen far behind. Still, Andy is hopeful that the new show will lift him back to the per-eminence he once enjoyed. “It’s difficult to catch lightning in a bottle twice,” he acknowledges “But I think we’ve done it.” Actually, his career has peaked three times. His first break came of course in the role of engaging nincompoop Will Stockdale in “No Time For Sergeants” he starred in the TV, Broadway and Hollywood Versions. Less frequently recalled now was his stunning performance as a megalomaniacal TV personality in the 1957 Elia Kazan film “A Face in The Crowd.”  Andy regards it as one of his most important achievements. Then there was the Sheriff Andy Taylor on the “Andy Griffith Show,” which rated among the Top Ten through most of his eight year run.

         In 1986 he ended the series, a decision he now rues. “I didn't want him to quit” manager Linke recalls, “But he figured that the show had run it’s course, that he wanted to do more series things. He knows he made a mistake.” Andy calls the nine years that followed a “dry spell. I did five pilots that got nowhere, had two series that flopped.” He took some bit parts in films, worked some club dates. Did one nighters here and there but nothing steady. I went from pillar to post and became known as a character actor around town.” Some in Hollywood saw him as a burnt-out case. While he still had more work than most actors, he missed the excitement of a weekly program. “A deep panic set in.” he said ”mostly when I went down to North Carolina (where he has a house on 53 acres) and after two weeks nothing came in the mail, no outlines, no scripts, no phone calls. The idea that the movie community was running along so beautifully without me, man it drove me up the wall.”   Andy admits that part of the slow down was his own doing. “It’s not  a necessity for me that I play a lead role, thank god I don't have that kind of ego.” he insists. “But it is a necessity that the part be interesting (such as his LBJ like role in TV’s Washington Behind Closed Doors)” He rejects any scripts which calls for him to mouth lines like “I’ll meet you back at the horses.”At first he didn't jump at the chance to do Salvage either. “I thought it was Saturday morning television,” he recalls, “until I looked closer at the creativity and possibilities involved.” Besides, he notes candidly “after you hang around your house for five or six years you kind of want to go back to work.”

          Andy Samuel Griffith was born 52 years ago in the pine scented little town of Mount Airy, N.C. Until the fourth grade the folks took little notice of Carl and Geneva Griffiths only child. He was slightly jug-eared, pigeon toed, un-athletic, and his favorite playmate was a girl. Most reckoned he would grow up to be like his father, go to work in the same furniture factory, make $8 a day and attend Baptist Church. When he was 9 however, Andy came down with just about every childhood disease except polio. He missed a lot of school and was kept back to repeat the fourth grade. “It just about did me in,” he recalls, the memory still painful after 432 years. “I was so embarrassed. Humiliated. But I became a comic that year, and it changed my life.” As the class cutup he got the laughs that, for the first time, made him feel like somebody special. Before long, he recalls, “I knew I wanted to get into some form of performing arts.” He started with trombone playing, though his school had no band. Fortunately, the local Grace Monrovian Church had a compassionate and musically talented minister named Ed Mickey. “He taught me to play my slide trombone and I sang too.” Andy says. “He had me playing and singing solos all over town.” In admiration for his mentor, Andy and his parents switched from Baptist church to the Moravians , and he seriously considered entering the ministry.

         At the University of North Carolina the divinity student became a music major (class of 49). Griffith met and later married Barbara Edwards, a Chapel Hill schoolmate and promising soprano. After graduation he taught high school music and saved up for three years so both he and Barbara could go to New York for singing auditions. In New York Andy was told to go back home and forget it. He was 26. They went home but didn't forget it. They worked up a husband and wife variety act and toured the civic club circuit all over North Carolina at $75—$125 per show. Out of the singing, dancing and joke telling routines came a monologue by Andy called “What It was, Was Football,” a country yokel’s description of his first football game. To make a few extra dollars, Andy pressed some records which sold out locally. More important, New York record executive Dick Linke heard it and bought it for national distribution. Over the years “WIWWFB” became a classic, with more than a million copies sold. It was heard again in the years super Bowl programming.

           The good o’l boy in Griffith didn't trust city-slicker mangers at the start. “His teeth wee too close together,” Andy quips. And Griffiths first spot on the Ed Sullivan Show proved a clinker. (“That Southern stuff was too new to New York then: Linke explains a bit lamely) But Andy’s corn-mush style (“I’preciate it”) was a natural for PRVT Will Stockdale and he was on his way. After Sergeants and Face, he hit Broadway once more in a musical, “Destry Rides Again.” The offers started pouring in, and he made several movies. His “Andy Griffith Show” was a vehicle that helped launch others to stardom, including Knotts, Jim Nabors, and Ron Howard. During the summers Andy did $25,000 a week nightclub stints in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

          Then came his decision to quit their hugely successful TV Series. Not only did he lose his high showbiz profile, but in 1972 his marriage to Barbara wound up in divorce court. It was perhaps small comfort that he was unassailably solvent. “Andy’s a millionaire,: says Dick Linke, :even though his divorce cost half of what he had.” His emotional state, however, produced a frightening nightmare in which he dreamed he had killed his old chum Don Knotts. In the middle of the night Griffith called his psychiatrist. “I'm not ashamed of the fact that I go to a shrink when things get tough.” he says. He eventually decided that what he wanted dead was his old cornpone image (to the relief of Knotts currently working with Andy to develop a film property for joint production).

           How does Griffith see himself now? “I guess a lot like Harry the character I play in Salvage,” he says “a dreamer, loyal to friends but also a con artist who will take advantage of a situation. He likes humor when it’s appropriate, but he has a very serious side. I’m a bit like the sheriff in the old Andy Griffith Show too, but he is probably a nicer guy than I am.”

             His second wife, Solica, whom he married three and a half years ago, is an actress. Of his two adopted children, Sam, 21 is on his own, but daughter Dixie 19 , still lives with him. Home is Bing Crosby's former North Hollywood Estate with a two story mansion, guest house, pool, two acres of landscaped grounds and an electric gate.“I don't like to party,” explains Andy. “I’m not part of the colony here.” He is a collector of antique furniture, clocks and watches. Hats and canes and an expensive fleet of classic cars. He keeps his 6’ 175 pound frame in trim by swimming and exercising daily on a bedroom treadmill, running until he flops from exhaustion. He usually Is in be by 9pm.

             On the Job he will edit a script to tolerate a phrase, to wedge in a joke, “I think a lot of comedy misses by a million miles,” he grumps. He believes comedians move more easily to dramatic roles than the other way around. “People who do comedy,” he theorizes somewhat mysteriously, “have a different set of emotional muscles. It helps them in drama.” Plainly he yearns for A Face In The Crowd type of a role again “”who wouldn't rather do a great movie than work on a series 12, 13 hours a day.” He grins. “all actors cry when they’re working,” he says. “They also cry when they're not.”

Sony taking Pre Orders For Salvage-1 "Hard Water" on DVD

And once again they have heard our cry's. After the successful release of "Salvage-1 Golden Orbit" as part of the Sony Choice Collection, Sony has announced the release of   Salvage-1 "Hard Water." "Hard Water was originally aired as a two part episode that launched the shows second season and move to Sunday night following the new kid friendly "Fantasy Island Too" in which kids were brought to the island by balloon and given thier fantasies. And yes Herve Villechaize opened the show by yelling "The Balloon, The Balloon. This new format prompted the powers that be over at ABC to force the production team behind Salvage-1 to ad a kid to their cast to make the show more relate-able to kids. This is a practice in the industry normally used in a shows fifth season to breath new life into an aging format, remember cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch? Unfortunately this change did not go over well with fans of the show. This new change plus being preempted by the Iran Contra affair pushed Salvage-1 one into the television junk heap. Luckily for us there is a current boom in China for 70's and 80's style programing. A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter highlighted studios that were tracking down show writers from "Hart To Hart", "Remington Steele", "Charlies Angels"' and other top shows to create new content for China's fast growing appetite for everything 70's and 80's. 

Salvage-1 "Hard Water drops on DVD December 17th but, you can per-order your copy now by going to CCVIDEO.COM and placing your order today.

 

Check Out This Scene From Salvage-1 "Hard Water"

 

Sony Choice Collection Releases "Golden Orbit" on DVD

And we thought it would never happen. Looks like the good people at Sony have head the out pouring from Salvage-1 fans. Sony Choice Collection has released Salvage-1 "Golden Orbit" to it's on Sony Made On Demand DVD. "Golden Orbit" was originally a two part episode that was later reedited into a 2 hour TV movie and shown on the CBS late show. The episode is directed by Lee Phillips who was well known for directing episodic television. Including "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Ghost and Mrs Muir," "Gomer Pyle," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and countless others. Sony Made On Demand released "Golden Orbit" to DVD on November 12th. There has been no word from them on whether they will release the entire series. We will keep you posted on any future Salvage-1 Episode releases. But you can help the demand by going to CCVIDEO.COM and ordering a copy of "Golden Orbit." I cant wait to see a clear professional release of this sci-fi classic.

 

Check Out This Scene From Salvage-1 "Golden Orbit"

 

Once Upon a Time a Junkman Had a Dream................

           Salvage-1 was a short lived series on ABC in 1979. the show was a spinoff of the TV Movie of the Week entitled "Salvage." The series starred Andy Griffith as Harry Broderick an enterprising junk dealer who dreams of building a spaceship and traveling to the moon to salvage all the space junk left from the NASA lunar missions. Joel Higgins starred as Skip Carmichael an ex-astronaut who got kicked out of the space program for his high risk stunts. Add in Trish Stewart as Melanie Slozar a demolitions and rocket fuel expert who designs a new kind of fuel that will help get this mission off the ground.

       This site will tell you all things "Salvage-1." Stick around as we continue to add new articles, videos, pictures and blogs. And now the adventure begins.

        Andy Griffith is Harry Broderick - the junk dealer whose ambitions are only exceeded by his abilities. Griffith was especially pleased by the action-adventure aspects of Salvage-1, and simple heroism of his new role. "Harry," says Griffith, "is the kind of guy that can accomplish the outrageous and not only make it seem credible, but make the audience believe they could have done it themselves." 

         Born in Mount airy, North Carolina, Griffith majored in music at the University of North Carolina, at one time contemplated entering the ministry, and taught high school in his home state for three years. During this period, Griffith put together a song-and-dance act which performed for civic groups in the Goldsboro, N.C., area. the act soon led to a recording contract with Capitol Records and an appearance on The Ed Sullivan show in 1954. Soon after, Griffith landed the starring role in the army comedy "No Time For Sergeants" on the Broadway stage. National stardom soon followed as Griffith starred in the television and film version of the play. Other memorable films followed, including "Onionhead", and Elia Kazan's "A Face In The Crowd", but Griffith's best remembered role is that of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry in his long-running television series, "The Andy Griffith Show."

 

Joel Higgins is Skip Carmichael, the skirt-chasing ex-astronaut and chief navigator for the good ship Vulture. Born in Bloomington, Illinois, Higgins attended high school in St. Louis, and studied advertising at Michigan State University. A subsequent desk job at General Motors lasted six months before Higgins decided that the office routine was not for him. After a brief career in the field of loading beer trucks, Higgins enlisted in the Army and began his life in show business in the entertainment branch of Special Services. Higgins performed for two years in Korea's demilitarized zone and another nine months in Georgia. After leaving the service, he and a couple of Army buddies formed "The Green Apple Nasties," a folksinging/comedy ugband which toured the country playing supper clubs and cabarets for two and a half years. In the act, Higgins played 20 instruments. He left the group to pursue a stage career and landed parts in the first national tour of "Grease" and the original Broadway production of "Shenandoah." The latter role won him a Theatre World Awards "Most Promising Young Actor." Daytime fans know Joel from his role as Bruce Carson in "Search For Tomorrow."

 

 

Trish Stewart is demolitions and rocket fuel expert Melanie Slozar one of the strongest female dramatic roles on television. More than just a pretty face, Melanie is a vital part of the Salvage-1 team whose scientific know-how is often the difference between success and disaster on a mission. the daughter of an Air Force man, she was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and lived in 28 different places by age 20. She then studied literature and philosophy in Paris, where she also worked as a makeup model and singer. Stewart has previously appeared in television guest roles in such series as "Barnaby Jones," "Streets Of San Francisco,"  "The F.B.I. Files," and "Project UFO," but is best known to TV viewers as Chris Brooks Foster in the CBS daytime drama, "The Young and the Restless."