Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Tip Sheet: Tom Fontana

From ”M*A*S*H” to ”Lou Grant,” the ”Oz” creator talks about inspiring TV

Posted on

LOU GRANT
”A nuclear bomb was hidden by terrorists in L.A. As the clock ticked toward detonation, my feelings of fear and intensity were palpable. By the end of the hour, I was breathless. Here was something so real, something that could happen, dramatized in such a way that I understood the power of TV to excite and involve.”

I, CLAUDIUS
”Premier episode, characters so rich you could eat them like pudding. Augustus, Livia, Claudius, etc., in one episode reinvented a dead language and filled it with passion, politics, and treachery. It’s my primer for Oz.”

THE DEFENDERS (BLACKLIST)
”Jack Klugman guest-starred on an episode in which TV confronted its own sins. Articulate, intelligent, and moving, this episode taught me that a drama series can be more than fluff, they can deal with larger social issues and still be entertaining.”

M*A*S*H
”A newsman from Stateside comes to the unit and interviews each character about what he’s going through in Korea. As a longtime M*A*S*H fan, I was stunned to see them turn their own format inside out. Every time we flipped St. Elsewhere or Homicide on its ear, it was an homage to this extraordinary comedy series.”

GREEN ACRES
”The second episode, where Bea Benadaret from Petticoat Junction stopped over with a basket of food. This show was always somewhere between goofy and existential (I loved the way the credits were on the eggs Lisa was picking or painted on the side of the barn), but for me, having characters from another show walk in and out of the Douglases’ lives said to me that all the characters on TV lived in one big universe.”

Comments