After five years, photographer George Lange is fall television's only sure hit

By EW Staff
Updated September 15, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Say Autumn, and for most people, sweaters, school, and fiery-colored foliage come to mind. At ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, we have something else on the brain: new television shows. And although the shows change from year to year, for us one thing has remained constant: George Lange, who has photographed every Fall TV Preview since 1991. Over the years, Lange, 40, has done everything from dressing up Jerry Seinfeld as a TV-bustin’ cowpoke to wrapping Heather Locklear’s body in mini televisions. ”We create the environment and the trust,” says Lange, ”and when you create that kind of feeling, great things happen.”

It shows. Last year’s issue won two American Photography awards for Lange’s playful portraits of Ellen DeGeneres and Kelsey Grammer. And this year’s photo sessions have already caused a stir: Cops were called to the Friends shoot to keep tabloid reporters from storming an L.A. studio. This issue’s photographic concept may seem basic — shapes, colors, and stars — but as Lange says, ”it’s amazing how complicated it is to come up with a simple idea.” Not to mention the complications of coordinating nine shoots and 21 actors. ”Sometimes stars can get jaded about sitting for photo shoots,” says EW’s TV picture editor, Alice Babcock. ”But as soon as they saw the shapes, they immediately got in the mood.”

The actors from CBS’ new nighttime soap Central Park West got a little more into the mood than anyone expected. ”They just started the show and they really are friends,” Lange explains. ”They were into trying anything.” A similar kind of adventurousness may be the secret to Lange’s chemistry with EW. ”The nice thing about working on the same issue every year is you get to trust each other and try new things,” Lange says. ”It’s like being married versus a one-night stand.”