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HIGHWAY PATROL
Articles


TV Guide, January 14 1956
Highway Patrol Review

It was only a question of time until TV, zealously raiding the files of law-enforcement agencies for program material, caught up with the highway police. The result - a new syndicated telefilm series Highway Patrol - offers taut, fast-paced dramatizations.

Although the stories reportedly are culled from the files of highway patrols in various states, the show's action takes place in only one - at least, the men wear the same uniforms and drive the same patrol cars each week. As with Dragnet, Line-Up and other "based-on-the-files-of" shows, Highway Patrol presents an interesting close-up of the ultramodern crime detection methods now in use.

As rough, tough patrol chief Dan Mathews, Broderick Crawford paces the show with a grim-faced, monotonous characterization, though some warmth and humor might not be amiss. Supporting actors have been uniformly good. Most of the action, of course, takes place on the open highway. The filming, sets and other production factors are first-rate.


TV Stage, February 1957

TVís Newest CRIMEBUSTER

After years on the wrong side of the law, Brod Crawford is now a hero!

by Jim Forrest

Brod Crawford's a "good guy." To those who've ever sat around to play a game of gin rummy with him, this comes as no great surprise, for Brod's a good person to be with, listening when he should, giving advice only when it's solicited and wisely knowing when silence is golden. But to those who've seen him meting out justice on "Highway Patrol," Brod's emergence as TV's newest crime-buster is incredible, because Brod became famous in the movies as a result of his "bad guy" roles!

Now that Brod has crossed over to the right side of the law, he's discovered that on TV, the payoff is terrific! Not only does crime pay, but by being a gangbuster, Brod's show has become one of TV's top crime drama shows all across the country

What makes his show so different? Probably Brod himself. As Dan Mathews, boss of the "Highway Patrol," Brod is no fast-talking but dumb flatfoot. He is a man of great loyalty, compassionate and understanding, trying to enforce law and order not out of mere enjoyment but because he is convinced it is for the interests and welfare of all concerned. What makes Brod truly different in his new role is the fact that he punishes only when he feels it will help not harm the offender and he always sees that the punishment fits the crime. For years the "perfect heel" on screen, Brod is as delighted as most that he can now chalk himself down as a "hero."

He once stalked across screens in dark suits, wearing a perennial leer and talking with a fast talking growl. It wasn't hard, he admits boastfully with a wink, to soon make himself the most hated man in Hollywood.

It got to a point, however, where people were beginning to get their facts mixed up and expected the screen's perfect heel to start a brawl wherever he went. Sure, Brod loves to wrestle with a thirty-foot marlin or slug the daylights out of a golf ball but when he suddenly discovered, with a shock, that he was considered a real villain, he had to come to the bitter but truthful conclusion that crime simply wasn't paying off in anything hut a bad reputation. So what did he do? He turned to crime but this time as a "good guy."

On the set of Highway Patrol.

Landing the lead of "Highway Patrol" seemed heaven-blessed but was tough as hell, Brod soon learned. "It seemed that if I would just do the opposite of all I had to learn to be a 'bad guy,' it would be a snap, says Brod. "But it wasn't that easy. Even as a 'good guy' I still have to push people around. Of course, I am directing my vengeance against lawbreakers and bad guys but the manner in which I deal with them seems every bit as hard and tough as it's been in all the gangster parts I've played. However, underneath it all I'm supposed to be really pretty soft- hearted. Now, how do you go about getting this characterization across? I finally treated the part as naturally and honestly as I could," Brod sums up, and soon his show hit the top.

In real life, Brod's not unlike Dan Mathews. Ever since he was a tike, Brod had an insatiable curiosity about the kind of things not found between the pages of musty textbooks. Few know he is an ex-prize fighter.

The first time he decided to fight for 'something was as a small boy, when, he gave his parents a third degree about the value of formal schooling. Unconvinced by their arguments, and unsuccessful in making them help break a few of the attendance laws imposed by the Board of Education, Brod gave himself a "leave of absence," utterly certain that all study and no play would surely make him a dull boy. To punish him, Brod's parents "sentenced" him to thirty-eight weeks of hard labor with their then touring road show. That did it. Convinced that school was the lesser of two evils Brod hotfooted it back to his schoolbooks. Not for long, however. Somewhere along the line the acting bug had caught up with him and he was never the same again.

Later, as high school graduation day neared and his parents talked of college, Brod had another uncontrollable urge to break loose from the chains of formal schooling so when graduation day came, he instead took to sea.

Since then,'Brod's had as many exciting experiences as Dan Mathews. He joined the Navy and saw the world. He served in the Army.

When he first became famous in gangster roles, no one could visualize Brod in any other type of role. Then he brilliantly portrayed the role of Lennie in the movie version of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," and after that, no one could see him as anything but a big, slow-witted Lennie. Now that he's enjoying his pleasant change of pace as the "good guy" of "Highway Patrol." Brod sincerely hopes that no one will ever again visualize him as a "heel." The newness of his role as Dan Mathews is not only challenging but thrilling. Brod admits, spawning many new interests and hobbies away from the cameras. One of these is a sudden fervent love for sports cars, not that he has a desire to break any speed laws (heaven forbid!) but because they can quickly help him head to the hills and get away from it all-to think about what new and exciting gimmick he can bring to the next show-naturally.

Brod copped a coveted Oscar for "All the Kings Men." Watch for him to get an Emmy this year. "Highway Patrol" on different days and stations cross the country is sponsored by Ballantine.



Ziv Television Programs, Inc.
This article was taken from The Museum of Broadcast Communications.

ZIV TELEVISION PROGRAMS, INC.

U.S. Production and Syndication Company

As the most prolific producer of programming for the first-run syndication market during the 1950s, Ziv Television Programs occupies a unique niche in the history of U.S. television. Bypassing the networks and major national sponsors, Ziv rose to prominence by marketing its series to local and regional sponsors, who placed them on local stations, generally in time slots outside of prime time. Using this strategy, Ziv produced several popular and long-lived series, including The Cisco Kid (1949—56), Highway Patrol (1955-59), and Sea Hunt (1957—61).

Frederick W. Ziv, the company’s founder, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1905. The son of immigrant parents, he attended the University of Michigan, where he graduated with a degree in law. Returning to his native Cincinnati, Ziv chose not to practice the legal profession, but instead opened his own advertising agency. His corporate strategies and his vision of the broadcasting business developed from this early experience in the Midwest.

During the radio era, Cincinnati was a surprisingly active regional center for radio production. Clear-channel station WLW, owned by the local Crosley electronics firm, broadcast a powerful signal that could be heard over much of the Midwest. Due to its regional influence, WLW became a major source of radio programming that offered local stations an alternative to network-originated programming. Cincinnati was also home to Procter and Gamble, the most influential advertiser in the radio industry at a time when most radio programming was produced by sponsors. Consequently, Procter and Gamble was directly responsible for developing many of radio’s most lasting genres, including the soap opera.

Ziv’s small advertising agency gained valuable experience in this fertile regional market. Ziv produced several programs for WLW, where he met John L. Sinn, a writer who would become his right-hand man. In 1937, the two men launched the Frederick W. Ziv Company into the business of program syndication. From his experience in a regional market, Ziv recognized that local and regional advertisers could not compete with national-brand sponsors because they could not afford the budget to produce network-quality programs. In an era dominated by live broadcasts, Ziv produced pre-recorded programs, "transcriptions" recorded onto acetate discs, bypassing the networks and selling his programs directly to local advertisers on a market-by-market basis. Programs were priced according to the size of each market; this gave local sponsors a chance to break into radio with affordable quality programming that could be scheduled in any available slot on a station’s schedule.

Ziv produced a wide range of programming for radio, including sports, music, talk shows, soap operas, anthology dramas, and action-adventure series such as Boston Blackie, Philo Vance, and The Cisco Kid. By 1948, he was the largest packager and syndicator of radio programs—the primary source of programming outside the networks.

In 1948, Ziv branched into the television market by creating the subsidiary, Ziv Television Programs. His fortunes in television were entirely tied to the market for first-run syndication, which grew enormously during the first half of the 1950s before going into a steep decline by the end of the decade. In the early years of U.S. television, local stations needed programming to fill the time slots outside of prime time that were not supplied by the networks. More importantly, local and regional sponsors needed opportunities to advertise their products on television. As in radio, Ziv supplied this market with inexpensive, pre-recorded programs that could be scheduled on a flexible basis. In 1948, the first Ziv series, Yesterday’s Newsreel and Sports Album, featured 15-minute episodes of repackaged film footage.

In 1949, Ziv branched into original programming with his first dramatic series, The Cisco Kid, starring Duncan Renaldo as the Cisco Kid and Leo Carillo as his sidekick, Pancho. Ziv’s awareness of the long-term value of filmed programming was signaled by his decision to shoot The Cisco Kid in color several years before color television sets were even available. The Cisco Kid remained in production until 1956, but its 156 episodes had an extraordinarily long life span in syndication thanks to the decision to shoot in color. In its first decade of syndication, the series grossed $11 million.

Ziv produced more than 25 different series during the 1950s, all of which were half-hour dramas based on familiar male-oriented, action-adventure genres. His output included science-fiction series such as Science Fiction Theater (1955—57), Men into Space (1959—60), and The Man and the Challenge (1959—60), westerns such as Tombstone Territory (1957—60), Rough Riders (1958—59), and Bat Masterson (1958—61), and courtroom dramas such as Mr. District Attorney (1954—55) and Lockup (1959—61).

In order to carve out a unique market niche, Ziv tried to spin variations on these familiar genres. In the crime genre, for instance, he produced few series that could be considered typical cop shows. His most notorious crime series, I Led Three Lives (1953—56), featured Richard Carlson as Herbert Philbrick, an undercover FBI agent sent to infiltrate Communist organizations throughout the United States. While the major networks generally avoided the subject of the Red Scare, preferring to blacklist writers and performers while barely alluding to the perceived Communist threat in their programming, Ziv attacked the issue with an ultra-conservative zeal. By organizing the series around Philbrick’s fight against the menace of Communism, the series implied that Communism was every bit as threatening and ubiquitous as urban crime.

Another crime series, Highway Patrol starring Broderick Crawford, moved the police out of the familiar urban landscape, placing them instead on an endless highway—an important symbolic shift in a postwar America obsessed with automobile travel as a symbol of social mobility. Sea Hunt which was produced for Ziv by Ivan Tors (who would go on to produce Flipper and Daktari), took the crime series onto the sea, where star Lloyd Bridges as Mike Nelson solved crimes and found adventure under the ocean’s surface. The underseas footage added a touch of low-budget spectacle to the crime genre.

 

 

 


Frederick W. Ziv (right)
Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research

The market for first-run syndication swelled through the mid-1950s, and Ziv rode the wave with great success. The watchword for Ziv productions was economy, and the company even formed a subsidiary called Economee TV in 1954. Production budgets were held to $20,000 to $40,000 per episode, which were generally shot in two to three days. As the demand for syndicated programming grew, Ziv expanded rapidly. In 1953, Ziv opened an international division to sell its series overseas. The operation proved to be such a success in England that Ziv found itself with revenues frozen by protectionist British legislation designed to forceAmerican companies to spend their profits in Great Britain. In order to make use of these frozen funds, in 1956-57, Ziv produced two series in England: The New Adventures of Martin Kane and Dial 999.

With production at the studio booming, Ziv stopped leasing space from other studios, and purchased its own Hollywood studio in 1954. By 1955, the company’s annual revenues were nearly doubling every year. Ziv was then producing more than 250 half-hour TV episodes annually, with a production budget that exceeded $6 million—a figure that surpassed virtually every other television producer in Hollywood.

But the tide was turning in the market for first-run syndication. By 1956, the networks bad begun to syndicate reruns of their older prime-time programs. Since these off-network reruns—with their established audience appeal—had already earned money during the initial run in prime time, networks were able to sell them to local markets at deep discounts. As a consequence, the market for first-run syndication began to shrink dramatically. In 1956, there were still 29 first-run syndicated series on television, with the number dropping to ten by 1960. By 1964, there was only one such series left on the air.

As the networks extended their influence beyond prime time and the market for first-run syndication dwindled, Ziv began to produce series specifically for network use—a decision that the company had actively avoided for over two decades. Ziv’s first network series was West Point (1956-57) for CBS, followed by four other network programs: Tombstone Territory, Bat Masterson, Men into Space, and The Man and the Challenge.

In 1959, Ziv elected to sell 80% of his company to an alliance of Wall Street investment firms for $14 million. "I sold my business," he explained, "because I recognized the networks were taking command of everything and were permitting independent producers no room at all. The networks demanded a percentage of your profits, they demanded script approval and cast approval. You were just doing whatever the networks asked you to do. And that was not my type of operation. I didn’t care to become an employee of the networks."

In 1960, United Artists purchased Ziv Television Programs, including the 20% share still held by chair of the board, Frederick Ziv, and president, John L. Sinn, for $20 million. The newly merged production company was renamed Ziv-United Artists. United Artists had never been very successful in television, having placed only two series in prime time, The Troubleshooters (1959—60) and The Dennis O’Keefe Show (1959—60). This pattern continued after the merger. Ziv-UA produced 12 pilots during the first year and failed to sell any of them. In 1962, the company phased out Ziv Television operations and changed its name to United Artists Television. Frederick Ziv left the board of directors at this time to return to Cincinnati, where he spent his retirement years.

-Christopher Anderson

FURTHER READING

Balio, Tino. United Artists: The Company that Changed the Film Industry. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

Boddy, William. Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

Moore, Barbara. "The Cisco Kid and Friends: The Syndication of Television Series from 1948-1952." The Journal of Popular Film and Television (Washington, D.C.), Spring 1980.

Rouse, Morleen Getz. A History of the F.W. Ziv Radio and Television Syndication Copmanies, 1930-1960. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1976).

 


Los Angeles Times October 18, 2001

OBITUARIES
Frederick Ziv, 96; Pioneer in Television Show Syndication

By MYRNA OLIVER, TIMES STAFF WRITER

Frederick [sic*] W. Ziv, a pioneer in television syndication who produced such indelible series as "Highway Patrol" and "Sea Hunt," died Saturday at home in his native Cincinnati. He was 96.

He centered his pioneering entertainment empire in the Ohio River town, eschewing New York and Los Angeles, where he said "everybody talks big ideas and big numbers, then settles for less."

Known as the "father of syndicated television," Ziv founded what Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television describes as "the largest and most potent syndication company in the history of television, Ziv-TV, the leading programming force outside the networks during the 1950s." It all started with a loaf of bread--rye bread.

After earning--but never using--a University of Michigan law degree in 1929, Ziv landed a $10-a-week job with an advertising agency in Cincinnati. In 1930, he brashly opened his own agency and shrewdly found a niche where he could thrive, even in the Depression.

"I realized there were dozens of agency men who knew 10 times what I did about magazine and newspaper advertising," he told the Cincinnati Post in 1999. "But nobody knew anything about radio in those days. It was the one field where a young man could be an expert."

To advertise rye bread, he coined a slogan, "The Freshest Thing in Town," for a local Rubel's Bakery radio spot. As the catchy phrase earned word-of-mouth repetition, he drew a cartoon character--a wiseacre kid in a derby hat and turtleneck sweater--to illustrate the slogan for billboards and print ads.

Other regional bakeries came calling. The multitalented Ziv created a radio program starring his sloganeering cartoon kid and titled "Freshest Thing." With a briefcase full of recordings, Ziv toured the Midwest and South, selling--syndicating--the 15-minute, five-day-a-week show.

From that historic sales trip in 1937 until 1947, Ziv developed an extraordinarily successful radio syndication company, selling such popular shows as "Boston Blackie," Ronald Colman's "Favorite Story," and "Bold Venture," starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, to some 1,500 radio stations in every state and in Canada.

Then came television. Many producers and creators of motion pictures and other entertainment forms thought TV would never last. Ziv knew better.

Syndication, Ziv realized with his innate merchandising genius, had worked well in radio and would provide local advertisers access to quality programs at affordable prices over the new, more captivating medium.

He produced and distributed such programs for local stations to use in prime time--mostly 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.--before networks staked claim to those popular hours. Among his shows destined to become historic classics were "Cisco Kid," "Sea Hunt" with Lloyd Bridges, "Bat Masterson, and "Highway Patrol," the series that acquainted Middle America with the scenic vastness of California.

The shy, diminutive Ziv proved the massive audience appeal--and sponsor-pleasing returns on investment--of action-adventure series, inadvertently prodding networks into creating their own versions.

"Most of my shows were about the chase," he said in 1999. "The chase is a wonderful attention-getter. You have suspense, action. We had the chase on horseback, the chase on the highway, the chase under water and the chase in the air. . . . The chase provides a minimum of dialogue and a maximum of tension."

But action, Ziv believed, never excused lack of a good script. He personally wrote the first draft for his programs, in his two-fingered typing style.

"In the beginning was the word," he always began his telecommunications seminars at the University of Cincinnati. Or, as he put it in a 1998 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, "It all begins with the paper--a good script."

In addition to writing, casting and producing, Ziv contributed specialized techniques to the future of television, including quick-cut editing to showcase actor Broderick Crawford"s rapid-fire delivery on "Highway Patrol."

Once Ziv had shown the networks how to do prime-time television, he sold his company to Universal Artists in 1960 which today is part of MGM.

He devoted the next couple of decades to teaching at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, which continues to present an annual award in broadcasting in his honor.

Ziv, who had a winter home in the Southern California desert in addition to his primary home in Ohio, is survived by a son, William of Cincinnati; a daughter, Frederica Yamin of Montecito, Calif.; eight grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.


* The correct spelling is "Frederic".

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