Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Elevator

Ray Bradbury is often thought of in connection with The Twilight Zone, partly because the series regularly dealt in distinctly Bradburyan stories, and partly because Bradbury did actually write for the series. Only one of his scripts was actually filmed, "I Sing The Body Electric!" - which is sometimes referred to as an adaptation of his short story. In reality, the script was written long before the short story was published, so it would be more correct to say that the story is an adaptation of the script.

Bradbury's experience with The Twilight Zone - or more specifically with the show's host and creator Rod Serling - was an unhappy one, due in part to Bradbury's feeling that Serling had borrowed from his work without credit, and cut Bradbury's scripts without consultation.

When The Twilight Zone was revived in the 1980s, there was no particular reason that Bradbury should be (or should want to be) involved, but he did contribute one short script to the series, called "The Elevator". Writer-producer Alan Brennert recently mentioned on Facebook how this Bradbury contribution came about:

I guess with Ray gone now I can reveal that he really, really didn't want to have anything to do with The Twilight Zone after his bad experience with Rod Serling on the old show. "The Burning Man" was a different matter, it was an existing script by J.D. Feigelson, one of Ray's literary "godsons" to which he gave his blessing. But in order to get an original script out of him, Harlan [Ellison] took him to lunch and sweet-talked him (and when Harlan wants to, can he sweet-talk!) into giving us a script, and Ray gave us "The Elevator." 

"The Burning Man" is an episode I have written about before; I consider it to be one of the best-ever adaptations of a Bradbury story.

Harlan Ellison was a creative consultant on the show, and was a longtime friend of Bradbury.

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