Quiz Show


2h 1994

Brief Synopsis

A blue-blood academic gets swept up in the quiz show scandals of the '50s.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Drama
Historical
Period
Release Date
1994
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution
Location
New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h

Synopsis

In 1958 when television quiz shows ruled the airwaves, Charles Van Doren was the wildly popular champion of a successful TV show called "Twenty-One." A national celebrity who appeared on the covers of both "Time" and "Life" magazines, Van Doren was an American folk hero--the intellectual's answer to Elvis Presley. Week after week audiences tuned in to watch as Van Doren, a popular English instructor at Columbia University and the product of one of America's most renowned literary families, seemed to draw from his vast knowledge the correct answers to obscure questions. His charming presence seduced 50 million people into believing him. But the truth is, viewers were fooled and saw only what the network and program's producers wanted them to see. Then someone pulled the plug. When disgruntled contestant Herbie Stempel charged that the quiz game was a fraud, Congressional investigator Richard Goodwin uncovered the facts that exposed the deception, and sent shock waves reverberating across America.

Crew

Troy R Adee

On-Set Dresser

Michael Adkins

Wardrobe

Tom Allen

Property Master

Dimitri Apletcheff

Assistant Property Master

Alison Armstrong

Production Assistant

Paul Attanasio

Screenplay

Bruce Atwater

Grip

Sandina Bailo-lape

Foley Editor

Florian Ballhaus

Camera Operator

Michael Ballhaus

Director Of Photography

Jeff Balsmeyer

Storyboard Artist

Jeffrey T Barabe

Set Production Assistant

Laura Berning

Location Assistant

Ron Scott Bertozzi

Production Assistant

Maria T. Bierniak

Assistant Location Manager

Joseph Bird

On-Set Dresser

Sara Bolder

Dialogue Editor

Jessica Bradford

Production Assistant

Susan Bradley

Main Title Design

Conrad V Brink

On-Set Dresser

Jeffrey S Brink

On-Set Dresser

Dan Bronson

Assistant Costume Designer

Donnaldson Brown

Assistant

Paul Buboltz

Wardrobe Supervisor

Joseph R Burns

Assistant Director

Kymbra Callaghan

Makeup Artist

Ed Check

Assistant Art Director

Danajean Cicerchi

Wardrobe

Elizabeth Collins

Accounting Assistant

John A Crowder

Location Coordinator

Diane D'addio

Set Decorator

Blair Daily

Associate Editor

Mark Daily

Assistant Editor

Shirley Davis

Office Assistant

Sandy De Crescent

Music Contractor

Angel Deangelis Haiko

Hair Stylist

Jerry Deblau

Gaffer

David Declerque

Location Manager

Michael Demers

Craft Service

Debbie Devgan

Office Assistant

Patricia Kerrigan Dicerto

Casting Associate

Louis Digiaimo

Office Assistant

Amy Diprima

Production Assistant

Anne Disano

Production Assistant

Richard Dreyfuss

Executive Producer

Patricia Eiben

Wardrobe Supervisor

Karen E. Etcoff

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Lynn Ezelle

Post-Production Accountant

Tony Fanning

Assistant Art Director

Stuart Feldman

Dga Trainee

Andre Fenley

Assistant Sound Editor

Kerin Ferallo

Production Assistant

Rebecca L. Feuer

Production Assistant

Michael Finnerty

Grip

Susan Fiore

Assistant Director

Ken Fischer

Sound Effects Editor

Brian Fitzsimons

Best Boy

Daniel Freeman

Consultant

Rob Fruchtman

Adr Editor

Ken Fundus

Grip

Timothy Galvin

Art Director

Dennis Gamiello

Key Grip

Gilbert Gertsen

On-Set Dresser

Gordon H Gertsen

On-Set Dresser

Mary C Gierczak

Wardrobe Assistant

Danny Glicker

Production Assistant

Scott Gottesman

Production Assistant

Dale Grahn

Color Timer

J R Grubbs

Assistant Sound Editor

Dell Hake

Original Music

Donna Hamilton

Assistant Set Decorator

Sandy Hamilton

Assistant Property Master

Barbara Harris

Voice Casting

Ethan Hawke

Other

Brent Haywood

Foreman

Amy Herman

Location Manager

Ellen M Hillers

Production Coordinator

Joel Holland

Other

Barrett Hong

Wardrobe Assistant

Mark Horstmann

Foreman

Shelley Houis

Production Coordinator

Jon Hutman

Production Designer

Richard Hymns

Sound Editor

Sharon Ilson

Makeup Artist

Andi Isaacs

Accounting Assistant

Mark Isham

Music

Kalina Ivanov

Storyboard Artist

Michael Jacobs

Producer

Donna Jaffe

Assistant Sound Editor

Judith James

Executive Producer

Tom Johnson

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Beulah Jones-black

Assistant Costume Designer

Donna Kail

Assistant

Mark Kamine

Location Assistant

Steve Kandell

Production Assistant

Lara Kelly

Construction

R Michael King

Craft Service

Julian Krainin

Producer

Stephen Krause

Music

Caryn Krooth

Set Production Assistant

Ken Kugler

Music

Ilene S Landress

Production Accountant

Sandra Leoncavallo

Assistant

Gary Levitsky

On-Set Dresser

Stu Linder

Editor

Ann-louise Lipman

Production Assistant

John B Lowry

Grip

Tod A Maitland

Sound Mixer

Bobby Mancuso

Assistant Camera Operator

Bernadette Mazur

Makeup Artist

Alison Mcbryde

Casting Associate

Matthew Mccarthy

On-Set Dresser

Mary Kate Mccormick

Production Assistant

Jeff Mccracken

Coproducer

Ron Mitchell

Production Assistant

Tim Monich

Dialect Coach

Carlos Moore

Assistant Location Manager

Susan Moore

Associate Producer

Ric Morelli

Set Production Assistant

Arthur Moshlak

Electrician

Fred Muller

Electrician

Gail Mutrux

Coproducer

Kenneth D Nelson

Construction Coordinator

Heather Norton

Camera Trainee

Michael Nozik

Producer

Kathy O'rear

Costume Designer

John Oates

On-Set Dresser

John Oates

On-Set Dresser

Lisa Padovani

Assistant

Sheila Paige

Script Supervisor

Charlotte Palmer-lane

Assistant

Francesca Paris

Hair Stylist

Bunny Parker-adamson

Hair Stylist

Wayne Paul

Camera Operator

Peter John Petraglia

Best Boy

Craig Pettigrew

Music Editor

Lydia Pilcher

Production Manager

Ronald Plant

Grip

David Platt

Boom Operator

Joseph Proscia

On-Set Dresser

Katherine Quittner

Music Supervisor

Robert Redford

Producer

Joseph Reidy

Assistant Director

Dawn Murphy Riley

Assistant Production Coordinator

Kevin Rose-williams

Assistant Sound Editor

Meika Rouda

Production Assistant

Shea Rowan

Set Production Assistant

Bob Rubin

Consultant

Alex Ruttenberg

Production Assistant

Cornelia Ryan

Assistant

Gary Rydstrom

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Gary Rydstrom

Sound Design

Gary Rydstrom

Sound Designer

Susan Sanford

Assistant Sound Editor

Samara Schaffer

Set Decorator

Miriam Schapiro

Art Department Coordinator

Kim Scharnberg

Original Music

Tim Shannon

Transportation Co-Captain

Bob Shaw

Assistant Art Director

Lance Shepherd

Electrician

Alysa Shwedel

Assistant Production Coordinator

Jane Silberstein

Production Assistant

Michael Silvers

Dialogue Editor

Susan Sloan

Other

Lois Smith

Other

Susan Starr

Assistant Camera Operator

Karen Tenkhoff

Assistant Sound Editor

Bryan Thomas

Location Assistant

Judy Thomason

Assistant

Bonnie Timmermann

Casting

Robert Topol

Scenic Artist

Tony Trotta

Camera

Jennifer Truelove

Office Assistant

Thomas M Tucker

Location Assistant

Tom Tumminello

Location Assistant

Melissa Unger

Set Production Assistant

Bobby Vercruse

Electrician

Paul Wardwell

Key Grip

Amanda Weisenthal

Office Assistant

Barry Wetcher

Photography

James Whalen

Transportation Captain

Rick Whitfield

Video

Alyssa Winter

Assistant Set Decorator

Fred Zollo

Executive Producer

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG-13
Genre
Drama
Historical
Period
Release Date
1994
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution
Location
New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h

Award Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

1994

Best Director

1994
Robert Redford

Best Picture

1994

Best Supporting Actor

1994
Paul Scofield

Articles

Quiz Show


Cultural critics love to pinpoint the exact moment when America lost its innocence, as if a vaguely defined development in mass psychology can be boiled down to a single event. Some people claim that we shut down our collective faith after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Others name the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or the nightmare of Vietnam, or even the more recent horror of September 11th as the turning point. If you buy into this theory, it would seem that the Civil War beats every other earth-shaking event to the punch, but Robert Redford maintains that our simplicity was forever shattered by a rigged TV game show called 21!

Quiz Show (1994), Redford's Oscar®-nominated depiction of a theoretically bygone era when Americans believed almost everything they were told ­- see modern politics for ample evidence of our continuing gullibility - is a meticulously designed period piece that features several fine performances. But not everyone was buying it. Although the film was well-received by critics and audiences alike, Redford was accused in some quarters of turning 21's producers into outright villains, rather than decent men who pushed a piece of disposable entertainment way too far.

The movie opens in New York in 1957, where a rather dumpy intellectual named Herbie Stempel (John Turturro) is the current champion of 21. The network, however, wants a more photogenic title holder that viewers will want to root for. So producer Dan Enright (David Paymer) convinces a well-bred Columbia University professor named Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) to take part in a little ruse that will eventually snowball into a national scandal: Van Doren will be coached in subtle ways to increase the dramatic tension on the show...and, of course, he'll be fed the proper answers.

Van Doren, whose father (Paul Scofield) is a respected Pulitzer Prize winning author, becomes America's first instant TV star, and Stempel angrily re-adjusts to his previous standing as an unattractive schmuck. But a Congressional lawyer named Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow, attempting a Boston accent) catches wind that something fishy may be going on, and proceeds to "befriend" Van Doren while investigating whether or not Charlie and the show's producers have been pulling the wool over the American public's eyes.

Redford gets most of the details right, although he and screenwriter Paul Attanasio had to compress characters so they wouldn't greatly exceed a two-hour running time. In real-life, CBS went through a lot of trouble to "cast" their contestants. Five employees sorted through 15,000-20,000 letters a week, looking for people who seemed to be smart enough to answer the arcane questions that would be lobbed at them, but could also be manipulated into appearing as certain archetypes.

"You want the viewer to react emotionally to a contestant," Enright said. "Whether he reacts favorably or negatively is really not that important. The important thing is that he react." Enright felt there was something intrinsically smug and unlikable about Stempel, and that viewers would sit with baited breath waiting for him to lose. And he was right.

Stempel knew what was going on: "The reason I had been asked to put on this old, ill-fitting suit and get this Marine-type haircut," he later said, "was to appear as what you would call today, a nerd, a square." All Van Doren had to do was show up with his smooth self-effacement and a casual suit and tie to seem like an urbane intellectual. His real tragedy probably wasn't that he participated in such a massive ruse, but that he grew to love it so much he didn't know when to stop. He now stands as a uniquely tragic American figure.

Redford claims that he was never fooled by Van Doren's performance when the show originally aired. "There was an arrogance about (Van Doren)," Redford says, "yet he feigned a kind of innocence. And as I watched him coming up with these incredible answers, the actor in me said: I don't buy it. I remember that vividly. But what's weird is I never doubted the show. I didn't take it to the next step and say, 'The show is rigged, it's all bullshit.' I just didn't, I couldn't."

Strangely enough, Redford himself participated in this sort of thing in 1959, a year after the scandal occurred, when he appeared on a Merv Griffin-hosted show called Play Your Hunch. The producer wouldn't accept the fact that Redford was merely a struggling actor from Los Angeles, so they goosed him into saying - truthfully, it should be noted - that he was also an artist.

When Griffin interviewed Redford on the air, he was ready with a string of witty one-liners about the good-looking contestant who was an artist. "Oh, it was so awful," Redford later said, "just so horrible. But what impressed me was that I could feel the hype. I mean, people would talk to me normally backstage, and suddenly the show went on and EVERYBODY WAS TALKING LIKE THIS. Everybody was hyperventilating. At first I said, 'Jesus, this is cornball.' It was so calculated, but then it got to me."

Redford put up with the embarrassment because he had a pregnant wife and badly needed the $75 he was promised for appearing. But it didn't quite work out that way: "When (the game) was over, the announcer cried, 'And now the prize for our subjects. From Abercrombie & Fitch- a fishing rod!' Afterwards I went up to the guy and said, 'Where's my dough?' And he said, 'Well, the rod's worth $75.'"

Director: Robert Redford
Producers: Robert Redford, Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin, Michael Nozik
Screenplay: Paul Attanasio (adapted from the book, Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties, by Richard N. Goodwin)
Cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus
Editor: Stu Linder
Music: Mark Isham
Production Design: Jon Hutman
Art Design: Tim Galvin
Set Design: Samara Schaffer
Costume Design: Kathy O'Rear
Principal Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Charles Van Doren), Rob Morrow (Richard Goodwin), John Turturro (Herb Stempel), Paul Scofield (Mark Van Doren), David Paymer (Dan Enright), Hank Azaria (Albert Freedman), Christopher McDonald (Jack Barry), Johann Carlo (Toby Stempel), Elizabeth Wilson (Dorothy Van Doren), Allan Rich (Robert Kintner), Timothy Busfield (Fred).
C-133m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Paul Tatara
Quiz Show

Quiz Show

Cultural critics love to pinpoint the exact moment when America lost its innocence, as if a vaguely defined development in mass psychology can be boiled down to a single event. Some people claim that we shut down our collective faith after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Others name the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or the nightmare of Vietnam, or even the more recent horror of September 11th as the turning point. If you buy into this theory, it would seem that the Civil War beats every other earth-shaking event to the punch, but Robert Redford maintains that our simplicity was forever shattered by a rigged TV game show called 21! Quiz Show (1994), Redford's Oscar®-nominated depiction of a theoretically bygone era when Americans believed almost everything they were told ­- see modern politics for ample evidence of our continuing gullibility - is a meticulously designed period piece that features several fine performances. But not everyone was buying it. Although the film was well-received by critics and audiences alike, Redford was accused in some quarters of turning 21's producers into outright villains, rather than decent men who pushed a piece of disposable entertainment way too far. The movie opens in New York in 1957, where a rather dumpy intellectual named Herbie Stempel (John Turturro) is the current champion of 21. The network, however, wants a more photogenic title holder that viewers will want to root for. So producer Dan Enright (David Paymer) convinces a well-bred Columbia University professor named Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) to take part in a little ruse that will eventually snowball into a national scandal: Van Doren will be coached in subtle ways to increase the dramatic tension on the show...and, of course, he'll be fed the proper answers. Van Doren, whose father (Paul Scofield) is a respected Pulitzer Prize winning author, becomes America's first instant TV star, and Stempel angrily re-adjusts to his previous standing as an unattractive schmuck. But a Congressional lawyer named Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow, attempting a Boston accent) catches wind that something fishy may be going on, and proceeds to "befriend" Van Doren while investigating whether or not Charlie and the show's producers have been pulling the wool over the American public's eyes. Redford gets most of the details right, although he and screenwriter Paul Attanasio had to compress characters so they wouldn't greatly exceed a two-hour running time. In real-life, CBS went through a lot of trouble to "cast" their contestants. Five employees sorted through 15,000-20,000 letters a week, looking for people who seemed to be smart enough to answer the arcane questions that would be lobbed at them, but could also be manipulated into appearing as certain archetypes. "You want the viewer to react emotionally to a contestant," Enright said. "Whether he reacts favorably or negatively is really not that important. The important thing is that he react." Enright felt there was something intrinsically smug and unlikable about Stempel, and that viewers would sit with baited breath waiting for him to lose. And he was right. Stempel knew what was going on: "The reason I had been asked to put on this old, ill-fitting suit and get this Marine-type haircut," he later said, "was to appear as what you would call today, a nerd, a square." All Van Doren had to do was show up with his smooth self-effacement and a casual suit and tie to seem like an urbane intellectual. His real tragedy probably wasn't that he participated in such a massive ruse, but that he grew to love it so much he didn't know when to stop. He now stands as a uniquely tragic American figure. Redford claims that he was never fooled by Van Doren's performance when the show originally aired. "There was an arrogance about (Van Doren)," Redford says, "yet he feigned a kind of innocence. And as I watched him coming up with these incredible answers, the actor in me said: I don't buy it. I remember that vividly. But what's weird is I never doubted the show. I didn't take it to the next step and say, 'The show is rigged, it's all bullshit.' I just didn't, I couldn't." Strangely enough, Redford himself participated in this sort of thing in 1959, a year after the scandal occurred, when he appeared on a Merv Griffin-hosted show called Play Your Hunch. The producer wouldn't accept the fact that Redford was merely a struggling actor from Los Angeles, so they goosed him into saying - truthfully, it should be noted - that he was also an artist. When Griffin interviewed Redford on the air, he was ready with a string of witty one-liners about the good-looking contestant who was an artist. "Oh, it was so awful," Redford later said, "just so horrible. But what impressed me was that I could feel the hype. I mean, people would talk to me normally backstage, and suddenly the show went on and EVERYBODY WAS TALKING LIKE THIS. Everybody was hyperventilating. At first I said, 'Jesus, this is cornball.' It was so calculated, but then it got to me." Redford put up with the embarrassment because he had a pregnant wife and badly needed the $75 he was promised for appearing. But it didn't quite work out that way: "When (the game) was over, the announcer cried, 'And now the prize for our subjects. From Abercrombie & Fitch- a fishing rod!' Afterwards I went up to the guy and said, 'Where's my dough?' And he said, 'Well, the rod's worth $75.'" Director: Robert Redford Producers: Robert Redford, Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin, Michael Nozik Screenplay: Paul Attanasio (adapted from the book, Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties, by Richard N. Goodwin) Cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus Editor: Stu Linder Music: Mark Isham Production Design: Jon Hutman Art Design: Tim Galvin Set Design: Samara Schaffer Costume Design: Kathy O'Rear Principal Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Charles Van Doren), Rob Morrow (Richard Goodwin), John Turturro (Herb Stempel), Paul Scofield (Mark Van Doren), David Paymer (Dan Enright), Hank Azaria (Albert Freedman), Christopher McDonald (Jack Barry), Johann Carlo (Toby Stempel), Elizabeth Wilson (Dorothy Van Doren), Allan Rich (Robert Kintner), Timothy Busfield (Fred). C-133m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Nominated for three 1994 British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Paul Scofield).

Robert Redford was nominated for outstanding directorial achievement by the Directors Guild of America (1994).

Robert Redford, Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin, and Michael Nozik were nominated for the 1994 Golden Laurel Award by the Producers Guild of America.

Voted Best Picture of the Year (1994) by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Expanded Release in United States October 7, 1994

Expanded Release in United States September 16, 1994

Expanded Release in United States September 30, 1994

Released in United States Fall September 14, 1994

Released in United States February 1995

Released in United States on Video April 18, 1995

Re-released in United States February 15, 1995

Wide Release in United States September 23, 1994

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 9-20, 1995.

Paul Attanasio was nominated for the 1994 award for Best Adapted Screenplay by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Richard Goodwin's book "Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties" was purchased by Hollywood Pictures to develop into a screenplay. However, Attanasio's resulting "adaptation" is based on a single chapter of Goodwin's book.

Actor Robert Redford marked his feature directorial debut with the Academy Award-winning "Ordinary People" (USA/1980), followed by "The Milagro Beanfield War" (USA/1988) and "A River Runs Through It" (USA/1992).

Began shooting May 26, 1993.

Completed shooting August 31, 1993.

Released in United States February 1995 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 9-20, 1995.)

Re-released in United States February 15, 1995

Released in United States on Video April 18, 1995

Released in United States Fall September 14, 1994

Expanded Release in United States September 16, 1994

Wide Release in United States September 23, 1994

Expanded Release in United States September 30, 1994

Expanded Release in United States October 7, 1994