This blog is now moving into event mode for the second time this year. The first event featured a special screening of “Treme” and a tribute to the episode writer David Mills aka “Undercover Black Man.”
I guess it’s no coincidence that from the first event, the 3 FREE screenings of the 1972 film “The Man” is rolling out. Though “The Man” is based on the book by Iving Wallace; but writer Rod Serling, best known as the creator of “The Twilight Zone” took another direction.
In Sept of 1970 I took on the assignment to write a two hour television motion picture to be based on the Irving Wallace novel, The Man. I had access to a previous adaptation….but I retained nothing at all from this beyond character names. From the novel itself I retained only the most fundamental premise….that of a black man fortuitously chosen to serve as President of the US. Beyond this premise, I submit that the script, its plot line and its dramatic incidents are all my own creation.
— Rod Serling
The film was intended for television, but had a brief theatrical release in 1972. There is no DVD available of the film. “The Man” has essentially been a lost film in recent years, a science fiction until now. The first screening kicks off Sunday, November 14 as part of Busboys and Poets Focus In film series. In addition to this blog and venue, co-presenters include the Zhanra Group, and the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation.
“The Man” stars James Earl Jones as Douglas Dilman, the former academic turned Senator and now POTUS. Dilman’s daughter is played by Janet MacLachlan, an actor who was a constant presence on screen in the 1960s and 70s including Star Trek, and the film Sounder. Prior to her screen roles, MacLachlan performed in classic African American stage plays on and off- Broadway including “The Blacks” (replacing Cicely Tyson), and “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright.” She was what is known as a “working actress.” MacLachlan continued earning roles in television in the 1980s and 90s. We had hoped to connect with her for “The Man” but sadly MacLachlan joined the ancestors October 11, 2010. An extensive tribute to her and her work by Steve Ryfle was posted on the blog Bright Lights After Dark.
“The Man” is directed by Joseph Sargent. Clayton LeBouef who worked with Sargent in the film “Something the Lord Made” will join the Q&A after the screenings of “The Man.” Serling colleague and lecturer Gordon Webb will join the Q&A for the first screening Sunday, November 14 at the Busboys and Poets on 14th & V Streets, NW. Film starts at 8 PM.
It’s odd that there’s been no sign of “The Man” in the last 2-3 years. When you see the film, you’ll understand the question. But this weekend “The Man” comes to Washington. For more information about the November (14, 21, 28) screenings of “The Man” at Busboys and Poets, visit the event page on this blog.