Reviews of Mr. Novak Book
Great Review by Mitchell Hadley
For a series that lasted only two seasons and was seldom seen thereafter in syndication, it’s remarkable how fondly Mr. Novak is remembered. Until recently, I’d never seen an episode myself, and yet I knew about the show, that it starred James Franciscus, that it was about a high school teacher, that Dean Jagger, whom I had enjoyed immensely in White Christmas, played the principal, and that the series dealt with the typical issues that confronted high school students in the early 1960s. That was about it, but one can say that this is about all that most people know about most television shows. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the Review.
David Sheiner, Actor on Mr. Novak TV Show
David Sheiner is a veteran character actor who has appeared in numerous TV shows and films. Momentous film appearances were as Roy…the poker playing friend in “The Odd Couple” and as James the Elder in “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” He appeared on the Mr. Novak program as a doctor and as music teacher Paul Webb. Ninety years young, he said he “really likes the book” and “hopes I make a lot of money.” Thanks to a real gentleman…
Chuck Harter Interviewed on “TV Confidential Radio Talk Show”
Chuck Harter: “Did an interview yesterday (November 9th) with Ed Robertson in South Pasadena. It went very well and he was very intuitive about the book and the Mr. Novak show. His professionalism, enthusiasm, curiosity and hospitality was very refreshing. The interview will be broadcast in two parts in December on his TV Confidential Radio Talk Show about Television and dates will be announced when closer to airtime…”
Emmy Award Winning Actor Ed Asner
Chuck Harter personally presented a copy of the book to Mr. Asner in his office. Ed Asner appeared in the pilot for Mr. Novak and returned for additional roles as the series progressed. He said the book “looked real good” and was “glad to get a copy.” A fine actor who was grumpy-funny, hospitable and above all a class act. There were MANY EMMY Awards in his office along with numerous other awards for his acting excellence. A great day!
The Writer’s Guild Foundation Library
Diane Albert, Co-Publisher of “The TV Collector”
Never judge a book by its cover? Really? Well, every rule has its exceptions and this is the best example.Unless The Beatles were on the cover, this is the most visually appealing book cover I have ever seen, and the promise of its cover delivers tenfold.There are some television series that fall into obscurity after their initial run, for no humanly explainable reason.”Mr. Novak” ran for two seasons and then vanished from existence.A handsome star; the 1963 high school experience addressed in an adult way, its plots stepping into uncomfortable and even taboo territory; teenage guest stars, some already known and others who would become known. How did it disappear?This show was responsible for countless teens deciding to become teachers. Every episode was compelling realistic drama. And the topics and writing hold up even fifty-plus years later.Chuck Harter has squeezed every possible seed of interest from this show and presented it in a conversational way that makes it soooo easy to read.I saw his labors in the making, and I can safely attest that if he’d had to go on an African safari to get a quote from an obscure actor who had appeared in one scene, he would have done so.But still, when he sent me my copy, it took my breath away to see what he had accomplished.
I leafed through it and was astonished to see a photo on almost every page..
Rarely do you see a book that makes you want to inhale every page at once, which you just keep opening to random pages because you can’t wait to have read it all. This is that book.
I am honored to have been included in it. The only thing wrong with it is that Jim Franciscus isn’t here to see how Chuck has honored him.
Randall Burrows, Canadian Collector and Researcher on Cinema and Television History
Randall Burrows is a Canadian with an appreciation for both the cinematic and television arts. He has a huge library with many books on these subjects. He said this about my new book…”It is a rare occasion when such an engaging, entertaining and profoundly researched history and analysis of a classic television drama is published. It is a real and unexpected achievement, and a testimony to the author’s own hard work and dedicated passion.” Randall has continued to help me publicize the book. Thanks to my Canadian Soul Brother…
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library
Chuck Harter: My new book has been accepted at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library and will be available for researchers. A great library in Beverly Hills with an excellent staff who were most helpful in my own research efforts….
Actor/Screenwriter Sam Gasch
Sam Gasch is a rising young actor/screenwriter in Hollywood. He had this to say about the new book. “Modern writers should always check the giant’s shoulders they’re standing on. Mr. Novak is one of the giants. It is a television classic and one of the more cleverly written ones at that! The new book is AWESOME!” — Sam Gasch.
Lovely “Lost In Space” Marta Kristen on Mr. Novak book
Marta Kristen is known for her role as Judy Robinson in the cult favorite TV series…”Lost in Space.” She had one of her first TV leading roles in the “Senior Prom” episode of “Mr. Novak.” The new book has exclusive photos of her and details on this early effort. Marta pronounced the book as “amazing”…and remarked “wasn’t Jim Franciscus handsome!”…and was “looking forward to reading it.” Marta’s episode will be included in the Warner official DVD release of Mr. Novak in Spring 2018.
Check out the wonderful new review by Ivan G. Shreve, Jr on Thrilling Days of Yesteryear!
Breaking News! 2 Five Star Reviews of Mr. Novak Book are now on amazon.com
Click Here to Read the Great Reviews on amazon.com
Review of Mr. Novak Book by Prof. John T. Taylor, Florida State College
Finally, today is October 15th, 2017. The book is published four years after Chuck Harter ‘cold’ called me from L.A. He had been to my web site for my Mr. Novak friends who have been trading episodes of this first TV drama series about schools and education for the last 20 years. Chuck is a successful writer about the silent movie era and classic TV.
Four years ago, He suggested I write a book about Mr. Novak and how it affected my life as a teacher. Great idea but I am not an author, just a chemistry teacher. I finally said I would write the book if he would co-author. I was 72 at the time and an educator for 50 years still working full time teaching. Not being a writer and at this stage of my life could not devote years to this project and still teach fulltime, I knew I could not co-author. Even though he was finishing his then current book, we kept talking about his discoveries about the program.
As we were assembling artifacts, memorabilia, pictures. original scripts, and articles about the series he became more and more excited. Finally, after a year he decided to jump in 100% and write this book himself and I could just help on the side when he needed me. The rest is now history. He has produced a crown jewel about a superb television series long forgotten and not seen even in reruns since the middle 1980s.
If you google teaching and television series you will have a list of nearly 120 series, but less than a handful demonstrate that there is interesting real drama in the lives of teachers (and students). Mr. Novak (1963-1965) was the first and Boston Public (2001-2004) was the last. A few, focus the drama from the eyes of the students. Maybe the long running 15 year Degrassi, The Next Generation(2001-2016) (one of four Degrassi series) on Canadian TV is the most outstanding. The short lived less than a season Freaks and Geeks is probably the best on U.S. television.
For three years Chuck has been producing this real gem. Being in Los Angles, he was able to track down many stars, writers, directors, camera crews, and even student ‘extras’ cast from 1963-65. Most are in their 80s, and the ‘kids’ in their 60s. Every week or two he would call and tell me his latest discovery or contact from the show.
This book is already the catalyst for Warner Home Video to release the first season on TV. A dream come true for me and all because of one man, Chuck Harter, who spent three years knocking on Hollywood’s doors. This is a great book, well written, and we first must buy the book, then we must purchase the First Season restored from the original 35 mm film.
The book has its own web site: https://mrnovakbook.com
The web site has many links to videos, picture, and additional information with the following links:
Introduction By Richard Donner (director), Forward By Martin Landau (actor); Afterword By Walter Koenig (actor), Several Photos (Some not in the book); List of Actors/Crew Interviewed For Book (Interview in the Book), Sample Chapter Pages (Additional Pages on Amazon.com); List of Awards Won by Series (47 identified so far); Progressive Themes of Mr. Novak Television Series
Progressive Themes of Mr. Novak Television Series (Top 10 from each season), Reviews (10 so far), and several other sections.
I cannot praise Chuck enough for devoting three years of his life to producing the book and achieving one additional goal, get the series released to all of us. Hopefully the future DVD set will be in the $30 range, but I will pay $500 just for clear crisp original 30 episodes of the first season.
There are 3 million teachers in the United States, hundreds of thousands of retired teachers and I urge all of them out there to buy this book, either hard cover or soft cover paperback. Please reward Chuck for his efforts.
I also ask you to join my Mr. Novak fans and friends web site so that I can publish on my web site your essays on your favorite episode or episodes that remind you of one time in your life as a teacher or a teacher made a difference in your life:
From Ben Ohmart, President of Bearmanormedia.com
“It’s a GREAT book…very informative and has an easy conversational style that I find refreshing…looks and reads quite well.”
From Sandy Grabman, Bearmanor Media
Sandy Grabman is the secretary for publishing house…Bearmanor Media and is the author of the forthcoming (12/17) “Petrocelli: An Episode Guide and More” which will cover the TV series starring Barry Newman. It will a great book! Sandy was very helpful to me in the Mr. Novak journey and has called my book “very detailed”…”a Mr. Novak fan’s Garden of Eden of Info”…thanks to you Sandy…good luck with Petrocelli.
Nice Blog Review From “Mike’s Take on the Movies”
Check out Mike’s review of Mr. Novak An Acclaimed Television Series, Click Here.
From Actress Alison Mills (Newman)
Alison Mills (Newman) is an actress…a Minister and CEO of Keep the Faith Ministries…and a respected Independent Film Maker whom lives in Georgia. She made her TV debut at 14 years old on the Mr. Novak series. This led to other roles including that of teenage babysitter Carol Deering on the “Julia” TV series with Diahann Carroll. Her story of that first role on the Novak show is a beautiful one and is in the book. Alison said my book was “Awesome”…”Absolutely Marvelous”…and “Worthy of Major Awareness and Success.” Thank you Alison…a Lady of Faith, Creativity and Spirit…..
From Actor Martin Grams, Jr.
Martin Grams, Jr. holds the “no hack job” tome by myself…Thanks again…..
From Actor Peter Helm
Peter Helm was a prolific actor who appeared many times on TV in the 60’s and 70’s. Among his credits were Combat!, Wagon Train, Bonanza…etc. and films such as The Longest Day and Inside Daisy Clover. He appeared…to great effect…in 3 episodes of the Mr. Novak series. These days he’s part of the Teamsters and drives trucks with equipment for TV film shoots. He “loved the book”…called it “GREAT”…and has been showing it to many of his fellow technicians in the industry and “everybody loves it and asked where to get a copy.”
From Ned Comstock
Saw Ned Comstock…of the Cinematic Arts Library at the University of Southern California. Ned helped with the Mr. Novak book and has contributed to 100’s of books on film and TV. He like “the book’s larger size” and “beautiful cover” and while flipping through it…was “amazed with😃 all the illustrations and great design.” Ned has seen many books so his words of praise carried considerable weight. Thanks Ned…
From Actress Beverly Washburn
Received a beautiful thank you card from Beverly (Spider Baby, Star Trek) Washburn after I sent her a book…She is a truly classy lady…
From Actor Beau Bridges
“Got the book Chuck. It was fun looking through…lots of memories!”
Youtube Review from Keepthefaithfilms:
Really excited about Chuck Harters book. Really wonderful historical and important book for anyone interested in the beauty of television. Mr Novak afforded me my debut performance on national television. I appeared in the title role of Billie, in the segment titled “Where Is There to Go Billie But Up?” It was a performance acclaimed by many and watched by all the African Americans believe me. There were very few black folks on television back then, and when we did show up trust me, it was a big deal. It was such an honor to work with James Franciscus, and Lois Nettleton. I had some touching scenes and moments with Lois on set. Please get a copy of the book. It explores an era of television history that is very important and inspiring during a time when television touched on meaningful and important subjects with integrity and fairness.
—Alison Mills Newman, July 30, 2017
Review From MartinGrams.blogspot.com
Mr. Novak: The Television Series
Mr. Novak makes a comeback. Rarely broadcast in reruns during the last three decades, the 1963-65 television series provided a realistic rendition of school teachers and the social problems faced by their students. Comedic elements ala
Our Miss Brooks or Dobie Gillis were not part of E. Jack Neuman’s grand design when he created a series that took place in a high school. Gaining insight to the educational system, he quickly developed a program that — he hoped — would provide social commentary with no interference from the executives at NBC. Dramatic storytelling was never better — sometimes equalled with such greats as The Defenders, Sam Benedict, Naked City and Route 66. Sadly, the last this program aired over television was in the 1980s over TNT. According to offside sources, music rights have held up a commercial DVD release of this groundbreaking series.
Chuck Harter, co-author of the telephone book-sized tome about Harry Langdon (a book I recommend), wrote this 372 page tome, available in paperback and hard cover. He covers all of the bases, in extraordinary detail. From a biography of E. Jack Neuman, filming the television pilot, controversies that arose from various productions, memories from cast and crew, a list of the awards the series garnered, columns as they appeared in
Teen magazine, and a novelization of the two-part Mr. Novak/Dr. Kildare crossover teleplay, “The Rich Who Are Poor.”
What appealed to me the most — and was a fascinating read — was the history of the program in chronological order. Episodes that generated vast mail from viewers, how teachers across the country endorsed the program for the authenticity portrayed on camera, makeup magic, charity benefits, cast changes between seasons, fan mail, how one script was initially rejected by the network because the subject matter dealt with drug addiction and venereal disease, a spoof sketch on
The Danny Kaye Show, LP records and premiums, and details about the episode I first saw twenty years ago on VHS — the death of a school teacher as a result of a heart attack and how the students and other teachers coped. Yeah, this was serious stuff.
Reviews from critics, commentary from directors who lensed some of the episodes, behind-the-scenes photos, and the board game are all included. Harter tracked down Neuman’s family to seek out information not found available anywhere. This is the kind of book I wish were assembled for every television program out there — no hack job here. It portrays an insightful viewpoint of how
Mr. Novak came to be, the battles Neuman had with the network to ensure social commentary was evident, and is the kind of book you would consult piece meal — watching one episode at a time while reviewing the write-up to gain deeper insight. My only complaint is not of the book but rather the film studio. I understand why the television series has never been released to DVD — music rights take time to clear because third parties believe they have million dollar properties. If anything this book makes me want to petition the studio to make the series available for everyone to sample and enjoy. As of present, until a commercial DVD release happens, this book is the next best thing.
Chuck spent considerable time seeking out cast and crew who were still alive to gather any recollections they had during their film shoots. Beau Bridges, Richard Donner, Diane Baker, Frankie Avalon, Ed Asner, Brooke Bundy, Johnny Crawford, Patricia Crowley, Tony Dow, Sherry Jackson, June Lockhart, Walter Koenig, Tommy Kirk, Buck Taylor, Beverly Washburn, and many others. The late Martin Landau wrote a foreword for the book, who aptly mentioned: “The work that Chuck Harter has been doing over the last several years in researching his book deserves to be rewarded.” I could not describe a book review any better than Mr. Landau.
Visit author Martin Grams official website at: www.MartinGrams.com
A Fantastic New Book on a Television Classic
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of Mr. Novak, an Acclaimed Television Series by Chuck Harter. Once I began reading, it was impossible to put it down! This is one of the finest books I have ever read. The story unfolds in perfect order and builds in amazing ways as you read. The beautiful illustrations, anecdotes, interviews, episode guides & episode reviews come together in an extremely satisfying manner. I love the way the book is based on a school year and plays out logically but with surprises popping up too! Mr. Harter is a gifted writer who lets the key characters tell the story as he guides them along. Mr. Novak was my favorite TV series as a teenager and I still cherish the memories–and the show itself–today. It was an honor to be involved in Mr. Novak as an extra! I am thrilled to see this TV series being brought into the public eye again by a writer who knows exactly how to do so. Fingers crossed that the series will be brought out on DVD; that step is long overdue and I believe this book will help make that happen.
Laure-Elise (Georges) Gonzales – Arlington, Texas – 8/19/17
Review by Randall Burrows, Alberta, Canada
It has been my great pleasure to read Chuck Harter’s brilliant new book, ‘Mr. Novak – An Acclaimed Television Series’ (BearManor, 376 pgs., profusely illustrated with photos, fully indexed)…it is indeed a rare occasion when such an engaging, entertaining and profoundly researched history and analysis of a classic television drama is published. The TV series itself belonging to televisions’s first great era of filmed, Los Angeles produced prime time drama. Mr. Novak (NBC, 1963-65) centered around a dedicated and self sacrificing high school teacher (played by James Franciscus), newly assigned to a middle class and fully integrated Los Angeles High School. His Principal and Mentor played by the great Oscar winning actor, Dean Jagger. ‘Mr. Novak’ story lines touched upon many progressive, and even, daring societal and socio-political issues of JFK Era, New Frontier America…racism, civil rights, teenage pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, cheating, technological change, teacher salaries, the Cold War, bullying, poverty and child abuse…with realism and authenticity, but remaining tremendous and inspiring entertainment as well.
What elevates Chuck Harter’s book to a supreme level is his obvious hard work and dedication in uncovering a rich motherlode of primary sources…he gained access to Mr. Novak Producer and co-creator E. Jack Neuman’s personal archive, courtesy of his widow, actress Marian Collier (who appeared in the regular supporting cast as the home economics teacher, Miss Scott)…Chuck Harter also sought out and gained over 40 interviews with guest stars and crew, certainly not easily accomplished for a show of this vintage…among the many interviews…Martin Landau (who also contributes the foreword), Walter Koenig (who provides the afterword of this book), Director Richard Donner (who provides the introduction), Ed Asner, Frankie Avalon, Dianne Baker, Barbara Barrie, Beau Bridges, Johnny Crawford, Pat Crowley, Tony Dow, Sherry Jackson, Tommy Kirk, Louise Latham, June Lockhart, Tom Lowell, David Sheiner, Julie Sommars, Buck Taylor and Beverly Washburn…he also interviewed script writer John D. F. Black, who won a writer’s guild award for his work on Mr. Novak…and MGM Culver City Property Master Bob Schultz contributes his unique and valuable memories on the cast and behind the scenes production history of Mr. Novak.
The first 200 or so pages are devoted to a detailed, profusely illustrated and lively history of the origins and production of Mr. Novak…how the series was conceived, brought to a pilot and sold to the network, and the weekly struggle to produce a high quality hour drama. The critical and popular audience reaction to the show is also examined, in context to the contemporary New Frontier times the show was aired in. The enduring legacy of Mr. Novak is also elaborated upon…it has also proven itself still relevant to our times…another 100+ pages are devoted to a detailed chronological episode guide, also well illustrated, complete with full cast and production credits, airdates and episode synopsis. Archive critical reviews and entertainment trade paper notices are included, as well as author Chuck Harter’s own insightful analysis and appreciation of each episode.
Adding also to the human dimensions of this story…the contributions of John Franciscus, brother of the late James Franciscus…Kitty Wellman, who was the wife of James Franciscus at the time of the show…and the charming and warm memories of John Marshall High School Alumni who appeared in backgrounds of the show’s location filming and remember that magic time when they were part of television history during their own high school years…
Several valuable appendices are also included:
1) Mr. Novak TV Series Awards, 1963-65. (a list of the many accolades awarded to the show).
2) Producer E. Jack Neuman’s Writer’s Guide for Mr. Novak. (his vision of Mr. Novak’s world, for scriptwriter’s story guidance and continuity).
3) Mr. Novak’s Graduation Advice : Think (written by James Franciscus, and because of it’s inspirational nature and the popularity of the show, was distributed nation wide for graduating high school seniors).
4) Principal Vane’s Speech to New Teachers ( a transcript of Dean Jagger’s inspiring welcoming speech to new faculty as presented in the pilot episode, ‘First Year, First Day’).
5) James Franciscus columns for ‘Teen Magazine, 1963-65.
6) Novelization of the rejected two part ‘Mr. Novak / Dr. Kildare’ crossover episode scripts, “The Rich Who Are Poor”.
7) The Mr. Novak board game. (yes, there was a board game tie-in).
A full and comprehensive index is included, as well as the Author’s Acknowledgements for his many sources.
Mr. Novak – An Acclaimed Television Series by Chuck Harter is worthy of joining the ranks of the very rare and finest popular histories and scholarly works on American classic television ever published. It is a real and unexpected achievement, and a testimony to the author’s own hard work and dedicated passion for a much beloved television show. To quote the late Martin Landau, ” a TV gem of the 1960s”.
Mr. Novak is hopefully to be rediscovered soon in DVD releases by Warner Archive, who own the show. Warner Archive have already given high quality DVD releases to other early ’60s MGM TV shows…Dr. Kildare, Sam Benedict, The Lieutenant among them…hopefully the music rights complications are resolved soon…so Mr. Novak will finally receive the worthy home video, streaming and cable treatment it deserves.
Randall Burrows – Alberta, Canada – 9/3/17
Check Out The Review of Mr. Novak Book on Poseidon’s Underworld Blog:
Mystery*File Blog Reviews Mr. Novak Book
” I’ve asked Chuck Harter, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:”
Click Here to read entire review.