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Re: Bruce talked about “The Warrior”

December 9 2015 at 11:33 AM
JKD54  (Login JKD54)

Response to Bruce talked about “The Warrior”

Just to be clear: Bruce Lee did NOT create the Kung Fu TV series. The series was created by Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander. Spielman had been developing the idea since back in the mid-1960s.

According to Herbie J. Pilato, author of The "Kung Fu" Book of Caine and The "Kung Fu" Book of Wisdom:

"Ed Spielman is the creator of the 'Kung Fu' series. Any claims to the contrary are incorrect, and an injustice. As a teenager, Mr. Spielman worked as a page at ABC-TV in New York. He discovered the secret arts of kung-fu in the early 1960s, and he studied Mandarin Chinese in College at night. He spent years doing his research in New York's Chinatown and elsewhere unearthing this heretofore secret knowledge. At that time, kung-fu was not known in the Western world and was denied to non-Chinese. It was taught by master/student relationships and within families. It was never revealed to non-Chinese. But, Spielman pressed on.

By the mid-1960s, Ed had acquired a depth of information, and wrote a forty-four-page treatment for film, TV and publishing titled, 'Kung Fu: The Way of the Tiger, The Sign of the Dragon.' He spent the next few years trying to move it forward to film or television. In 1969, he was introduced to young agent Peter Lampack at the William Morris Agency in New York. Lampack liked the material and made a deal with Warner's executive Bennett Sims in New York.

In February of 1970, Lampack bartered a deal for Spielman and his friend and collaborator, Howard Friedlander, to write a theatrical motion picture screenplay from Spielman's original story. All of this occurred in New York.

At the end of this development, Warner Bros. chose not to make the theatrical film. But, studio executive Harvey Frand had faith in the project, and took it to ABC, which by that time, had introduced a pioneering 'Movie of The Week' format.

The Spielman/Friedlander script was pared down for budget, produced and shown on ABC, February 22, 1972. It was an immediate hit. The iconic 'Kung Fu' monthly-then-weekly series followed...

Undoubtedly, Bruce Lee had his own ideas and aspirations, but that has nothing to do with Ed Spielman's ground-breaking and original work. The Writers Guild of America West awarded sole credit to Ed Spielman as the creator of 'Kung Fu'... And no allegation of Bruce Lee's having to do with the creation of 'Kung Fu' appeared in public until 'The Bruce Lee Story' (1993) in which the allegation was made.
Ed Spielman told me specifically: 'In 1993, I was preparing a major law suit against Universal, DeLaurentis Productions and all of those who were responsible for the false allegations in 'The Bruce Lee Story' to deprive me of the authorship of my work and defame me. But, Bruce Lee died in 1973 and his son Brandon also tragically died in 1993. A lawsuit by me would have fallen on Bruce Lee's widow, Linda. She had lost enough. I didn't think she would have survived those years in court. I thought about it...then told the lawyers to forget about it. The documents speak for themselves for anyone who cares to look...I was greatly disappointed that Bruce Lee did not appear as a principal in the 'Kung Fu' series. But he had nothing to do with its creation. My work and the 'Kung Fu' project was on the East Coast; his was on the West Coast. My work predated his by years. The complete story and characters were registered in the mid-1960s. The documents and contracts prove that."
— Herbie J. Pilato

Fred Weintraub on the Kung Fu series:

"I had just become an executive at Warner Bros. in their New York office. I was pitched by two young men — Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander — a project called Kung Fu. I commissioned them $3,500 to write the script for Warner Bros. They wrote the script, and later I moved to Burbank, California. I presented the script to the studio, but Warner Bros. wouldn’t make it into a movie. I walked over to the television division and gave it to a man who later became one of my partners. He liked the idea and gave the order to get started.

At that time, I had a friend named Sy Weintraub. While I was in LA, he was taking private lessons from Bruce — along with Steve McQueen and James Coburn. One day, Sy said, “You ought to meet this Bruce Lee,” and he introduced us.

I found him to be charming, bright and very intellectual. We became good friends. When they were casting Kung Fu, I said, “I have the perfect guy” — or at least I thought he was — and I took Bruce to see Tom Kuhn. Bruce used the nunchaku and just amazed Tom.

Tom called me over and said, “Who is this guy?” I said, “He’s going to be a great action star.” He said, “Let me see what the network thinks.”

Of course, the network turned him down. They felt the time wasn’t right for an international star. Bruce did not get the part."

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