Marc Zicree is a writer/producer/director with hundreds of hours of television credits with the major networks and studios, including classic episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sliders and Babylon 5. He is the author of The Twilight Zone Companion, the definitive book about the famous TV show, with over half a million copies sold.
The New York Times has named The Twilight Zone Companion one of “10 science fiction books for the ages.” Zicree will be releasing a greatly expanded multi-media edition of The Twilight Zone Companion soon. The print and e-book editions will be released simultaneously and will be available on Amazon.com and at bookstores nationally.
Zicree has played a creative role in every home entertainment edition of The Twilight Zone TV show whether on video or on DVD – including 30 hours of commentary for 50 episodes of the show’s official Blu-ray collection. He also authored the Magic Time trilogy of novels. He has been a nominee for the Hugo and Nebula Awards for excellence in science fiction/fantasy literature and for the prestigious Humanitas Prize for film/television writing.
‘It’s great fun to be the world’s expert on The Twilight Zone.’ –Marc Zicree
Why did you decide to update The Twilight Zone Companion?
My definitive history of The Twilight Zone came out in 1982. Over the years, some of The Twilight Zone’s directors, writers and actors would tell me stories that they hadn’t told me before and they were great stories. Additionally, there were new versions of The Twilight Zone and films like Twilight Zone: The Movie and television episodes inspired by The Twilight Zone.
Tell us more about the new sections in The Twilight Zone Companion.
There are about 100 pages of new material on all the episodes and anecdotes told by the directors, writers, actors and producers. I expanded my comments on many episodes. There are hundreds of additional photographs, many of which have never been published before. I’ve included many links to Twilight Zone and Rod Serling rarities, commercials he did, lectures he gave, TV shows he wrote in the ‘50s. Additionally, I’ve conducted two new interviews, one with Rod’s daughter Jodi Serling, and one with George Takei who played Sulu in the TV show Star Trek and who acted in The Twilight Zone episode “The Encounter.” We have rare color pictures which are particularly amazing because the show was shot in black and white. The color photos were taken by people on the set, such as Doug Heyes who directed the episode “Eye of the Beholder” and who designed the episode’s amazing makeup with William Tuttle. Also, I’m including the full audio recordings of my interviews with Burgess Meredith from the episodes “Time Enough at Last” and “The Obsolete Man” and Ross Martin from the episodes “The Four of Us are Dying” and “Death Ship.”
What have you found most rewarding about writing your book?
I started working on the book when I was 22. I was fresh out of college. I knew I wanted a career as a writer/producer in television. There were no classes in that. So, I thought if I wrote a book on the greatest show ever made, I would learn how to do that job. By the time I was 22 or 23, I was writing network television. Rod Serling was really the first modern showrunner in that, as a writer, he ran the show. For most series, the producers ran the show back then, not the writers. All of the talented modern showrunners working today were inspired by Rod Serling.
What are the best things that have happened for you as a result of writing your book?
It’s great fun to be the world’s expert on The Twilight Zone. I did the interviews from ’77 through ’81, with the bulk of the interviews from ‘77 to ’79. I got to meet the show’s directors, actors, phenomenal writers like George Clayton Johnson and Richard Matheson, Buck Houghton the show’s producer, and George Clemens the director of photography. I’ve been able to have a career myself as a writer/producer/director from writing The Twilight Zone Companion. I learned that one episode of one TV show can change someone’s life forever for the better. We’re so used to quality television. Whether it’s Breaking Bad or any great show. But, Rod was really blazing a trail. When he created Twilight Zone, there was nothing like it.
How has your book inspired filmmakers in television and cinema?
Many showrunners and directors read The Twilight Zone Companion when they were teenagers and it inspired them. When I was a kid, I read a book called The Making of Star Trek by Stephen Whitfield and it planted the seed that I wanted to be a writer/producer in television. The Twilight Zone Companion has had an even larger effect. I hear from people like Matt Weiner (Mad Men), Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica), and Brannon Braga (The Orville) — a lot of well-known writers read my book when they were young and wanted a career in television or film.
What makes The Twilight Zone TV show so unique?
Rod Serling wanted to be a mainstream dramatist commenting on the big stories of his time. It was a hugely meaningful show, which is why it won two Emmys for Best Series. What Rod Serling said is that you can tell as adult and challenging a story in science fiction and fantasy and horror as anything in mainstream literature and it will resonate with a mass audience. A lot of shows have tried to be like Twilight Zone, but it was lightning in a bottle. Great composers like Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane) and Jerry Goldsmith (Chinatown) composed music for Twilight Zone.
You are currently working in a very special project with an actor who starred in some iconic Twilight Zone episodes.
Yes, we’re now working on my show Space Command, which stars Bill Mumy who was terrific in three episodes of The Twilight Zone and was then in the TV shows Lost in Space and Babylon 5 where I worked with him. Space Command also stars Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery, The Shape of Water) and Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5). We’re holding that same level of artistry on Space Command as what I learned from Twilight Zone. Our goal is to tell a meaningful story about our world, set in a science fiction context.
Marc Zicree’s current production, “Space Command: Redemption,” is an original epic science fiction drama series with details available online at Kickstarter.com. In the search box type: Space Command Redemption. Learn more about Zicree at SpaceCommandSeries.com, MarcZicree.com and at his YouTube channel: “Mr. Sci-Fi.”
Bob Rich has authored over 50 short stories, often in the style of Magic Realism. This month, the science fiction/fantasy mini-novel “Emily Blue and the Star on the Moon” was released, which Bob co-wrote with musician Bill Majoros who composed the story’s soundtrack. The mini-novel promotes the charitable work of the Grossman Burn Foundation. Visit TheForeignFilms.com for details.