|TV GUIDE, Jan 28, 1978|
Yesterday, I was reminded about why everyone has such warm feelings for the tv show Grizzly Adams. The short answer is manipulation but longer answer is a fascinating read about a Mormon producer, computers, and extensive test-marketing.
Charles E. Sellier, Jr. was a Mormon producer with a predilection for family values. In 1971, he began developing an elaborate system which could test-market ideas/scenes for commercials, tv shows and films. His process was so successful that his, "...techniques enabled him to achieve a commanding 52% success ratio in the domestic theatrical market, during a time when the major studios only averaged one in seven."
|image via SuperMag|
“Our audience, Sellier says, "likes waterfalls, pretty vistas and high mountain ridges, preferably with actors and animals as part of the scene. They dislike snow, except at Christmas. What they like is eternal summer in the primeval, womanless wilderness.”
I had always just assumed that this amazingly tender show about nature, animals and kindness was an unavoidable result of the good energy of the 1970s, as if Americans needed this show so badly that our collective subconscious had willed it into existence.
“Our audience,” Sellier says, “dislikes animals being violent to humans and to other animals, and humans being violent to animals and other humans. They dislike hunting, either for sport for food—Grizzly can fish but he doesn't hunt and he doesn't eat meat. He's portrayed as one of the first vegetarians. He wears only homespun clothes, never any animals kins. It's not whim, it's all tested.”