iMahal Interview Series:
Bill Riead
November 12, 2000

Bill Riead iMahal: In our interviews at iMahal, we like to focus on "success" in whatever form it takes for the people we interview. Your success started out in the media industry working for CBS News in New York and in London. But then you moved to California. Was the allure of Hollywood success your main motivation at that time?
Bill:  Actually I wanted to come to California because of the weather. Nothing is worse than filming one day with sunshine and then picking up with those shots the next day and the sun isn't shining. Instead it's raining. And now you have problems matching the footage. I wanted to make films, but I wanted to make films in a place where the weather is consistent, so I wouldn't have that as an obstacle.
Also, the labs in California, in Los Angeles, are the best there are. Of course there are other film capitals. The largest film capital is in Bombay, India. Also, Rome, London, and Tokyo are major film capitals. But Hollywood, though not the largest, is the most recognized of them all. And this is the place where quality film product is made. I wanted to be around people who made quality film product. The only thing I've ever really wanted to do is make quality films, especially films that had a good message to them, which is why I started out with documentaries.
iMahal: What was it like to arrive in Hollywood in the early 1970s?
Bill:  I was overwhelmed. First of all, Los Angeles is 75 miles long and 45 miles wide. It's the largest city in the world geographically. I came over the hill like everybody does on the Interstate 10 freeway and all I could see was lights in every direction. I thought, well, there's so many people here, what chance do I have?
iMahal: Given the success you have achieved, it doesn't seem likely that your initial pessimistic train of thought lasted very long. So how did you get started?
Absence of Malice Bill:  I started out making industrial films, which are today called corporate videos. That was my entree. They didn't have video back then; we were shooting 16 millimeter film and I made a sales film for what was then the Gloria Marshal Figure Salon. This company advertised on a local television program called AM Los Angeles with Regis Philbin and Cindy Garvey. Regis Philbin was the spokesperson for the Gloria Marshal Figure Salon; he was also a film critic. At that time he was hired by Sidney Craig, who was the president of Gloria Marshal, to be the host of a sales presentation film they wanted to make for Gloria Marshal. I was hired as the writer and director of this video. And so I directed Regis Philbin. He and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working together. He was a pro, I was a pro. I don't mean that boastfully. We were just very efficient together. And the next day, Regis Philbin picked up the phone and called a friend of his at Columbia Pictures named Barry Lorry and said, "Isn't it true that you're looking for a journalist and also a film director for making some kind of film product at Columbia?" Barry Lorry said this was true. "Well, I found your guy," said Regis, "and here's his number." My phone rang and it was Barry Lorry at Columbia Pictures saying, "Can you come to Columbia and have a meeting with me and some other executives? We want to talk to you."



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