Late last month, I posted about an alternate version of The New People pilot episode and said I would have more information. Here’s what I was able to find out. I spoke on the phone with Mark Quigley, manager of the Archive Research & Study Center at the UCLA Film & Television Archive about the alternate, hour-long edit of the pilot (which has an approximately 52 minute running time) to The New People. Quigley, who co-curated UCLA’s continuing Serling retrospective with the Archive’s Head of Public Programs, Shannon Kelley, explained that “UCLA’s 16mm print of the unaired edit has some color fading, but is otherwise in good condition.” Quigley also confirmed that the 16mm print’s “onscreen end titles have a ‘Written By Rod Serling’ credit, and does not list ‘John Phillips’ (the pseudonym listed in the aired version of the pilot).” UCLA’s print is part of their ABC-TV Collection of over 20,000 titles.
According to Quigley, UCLA’s collection also holds “a Digibeta tape copy of the air version of the pilot (without commercials) which runs 36 minutes. The shorter, air version of the pilot features the ‘John Phillips’ ‘written by’ credit in the opening titles.” Quigley adds “all versions of the pilot feature a ‘Developed for TV by Rod Serling’ end credit. As to the variances between the longer unaired edit, and the shorter aired version, Quigley adds “in general, the shorter version truncates some of the exposition and the longer dialog-driven scenes that appear in the longer unaired edit. The unaired version runs about 15 minutes longer, but the plot is consistent in both versions.”
As to the variations of the “written by” credit and Serling’s use of a pseudonym, Quigley has done extensive research on the topic. In an e-mail statement, he writes:
In various newspaper articles before the debut of THE NEW PEOPLE, Serling’s enthusiasm for the series seemed tepid at best and ABC’s decision to cut the pilot from an hour to a 45min time slot may, and this is speculation, have been the reason Serling decided to remove his name. A May 26, 1969 article in the L.A. Times titled “ABC’s 45-Minute Desperation Move” refers to the “exciting” hour-long pilot needing to be cut to 45min in order to facilitate the network’s experiment to pair the series with another 45min program, MUSIC SCENE. ABC hoped that viewers would not tune out after the first 45 minute program, as all of the programs on the other networks would already be in progress. Ultimately, the novelty of the scheduling experiment didn’t work, and both programs were canceled after their debut season.
In a 1970 interview with newspaper with the Associated Press, Serling sheds a little more light on his apparent disillusionment with the series, stating “I did the pilot for an ABC series show last season. “THE NEW PEOPLE,” which they carved up like beef. I’m not cut out for series television.”
As to the possible meaning of John Phillips pseudonym, in 1863, Antioch trustee John Phillips proposed a resolution stating “the Trustees of Antioch College cannot, according to the Charter, reject persons on account of color.” In 1950, Rod Serling received his Bachelor’s degree at Antioch College and met his wife, Carol, there. Phillips’ statement aligns with Serling’s views and given the sociological aspects of THE NEW PEOPLE, the pseudonym seems apt, and a fitting homage to his Alma matter.
Many thanks to Quigley for taking the time to speak with me and for solving some of the mysteries surrounding The New People and Rod Serling’s involvement.