Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s New Ebook Units The File Straight On Julia Youngster

You’ve mentioned a couple of discrepancies between the television series, “Julia” and what you discovered or know from your research. Can you speak to that a bit? What does the television series misconstrue, and what does it do right?

What it does right is the actors. They really embodied the characters so well. That was true of both of the persons, Sarah Lancashire, who played Julia, and David Hyde Pierce, who played Paul, and the person who played Avis. They really made those characters come to life in a wonderful way. They got some facts really, really wrong, and the one I concentrated on was WGBH and The French Chef. How did you get there?

She didn’t get there by offering to pay them money, and she didn’t get there under the opposition of the men. [How] she got there came after she appeared on the “People Are Reading” program by the BU professor. The television, WGBH, got 27 letters applauding the program when she came with this skillet, and her eggs, and made an omelet on a hotplate. It’s hard to believe that 27 letters is a persuasive number, but this was early in public television.

A cousin of a person who was a major producer at WGBH, Miffy Goodheart, came and had lunch and tried to convince Julia to think about a television show. They drafted a woman by the name of Beatrice Braude, who they knew in France because she worked at the embassy with Paul and was a friend. She was now actually on the staff of WGBH, not just a relative of someone on the staff. She helped Julia draft a professional proposal of what it would look like. What would the contents of the program be? WGBH decided to have a trial run.

I think they taped three … In this era, at WGBH, it wasn’t direct person-to-home TV screen. Shows were taped. They taped three programs and tried them out, and they were very, very successful. Julia worked hard to rehearse them. That’s when my character, Ruth Lockwood comes in, who is not represented by the person playing the part of the helper. Ruth Lockwood was a middle-aged woman who had graduate training, an MA in television production at Boston University, and in mid-life, she started to work at WGBH first as a volunteer.

She was a volunteer for many years, and she devised the idiot cards that you see. The show has Paul running up with a poster. Instead, what the staff realized they needed was about five people in the back holding up posters. … This was for a segment. They would give Julia the times left for each segment, and if she made a mistake, they would hold up a correction. They had this good team of people working for them. These are some of the differences.

If you’re enjoying watching “Julia” the series, dig a little deeper! Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz’s book “Warming Up Julia Child” is available for purchase here.

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