Talking TV on DVD with /Remington Steele'/s Michael Gleason Page 2

Another interesting thing in the "Tempered Steele" episode itself is a comment by Laura [Holt, the real brains behind the detective agency, played by Stephanie Zimbalist] about where she got the name Remington Steele - that she got it from a typewriter and a football team. [Gleason chuckles] Now is that where you got the name from? Bob Butler came up with the name. He liked "Remington" because it was a firearm, and he just felt "Steele" was a strong name. For the show, I thought we should make how she came up with the name a little funnier.

Yeah, I always wondered if there was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan on staff or not.... Were there any other character names bandied about for Steele? That was the only name. And it was a lock. I think it's a great name.

During your "License to Steele" commentary, you guys mention how Phil Casnoff [who plays Ben Pearson, an agent whom Steele impersonates in a previous scene] did such a great job as Frank Sinatra [in the 1992 TV miniseries Sinatra]. He later played a Russian character on Oz, the HBO prison show. Yes, he was excellent! I loved him in that. I loved that show; it was brilliantly done.

It's interesting to see what people become later on. And he was wonderful in our show. He added some seriousness to Remington's mocking attitude.

STEELING MOVIE LINES Who was mainly responsible for the movie lines that Remington would always be spouting? I have to plead guilty to that. A few of the people over there [at the network] wanted me to take them out, but I'd never seen that on a show before. And we found that as we went along, in the few episodes where we didn't have them, viewers got upset.

We were trying to do a 1930s Thin Man/romantic-comedy/mystery show. And the opinion was, because we were trying to do that, maybe the movie references were kind of soft. But they were one of the most popular things in the series, so I'm glad I held onto them.

You'd always look forward to that every episode, thinking, "What hard-boiled movie line are we going to get this time?" On the commentary, I note how those references really helped with plot. They'd trigger a character, a plot point, a tic, something.

And when in doubt, have somebody wear a fedora, right? That was Stephi's idea, and I thought it was a terrific one. She looked so damn good in them.

Have you spoken to her about the DVD at all? She's not in any of the extras. I'd been looking at some of the interviews and no, she's not on them. Maybe she'll be on future ones.

WORDS OF STEELE Anything not on the DVD that you thought, "This would have been a cool extra to include"? It's interesting. We never really had a blooper reel. We had two of the most professional actors I've ever worked with. I was talking to Pierce about this, the fact that he was trained in England. American actors tend to come in and want to rewrite the script from start to finish. Because of his background, he'd say the lines as written, and so did Stephanie.

I would always say, "If you don't like a line, let me know and I'll change it. Don't go changing things. Because when we're trying to do jokes, the rhythm of the line is very important, and any extra words will screw up the rhythm of the joke. And we're also trying to do mystery, so don't be saying, 'He was killed by a knife,' when he was killed by a shotgun, you know?" But they did it beautifully, and we held the guest stars to say the words as written.

As a writer, that must have been a great thing to have people respect your work to that degree. It was beautiful, it really was.

Ever any talk of doing a "Where are they now?" update for the show? Actually, no. But Pierce has been talking about doing a Remington Steele feature. He wouldn't be Remington, but he'd be in it.

He had very fond memories of Remington in the interview he did for the DVD. He was very kind toward the show. And now he's a big movie star. [laughs] So it all worked out, just like one of our plots.

STEELE UNDONE Were there any stories you didn't get a chance to write for the show that you would have liked to have done? When Laura and Remington got married, I would have liked her to say, "We can't work together now because we're married." So he would go off and start up his own agency but pay someone to hire Laura to work on his cases - which she wouldn't know. So at night, when they'd have pillow talk, she'd tell him about her case - his case. And I thought that would have been funny if he was using her as an investigator and she didn't even know it.

He could have hired the Blue Moon Detective Agency to do it. I don't suppose since you were on NBC and Moonlighting was on ABC that you could have crossed over the characters. Was there ever any talk of doing that? Well, Pierce did a guest shot on Moonlighting, a cameo. I have to assume it was after we were off the air.

[Brosnan appeared in "The Straight Poop," an episode during Moonlighting's third season on ABC that aired January 6, 1987. In his uncredited cameo, Brosnan says that he and Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) considered working together but instead decided to go their separate ways. Steele was still on the air then - but just barely. The last installment of the five-episode final season aired April 17, 1987.]

One last thing: Would you be able to do this show today? No, I don't think so. I mean, we have lady bounty hunters on TV now, so I don't think anyone would believe that people wouldn't go to a female private eye. It was a series of its time. In the '80s, you wanted Humphrey Bogart and Sam Spade to be your private eyes, not a pretty little girl.