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Postmark: Jim Fletcher
Pilot Episode (Unaired)

Appearing as Jim Fletcher

Unaired pilot for 30-minute television series developed for the ABC network's 1963-64 season.

Series Premise: Jim Fletcher (James MacArthur), a young magazine reporter, travels from place to place looking for stories, meeting people and becoming involved in their lives for a brief time before moving on. Although the pilot was filmed in and around Coos Bay, Oregon, in early 1962, it was never aired. The final draft of the pilot script is dated February 1962. In earlier drafts, the series title was Postmark: Jim Adams. The pilot episode also featured Noah Beery, Jr. and Harry Dean Stanton.

From the ABC-TV sales kit (dated January 1963):

The Challenge

“So you came to sit behind some desk and write undying prose ...

“The trouble with you guys today is you think you can sit alone in a room and starve and write about the world’s imperfections. You think you can look in a mirror and see what’s wrong with the man down the street ... or across the ocean. You look without seeing, you touch without feeling ... you breathe without smelling.

“You want to write about sailors? Then ship out. London did ... so did O’Neill ... that’s the only way. You want to write about prison? Then don’t be afraid to land in jail. Don’t watch the parade ... march in it.

“Move out that door and keep moving. Take anything that’ll travel ... boats ... cars ... trucks ... busses ... trains ... horses ... your legs. Search the papers, the news, the people. Go where there’s something going on ... good or bad ... big or little ... so long as it’s worth telling. Work and search and write ... send that back to me ... a part of yourself. If it’s good enough, I’ll publish it. If it isn’t, I’ll throw it right back in your teeth. But you can’t write it unless you’ve lived it.”

Jim Fletcher reached for his coat and started to rise.

“Where are you going?”

“Out that door.”

“Did I scare you?”

“Not likely.”

“Will I hear from you?”

“If I’ve got anything to say.”

“Where can I reach you?”

“Just look at the postmarks, Mr. Stone.”

The Postmarks

Jim Fletcher’s brief interview at Quest Magazine was to change his entire life; for Jack Stone offered a challenge that was to turn into a search for identity. Postmark: Jim Fletcher details this personal Odyssey through a new life that starts in defiance but soon turns to compassion and understanding, and -- for the young writer -- fruition and fulfillment.

For television viewers, Postmark: Jim Fletcher offers a weekly passport to excitement, as Jim’s weekly “postmarks” are translated into superb half hour dramatizations in which the whole world serves as a backdrop for adventure on a grand scale.

Jim Fletcher’s “postmark” can take many forms. It can be a tramp ship cutting through tropic waters, or a waste place in the Chiwawa desert that was once a mining bonanza. It can be the playground that is Las Vegas or a small salmon port in Canada. It can be a militia-manned northern metropolis, or a seething southern town. It can be the burial ground of a starving Indian tribe, or the scene of a mining disaster in Pennsylvania.

Whatever the locale, each “postmark” is an episode in the lives of real people, harboring humor or heartbreak, action or romance. It can tell of life with a gang of Brooklyn “sharks,” or hazing in a Washington State sorority house during Hell Week ... of a clan of “beach bums,” or life on a county “honor farm” ... of coyote hunting, or a month as an attendant at Bellevue Hospital ... of a posse seeking a missing teen-ager, or a midnight Mission on Chicago’s State Street.

The Writer

Jim Fletcher is no silvered shiny knight. In fact, he doesn’t even always choose the right side. He is fallible and faulty, sometimes too quick to act, sometimes too slow to condemn, sometimes to confused to equate. Yet he is a young man with a purpose -- to seek out people and places, and to do what Hemingway once called the hardest thing in the world ... to write straight, honest prose about human beings.

Jim Fletcher is a participant as well as spectator. Diving into the icy stream of life and swimming against the current, he becomes the heir of a unique breed of American reporters. He is the spirit of Jack London in the rich, unconquered land of fang and claw ... he is John Masefield following the west wind and rounding the Horn ... he is Mark Twain at Calavaras ... he is Ernie Pyle at Anzio ... he is the unbearded Ernest Hemingway going to the wars. But above all, he is Jim Fletcher -- a young, determined journalist seeking to make his way in the world.


Postmark: Jim Fletcher is formatted to allow the telling of any kind of story, in any kind of background -- so long as the emphasis is on the personal involvement of our young writer with people. Since Jim himself is always on the move, the show must be on the move; for the confines of a Hollywood studio lot would certainly be at variance with the widely-differing locales of each episode.

Camera crews are currently circling the globe in search of suitable location sites for Postmark: Jim Fletcher. The initial film was shot in Newport, Oregon, a small logging and fishing village in the land of giant fir and redwood splendor. Contributing to the realism of this episode were hundreds of townspeople, recruited for the mob scenes. These scenes were apparently so authentic that

... a burly truck-driving logger, watching the mobs storm the jail, returned to his camp to gather up a few “brawlers looking for a good fight;”

... a woman motorist demanded that traffic police disperse the crowds;

... a man called the local fire department, speculating that police would need water hose reinforcements to halt the riot.

Clearly, authenticity will be a major “plus” factor in commanding the attention of TV viewers to this exciting series.


One quality common to all episodes of Postmark: Jim Fletcher will be impact. The initial script tells a compelling story of an attempt to lynch an innocent youth accused of murdering a little girl. The youth, a mental incompetent, admits taking the girl into the mountains, although then “losing his memory” and therefore being unable to recall exactly what happened. (It is only as a result of Jim Fletcher’s efforts that the girl is found alive and well, and the accused youth’s innocence is established.)

Told as a suspense story, in terms of action, this swift-moving episode is certain to attract huge numbers of viewers, and to encourage favorable word-of-mouth publicity for the show. Subsequent scripts give every indication of living up to the excitement of the pilot, and fast-paced stories that entertainingly combine suspense, romance and heartbreak insure the program an enormous impact on every segment of the viewing audience.

Exciting New Star

Jim Fletcher is played by one of Hollywood’s most sought-after young stars, James MacArthur. As the adopted son of Helen Hayes and reporter-playwright Charles MacArthur, Jim comes by his acting presence naturally, having been raised in a creative environment and exposed to the theatre all his life.
Jim made his stage debut at the age of eight [sic], portraying a Welsh boy in a revival of The Corn Is Green. By the time he was sixteen, he had appeared in a summer stock production of Life With Father, as well as countless television plays [sic].

His first leading role was as the sensitive adolescent in a Climax telefilm, Deal A Blow. Playing the same part in the subsequent motion picture version, released as The Young Stranger, he won immediate popularity and critical acclaim.

During the past five years, Jim has appeared in four phenomenally successful Walt Disney films: The Light in the Forest, Third Man on the Mountain, Kidnapped and The Swiss Family Robinson. He was most recently co-starred in The Interns; and will soon be seen in Spencer’s Mountain, a Warner Brothers production in which Jim co-stars with Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara, and To Be A Man, in which he appears with Rita Moreno and Van Heflin.

James MacArthur brings to Postmark: Jim Fletcher the excitement of a dynamic new star already known to tens of millions of home viewers. He is perfectly cast as the determined young writer, creating the role with strength and believability.

Outstanding Supporting Cast

Supporting MacArthur each week will be an outstanding cast of Broadway and Hollywood players. Appearing in the first episode are Noah Beery, Jr., Don Dubbins, William Bryant, Dean Stanton and Nelson Olmstead. Beery, of course, has been a Universal contract player for over a generation, appearing in a variety of roles.

In the only major continuing characterization aside from MacArthur, Warner Anderson {xref: Night of the Auk} brings authority and credibility to his role as Jack Stone, editor of Quest. Anderson has appeared in more than 50 motion pictures, including Destination Tokyo, Detective Story, A Lion Is in the Streets and The Caine Mutiny. A veteran radio and TV actor, he is a familiar figure to home viewers, perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Ben Guthrie in the long-running series, The Lineup.

Top Production Team

Writing and production crews for Postmark: Jim Fletcher will be headed by Andrew J. Fenady {xref: Ride Beyond Vengeance}, who scored most recently as producer of ABC-TV’s The Rebel. Fenady has been active theatrically most of his life, learning his trade in local radio while attending the University of Toledo. Since then, he has appeared on TV in Confidential File, doubling as actor and all-around production man. In Hollywood, he filmed Shakedown on Dope Street, a low budget but top-quality film that was sold to a major distributor and is still being shown.

An advocate of authenticity, Fenady maintains that “a scene must be believable. The action, the story most reflect the realistic mood to be acceptable to an audience.” Perhaps believability is the key to Fenady’s aims for Postmark: Jim Fletcher, for, as he observes, this is a show about real people, requiring real dialogue and real backgrounds.

Handling the direction of Postmark: Jim Fletcher will be Bernard McEveety {xref: Hawaii Five-O}, who started his career as an actor, then served his directorial apprenticeship by working under the late Cecil B. DeMille on such top films as The Ten Commandments and The Buccaneer. Always interested in new techniques, McEveety served as assistant director on the Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye White Christmas -- the first motion picture to utilize Vista-Vision -- and the Marlon Brando One-Eyed Jacks -- which was experimental in its use of close-ups.

Turning to television, McEveety became associated with Andrew Fenady in the filming of The Rebel, which won him complete directorial spurs. His most recent credits include such varied shows as The Untouchables, Empire and the Walt Disney series.

The team of Fenady and McEveety assure Postmark: Jim Fletcher of top professional know-how in every are of production. They will be assisted by a top-flight crew of creative and technical experts who will work hand-in-hand to make the new series the very best that television can offer.


Postmark: Jim Fletcher shapes up as a strong, forceful new half-hour dramatic series for the 1963-64 season. Dealing with a writer’s involvement in the basic tool of his trade -- namely, life itself, the new entry follows the travels of a determined young man, whose experiences provide never-to-be forgotten moments, both for himself and for the TV viewers vicariously sharing his adventures.

Postmark: Jim Fletcher bears the unmistakable trademark of the Screen Gems Production Company, pioneers in realistic telefilming. Screen Gems’ past record includes such authentically-filmed series as Naked City, Route 66 and Empire; and the new show will follow in this same successful vein.

With an exciting young star in James MacArthur, a seasoned co-star in Warner Anderson, a top creative team of production-scripting talent, and a panorama of colorful locales, Postmark: Jim Fletcher should rapidly establish itself as top action-drama. A quality program, it should attract all segments of the viewing audience, and provide quality audiences for virtually every type of television advertiser.

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Andrew Fenady

James MacArthur, Andy Fennedy

James MacArthur, Noah Beery, Jr., Don Dubbins

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

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