Semper Fi Home
Facts Behind the Story
Semper Fi--Thoughts on the Production
When NBC decided to pass on Semper Fi as a series, it nearly broke my heart. And that doesn't consider how badly the Marine Corps and Cadre member Freddie Joe Farnsworth felt about the decision. The network suits just never saw Spielberg's vision and no amount of talking could keep them from looking at the mediocre ratings for the pilot as a basis for canceling the project. Steven Spielberg called me when the decision was announced and said: 'They just didn't get it.' He was dead right but I think we may have shot ourselves in the foot a bit on this one.
Because of the mystique and legends surrounding Marine recruit training, it was decreed that we needed to start the series pilot there. Seemed logical at the time...but it brought us problems with what's reality versus what is perceived by the public. Audiences expected roaring, snorting, fire-breathing DIs and the Corps - understandably - was not about to let us put that sort of Old Corps stuff on film. They wanted Mr. And Mrs. America to see that the Corps did not eat recruits for breakfast as a matter of course regardless of the rumors that Marine vets had been circulating for decades. We ended up with a watered down version of what the network suits expected, I reckon.
Blame me for this one. I should have seen the problem and recommended starting with our cast perhaps on graduation day from recruit training. Get them out into the Fleet Marine Force and let the relationships build in a less confining and restricting environment. Unfortunately, I was working on Band of Brothers in England when shooting started on Semper Fi and was unable to influence events much from a distance. Hindsight is, of course, twenty-twenty.
All things considered, the failure of Semper Fi to make the network schedule and develop into the fascinating show it could have been, is likely my greatest ShowBiz professional disappointment.