Michael Filerman, the popular and brilliant TV and Broadway producer, has passed away after a brief bout with cancer. Michael produced “Knots Landing” for 14 seasons on CBS, was involved through Lorimar Productions with “Dallas” and “Falcon Crest” and “Sisters.” He as 76.
He then went on to a hugely successful career on Broadway, where he produced “Cinderella” (now running) and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” More recently he had “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and “Blithe Spirit” on the boards.
Michael had a razor sharp unique sense of humor. He was very witty and loved good gossip. It was always a pleasure to talk to him.
It was a pleasure too for Michele Lee, who played Karen MacKenzie for 14 years on “Knots Landing.” She told me this morning that Karen was named for Filerman’s sister. The actress and producer met at a dinner party. “Michael called Jack Grossbart, whose house we were at, and said I found my Karen!” Lee recalled.
The two formed a lasting friendship that continued past “Knots” right until the end. Lee was one of the last friends to visit Filerman in the hospital, along with “Dallas” and “Knots” creator David Jacobs. “They were like the ying and yang,” Lee said. “David kept saying I want the show to be smart and intelligent. Michael would say I want commercial! They would meet in the middle, and that’s why it lasted. They loved each other.”
Lee noted that it was Filerman who brought Julie Harris to “Knots Landing.” She said, “They were long time friends.” But Filerman missed Harris’s recent memorial service because, unbeknownst to everyone, he was in the hospital. He also missed seeing his old cast. “The girls– Joan van Ark, Donna Mills–loved him,” Lee said.