Rod Serling, narrator for 1950s TV series The Twilight Zone, responding to the producer Herb Brodkin’s who said that Serling could either be commercial or be an artist, not both.
I remember the quote. I didn’t understand it at the time. I fail to achieve any degree of understanding in the ensuing years, which are three in number. I presume Herb means that inherently you cannot be commercial and artistic. You cannot be commercial and quality. You cannot be commercial concurrent with have a preoccupation with the level of storytelling that you want to achieve. And this I have to reject. I think you can be, I don’t think calling something commercial tags it with a kind of an odious suggestion that it stinks, that it’s something raunchy to be ashamed of. I don’t think if you say commercial means to be publicly acceptable, what’s wrong with that?
The essence of my argument, Mike, is that as long as you are not ashamed of anything you write if you’re a writer, as long as you’re not ashamed of anything you perform if you’re an actor, and I’m not ashamed of doing a television series… innate in what Herb says is the suggestion made by many people that you can’t have public acceptance and still be artistic. And, as I said, I have the reject that.Rod Serling, screenwriter for The Twilight Zone