ED- The Eerie Digest is truly humbled in being able to interview, and introduce, Producer Robert F. Campbell to all of our readers. Robert, you are one of the most well-known producers in television today, and have given us many episodes of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ . To date you have produced twenty-three episodes and co-produced another seventeen from 2000- 2003, and wrote another 15 episodes between 2000-2001. Between 2002-2003 you again wrote another thirteen episodes. This is quite an accomplishment ! Please tell our readers all about your role in these productions.
RFC- The numbers you mentioned may be wrong, but, it was a lot of episodes.
ED- Robert, we have many students that follow The Eerie Digest in hopes of learning the ins and outs of television and film. We also have many aspiring actors and writers that also look to our magazine for the same purpose. Please tell us how you began your career and how you chose this profession.
RFC- I was graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and became a print writer in Philadelphia and New York. Later I became a head writer and wrote a motion picture that was sold overseas. After that I wrote for the Robert DeNiro TV Series, ‘Tribecca’ and the Dick Wolf show ‘Deadline’. About that same time, I became a producer-writer for the TV Series “Law and Order SVU.” I currently have a motion picture in pre-production. Students and young people starting out should remember, it’s all a matter of hard work, perseverance, who you happen to meet, and the friendships you make along the way. You never know who will help you in your career….that P.A. on your shoot may end up becoming an Executive Producer or even become head of a studio . My advice is to be kind, professional and treat everyone you come in contact with alike.
RFC- From my earliest days in Elementary school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Nothing else appealed to me. I was particularly inspired by the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” about a young writer in New York and so I knew that I had to move there. Actually, that’s where I made most of my connections.
ED- We also learned that you have written a number of the productions as well. Can you tell us about this aspect of the show?
RFC- Most TV writers are also producers, involved in every aspect of the production from casting, to the table read with the actors, to editing.
ED- Please tell us about your interaction with the actors in the show.
RFC- On SVU, the Producers/Writers were present in New York at the casting, even though the show is written in L.A. After that, the cast reads the script out loud at the table read. Sometimes, there are rewrites. It’s a collegial process. I particularly enjoyed working with Mariska Hargitay and Richard Belzer who had a great sense of humor and laughed at my line, “Baby, now you may dialogue”, saying it was the best line of the season, as well as Chris Maloney, who was very friendly. I also enjoyed working with guest stars, Lois Smith in “Competence” as well as actor, Henry Winkler, who we all know best as “The Fonz.”.
ED- Please tell us about the different cast members that you worked with.
RFC- SVU is written and edited in Los Angeles. It is shot and cast in New York City and involves long hours and many takes. The actors often work from early morning to near midnight, then start over again the next day. I was impressed by their professionalism and stamina’.
ED- Please tell us about your great relationship with Dick Wolfe and all his award winning series.
RFC- Dick is a TV icon. A pioneer in the procedural crime drama. He was involved in every aspect of the program, yet delegated responsibilities.
ED- We also understand that you wrote another of Dick Wolfe’s projects, ‘Deadline’, in 2001. Please describe this production and the theme behind it.
RFC- “Deadline: was a TV series about a newspaper reporter,
ED- Who are some of the actors who played roles in this project?
RFC- Oliver Platt played the reporter, and Bebe Neuwirth was the editor.
ED- I understand that you also worked on Robert DeNiro’s project, ‘Tribecca’. Please tell our readers all about this production.
RFC- It was an anthology crime series set in the Tribecca area of Manhattan and starred Joe Morton. Larry Fishburn was among the guest stars. The executive producer was David Burke who was the executive producer of “Wise Guys” and SVU and the creator of “Crime Story”, UNSUB, and other hit shows. Actually, David and I go way back and wrote and sold our first screenplay to German producer, Manfred Derniak, back in New York, when we were quite young. I met David, while working on another show. We’d work all day, then head to his house after work and write all night, and on weekends. Anyone who tells you that you can’t hold a full-time job and be a real writer doesn’t know what he is talking about.
ED- Recently you have worked on the production of Muriel Campbell’s comedy web-series, ‘Pink Slip’. Please describe this project and your hopes for it.
RFC- “Pink Slip” is a fashionista, gender-bending, romantic comedy web series. My wife, Muriel Campbell, wrote, produced and directed the series. It captures the spirit of the times. Although, I was the executive producer, my main job was to get out of my wife’s way and make sure the crew and actors got fed. Nobody went home hungry, except a few vegetarian actors who did not specify their needs…that will be rectified in the future..
ED- What other projects are you working on for the near future?
RFC- I have a film in pre-production and a holiday movie in the pipeline.
ED- Robert, it has truly been an honor in being able to present you to our many readers. So many of them will hopefully gain the confidence that your career has inspired. We want to thank you for your time and hope to hear more from you in the years to come.