The A-Team, Frequently Asked Questions
SECTION II: BEHIND THE SCENES
WHO WERE THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SHOW 'BEHIND THE SCENES'?
The production crew changed somewhat from season to season. Below are listed
the "main players" behind the show starting with the first season, and what
changes were made for each of the following four seasons.
1ST SEASON PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Stephen J. Cannell:
Executive Producer. The man who started the show going.
He started as a story editor at the age of 26 (for the TV show "Adam 12," and
throughout the 1970s worked mostly as a staff producer at Universal. He would
become co-creator of "The Rockford Files," and was involved in several
successful shows such as "Black Sheep Squadron" and "Greatest American Hero"
before "The A-Team" was about. After "The A-Team," he had a number of other
hits in the mid and late 80s including "Riptide," "Hardcastle and McCormick,"
"Stingray," and "Wiseguy." Some of SJC's most recent projects have included a
novel entitled "The Plan" (now out in soft cover) and the TV show "Profit" on
FOX. He has also occasionally done some acting, including having a recurring
role as "Dutch Dixon" on another one of his shows, "Renegade." Currently, he
is now supposedly working on an A-Team feature film (more info in Section V.)
and has just released his second novel, called "The Final Victim."
Frank Lupo: Co-Executive Producer, long-time and frequent collaborator
with SJC on other programs including "Riptide" and "Wiseguy," creator of shows
including "Hunter" and "Werewolf." Was a writer for Glen Larson on programs
including "Battlestar Galactica" and "Magnum PI."
Jo Swerling, Jr.: Supervising Producer. Has been involved in the
production of many Cannell projects since the late 70s.
John Ashley: Producer. Was executive producer of Lupo's "Werewolf,"
also "Something is Out There."
Patrick Hasburgh: Producer. Started w/SJC as a story editor on
"Greatest American Hero," would later become an executive producer and
co-creator on "21 Jump Street" and "Hardcastle," creator of "Sunset Beat" and
"Glory Days." Executive producer of "Seaquest DSV."
Gary Winter: Associate Producer. Worked as Associate Producer on
"Battlestar Galactica" before joining the Cannell group.
Bradley B. Six: Director of Photography.. Would go on to work on series
including "Heart of the City," "Mike Hammer," and "The Bronx Zoo."
Craig R. Baxley: Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator. Director of
the feature films "Action Jackson" and "Come in Peace."
Mike Post & Pete Carpenter: Music. Mike's credits are extensive in
the TV scoring industry and has had a long-time history of working on Cannell
projects. A list of his credits include: "Profit" (1996), "NYPD Blue"
(1993), "Law & Order" (1990), "Quantum Leap" (1989), "Wiseguy" (1987),
"Hardcastle and McCormick" (1983), "Hill Street Blues" (1981)TV Series,
"Magnum P.I." (1980) and "The Rockford Files." (1974).
2ND SEASON PRODUCTION CHANGES:
John Ashley: becomes sole producer.
Richard Christian Matheson & Thomas Szollosi: Story Editors. Thomas's
writing credits include "The Incredible Hulk" and "Three O'clock High."
Richard was also involved in those two projects, as well as "Full Eclipse" and
the feature movie "Loose Cannons."
3RD SEASON PRODUCTION CHANGES:
Matthew N. Herman: Executive in Charge of Production.
Allan Cassidy & Gary Winter: Associate Producers.
Mark Jones: Story Editor. Would go on to work for Glen Larson and
produce the last season of "Knight Rider."
4TH SEASON PRODUCTION CHANGES:
Gary Winter: Executive in Charge of Post Production.
Steven Beers & Rob S. Bowman: Associate Producers. Rob now works on
Bill Nuss: Story Editor. Started working with Cannell first on
"Riptide," went on to become Executive Producer on "21 Jump Street,"
"Booker," and recently "Renegade." Is now executive producer of "Pacific
Frank Lupo: Executive Producer.
John Ashley: Co-Executive Producer.
5TH SEASON PRODUCTION CHANGES:
Tom Blomquist: Producer.
I NEED SOME BIO INFORMATION ON DIRK/DWIGHT/GEORGE/T/ETC.
Okay, here goes some brief bios:
Birthday: March 1, 1945. Height: 5'11"
Born DIRK NIEWOEHNER in Helena, Montana, grew up in White Sulphur Springs,
Montana. Father was a lawyer; spent much of his childhood outdoors, was a
good athlete and a straight-A student (although apparently he had problems
with arthritis (!) which caused problems including hair loss and skin
disorders). Went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington to major in
music, later changing his major to theater. Continued his schooling at a
professional acting school at Meadowbrook Theater, north of Detroit, for 2
years. Played in regional theater, appeared on Broadway in "Butterflies are
Free," where he met Gloria Swanson. His first movie was "Georgia, Georgia,"
co-starring Diana Sands, and he made his first TV appearance as a guest star
on "Hawaii Five-O." His first TV series was "Chopper One," which aired in
1974, then he got the part of Lieutenant Starbuck on "Battlestar Galactica" in
1978. In 1983 came "The A-Team." Dirk lists his interests as including
organic foods (he became a vegetarian in 1971, due to health problems), Far
Eastern religion, and 'balancing professional fulfillment with quiet,
nature-oriented contentment.' It was in 1975 that he was diagnosed with a
prostate tumor and went on a strict macrobiotic diet.
In 1986 he married his live-in girlfriend, actress Toni Hudson. They had
two sons together, George and Roland. They were recently (in 1995?) divorced,
and Toni has remarried. Dirk lives in Montana with his two sons.
Birthday: October 1, 1929. Height: 6'0'
Born in Detroit, Michigan, son of a building contractor and an opera singer.
Attended Dearborn High School, left school to serve in Marine Corps, was a
Sergeant. Held jobs including disc jockey, bank clerk, taxi-driver, and
motor-cycle mechanic before getting a degree in civil engineering. He went to
Perdue University and graduated Carnegie Mellon, also earning a degree in Fine
Arts. He then went to the Actors' Studio, going into stage work in New York.
His first acting was on the radio, and he made his stage debut in 1949 in the
Pittsburg Playhouse. Married for the 1st time in 1954 to Helen Davies, had
two children - Bradford and Julie. They were divorced in 1965. He then
married Elizabeth Ashley in 1966, whom he met on the set of "The
Carpetbaggers." They were divorced and remarried, finally getting divorced in
1972 after having one child, Christian. In that same year he appeared in the
pilot for the TV show "Banacek," which continued for 16 episodes.
In 1976, he married again to Sherry Boucher, an actress who was 20 years
younger than himself. In 1978 he attempted an unusual movie, entitled "Five
Days from Home," which he produced, directed, and starred in after mortgaging
his home to finance it. The film wasn't a success, so he went back to more
run-of-the-mill movies afterwards. Things did not go well for a while
following this: he missed an opportunity to have the starring role in a show
that would become "Dynasty" (he was supposed to have John Forsythe's role); he
divorced from Sherry in 1979; he had been drinking heavily for almost 30 years
by then. He finally started to turn around his lifestyle by taking up
hunting, jogging, and other sporting activities, moving to a smaller home and
giving up much of the Hollywood lifestyle he was used to. Financial
troubles continued, however, and he ended up working in touring theater
companies, including a production of "The Sound of Music." Then came the
offer of Hannibal Smith in "The A-Team," because Cannell wanted Peppard (even
though the studio didn't, given his troublesome reputation.) Around the same
time he met actress and painter Alexis Adams, who later became his last wife.
Birthday: November 24, 1947. Height: 6'2"
Full name is actually WILLIAM Dwight Schultz; he was born in Baltimore
Maryland, an only child of Irish-German parents (father was a postman, his
mother a telephone operator.) Attended grade school at the Shrine of the
Little Flower, then Calvert Hall High School, and then went to Townson State
University in Baltimore for a BA degree in Theatre Arts. Then was with the
Baltimore Theater Ensemble for 2 years. Worked primarily in theater before
"The A-Team." Had the lead role in "The Water Engine" for Joseph Papp's
Public Theater, which was such a hit the production moved to the Plymouth
Theater, which was Dwight's Broadway debut. Won the Drama-Logue Award for his
role opposite Charleton Heston in a revival of "The Crucifer of Blood," and
starred in other plays including Tom Stoppard's "Night and Day" (with Maggie
Smith). Has held odd-jobs including working for the New York bureau of pest
control, being a waiter and door-to-door salesman. In 1982 also had a major
role in the horror movie, "Alone in the Dark." (Which is actually a much
better movie than you might think, and has only this year been re-released on
video). Guest starred in "CHiPS" and "Hill Street Blues" before "The A-Team,"
and also appeared in the TV-movie "The Thin Ice," which co-starred Kate
Jackson. It's been said that it was Kate's influence that helped him get the
role of Murdock on "The A-Team."
Dwight is married to actress Wendy Fulton (wedding was in 1983), and has a
daughter (named Eva?). His interests include UFOs, jazz and hi-fi stereo
Birthday: May 21, 1952. Height: 5'11"
Born in the southside, ghetto area of Chicago as LAURENCE TUREAUD, T is the
second to youngest of twelve children (he has 4 sisters and 7 brothers).
Raised primarily by his mother in the housing projects, and encouraged to
build his body as much for survival as anything else. He attended Dunbar
Vocational High School, was a college football star, was awarded a scholarship
to Prairie View A & M University in Texas but was thrown out after a year.
Finished schooling in small colleges in Chicago, then became a military
policeman in the US Army. Was a body guard for about nine years, working for
such celebrities as Muhammed Ali, Michael Jackson, Dianna Ross, and Le Var
Burton, also working as a bouncer on the side.
Changed his name to Laurence Tero in 1970, and later to Mr. T so people would
HAVE to call him "Mister." Worked as a schoolteacher (gym) in 1975. Was
"spotted" by Sylvester Stallone in 1982 at the World's Toughest Bouncer
contest, who built up his role in "Rocky III" after meeting T. He has a
daughter, the result of a teenage love-affair with Phyllis Clark, and resides
Birthday:?. Height: 5'8"
Born in Indiana Head Park, Illinois, has three brothers. Spent much of her
childhood skateboarding and being a bit of a tomboy, although she was a
cheerleader in High School. After leaving school she worked in her father's
sewing-machine business, and married at age 19, moving to a town outside of
Chicago. Tried numerous jobs before giving modeling a try, moving to New York
and leaving her husband. After breaking into commercials, she moved to
California to try the TV/movie business. Did several guest spots and unsold
pilots before landing "The A-Team." Hobbies and interests include mysticism,
quilt making and paper mache.
Birthday: ?/?/62. Height: ?
From Hollywood; was supposedly selected from hundreds of actresses in an open
casting call for the role of "Tawnia" in "The A-Team. She was dating Wayne
Newton for a while around the same time.
WASN'T THERE ANOTHER ACTOR WHO PLAYED FACE IN THE FIRST EPISODE?
HAPPENED TO HIM?
Yes, Tim Dunigan played Face in the pilot episode. However, he was not SJC's
first choice for the role (Dirk Benedict was). The Network was not keen on
Benedict at the start, but after Dunigan's unimpressive performance (and the
fact that he looked much too young for the part), they agreed to go with
On an interesting side note, Dwight Schultz stated during his talk at Shore
Leave 17, July 1995, that he was almost axed halfway through the filming of
the pilot episode. The Network was "not happy" with what he was doing with
the role, and wanted Murdock written out of the show after the first batch of
episodes. However, audience testing after the pilot forced them to change
their minds, because Murdock received very positive feedback. So they ended
up "rewriting" him back into those early episodes (or letting Schultz ad-lib a
great deal in them because the script had given him very little to do.)
WHAT HAPPENED TO MELINDA CULEA (AMY) AND THEN MARLA HEASLEY
(TAWNIA)? WHY DID THEY GET DUMPED FROM THE SHOW?
The stories vary quite a bit on this, especially in regards to Melinda. It
seems quite definite that she did not get along well with Peppard right from
the start (he did not like her, for whatever reason.) There appeared to be no
other obvious animosity between her and the rest of the cast members, however
(in fact she was quoted early on saying "Dwight and I have become really
close...he's not macho at all.") However, it appears that somewhere along the
line she fell out of favor with the rest of the guys, and claims all four of
them ganged up on her and worked on the producers to dump her. The studio
claimed that Melinda was never meant to be a full- time cast member to begin
with. Tawnia (who, incidentally, was named after SJC's daughter) was
introduced to add a more "feminine" female character to the show, supposedly.
The fact that she lasted on the show for such a short time period (and the
general ill-opinion of her by the fans) proved that this move was probably a
bad one, so she was quickly married away and written out of the show by the
It has been theorized by some critics that until some of SJC's later
productions, he never was comfortable writing for female characters in his
shows. (Some people would claim that he still can't write good female
characters today). They argue that this is why eventually the idea of a
female side-kick for the Team was dropped by the 3rd season, although there
were definite plans to bring Tia Carrere on as a regular for the 5th season,
after "The Sound of Thunder." This idea never played through because of Tia's
problems getting out of a contract with another show she had been working on,
"Hospial." Also, with the radical changes that occurred in the show's format,
it seems the idea was dropped completely (we never learn what happened to
Tia's character - named, obviously, Tia - who was supposed to be General
Fulbright's Amer-asian daughter, who the Team brought back from Vietnam in
DIDN'T MR. T AND PEPPARD HAVE A BIG FALLING OUT ON THE SHOW?
Apparently there was a fair amount of strife on the set during the filming of
the episode "Judgment Day," the 4th season premiere. The stories as to what
happened are various but the basic goes as follows:
"While filming [Judgment Day]...aboard a cruise ship, Mr.
T, in the words of one source at the scene, became 'a little
screwy.' It seems that the air conditioning was aggravating
him, and he was already aggravated over a personal family
loss. He walked off the set (not on the water - he was
actually flown), then telephoned Cannell with a list of
demands. Cannell then, in his word, 'fired' T, who in turn
rescinded his demands and went back to the show. There
were other, less spectacular incidents - all, Cannell said,
'stuff that was going on that needed to get cleaned out and it
did.'" (From "Kicked Around, The A-Team Seeks Neilsen
Revenge," TV GUIDE, November 29, 1986.)
WHY DID THE SHOW CHANGE SO MUCH DURING THE 5TH SEASON?
A desperate attempt to boost the ratings. The changes were supposedly the
result of extensive "Market studies" conducted on the show, what people wanted
to see and what they thought about each of the characters. As can only be
expected, they appeared to get everything wrong. Most "real fans" did not
like the change in tone of the series (from comedic to mostly serious), the
new characters that were added (Eddie Velez was supposed to be a hot new "sex
symbol," but many people couldn't stand his character.) Many people didn't
like the character of Stockwell either, and found it difficult to believe the
Team would work for him at all.
WHY WAS THE SHOW CANCELED?
Very low ratings, plain and simple answer. It was almost not renewed for a
5th season in the first place, and then only conditionally for half a season.
The change in premise lost them many of the loyal fans they had left, reaching
only a high of 39th place for the episode "The Theory of Revolution," and a
low of 62 for "The Spy Who Mugged Me."
FAQ maintained and compiled by Nicole Pellegrini firstname.lastname@example.org
last update: 12-jan-97