Hawkeye Pierce the Star?

Talk about all things M*A*S*H -- the novel, the film, the television series, even the play. Not to mention the spin-offs, merchandise, cast, crew and anything else you can think of to talk about.
Post Reply
User avatar
townsbg
Sergeant
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:53 pm

Hawkeye Pierce the Star?

Post by townsbg »

I've wondered why/how he became the star. Any thoughts? Upon re-watching season 1 I looked for any signs as to why and nothing was noticeable yet clearly well before the season finale he was the primary character. Not everything yet revolves around him but he is clearly the favored character. I believe that he is the reason why Wayne Rogers left.

User avatar
Big Daddy O'Reilly
Colonel
Posts: 538
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 10:57 am
Location: The Swamp
Contact:

Re: Hawkeye Pierce the Star?

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly »

Well, Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe all have said that early on then, Alan Alda had such an impact on people with his performance as Hawkeye, and it was because of that impact that the writers did start to shift towards writing more for him than the other characters, including Trapper.

But that's not why Wayne Rogers left, granted he and Alan were, and still are, very good friends, it wasn't Hawkeye's dominance so much as it was they were basically not utilizing Trapper to the best of their abilities; Wayne's even made mentions of how he was basically sort of lied to about the character, there were so many fascets of Trapper's character that helped him stand out amongst the context of all the characters that were in the novel and the movie that were phased out on the show (originally, Trapper was supposed to be Chief Surgeon, and he was the one who specialized in thorasic surgery, not Hawkeye). Plus, there was also supposedly a contract dispute as well: Gene wanted Wayne to sign a contract that had a moral clause that said they could fire him if he did anything on the set that was morally reprehensible, and Wayne refused to sign the contract unless there was an equal close that said he could fire them if they did anything he found morally reprehensible... it became such a dispute that when Wayne announced that he was leaving after Season Three finished, Larry and Gene actually sued Wayne over the contract matter, so being legal-savvy that he is, Wayne counter-sued them over the same matter. The settlement? Well, Wayne basically put it this way: the judge asked to see the contract, they said there was no contract, so the judge basically said, "Then what are you doing in my courtroom? Goodbye".

I mean admittedly, Hawkeye and Trapper as characters were pretty interchangable as it were, and that's how they were meant to be, so that way, either of them could carry an episode as the "lead" and it wouldn't really matter (I think they had a similar setup regarding actors Vic Morrow and Ric Jason on Combat!, even their names were switched during the main titles, depending on who was the "lead" of the episode), but again, apparently Alan just had much more of an impact on the set than Wayne, so the writers basically wrote more for Hawkeye... and the thing to remember too, they didn't really have an actual writing staff that first season either: Larry wrote and was a script consultant, Laurence Marks (from Hogan) was also writing, but most, if not all, the writers that first year were freelancers who had been commissioned to write the scripts, so I guess nobody really knew what to do with any of the characters at first.

Post Reply