The creator of Maverick was forced to change the pilot episode to keep him from collecting any royalties

Warner Bros. founder J.L. Warner would not allow any original ideas to be made into series.

The Everett Collection

Read to Me

The 1955-1962 series Cheyenne broke ground as TV’s first hour-long Western, but it didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. It followed a strapping hero roaming the post-Civil War American west who could take on anyone with his guns or his fists. After writing multiple Western novels (not to mention a few movies) then working on Cheyenne, Roy Huggins wanted to try something different.

Huggins talked to the Archive of American Television about how he felt. “To me, it was just a routine Western.” He continued, “I tried to tell adult stories, but I was still telling stories about a Western hero. And I kept saying to my close friends I wanted to do a series about a guy who was not a Western hero.”

Thus, the freewheeling, conflict-dodging Maverick brothers were born. If Cheyenne Bodie would bravely walk out the front doors of the saloon to face the gunslinger ready to shoot it out in the street, Huggins wanted a protagonist who would leave “out the rear window.”

Cheyenne soon became a success and the executives at ABC asked Huggins about other ideas he had for shows. He pitched his new unconventional idea and they loved it. He didn’t run into trouble until he turned in the pilot script to Warner Bros. Though the show would air on ABC, Warner Bros. was producing it.

The story, titled “Point Blank,” was about “a guy who turns in a girl he’s fallen in love with for the reward,” Huggins told the Archive. Warner Bros. wasn’t thrilled with the idea but more for contract reasons than anything creative.

Head honcho Jack L. Warner wouldn’t allow any original ideas to be made into shows because that meant the writer would receive royalties as the creator. At the time, the mandate was so rigid, Warner Bros. wouldn’t even move forward with pitches that networks like ABC wanted to air!

One way around this rule was to adapt intellectual property that Warner Bros. already had the rights to. “They owned a book called ‘The War of the Copper Kings,’” Huggins recalled. It was about the Montana mining company Anaconda Copper and how “a con man used an old, obsolete law to force Anaconda to pay him, probably, millions.”

Huggins thought that sounded exactly like something Bret Maverick would do so he used the book as the basis for the story that would eventually become the Maverick pilot “War of the Silver Kings.”

Because the first episode is technically an adaptation and not an original idea, Warner Bros. did not owe Huggins any royalties and he never received a “created by” credit for the series. Of course, he did alright for himself in the end. Huggins did officially “create” 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive and The Rockford Files among others. And the original Maverick pilot, “Point Blank,” did make it into the show, just as the series’ second episode instead of first.

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audie65 1 month ago
F5twister is just another one of those douche bag self righteous grammar police wanna be!! Everyone pleaze use bad speling and gramar to spite him!! And everyone attack him by making note of how only an asshole calls out people for spelling and grammar!! What a douche!!
Wiseguy audie65 1 month ago
If you're trying to prove what a moron you are, you've succeeded. Not only do you prefer to be an ignorant jerk but you've shown you are unable to learn what you were supposed to when you were ten years old. You're stupid enough to be a supporter of the last president.
audie65 1 month ago
F5twister is just another one of those self righteous grammar police douche bags!!! Attack him everyone!! Let's fry to tear these miserable old douche's a new one!!
MarkSpeck 1 month ago
I don't think Huggins got credit for creating 77 Sunset Strip.

Can't say I blame him for leaving Warner Bros. for a short stint running 20th Century Fox's TV division. I think he eventually got disgruntled there as well and left the company, as well as television overall briefly, to teach at Columbia University. When he left Fox, he also left a series idea behind in a desk to be abandoned. That concept, of a man falsely accused of murder roaming the old West in search of the real killer fell into ABC's hands. ABC in turn gave it to Quinn Martin, whose production company was financed by the network. They retooled it as The Fugitive, giving Huggins credit as creator. By that time, he had returned to television, this time working for Universal and producing Kraft Suspense Theater, the first of many credits for Huggins at Universal.
F5Twitster 1 month ago
“Of course, he did alright for himself in the end.”

You mean he did ALL RIGHT — two words. There is NO such word in the English language as “alright.”
MyrtleMae F5Twitster 1 month ago
Hmmm, "alright" is in my Webster's Collegiate dictionary.
Wiseguy MyrtleMae 1 month ago
"Alright" began as a misspelling of "all right." So many stupid people couldn't learn that it wasn't a real word that it began to be accepted. It's also in my dictionary (published in 1969) but it states that it's a "common misspelling." So why bother to use "alright" when you can easily use the correct words "all right"?
MaryHelen Wiseguy 1 month ago
your dictionary-- their are many-- nowhere in this one does it say it's a misspelling:
all right
/ˈˌôl ˈrīt/
adjective
adjective: alright

satisfactory but not especially good; acceptable.
"the tea was all right"
h
Similar:
satisfactory

acceptable
adequate
good enough
fairly good
fine
passable
reasonable
unobjectionable
suitable
OK
so-so
even ain't is in the dictionary incorrect as it may be and nowhere doe it say "incorrect"
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
Jack Warner was a sphincter?
I'm shocked.
SHOCKED.
Jack Warner--he convinced his brothers to retire and sell their shares of stock in the studio, saying he was going to do the same. Then he double crossed them and bought all of their shares! As a studio boss when you think nobody could get any lower, he found a door to the basement.
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Actually, I always heard that 77SS used an adaption of a movie script to once again deny Huggins royalties! And it didn't stop there: One early episode was clearly a knockoff of "Strangers On A Train", even to the point that a murder scene was framed exactly as Hitchcock did years earlier!
justjeff cperrynaples 1 month ago
If memory serves me correctly, I think MeTV mentioned at one time that there was a movie which acted as a "back door pilot" for what would become the TV series...
cperrynaples justjeff 1 month ago
Yep, that's how Jack Warner conned him twice! No surprise that Hitchcock NEVER did another film at Warner Brothers!
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