The Wolper Organization’s greatest achievements are in the arena of longform television. After creating the miniseries, The Wolper Organization mastered the art of longform, creating some of the most acclaimed and highest rated programming of all time. Roots (1977, ABC), a 12-hour miniseries tracing Alex Haley’s ancestry, and Roots: The Next Generation (1978, ABC) a 14-hour miniseries that concludes Alex Haley’s story, are the two highest rated programs in television and won a total of 11 Emmys. The Thorn Birds (1983), a 10-hour miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain won six Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes and is still among the top ten most watched programs in Television history. In 1985 and 1986, The Wolper Organization produced North and South for ABC, a 24-hour miniseries based on John Jakes’ best-selling novels about the friendship between a Northern industrial family and a Southern plantation family prior to and throughout the Civil War. In 1994, the saga continued in the six-hour miniseries for ABC, Heaven and Hell. Alex Haley’s saga was revisited in Roots Christmas: Kunta Kinte’s Gift (1988, ABC), and in the four-hour miniseriesQueen (1993) for CBS. Staring Halle Berry, Danny Glover, Martin Sheen, Anne-Margret and Ossie Davis, Queen chronicles the story of Alex Haley’s paternal grandmother.
In addition to such event programming, The Wolper Organization has produced numerous movies for television including The Court-Martial of Lt. William Calley (1974); Collision Course: Truman Vs. MacArthur (1975); Victory at Entebbe! (1976), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas; Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy (1982, CBS); The Betty Ford Story (1987, ABC) which won an Emmy for star Gena Rowlands; Murder in Mississippi (1989, NBC) starring Tom Hulce;When You Remember Me (1990, ABC), starring Ellen Burstyn; Dillinger (1990, ABC), starring Mark Harmon; A Bed of Lies, starring Susan Dey; and Marina’s Story, starring Helena Bonham Carter, which chronicled the life of Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife.
In the late 1990s, the Wolpers produced A Will of Their Own, the sweeping story of women’s progress in 20th century America, and To Serve and Protect, a contemporary look at three generations of Texas Rangers, both for NBC. The Wolper Organization transformed the fantasy bestseller The Mists of Avalon into an epic TNT miniseries starring Julianna Margulies, Anjelica Huston, and Joan Allen. In the hands of director Uli Edel (Last Exit to Brooklyn), this $20 million production handsomely conjures up the mystical Isle of Avalon as it retells the Arthurian Legend from a female perspective. The project garnered 9 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries as well as Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie nods for both Huston and Allen.
Two distinctive Wolper projects aired in 2004. In May, Wolper produced writer/director John Gray’s compelling re-interpretation of Vincent Bugliosi’s harrowing book, Helter Skelter, based on Bugliosi’s account of prosecuting the Charles Manson murders. In June, TNT aired the four-hour adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, adapted by Peter Filardi (Flatliners) and starring Rob Lowe – the highest rated longform on cable this year, in a debut that beat the major networks in the ratings. In 2005, Wolper produced Snow Wonder, a magical and romantic Christmas movie, written by Rodney Vaccaro, and produced for CBS with Created By and Ragna Nervik. For NBC, Mark Wolper produced a remake of the Rankin-Bass Christmas classic The Year without a Santa Clausinto a live-action holiday event for December 2006. Most recently, a remake of the 1976 film Sybilwas produced for CBS.