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Nov 13, 2016

MARGIE FRIEDMAN has produced hundreds of hours of non-fiction television and is now producing her own independent documentary films. Her film Conducting Hope profiles inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas who make up the only men's prison choir in the United States that performs outside prison walls. (41:21)




Many of the people I’ve worked with in the non-fiction TV business didn’t go to film school. I didn’t. But MARGIE FRIEDMAN did.

As Margie tells me in MARGE AND IN CHARGE, she did not find out until after she had applied just how selective the UCLA film and television program was (she was one of 19 applicants accepted that year). “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Margie says going to UCLA did three things for her. First, it confirmed that she wanted to be a writer, producer and director. Second, it gave her hands-on experience in telling a story visually. Her student film “The Beautiful Ones Aren’t Yet Born” won a Jim Morrison Film Award. (The Doors frontman also studied film at UCLA.) Third, and most important, a professor helped her get an internship at KABC News. Jerry Dunphy (“From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California, a good evening”) was the top anchor at Channel 7 back then. Dunphy, of course, is considered to be the inspiration for Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and Kent Brockman on "The Simpsons."

That newsroom internship turned into a paying job for Margie and she worked for 2 years at the station as an assistant to the consumer reporter assignment editor and working on the assignment desk. After 2 more years as a planning editor working at KNXT (now KCBS), Margie decided she didn’t want to make local news her career.

Talk shows became a big part of Margie’s life over the next several years, 7 of them spent on “Hour Magazine” with Gary Collins. Lots of celebrity interaction on that show. Mike Wallace and Bette Midler were just 2 of the celeb segments that Margie produced on the daily syndicated show. But her very favorite was Mary Martin. Margie brought her childhood “Peter Pan” album to the studio that day and asked the Broadway star to sign it – the only autograph she’s ever asked for.

Another big MM came into Margie’s professional life later on: Mickey Mouse. Her former boss from “Hour Magazine” convinced her to move to Orlando for a couple months to help him get “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” up and running. But 2 months turned into 2 and a half years before Margie finally said “M-I-C … See you real soon.” Plenty of fond memories, though, including working with Mouseketeer Keri Russell who’s all grown up now and starring in “The Americans."

And what’s Margie up to these days? After getting paid to write and produce hundreds of hours of television, she’s now producing her own independent documentary films. Her first doc is called “Conducting Hope” and it’s an inspiring look at the only men’s prison choir in the United States that performs outside prison walls. Having filmed in prisons in 20 states myself, I really enjoyed talking with Margie about this particular project and the inmates she profiled.

Margie’s now busy with another film called “Orchestrating Change,” which is about the world’s first orchestra made up of musicians with mental illnesses and those who support them.



Many thanks to the composer of the music featured in this episode royalty free through Creative Commons licensing:

1. "Bright Wish" by Kevin MacLeod

2. "Odyssey" by by Kevin MacLeod

3. "Eternal Hope" by Kevin MacLeod 

Visit Kevin MacLeod's website at: