Could some related influence come from Hollywood?
My business is a disaster in this area. There’s no interest at all. I tried to sell a pilot that dealt with climate change this year. Not one network would go near it.
Wouldn’t go near it.
And was climate change very central to it?
It took place in 2085. It existed in a world that had been utterly transformed by climate change; climate change was everywhere. It was called “Storm World.” In the opening scene, you have a guy in his kitchen in New York City, and he’s looking out the window and you are seeing the beautiful trees and a nice vista; he does a little gesture and all of a sudden the window changes to what’s actually outside – a Category Four hurricane. A giant branch hits the window and bounces off because everything is reinforced.
Basically, they just live in storms all the time. And it just goes on from there. In the show, by 2085, 25 million Americans had to be removed from where they lived because where they lived had been inundated, and so they set up what they called “The Territories” in the West. Most of the Dakotas and Utah had been turned into, essentially, refugee camps for 25 million people to live because there was no other place for them. And these were Americans. This displacement had completely messed up the economy and the politics of America.
So the show was essentially trying to say: this is what is going to happen if we don’t change, that’s the world we are going to live in. The story itself was somewhat of a melodrama. It was using climate change as the background.
And why do you think none of the networks would go near it?
Because they are not in the business of making people mad. In other words, they are trying to maximize their audience, and this is still very polarizing in the country. I think they feel that for a lot of people, it’s a turn off.
Among the people you work with, is there a general awareness and a sense of urgency? Is it just that they don’t want to offend the parts of the country that are still anti climate action? Or, is it an issue that is not on the minds of most people who are working in the industry?
It’s very much on people’s minds. I just think they feel powerless, they don’t know what to do about it. I feel like I’ve been more active than any of my friends, and I feel powerless at this point.
Herskovitz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a Jewish family, the son of Frieda (née Schreiber) and Alexander Herskovitz. Herskovitz attended Brandeis University, graduating in 1973. He entered the AFI Conservatory in 1975, where he and Edward Zwick first met.
He frequently collaborates with Zwick, with whom he runs the film and television production company The Bedford Falls Company, named for the fictional town in the classic film It's A Wonderful Life. Their most recent project is the film "Love and Other Drugs". In 2007 Herskovitz ventured into the world of broadband production with the original series Quarterlife, which debuted on MySpace and a dedicated social network also called "quarterlife". It garnered enough views to be picked up by NBC and aired in 2008, but was quickly canceled.
Since May 2005, he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post. Herskovitz was featured in The Dialogue interview series. In this 90-minute interview with journalist Jay A. Fernandez, he delves into the mediocrity of the industry, the voices that writers hear in their heads and why it's best to write first and ask questions later.
Herskovitz served as president of the Producers Guild of America from 2006–2010.
He was married to screenwriter Susan Shilliday from 1981–1993. They have two daughters.
Herskovitz married photographer Landry Major in 2015