The original screenplay of ‘The In-Laws’ was written by Andrew Bergman, who was known up to that point chiefly as one of the authors of the ‘Blazing Saddles’ screenplay (he was, in fact, the originator of the entire project but these things have a way of straying from their original roots). The director, Arthur Hiller, was a veteran filmmaker with a quite astonishing list of credits, given how little known or appreciated he currently is. ‘The Americanization Of Emily’, ‘The Out-Of-Towners’, ‘Love Story’, ‘Popi’, ‘The Hospital’, ‘Silver Streak’…add all of these to ‘The In-Laws’ and you have a seriously impressive body of work. (I met Hiller a couple of times at DGA functions–he was past President of the Guild–and he was gracious, modest and good humored in a way that nobody who’s directed that many complicated actors has any right to be). In 1979, in conjunction with the film’s release, Bergman and Hiller appeared on a local NBC affiliate show in southwest Texas, interviewed by the now-legendary (in a very local sort of way) Bobbie Wygant. Above is the interview, along with a two-minute tag where they shoot a close-up of Ms. Wygant asking the questions for later inter-cutting.
So who is Bobbie Wygant? Beginning her career at NBC5 in 1948, the local station at which she would spend her entire life, she became a Texas household name as a celebrity interviewer and co-host of the local affiliate’s Jerry Lewis Telethon (you know…when Jerry would take a Percodan break and they’d cut to the local station for ten minutes?) Ms. Wygant is still with us, age 96, and has curated a pile of her interviews on this website. She does a nice job with Hiller and Bergman, allowing them longish responses without undue interruptions and proving herself adept at occasionally poking at potentially sensitive areas–she wants Hiller to give up some dirt on Richard Pryor which the show-biz savvy director smoothly avoids. She does, however, lead Bergman down a potentially thorny path by asking how the film would have been different if it had been directed by Mel Brooks. The not-quite-as-savvy-as-Hiller writer takes the bait, soon sees where it’s potentially leading and runs back to first base before being trapped. All in all, a worthy finish to this weeks ‘In-Laws’ semi-deep dive.