Skip to main content

NY Emmy® Nomination Announcement

Meet the Filmmaker: Harvey Chertok

Meet the Filmmaker: Harvey Chertok
“The Great Charlie Chan”
Date: Monday, February 22, 2010
Location: NY NATAS, 1375 Broadway, Suite 2103
Reception: 6:00-6:30 PM ~ Program: 6:30-8:00 PM
*Free to NY NATAS Members!
$15 for those without current membership
In 1931, 20th Century Fox (then known as the Fox Film Corp.) began production of what was to become Hollywood's longest-running series of films. All told, 47 Charlie Chan movies were produced by Fox and other studios. Chan was a fictional Chinese-American detective from the Honolulu Police Department who solved crimes around the world by summing up the facts with clever and witty quotes told to his Number 1 Son. Asian wisdom became American pop culture. The most famous actors who portrayed Chan were Warner Oland followed by Sidney Toler.

In the 1960s when movies began to be popular and important television programming, Warner Bros. (then Warner Bros.-Seven Arts) acquired from Fox the TV rights to a large library of its films including 21 of the “Best Of” the Chans starring Oland and Toler. These Chan movies were previously distributed to TV by other companies and were considered just a “throw-in” for the deal with Fox, and little was expected from the sales department. That’s when the “The Great Charlie Chan” documentary was born. Harvey Chertok, then WB’s VP, Advertising, Promotion, Publicity, and his associate Martha Torge took on a challenge and came up with a plan to make $1,000,000 with these Chan films. (That was considered a lot in the 1960s.) One day they made a chart to show how they would do it and presented it to the W7 CEO, Eliot Hyman, who smiled and nodded OK.

--“Long journey always start with one short step.”

The plan included a Charlie Chan Film Festival at the Museum Of Modern Art and the production of this documentary to kick-off this gala press event which included a First Class buffet of Chinese food in the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden. (What an evening!) From that moment on this documentary helped to launch WB’s series of 21 Chans on some 50 TV stations--and was also sold to Canada’s CBC as a Network Special.

--“With proper lever, baby's fingers can move mountains.

In addition, Chertok and Torge created a book for Golden Press—“Quotations From Charlie Chan”—which included Chan’s many famous quotes, and photos from the 21 films. And several stations bought quantities of the books to use for audience promotion. (The series’ sales goal was exceeded.)

--“When money talks, few are deaf.”

PLEASE RSVP VIA EMAIL or call 212-459-3630 ext. 200
Produced & Moderated by Sumner Jules Glimcher


Mon, Feb. 22, 2010
noon - 2 p.m.
(GMT-0500) US/Eastern


1375 Broadway, Suite 2103
New York, NY 10018