University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 6, No. 1/1996
Scripts win Showtime spot

     Not too many University graduates with degrees in plant
science end up in Hollywood with the likes of actor William
Shatner of Star Trek fame starring in a script they wrote. But,
that's exactly what happened to Rodman Gregg, Delaware '75.
     The Prisoner of Zenda Inc., written by Gregg and starring
Shatner, aired on Showtime cable TV in September. But, Gregg's
journey from plant science major at the University to
scriptwriter/producer was not an easy one.
     A few years after graduating, Gregg found himself looking
for a change. He had worked for awhile as a manager at Southern
States Cooperative in Rising Sun, Md. In 1979, he came back to UD
for a teaching certificate in agriculture, which landed him a job
at a vo-tech school in Salem County, N.J.
     "Things were getting pretty stale," Gregg says. "What do you
want to do, Rod," he asked himself.
"I've always loved the movies; why not give it a try?" So, in
1980, Gregg packed up and headed for Hollywood.
     His story is hardly one of overnight success. "I promptly
found myself bagging groceries," he recalls. It was during those
lean years that Gregg came up with an idea that eventually did
give him success and some recognition, a book entitled Who's Who
in the Motion Picture Industry.
     "When I first went out there, I wanted to know who the key
players were. I would sneak onto the lots and look at the names
on the doors and read the trade papers."
     Gregg published the first edition of Who's Who in 1982; it
lost money. But, the next year, Columbia Pictures took out a full-
page ad. The year after that, Paramount followed suit. Fourteen
years later, Who's Who has become an industry standard.
     The book helped open the door to his next move-enrolling in
the American Film Institute (AFI), considered the premier film
school in the country. Knowing that admission can greatly help
one's career, Gregg was persistent, applying three times for the
one-year program, before being accepted in 1985.
     At AFI, Gregg learned what he called "the nuts and bolts" of
producing, the area of filmmaking he wanted to pursue, and he got
a chance to meet some Hollywood celebrities, including Barbra
     The producer has one of the most nebulous roles in
filmmaking, Gregg says, doing everything from raising funds to
putting together the projector. "Traditionally, the producer is
the guy who makes it happen," he says. The director, on the other
hand, is almost exclusively concerned with the actual filming
     After graduating from AFI, Gregg worked on producing low-
budget films. "It was a job and I was happy, but it wasn't big-
time movie-making," he explains. Then, he established a
production company, O'Hara/Gregg Films, with a friend; and,
although they came close to landing a few feature films, nothing
ever panned out. While working at the Showtime network as an
attorney's assistant, Gregg gained valuable experience with film
contracts before establishing his current company, Meridian
     His writing talent then paid off, as Showtime decided to
shoot one of his scripts, Prisoner of Zenda Inc., and,
importantly, actor William Shatner liked the script so much that
he did it for a third of his usual salary. Borrowing loosely from
David O. Selznick's classic Prisoner of Zenda, the production
stars Shatner as an evil uncle who has his nephew, heir to the
Zenda Co.'s fortune, kidnapped, only to have him reappear as a
look-alike double.
     Showtime also is producing Gregg's script, My Fair Lacy.
This script turns on a bet made by two upper-class, jock-type,
high school boys that one of them can turn Lacy, a 16-year-old
girl from the wrong side of the tracks, into a gymnast. Gregg
won't tell more, other than to say the film has a Hollywood "feel
good" ending.
     Gregg is part of a UD legacy family, including his father,
Rodman I. Gregg, Delaware '51, a retired engineer, brother David,
Delaware '79, and sister Cheryl, who attended the University in
                                  -Rich Campbell, Delaware '86