Goddard Conan Show

Part 2: King Kandy and The Man Who Must Break You

John Weems: From a very early stage, we were of course talking about and thinking about the idea of a movie. You know, looking back it seems so odd. Because now it feels as though every movie is based on some kind of Marvel character. But back then, there was a resistance on the part of the studios. The feeling was that this is just a cheese ball toy line for kids. This would never work.

Tom Kalinske: It was the same sort of thing that we’d been told when we first had the idea of doing a TV show.

Joe Morrison: So we had started to look at different things and then Ed Pressman was introduced to us. Ed had always done really independent things as a producer [ranging from things like Das Boot to Conan the Barbarian]. Some very successful films. So he was an interesting guy. And his brother ran a company called Pressman Toys, which was one of the biggest gaming companies back then. So Ed came down to talk to us and he said, “Let me go shop this.” And so eventually we let him do that.

Gary Goddard: I don’t remember how I heard about it, but somehow I had heard that Ed Pressman was looking for a director for Masters of the Universe. So I called him up, introduced myself and told him about some of the things I’d worked on.

Tom Kalinske: Gary had done all sorts of different things. Never directed before, not a movie at least, but I believe he was responsible for one of those big, live shows over at Universal Studios. Conan The Barbarian, if I’m not mistaken.

Gary Goddard: Yup, I was hired by Universal Studios to do their Conan show. I think I was 25 at the time and had been at Imagineering before that. I was there—as an Imagineer at Disney—at a very unique window in time. Working with all of the original guys that designed Disneyland and then Disney World. But there were only about 24 people in show design, of which me and two other guys were the under-30 guys. “The Kids,” as we were called by the others. That was a great job. We basically designed all of the attractions, content and shows for all of the EPCOT and WORLD SHOWCASE attractions. There were draftsmen and architects and the MAPO team, but at the core 24 guys did all the creative work. We also worked on the beginnings of Tokyo Disney, as well as new attractions for Disneyworld and Disneyland. Like I said, it was a great job But a couple years after I had left Disney, I got this call from Peter Alexander at Universal. He called and said he was planning this CONAN attraction—he said Rolly Crump at Imagineering had recommended me—and he had heard that I was the guy. So I went over and met with him and we—me and my new company, Gary Goddard Productions—wound up creating the show, conceptualizing it, writing the script, directing it, producing it everything and that was a very cool show. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but it was pretty groundbreaking.

Tom Kalinske: So he had a lot of expertise in that space, but he also had experiences in the toy industry as well.

goddard king kandy

Gary Goddard: One little known thing about me is that I created the Candyland characters for the Candyland board game for Milton Bradley. [laughing a bit to himself] Yup, yup, I’m King Kandy. When you play that, I’m King Kandy. And Tony Christopher [his business partner at the time] is Lord Licorice. And Rebecca Mills—who was our character designer—that’s Princess Lolli. Every single character there was designed after one of the people that was working for my little company at the time.

Goddard had founded his company—Gary Goddard Productions—in 1980. From a small office complex on Sunset Boulevard, his group offered a versatile set of experience; from hospitality design to live entertainment.  

Gary Goddard: Back in 1982, I think, Mattel was looking for creative consultants so they brought us to help with a project that we had created. They were going to do a gigantic toy line that promoted reading called The Peanut Butter Papers. Sadly the Chairman who had initiated that project passed away the following year, and our project entered a twilight zone and nothing ever happened with that. But it led to us consulting on other things.

Joe Morrison: I had done a lot of work with Gary. Over the years, he had presented Mattel a bunch of different ideas that were quite good.

Gary Goddard: Meanwhile, as I had mentioned earlier, I knew that Ed Pressman was looking for a director so I called him up and told him that I’d directed the Conan show. And so he went with David Odell [who had written a script for Masters of the Universe] to see the Conan show and then called me back and said, “Okay, we get it. Let’s meet.” So we met. I read the script and he goes, “I’m a big believer in first time directors and I think you can do this. But I have to be honest: Mattel needs to approve the director. They have approval rights. So I can’t guarantee anything.” And I looked at him and said, “I don’t think you’re going to have a problem with that.” He was, of course, a little surprised by this, but I knew that Mattel knew I understood their brands and their characters.

Joe Morrison: I felt that Gary could do a good job on it. So we gave him, you know, our endorsement.

Tim Kilpin: Joe was good friends with Gary Goddard. So Gary was a known entity to the guys at Mattel. So it had as much to do with Gary’s background as it did the sense that Mattel knew and could trust Gary.

John Weems: There was a trust level there. We had a lot of faith in Gary.

dolph rocky

Gary Goddard: Mattel had two approvals on the movie. The director and the actor playing He-Man. And they’d already approved Dolph Lundgren, so he was part of the package when I signed on.

Joe Morrison: The decision to go with Dolph came from when they were doing the financing and figuring out how much they could pay and what they could do. He was, I think, a reasonably price alternative.

John Weems: And Dolph Lundrgren was hot after Rocky.

Gary Goddard: He was a big, big…I wouldn’t say “star,” but he was a big celebrity because of his turn in Rocky. And he was selected because he looked like He-Man

John Weems: Exactly like He-Man! So I think everybody knew he looked great…but could he act?

Gary Goddard: After I became director, Ed Pressman set up a meeting with Dolph. At his house, I think. It was fine, it was a first meeting. Dolph’s very personable, he has a great face—I knew that he was gonna photograph well—but then he started talking and in my mind I was thinking: uh-oh. As he was speaking, I was thinking: wow, we’re gonna have some issue with him speaking with lines. Because his English…remember, in Rocky he only says one line: “I must break you.”

masters-of-the-universe-DI

Lillian Glass: I first worked with Dolph on Rocky IV. He had a very thick Swedish accent, so we worked on kind of Americanizing his accent to get him more roles in Hollywood. And he did great. He was a phenomenal person and a phenomenal client. Dolph is just an awesome human being.

Gary Goddard: Look, Dolph worked hard. He had a great work ethic. He put in the hours. He had an acting coach, a dialogue coach and all that stuff. But my one frustration was that he was so new to everything, coming off of Rocky, and he looked at Stallone—as a director, writer, actor, everything—and he really emulated him, I think.

Lillian Glass: From the very first moment that Dolph walked into my office, you could just tell that he had “it.” He had something special. And the reason I know that is by working with so many people who did have it. I worked with Dustin Hoffman for Tootsie; I taught him how to sound like a woman. I worked with Sean Connery, Marlee Matlin—I taught her how to speak for the Academy Awards—and I just worked with Caitlin Jenner, teaching her how to be more feminine in her communications. The list goes on and on. And working with so many superstars and talented people in so many fields—you know, I’ve worked with actors, politicians, athletes—and you really know after working with all these winners who’s got “it” and who doesn’t.

Gary Goddard: Dolph did a credible job. And he worked hard. But I don’t think it’s any secret that I did go to producer and I did try to get them to let me use another actor to dub him. But they felt that they were already paying all this money for Dolph Lundgren so they wanted Dolph Lundgren. Anyway, Ed was happy because he now had his approved director and he could now go make his movie. So Ed went to Warner Bros. and they said they would make it, but only at $15 million and Cannon said they would do it at $17.5 million. So he went with them. And…uh…the saga began.

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