‘Gilligan’s Island’ Creator Sherwood Schwartz Discussed the Scary Power of Television

by Taylor Cunningham

After the Coast Guard received a slew of letters asking soldiers to head off and save the passengers of the S.S. Minnow, Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz realized that television has a “scary” power over audiences.

During an Archive of American Television clip, famed producer Sherwood Schwartz shared a memory of reading hundreds of letters that the US Coast Guard had received shortly after Gilligan’s Island premiered. In them, people pleaded with the military to find the castaways and bring them home.

Obviously, it was odd that so many people thought that Gilligan and his friends were actually stuck on a desert island.

“Who did they think was laughing [in the background] at what was happening to these people?” asked Schwartz. “Where did they think the music came from? And the commercials?”

“Television has such a power,” he said on the matter.

According to Sherwood Schwartz, that wasn’t the only time audiences have believed that a fictional series was real. In those days, when a soap opera character had a baby, fans would send gifts to the actor and congratulate them for the new bundle of joy “like it really happened.”

“There’s a belief factor that’s incredible in television. And it’s not true in any other medium,” he continued. “Scary. Really scary.”

Director James Gunn Pitched a ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Movie that invoved Cannibalism

Director James Gunn once pitched a twisted Gilligan’s Island revival film, but he couldn’t get the movie off the ground.

The original idea came from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. In the 1990s, he penned a script that revived the original plot. But in a twist, the castaways turn to cannibalism after their food sources run out. However, creator Sherwood Schwartz was adamantly opposed to the idea.

Over two decades later, James Gunn pitched the idea a second time, but the estate of Schwartz once again shot it down.

On social media, the director shared his idea hoping to get more people interested in the concept.

“Pitch a movie with two pictures, no caption,” Gunn tweeted. The pictures showed a photo of the original Gilligan’s Island cast next to an old depiction of cannibalism.

“A true story: In the late 90’s screenwriting GOAT Charlie Kaufman pitched a movie version of Gilligan’s Island where the islanders, starving & desperate, started killing & eating each other. Warner Bros wanted to do it – but Sherwood Schwartz, the creator, said no way,” he continued.

“After Guardians I tried to resurrect the idea & wanted to direct. It seemed Warners & Charlie were interested but, this time, the estate of the late Sherwood Schwartz nixed it. Anyway, if the Schwartz estate changes their mind, I’m here,” Gunn wrote.