‘Maverick’: Why Show Creator Roy Huggins Was Forced to Change the Pilot Episode

by Joe Rutland

When Roy Huggins created “Maverick” for ABC, he’d already mapped out the pilot episode. Huggins was forced to change it by a studio mogul.

Here’s how it all went down according to Huggins in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. It happened based on a decision from Warner Bros. Chairman Jack L. Warner.

“(Producer) Bill Orr asked me to come in and said, ‘Roy, we can’t use that script you wrote,'” Huggins said. He said he wrote the story, but Howard Brown was the scriptwriter for the “Maverick” pilot.

‘Maverick’ Creator Was Going to Be Denied Royalties for Writing Script

“I said, ‘Why not?'” Huggins replied. “He (Orr) said, ‘If we use it, you will have royalties and J.L. Warner gave me instructions that if I did anything that would ever give a writer a royalty on a series they were doing I would be fired.'”

Huggins said Orr told him that the only way Warner Bros. could do “Maverick” with him was to base the pilot on something the studio already owned.

“I said, ‘Bill, ABC already has said they want it. Are you telling me that to avoid paying me…$500 an episode, that you are going to deny ABC a series they’ve expressed this tremendous enthusiasm for?” Huggins said.

“‘Roy, I have to,'” Huggins explained was Orr’s answer. “‘J.L. isn’t going to listen to what you just said. He’s going to say no.'”

So he changed the pilot. By the way, “Maverick” ran for five seasons and featured James Garner as Bret Maverick and Jack Kelly as Bart Maverick. Roger Moore, who would go on to play James Bond, and Robert Colbert also appeared on the show.

Huggins, who also was a prolific author, died on April 3, 2002, at 87 years old.

Original James Bond Was Looked at for Role on Western

We mentioned earlier that Roger Moore played Beau Maverick. Obviously, Moore would go on and be one of a handful of actors to play Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

But the first James Bond was, of course, Sean Connery. Did you know that Connery, not Moore, was the first choice to play Beau?

It’s true, “Maverick” fans.

Connery biographer Michael Feeney Callan said in a MeTV.com article, “(Connery was) offered long-term television contracts for ‘Maverick’ and ‘Wyatt Earp.’ Those proposed deals were modest, but either would have guaranteed him the permanent access to Hollywood he sought.”

In fact, producers flew Connery specifically in and talked with him. Connery turned down the role. Callan said Connery felt like he would be short-selling American viewers. Also, he wanted to stay close to his girlfriend, Diane Cilento.

Well, that would open the door for Moore to play Beau Maverick. Quite a small world, huh.