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April 10, 1984

THE NEW YORK TIMES
TV Reviews; 'Killing Floor,' American Workers
By John J. O'Connor

PUBLIC TELEVISION'S ''American Playhouse'' series is stretching its acquisition boundaries a bit further these days in an effort to flesh out a full season. Tonight's presentation on Channel 13 at 9 o'clock is ''The Killing Floor,'' a two-hour film that is really a pilot for a proposed separate series about American workers.

The idea has been developed over several years by Elsa Rassbach, who, while working at Boston station WGBH-TV for several years, was part of the team that started ''Nova.'' ''The Killing Floor'' is a project of Public Forum Productions, an independent company that Miss Rassbach founded in 1977.

At the heart of ''The Killing Floor'' are the early efforts, taking place from 1917 to 1919, to unionize Chicago's giant meat-packing companies. With American soldiers marching off to World War I, there suddenly were jobs for those left behind - most notably, immigrants from Europe and poor black sharecroppers from the South. Among the sharecroppers were Frank Custer and Thomas Joshua, two young men who decided to seek a better life ''up North.'' The teleplay, written by Leslie Lee from a story by Miss Rassbach, is based on actual events and the names of the participants have not been changed. read more >>
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