Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Three's Company"
Behind the Camera-The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company
Film Information
Directed By: Jason Ensler
Written by: Elisa Bell
Based upon: Story written by Bell
Cast Information
Producer: Stanley M. Brooks
Starring: Bret Anthony
Melanie Deanne Moore
Jud Tylor
Brian Dennehy
Daniel Roebuck
Joyce DeWitt
Terence Kelly
Theme music: Adam Cohen
Edited by: Brian Pearson
Cinematographer: Sandra Montiel
Studio: NBC Studios, Nitelite Entertainment, Once Upon a Time Films
Distribution and Box Office
Distributed by: N/A
Release Date: 12 May 2003
Running time: 120 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: Not Applicable

Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company is a 2003 American made-for-television movie, made by NBC-TV, documenting the success of the ABC-TV sitcom Three's Company, as well as the interpersonal conflicts that occurred among its staff and cast. It starred Jud Tylor as Suzanne Somers (Chrissy Snow), Bret Anthony as John Ritter (Jack Tripper), Melanie Deanne Moore as Joyce DeWitt (Janet Wood), Brian Dennehy as Fred Silverman, Gregg Binkley as Don Knotts (Mr. Furley), and Christopher Shyer as Alan Hamel. Former Three's Company cast member Joyce DeWitt served as co-producer and host.


The movie jumps from the second season to the fifth, covering the time when conflict arose between the producers and cast versus Suzanne Somers and her management, which sought greater visibility and more money for Somers. It then jumps to season eight to cover the end of the series. The original script focused more heavily on the negative side of the production of the show before Joyce DeWitt's involvement added focus on the good times. Joyce was helped by John Ritter, who saw the final cut of the movie before he died. Suzanne Somers was also contacted and gave some input. Somers and DeWitt had not talked to each other until a February 2012 discussion on Somers' Internet show.

Date Event
November 1975 American producer Donald L. Taffner and partner Ted Bergmann try to sell the idea to make an American version of the Thames Television show in the UK, Man About the House, to various TV stations.
January 1976 New ABC programming chief Fred Silverman looks for a risque television show and finds Three's Company.
28 January 1977 Taping of the first show
15 March 1977 First broadcast
May 1977 First season wrap party
November 1977 Somers asks Jay Bernstein to manage her career and try to make her the next Farrah Fawcett.
February 1979 Somers tries to get a new deal with CBS for her own show.
July 1979 While filming Nothing Personal, Somers calls Bernstein to fire him.
October 1980 Alan Hamel, now managing Somers' career, attempts deal with ABC to boost Somers' salary by 500%.
21 October 1980 Somers fakes a cracked rib and misses the taping.
2 November 1980 Somers misses her second taping.
9 November 1980 Somers misses her third taping.
20 November 1980 Producers make Somers tape separately from the rest of the cast for the first time. Her character Chrissy is then usually seen talking on the phone to Jack or Janet from another location.
18 January 1981 Somers appears on The Phil Donahue Show.
March 1981 Somers gets a threat of possible legal action against her from ABC about using the Chrissy character in a Las Vegas act.
2 April 1981 Somers is fired from ABC.
May 1982 Because of the ABC legal threat, Somers learns that her CBS deal is canceled because the use of the Chrissy character may bring legal action against CBS.
November 1983 Hamel fails to convince the producers that Suzanne would be perfect to play Jack Tripper's wife in the Three's a Crowd spin-off.
17 February 1984 Final taping of the show

Events Discrepancies

The movie is known to be inaccurate in many places:

  • The show's title Three's Company was coined by Gary Markowitz, one of the first two writers who wrote the pilot.[1] However, the producers use this name while pitching the show to the networks, long before the pilot was made.
  • After Suzanne Somers was cast, it seems as if the three actors are meeting for the first time on the night of the taping when they should have spent a week of rehearsals together.
  • Suzanne mentions to John and Joyce during a rehearsal that she had her 11-year-old son when she was 17. Her son Bruce Jr. was born on November 8, 1965[2] and that actually means she had him when she was 19 since she was born on October 16, 1946. Also, if what she first said was true, it would have meant that the current year would have been 1974 or 1975, and Three's Company did not start until 1977.
  • At the same time Suzanne misses the first day of taping, Ted Bergmann tells Don Taffner that Fred Silverman has "jumped ship to NBC". Actually, Silverman left for NBC in January 1978, long before the Suzanne contract renegotiation problems began in October 1980.
  • During the first season wrap party, everyone seems to know the show is a big hit. However, all six episodes of the first season were taped before the show premiered. Nobody could have known how well the show would be received.
  • The episode Suzanne first missed the taping of was "A Crowded Romance", an episode that Don Knotts did not appear on. However, Bergmann briefly talks to Knotts, fully costumed backstage, just a few minutes before filming was supposed to start.
  • After the missed tapings, we see the actors receiving a blue and a pink copy of the scripts; one if Suzanne shows up and one if she does not. When Suzanne comes in the room, she receives both copies as well. She should have only been given the copy with her in it, not both of them.
  • After the producers proposed the spinoff to Audra Lindley and Norman Fell, it actually took Norman Fell at least six months to sign on. In the movie, he agrees in less than two minutes.
  • As a narrator of the movie, Joyce DeWitt says that Three's Company was filmed on Fridays, something Jenilee Harrison confirmed.[3] However, Taffner and Ritter are said to hold the audition for Jack's fiancée on a Friday when Joyce suddenly comes in. Taffner asks her "What are you doing here?" to which she replies "I like to come in the day before and set up my dressing room", which would mean the show would tape on Saturdays, which is inaccurate.
  • The shows were taped on Fridays and the dates that are said to be when Somers missed the tapings of the show are Tuesday (October 21, 1980) and Sundays (November 2 and 9, 1980).
  • The Three's a Crowd spinoff was not developed until after season eight began and the ratings started to fall. In the film, John Ritter was proposed the idea right after season seven ended.
  • Vicky is stated to be Jack's fiancée, yet she turned down Jack's proposal in the Three's Company series finale, and became his girlfriend/live-in roommate.
  • In the movie, Jack turns off the light and closes the door to apartment 291. In the actual series finale, Terri is the one who turns off the light, and the door has the number 201. Additionally, in the movie, Terri is shown dressed in a white nurse's uniform. In the final episode, however, Terri wore a pink dress.


  1. Three's Company history from the official site.
  2. Suzanne Somers' background.
  3. Bonus features interview of Three's Company fifth season DVD release

External Links

Three's Company

Jack Tripper | Janet Wood | Chrissy Snow | Cindy Snow | Terri Alden | Stanley Roper | Helen Roper | Ralph Furley | Larry Dallas | Lana Shields

John Ritter | Joyce DeWitt | Suzanne Somers | Jenilee Harrison | Priscilla Barnes | Norman Fell | Don Knotts | Richard Kline | Ann Wedgeworth
See also:
List of episodes | Behind the Camera
British TV/Spinoff shows:
Man About The House | George and Mildred | Robin's Nest | The Ropers | Three's a Crowd