William Riead went to both high school and college in Illinois, graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in communications. While in college he worked for a CBS affiliate, KHQA-TV, in Quincy, Illinois, as a news cameraman, then later as a radio reporter at sister-station WTAD. In 1968, he joined NBC affiliate WGEM-TV as a television reporter, co-anchoring a weekend news program called the Bill Riead/Jim Young Saturday Night Report. In 1969, he returned to KHQA-TV as a full-time anchor and worked there for the remainder of his college years. In 1972, he joined CBS News in New York and was assigned to the network’s chief European bureau in London, where he was appointed the network’s Foreign News Editor. He was later assigned to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Miami, Florida, where he was recruited by TVN, predecessor to today’s CNN, to be their West Coast correspondent. He accepted the position, and while assigned to the White House press corp witnessed the assassination attempt on then President Gerald Ford in Sacramento, California (by former Manson follower Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme). Standing less than 8 feet from the President, it was his film crew that shot the footage that was later seen on national television. Three days later he was with the president again when another assassination attempt was made on Mr. Ford’s life, this time by Sarah Moore.
In 1975, wanting to gear his career more in the direction of production, he left network news and formed his own company, CinemaWest, in Los Angeles, and began producing corporate videos for major corporations throughout the U.S. and Europe. One, with Regis Philbin as the host, resulted in Philbin recommending him to Columbia Pictures, which made him the offer to write and direct promotional film product for their studio. He accepted, and produced the making of “Casey’s Shadow” with Walter Matthau. This followed with his producing similar product on films such as “Midnight Express”, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Front, Absence of Malice, The China Syndrome, The Goodbye Girl, Gorky Park, First Blood, Lone Wolf McQuade, Easy Money, Summer Lovers, The Woman in Red, The Bounty, Mrs. Soffel, Never Cry Wolf and Something Wicked This Way Comes among 47 others he produced over a twelve year period for not just Columbia but also MGM/Warner Bros., Disney, Orion Pictures and Avco-Embassy. In 1981, he went to Ahmadhabad, India to direct Land of Hunger, Land of Hope at which he segued into producing informational specials for television. On Borrowed Time, a film he wrote and directed and aired on the Discovery Channel, featuring Walter Matthau and Brooke Shields, went on to win numerous awards including a CableACE Award nomination for Discovery.
He next produced One For The Road, the second in the series of informational specials, which was released through Pyramid Media. He then produced Dying For A Smoke, the third in the series, which film became a top award-winner for Pyramid, taking First Place at the HeSCA International Film Festival as well as the Gold Award at Worldfest Charleston. It went on to win the distinguished Silver Plaque Award at Intercom, the Golden Eagle Award at the Council of International Non-Theatrical Events in Washington, D.C., the Silver Certificate at the John Muir Film Festival, the M.I.P. Award at the World Health Organization, the Magna Cum Laude Award at the Province of Parma and Honorable Mention at the Columbus International Film Festival. He next wrote, produced and directed a feature film titled Scorpion which was released in theaters nationally through Crown International Pictures and home video through RCA/Columbia (domestic) and Warner Home Video (foreign). He then wrote and directed “The Letters”, a feature film about letters Mother Teresa wrote to a longtime spiritual director which revealed she suffered a feeling of isolation and abandonment during the last forty years of her life working with the poor. The acclaimed British actress Juliet Stevenson plays Mother Teresa in the film, and the twice Academy Award-nominated European actor Max von Sydow plays her spiritual director. The popular European actor Rutger Hauer plays the Vatican postulator for Mother Teresa’s cause for sainthood. The film was shot on location in England and India, the story based on facts written and directed by William Riead.