More About Me
Thought I was going to be a comedy writer after having written a third of the New Trier East High School Langniappe 1970 annual comedy and musical stage production that raised money for the school scholarship fund. Went to USC and got a degree in Telecommunications. Almost put on a radio comedy show called The Zany Grey Theater, modeled after the Firesign Theater and the Credibility Gap, but it was interfering with my studies and shut it down. The scripts didn’t all get returned and lo and behold in the summer of 1975, I saw Rich Little perform one of my sketches on The Rich Little Show. I didn’t get credit or paid for it. It was stolen by a stand up comic who was in my radio group. It used the Abbott and Costello formula used in “Who’s On First” and it was part of a larger sketch called “The Rockefeller Files”, a parody of “The Rockford Files”. I called the sub-sketch “What’s An Ambassador” which took place with a character named Nifty Schwartz, who just happened to sound like Peter Falk in Columbo at the United Nations. I later saw my sketch also performed by Sonny and Cher.
After graduating from USC, I tried submitting proposals for episodes to various comedy shows and one in particular came back with some interesting notes from the shows script editor. I had proposed a two part episode of The Jeffersons where Bentley, who worked as a translator at the UN, has his mike open while talking to other translators about the fact that the information needed to make a hydrogen bomb is freely available at the library. What followed was a comedy of errors with the worlds spy agencies watching his every move. The script editor wrote back that with the complicated plot I came up with I should be writing for the top rated show on television at the time, Police Story. They couldn’t use my idea because they didn’t do two-part episodes or outside location shooting. The season opener that fall for The Jeffersons was a two-part episode that used outside location shooting, but not my plot.
After a while of banging on doors, trying to get a regular job in the television industry and never being asked more than how fast I could type, I decided that it was important to be able to eat. It was a period of reverse discrimination in the industry where you had to be black, Chinese, Hispanic, or a woman to get a job. I didn’t have any contacts in the industry so I got a job, job at minimum wage. Life changed when I went to work for a family owned company that was a candy company manufacturer, and a wine and beer wholesale distributor. I learned computer programming in self defense because we went onto our own in house computer system with custom programming that didn’t work. I learned how to fix it and by the time I finished 10 years later, the distributor covered the whole state of California, with the San Francisco division running on the computer in Los Angeles over a Digital Data Service 56KB line. Also programmed the super-mini computer to interface to a voice response computer that allowed the wine salespeople to enter their orders, do stock and customer credit checks using a touch tone telephone. Custom stuff all the way.
After too many earthquakes in Los Angeles and gridlock on the freeways and you couldn’t get anywhere to do anything at anytime, I decided to move to Oregon with trees and fresh air and a different set of neighbors, and after 30 years, in a position to eat and write at the same time, I’m trying to break into the hardest industry in which to get recognition. Hell, I’m still trying to just get an agent. Trying to market my own stuff is costly, time consuming, and the rules have changed from 30 years ago. Nobody will even look at unsolicited material. That’s why we’re all here on Amazon Studios, trying to generate some buzz.
I thought I had it with my script for “Forbidden Planets”, a sequel to the 1956 MGM movie “Forbidden Planet”, but that has been removed by Amazon for third party rights problems. In other words, I don’t own the characters. Director John Landis wrote to me that I needed to get a lawyer because of the complicated rights situation. I’ve been tracing the rights to “Forbidden Planet” for half a decade and they keep moving. You really would have liked to read it and see it produced. Explained everything about the Krell and the 8,000 cubic mile machine and Commander Adams and crew save the entire universe from destruction. If I ever win Powerball, I’ll put up the production money myself and buy the rights.
The second screenplay, CzechMate, starts with the accidental reactivation of the 400 year old Golem of Prague by the Nazis, liberation of Prague from the Nazis at the end of WWII, and an examination of Theresienstadt, now called Terezin again, the chameleon Nazi concentration camp. It has several messages as well as many battle scenes.