Glad You Asked Department 5/27/13
Time now to once again play Answer Man. Today’s question is on a topic near and dear to me. Yep, that’s right, it’s about me. Well, my career anyway. (Which isn’t me, but once upon a time I sure thought it was.)
Sam T. has expressed his curiosity this way:
I saw your IMDB page the other day and was amazed by the size of your output. Writing credits on fifty different series? Producer on ten? Story editor on ten more? That looks to me like an amazing output. Which of all those shows was your favorite? Which was your least favorite? And I have to ask one more question too. How in the world did you do it?
Thanks in advance,
Yours truly, LB replies:
Gee, Sam, when you put it all out there like that I’m kind of flabbergasted myself. That’s a lot of writing. And editing. And deciding (because that’s what producing really is, deciding which way everything should go.)
If it’s all right with you (yeah, even if it’s not), I’ll go with your last question first.
I did all this because I was nuts. Batfuck crazy. Obsessive. Driven. I pretty much sucked at the things most people do, like interacting socially, expressing love, being able to dress myself, all the things everyone else takes for granted. So I did a lot of hiding, and learned at an early age that if I hid at a keyboard and wrote people not only left me alone, they held what I was doing in high esteem.
So from the time I was about 20 until I hit 45, almost all of my waking time was spent researching or writing or protecting what I’d written by being as “in charge” of its production as I possibly could. In other words, I was an addict. And an addict can do a hell of a lot of his or her favorite drug if allowed to indulge. And I wasn’t just allowed to indulge, I was encouraged, because all that effort earned me a lot of respect and even more money, which in turn got me even more respect.
Does this sound like heaven to you? Or hell? To me, it was both. Which is why, in middle-age (45ish), I went cold turkey and forced myself to learn how to live. Now I divide my time pretty equally between the writing thing and the living thing, and heaven has just about totally replaced hell.
Not the answer you were expecting, I bet. I’ll try to answer your other questions more simply:
When I think of my favorite show I think of two different series. In terms of quality, it would have to be GIBBSVILLE, a short-lived 1976 series on which I was Executive Story Consultant. And when I say short-lived, man, do I mean it. The series was based on short stories by John O’Hara, one of the great American short story writers of the 20th Century, and starred Gig Young and John Savage. Critics loved it. The network, NBC, didn’t. We were cancelled after only 3 episodes. A few more appeared on the air in the U.S., I think, and a total of 13 episodes appeared in various European markets. Then it was gone. Forever. No reruns. No DVD release. I’m going to stop talking about it now because if I go on I’ll start crying.
In terms of fun, however, my favorite show was MIKE HAMMER. I was “Supervising Producer,” which in 1984 was the same thing as being “showrunner,” and I truly loved everyone I worked with, especially Stacy Keach who is, quite simply, the most intelligent, sensitive actor I’ve ever known. Watching him work, hanging with him on the set…the memories still make me feel like I’m shining.
On the least favorite front, in terms of both quality and fun the same series is the “winner.” The show sucked and so did every single moment I worked on it. The only good thing that came out of this gig – and, no, I’m not going to tell you the name because it’s too humiliating in too many ways – was that it made me rethink my life and get out into the real world at last. And, as I’ve already said, that worked out very, very well.
I’ve got to say that for the most part I’m very proud of my career. And my life. Everything I’ve done I’ve done with as much intensity as I could muster, and I like to think that I still am. Oh, before I go, a word about that IMDB listing. It’s not as accurate as it could be. Lists me as being involved in some shows I had nothing to do with, and omits an equal number of shows that I worked hard on. It’s close enough for jazz, though, and I’ve always loved jazz.
Thanks for asking,
My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!