Glad you asked. We at TVWriter™ have known long-time contributor Herbie J since the site’s inception over a decade ago, giving us lots of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that there’s no way we do them justice. So we cast about for somebody else who could pick up the reins. Here’s the result:
By Leyla Salvade
Author, actor, producer and singer/songwriter Herbie J Pilato is a modern-day Renaissance man with a purpose; he’s an inspiration – a guiding force to a present and future group of what he calls “Hollywood hopefuls.”
“I love Hollywood – and I love it for all the right reasons,” he says with a gleam of bright light and enthusiasm in his warm brown eyes that glisten during an early spring lunch at the Casa Cabo Mexican restaurant in Burbank, California (where Pilato resides). “This is a very nostalgic place for me,” he says of Casa Cabo, formerly the famous Chadney’s eatery that sat across the street from the former NBC Studios.
Chadney’s was where Pilato conducted his first interview for his now legendary first Bewitched Book (Dell, 1992) with Bewitched executive producer Harry Ackerman. Chadney’s was also the place Pilato enjoyed many an afternoon and evening during his 18-month internship (from May 1984 to December 1985) as an NBC Page – a position that ignited what became his quite versatile career in the entertainment industry.
“Not only is Hollywood, generically and geographically, the land of wish-fulfillment and dream-makers, but dream-catchers,” Pilato assesses. “I’ve followed my dreams – and caught them – and there’s a certain strategy in how to do that.” First and foremost, if our dreams are to materialize, he believes, “they have to include some benefit to help the global community. And working in the entertainment industry can help you to do that in several amazing ways. There is so much opportunity and potential to do so much good for so many – and with very little effort. And that potential can take place on so many levels, be it with film, the live stage, in music or on television.”
Clearly, television in particular has become Pilato’s forte, beginning with his internship as a Page in what he calls the “Big ‘80s…a wondrous time.” He worked on classic TV shows like The Golden Girls, the Bob Hope Christmas Specials, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He even had the chance to march in the Hollywood Christmas Parade, albeit incognito as an alien for the original version of NBC’s original V sci-fi TV series. Pilato was there, too, when Pat Sajak and Vanna White were just hitting their prime as the stars of hugely-popular Wheel of Fortune game show, and several other fun programs of the era.
Pilato so enjoyed his stint as a member of the Peacock network’s Guest Relations Department that he authored NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book, which was published by BearManor Media in 2008.
Pilato’s other publications include The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom and The Kung Fu Book of Caine. Both were released by Tuttle Publishing in the mid-1990s, and chronicled the mystical adventures of Kwai Chang Caine, as played by the legendary David Carradine (who wrote the Foreword to Caine) on what turned out to be TV’s first Eastern-Western.
Pilato’s latest book, Twitch Upon A Star: The Bewitched Life And Career of Elizabeth Montgomery, released in November 2012 by Taylor Trade Publishing, has been praised by everyone from The Village Voice to the industry’s prestigious Emmy Magazine (which excerpted a passage in its latest issue). Twitch Upon A Star, in fact, has become the best-selling new title in his publisher’s history; so much so, that a sequel, The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide To Her Magical Performances, will be released at Halloween 2013.
But before he became a best-selling and critically-acclaimed author, and right after he left NBC, Pilato began acting in bit parts on daytime serials and primetime classics, including The Golden Girls, as well as serving as a stand-in dancer on the ’70s and ’80s music variety show Solid Gold.
And while writing The Bionic Book and Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On (both published by BearManor Media in 2007), Pilato worked as a producer, consultant and on-camera cultural commentator for shows like Bewitched: The E! True Hollywood Story (which remains one of Top 10 True Hollywood Stories in E!’s history), TLC’s Behind the Fame specials, Bravo’s hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters, and TV Guide Network’s 100 Greatest Television Moments.
Certainly, Pilato knows what works. This year, he established Television, Ink., his new umbrella company that houses Erie Street Entertainment (a production company geared toward family-oriented TV and film projects), and Pop-Culture Consultants (an entertainment consulting firm and news service).
In 2010, he founded the Classic TV Preservation Society, a nonprofit seeking to close the gap between popular culture and education. And for years he has presented Master Key Media Self-Esteem Seminars at schools, colleges, community and business organizations – covering the scope of every generation and every sanction of society. But he has a particular fondness for this generation. He explains:
“There is so much talent and creativity that’s been bred and instilled into this generation. We see it every time we watch American Idol and with each graduating class… When I started out in the industry, if you sang, danced, wrote or performed in any way, you were considered unique. But it’s not like that today. Today, you see all kinds of talent at every turn – in almost every aspiring performer or production team member, and…every intern.”
Surrounded as he is by all this talent, Pilato believes that the best philosophical path to success is not only to be happy for the success of others but to contribute to – “or better yet, be the reason for their success.”
“One of my new favorite things to do,” Pilato concludes, “is to walk or drive in and bless the office buildings and the people in them. Because I know that they house such a diverse group of individuals, from receptionists to CEOS, who have so many dreams. I just like to give them that little spiritual boost to help them make those dreams come true. And again, if those dreams are filled with only good intentions, and will somehow bring light into the world, you can be sure that those dreams will become a reality – for the highest good of all those concerned. ”