Pay your rent, your mortgage, and all of your bills on time, and then go out and have a good time with your family, friends, and colleagues.
Then when you return home, rest, and then the next day, start-up the writing machine once again.
For me? I do that in the morning, from around 4:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Those are my core hours.
Other writers are night owls. But not me. I’m exhausted by at least Noon.
Although I spend the rest of the day and sometimes early evening working the tasks that surround and support the actual act of writing; things like making phone calls; research; or taking lunch meetings.
But as far as actual writing, there’s only so much room in my brain every day for the creation, shaping and communicating of words, be they fictional, fantasy or based in reality.
And that’s okay. Because we all work at our own pace…every day, without ever really feeling we have a completed manuscript, book, poem, or essay.
That’s what sequels, re-dos, revisions, and reprints are for, all of which brings us back to our central message:
A writer’s work is never done.
Herbie J Pilato is the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society and author of several classic TV companion books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for almost 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE.
With her new book, THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM: EPISODES IN MY LIFE AND CAREER AS A TELEVISION WRITER, Rita Lakin writes so well what she knows so well about.
A ground-breaking talent, Lakin was one of the first female writers who graced the behind-the-scenes of the small screen. Her first TV script, “A Candle in the Window,” an episode of Dr. Kildare, executive produced by David Victor (Marcus Welby, M.D.), was a fine precursor of what was to come:
Featuring former film star Ruth Roman, “Candle” told of the devastating loss a nurse experiences when her husband dies after she served for years as his primary caregiver. The episode also featured a young Ronny Howard, then also appearing as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, as Rowman’s young son, and was directed by Sydney Pollack (as his first credit as well, years before Out of Africa, Tootsie and Bobbie Deerfield, and countless other monumental gigs for both the big-screen and small).
As Lakin explains today, “It was my first assignment on TV. I was recently widowed and that’s why David Victor wanted me to write a story on that subject. Believe me, I knew a lot on that subject.”
Other TV assignments followed and were a diverse mix including segments of some of TV’s most beloved classics like The Invaders, Family Affair, The Mod Squad and The Rookies, Dynasty, and Nightingales, which Lakin created. The varied episodes of these series allowed for Lakin’s prolific ability and unique perspective to shine, as it did with several well-known TV-movies, which helped to define the genre, such as Hey, I’m Alive (1975), starring Sally Struthers and Ed Asner isolated in the wilderness, and A Sensitive, Passionate Man (1977), starring Angie Dickinson and David Jansen (and based on the book my Barbara Mahoney)
Lakin writes about these and so much more in THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM.
As the press release for the book relays, “Rita Lakin was a pioneer, a female scriptwriter in the early 1960s when Hollywood television was exclusively male. For years, in creative meetings, she was literally the only woman in the room. In this breezy but heartfelt remembrance, Lakin exposes us to a long-forgotten time when women were not considered worthy or welcome at the creative table.
Widowed with three young children, she talked herself into a secretarial job at Universal Studios in 1962, despite being unable to type or take dictation. But with guts, skill, and humor she rose from secretary to free-lancer, to staff writer, to producer, to executive producer and show-runner, meeting hundreds of famous and infamous showbiz legends along the way during her long and unexpected career. She introduced many women into the business and was a feminist before she even knew she was a feminist.
Unknown to the general public, she reached an audience of millions, week after week, year after year. The relevance of her personal journey, charming yet occasionally shocking, will be an eye-opener to today’s readers who take for granted the abundance of female creative talent in today’s Hollywood.
A must-read, indeed, for any aspiring, novice or veteran television writer.
Learn more about Rita and get your own copy of The Only Woman in the RoomHERE
Herbie J Pilato is the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, and the author of several classic TV companion books. He is practically a founding father of TVWriter™ and is a Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J Pilato HERE.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Our bud Herbie J Pilato is a very picky person when it comes to recommending a TV show, film, or book. And a book about writing? Oh my! But here the dear boy is, returning to TVWriter™ to recommend this one book in particular. Take it away Herbie J!
It’s important to write tight.
Not, “It’s SO important to write tight.”
See the difference?
No need to add the “so” and certainly no need to capitalize it like “SO.”
Whether writing a book, nonfiction or fiction, or a TV show, movie or play, scripted, non-scripted, reality, or documentary, keep your dialogue to a minimum; even your stage directions.
Get your point across with less verbiage. You know: less words. In other words, cut to the chase…with each sentence, which each line, with each word.
Certainly, there are moments where it’s important to be generous when writing words, as with poetry, or if you’re quoting some great thinker in one of your books or scripts; or if you have created a verbose or arrogant character.
But in general, it’s best to say what you need to say in a short and sweet way – as a writer, a character, or in real life as a candlestick maker – or even if one of your characters in your TV show, movie or play is a candlestick maker.
Utilize your best judgment and discretion.
Or, just use discretion.
Or, use discretion.
Or better yet:
You get me?
Here’s a wonderful book to help the cause:
Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean With Precision and Power by William Brohaugh.
Herbie J Pilato is practically a founding father of TVWriter™ and right now his official title is Contributing Editor Emeritus. We’re pleased as all hell to have him back today and are sure you will be too. Learn more about Herbie J Pilato HERE.
There’s an episode of Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-1998) called “The Limo” (2-26-92) in which Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) and his neurotic friend George (Jason Alexander) are in a moving limousine attempting to escape from neo-Nazis. George suggests that he and Jerry leap from the moving vehicle and roll out onto the ground.
To which Jerry replies, “Who are you – Mannix?!”
That reference remains a true testimonial to the immortal popularity of the classic TV detective series of the same name starring Mike Connors, which originally ran on CBS from 1966 to 1975.
Connors, who died of leukemia on January 27, 2017 (only one week after he was diagnosed), played private-detective Joe Mannix on what became one of the longest-running police crime dramas in TV history, and stood-out because it was the first to feature an Armenian male lead.
Along with NBC’s Star Trek (with Nichelle Nichols as communications officer Lt. Uhura) and that same network’s Julia sitcom (starring Diahann Carrol as a nurse), Mannix was also one of the first shows to feature an African-American actress on a weekly basis; as Gail Fisher played Joe’s trusted and loyal secretary and friend Peggy Fair (a role for which Nichols had auditioned).
Additionally, Mannix and Trek happened to be owned and operated by Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, which also supervised her Here’s Lucy CBS comedy (from 1968-1974), on which Connors made a guest-appearance as Joe Mannix.
Connors would reprise his most famous role twice more: in 1997 for an episode of CBS’ Diagnosis: Murder (starring his good friend Dick Van Dyke) and in the 2004 feature film comedy Nobody Knows Anything.
As detailed on IMDB.com, Connors was born Krekor Ohanian, of Armenian descent, on August 15, 1925, in Fresno, California. Tall, athletic, and handsome, he played basketball in college, during which time he was nicknamed “Touch” for his agility at the game.
He utilized “Touch Connors” as a stage name for early movie appearances like Sudden Fear (1952), The 49th Man and Sky Commando (both in 1953), Day the World Ended (1955), and The Ten Commandments (1956), among others.
He also used that pre-Mannix moniker for his first few television appearances on shows like The Ford Television Theatre (for an episode titled, “Yours for A Dream,” his small-screen debut), City Detective, The Lineup, and The Loretta Young Show, during which he as intermittently known as “Touch,” “Mike,” “Michael,” and one time as “Jay” (for a 1956 episode of State Trooper).
After that he was billed as Mike Connors for TV shows like The Untouchables, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, and more.
Then came Mannix, followed by TV-movies such as The Killer Wouldn’t Die (1976), Long Journey Back (1978), and Casino (1980), followed by one season of ABC’s 1981-1982 series, Today’s F.B.I., on which he played agent Ben Slater.
Other small-screen gems included an episode of Steven Spielberg’s reboot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1989), the hit mini-series War and Remembrance (1988-1989), the reboot of Burke’s Law (1994), The Commish (1993), Walker, Texas Ranger (1998), and a recurring role as Chipacles in the syndicated Hercules series starring Kevin Sorbo (1998-1999).
Connors last on-screen performance was for an episode of the CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men, called “Prostitutes and Gelato” (2007), in which he portrayed a character named Hugo.
A private and dedicated family man, Connors had been married to the same woman, Mary Lou Willey, since September 10, 1949; a union that produced two children: Matthew Gunner Ohanian (born in 1958) and Dana Lee Connors (born 1960).
According to television and film archivist Robert S. Ray, “Mike Connors brought his own sense of style, bravado and intelligence to his portrayal of Mannix.”
Ray, who serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Classic TV Preservation Society, adds, “But I think the word that best describes his persona is ‘integrity.’ Joe Mannix was a ham-fisted guy brought up on the tough streets of LA. He was an even match for all the thugs he ran up against in any given episode and could very easily have been one of their compadres. But his integrity and sense of honesty kept him on the right side of the law, even if his take-no-prisoners demeanor made his connections in the local Police Department wary of him.”
Comparing the Mannix star with other legendary TV male stars such as Ed Asner, best known from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Ralph Waite, of The Waltons, Ray concludes, “Mike Connors presented a seemingly fundamental decent presence on screen.”
This tribute to the late Mike Conners is an edited excerpt from Dashing, Daring and Debonair: TV’s Top Male Icons from the 50s, 60s and 70s by TVWriter™ Contributor Herbie J Pilato, host of Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a new classic TV talk show that will debut on the Decades network later this year.