The COVID-19 Info Writers (and everyone else) NEED to Know

Every writer needs a personal writer-therapist-mentor friend to help them navigate through the highs and lows of showbiz and, yeah, everyday life. Dennis Palumbo is an overqualified expert in all the above.

This interview of course isn’t the same as speaking to him personally, but it’s valuable nevertheless. Check it out.

When Your Only Weapon Is Inaction
Dennis Palumbo via Writers Guild of America West

With the COVID-19 pandemic in its third month in the US, Connect spoke to psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo about recurring themes in his therapy practice with writers who are under extended stay-at-home orders and grappling with an entertainment industry on indefinite pause.

For three decades, Palumbo has been a licensed psychotherapist for working writers and others in creative fields. To the therapy setting Palumbo brings his own experience as a sitcom writer, screenwriter, and, more recently, crime novelist (2018’s Head Wounds is the fifth installment in his Daniel Rinaldi series). Palumbo’s non-fiction book Writing from the Inside Out (2000) was an adaptation and expansion of his regular columns for Written By.

You’re both a therapist for other writers and a writer yourself. So how is your writing going?

Dennis Palumbo: I’m a little more desultory because, like anyone else, I feel some of the stress of the uncertainty of this. Plus, you know, dealing with deliveries and putting on my mask and gloves when I go to get the mail. It’s certainly having an effect on my patients. My own writing is going ok. I have patients who are writing up a storm and I have patients who can’t focus for more than ten minutes. Because they’re thinking about the pandemic, and especially if they have young children they’re doing home schooling or trying to keep them entertained. Plus, there’s the omnipresent media. I have patients who just cannot stop watching CNN. As this thing has gone on and on, one of the first things I’m recommending to people is to very much curtail their watching of the news.

It’s a slippery slope between staying informed and getting lost in it all.

Palumbo: Check it in the morning and then check it in the evening to make sure there hasn’t been an alien invasion or something. Other than that, I think one of the problems that is endemic to this situation is, we have an enemy, this virus, and the weapon we use against the enemy is inaction, just sitting in your house. I think that’s very hard on the psyche. We have a fight-or-flight mechanism. When someone throws a rock at you, you pick up a rock and throw it back, or else you run away. And we can’t run away, we have to stay in the house, and we can’t fight it. So I think our cortisol levels are always being elevated because we’re in a state where there’s no tool we can use against the virus, other than staying put. I think the body doesn’t like that. The psyche certainly doesn’t like it. So no matter how busy you are, either with your children or with your writing, this sense of impotence contributes to depression and anxiety. And then you add to that, there’s no end date. Most people don’t like uncertainty. One of the real problems with the quarantine is the uncertainty….

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Memorial Day

It’s not about freebies and deals, or even COVID-19. It’s about remembering and not repeating our mistakes.

TVWriter™ thanks all those who gave their lives in service to our country. We will be back tomorrow with our usual features.


NOTE FROM LB: Back in 1983 I was an Executive Producer of a short-lived  TV series called Automan.

Not only was it short-lived, it also was greatly beloved by stars Desi Arnaz and Chuck Wagner and my very self), and, if my experience in the real world is to be believed, at least dozens of viewers who are missing it to this day.

Here’s a look back by one of those viewers, found right here on the interwebs, and neither Desi nor Chuck nor I twisted any arms to make it happen. Hey, Bashbash Cramer, we loveya, man!

by Bashbash Cramer

Nowadays when you see a movie like the Transformers or Iron Man you often go “wow! look at that Ferrari 458 or Audi R8!” But if we look deeper into movie history we can see there was a cooler car that make those look like nothing.

That car in question was the Autocar which starred in the 1983 TV series Automan. Even if there was only 13 episodes aired, it took viewers into a science fiction world of comedy, adventure and mystery.

The TV show was about a police officer who goes by the name of Walter Nebicher (called Wallie by his friends) and Automan who was an artificial intelligence that helps him solve mysteries and crimes.

Cursor was Automan’s sidekick and let us just say he had a very naughty personality especially when it came to woman. Anyway, Cursor was a flying, glowing polyhedron that could “draw” and create any physical objects. This included the Autocar which was a Lamborghini Countach LP400. Here are 5 reasons why it is the coolest car in tv history.


The Autocar isn’t just any Lamborghini Countach LP400. In fact it can take corners better than any car, even compared to today’s standards. When encountering a corner it could do a perfect 90 degree turn without even braking. Unfortunately, this meant if you were a mortal and didn’t have your seatbelt on, you flew all over the place in the car like a bouncy ball….

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Herbie J Pilato: Why some comedies stand the test of time and others do not

by Herbie J Pilato

In a recent discussion with a friend about the state of contemporary television comedies, he said something quite brilliant:

“Sitcoms are not variety show skits.”

Or as Buster Keaton once relayed to Lucille Ball, “You have to play comedy, dead straight. You have to believe that your ‘nose is on fire’” (which was a reference to the classic I Love Lucy episode, titled, “L.A. at Last,” in which Ball’s famed alter-ego Lucy Ricardo accidentally set her snout a flame).

In other words, for a sitcom to be funny, it has to be based in reality.

As another example, The Wonder Years, ABC’s classic sitcom from the mid-1990s, was based on reality (of the 1960s and early 1970s), opposed to that same network’s more recent sitcoms like The Goldbergs, which (set in the 1980s) thinks it’s The Wonder Years. But it’s not. Far from it, actually…mostly because The Goldbergs, and other manically-performed shows like it, lack charm…which The Wonder Years so perfectly imbued.

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Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE

Herbie J Pilato on the History of ‘The Hulk’ on TV

by Herbie J Pilato

It’s not easy being green…with muscles. Torn between ligaments, emotions, and the bright lights of television stardom, the behind-the-small-screen tales of The Incredible Hulk are large-scale hair-raising.

Anger, fury, isolation, loneliness, death, secrets, egos — alter egos — and jealousy, the green-eyed monster itself — these are the traits belonging to Dr. Bruce Banner and his mammoth, ultra-strong, oh-so-golly-green giant alter ego from the popular Marvel comic book The Incredible Hulk created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. These are also the themes that run rampant throughout the very making of the popular sci-fi TV series adaptation of the franchise that initially ran on CBS from 1978 to 1982.

Bill Bixby portrayed the Dr.-Jekyll-like Dr. David Banner, with the first-name change from Bruce. The hearing-impaired Lou Ferrigno played the muscle-bound Mr. Hyde….

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Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE