LB: Some showbiz (and real life) lessons recently learned

by Larry Brody

SHOWBIZ lesson #1

For various arcane reasons, I’ve always considered myself to have come of age – as in become aware of the world around me and my place in it in 1962 – the year I graduated from high school.

Today I realized that if I’d become a visitor to TVWriter™ in 1962, the information I currently provide visitors and students would have been coming from a man whose last professional Hollywood style writing job was in 1942 – because 20 years ago was when I did my last episode of Spider-Man Unlimited.

And now I find myself wondering. Would I have listened to that guy?

real life lesson #1

This morning while walking Layla the All-Too Noticeable Ninja, I faced the fact that I live in a neighborhood where almost every single person within a 5 block radius would rather sit in their driveway with their driver’s side door partly open than get out and have to say “Hello,” or “Good morning” to anyone ambling down the street in front of their house.

No matter how slowly the person down the street was ambling.

Even if they knew each other.

And the only thing that keeps me an outlier in this behavioral department is that I always – no matter what – pull straight into the garage and close the door behind me before reaching for the door handle. So I won’t have to say “Hello” either.

SHOWBIZ and real life lessons #2

The other day someone asked me why, during the most fertile period of my creative life, I concentrated on producing and writing episodes instead of rolling out my own shows. Today in the shower I realized why.

During that time, I worked with (in showbiz we always say we “worked with” those who in fact we worked for because false camaraderie is a major aspect of the showbiz environment) a very rich and famous creator of mostly dramatic series who was known far and wide as an intellectual property thief.

In fact, the first thing my agent said when he called to tell me this deal was in the works was that when I met with Mr Very Rich and Famous Creator I should avoid mentioning anything that remotely resembled a series or episode idea no matter how difficult that might be.

I did as advised, got the job, and basically did nothing but sit and listen to and rewrite – oh, and drink! Man, did we drink! – Mr VR&F for several very lucrative years and never did I observe him “stealing” anyone else’s idea, material, story, whatever.

I was, however, in his office one day when the head of his music department – yes, he owned his own music department – came in, announcing that she had the perfect theme song for the latest Mr VR&F series and proceeded to play a demo by a new young talent the music department had signed.

“Wow!” the man I worked with/for said. “That is perfect. Would the he mind sharing credit with me?”

“Would he mind?” said the music department woman. “He’d be thrilled. He’s already on your payroll, so legally you’re the legal owner-writer of the song. Getting credit would be a bonus.”

Mr VR&F sighed. “Oh, right. Forget the shared credit.” He turn and looked at me with a big smile. “Wouldn’t do to spoil the kid now would it, Larry?”

I thought about it. Smiled back. Finally managed a shrug. Mr VR&F had recently bought the entire production run of an excellent French wine from 1979, or maybe it was ’76. I reached for the bottle currently in use and poured myself another glass.

“Thank God for smart business people,” I said, nodding in the direction of the music department woman, who honored me with a wide smile.

Reconsidering that moment, I see that it wasn’t only a showbiz lesson I learned back then, it was lesson in real life commerce everywhere.

If I still drank, I’d be pouring myself yet another glass of Chateau Lafite Whatever, in honor of knowledge I wish I didn’t have.


#tvwriting #screenwriting #writingtips #writerslife

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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