The Wonderful Life of Herbie J Pilato

We’re always happy when another publication recognizes the talents and achievements of TVWriter™’s Contributing Editor Emeritus, Herbie J Pilato. You know, like this:

Herbie J and Then Again with Herbie J Pilato guests Barry and Stanley Livingston of My Three Sons. Photo by Dan Holm Photography

by Mary Frances Barstow
via “Maine Seniors Magazine”
(Feb 2020 issue)

In chatting with Herbie J Pilato, there’s a moment when you realize that you just might be talking with an angel.

A professional of the entertainment and publishing industries, the host of his own TV talk show, the author of several critically-acclaimed books about pop-culture, and the founder of nonprofit dedicated to the positive influence of classic TV shows, Herbie J is as endearing, as he is prolific.

As an author, screenwriter, actor, singer/songwriter and executive, Herbie J heads his own TV production company, Television, Ink. [which, along with Joel Eisenberg and Steve Hillard, of Council Tree Productions, and producer Lorie Girsh Eisenberg], presents Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, a classic TV chat show streaming from Shout! Factory TV on Amazon Prime (and several other media outlets).

Where does Herbie J find the time to do it?  Where does he get the energy?  Exactly who is Herbie J Pilato?

“I guess the answers have to do with making the time. Whatever energy I have is filtered through the Universe because I am open to embracing it. Basically, I’m just a guy trying to do some good,” he replies, smiling.

His career began in 1984 as a Page for NBC in that network’s former legendary Burbank studios. Herbie J went on to write the original Bewitched Book (first published by Dell in 1992), followed by later revised editions titled, Bewitched Forever. Other TV companion books followed including The Kung Fu Book of Caine, The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom, The Bionic Book, Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On, NBC & ME: My Life as a Page in a Book, Twitch Upon Upon a Star, a critically-acclaimed biography of Bewitched icon Elizabeth Montgomery, and Mary: The Mary Tyler Moore Story, the latter of which is being rebooted for the fall of 2020 (the 50th Anniversary of TV’s groundbreaking sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show).

After performing in several minor roles on television shows like Highway to Heaven, The Golden Girls, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful, Herbie J began serving as an on-screen cultural commentator and the behind-the-scenes consultant on TV and DVD documentaries, such as 1999’s Bewitched: The E! True Hollywood Story, which remains one of the 7th highest-rated True Hollywood Stories in E!’s history.

Herbie J has served in the same capacity for A&E’s Biography segments on Elizabeth Montgomery and Lee Majors, TLC’s Behind the Fame special on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show, Bravo’s hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest Characters, and the DVD release documentaries of retro shows like CHiPs, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Kung Fu.

“I love what I do,” Herbie J says.  “I love my work, and I love my life, and in many ways, my work is my life, and vice-versa.” He thinks his work “…focuses on the positive.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“I’m very conscious of and sensitive to my following,” Herbie J continues, “…whether they stem from social media, or my books, or some of the shows that I’ve been fortunate to be associated with or appeared on.  When you’re in the public eye, or manifesting a presentation of some sort that will be observed in the public eye, even in the smallest of ways, I feel you have an obligation to speak with or present a positive voice.”

That positive voice includes many family-oriented, fantasy-geared completed scripts that Herbie J has “waiting in the wings,” he says with a wink, as two of those projects have to do with angels. (There’s that word again!)  The others, he promises, are also family-oriented, including an action-geared sci-fi drama, a comedy, and even a few reality shows.

“It’s all about diversity,” he says, “…just like life, which at times, can be quite magical…if we let it be.”

Certainly, life has its challenges, and Herbie J has experienced his, along with what he defines as “countless flaws.”

“I’ve made many mistakes,” he explains, “and I am in no way perfect.  But I try to do the best I can because I care.  I care about what I do.  I care about what other people do.  I care about people.  I care about my family…my friends…my colleagues…my country.  I care about this planet.  It’s in my make-up to feel that way.  It’s my nature.  It’s how I was raised.”

Herbie J grew up in the inner city of Rochester, New York in the literal shadow of Kodak’s global home office, within a large and loving Italian family.  Both of his parents had ten brothers and sisters in each.  According to Herbie J, his mother Frances (maiden name “Turri”) and father Pompeii (which he later changed it to “Herbie”) are both now “dancing in Heaven.”

“They were hardworking, sweet people,” he says.  “And whatever good is in me was placed there by God through my beautiful parents.  They were and remain a blessing to me.”

“We can cherish the past,” he concludes, “…but we must embrace the present, and look forward to the future with as much loving-kindness for others as possible.”

Yeah. An angel.