The Writing Life

Writers aren’t like other people.

They’re crazier.

And television writers aren’t like other writers.

They’re crazier still more frustrated, angrier maybe, because they’re doing what they’ve always wanted to with their lives…but not quite. Because they’re doing it under someone else’s – the production company’s, the network’s, the star’s, once upon a time even the sponsor’s – control.

Muralists paying their mortgages by painting people’s walls.

One of LB’s beloved early mentors was a very cool guy named Gerald Sanford, whom LB worked with (which is showbiz for “under”) in the early ’70s on a show called BARNABY JONES. They still trade e-mails from time to time, two alte cockers pretending they like rocking on that old front porch.

You can learn a bit about the Sanford career here.

And something about him here:

From: Gerald Sanford

To: Larry Brody

Lawrence of Scripts, do you remember when we writers “pitched stories” in hopes of getting an assignment, and the Story Editor would tell us… “I like it. Write it up in five lines or less, and I’ll send it to Quinn… or whoever.”

Well, unable to tell my stories in five lines or less, I’d simply turn in the entire script and tell ’em to do whatever they wanted with it. Of course, that can be a bit risky. But then again…we’re in a risky business.

Like the time I was sitting in this basement apartment in Coney Island, along with a wife and two kids, looking at my 12″, B&W TV screen, and see that Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash the night before, and Matt Cimber, her current husband, was taking it real bad.

“Matt Cimber”? Damn, he’s the one who directed my off-Broadway Play, ‘WALK-UP’. About a bunch of characters living in a Greenwich Village Walkup.

And would you believe, seems Jayne just wrapped a movie where she played 5 different roles about 5 different women living in a Greenwich Village Walkup. Obviously just a coincidence. Besides, his movie was called, ‘SINGLE ROOM FURNISHED’.

Years passed, and passed. I had 4 more movies made — and got credit for — did a ton of TV, when I see that Matt, still directing, has moved to L.A., so I call him and we make plans to have lunch in Beverly Hills. Ya see, I had another script I wanted to give him.

We meet for lunch, but before giving him my new work, I ask about his making ‘WALK-UP/SINGLE ROOM FURNISHED’ without paying for it, or even letting me in on it. And he looks me straight in the eye, and says, “Gerald, believe me, I tried getting in touch with you, but I didn’t have your address.”

No, shit, that’s what he said.

The moral of this story: “Hey, no one twisted your arm to be a writer.”

P.S. That lunch Matt and I had. I not only paid, I gave him my new script on the way out. Never heard from him again.


Updated! A TVWriter™ bonus. Some publicity pix of SINGLE ROOM FURNISHED. Proving that somebody made some money from this thing. Just not gs.

Some might say we’re just looking for excuses to post  scuzzy pictures of Mariska Hargitay’s mom. Geddoudda here! No way!

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.

4 thoughts on “The Writing Life”

  1. Credit Where Credit is Due Dept: The muralist quote comes from the mouths of not one but two great guys and great writers, Gerry Conway and Bill Fordes. Next time you’re at IMDB, check them out too.

  2. Damn! Just when I was enjoying picking on you, Lawrence of TV, you do a “Double spin, kick in the you know where!” by praising my humble contribution to the very high art of TV writing! And I truly thank you for your kindness and wisdom! May the QM’s, Aaron S’s, be with you! By the way…I’ve also written 5 feature films! An off-Broadway play…which later was turned into Jayne Mans… Or did I already say that? And you are again… gz.

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