I had worked as a television writer for maybe a year. I was still relatively new, and I didn’t know all of the ropes.
During “Pilot Season”, my bosses at MTM were producing a pilot for a new comedy series, starring a talented Broadway comedian named Jack Gilford. (You can check out the hilarious reprise of his stage performance as “Hysterium” in the movie A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.)
I had just returned from vacation – TV pilots are generally made during the interval after the series currently on the air go out of production and before they return to production for the following season. I wasn’t involved in any pilots that year, so I went on vacation; that time, it was Tahiti.
My bosses had invited me to the filming of the pilot. I was happy to attend. I had already read their script, and was looking forward to seeing it performed.
When I reached the soundstage where the pilot would be shot, I encountered a dauntingly long line of people, snaking their way around the building. This was the pilot’s studio audience, waiting to be let in. There was no guaranteed entry. It was first come, first served.
I went to the back of the line, and I waited. It looked like it would be a while. Aware of the number of seats in the bleachers, there was the distinct possibility I would not get in at all.
About ten minutes later, one of my bosses came out of the soundstage, maybe to check out the size of the audience, and whether they looked like good laughers. As he ambled down the line, he spotted me, way back, near the end. He came up to me and said,
“Come with me.”
I really didn't know. Apparently, being a member of MTM’s writing company made it unnecessary for me to wait with the others. Embarrassed, I followed my boss, as he led me past my former line-mates and directly into the soundstage.
He then personally escorted me into the bleachers and seated me four row up, and right in the middle – the best seat in the house. Twenty minutes later, the rest of the audience was ushered in. Filling the bleachers, they may have wondered who I was, and how I deserved such VIP treatment.
Now here comes the point.
Did I expect a similar type of treatment in Washington?
Why should I?
But that didn’t stop me from begrudging its absence.
It was a memorable vacation, filled with adventure, illumination and fun.
Clouded only by a misplaced sense of personal entitlement.