Mentioning Everything Goes yesterday reminded me that I was momentarily – and if it went well, longer – a series regular on a network television series. I have no proof of this, the tapes having being mysteriously erased, perhaps – and I’m not being paranoid here –in a Gaslighting effort to make me appear crazy. I can imagine no other reasonable explanation. Other than the show was just crap.
Everything Goes was a Talk/Variety show produced in Toronto. We made a hundred, ninety-minute episodes in three months, taping two shows per day every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I was one of three writers, specializing in fashioning introductions to be delivered by the show’s host, an assignment which involved inserting “Will you welcome please…” before the names of all the guests
The series was intended to be broadcast on hundreds of local television stations throughout Canada and the United States.
It was broadcast on five.
And then it was cancelled.
(There are stories to tell about Everything Goes, but today, my intentions lie elsewhere. Hopefully, an “elsewhere” that’s more interesting.)
One of the creative partners on Everything Goes was an expatriate Canadian named Frank Peppiatt, who, with his partner John Aylesworth, had relocated to the States and done extremely well, producing a number of variety series, stylish ones featuring gifted luminaries, such as Perry Como, Judy Garland and Julie Andrews, and one of the “lowbrow” designation, Hee Haw, which made him a fortune.
One day, during Everything Goes, Peppiatt energetically saunters over, sidles close to me in a confidential manner, and says, “We’re doing a summer replacement series for CBS starring ‘Mama Cass’ (of superstar group The Mamas and the Poppas.) I want you to play her boyfriend on the show.”
If I chewed gum which I don’t, at that moment, I would have swallowed it.
A man had just offered me – no, had guaranteed me – a job as a series regular on a major American television network. And not just as a writer – I would be handling those duties as well – but primarily…
Cue the “Fairy Dust I Can’t Believe This Is Happening” music…
As an on-the-air, recurring, comedic participant.
Exhale. And thank The Lord!
One caveat, of course. This was show business. And, arguably, as much as anything else, show business is about lying. Or, as the liars like to describe it, “We had the best of intentions at the time; it just didn’t work out.” Which is sometimes the case, but more often they just found somebody they liked better. Either that or else somebody higher up had lied to them.
And yet, my little heart could not help but flutter. At the very least, there’d be the memory of the offer. They couldn’t take that away from me. For the rest of my life, my mind would retain the image of that preliminary saunter, the confidential silde, and the (almost) heart-stopping moment that the offer was made. Okay, it didn’t pan out, but still. I’d been asked.
“I got a call from the Yankees. They asked me to play for them.”
“You’re playing for the Yankees?”
“No, they took Derek Jeter instead. But I did get the call.”
Though my recollection here is hazy, I am pretty sure I spread the word, as I am not skillful at harboring secrets. (So don’t tell me any, or I’ll blab.) I was simply too excited to keep it to myself. Almost instantly, I imagined the booming voice of the show’s announcer intone,
“From CBS, in Hollywood, the Entertainment Capital of the World, it’s…
The Momma Cass Show
Starring ‘Momma Cass’ Elliot…
(A couple of other people who can write about it on their own blogs, and…)
Oh, yeah! There were big things in my future, I was certain of that. Who knows? Maybe someday, I’d be a clue in the TV Guide crossword puzzle.
“Twenty-Three Down – ‘Television funnyman…BLANK Pomerantz.’”
Are you ready for the crash?
About a month later, “Momma Cass” chokes on a ham sandwich, and dies.
CUE THE WHISTLING SOUND OF A DROPPED BOMB, FOLLOWED BY AN EAR-SPLITTING EXPLOSION.
For a week, Frank Peppiatt in unable to look me in the face. He knows what I’ve gone through, the stratospheric elation, followed by the elevator-plummeting letdown.
What can he say to me? The dream, so nearly within my grasp, has evaporated before my eyes, the victim of an oversized woman, taking too big of a bite.
Finally, there he is, standing silently beside me. I know what’s coming. The obligatory,
But I’m wrong.
“We’re doing a summer replacement series for CBS starring (superstar country singer) Bobbie Gentry. I want you to play her boyfriend on the show.”
Crank up the “Fantasy Machine.”
I am back in the game.
To Be Continued…