Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"The Luckiest Man In The World"

A propos of I no longer remember what, my boss on Best of the West­ – in 1981, when I created my first series, a sitcom set in the Old West, I was perceived, not incorrectly, to require adult supervision.  So therefore, although the idea for the show was mine, I was provided an overseeing Executive Producer…

Wait.  Let me start this again.

“Why not just delete the first paragraph?”

I don’t like to waste words.

“Fine.  Go ahead.”

Though I could have easily done without those three.

Okay.  Starting again.

Observing many years of personal behavior – make that many decades of personal behavior – I have come to perceive myself, somewhat regretfully but what are you going to do? –  as a “Retroactive Appreciator.”

What does it mean to be a “Retroactive Appreciator”?

It means you appreciate things not while they are happening but only after the fact.

Sometimes, considerably after the fact. 

EXAMPLES:  I ultimately came to appreciate my Toronto Hebrew (Elementary) Day School classmates, waiting fifty-seven years to help eventualize a reunion. 

EXAMPLE NUMBER TWO:  Although Best of the West would turn out to be my most rewarding creation, I complained constantly while I was working on it, my lamentations attaining their nadir with my monumentally unappreciative,

“There’s got to be an easier way to make three hundred thousand dollars a year.”

It is my temperamental proclivity not to know I am enjoying myself till long after that experience is sufficiently in the past.

Thus, say I,

“I Am A Retroactive Appreciator.”

(Anyone puts that on a t-shirt, I’ve got “Dibsies” on my share of the profits.  And if I created the word “Dibsies” – I want a piece of that baby as well.)

Okay, back to the beginning.  (Although I am almost half-finished.  Blog writing is a circuitous procedure sometimes.  It just goes where it goes.  Or, as Jerry Seinfeld would deride, “It is what it is.”)

One day, as we are working our way through our order of Best of the West episodes, the production, for the moment at least, running comparatively smoothly, my boss on the show proclaims loudly to all and sundry,

“Earl Pomerantz is the luckiest man in the world.”  (Saying “the world” instead of “show business”, show folk believing the two of them to be substantially synonymous.)

This “Out-of-the-blue” pronouncement caught me entirely off-guard.  Me, “the luckiest man in the world?”  If that were truly the case, you would think I’d be seen whistling. 

Nobody ever saw me whistling.  Or humming, for that matter.  I was more regularly seen agitated and depressed.

I inquired of my boss why he thought I was the luckiest man in the world.  To which he readily responded,

“You are making the show you wanted to make.”

My boss was right.  You could almost say – and I am actually about to – literally.  A year or so earlier, an ABC “Development Executive” had asked me, “What kind of show would you love to create?” and I replied, “A comedy western.” 

And wouldn’t you know it?  That was exactly what we were doing.

Although I never acknowledged it – even and most especially to myself – the fact that we were making exactly the show I wanted to make filled me with professional satisfaction and personal delight. 

And wait!  There’s more!

Not only was I making the show I wanted to make – and many powerful show runners, including arguably my boss or he would never have considered the matter in the first place were not – I was making that show my way – emphasizing (the unique) situation and on character, and employing a laugh-inducing approach less dependent on the traditional “setup-punchline” formulation.

Standing on that Best of the West soundstage, I absorbed my boss’s insightful observation,

Smiling all the way down to my bones. 

Shortly thereafter – and you probably knew this was coming – the work became agonizingly difficult again, and I felt like the unluckiest man in the world.

Which I wasn’t.

I was not even the unluckiest man in show business.

1 comment:

Wojo said...

Recently saw Leonard Frey in a Barney Miller episode (he was running for President but being short of campaign funds, he robbed a bank, all the while continuing to campaign, passing out literature to the bank employees, etc.); he was very good. Such a pity to lose such a talent so young.

Isn't that fairly common, the older we get, to be appreciative of some of the things we accomplished many years ago? The closer I get to the pyre, the more appreciative I am of some of those notches in the early years.