Thursday, February 12, 2009

"A Surreal Moment I Didn't Care For"

I was visiting Toronto when I read in the newspaper that CBS had cancelled Major Dad. We were staying at the Four Seasons Hotel. Anna liked it there. They gave you popcorn in a Frisbee.

The article said that Major Dad had been dropped from its Friday night time-period, and been replaced by a new comedy starring Robert Urich.

I felt terrible. A show with my name in the credits, a show that paid me regular royalties was going away. Of course, the cancellation wasn’t just about me. People I knew would be losing their jobs. But getting back to me, if Major Dad had been picked up for a fifth season, I was contractually entitled to an enormous bonus. How much would I have received?

A millium dollars.

I can’t say it the real way. It’s too painful, even today.

I had some “cancellation steam” to work off, so I threw on some sweats and went to work out at the Four Seasons gym. I got on the treadmill and I started to walk. I don’t run, but fueled by the anger at the people who had cancelled my show, I was walking with intensity.

“Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.”

From my encasement of grumbliness, I glanced over at the man who was exercising beside me. I blinked. I looked again. I blinked again. It was totally surreal. The man on the treadmill beside me was…

Robert Urich.

The guy whose show was replacing mine.

You know how on a computer, you click on something and you drag it to someplace else? That’s exactly how it felt.

CBS had clicked on my millium dollars and dragged it over to Robert Urich.

It was not a long drag.

He was standing three feet away!

I could watch my money, floating out of my grasp, and falling gently into his.

Bye-bye, millium dollars.


Tomorrow: A Surreal Moment I Liked


Rusty James said...

That's hilarious Earl. The Howard Johnston's used to give ice cream in mini MLB helmets.

Anonymous said...

Kinda like getting 5 lottery numbers in a row as they're being called out on TV, only to have the sixth number burst your dream of sailing the Caribbean in a yacht teeming with Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. I remember getting a big scoop of chocolate ice cream in a plastic baseball cap at a Dodger game.

Anonymous said...

We feel your pain; and "cancellation steam" is so wonderfully evocative. I assume one of the benefits of being a writer is that, no matter how unpleasant the occurrence, it at least can give you material

From the “Spenser (‘with an S like the poet’) for Hire” ABC series, we have a framed/signed Robert Urich one sheet in the den urging me to, “Give ‘em hell in Texas.” I had no idea he did that personally in Canada! In Boston, they pronounced it “rabbit yurich” (as in y’r rich) – which I always thought would make a great sequel to Updike's "Rabbit is Rich," but as told by a second-person narrator.

Incidentally, the guy may have been visiting in-laws; his wife Heather Menzies was originally from Toronto. I think her first movie role was as one of the Trapp family children in “The Sound of Music,” which is another reason you may have felt cornered. I could never remember which one, so if somebody asked, I always guessed fa.