Wednesday, March 8, 2017

We Burn The Schoolship Part Deux

Episode 17

"Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home."
David Frost

"They say that ninety percent of TV is junk. But, ninety percent of everything is junk.
Gene Roddenberry
* * *

The Cure To All Our Ills
Dolly entered our office, clutching the daily hotsheets. A mischievous grin lighting the way. “Guess who’s directing the schoolship episodes?” she asked.

“Irwin Allen!” Chris blurted.

“No, he’s a producer, silly,” Dolly said.

Chris knew this, of course. Allen, of “Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno” fame was known far and wide as “The Master Of Disaster.” But little did we realize that someday we would come to know him too damned well as “The Towering Toupee.” 

“Well, who then?” I asked. Our fates rested on the hopefully puny shoulders of whoever shot the two parter. With luck, it'd fail so badly that the ratings would dip below a thirteen Nielsen share and Chris and I might escape our contracts.

Wishing I was the praying sort, I glanced over at the sign we'd posted on our door:


Dolly, who knew how badly we wanted off the lot, put a hand to her bosom and intoned, “Man… Woman… Birth… Death… Infinity!”

Chris goggled at her. “Sam Jaffee?” he said. “Gunga Goddamned Din?”

He poured Remy into our coffee cups. “Cole, we’re up shit creek with nary a paddle in sight,” he groaned. “Jaffee’s talented, even if he is older than God.”

I looked at Dolly with pleading eyes. “Tell us it ain’t so, Dolly,” I said. “Lie to us.”

“No lies are necessary,” Dolly said. “I’m speaking of none other than that heart throb of the Sixties doctor shows, Vince Edwards. Ben Casey in the ever lovin’ Italian Stallion flesh.”

Sam Jaffe & Vince Edwards
Chris and I felt much better. Vince Edwards had peaked in the early Sixties during the five years that he played surly neurosurgeon, Ben Casey. (1961-1966)

Sam Jaffee had played his boss and also did the intro to the show - Man, woman, etc. Almost two decades had gone by since then. To my rookie mind that meant Edwards had been reduced to directing loser TV shows. (In those days TV directors were never as big a deal as their Brethren Of The Big Screen. They were for hire per episode and the cast regulars and staff producers and writers had way more clout.)

“I’ve heard good things about him,” Dolly said.

“Don’t tell us,” I begged.

Chris pointed at the door. “Get thee back to the winch, wench,” he said.

Laughing at our plight, Dolly returned to her duties as the chief scrounger of Cole And Bunch Productions.

An aside: We had loan out companies to keep our taxes low. Mine was called, “No, No, Don’t Do That.” It was my dream that I’d make a fortune with that company. Producers would call to consult and try out things, like: We’re going make a sequel to “Casablanca.” You know, what happened to the guys after the plane took off?

And I’d say, “No, no, don’t do that.” And they’d drop the picture idea, save a bundle of money and pay me a ten thousand dollar consultant fee. (A TV sequel was actually boarded - lasted three episodes, I think. Also a prequel to The African Queen, for crying out loud.)

Chris’ loan out company was called, “Whatever The Gorilla Wants.” No explanation necessary. Says it all.

The phone rang. Chris picked up. “This anyone with good news or money?” he demanded. He listened a full half-second. “No? Then fuck off.” He slammed the phone down.

“I hope it was somebody who realized you were joking,” I said. “Somebody who saw ‘A Thousand Clowns’  and remembered the Jason Robards bit.”

“It was the EatAnter,” Chris said. He frowned. “He hasn’t been a producer long enough to get that stupid, has he?”

The EatAnter was Jeff Freilich, co-producer, along with Frank Lupo, of Galactica ‘80. Until recently he’d been a lowly writer like us.

“What did Jeff want?” I asked.

Chris shrugged. “Beats the shit out of me,” he said.

The phone rang again. This time I got it. It was the EatAnter. Again. And he was laughing - a hopeful sign.

“That was a good one,” he said. “Chris is lucky I'm a fan of ‘A Thousand Clowns,’ or you guys might be fired.”

“Damn,” I said. “Missed again.”

“Look,” Jeff went on, “I wanted you guys to be one of the first to know. I mean I brought you onto the show, after all. I feel responsible.”

My heart skipped a joyful beat. “We’ve been canceled?” I said. I heard Chris say, “Hot damn,” and crack another bottle of Remy.

More chuckling from the Eatanter. Jesus, he was sounding more like a producer as the days passed. “No, no, nothing like that,” he said. “You guys are safe. We’ve got the schoolship episodes, right? A three plus million dollar spectacle.”

“Right,” I said glumly. Chris heard the woeful tone of my reply and returned the bottle to the booze drawer.

“Plus, we’ve got Ben Casey directing,” he continued. “He’s supposed to be pretty hot. A personal friend of Bing Crosby.”

“He’s dead,” I said. “Crosby, I mean. Died on a golf course in Spain a few years back.”

“Sure, sure, but that’s not the point,” Jeff said. “Crosby discovered Edwards. Gave him a super recommendation, I’m told.”

I was starting to feel better. Recommendations by a dead guy, even if he was Bing (The Crooner) Crosby, boded ill for the show and well for us.

“So, what’s the news, then?” I asked.

“I’m leaving the show,” Jeff said. “Larson’s starting a new series called ‘Battles.’ It’s a detective thing set in Hawaii. Starring old ‘Gunsmoke’ himself, William Conrad.”

William Conrad & Co.
His reference to ‘Gunsmoke’ was the fact that William Conrad was the voice of Matt Dillon in the old Gunsmoke radio series. But he was too damned fat to play him when it went to TV. That role was limned by James Arness. (Brother of Peter Graves of Mission Impossible fame, in case you are curious.) However, Conrad was as massively talented as his girth. (Although a friend who later worked with him on 'Jake And The Fataman' said you couldn't shoot him from the back because it looked like two gunny sacks of potatoes going up and down when he walked away from the camera.)

“Sounds like fun,” I said. “A sure hit.” What I didn’t say was that it was a sure flop if Larson wrote all the episodes like he was doing on Galactica. (This turned out to be true on both counts.)

“Here’s the thing,” Jeff said. “I want you guys to know that if Galactica is canceled I’ll try to get you on at ‘Battles.’”

I bit my tongue. I couldn’t say, please, Jeff, don’t help us. Eatanter that he was, he’d take it the wrong way. Instead, I said, “Well, maybe we could at least bang out a script for you.”

“Well, that’s the other thing,” he said. “We need some scripts pretty fast. I’ll send over the show bible and you guys see what you can come up with.”

I said thanks, made my farewells and turned to Chris. “The good news,” I said, “is that the Eatanter is going to hire us to write a script for William Conrad.” Chris’ eyebrows rose. “The bad news,” I went on, “is that if this show goes tits up, Jeff wants to take us with him to a brand new Glen By God Larson gig.” The eyebrows descended.

“We gotta stop him,” Chris said. “We gotta fucking break his telephone hand or something. Set fire to his fucking hair.”

“Take it easy,” I said, although I didn’t feel too easy myself. “One schoolship burning at a time.”



Can't wait to read the blog each week to find out what happens next? No problem. Click the following link and buy the book. 

Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India

Hear voice artist Colin Hussey's 
Bring all the stories and people 
To life in the audiobook version
Of My Hollywood MisAdventures.



Ever since my British publisher put all eight novels in the Sten series in three omnibus editions, American readers have been clamoring for equal treatment. 

Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening and is issuing all three omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. The first two volumes were issues at the end of 2016. Stay tuned for the publication date of the third and final volume

THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions. 

NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.


A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.



A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA

LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher. 

He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.

Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 

Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
  • "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus. 
  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke,



What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)


A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan

After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm- ravaged night.

BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization. 



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment