Wednesday, May 10, 2017



Episode 26

"You don't need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice" (Old Skydiver Joke)
* * *

"Here's the problem in a nutshell, guys: Fucking Lou is afraid of heights."

Afraid Of Heights?
The person speaking was Nick Corea. And the "Lou" he was referring to was none other than Lou Ferrigno - Bill Bixby’s big green alter ego in The Incredible Hulk.

"No shit," Chris said. "So that explains it."

"Explains what," Corea wanted to know.

"Why you bounced our story about the High Steel Hulk a little while back."

Chris was referring to what we thought was a perfectly good story idea: an episode of the Hulk involving the very dangerous and thrilling occupation of the guys who build our skyscrapers. It would also have given us a last act Hulkout in midair, which the kid in us really wanted to see. (The idea for the story was inspired by one of Chris' favorite books: On High Steel: The Education Of An Ironworker by Mike Cherry.)

Nick grimaced. "Well, I couldn’t exactly admit that Lou soaks his jock when he’s more than five feet off the ground."

Although we all laughed, with Lou being over 6’5" and over 300 pounds, the prospect of a fall from any added height might give even a Strongman pause.

"I don’t get it," I said. "If he’s acrophobic, why did you promise the network a skydiving Hulk story?"

"Fuck if I know," Nick admitted. "We were pitching the new season and it just sort of worked its way into the pitch."

Nick Corea
Nick was Ken Johnson's El Segundo on The Incredible Hulk. A superb story man. Possibly the best in the business. Give him any fact and any character and he could spin a yarn in three seconds flat that would tickle the fancy of the dimmest Network Suit. (It is a previously unheralded fact that the combined IQ of all the Suits at all the Networks might - just might - equal that of a brain-cell challenged chimp) 

However, his talent sometimes caused him trouble - such as the Skydiving Hulk episode we were now discussing.

"But, that’s not all," Nick continued. "There’s another problem. Maybe an even more serious one."

"Wait a minute," Chris said. "I’m still back on Lou fainting at the sight of a ladder. What about Manny? Is he afraid of heights."

Manny Pearl was the black stuntman who doubled for Lou.

"Fuck no," Nick said. "If you look up 'Big Brass Ones' in the Dictionary Of American Slang, you’ll find Manny’s picture there."

"So, why not just have Manny jump in at the last minute like he always does," Chris said, "and fall into an airbag or whatever?"

"That brings us to the second problem, Nick said. "Bixby says there is no way his character would ever jump out of an airplane."

That made sense. The David Banner character hated turning into the Hulk. In the internal logic of the show purposely triggering a skydiving adrenalin spike that would bring on the big green man was out. Bixby, a thorough professional, would never allow such a violation of his character.

An aside: It was our impression that as the seasons went by, Bill and Lou started to take on more and more characteristics of the parts they played. In short, they began to dislike each other. We were told that Bixby was always wanting to do an episode where the Hulk never appeared. And Lou kept lobbying to do an episode in which there was no David Banner. 

All that changed when the show ended and it is my understanding that they remained friends until Bixby’s untimely demise.

"Among the reasons I asked you guys in," Nick added, "is that you are the only writers I know who have ever jumped out of an airplane."

This was only partly true. I was with Lou. Nothing could ever tempt me to engage in the sport of damned fools. Chris, on the other hand, had been an airborne ranger in his Army days and belonged to a skydiving club in civilian life. 

He used to joke: "Didn’t know that airplanes actually landed until I mustered out."

"Let me get this straight," I said. "You want us to write a story about David Banner joining a sky diving team - which Bixby says he’d never do. And Lou turning into the Hulk while parachuting - without Lou ever getting any higher than the first rung of a very short ladder."

"You game?" Nick asked with a wolfish grin.

Chris and I looked at each other. Shrugged.

"What the fuck," Chris said. "The fall will probably kill us anyway." (A line we loved to steal from William Goldman's Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Sums up the choices in life so well, don't you think?)

After that things got complicated. We had to have an airshow, complete with wildly cheering and whistling audience. The Hulk was already special effects heavy, which meant that before you even began shooting, your budget was stretched tighter than a Hollywood starlet’s tank top.

So, how to have an airshow when we couldn’t afford to stage one, and there was no chance of ever finding an event that just happened to be occurring during our shoot?

Producers Jill Sherman Donner,
Jim Hirsch And Karen Harris
I believe it was Karen Harris and her partner, Jill Donner who came up with the solution. They did most of the actual work on the Hulk, rushing around to pick up the pieces that Nick scattered about when he was having one of his attacks of brilliance.

Somehow they tracked down footage of a recent airshow in Palm Desert, or some such place. It included shots of small planes taking off in front of bleachers filled with skydiving fans. Skydiving teams - dressed in team colors - climbing into those planes. Shots of skydivers leaping out into the wild blue whatchamacallit. Helmet shots of skydiving tricks. Parachute landings. Crowds applauding. And so on.

Chris and I studied that footage until - without benefit of inducements - our eyes were a ghastly red. We took careful notes, making sure that we had every detail straight, including the colors the various teams wore so they could match our actors' costumes. 

And we worked out some scenes with very tight shots so they only had to build a tiny piece of the bleachers, filled with our own people, that they could match to the stock footage. And so on.

Finally came the day for first draft notes. Everybody agreed that we had solved the problems. We had delivered a story that got around Bixby’s objections and Lou’s fear of heights.

But, Nick said, there were a couple of fuzzy logic points they’d like to clear up.

Chris raised a warning hand: "Fine, Nick. But be careful. This thing is held together with spit and bailing wire. Pull one string and the whole fucking thing is likely to come apart."

Nick saw his point.

And so they shot the script.

They got Reza Badiyi - one of the best in the TV business - to direct the episode (titled Free Fall) and some superb guest stars. You can get the complete list here.

But the real work was in the editing room, matching live action to the stock footage of the airshow. 

In the end, you couldn’t tell that a plane never once took off, that no one ever was in an airplane, much less jumped out of one.

And the midair Hulkout was the stuff of every kid’s dreams. doesn’t offer that episode for free any longer, thanks to the greedy so-and-so’s at Universal Studios. But if you want to see how Free Fall turned out, and don’t mind paying $1.99 for it, click on this link here. (The full season goes for $12.99)

Full disclosure: if you choose that route, thanks to several Writers Guild Strikes I get about .000000000000000000000000004 cents in residuals. If about a zillion of you go for it, Kathryn and I will take it all and fly to Rio for the Carnival.





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
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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 has issued all three omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. Here are the links to buy the books:

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.

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