Wednesday, June 7, 2017



Episode 30

MEMO FROM IRWIN ALLEN TO BUNCH AND COLE: The network, in its wisdom, has decreed that all episodes (of Code Red) will feature at least two instances of fire. Please see that our writing teams are informed of this.

The legal-size envelope that contained the memo also included a large (folded up) sheet of paper with columns that bore the name of all eight freelance writers or writing teams at the top and a list of sixteen script titles running down the side. A second sheet contained our names, along with Larry Heath's, and columnar space for the four scripts we and Larry had contracted for.

"What the fuck is that shit?" Chris wanted to know.

"I'm not sure," I said, tipping the envelope down.

A river of multi-colored stars spilled all over my desk, my lap, the floor, everything.

Chris barked laughter. "What are we supposed to fucking do, Cole?" he wondered. "Award different color stars to the writers for completing their assignments and spelling words more or less correctly."

"Maybe this explains it," I said, fishing out another sheet of paper.

If was a memo from Irwin's secretary detailing the purpose of the charts and the stars. Some were supposed to show script progress. Others, the number of fires. And the others... well, the other purposes fled my mind the moment I read them. It isn't that she didn't explain things clearly - she was a very intelligent person - it's just that the system defied all logic.

I shoved the explanation over to Chris. He scanned it, then declared, "I'm not fucking doing this."

I didn't blame him. This was not only the lousiest system for tracking writers' assignments that I had ever encountered, it was humiliating to boot. Here we were, grown men - whiskey drinkers at that - and we were supposed to lick the backs of these little stars and stick them beside people's names.

Before I could join him in blasphemy, the phone rang. It was Irwin's secretary. "Did you get Irwin's little present?" she cooed.

"We did," I said, and it was hard to keep the piss off out of my voice.

"I know, I know, it's a bunch of baloney," she said.

"I'd call it something worse than baloney," I replied.

"I couldn't agree more," she said. "But the little stars are nothing. You should see what I have to put up with."

"Doesn't make us feel any better," I said. "We're not kindergarten teachers. We're writers."

Chris shouted to be heard: "And we've got our own little IBM Selectrics to prove it!"

Irwin's secretary said, "Tell Chris that if he wants to keep his Selectric he'd best not displease our Fearless Leader."

"Okay, okay, I'll do the damn stars," I said.

I was about to say bye-bye and hang up when she said, "Wait, there's more."

"You sound like a TV pitchwoman," I said. "Do we get a free set of steak knives if we buy your miracle salad chopper?"

She was kind enough to laugh, which made me feel a little better.

Then she dropped the bomb: "Since we've been cut back to 7 p.m." she said, "our budget has been cut from a little under a million to a little over six hundred thousand."

I was shocked. "But we've just been ordered to have at least two fires a show," I said. "You can't do two fires for six hundred thousand. Hell, I'm not sure you can do two fires a week for a million."

"Yes, but the Studio says they won't deficit finance four hundred thousand dollars," she said. "And Irwin will never pick up the tab, no matter how rich he is."

"What do we do?" I asked, realizing just what the poor sap feels like who finds himself caught between the Devil and the deep brown shithole.

"Irwin said to make one fire small," she said. "Have a little one in the first or second act and save the big one for Act Four."

I sighed. "Okay. I got it. Wastebasket fire in Act One, LA County Dump fire in Act Four."

Then, just to give her a dig - undeserved though it might be: "What color star do we use for the wastebasket fire?" I teased.

Without a beat, she replied, "The brown ones." Then she hung up.

Chris looked at me. He hadn't heard most of the conversation, but he knew from my side of it that things were not good. In fact, they were deplorable.

I filled him in. "Aw, fuck," he said. "On the job less than two weeks and we're already in the shitter."

I had no argument. Sighing, I flattened the sheet of paper and started figuring out which colored stars went where.

Chris' estimate had been dead on. We were wading hip-deep in sewer creek and the waters were steadily rising. Without warning, Code Red, the show we had contractually obligated ourselves to for twenty weeks, had been shifted from a nice 8 O'clock spot to the clottin' Children's Hour.

It was like the Flying Fickle Finger Of Fate had appeared out of the sky just to diddle Bunch & Cole. I mean, once again we were slotted at 7 p.m. Sunday night on ABC, a network we had dubbed Anything But Class long ago. Just like good old Galactica 1980, Sixty Minutes was waiting there on CBS to eat not just our lunch, but breakfast, dinner and any candy bars we might have stashed away. Sixty Minutes regularly grabbed the Number One spot on the weekly Nielsen list and Chris and I were not so foolish as to think we could match them.

I forget what show was on NBC, but the only way we could have taken it out was if it was a documentary series on skiing in downtown Poughkeepsie. And with Irwin The Towering Toupee Allen at the helm, the task was hopeless, hopeless, hopeless.

To make matters worse, there were many other things conspiring against us besides our Alzheimer out-patient boss and his nasty little stars.

There are several very good reasons that the lifespan of your average TV series is shorter than a lab-raised fruit fly.

First off, the guys who originally buy the show are never the same network crew that oversees the series when it goes into production.

Resentful of their colleagues, whom they consider fools (and who is to say they are wrong?) they immediately engage in a lot of leg lifting. They piss all over your project like it was the Great Fire Hydrant at the end of the doggy rainbow.

This had a lot to do with the reasons behind the show's demotion to the Children's Hour. And the recruitment of Adam (The Beach Ball) Rich to bedevil one and all - including really nice people like Lorne Greene and Julie Adams.

Also, as things turned out, there was more than envy at work. In short, they hated Irwin's guts - and who could blame them? He had made many enemies over the years and it seemed that a veritable army of them had converged on Code Red at Columbia Studios for paybacks.

Hence, the demand for two fires a week after a four-hundred-thousand-dollar budget cut.

Making matters worse, our old nemesis, Susan Futterman, the VP of Censorship at ABC, was back to darken every second of our weekly 44-minutes of air time. (Yes, there really are that many ads on TV; actually, it's even more these days.)

Since our viewing audience was supposed to be composed of mostly rug rats, we were only allowed so many "violence beats" (Roughly, a beat is a scripted moment) per episode. As it turned out Susan defined fire of all kinds as a violence beat and since our show was about fires and the men and women who fight them, we were screwed Day One.

In a way, this turned out to be a not such a bad thing. At our current budget, we could set a lot of wastebasket fires, which were pretty damned cheap, and not anywhere so violent.

Chris interrupted my self-propelled rail car of misery. "You know, your wastebasket idea is spot on for this sucker." He was holding up the first draft of a script that had just been turned in. "In Act Two, the Beach Ball accidentally sets his school on fire."

(The Beach Ball, as mentioned before, was the moniker our tech advisor from the fire department had hung on Adam Rich. And you know, when you thought about it, he really did look like a beach ball. Two beach balls, actually. A small one for his head and a larger one for his body.)

Our Fire Budget In Action
Chris continued, "The fire starts in the gym - after the Beach Ball has been chewed out for general mopery. Then spreads to the rest of the school."

He held up a finger, indicating that brilliance was on the way: "But, if we have the principal kick his fat little butt - and put the butt kicking in the principal's office - we can start the fire in the principal's wastebasket. Have it spread to the curtains, if we can afford charred curtains, then somebody rushes in to put it out and finds evidence to falsely accuse the little turd those shitheads at ABC stuck us with."

"I like it," I said. "I'll call the writers and tell them to make the change."

As I reached for the phone Chris said, "Tell them that if they do a good job with the wastebasket we'll give them a gold star."



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 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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