Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Neighbors Are Scaring Our Werewolf


It was 1:30 or so in the morning and we were cruising down Wilshire Boulevard, having a good old time, laughing, joking, and singing along to the car stereo. Chris was driving, and with him were me, Kathryn (my wife), Karen (Chris' longtime girlfriend) and my brother, the late Charles Edward Cole, visiting us while on leave from the Army.

The occasion: we were celebrating my brother's graduation from DLI (Defense Language Institute) where he'd finished first in his Arabic class. (Greek was this Irish kid's first language - see why in Lucky In Cyprus.)

We'd been to Universal Studios for a Wrap Party and enjoyed a late dinner at Musso & Frank 's Grill, where the drinks were strong, the food grand and the average age of the of waiter/owners rivaled Methuselah's 969 years.

There was a full moon hanging over the Hollywood Hills, and somebody made a Lon Chaney joke, and Chris said, "Hang On," and popped Werewolves Of London into the tape player, cranked it up and we heard Warren Zevon wail:

"Ahhhooooo, werewolves of London!"

We all joined in, warbling: "Ahhhooooo... Ahhhooo... Werewolves of London..."

And then Mr. Zevon goes: "Well, I saw Lon Chaney walkin' with the queen, doin' the werewolves of London."

We all sang the next line with him: "I saw Lon Chaney Junior walkin' with the queen, doin' the werewolves of London..."

Then, just as we hit the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Mr. Zevon growls: "I saw a werewolf drinkin' a Pina Colada at Trader Vic's... And his hair was perfect!"

And Chris cries, "There's Trader Vic's," and sure enough, up ahead was the distinctive Tiki Bar outline of Trader Vic's, and quick like a werebunny, Chris whips the wheel over and we bump into the parking lot, singing, "Ahhhhhoooo... Ahhhooooo... Werewolves of London."

Giggling like fools, we piled out of the BMW and trooped into the place. Thank God it was empty and there were no witnesses, because we all bellied up to the bar, behaving pretty much like a bunch of underage kids with phony ID's.

Chris pounded the bar, crying, "Barkeep! Barkeep! Pina Coladas for the House."

This was a drink none of us would normally imbibe - firm believers all in the ancient dictum, "Thou Shalt Not Drink Strong Spirits Thou Canst Not Taste The Alcohol In."

The umbrella-and-silly-fruit drinks arrived and Chris called for a toast: "The Werewolf Of London."

We all cheered and drank. Wiping the foam from my lips I swiveled in my tiki-basket stool and saw that we were not alone in the bar after all. A vaguely familiar figure was ensconced in a booth with a lovely young lady.

I stared. And stared. And then it gradually dawned on me that I was looking at none other than David (The Fugitive) Janssen! As recognition dawned, I saw him reach up and smooth an amazing head of expensively coiffed hair.

"Look," I stage whispered to the others.

They looked and immediately got it.

"Fuck me," Chris said. "His hair is fucking perfect!"

And so it was. Smooth, and wavy and carefully parted and frozen into place with some kind of spray-on gunk.  We all burst into uncontrollable laughter, spewing Pina Colada all over the place. And it was just perfect, because so was Janssen's hair. (Here... Cut your eyes to the left and see for yourself.)

Anyway, I don't know what poor Mr. Janssen must have thought about the laughing idiots at the bar. From what friends have told me since, the late actor was a gentleman of the first order. But that night we couldn't control our mirthful fits. So, we polished off our Pina Coladas and fled giggling into the night, leaving the bartender a huge tip and Mr. Janssen, no doubt (carefully) scratching his perfect hair.

The next day... which would be too good to be true, but what the hell, this is my story so it was the next damned day... I was humming Werewolves Of London when the phone rang. Chris grabbed it, face brightening when he heard who was calling.

"It's the Lupo," he announced.

He toggled the speaker phone in time for me to hear Frank Lupo 's distinctive voice gravel: "Hey, guys, How ya' doin'?"

We said we were fine, thank you, boss and what could we be doing for you on this fine morning?

"Got a new show on Fox," Frank said. "Maybe you heard about it?"

We hadn't and Frank said, "It's called Werewolf."

Chris and I looked at each other, flashing on the previous night's hilarity. We almost burst out laughing.

"Come again, boss?" Chris managed to say. "What's it called?"

"Werewolf," Frank said. And before we could lapse into hysteria, he added, "The hero's a kid who's a werewolf."

"But werewolves kill people, Frank," Chris said, coming off his humor high.

A patented Lupo chuckle. "That's what the guys at Fox said, and I told them, 'Wait'll you see the fuckin' bad guy.'"

We said pray tell us more and Frank said, "It's a Fugitive kind of thing," and both of us flashed on the perfectly coiffed David Janssen with his girl.

Lupo went on to explain that the hero is bitten by the king of the werewolves, becomes a werewolf himself, then is unjustly accused of his best friend's horrible murder. So, he's on the lam from the law - represented by a Javert-like cop named Alamo Joe - searching for the King Werewolf. If he kills him, he'll not only get his revenge, but will break the werewolf spell.

"Whaddya think, guys?" he asked. "Wanna do a script for me?"

Chris said, "Is the Bear Catholic? Does the Pope shit in the woods."

I translated: "Damn straight, Frank!"

And in blink of the eye (in television time), Frank messengered over a tape of the pilot episode and, voila! - we sold the first of what was to be a string of thirteen Werewolf scripts - The Wolf Who Thought He Was A Man. Two blinks later, we'd delivered that script, made the changes, then were on to yet another: "The Black Ship." (See The Werewolf Page )

The show was a writerly blast. It was a half-hour, two-act, drama - a throwback to the days of yore when that format wasn't reserved for laugh-track comedies. Less commercials, that was twenty-two minutes of airtime, which Chris and I always thought was the perfect length for tasty little short stories with crackerjack endings.(If you think about it, most one-hour shows are ridiculously padded out to fill the hour and if you blew away all the fluff, you just might have a decent half-hour left. Other means of padding include the current craze for many-leveled flashbacks: Twenty Minutes Earlier, or Twelve Months Earlier, or It Happened Before - But, Fuck If I Know What Day, Much Less What Time It Was.)

In Frank's new series, John J. York played the unfortunate young fugitive and werewolf in training. The detective obsessed with his capture was limned by Lance LeGault,  a marvelous character actor who played on many of Frank's shows. (Most famously, the character of Col. Decker in The A-Team.)

The King of The Werewolves - Janos Skorzeny - was portrayed by none other than the late unlamented Chuck Connors. And when Chris and I saw him menacing young Mr. York in the pilot we Believed that his character was pure villainy.

As we watched, Chris said, "Where in Hell has he been hiding his Bad Guy chops all these years? Old Chucky Poo is the perfect TV series Son Of A Bitch, if I ever saw one."

How big of a son of a bitch old Chucky-Poo was in real life, we'd learn just a little bit down the road.

(Case in point: a Chuck Connors interview with Arsenio Hall about Werewolf on the Fox Network 's Late Show.

We were still working on the "Black Ship" when Frank called yet again.

"Hey guys," he said, "how'd'ja like to come over and run my story department?"

Halle-damned-lujah! Would we!

Lupo was bar none the most fun producer we had ever worked for. I don't mean, party, hilarity, fun. I mean, pure writer-type fun. He had even made Galactica 1980 (where we first met) almost bearable. Okay, even he couldn't work that miracle, but he by God tried.

Frank was a lot like another favorite writer/producer, Nick Corea (See "Showdown At The Incredible Hulk ), in that he was a serious writer, himself. He gave you free rein to write what you wanted, as long as you hit the basic marks in the series. Which in Werewolf meant that you had to have a last act Wolfout. You could have more than one transformation, but you didn't want to overdo it because of (a) expense, and (b) the audience might become jaded.

As Chris put it: "You gotta keep to the Steven King Rule (Danse Macabre) rule, which is don't show the monster until you absolutely have to. Tease 'em, tighten the scare-me screws, then, Fucking RowLLLL! and they're guaranteed to piss their goddamn pants."

Anyway, for a change we really loved the idea of working on staff. It was Frank Lupo, for crying out loud! The only wrinkle was that we had two other offers for story exec jobs at that time: High Mountain Ranger, starring Robert Conrad and The New Zorro, helmed by another buddy of ours - Michael Halperin.

The reason we were so sought was partly due to the publication of the paperback version of our Vietnam novel - A Reckoning For Kings.

Although the hardcover had gotten zip support from the publisher, Athenaeum Books, (we were "orphaned" three times, plus the company was bought out by Scribner's) the reviews had been universally fabulous and the book was nominated for many awards.

Then Random House (or, as Chris called it: Rum-Dum House ), the parent company of Ballantine/Del Rey Books, which also published the Sten Series, stepped into the breach and bought the paperback rights for ten times what the pikers at Athenaeum had paid us for the hardcover.

The first print run was one million books. You heard right - One Million!

Chris and I realized exactly what that meant one day when we made a mid-day run to Boy's Market in the Marina Del Rey.

As we approached the entrance, the automatic doors hissed open and we stepped out of the bright sun into the cool interior of the store. Blinking like Mr. Mole and His Cousin emerging from spring cleaning chores, we found ourselves staring at an impressively tall revolving paperback rack.

It was an amazing sight, because from top to bottom there was not one, but three rows of A Reckoning For Kings. Each slot packed five or six books deep.

Chris hissed, "Son of a bitch, Cole, look!"

"I'm looking, I'm looking," I said.

Numb, we tottered over to the rack. Took a couple out. Flipped pages. Examined our picture on the back. Looked at the cover again. Studied the bylines.

"Shit, it's really ours!" Chris said.

Then he was yanking at my arm, saying, "Would you look at fucking that, Cole!"

I turned to see where he was pointing. At first, all I noticed was row after row of check out aisles. Cash registers. Check out people operating them. Racks of candy and magazines and...

Damn! And there was Reckoning again! Stuffed in every single rack for what must have been twenty aisles. Except for a few scatological exclamations, we were left speechless.

Then awareness partly returned. Chris said, "Come on. Let's get the stuff and split, before I come down with a case of the fucking vapors."

We got the stuff, then stood in line as the check-out person punched in our purchases. (This was before the days of the carpal tunnel destroying SKEW scanners.) It was my turn to pay and I scribbled a check, tore it out, reached into my pocket for ID. Then stopped.

I could feel a huge grin growing across my face. And instead of my pocket, I reached for a copy of Reckoning.

Then I turned and slapped the book and check on the counter, telling the Check Out Lady, "I've waited my whole life to do this. Here's my check. And here's my ID."

The lady smiled, but looked confused.

I tapped the book, indicating my byline. "That's me," he said. "Allan Cole." I flipped it over, displaying the authors' picture on the back. Indicated my mug shot. Then pointed at my real-life face. "See? It's really me!"

The light dawned for the Check Out Lady and she laughed. "Congratulations," she said.

The other people in line got the spirit. Vacant-shopper looks turned to smiles. Everyone congratulated us and a few people even grabbed copies of the books for us to autograph in the grocery store line.

The store manager came over to see what the noise was about and he immediately joined the show. He set up a card table and some chairs at the entrance to the store, stacked up piles of books and we had an impromptu autograph session right there and then.

We drove home euphoric as all hell.

"Fuck a bunch of lunch," Chris said. "I'm for getting plotzed."

"Here, here," I said.

And so that's what we did.

Before long the word about Reckoning spread, and job offers started pouring in. We turned them all down except the before mentioned High Mountain Ranger and Zorro. (Both shows were run by people liked, especially Robert Conrad.) We were thinking those offers over when Frank phoned with his Siren, "Ahhhooooo... Werewolf Of London..." call.

In the end, they say, Blood will out. In our case, that was literal. Gobs of it.

So, we packed up our silver bullets and headed over the Hill to join Frank on his new show.

After we got settled into our office, found the coffee alcove and the men's room, Frank came by to see us.

"Guys," he said, "I know you're busy on your next script."

We said we were - by now we were on to "Let Us Prey," a Werewolf episode set in a monastery.

"Great," he said. "But while you're workin' on that, I want you to start thinking about something else."

"How can we help you, boss?" Chris asked.

Frank grinned and said, "I want you guys to fuckin' kill Chuck Connors for me."




A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, An 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.

Note to subscribers: Lucky In Cyprus will be available there in a few weeks. Save a credit!

Meanwhile, 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,
  • *****




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.




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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