After my body had its hat handed to it by my evening run, my heart took a serious punch to the gut during a phone call that I had hoped would go so much better. As a result, I spent most of the night tossing and turning, having horrible dreams, and waking up at 5AM with serious stomach pains.
Clearly, that was some punch I took to the stomach…
Alas, my pain is your gain and I have found the silver lining to it all. Since I can’t get back to sleep (the nightmares are just waiting for me!), I thought I’d come outside and write a Friday morning post. The rain is an added bonus as the sound of it usually soothes me.
I got my first paying writing job at 19. I was going to NYU and interning at Chauncey Street Productions. The company sold a game show idea to AMC (yes, I used to write for the channel that now brings us “The Walking Dead”!) and I was tasked with coming up with the sample shows that were used to convince the channel that the show would be a hit.
Once they bought the idea, and “The Movie Masters” went into production, we moved into a production office near the studio where the show would be shot. It was a game show about movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, which was what AMC aired at the time, long before the Zombies, drug dealers, and ad men arrived to change the channel’s content.
I spent most of my days sprawled out on a couch, watching and researching old movies, and coming up with trivia questions. To fuel my creative fire, my boss kept a case of Yoo-Hoo in the fridge and I was never without one either in my hand or nearby (I clearly hadn’t developed my Snapple addiction yet).
The host of the show was the legendary Gene Rayburn, and the celebrity panel was made up of Clive Barnes, Kitty Carlisle-Hart and Peggy Cass. It was pretty cool for a teenage Film Major to get to hobnob with such legends.
The show’s premise was simple: there was a still from a classic movie hidden beneath the tiles on the board. The celebrities were asked the trivia questions that I’d written, and if they answered correctly, that tile was removed from the board to reveal a portion of the photo. The winner was the first one to guess the name of the movie in the photo.
The celebrities played for home viewers, who would be chosen at random from postcards mailed in from the people we hoped would watch the show. Since there were no fans yet when we shot the early episodes, they played for family members of the production staff. As luck would have it, my sister was chosen as one of the viewers for the first episode.
I don’t remember which of the legends was playing for my sister, but I remember that celebrity having several shots to guess the puzzle and win her the big prize (I don’t remember what that was, either, but it was cool). The picture they were trying to identify is at the left. Would you have known the name of the movie?
To make a rambling, ridiculous story short, my sister did not win the big prize. Instead, she got the consolation prize, which was the soundtrack to the movie “West Side Story”.
Bummer. I ended up winning the big prize, though, after this episode. My boss called me into his office later in the week to watch the screening tape, and as the credits rolled, I saw that I was listed as a Writer, rather than as the lowly NYU Intern that I was.
That was pretty cool. 19, drunk on Yoo-Hoo, and a Writing credit under my belt (I hadn’t started wearing togas yet, so I still had a belt).
Look, I managed to find a photo from the show. What do you think?
I’m sure my heart will recover, and that I’ll be up on lampposts singing in the rain again, but for now, I’m going to be a little blue, a little tired, and wearing a toga of mourning.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, that photo that could’ve won my sister the big prize was a still from “Singing in the Rain”…