SPEECH TO THE PALM SPRINGS WRITERS GUILD -- OCT. 1, 2011
HITS, MISSES, AWARDS, AND FLOPS -- Professional Writing -- A Constant Lesson In Humility
COSBY FACT OR FICTION
It’s been a long time since the heyday of The Cosby Show, and my participation as a writer and producer -- and so I found it curious recently that two magazine articles appeared within weeks of each other focusing on the writing of the show. Both journalists took different points of view -- one implied that there was an atmosphere of mentorship in which Bill Cosby gently guided people towards the correct path of creative excellence -- the other exposed the fact that the key writers on a black television show were white, almost suggesting that there was a fiendish Caucasian conspiracy. A wise man and show-business veteran once gave me some sage advice, “Never get in a pissing match with the press.” Nonetheless, in the comfort of my own website, I’d like to express my point of view of the stories. When I was hired to write for The Cosby Show I was given a six-episode trial contract with the following words of cheer, “In season one, Mr. Cosby fired nearly every writer on the show. The same will happen to you if he doesn’t like your work. There’s nothing anyone can do to protect you. You’re on your own. Good luck.” Over the next five years, I don’t recall one gentle moment of mentoring from Bill, only the justified adamant expectation that we should continue writing and producing a top-quality show. As for the Caucasian conspiracy theory, I’m wondering why the journalist didn’t contact the boss himself. Due to the unprecedented success of The Cosby Show, there wasn’t a more powerful person in Hollywood than Bill Cosby. When he talked, people listened and obeyed, network executives, studio heads, producers, actors, writers, the list is endless. To think that anyone working in any capacity on The Cosby Show was there without Bill Cosby’s authority is ridiculous -- white or black, man or woman. I certainly agree with the intent of this article -- to convey that black people have had a rough time of it in Hollywood, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes -- I just feel that in the case of The Cosby Show, they picked the wrong vehicle to make their point.
GK on "Conversations with Gloria Greer" - Part One
GK on "Conversations with Gloria Greer" - Part Two
I was asked to write a piece for a website called Work Stew -- a collection of essays centering on career -- they wanted me to zero in on my time on Madison Avenue and subsequent transition to Hollywood (the money-making periods of my writer’s life) -- I’ve been asked many times before to reveal the secret formula for success in the commercial ranks -- normally I play softball, not wanting to frighten newcomers with the harsh realities of professional scriptwriting -- this time I decided to come out swinging -- offering what I believe is an essential ingredient in turning Hollywood fantasies into reality…