“HOLLYWOOD’S LASTWORD”…….

McKenzieThanks for the response to the Noel Harrison story of my first day in Hollywood..that was how it happened no kidding.

Those of you just coming to this blog today…

You can catch the whole storyline on my website.

The sequence starts with the heading “Noel Harrison” and then goes thru  “Hollywood #1 thru #4.”

A few more things that might blow your mind on the 1967 special that was my first American writing credit  “WHERE THE GIRLS ARE.”

The two runners on the show were Rob Reiner and Richard Dreyfuss two nice excitable Jewish kids from Beverly Hills.

You can see several clips of WTGA on You Tube, they’re in black and white but you can get the show format through the haze. Just go to “Noel Harrison.”

The executive producer Al Burton liked the NBC special so much I was hired immediately as the head writer for another of his specials this time for ABC called “ROMP.”

“ROMP” featured  Jimmy Durante , Liberace, Barbara Eden, and the unassuming Eric Clapton and Cream.

Jimmy and I fell in “Vaudevillian” love and through the latter years of his life he worked all our shows,he used to call me just “BEARD.”

He’d say “Beard ..where’s Beard..get over here!”..

What a complete and utterly fantastic thing to have such a relationship with “the” Jimmy Durante who would put his both his hands on my shoulders look in my eyes and say..

“Okay Sonny Jim what do I do now?..

He was in his 80’s and still sharp as a tack.

I was feeling my oats after that one NBC show that when Al asked me what we should do to make “ROMP” really psychedelic I said:

“Let’s make the whole floor of the stage into squish blocks of 2 feet of colored foam rubber!”…

“Brilliant!”

There was that word again. Just to make sure you know I didn’t this make this stuff up…there’s a 20 second clip of this opening production number from “ROMP” somewhere on You Tube. Look closely and you can see the squishy floor. Also there’s a clip of Barbara Eden singing a duet with Jimmy…its a classic.

Al Burton,already a brilliant success, was later the long time producer of “Charles in Charge” plus producing Diff’rent Strokes and many hit series including Mary Hartman and discovering Michael J Fox and Leonardo Di Caprio…and many stars we love. He also wrote the themes for many of these shows..

The two highly rated and well reviewed specials made my Hollywood star shine bright in a very short time. William Morris was creaming their bell bottoms.

I met director/producer Steve Binder and exec producer Bob Finkel through my then writing partner Allan Blye and was hired to write the “Singer Presents Elvis “1968 comeback special.

Almost at the same time I met a wild-eyed crazy man called George Schlatter who had just finished a weird and wonderful NBC special called ‘LAUGH IN” and my Hollywood fate was sealed…

These are other stories to be told …and tell them I will.

But thank you Al Burton for being responsible for a magical and unbelievably hilarious first day in Hollywood that will remain the perfect storm of a debut to the rest of my life here in fantasy land….

Probably make a great movie along the lines of ‘MY FAVORITE YEAR.”

$50,000,000… tops with a couple of hot kids in the lead roles, some additional jeopardy and a swatch of great smelling teenage girls.

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