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Thursday, November 18, 2010

And Then I Wrote......

For my next and last number, I'd like to introduce you to a little ditty entitled "Welcome To Fleckmans".

A little background: Shortly after "Laverne and Shirley hit the airwaves and became this humongous hit, CBS wanted to get, as they say, "into bed" with Lowell Ganz and myself.
See, we, or at least me, were so young, and so dumb, that we actually thought that the industry finally figured out how talented we were.
They didn't figure out anything.
We were in the aura of an humongous hit.
Somebody figured out that we might have had something to do with it, since we shared "Created by" credit, and produced it.
Little did they know how right they were.
So even when they knew something, they didn't know anything.

CBS treated us like royalty.
We did two unsuccessful series for them, and two other unsold pilots.
After that, they treated us like commoners.

But over lunch in the CBS Executive Dining Room during our Royalty Period, the attitude was essentially "Whatever you want to do, we want to do it with you".
And the question was put to us "What star in the wide world would you guys like to work with?

After only a few moments of hesitation, one of us, I forget who, piped up with "Rita Moreno".
And the other quickly agreed.
Rita Moreno had appeared in one of Garry Marshall's failed pilots, which we helped out on.
Onstage, she simply oozed talent and professionalism.
Offstage, she simply oozed humor and charm.

Then they asked us "What kind of show would you like to do with her?
We, of course, had nothing.
We were not prepared for this line of questioning.
We tapdanced a little until one of us, I forget who, recalled that we had wanted to do a series that took place at a Catskill-type Mountain Resort Hotel.
We ad libbed a pitch where Rita was the social director of the place, a rather run-down version of a Catskill resort hotel.
She inherits it when the owner dies, and is faced with being the boss after spending her whole life as an employee
Was she up to the challenge?

CBS lapped up everything we were saying, and gave the go ahead for a pilot.

We had done a series called "Busting Loose" for CBS, which lasted a year, and along the way, did an episode where the five young guys who comprised the "gang" in "Busting Loose" go on a Singles Weekend at the Hotel Fleckman.
This episode was mentioned in my post "The Kid In The Papoose"

So what we basically wanted to do was spin off the set.
We still had the set, so it was easy to do.
We surrounded Rita with very funny people like Louis Nye and Victor Buono.
And creatively, I thought it was quite successful.

We were going to base the stories on Lowell's actual experiences at his grandparents' Mountain Resort, which was called "Mountain View Hotel and Day Camp".
The sign at the entrance read "Mountain View.Hotel and Day Camp. Filtered Pool."
So of course, that's how everyone referred to the place:
"Mountain View Hotel and Day Camp Filtered Pool".

This gave me a natural hook to the title song.
We changed the name of the hotel to Fleckmans, were going to call the show "Welcome To Fleckmans", and in the song, I was going to repeatedly refer to it as
"Fleckmans Hotel and Day Camp Filtered Pool."
Because Rita was a Latin from Manhattan, and a Forty-Second Streeter, I decided to give the song a calypso beat.
With soft guitars in the background.
Because of time constraints, a calypso beat proved to be too slow.
We had to speed it up, to the point where it sounded like a TV or radio jingle.
It worked that way, too.
It wasn't until this point that Rita had actually glommed on to what I was trying to do with it.
But, trouper that she was, she put it over in grand style.

I said that today, I was going to introduce you to "Welcome To Fleckmans".
I believe I have fulfilled my duty in that regard.
But after what might seem to be a rather long-winded but necessary setup, I'm going to postpone putting up the actual lyrics until Tuesday, because I still have too much to say about how the song was put together, and how the visuals matched the lyrics.
So if you're still with me on Tuesday, you might want to harken back to today's article as a refresher course.

I hope to see you then.

Next Tuesday (It's Good Enough For Me).


*****

3 comments:

  1. I must correct. As I recall it was: "Mountainview Cottages and Day Camp. Filtered Pool.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We aim to please.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."