Imagine it's 1959, and you are Blake Edwards.
You have a meeting with the head of series development at CBS.
You are invited into the room, where four or five executives are seated, and stand to greet you.
Everybody sits, and you go into your pitch:
Edwards: Fellas, I have this years big hit action show for you right here in my pocket.
I did it last year for NBC with "Peter Gunn", this year. I can do it for you.
Exec: Will there be violence? We love violence!
Edwards: Ohhhh, there'll be violence. Exactly like on "Peter Gunn" We'll be in shadows much of the time, our hero will be constantly surrounded by cardboard villains who have the drop on him. He'll finesse his way out of it. This will lead to fistfights, where he is outnumbered, shootouts where he never has a weapon, yet always emerges unscathed.
Exec: Will the hero have an exciting name, like Peter Gunn?
Edwards: Ohhhh, the excitingest.
Exec: Good. Because Craig Stevens is pretty boring. He needed an exciting name like Peter Gunn.
Edwards: Hey! Don't you think I've thought of that? Peter Gunn has been in the Top Ten all year with a boring leading man.
We surrounded him with interesting supporting characters, and shot him in semi-darkness. That did the trick.
And this show has an exotic locale. A gambling ship. Located just outside the twelve mile limit, where gambling is legal.
Exec: So the hero is not a detective. So where does the violence come in?
Edwards: People are always trying to rob the ship. Or people on the ship.
Exec: But the cops have no legal juristiction. So who helps him?
Edwards: He has a friend on the police force who helps him
Exec: Is this the kind of thing that happens in life?
Edwards: Life? What life? This is television!
Exec: Tell me more.
Edwards: Remember the movie "Mr. Lucky"?
Exec: Oh, yeah. In the forties. It had Cary Grant.
Edwards: And he had a gambling ship.
Exec: Don't tell me you got Cary Grant?! It's a deal!
Edwards: Well, not exactly.
Edwards: But we got the next best thing! A guy who is a dead ringer for Cary Grant!
Exec: Is he any good?
Edwards: What good? Is Craig Stevens any good? We'll get Henry Mancini to do the music, give it a great theme song, just like Peter Gunn, and we'll surround him with interesting, funny supporting actors, just like Peter Gunn. And it's got gambling! Just like "Casablanca!
What other show has gambling?
Exec: You've got a firm thirty-nine on the air this fall!
And so, "Mr. Lucky", the series, was born.
And died after those thirty-nine episodes.
Edwards did deliver on interesting supporting actors.
He brought Ross Martin to our attention for the first time.
He was charming as hell, and this was before the days that anyone knew that he could play ANYTHING.
Pippa Scott was Lucky's harebrained heiress girlfriend, and was delightful.
But the show really had no reason to exist.
John Vivyan, who played Lucky, was a complete cipher who came from nowhere and went nowhere fast.
I watched, quite recently, the Cary Grant version of Mr. Lucky.
It was far better.
Because it was about something.
It was about a conman wrestling with his conscience.
And only one scene in it took place on the gambling ship.
And, well, it had Cary Grant.
On the series, most of the scenes took place aboard ship.
The series was about a nice guy, wrestling with thugs.
It was about nothing.
Towards the end of its brief run, it wasn't even about gambling anymore.
Some chickenshit at the network thought that the show might be corrupting Americas youth by making a hero out of a gambler.
So they turned his floating casino into a floating restaurant.
This ransacked the show of whatever guts it might have had, which wasn't much to begin with.
And after thirty nine or fewer episodes, it went the way of all flesh, as did John Vivyan.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
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Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at email@example.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.
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- mark rothman
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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."