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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ben Gazzara Day On The OTN.

Ben Gazzara was one of our most interesting and compelling actors.
He had many appearances on the small screen, and I didn't take advantage of as many opportunities to catch him as I should have.
He was great in all those Cassavetes movies.
He was great in a Peter Bogdanovich movie I referenced recently called "Saint Jack", and another wonderful Bogdanovich
movie, "They All Laughed", where he displayed his wonderful flair for comedy.
He was great in "Anatomy of a Murder".
He was just simply great.

He starred in two OTN-worthy series.
Neither of which I saw very often.
Much to my regret.
The first was "Arrest and Trial"
"Arrest and Trial" was the immediate ancestor to "Law and Order"
The first half-hour depicted the arrest being made, and the second half-hour was devoted to thrashing it out in court.
Sound familiar?
Ben Gazzara co-starred with Chuck Connors.
Gazzara was the cop in the "Arrest" portion, and Connors was the D.A. in the "Trial" portion.
Does that not seem out of whack to you?
Shouldn't the brawnier Connors have played the cop, and the more intellectual Gazzara play the D.A.?
Maybe that's why I didn't watch it very often.
I couldn't get past what seemed to me to be backwards casting.
But subsequently, everything I have seen him do has been worth the trip.
So I would like to catch up with "Arrest and Trial"

Shortly after "The Fugitive" began its run on ABC, NBC decided to attempt to cash in on its success by casting Ben Gazzara as his own kind of Fugitive in "Run For Your Life"
In this show, instead of Lieutenant Gerard following him around, it was the Grim Reaper.
He is told by doctors that he has a terminal illness.
One, maybe two years to live.
And he goes around the world, getting involved in people's lives, anthology style, just like the Fugitive.
The series lasted about four years, thus negating its own premise.
And I found myself somewhat turned off by the premise itself.
An eighteen year-old doesn't like to think much about death.
So I didn't watch that one much either.
But in my later years, I found admiration for Gazzara's work in general, and finding myself playing the back nine myself, has caused me to want to seek out this show.
It hasn't been seen in quite a while, so where better than on the OTN?

Until next time,

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
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
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. If you do get around to checking out "Arrest And Trial" (some episodes are available on DVD), you should note two factors, both of which contributed to its short run:

    - "A&T" is 90 minutes, not an hour.

    - Chuck Connors is a defense attorney, not a DA.

    This last was what threw 1963 audiences:
    Who were you supposed to root for?
    Gazzara tracking the guy down?
    Or Connors getting him off?
    Actualy, this was one of those "anthology in disguise" shows, where the regulars were a backdrop to the guest stars.

    There's a blog by a veteran director named Ralph Senensky, whererin he recounts his experiences on many series over the years.
    "Arrest And Trial" was one of his stops, and what he has to say here might interest you.

    As for "Run For Your Life" -
    - another "anthology in disguise", with Ben standing and nodding while the guest stars acted up a storm (or mainly just acted up).
    On that basis, it was one of the better ones.

    Late in life, Ben Gazzara admitted to hating both shows, pretty much for the above stated reasons.
    But I'd join your motion to give both another look.

  2. My city has a theatrical company that has been around for many years and has a very good reputation. A number of well-known performers have acted there -- including Sam Waterston, James Whitmore and Jean Stapleton (whose husband directed her play and died during its run, and she went on anyway, but that's another story).

    Anyway, some years ago Ben Gazzara played Yogi Berra in a one-man show that I think was a tryout for Broadway. I believe he received good reviews but I don't think the play made it to New York.

    One day during its run, a friend of mine was at the local ballpark (we have a Triple-A International League team) and saw a guy sitting by himself, watching the game. It was, of course, Ben Gazzara, and my friend introduced himself and they had a nice, brief conversation -- no I'm a Master Thespian Don't Bother Me kind of stuff. Gazzara is one of those guys whom I admire the more I see of him.

    "Run for Your Life" was one of those shows that I couldn't stay up to watch unless it was during summer vacation. One episode I've always wanted to see features Don Rickles in a dramatic performance as a broken-down comic. I've heard Rickles was very, very good.

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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 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."