After Lowell and I had produced a couple of flop series at Paramount, a new President of Paramount had been brought in.
He had immediately upgraded the cuisine in the commissary, which was reflected in his waistline.
His name was Gary Nardino.
He is no longer with us.
I have it on excellent authority that he gauged the situation between Lowell and me, and then proceeded to make every effort to break us up.
In his eyes, I was a liability.
So, instead of just firing me, which would have cost him considerably more money, he made every effort to get me to quit.
He began picking major fights with me over absolute minutia.
It was like that TV play and movie, written by Rod Serling, called "Patterns"
It was a boardroom drama.
Everett Sloane played the CEO of a company, and he tried to coerce Ed Begley Sr., from middle management, to resign, in order to save the company a lot of money.
Begley took all of Sloane's shit, as I took all of Nardino's shit.
Lowell and I had been in the middle of doing a pilot for each of the three networks.
Lowell had been invited to direct one of the pilots.
I, of course, wasn't.
This pulled me down several rungs of the ladder publicly.
This didn't matter to Lowell one whit.
On the ABC pilot, Nardino was particularly verbally abusive to me.
And I took it, complaining to Lowell about how I was being treated.
In his Emmy interview, he implied that I suggested that we walk off that pilot.
I simply was not that stupid to expect Lowell to show any support for me.
I therefore would NEVER suggest to him that we walk off of the pilot.
What actually happened was that HE suggested that "Maybe we should walk".
I was stunned.
Had I finally turned him in to some semblance of Sam Spade?
I said "Are you sure about this?"
He said "Absolutely!"
And we walked.
They hired two other people to produce the pilot that we had written.
And two days later, he went back to Nardino, apologized to Nardino, in effect kissed his ass, and was back in his good graces.
All of this without telling me about it.
Once again leaving me to twist in the wind, and watch my contract not be renewed, while Lowell's was doubled.
This, I believe, was his main motivation.
To this day, I don't know if Lowell and Nardino were in "Cahoots" or not, but I certainly don't discount the possibility.
In his Emmys interview, Lowell stated that at that point, the studio hated me, and the network hated me.
I don't necessarily think he was wrong.
I know that Nardino hated me. Or at least postured that he did.
But I had no knowledge that the network hated me.
He then asked "What was I supposed to do?
Well, there were other studios, and overtures had been made to us.
And he could have informed me that the network hated me.
I was a Man Without a Country.
All of a sudden, two rather powerful agents began romancing me.
Literally sending be flowers and candy.
They were desperately trying to represent me.
They were putting visions of sugar plum development deals in front of me.
I cautioned them: "I really don't think my future is as rosy as you seem to think it is."
They wouldn't hear of it.
So I signed with them, and immediately got meetings with major heavyweights of TV.
Grant Tinker, Lee Rich, and I forget who else.
One by one, they each put hefty development deals on the table.
The agents were true to their word.
Then, one by one, these deals were just as hastily withdrawn.
All within a week and a half.
Did this kind of thing ever happen to anyone you know?
I was absolutely devastated.
But not necessarily surprised.
I ended up with some crummy deal at Warner Brothers, where they gave up on me as soon as they found out they couldn't get me pilot meetings.
And of course, my new agents blamed ME for all of this.
They even wanted me to return the flowers and the candy.
Garry Marshall then came to my rescue, telling me he was going to hire me as the show runner on "The New Odd Couple".
But he didn't, at first.
Gary Nardino was still running Paramount, and he wanted no part of me.
It took the absolute failure of the show runner and staff they DID hire for Garry Marshall to then force me down Nardino's throat.
ABC was ready to pull the plug after seeing the first and only episode they had shot without me.
I came in, they loved what I did, and ABC began promoting the show heavily.
Even Nardino began embracing me.
Because he finally was able to see what I can do.
And the same network that Lowell claimed hated me, and found me "difficult to work with" (the kiss of death), loved me, and thought I was a pussycat.
But the lasting impression that Lowell made in his interview was that studios and networks hated me and found me difficult to work with.
Thirty-four years later.
He didn't make any pass at updating things.
Why did Lowell do all these things?
I don't think it was anything personal.
He firmly believed that the worse I looked, the better he looked.
Even thirty-four years later.
And that's all that mattered.
And it has become a reflex action with him to take a crap on me whenever possible.
We'll wrap things up next time.
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 available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.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."