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Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Few Words about Jay.

No, I'm not done with the movie Report Cards, but this is far more topical.
And if not now, when?
I've mentioned before that I've had a couple of personal dealings with Jay Leno in the past, and found him to be extremely pleasant and ingratiating.
I remember seeing him as far back as the early 70's at the Comedy Store and the Improv in L.A., where he worked far hipper, much like he did when he guested on "Letterman", and was as funny as just about anybody.
I think it's pretty apparent that he got some unfairly bad press from the media and from Conan O'Brien, when he reclaimed "The Tonight Show".
It is, after all, a business.
And show business at that.
I watched Jay's interview on "60 Minutes" and was somewhat taken aback by something he said.
When asked if he had felt "screwed" by NBC, he posed the question "If you were told in your 20's that you'd end up making millions of dollars, and then get screwed over and over, would you constantly scream 'I'm always getting screwed!' ?  Or would you take that deal and shut up?"
I must say it stopped me in my tracks for a moment, considering that I have had something of a reputation for crabbing about being screwed over the years.
But then, I recognized that it was not a level playing field.
I've never made the kind of money Jay has, he has far more options than I do, and I've been screwed far more often than Jay and Conan put together.
And usually (not always), I at least have a pretty good public face about it.
Anything to justify crabbing, I guess.

In his early days hosting "The Tonight Show", I never missed Jay's monologues.
And I thought he was quite brave to do essentially 20 minutes of it every night.
And you could tell that he loved it, and I loved it.
It certainly outshined Letterman's, who to this day, looks like he's phoning it in.
And Jay's Vegas act is nothing short of sensational.
Far more about storytelling and sharing life's intimacies with you.

All of this being said, he lost me along the way as a "Tonight Show  (And 10pm)
viewer, and I never returned.
I think it began with the snarky "Jaywalking", the very unhip sketches, and the more and more formulaic nature of the monologues.
My wife Tivoed the final week, but the only one I wanted  to watch was the final show.
The farewell.
It was, of course, an event.
Billy Crystal put together a faux Von Trapp Family, in costume, singing special lyrics to "So Long, Farewell"
It was brilliant.
Then, he brought out celebrity Von Trapps.
Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, some basketball player from the L.A. Clippers, Cheryl Crowe, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett, and to close, Oprah.
I don't know if there were any tiffs about order of appearance, but it seemed right.
All of the celebrity Von Trapps came out in civvies.
No costumes for them.
Think of how much funnier it would have been if they were all in costume.
Think of how difficult it would have been to convince them to do it.

Jay then did a very touching, heartfelt farewell from his desk.
It made me like him even more.
But at no point did it make me feel that I'd missed anything by not watching the show for all of this time.
Then, they quite anti-climactically had Garth Brooks close the show with some shit-kicker song.
As the show business saying goes, "I wouldn't give that spot to a leopard"".
And Brooks certainly made the least of it.
But the show certainly lived up to  it's billing as an event, and I was very glad I saw it, and very glad for Jay that it was as good as it was.
It's the way you'd want to remember him.


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 and 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 and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



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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."