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Friday, January 8, 2016

My Pat Harrington Jr. Story.

I'd never met Pat Harrington Jr. until maybe three years ago.
But in the late eighties I had a couple of very ugly phone conversations with him.
I was living in Columbus Ohio at the time, and I had recently written a play.
A friend of mine there, the local mover and shaker in Columbus, read the play, loved it, and wanted to produce it, either there, or use Columbus as a launching pad to get it to New York.
He apparently knew everybody with money in Columbus and tried to put together a reading with celebrities, and a party for potential investors that these celebrities would attend and glad-hand with the potential investors.
He asked if I could get Penny Marshall. They'd give her a first class plane ticket, put her up in a first class hotel, and feed her.
I said I'd ask.
She was in New York.
I flew to New York, script in hand.
She was staying in Lorne Michaels' Central Park West Apartment by herself.
Pretty impressive digs.
During our meeting, the phone continued to ring.
Part of her deal was that she'd have to answer Lorne Michael's phone.
At one point, she actually had to put Neil Simon on hold to talk to Paul Simon.
Then put Paul on hold to talk to Neil.
I was sitting there hoping that Carly Simon would call for the Trifecta.
No such luck.
She liked the play well enough to agree to get on the plane to Columbus, implying that this would be doing me a major favor.
I expected nothing less, and reported back my success at landing Penny.
Now, it was a matter of nailing down a male lead.
I don't remember who first came up with the name, but someone mentioned Pat Harrington Jr.
I thought it was a good idea.
I called his agent who gave me his number.
I called Pat, explained the situation to him and his first question was "How much am I getting paid?"
I was given no budget to pay anyone and told him that.
He said "Then why should I do it?"
I said that "well, Penny Marshall is doing it"
He said "Can you guarantee me that if I do it that if there is a production I will be given the part?"
I started doing my version of "homina-homina-homina".
"Are you guaranteeing this to Penny?"
It never occurred to me that Penny would even consider actually doing a production of the play.
So I say "It hasn't even come up".
He says "Well it's come up with me."
I wasn't going to lie to him.
If it was totally up to me I'd guarantee it. I knew he'd be right for it, and respected his talent that much.
But what if he came and did the reading, and stunk out the joint?
And the potential investors vetoed him?
So I said "I would like to, but I can't guarantee anything. But it's just one night out of your life, and you'll be treated well, but it is an audition.
You should want to do it because the play and the part is that good."
He was willing to look at the script, and was not impressed enough to get on the plane.
He wanted to get paid.
Ever since, I wasn't able to look at Pat Harrington Jr. on TV without getting a bellyache.
I couldn't watch "One Day at a Time" again, so it did have its upside.
We didn't attempt to replace him because shortly after, of course, as is her wont, Penny bailed on us and the event never happened.
Cut to: three years ago.
I was in L.A.
My friend Mark Evanier invited me to attend a meeting of Yarmy's Army, a social club made up of older comedians, many of whom I had hired at some point.
Pat Harrington Jr. was there. He was a founding member of Yarmy's Army. I knew he'd probably be there, and it made me anxious.
Mark Evanier introduced me to everyone.
One of the most effusive greetings I got was from Pat Harrington Jr.
Of course, I thought he had held a grudge against me all those years.
Of course, he never even remembered my name. And I hadn't met him until that night.
What on earth was I thinking?

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".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams by her , 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 signed by me, contact me at

And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. i scared the shit out of neil simon on a nyc street just because i said OH HI! really enthusiastically.

  2. Great story, Mark! Why did Penny bail? And how is your recovery going?

  3. My best guess is that it's for the same reason she hasn't directed a movie in 24 years.
    She has a history of committing to things and backing out. She was probably humoring me in the first place.
    I've been improving every day. My speech is no longer slurred, and I can walk comfortably with a cane.

  4. There's a chance you're qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  5. You might be eligible for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.



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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."