Sunday, September 28, 2008

Be bold, beautiful and decisive...

"When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take - choose the bolder."

- William Joseph Slim

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Mad Men": What's the Angle?

Everyone is mad about AMC's hip, new period piece, Mad Men - which harkens to and explores the advertising age of the 1960s.

But why?

What's the deal?

More to the point, "What's the angle?"

As in the POV?

As in Emmy after Emmy after Emmy?

But for what?

Because the cameras actually stay on the actors and give them the opportunity to act - like how every other TV show and feature film used to do before - oh, I dunno - MTV videos? Miami Vice? The CSI franchise?

Yeah - that's how they used to do it in the MM age of 1960s, but what's really going on here with the multitude of accolades been bestowed upon this show?

I find it so terribly ironic that our industry rewards a new TV show for it's allegedly unique and fresh take.

Ultimately, those behind Mad Men are merely returning to not only the classic 1960s-esque way to shoot a series (or a feature film, for that matter), but the productive way to do so - for the benefit of all concerned - especially the audience.

I completely embrace the integrity of those behind, in front of and surrounding the MM cameras. In returning to the days-of-old ways of guiding lenses, the MM peeps allow the actors to act, to deliver their dialogue and to tell their characters' stories - with grace, dignity and sophistication.

But this should be considered unique?

This should be rewarded?

Certainly, where due, but more so with regard to the brilliant (read sly) men and women who bring us Mad Men, they are being rewarded for having the - dare I-say courage (consciously or not) - to produce and direct a series the way all TV shows and movies used to be produced and directed.

If brilliant means keeping steady the cameras on actors in order to allow them to properly present their craft, then Mad Men is littered with genius.

If brilliant means being smart enough to return to a qualitive, patient and tried and true cinematic method and technique that worked for TV shows and movies for ages, then my POV on Mad Men is glittered with lenience.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Conversation With "Dancing" Star Cloris Leachman

In my early research work for the first Bewitched Book (Dell, 1992), I was seeking stories and material about Mabel Albertson, who played Darrin's mortal mom on the show - and nemesis to Agnes Moorehead's Endora. Elizabeth Montgomery once told me that the playful rivalry that Mabel and Agnes shared on-screen was also apparent to some degree, off-screen.

"They were two very strong women," Elizabeth revealed to me. "And whenever they performed together, I would just say to myself, 'Well, let's just see how this turns out, shall we?"

Forget, of course, that Bewitched actor Robert F. Simon (who played Darrin's mortal father) tried to, as he once said to me, "stay clear of such (controlling) women."

Anyway, the great Cloris Leachman - the Emmy (and Oscar-winning) star of TV's classic Mary Tyler Moore Show - and now featured on ABC's Dancing with the Stars - and Mabel Albertson were somehow related. I forget exactly how - but I think it had something to do with Mabel's thespian brother, Jack Albertson (best known from his TV-starring gig on NBC's Chico and the Man).

So, I contacted Cloris through her agent, and within a few days, the very pleasant and funny Ms. Leachman had telephoned me back - and by this time, I had returned to Rochester. So, she had telephoned me in my parents townhouse kitchen in Greenleaf (I'll save for a later blog about the time both Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York talked with my Mom).

As Cloris related to me, Mabel had developed Alzheimer's later in life, and in her last days, she would stare into the mirror, brushing what had become her very long gray hair, and "call out" to those on the other side.

It was heartbreaking to hear this about Mabel, who had been such a fine actress for so many years (many times playing the in-law-esque mother on many a TV show - including That Girl, on which she portryad Ted Don Hollinger Bessell's mom). [Forget, of course, too, that Bessell would later - and ironically - be hired to direct the Bewitched feature film, only to die so suddenly in 1996 before it went into production; thus throwing the project into disarray for years).

All things considered, I was very excited to speak with Cloris Leachman in my parent's Greenleaf townhome kitchen in Rochester, so much so that I have to say, I was also a little nervous. In fact, I kept referring to her as Mrs. Beacham, which was a random Bewitched guest-character name that kept onto popping into my head during our conversation.

Not once to mince words (as evident with her new gig on Dancing With The Stars), Cloris would tell me straight out, "My name is not Beacham. "It's LEACHMAN."

"Sorry, Ms. Beachman....errr, I mean...Leachman."

Ugh! Oh for pity sake, I was so embarrassed.

But, in the end, all was well. By the time we got off the phone, Cloris and I had become great chums - and it all had to do with my hair.

My hair had just started to thin (and wasn't growing tall anymore; just long), and Cloris (as a former beauty queen, was and remains ever health and fit conscious was soon researching in one her health books what would be the best vitamin choices for me to reinvigorate my hair.

"Concentrate on all the B vitamins, Herbie," she said. "And you'll be alright."

So, in my book (and I just don't mean Bewitched), Ms. Beacham - er, I mean, LEACHMAN - is always alright.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

L.A. Lost

I've scheduled a trip to Los Angeles (on September 30th) and will be staying there for a few weeks (until October 21st).

Haven't been to LA since 2004 and my work as a consultant on the Bewitched feature film and my producing gig for Bravo's hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters.

So, I'm looking forward to the trip.

All things considered, LA really is a magical place....and wherever you go in LA, that is to say, at whatever location you find your, one thing is for sure:

I either worked there - or got lost there.

I remember one day, I guess it was in the Fall of 1988 or '89 - when I was working full-time during the week at Brentwood Publishing (which was really in Santa Monica) and part-time on the weekends at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA.

Getting to the Biltmore from Santa Monica (where I lived) was quite a trek every weekend...even for the early morning hours that I worked....I think it was 6 AM to 2 PM - or something insane like that.

Anyway, I just remember I would to get up at 4 AM to make it on time. Because once I got into downtown LA, I had to park in a lot that was about two miles away from the Biltmore. And I parked there because it was cheap....only 2 bucks I think. To park at the Biltmore lot was something outrageous like $90.00 or something...and that was only a little less than I was paying in rent. So that wasn't gonna happen.

So I ended up walking those two miles from the cheap parking lot to the Biltmore every Saturday and Sunday morning about 5:30 AM.

And it was the strangest thing:

When I would take those walks, NO ONE else was in the city. I kid you not. I felt like I was in one of those science fiction movies where all the people have been obliterated. I mean, there I'd be - walking ALONE - in the midst of empty sidewalks and streets. I could sing at the top of my lungs if I wanted to (and quite, I'm surprised I didn't) - and no one would have heard me.

That was just plain odd.

Then again, not odder (odder?) than one of the more confusing weeks that I worked at both Brentwood Publishing and the Biltmore. In fact, I was so confused that I started to hallucinate (I guess you could call it that). Here's what happened:

I used to work at the Biltmore...as a Gold Room Butler. Not blue room, not peach...but GOLD. Meanwhile, as I mentioned, I was also working at Brentwood Publishing, where I answered phones.

And upon answering those phones, I'd say, "Good morning (afternoon, etc) - and thank you for calling Brentwood Publishing."

Then, while at the Biltmore, I would knock on a particular guest door, and announce, "Hello - this is your Gold Room Butler."

One day, however, I was so exhausted from working 90 million hours a week at both places, that I answered the Brentwood phones with, "Hello - this is your Gold Room Butler," and then knocked on one guest room door with, "Good afternoon, and thank you for calling Brentwood Publishing."

Glad those days are gone.

I think.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why 1973 Is Special To Me: Herbie J At Almost 13

1973: The year of living happily and fully - at 11-years-old (and then 12 for a few months).

We were still living on Erie Street - and my best friend Gary Sanfilippo was up the corner (at Warehouse and Brown). I had just started eighth grade at a new school, St. Anthony's of Padua, where I met a truck load of wonderful friends - many with whom I remain in contact today.

It was the year that inspired my new book, The Nine Best Secrets of Christmas (due Christmas 2009), the year that my Dad was still driving all of us around in his 1969 dark green Pontiac Catalina (that I used to read as Cadillac to make us feel rich)...it was the year that everyone in my family (including both my parents, and their combined twenty brothers and sisters - and their wives and husbands and children) were still alive.

Every night was a party, and every minute was a joy.

I would shush my Uncle Tony (Fort) every time he talked during The Brady Bunch on Friday night - but he always came back with Aunt Anna on Saturday night for The Lawernce Welk Show.

Aunt Anna would start the pop-corn (with real kernels) on the big heavy-metal pan on the stove, and we would also sometimes get a pizza (from Petrillo's on Lylle Avenue).

It was the year before I started high school, and four years before we moved to Greenleaf.

It was the year when everything seemed simple - and was.

It was the year I met Carmella Bovenzi, and bought her a ring (for 15 cents at Trobia's), and the year I first ran in slow-motion (like The Six Million Dollar Man) - while still in my seat in Miss Ganzini's class.

Years later, Miss Ganzini showed up at one of my book signings for Bewitched Forever, and I cherised the moment.

I reminded her then how, in 1973, she gave each of us in eighth grade a graduation gift accompanied by an individual quote that was specifically geared toward our particular quote personality. Mine was by Emerson, and it said,

"No man is an island...no man goes his way alone. Whatever we send into the lives of ours, comes right back into our own."

I always remembered that...and it didn't take me a long time to realize what a true gift Miss Ganzini had given me. She knew I was a smart ass - and in her own way, she was trying to tell me about karma. As a result, she "saved" me much heartache over the years - and I wish I would have adhered more to what she was revealing to me (then and now).

In the fall of 1973, The Six Million Dollar Man and Kung Fu had just debuted on ABC (my favorite TV network) as monthly shows in something called The ABC Suspense Movie wheel on Saturday nights. It was the last year for one of the best Friday night line-ups in TV history: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style...all on ABC).

It was also the year of one of the best Saturday night line-ups in TV history: All in the Family, M*A*S*H (quickly replacing the controversial Bridget Loves Bernie; he was Jewish, she was Catholic), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show (all on CBS) - and life didn't get much better than that (certainly not at 11 and 12 and even later, 13).

Dark Shadows on daytime had been off the air for two years, but I somehow made my way to the mysterious adventures of Nichole on The Edge of Night, and also soon became obsessed with Match Game and The Merv Griffin Show.

It was the year when everyone was still delivered both a morning newspaper (The Democrat and Chronicle) and an evening edition (The Time Union).

It was the year when my voice changed (like Peter Brady), and my hair started to grow tall (and not long).

It was the year that my Aunt Rita took me and my cousin Jimmy Christmas shopping at Woolworth's, where Jimmy and I bought each of our girl cousins panties (three for a dollar), and our aunts one coffee mug a piece, and are uncles each a beer mug.

It was the year when we still lived next door to Uncle Carl, Aunt Elva and my cousin Evie - and our beautiful dog Boo Boo - shared in the love of two homes.

It was the year that Evie brought The Who (including Roger Daltry) home from a concert at the War Memorial facility. There was one of the greatest rock bands of all time - having pasta - in our kitchen on Erie Street.

It was the year of Erie Street, which was clearly not so much a location as much as it was an era.

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To hear more about the significance of 1973, please join me tonight on TV Confidential radio (see the blog link below for more details).

http://herbiejpilato.blogspot.com/2008/09/life-in-1973-and-on-mars.html

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Top 50 Favorite Pop-Culture Phenoms

Whether it was a toy, a TV show, a movie, a song, an actor, a band or somehow a mix of it all, here now is a list of my favorite things from the intangiable archives of my popular culture mind-set.

1] The Frisbee: So many happy hours were spent flying this between me and an assortment of fine folk through the years. It was meant for the beach, but I mostly recall playing it on the street.

2] The Super Ball: If you bounced it hard enough, it went to Heaven.

3] The Herculoids: I think they made maybe 13 episodes of this animated TV series that grouped together superheroes for the mainstream viewer long before The X-Men made it the small or big screen. The sense of family loyalty, superpowers and love for animals was mingled together in such a fine, though somewhat banal, but never sappy way.

4] The Archies: Sugar, Sugar still gives me butterflies when I hear it - and you probably can't explain why, either.

5] The Brady Bunch: So many happy Friday nights at 7:30, then 8. Oh, the slapstick, the melodrama...the pork chops...the apple sauce.

6] The Monkees followed by American Bandstand: The Beatles, they weren't, but funny and entertaining, The Monkees were. And then to watch the once-ever-youthful Dick Clark on AB invite his studio audience to the dance floor - was just plain the coolest thing at the time.

7] Bewitched: Do I really have to explain this one?

8] Star Trek: Hope for the future amid precursers for clip-open cell phones, computer monitors, and bad sequels.

9] The Slinky: My father brought this home one night from work, along with some Silly Puddy and a Super Ball. Changed my life for days.

10] The Jackson Five: I used to sing I'll Be There over the phone to Linda Padilla, my first girlfriend from second grade. Everyone thought I danced like James Brown, too.

11] The Osmonds: I wanted to be Donny Osmond. I later had a massive crush on Marie. I'm so happy she looks so good and will soon her have own talk show. And it was real cool to see Donny sing Puppy Love one last time at a recent reunion (on TV).

12] The Bullworker: I never had the confidence to play sports in high school - and we didn't even have a gym in grammer school. But my father bought me the Bullworker (after seeing an ad for it in TV Guide, and it actually contributed to a very solid physique (along with me using free weights). I found one at a second hand-store a couple of years ago, and bought it for five dollars. You still can buy a really nice updated version of this portable gym somewhere online.

13] The Ten Commandments: The movie, not the rules. The dialogue, the cinematography, the acting, the story, 'natch - and the fact that ABC still shows every year - well...it's just awesome. My favorite scene: When Moses is condemned to the desert, and later meets his future wive (played by Yvonne The Munsters DeCarlo) and all her hot harem sisters. Moses finally has a moment to be just a man.

14] The Beatles: I still remember the night they debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. My sister Pam and cousin Evie (who lived next door in our double house) kept screaming and yelling and running up and down the stairs in between the door upstairs (that linked our two separate living spaces).

15] The Beach Boys: They still always create summer in the middle of winter.

16] The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia: One of the best over-rated pop-songs ever made, and ever sung. A real close second to Tie A Yellow Ribbon ('Round the Old Oak Tree).

17] The Carol Burnette Show: Worlds collided when Vicky Lawrence sang The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, but not enough to outshine the astounding memoric history of watching Carol, Harvey, Lylle and Tim.

18] The Dick Van Dyke Show: Supernatural entertainment come to life.

19] Casey Kasem's Top 40 Radio Show: His descriptions actually made you see music videos before MTV brought them to the screen.

20] Let's Make A Deal: I loved Monty Hall's right-hand woman/model Carol Merrill. She looked just like my third grade teacher, Miss Charlene. When I would later work the new edition of this show (as a page for NBC), I guess it was a dream come true.

21] Bob Hope: Nobody made Christmas specials like this man.

22] TV Guide: I used to love those really classy TV commercials. You know - when the multi-colored dots came on the screen - with that computer-esque music ("do, do, do, do, do, do). I used to collect them - until that Seinfeld episode in which George's father and that nutjob who was in love Elaine did the same.

23] Perry Mason: Classic, one-hour little movies.

24] The Andy Griffith Show: I'm still looking for Mayberry.

25] P-F Flyers: I tried flying with them. But they didn't work.

26] Love, American Style: What a friggin' great theme song.

27] The Partridge Family: I had the pooka-shells, but my hair never flipped back like David Cassidy's. But what a very underappreciated show for its great humor.

28] The Mike Douglas Show/The Merv Griffin Show: Probably starred the same person. Upon one of my first trips to LA, I actually had the chance to see both shows. I couldn't believe it.

29] Charlie's Angels: I later understood why Kate Jackson wanted to leave the series. But before I did comprehend just how bad this show was, to me, at the time, there was nothing like it on the air - and I loved every second of it.

30] The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man: Not sci-fi shows at all...but a great love story...much like Bewitched.

31] Kung Fu: Enlightened the world.

32] Seinfeld: Changed the world.

33] Life Goes On: Saved the world.

34] Dark Shadows: Never endangered the world - but gave new meaning to true (blood) love...long before Buffy, The Vampire Slayer (and all those new, really sily vampire shows on now).

35] Silly Puddy: Was just plain fascinated with the fact that I could press it on the Sunday color comics page, and make copies.

36] Twister: Got this the same Christmas I got Hats Off. Made me happy for years.

37] Jesus Christ Superstar: First heard it in Religion class in sixth grade at St. Peter and Paul's. However, the teacher (the very cool Miss Vigna) had to clear it beforehand with the school's principle (Sister Florence)

38] Grease: No musical movie told a story so well, and so entertainingly for so many.

39] Saturday Night Fever: Changed my life.

40] ABC: Though I worked for NBC, ABC was always my favorite network. It was the good Fox-TV of its day.

41] The Hula-Hoop: Could never keep it on my hips - even as good a dancer as I was.

42] Woody Wood Pecker: One of my first memories - ever.

43] What A Wonderful World: The best song in the wonderful world.

44] The Color TV: One year, our old Motorola set died. My father, on the sly, went to Sears and bought a brand new 19" inch RCA futuristic color set. Couldn't believe it. And we had that set for years.

45] The Clapper: I knew it was imbedded in pop-culture when Roseanne incorporated it into her show.

46] Ronco: Love the commercials; love the Dan Ackroyd SNL skits.

47] Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Untouchable.

48] The Waltons: The first real family of TV.

49] George Washington Carver and Stuart Little: Two of the first books I ever read when ordered through the Weekly Reader.

50] The Weekly Reader: Changed my life forever. But didn't know it 'till just now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What We Should Have All Been Taught As Children, And What We Should All Teach Our Children Today

You are a beautiful child - in a world filled with other beautiful children. You are no less or more perfect than any other child. Do your best in whatever you attempt, and in every attempt you will succeed. Always have forgiveness and love in your heart, and your needs - whatever they may be - will never go unfulfilled. Be a beacon of light to everyone who chooses and refuses to see you. In doing so, your carefree spirit will glow, you will become a magnet of peace, and the world - and everyone in it - will become your graceful and protective shelter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Life" in 1973 and "On Mars"

In a few weeks, I will appear on Northern California's Share-A-Vision Radio show, entitled, TV Confidential - hosted by Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforti.

The show will stream live on Tuesday, September 23rd beginning at 10:30pm ET, 7:30pm PT via http://www.ksav.org/. I will be joining the hosts from 11:00 PM - Midnight (ET), and the topic will be hit TV shows that aired in 1973, which were my favorites and why, and how TV has changed since then. The conversation will circumvent around the premiere of ABC's new David E. Kelley series, Life on Mars, in which Jason O’Mara’s character finds himself suddenly transported back to 1973.

For more information about TV Confidential or Share-A-Vision Radio, click on the link below:

http://www.tvconfidential.net/

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back on the A-Train

I'm not the person I once was in the '80s.

But then again, who is?

When I think back to the ambition I had...and the guts. Holy moly, I was unstoppable.

And for years, I've been telling everyone about the whole "I'd rather live the scripts, then write them" scenario, and that still is very true. But if I were to sell the right script, I could do both.

Once more, it all goes back to the "A-Life"...living it and aspiring to it.

Just a few days ago, I didn't think I would be able to get another chance at living the A-Life...not at 47.

But I'm not so sure I believe that now. I think anyone can have anything they want - if they want it bad enough - and if they conduct themselves in the proper way.

One thing is for sure, when I was living in LA in the '80s, I never gave my pursuits 100%. I never did the things I should have done to really make it as an actor. I somehow "circled" the objectives, but never really zeroed in on them.

I fell prey to establishing a "regular" life in LA...I opted to become a page for NBC - instead of a working TV-actor. And I won't ever forget the day I saw that fork in the road:

A friend of my Mom's from Rochester, - in the old neighborhood, had somehow made his way to LA, and became a top talent manager. He was the main contact that I had when I first moved to LA - and he had a substantial amount of power in town. I couldn't believe that my Mom had known him from growing up on Erie Street in Rochester.

Anyway - this manager, who I will call "Bob," managed to schedule an interview for me with one of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood. I went on the interview, shortly after getting the job at NBC. I sat down, and the top executive for the agency asked me what I wanted him to do for me. And instead of saying, "Make me a star!", I went on to tell him about how I had just got the job as an NBC Page, and how it had taken me a long time to get that job, and so forth.

He was like, "Okay - thanks."

And I left the office.

The next day, my Mom's friend "Bob" called me and ripped me a new one.

"What the f__k is wrong with you?!!! I get you an interview with one of the top talent agencies around, and you tell them about your life as a page? What are you doing? You told me you were ready (to be successful as an actor)???!!!

Well, needless to say, I was sick about the whole thing. I was supposed to give a presentation in the mini-studio on the NBC Tour the next day, and I couldn't function. I had to hand over the presentation to a fellow page, and instead, just worked the cameras.

In short, I blew it. Big time. But I couldn't help it. Apparently, I wasn't as ready to be a successful TV actor as I thought I was. And there was still a huge part of me that enjoyed the "regular" life...and the anonominity of not being a recognized TV "personality".

Don't get me wrong: me ego was still in check...but I was too busy enjoying things like remodeling my cousin's apartment, and having lunch with my Aunt Elva (who moved from Erie Street in Rochester to Sixth Street and Montana in Santa Monica).

And then I met so many wonderful people when I started the job at NBC...so many great friends (many with whom I still stay in contact today)...I just wasn't ready to give all that up. Not for sitcom stardom.

And now - here we are....some twenty years later. And I'm back in Rochester - with both parents now gone. Strangely, one of the main reasons I wanted to be successful - whether as an actor or not - was to be able to give my parents the things that they were never able to get themselves.

I was never really concerned with becoming a "star" to get "stuff" for myself. Truely, it was always about my parents.

And then, too, after I left NBC in 1985, and commenced the whole "Bewitched" thing, and after I met Elizabeth Montgomery, whatever residue ambition to become a "star" that was left over, just seemed to fade away. After meeting Elizabeth, I just wanted to go back "home" to Rochester...to hang out with my family and friends...the people who I had known my whole life....to again, "live the scripts of life instead of write them"...or at least act in them.

But again, now that my parents are gone...along with Elizabeth...it's a different world for me...and I'm a diferent man...with different ambitions...hopefully, kinder ambitions...and it's time for me, at 47-years-old, to make the attempt to become successful for me. Not for my parents and not for anyone else.

Certainly, my parents in Heaven want me to become everything I should have become back in the '80s....and to honor the life that God gave me through them (which, ultimately, in my view, is the true definition of The Fifth Commandment).

And certainly, we all have our gifts and talents, and I have mine. To not employ those gifts and talents would be a disservice to myself, a disservice to God (the great Gift-Giver), and a diservice to those who will benefit from and enjoy those talents and gifts.

One thing is for sure, whatever I decide - whether it be a return to LA (and re-igniting the pursuit of acting successs), or staying in Rochester (and working in public relations or media consulting)...or whether or not I somehow manage to pull it all off - on both coasts - one thing is for certain, I will succeed...at the new A-Life....a better, stronger, wiser and more generous A-Life than I could have ever hoped to have before.

Trust me.

"I'M NOT WHO I WAS" - by Brandon Heath...click below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3SjCuSkaNs

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

See A Chance - And Take It

Spring, 1986:

I was singing at clubs up and down the Sunset Strip in L.A, I was contracted (via AFTRA) as a stand-in dancer for Solid Gold, and I had just been cast to play one of the waiters at Duke's Restaurant on ABC-TV's General Hospital.

A lot of things were happening, but nothing was solidifying. I was spreading myself too thin. There's was too much going on, and I lacked focus.

Then, one day, I walked into the Samuel French Bookstore in Hollywood, and noticed a $60.00 book that presented episode summaries to every major TV sitcom in history - including one of my favorites, Bewitched. I really didn't have the extra sixty bucks to spend that day, but I felt compelled to buy that book. I was simply in awe with the fact that I could actually read the episode summaries of Bewitched - and that I had finally learned to the titles to each episode.

So, I forked out the sixty smackers, and bought the book.

A few weeks later, after I became enamored with that book, I had broken my baby toe on my left foot. As a result, I couldn't walk. You never know just how much you appreciate something until you lose it. Even your baby toe - on either foot.

Now immobile, I could do nothing but watch TV - which, of course, I had been doing for years. But now I was forced to watch it...nearly 24/7.

Around this time, Channel 5 in Los Angeles was broadcasting Bewitched reruns. Naturally, I loved the show as a kid - and now, I knew the episodes more intimately than ever, as a result of me forking over those 60 big-ones for that TV sitcom book. So, I started watching the series again - only this time with a very different point of view.

The show was always more than just about magic; but now I was observing and comprehending more clearly how it was more so about people who cared for one another - despite their differences. It was about someone who could have anything she wanted with the twitch of her nose - but how it material things didn't matter much to her - and how she actually fell in love with someone else without there being anything in it for her except to be loved in return.

Around the same time, NBC-TV (for which I had just completed my contracted 18-months as a Page) aired I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later, a TV reunion-movie based on the original Jeannie series starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman.

Eden had returned to her famous comedic-mystic role, but Hagman - then a mega-major star due to his gig as JR on Dallas, declined to portray Major Anthony Nelson...some 15 Years Later.

Instead, Wayne Rogers (who had left M*A*S*H some years before) stepped in as the mortal Master to Eden's Jeannie.

Meanwhile, director William Asher, once married to Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery, and who had served his wife and her show for so long on that wonderful series, had now become a "double agent," bolting to the "other side," and signed to direct 15 Years Later.

I was troubled on several levels. Number 1: If there was to be any TV-reunion movie of a magical blond who falls for a mortal man, it was going to be for Bewitched. And then to have Asher direct the Jeannie reunion was well - treason.

That's when I decided to write a reunion movie for Bewitched. Elizabeth Montgomery, however, did not want to return to playing her most famous role of Samantha Stephens. But Bill Asher loved my Bewitched reunion script (which I had written on spec). He had just signed on to do a new Bewitched TV series in the UK - and wanted to hire me for the show.

But the UK Bewitched lost its financial backing, and the deal fell through.

Meanwhile, I still had all this Bewitched energy left. And that's when the idea for a companion book came about. And Elizabeth had agreed to grant me four, extensive, exclusive interviews.

But I had not broke my toe - and gone what I had then viewed as the extra mile (and forked over that whopping sixty bucks for that initial TV companion), the original Bewitched Book (first published by Dell in 1992) would have never came into being - nor would have all the great things that later transpired in my life and career because of it.

Moral of the story: One little correct split-second decision has the power to lead to many great results for years to come - if you see a chance - and take it.