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

2 comments:

Dr. Rus said...

These are great thoughts Herbie!

What an incredible reminder for all who read your post too. All too often we tend to "settle" instead of "aiming" at the highest level of achievement we're purposed and destined for.

I for one find your words encouraging for where I am right now too!

Keep encouraged, and keep encouraging others!

Dr. Rus

Anonymous said...

You have reached that place of "peace" in your life that all of us strive for, my friend. Now will be able to achieve you dreams, because you realize what is important in life. Good luck, Herbie. Everyone is pulling for you to end up where you are supposed to be.

HG