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.

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