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HUMAN RESOURCES REDUCTION

The Real McCoys, produced by Danny Thomas, aired on ABC Television from 1957 to 1963. The show, one of the most successful early sitcoms, starred Walter Brennan as Grampa, Richard Crenna as his son, Luke, and Kathy Nolan as Luke’s wife, Kate. They had two kids, Hassie and Little Luke and a handyman named Pepino.

Many of the scripts for The Real McCoys were written by my friend, the late Everett Greenbaum and his partner Jim Fritzell. In his delightful autobiography The Goldenberg Who Couldn’t Dance (Harcourt Brace Janovich 1980), Ev wrote this passage which, I think, sums up the ephemeral quality of success in Hollywood.
The audience watching a successful TV show in one evening is larger than the total audience for the entire run of most movies. An actor appearing weekly in a series receives overwhelming fame and adulation. If he appears in a public place, mobbing is possible. New friends come out of the woodwork. Hangers-on tell him that he alone is responsible for the popularity of the show; never mind the writers, the other actors, the director, producer and film editors.

Now, since he is well known, he gets offers to appear in motion pictures and plays, the things he has always wanted to do. But instead, he is a prisoner in a dark, drafty TV sound stage for 60 hours a week.
His agents and business managers step in. The actor is unhappy. More money is demanded and granted. The unhappiness persists. New demands! A lush dressing room. More time off. And so forth. This is the injustice syndrome.

On The Real McCoys, Kathy Nolan, who played Kate, had it bad. After several years on the show, she refused to renew her contract unless she got even more money, script approval. And the opportunity to direct. Irving Pincus [the Pincus brothers, Norman and Irving, produced the show] called us in.
“Boys,” he said, “at the opening of the next show, Grampa and Luke have just returned from Kate’s funeral. Go home and write it as fast as you can.” As we went out the door, he stopped us. “As long as you’re at it, let’s drop the kids. Little Luke can be away in the Army and Hassie’s off to college.”

I’ll never forget the opening line we wrote for the next script. Grampa and Luke come in the front door. “I just don’t understand it, Grampa,” Luke says. “It all happened so fast!”


(ED NOTE: Only in Hollywood... )
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[][][] In the Spring of 1974, two farmers in XiYang, China were digging a well and discovered pottery fragments that archeologists later determined were 2200 years old. Further excavation revealed the burial site of the Qin and Han Dynasty mauseleums containing (at a depth of 20 feet) 8,000 life size pottery warriors and horses arrayed in battle formation. So far, 10,000 weapons including brass, bronze and nickel daggers, spears and cross-bows have been recovered. You can view these statues and artifacts in full-screen photographs taken in June, 2007 by the author at the Terra Cotta Museum, China's largest on-site museum. To view the photos and the accompanying commentary, go to:
www.laughmakers.blogspot.com
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