A Cautionary Tale

The LA Times reported today about the tragic downfall of screenwriter Eric Monte… a story that could serve as a cautionary tale for both TV writers and vanity press authors. The once high-flying comedy writer, who had a tumultuous relationship with the Industry even during his heyday, is now living in a homeless shelter. Two big lessons from the article — stay away from crack cocaine and don’t flush your money down the vanity press toilet:

A year of crack cocaine abuse robbed him of money,
dignity and a circle of Hollywood friends. Attempts to sell a
self-published book drained the last of his savings.[…]

With $10,000 from a "Good Times" movie option, Monte self-published a book, "Blueprint for Peace." In it he wrote that peace could be achieved if humanity followed seven basic principles: merge all  nations into one, stop manufacturing weapons of war, adopt one  universal language, eliminate money as the medium of exchange, abandon  the concept of land ownership, abandon the concept of inheritance, and  control population growth. Monte rented a booth at last April’s Los Angeles Times Book Festival,  but he failed to sell a single copy of his book.

"I just have to figure out how to market it," he says. "I know that as  soon as it starts selling, it will sell for 1,000 years."

11 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale”

  1. Tragic story, sure. But the ridiculous book has to be a product of drug induced brain damage. How can anybody as smart as Monte believe such garbage?
    PJ O’Rourke has made a career of making fun of this kind of wacky utopianism. Maybe I should get Monte’s address at the shelter and send him some of the books gratis.
    (Why is it that the funniest guys are so often the most self destructive? Chapelle, Pryor, Belushi, Farley, Kinison, you name it?)

  2. Ah, yes, crack cocaine and self-publishing. How many great writers have fallen prey to those twin evils… I just thank God he never moved into fanfic.

  3. You’re right, Garrett, I am. The self-financed play was a far bigger drain on his finances. But according to the article, the vanity press fiasco sucked away the last money he had.
    Few of people reading this blog have the means or opportunity to flush $750,000 their money into a play — far more of them are likely to be tempted to throw away $500-10,000 on a vanity press book.

  4. I remember hearing Monte on the radio show Hour 25 when Stephen Barnes was the host. Monte was discussing his seven utopian principles then. That was several years ago (it may have been 10 years ago or so), so I assume that was before Monte became consumed by drugs.
    Monte also talked about how he had become a millionaire as a result of creating Good Times.

  5. It wasn’t self-publishing that caused him harm. It was spending $10,000 when he could easily have self-published for less than a few hundred (with a good POD company) or a few thousand if he had printed copies via offset printing.
    Of course, if he had consulted with me, I’d have told him to start promoting his ideas with a blog on blogspot.com and test the market before he committed to all that money on a book.
    He certainly still has options, but realistically speaking, his book has very little market because it’s saying we can have world peace if we do seven impossible things. Okay, two or three of those are possible, but the rest don’t really make plausible sense in today’s world. So why bother reading a book that doesn’t offer a realistic alternative. There are many better books out there on the subject.
    I could sell his book, but of course I can sell anything. At least, I think I can.

  6. And best yet, John will critique the cover of your book for a mere hundred dollars. He will even talk to you about it on the phone for up to ten whole minutes! What a deal!

  7. Eric Monte is a Brilliant writer !!!
    and deserves another chance, I look forward to seeing his name on something again soon,,,
    Happy returns to the Good times ….
    Eric Valentine Monte
    You’ve got a friend… write me

  8. Eric Monte started free-basing cocaine, the forerunner of crack, many years before he created “Good Times.” That show was ridiculously baaaaaaaaaaaad.


Leave a Comment