Memory Lane

Tonight I went to a cocktail party and screening at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to celebrate the Archive of American Television's DVD release of the classic series STUDIO ONE. The boxed set contains 17 episodes, including the original, TV production of "Twelve Angry Men," which was long thought to be lost until a rare kinescope turned up recently in the estate of a deceased trial lawyer who collected books, movies and ephemera about the law. So much our priceless TV history has been lost through carelessness and stupidity, but that's another story…

You never know who you are going to bump into at these events and, for me, this one became an unexpected opportunity to revisit the start of my career in television. I ran into Bruce Bilson, who directed the first script Bill Rabkin & I ever had produced, an episode of SPENSER FOR HIRE. We chatted for a bit, and then I spotted Leonard Stern walking across the room. He was one of the executive producers of MURPHY'S LAW, a short-lived series starring George Segal that was our first staff job. I was pleased and flattered that Stern not only remembered me and Bill, but also my book "Unsold Television Pilots" (Stern, in addition to being a legendary writer/producer, is also a publisher, one of the partners behind Price Stern Sloan and now Tallfellow Press).

Jack Klugman, a veteran of many live TV productions, was also at the cocktail party (he was there to speak on a panel after the screening). I said hello, reminded him who I was, and thanked him again for guest-starring in one of our best DIAGNOSIS MURDER episodes, "Voices Carry." I liked the episode and his performance in it so much, that I ended up writing a prequel — the novel "Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense," which became the most widely acclaimed of the eight novels in the series.  I told him that, too.  He seemed flattered, or maybe he was just being polite.

For a TV nut like me, being able to go to events like this is one of the great things about living in Los Angeles.

4 thoughts on “Memory Lane”

  1. Wow – Lee, that’s memory lane alright! I had always thought Jack Klugman was long gone and history in the making? Guess not! I have always liked the man’s work, he reminds me of shows my late grandfather would watch with ol’ Jack in the starring role.
    It would be nice to see another Spencer for Hire back on the air besides in reruns – I had wondered what the good ol’ Boston sleuth would be upto these days, besides Mark Sloan.

  2. Glad to hear the good ole folks are still around in L.A. Bruce Bilson directed me in my first (and thankfully for the tv viewing public…one of my very few) television acting job. He was/is a nice guy.


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