Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thanks, Mom

My mother, Marilyn, would have been 84 today. She passed away several years ago. A day doesn't go by when I don't miss her and think about her. In addition to everything else she did for me, she is responsible for my career in television.

My partner, David and I were writing spec scripts, going nowhere, not even getting read at most shows. Then one day my mother found herself playing golf with Gordon Mitchell, one of the story editors of THE JEFFERSON. Like any good mom she said her son was a brilliant young writer and would he consider reading a script? Frankly, I’m a little surprised she didn’t have a copy in her bag but still. As a favor to her, Gordon did read our spec, liked it, and to our amazement, gave us our first assignment. In so many ways my mother has been a true angel in my life.  And never once asked for her 10%.   Happy Birthday, Mom.  I love you. 

32 comments:

Richard Y said...

Very Very nice!!!!

Chris Mayer said...

Thanks Ken, ever thought of a career as a writer? :)

As a 38 year old who lost this mother 16 years ago, in one paragraph you tapped into what made your mother *yours*, and everyone else's mother *theirs*.

Nancy said...

Such a beautiful post.

David Whitham said...

Well done, Ken. She sounds like she was a great lady.

Paul Duca said...

Come August my mother will mark birthday #80--although we are currently dealing with a little bump in the road. She and my sister were on vacation in Europe earlier this month when she slipped and fell in a cafe.
She back in the states, rehabilitating her broken arm and getting adjusted to her Dutch hip...not "clip"--it happened in Holland and the doctors there replaced her broken one...SOP in Western medicine for people her age. They would have done the same in the States.
But she is in very good spirits and should be back in her house as soon as she can get around and do things just using her other arm.

Paul Duca said...

To lighten the mood...is that the same Gordon Mitchell who ran for mayor of Minneapolis in 1970, against Lloyd Turner? Even though he was behind most of the night, 85-23, by the time the snowstorm broke at dawn he was the victor.

Max Clarke said...

She was beautiful, Ken, excellent photo and tribute.

Did you ever put your mom into scripts? Did she do something that you had to write about? Did she know somebody who eventually became a character in a story?

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo Ann said...

Happy Birthday Marilyn. No one can replace a mom. I know because I lost mine at age15. Think of her everyday as well. Great story! XO Jo Ann

David Schwartz said...

Nice post, Ken. My Mom helped me with my first job in television as well. I was about to turn down a chance to work on a TV series (only 2 months after graduating college), because I had been promised some kind of television technical job I had interviewed for. The tech job was supposed to start a couple of months later. Anyway, my mom convinced me to take the TV job (a bird in the hand...) and not wait for the tech job that may or may not materialize. Well... I took the TV show (Solid Gold) in 1980 and my career was off and running. And the kicker is, Mom was right about the job I didn't take since it never became available! I was lucky she was there to keep me from turning down a very lucky break.
My Mom also gave me extremely good advice regarding my career at the time. When I graduated college I asked her if I should stay in school and get a teaching degree in case I couldn't break into the TV industry. Her advice was that I should do what I most wanted to do and go for it! She said I'd have plenty of time for a backup plan later if I needed it, but that I should pursue what I really wanted to do! I've never looked back.

Unknown said...

That's beautiful, Ken. A Mom is a man's best friend, always and beyond.

Kirk said...

Nice tribute, Ken.

Anonymous said...

She was pretty. Julie, Burlington Iowa

Jeffrey Mark said...

Though my mom's name is Nancy, she had three close friends named Marilyn in the years I was growing up in wonderific San Jose California. I knew them as Marilyn- H, Marilyn-C and Marilyn-R. I would see the three of them at my mom's monthly mah-jong game...the "3" Marilyns I would call them. All three smoked like chimney's. All three would pounce on me whenever they came over to the house, drilling me with questions about who I was dating and did I have a steady girlfriend, blah, blah and that I should call up their "Shelly" or "Enid" or "Bonnie" and ask them out. Ahh...could have been a great sitcom: "The Three Marilyns". In color.

Breadbaker said...

So did you ever slip that story, or a variation on it, into a script? It's the kind of story everyone can relate to.

Roger Owen Green said...

Yes, my mom died in February 2011. Think about her often.

Brian Haner said...

Very sweet. Sounds like a great lady.

Paul Duca said...

I still say that she wanted her son to do ANYTHING that didn't involve him being known in public as "Beaver Cleaver".


And Rockefeller Center makes a lovely backdrop for her.

Jem said...

Sorry to hear about your mum<3Hold all the good memories with you, when my father passed in 1999 was not a great relationship though we patched last 2-3 years before he went, (great grandfather to my kids)was a surprise when he went, I miss his presence both good and bad, you don't realise what you got till its gone.

Johnny Walker said...

Lovely, and sad. I'm not looking forward to when I lose mine. Happy 84th, Mrs Levine.

I just watched your final episode of Frasier, too. Absolutely wonderful. Very sweet, and it was nice seeing Frasier return to his old self. I have to wonder, given how the final season has an arc, how the story was figured out.

WendyB said...

Wonderful story and beautiful lady!

Pete Grossman said...

Beautiful. Thank You. Helps me continue to appreciate my mom.

gottacook said...

I have photos of my mother circa 1965-66 that are extremely similar to this one; nearly the exact same dress and hairdo. They both would have been in their thirties, if I have the era correct. My mom lived only until age 45 (1978). Damn.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

My mom was my biggest fan when I was on the radio. Sometimes I really think she was the ONLY one listening (but, that's another story). Your sentiments are mine, exactly. I lost her 10 years ago. We will love our mothers until the day we die. You were blessed as I was. They thought we were the most talented person in the world. I never told her otherwise...
P.S. You look a lot like your mom, Ken!

Pat Reeder said...

Beautiful story, Ken. Reminds me of my late mother, whose birthday is coming up soon. I grew up out in rural Texas, an 18-mile bus ride to the nearest school. One day, my fourth grade teacher called my mother in for a conference. She told her that I was talking about wanting to be a writer and work in radio and TV. She suggested that my mother try to discourage me and make me consider a more realistic job, because people from Clifton, Texas, didn't go into radio and television. My mother came straight home, told me exactly what the teacher had told her, and then said, "I told her, 'You just watch!'"

Years later, when I was the original head writer for the Lyons Group and working on the first Barney the Dinosaur scripts, I took out references in the treatments to using magic and replaced them with using your imagination. That's because my mother always told my brother and me that if we ever had to be stuck in one place, we should wish to be stuck in a library, because with books and imagination, you could go anywhere in the world. I wanted to pass that lesson along to other kids.

The producers of that show can claim that idea came from focus groups or committee meetings all they want, but I know the truth. This may never make it into any official histories of Barney, but I try to let people know about it whenever I can. It was one of the few things I put into that project that survived intact after I was gone, and it came directly from Nelda June Reeder.

Michael said...

A lovely tribute.

Raj said...

Beautiful post, Ken.

Erik said...

Dear Ken,

Should my sitcom ‘cover page’ contain the episode title, or will the word ‘pilot’ in parenthesis, underneath the ‘title’ suffice?

I have seen it formatted both ways.

Regards,

Erik

Mike said...

That was very sweet and touching. I'm glad I swung by here before heading to bed. Very nice.

Mike

Raj said...

Interesting article in Guardian about Seinfeld.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/apr/30/after-seinfeld-jerry-sitcom

Bradley said...

Wow, what a small world. I met Gordon's daughter in Toronto several years ago and we became close friends before I found out that her father was the very person who inspired me to become a writer. When I was a kid, I thought his Lautrec episode of The MTM Show was the funniest thing I had ever seen and I remember watching all three reruns on Nick at Nite one evening so that I could transcribe it for future reference. From that night on, I knew I wanted to be a writer. When I found out that her father was responsible for writing that episode, I could not believe it. Talk about fate. He was sick at that time, but she gave me is email and encouraged me to write. I did and much to my surprise, he wrote back with great humor and encouragement. He died several hours later. I will treasure his message always, knowing that the last words he ever wrote were to me. It's wonderful to hear that his kindness and generosity dated back to his days in TV and music. Thank you for sharing this story. Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful woman.

bmcmolo said...

Thank you!