Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11 and David & Lynn Angell

I re-post this every year on this date and always will. 

9/11 affected us all, profoundly and in many cases personally. Two of my dear friends were on flight 11. David and Lynn Angell. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of them, missed them, and not felt grateful that they were in my life.

David and I worked together on CHEERS, WINGS, and FRASIER (the latter two he co-created). We used to call him the “dean”. In his quiet way he was the one we always looked to for final approval of a line or a story direction. He brought a warmth and humanity to his writing that hopefully rubbed off on the rest of us “schickmeisters”. And he could be funny – sneaky funny. During long rewrite sessions he tended to be quiet. Maybe two or three times a night he’d pitch a joke – but they were always the funniest jokes of the script.

For those of you hoping to become comedy writers yourselves, let David Angell be your inspiration. Before breaking in he worked in the U.S. Army, the Pentagon, an insurance firm, an engineering company, and then when he finally moved out to L.A. he did “virtually every temp job known to man” for five years. Sometimes even the greatest talents take awhile to be recognized.

I first met David the first season of CHEERS. He came in to pitch some stories. He had been recommended after writing a good NEWHART episode. This shy quiet man who looked more like a quantum physics professor than a comedy writer, slinked into the room, mumbled through his story pitches, and we all thought, “is this the right guy? He sure doesn’t seem funny.” Still, he was given an assignment (“Pick a con…any con”) and when the script came back everyone was just blown away. He was quickly given a second assignment (“Someone single, someone blue”) and that draft came back even better. I think the first order of business for the next season was to hire David Angell on staff.

After 9/11, David’s partners Peter Casey & David Lee called me and my partner into their office. There was a FRASIER script David Angell was about to write. (It was the one where Lilith’s brother arrived in a wheelchair and became an evangelist. Michael Keaton played the part.) Peter & David asked if we would write it and for me that was a greater honor than even winning an Emmy.

David’s wife, Lynn, was also an inspiration. She devoted her life to helping others – tirelessly working on creating a children’s library and a center that serves abused children.

My heart goes out to their families. To all of the families.

I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

So tragic, so senseless, and even twelve years later, so inconceivable.


Richard Rothrock said...

I love that you run this every year. Thank you.

Not too long after 9/11 someone ran a full page ad in VARIETY honoring David & Lynn and it included a Tennyson quote that I can never find. But it was so beautiful and so right. I have searched the web countless times and leafed through lots of Tennyson collections since looking for the quote and I still can't find it. If anyone has any ideas, I would greatly appreciate the help.

Zappa the Unholy said...

My heart goes out to you. My fiance' lost a very close friend that day. We all felt the shock of what happened that day, but when it is as personal as your's and Amanda's loss.. it really comes full circle. I hope you find peace.

Phillip B said...

Don't know if this is the correct Tennyson quote, but this is from Frazier's speech in series final episode "Good night, Seattle'" a shortened version of "Ulysses" - retrieved from Wikipedia, of all places...

"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And though we are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are -

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will;
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Chris G said...

We've been rewatching Frasier on Netflix and after a recent episode the end credits ran over a shot of the darkened set of Frasier's living room. It took me a minute to realize why. I'm very sorry for your loss.

PatGLex said...

I'm glad you reposted this -- and will continue to. Some local media folk were wondering if we need to do any memorials, that we should have moved past the event. I hope that we never do move past 9/11 memorials -- we need to remember what happened every year.

Richard Rothrock said...

Thanks, Philip B. That's not the quote but I appreciate you looking. I finally went upstairs to my files and dug and dug and dug. And I did find the ad.

It is from the September 19, 2001 issue of Variety. The content is:

In Loving Memory
David & Lynn Angell

"And on her lover's arm she leant,
And round her waist she felt it fold.
And far across the hills they went
In that new world which is the old."
--Alred, Lord Tennyson
"The Departure"


I still find it profound and sad.

Hamid said...

A moving tribute on the anniversary of a horrific tragedy. I remember seeing an episode of Frasier not long after September 11 which though it had been screened in the US prior to 9/11, the end of the episode was specially amended, I assume in coordination with the producers, to have a memorial message to David & Lynn Angell, which was heartbreaking.


Hamid said...

Sorry, I should clarify that I'm in the UK, otherwise my post above might be confusing.

Hamid said...

My mistake, it was screened in the US 2 weeks after 9/11 and in the UK in early 2002.

Mark said...

David and Lynn were wonderful people and David was so kind to me. He helped me with some of my early specs and always took the time to give me advice. He was a rare one in this business - a truly good person and such a terrific writer. R.I.P.

Breadbaker said...

I second Richard Rothrock's comment that running this every year is a right and good thing to do.

Mike Barer said...

I came to you blog today, knowing that you would post an excellent remembrance for 9/11. You did indeed.

Anonymous said... Dear Ken, I can tell by your post that you were a dear friend to my cousin & Lynn. Thought you might like the attached story of mine published in today's Providence Journal Jim Raftus

ChicagoJohn said...

I know someone who is a writer who lives in NY. We're friends via an electronic BBS that we both visited, when 9/11 happened. He posted a first hand account of what it was like to be in downtown NY the following days. I refer to it on the anniversary to remind myself of those raw emotions.

I'm with everyone else. This is one of those traditions that need to happen.

Cathy L. said...

Thank you for posting this, Ken. People matter so much in our lives. It's really what it is all about. The relationships we forge. I'm sorry for your personal loss and pain.

NTB said...

This article is very informative and also help us

Abba Dabba said...

@ Richard Rothrock

I believe 'The Departure' starts out

And on her lover's arm she leant,
And round her waist she felt it fold.
And far across the hills they went
In that new world which is the old.
Across the hills, and far away
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess follow'd him.

Andy said...

David was mine and my then writing partner's guardian angel in terms of responding to a spec Cheers (something we were told never to do - submit a spec to the actual show) and affording us the opportunity to write three episodes for the show. He was so sharp, yet soft where it counted.

Anonymous said...

Ken, are you going to review the new comedy pilots this upcoming season?

Amandavin said...

Wow. That Tennyson quote is amazing.

Dale said...

Dear Ken, and Jim Raftus.
I am so sorry for your loss. I always recall with sadness when I read his name in credits.

Yours. Dale.

Abba Dabba said...

Sorry! -- meant to post the whole thing.
Not sure what happened.


And on her lover’s arm she leant,
And round her waist she felt it fold,
And far across the hills they went
In that new world which is the old:
Across the hills, and far away
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
And deep into the dying day
The happy princess follow’d him.

‘I’d sleep another hundred years,
O love, for such another kiss;’
‘O wake for ever, love,’ she hears,
‘O love, ’twas such as this and this.’
And o’er them many a sliding star,
And many a merry wind was borne,
And, stream’d thro’ many a golden bar,
The twilight melted into morn.

‘O eyes long laid in happy sleep!’
‘O happy sleep, that lightly fled!’
‘O happy kiss, that woke thy sleep!’
‘O love, thy kiss would wake the dead!’
And o’er them many a flowing range
Of vapour buoy’d the crescent-bark,
And, rapt thro’ many a rosy change,
The twilight died into the dark.

‘A hundred summers! can it be?
And whither goest thou, tell me where?’
‘O seek my father’s court with me,
For there are greater wonders there.’
And o’er the hills, and far away
Beyond their utmost purple rim,
Beyond the night, across the day,
Thro’ all the world she follow’d him.

Written & re-written & (you know...) re-written again,
until finally published as part of a longer piece called
'The Day-Dream', I believe.