Thursday, September 11, 2014

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 thirteen years later, so inconceivable.

19 comments:

jayn said...

Thank you.

BrettJ said...

Beautiful and eloquently written. I know what it is like to lose someone who affected your life in a sudden manner. It is obvious from your words that these people made a profound impact on you. They are gone in the traditional way, but live on in your continued good work.

deebee said...

Visited the 9/11 memorial in New York in early 2013 and searched for these names on the memorial boards. Found them, pointed them out to my partner and told him the background from Ken's posts. Am not religious but said a prayer. RIP.

Amy Alkon said...

Ken, I am so sorry about your friends. Your piece is a beautiful memorial.

Charles Warn said...

RIP to all the Angels of 9/11

Kevin O'Shea said...

Ken:

I'm a long time fan of your blog and a first time commenter. I am very sorry for your loss.

While I did not know the Angells personally, they were very generous with their time and treasure to my alma matter, Providence College, a small Catholic college in Mr. Angell's home state of Rhode Island; both during their lifetimes and through their foundation, after their passing.

Like many, I will remember those lost on 9/11, their families and friends.

--Kevin O'Shea Concord, New Hampshire

http://www.providence.edu/news/headlines/Pages/angellgift.aspx

MikeK.Pa. said...

I remember the shock of hearing David was on that flight. You think celebrity shields some from fate's hand, but then something like 9/11 happens and you realize it doesn't. I've read that Seth MacFarlane was scheduled for the same flight, but overslept. No"Family Guy" and all the laughs that have followed (including at Osama Bin Laden's expense) is inconceivable. It only makes you wonder what other series and characters David Angel had perking in his head. Such a senseless loss of a kind-hearted soul.

Zack Bennett said...

I visited the 9/11 Memorial in NYC this summer and in the "In Memoriam" room, there is an interactive touchscreen area where you can look up victims by name, hometown, birth location, etc... I was looking up the victims from Alabama, because that's where my wife is from and where I lived for a few years, and I noticed Lynn's name among those. I had no idea she was originally from Alabama, and it just broke my heart a little more.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

-sigh-

I'm so sorry...

Anonymous said...

Not this shit again.

Steve (not afraid to sign his name) Pepoon said...

Too bad Anonymous wasn't on that flight instead of David and Lynn. Perhaps today somebody would be saying "I knew a douchebag who was on that flight--" and I'd say "Don't start that shit again--nobody cares."

Rhema Chang said...

Hi, I am one of the many children that Lynn read to at the little yellow library in Pasadena, I will never forget this woman, and many of the books she read to us, I now read to my own children. We we're foster kids, we didn't have parents, but I could say Lynn was the closest thing to a mother that we all had. Most of the other staff abused us at the home, I would always look forward to seeing her every Thursday, her hair was always perfect, she had a very soft voice, her nails and jewelry always matched, she never ever raised her voice, she never had to, we all loved her that much

Rhema Chang said...

She was the most beautiful person I have ever met in my life.

Carson said...

Anonymous (above) is a d-bag. To memorialize your friends each year on a day that still affects us all shows your generosity of spirit. I, for one, always feel sadness when reading this post, no matter how many times I have - and will continue to.

David said...

Ignore the trolls, folks -- especially the anonymous ones.

Thank you for posting, Ken: not only for your own warm and caring words, but for the marvelous memories shared in the comments, by Kevin and Rhema and others above. Sharing joy increases it, and sharing sorrow makes the load more bearable for us all.

Colleen Bates said...

Lovely, Ken. I'l add some more about Lynn... here's the story I wrote about her for Written By back in that first awful week after it happened. It's no longer on their site, so it's on this one: http://hometown-pasadena.com/talk-of-our-towns/remembering-a-911-angell/17100

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, though I don't have as much time to read or comment on your posts as I used to (or write my own blog, for that matter), I still remember your touching remarks about David and Lynn Angell every year, and how what happened affected you and all who worked on CHEERS, WINGS and FRASIER.

Though I never had the chance to work with him, I can vouch for the type of "pay it forward" person David was, When I lived in L.A. in the early 90's with the hope of becoming a TV writer myself, I once had a conversation with John Ratzenberger's wife about David's struggles to break into the business and how he never gave up. As a result I queried David, who was then with Peter Casey and David Lee running WINGS, and to my utter surprise had a voice mail message a couple of days later from his assistant Suzanne saying he'd read my query letter and asked me to submit a spec. Though nothing came of it, I always respected the fact that in an incredibly competitive and difficult business, he was willing to give a nobody an opportunity.

The day after Sept. 11, I was working in an office back here in Rochester, NY when I got an email from one of my coworkers who, knowing I had lived in LA and worked in the business to a certain extent, said that one of the CHEERS producers had been on one of the planes and asked me if I knew him. After I did an internet search and discovered who she was referring to, my heart sank about as low as it possibly could, in contrast to the joy I felt that day almost 10 years earlier when I'd heard from his assistant. God bless David and Lynn and may none of us ever have to experience a loss in such a way as this again.

mmryan314 said...

Rhema Chang- I can only say that your post about Lynn Angell and your statement"... she was the most beautiful person I have ever met in my life" is one of the most beautiful statements I've ever read. My fondest wish, thirteen years after I die, is that someone might say the same about me. Wonderful tribute.

mmryan314 said...

Rhema Chang- I can only say that your post about Lynn Angell and your statement"... she was the most beautiful person I have ever met in my life" is one of the most beautiful statements I've ever read. My fondest wish, thirteen years after I die, is that someone might say the same about me. Wonderful tribute.