Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Best Of: 2007 -- Hey, Who Stole My Flamingo

Tonight's my blog party.  A report will follow.  And thanks to those who plan to attend.  I've decided to go myself.   Meanwhile, the ramp up to this blog's ten year anniversary continues.  A favorite post from every year.  This one first appeared on August 9, 2007.  One of the features that readers really like is me telling ridiculous war stories of my adventures in Hollywood.  Here's one of the crazier ones.

"Hey, who stole my flamingo?"

Or...my favorite pitch meeting ever.
In 1978 my partner, David Isaacs and I were head writers of MASH. That fall we also signed on to write a pilot for CBS. Our producer was Allan Carr (pictured above). He was this rather flamboyant character famous for throwing lavish parties in the “King Tut Disco” in his home, producing such films as SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER and GREASE, and winning a Tony for producing LA CAGE AUS FOLLES on Broadway. He looked like composer Paul Williams -- short, cherubic, bespectacled.

We arranged a meeting to pitch our pilot story. Since we were dealing with MASH all day the meeting was set for 6 PM at his Benedict Canyon mansion (“Hillhaven Lodge”, complete with a giant eight foot Oscar statue in the driveway.).


We show up and are told by the butler he’s not ready. The butler ushered us onto thia lovely outdoor patio where a bottle of wine was waiting for us as well as a Chasen’s ice mountain of fresh seafood.  This must cost $500.  An hour later we’re still waiting although the bottle is now empty. And we start getting a little giddy. We were wondering how we could steal one of his ceramic flamingos. Would Allan notice the two long flamingo legs sticking out of my briefcase? We were really starting to get punchy.

Finally, we hear “Hello, hello” and quickly put on our serious game faces. A moment later Allan sweeps in wearing nothing but a flowing white caftan…and a layer of thick white cold cream all over his face. Holy shit! We almost lost it.

And now, not only must we somehow maintain decorum, we have to pitch a complete pilot story. Behind Allan sat the flamingos, making it even worse.

We somehow managed to get through it. Imagine this surreal scene – a normal pitch meeting, the producer and writers polishing a story, trading ideas, everyone acting as though there’s nothing unusual even though the producer is in a dress with Crisco dripping from his face.

We wrapped up the meeting, said goodbye, shook hands, he closed the front door, and we rolled around on his front lawn for 45 minutes laughing.

The pilot didn’t go thank God because shortly after that Allan had his stomach stapled. Lord knows what the story meetings were like following that.

13 comments:

Peter said...

Your Hollywood war stories crack me up. I think my favourite is the producer who thought it was a neat idea to bring greasy barbecue takeout to a pitch meeting for a show that had a food theme.

And the one where there was something wrong with the back of your trousers and you had to come into the room in such a way that the producer couldn't see it.

John R (was MN now UK) said...

I can't believe I've been following you this long. More surprising that you've kept my attention with your writing all this time (my attention span has shortened with age.) Congratulations on the first ten years and keep up the great work Ken.

normadesmond said...

has anyone else stapled their stomach soon after a pitch of yours?

Mighty Dyckerson said...
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Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"Max, he's wearing a dress!"

Julian Brown said...

loving the greatest hits this week, ken. wish i could enjoy the party with everyone. cheers.

Johnny Walker said...

Have fun tonight! I'm kind of interested to see what a blog party looks like.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get ahold of an Allan Carr bio or autobio that I read about a few years ago. He was a character for sure.Janice B.

Frank Beans said...

Reminds me of the scene in THE PRODUCERS where they meet Roger DeBris for the first time. Only it happened in real life.

Did by any chance his "butler" say "White, white, white, is the color of our carpet" as you were entering?

CRL said...

Just think about how close you and David came to writing 'Can't Stop The Music'......

Alan Light said...

It's always a kick to see one of my celebrity photos used on a blog. I took that photo of Allan Carr at the Governor's Ball after the infamous Rob Lowe-Snow White Oscar telecast that Carr produced. He went downhill fast after that fiasco.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alan-light/2083788603/

Peter said...

I forgot to wish everyone who's going to the blog party a great time! Wish I could join you!

Wheelchair said...
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