Tuesday, February 02, 2016
They were blustery, opinionated, candid, and very savvy. Decisions were made on instinct not research. And they made quick decisions. You may not have liked their rulings, but I’ve always believed that the next best thing to a “Yes” is a quick “No.”
Another thing about these small screen czars, they were great salesmen. And Lee was the best of the best. Whenever we went into a network to pitch a pilot we knew we were golden if Lee was in the meeting.
One of those meetings in particular stands out. We went to CBS to pitch a family show. Lee tagged along. He began the meeting by saying to the head of CBS programming, “In all my years, this is the best goddamn idea for a series I have ever heard. Ever! And if you don’t buy it – right now, in the room – you are fucking idiots. You hear me? Fucking moron idiots! And if you don’t buy it, I’m calling NBC and we’ll have a sale by the end of the fucking day.”
Wow, we thought. Lee has never been this effusive before. We might just have a home run. So with that he turned it over to us, we pitched it, and CBS bought it on the spot.
As we were walking to the elevator Lee said, “Hey, you know what guys? You do have a pretty good idea there.”
That, ladies and gentleman, is a SALESMAN.
Who’s to say whether television was better back then? But it was sure a lot more fun.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM