Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9-11 and David and 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 eighteen years later, so inconceivable.


The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

18 years.
I was there.

18 years.
Now I have gray hair.

18 years.
Others weren't so lucky, and never got to go gray.

18 years.
Remember them, and be memorialize that day.

Kirk said...

Excellent tribute to your friend.

Peter said...

RIP to David, Lynn and everyone who died on that horrific day and all those who died later as a result of injury or suicide.

And shame on all those who elected a person who insulted the memory of those who died by saying "some people did something."

John Hammes said...

Remembered. Always.

Mike Bloodworth said...

9/11 was one of those events that was almost too horrific to be believed. All the time I was watching the coverage I kept asking myself, "Is this really happening?!"
I'm greatful that no one I knew personally was a victim of the terrorists. It's always hard to lose someone close to you and losing David and Lynn in that way must have been particularly devastating for you, Ken.
I'm sending out a prayer to all of those affected by 9/11. We will never forget.

Ed Pepper said...

I'm not happy to wade into this when there are deeper issues to consider today, but frankly, if you want to talk about shame, I would find it hard to wash off the stench of voting for a creep who crowed that "his building was the tallest" after the towers fell, lied about joining the responders at Ground Zero, and wanted a photo-op with the Taliban around the anniversary, but if the best you have is four words out of context to excuse your politics I guess you have to make what you can of it. Enjoy your "patriotism," and bigotry.

Robert Brauer said...

My deepest sympathies, Ken. This day is hard enough for anyone who was alive on that day to bear, let alone someone like yourself who lost someone you were so close to.

I was a 13 year old boy then; I am a 31 year old man now. Even if I should live to be 131, let my memories of that terrible day never fade.

Steve said...

Some people just have to politicize every post. At least spare this one.

Anonymous said...

While Peter is writing about "shame," let's all be thankful to Jon Stewart for shaming Congress into passing the 9/11 First Responders Bill. Janice B.

Peter said...


Out of respect for Ken and his blog, I'll keep this short and civilized and it'll also be my last comment on the subject.

You're probably new to this blog, as anyone who reads knows I have posted many times about my hatred for Trump. He's a despicable human being. It's possible to despise him and Ilhan Omar at the same time. I'm also not an American citizen, so did not, could not and would not vote for him or any Republican.

Lastly, I've seen the full video. The words were not taken out of context.

I wish you peace and goodwill.

Tom Quigley said...

Ken, I think I've related this to you before. When I was living in LA and had aspirations of doing sitcom writing, I queried David Angell when he and his partners were showrunning WINGS. I'd been told by the (now ex-) wife of one of the cast members of CHEERS about David's struggles to break into the business and it gave me the initiative to send a query letter to his attention. Within a day I had a message on my answering machine from his assistant that he'd read my letter and would be interested in having me submit a spec for review. I thought,"Boy, here I am, right out of the blue, no credits to my name (not even an agent at the time), and he's showing enough interest to request a spec from me." And even though eventually nothing came of it I always thought afterward "This guy is something special."

Jen from Jersey said...

So if we criticize Omar we’re bigots. Does her religion, color, and sex exclude her from criticism. It is in extremely poor taste to attack Trump when Ken was paying tribute to two people who were near and dear to him.

YEKIMI said...

On that day, I had been working all night and went to bed when I got home. While in slumberland all hell was breaking loose. I woke up in the afternoon and turned on the TV to find news broadcast of people running and screaming in the streets of Cleveland and wondering what the hell was going on up there. Then I started tuning around and saw what had happened. Having a friend who worked within shouting distance of the towers and his wife who worked in the towers, I started trying to call him 24 hours straight with no answer. About 2 days later he called and said both were fine; she hadn't been working that day. Turns out two other people I knew had relatives that died in the buildings. Almost 450 miles away and it still had an effect on me. My friend told me later on that he and his wife went to over 2 dozen funerals for friends that they had lost in the collapse of the buildings. His description of all that happened that day as he was struggling to get out of that area and all the dead bodies he saw still gives me nightmares.

Ed Pepper said...

Steve, you are spot on target. I shouldn't have stepped into Peter's nonsense, especially after reading his response, but at least now I see the conflict was not really political.

Some of us are a wee bit more discriminating about who we despise. There are always contrarians who want us to think that they are above left and right partisanship, implying they've got some superior perspective when all they're offering is knee-jerk contempt regardless of the issues. Meanwhile, in a day or two this fellow will interrupt a totally unrelated comment thread with "Ken, what do you think of this gossip piece?" hoping to turn the discussion into an attack on some celebrity he despises. Now he'll try to present himself above Hollywood and all the degenerates there. Every sophomore class has someone like that. It's a game to grow out of.

sueK2001 said...

Every year I watch the episodes you's a way that David still lives on in the laughter...and I watched the Cheers ep you mentioned..and the perfection of that whole scenario and lines therein really were of a different comic class..and having Diane's Mom's chauffer do his reveal was an almost "Frasier"-like twist...I know you miss your friends Ken....We miss their gift.

Loosehead said...

Ken, I can't imagine your thoughts as you hesitate over the "post" and "discard" buttons on some of these comments, but thank you for letting us see what you deal with by allowing comments on your blog.
I wonder sometimes if people just like to see their name in print.
Yours, Dave 'Loosehead' Gordon

Tudor Queen said...

You post it every year. I read it all every year.

I've been doing a casual re-watch of "Frasier" this week. When I see David Angell's name I think of you and your loss.

Ed Pepper said...

I mourn with you.

The Equinist said...

Dear Ken,

I have been going through all the seasons of Frasier lately, and tonight saw the episode dedicated to David and Lynn. When I saw their names, I looked up what happened and was just shocked. But in finding your post about them, I was grateful to learn about what great people they were, and heartened to see how deeply you felt and still feel about them. They must have been very special indeed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about them and helping us to remember how tragically real the losses to our nation were on that terrible day.