Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter/Issues 007-008

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Zine
Title: Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter
Publisher: Beauty and the Beast Fan Club (US)
Editor(s): Deb Hense
Type:
Date(s): March 1988-June 1990
Frequency: four times a year
Medium: print
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter is a Beauty and the Beast fanclub newsletter and letterzine published out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

mailing out the September 1988 issues (printed in the December 1988 issue)

It was published four times a year: March, June, September, and December.

The first issue was published in March 1988 and ended in June 1990. The newsletter spanned from the end of the first season to two months before the show was cancelled. As a result, the letters, fan discussion, and translation of information doled out to fans by TPTB reflected a cycle of excitement and optimism, fear and anxiety about characterizations and show cancellation, fervent mobilization to keep what they loved, and finally, for many fans, the crushing defeat and sense of betrayal that fractured the fandom.

This zine series was informally continued in Passages, which began the month "Beauty and the Beast: The Newsletter" ceased.

v.2 n.7 (September 1989)

Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter v.2 n.7 was published in September 1989 and contains 48 pages.

front cover of v.2 n.7
back cover of v.2 n.7, Deb Hense: "Forever Always," first appeared on the June 1989 back cover of Once Upon a Time... Is Now

The interior art is not credited. Some is signed Donna Maria, Phyllis Berwick, R. Todd, and Kathy Todd.

Editorial and Layout Staff: Patricia Adams, Rita Adams, Scott Coppernoll, Eileen Hartwig, Deb Hense, Linda Palm, and Janet Schmidt.

A letter in this issue addresses for the first time, at least in this newsletter series, the possibility of Catherine Chandler being replaced or otherwise written out of the show.

From the editor:
The spoken word album "Of Love and Hope" has sold over two hundred thousand dollars worth. As of August 15th, it was #158 on Billboard and expected to go higher. The last time a spoken word album did well was Rod McKuen's album of poetry. And it didn't make the charts! Let's give a lot of albums for Christmas presents this year!!! And keep on requesting your local radio station to play selections off it.
  • Whispering Gallery (3)
  • Chamber Musings: Interview with Joseph Campanella (portrayed Dr. Peter Alcott) (7)
  • Letter from the Editors ("The executive committee has come to us with some suggestions for a happier relationship between the fans expectations and reality. These suggestions apply to all your dealings with any club or publication related to B&tB." -- See Who died and made you Father?) (11)
  • Tunnel Visions: Episode Guide (15)
  • Archon Convention Report (19)
  • Candleglow: Letters of Comment (21)
  • Why Does Vincent Look the Way He Does?, essay by Lisa S. Knopp (40)
  • Double Crosstix, puzzle (43)
  • Pascal's Pipeline, fan clubs (45)
  • Address to Write (46)

v.2 n.7: Excerpts from Fan Letters

I have been a fan/supporter of B&tB and its fandom from the moment this innovative show went on the air two and a half years ago. I have smiled and cried through each episode with out missing a beat not to mention a second on my VCR. I have sacrificed parts of my life, not to mention my Friday nights, to feed my never ending hunger for more B&tB! Countless trips to the library and magazine stands were taken each week in childlike anticipation of a story or article, no matter how small, that would tide me over. But now all that wonder, anticipation, and hope has been suspended by a single sentence.

Never before have I felt so ashamed to label myself a Fan" of B&tB as I did on July 27th of this year! I should pause a moment to let that sink in... On that dreadful day, I picked up a respectable national newspaper and read an article that left me speechless! Is speechless the right word? Maybe I should change that to angry! The article which I am referring to, for those of you who missed it, was printed in the July 27th issue of USA Today, section D, page 4:

"What a Beaut: First, Beauty and the Beast fans were upset with CBS for taking the series off the fall schedule. After promises of a mid-season return, al seemed well for the modern-day fairy tale. That was until CBS announced its "re-tooling" plans for the show last week, which likely will include writing off series Linda Hamilton. The beast with out beauty? That's not something the well mobilized fans want to see. "We would miss her," says Elaine Landman, a member of many Beauty fan clubs. "Vincent could not survive without Catherine. Most of us would be more than willing to accept a replacement for her." Rumors persist that the emphasis will move from romance to action. "We feel this would trivialize the characters. It is not the show we fought for," Landman says."

I have learned to take vague statements about season episodes counts and "re-toolings" in stride. Instead, the statement which I am centering my disbelief around is the one stating "most of us", meaning the fans of B&tB, "would be more than willing to accept a replacement for her", Linda Hamilton. The quote which I am referring to was made by Elaine Landman, "a member of many Beauty fan clubs." If the news of a replacement for Linda Hamilton would have come from Ron Koslow and co., I would have been disappointed but nonetheless willing to attempt an understanding for their decision. If the news of a replacement for Linda Hamilton would have come from Ms Hamilton herself, I would have, again, been disappointed but willing to understand her decision.

The statement in question was not made by Ron Koslow, B&tB representatives, or Ms Hamilton. This statement which boiled with insensitivity and carelessness was made by you and I. Yes, you and I, the fans and supporters of B&tB!! I know you are saying to yourselves, 'but I don't remember talking to "USA TODAY?!" Well, you did and so did I! Indirectly, we, the fans of B&tB, made a statement of acceptance for a replacement of Linda Hamilton. But how you are wondering? Through a single person who was never elected or appointed to make such a slicing statement by you or I. I never read, because I would have responded, a polling question regarding my acceptance of a replacement Did any of the reader of The Beauty and the Beast Fan Club Newsletter? Maybe there was a mailing poll done and my questionnaire was lost in the mail. Then again, maybe it was another Beauty and the Beast Fan Club altogether. If you believe any one of those excuses you are only fooling yourselves!

I can only speak for myself of course, but I feel extremely misrepresented by the statement made in USA TODAY. And I intend to let Ron Koslow, CBS, and especially Ms. Hamilton know how this fan/supporter of B&tB feels about a rumored replace for the show's beloved star. If I am sounding angry, remember, I do not appreciate anyone, even if their intentions are good, speaking for me without my approval or input Perhaps hasty words were spoken and taken out of context and if that is the case I apologize for my anger. We B&tB fans hold ourselves so high above other fandoms because what we praise is high quality. We praise courage, perseverance, strength, kindness, respect, compassion, humanism, and love. We pat ourselves on the back for admiring such uncommon and almost holy qualities and continue on our way. But when the time comes, do we ever really use what we marvel and admire? When respect and compassion are needed at the expense of our won fantasies, do we use them? Or do we suddenly become practical and conform to our own selfish whims?

I am afraid that all to often the fantasy of possessing a soulmate, companion, and friend like Vincent is overwhelming. Overwhelming for the viewer and dangerous for the character of Catherine, aka. Linda Hamilton. Linda has given each of us a great gift, a porthole through which we can imagine a fife with Vincent, if one wishes to do so. With a gifted and beautiful talent, Linda, aided by numerous writers and producers, allows us, the viewers, to step into her body and act out our fantasies. She does not stand in the limelight and demand attention and accolades for this accomplishment! That is one of the reasons why it works so well. Instead of throwing away this wonder treasure as a selfish child would, we should be ever grateful and infinitely appreciative!

I ask you, the reader, would a statement approving a replacement for Ron Perlman ever be made without your input? After all any ignorant person could say that any actor could play Vincent. All an actor would need is makeup and shoulder pads! NO! that would be incredibly insulting and disrespectful to Mr. Perlman not to mention very untrue. Should we regard Linda Hamilton with any less respect? Should we be that apathetic to her devotion to B&tB, hard and exhausting work, crafted talent, sacrifices on and off the set, sweat and tears? I know that I can only speak for myself in responding to the above questions but I do so with a resounding NO! And you can quote me on that!

Maybe the word I was looking for at the beginning of this letter was not anger but sadness. If my answer is not accepted by those of you who consider yourselves supporters of B&tB and its philosophy then so be it. And so be me from the world of B&tB because I've just been missing the point for the past two and a half years.

It seems so funny now that I've become so attached to the characters and then- plight, because I distinctly remember turning up my nose and saying, "Oh, brother!" when I read the series promo for B&tB in last fall's TV Guide. Television is certainly going to the dogs, I thought. But I taped the program anyway to watch at a later date, confident that I would see just how silly prime-time

was getting. First, there was "Mork and Mindy"; and the ridiculous "Alf' and now "Beauty and the Beast". Would these people get real! But by the time the show ended, I was hooked. I promptly rewound the tape and watched it a second time. I loved everything about the first show—the writing, the sets and photography, the music, and most important of all, its sense of magic. Since then, I've never been let down.

Most people I know think I'm a little dingy for being so involved with this show, but I don't care. I am involved with Vincent and Catherine, their love story is so romantic and bittersweet - I don't know it just moves me. I know its only television, and there is no beast, but what's wrong with a little fantasy? Where is it written that a 34 year old woman can't dream of a prince (or a

princely beast of a man?). Truthfully, I think one of the biggest problems with the world today is its lack of magic and wonder, chivalry and romance. People need that in their lives whether they admit it or not, and some more than others. It doesn't mean we're squirrely, it just means that we need to dream, we need a bit of enchantment, and we refuse to ignore the fairy music that still plays in the deepest of moonlit nights.

B&tB seems to provoke a strong response from viewers and critics alike. Either you accept its fairy tale premise and go with the flow or you dismiss it as nonsense and turn the channel. But you do feel something. And it's innovative and refreshing, there's never been anything quite like it on television before. Remarks about the series have ranged from 'outlandish' to 'it strains credulity.' Vincent has been described as everything from a 'hairy, poetry-spouting, underground creature' to a 'hairy romantic loner.' The key word here seems to be hairy.

There is also some mindless faction (yes, so called fans of the show) who see nothing wrong with him that a little dental work wouldn't take care of. I mean really! Who are these people anyway and what do they know? Obviously, they've never heard the old adage "Beauty is oily skin deep".

Vincent is not a loner or a creature, there is nothing wrong with him, period! He is magnetically attractive. He possesses a noble spirit along with great intelligence and superior physical strength. He has the most beautiful and seductive voice I've ever heard and he knows how to talk to and treat a woman. Vincent calls himself a man (and I have yet to meet a finer one) and he is in love. He romances Catherine gently with long-stemmed roses and passionate verse.

The object of Vincent's romantic attention is no dumb bunny. Catherine is a beautiful, intelligent, vital young woman who knows a prince when she sees one and returns Vincent's affection without difference. She exudes confidence, charm, and a warm sensuality. Catherine is the kind of woman nations go to war over, no wonder she made short work of capturing Vincent's. He adores and respects her.

Applause to CBS for standing by this captivating fantasy and renewing it for another year! My only regret is that Linda Hamilton was not honored by an Emmy nomination for best actress in a dramatic series last year. She's a classy lady and a winner in my book nonetheless!

I understand the writers and producers have to be careful here - I mean some fool might cry bestiality, that's if those self-appointed, die-hard guardians of our morality don't threaten a boycott because they think CBS is encouraging unnatural acts of love. But they can't keep a full grown woman and an incredibly sexy adult male flirting and teasing forever.

I'm afraid the fans simply won't stand for it! They need not have Catherine and Vincent get serious on-camera, though that would certainly be a new experience, an after-the-fact scene, one that leaves no doubt, would work nicely. But they have to do something!

Have you notice what's going on? What are you going to do about it? Have you taken some time to write the networks about the changes? If your answer is no - then get-off-it and do something. If you feel this show is just some form of entertainment then you might as well stop reading here. Right here. However if you really believe in quality programming, love, romance, and freedom for all then you better get your word processors working overtime in writing to the networks, and the producers concerning what I perceive as the rating's game being played with the show.

Somehow, I just can't imagine B&tB on any other night than Friday. But I would rather see it saved by moving it to another night than being removed altogether. So Fans, let's really ban together and produce some paper. Just because we don't have Nielsen boxes attached to our television sets, we can still let them know that there are serious viewers out there who are concerned, not to mention we all are consumers who buy what the advertisers sell. It worked for Cagney and Lacey, let's not let it get that far. Start writing now, today.

Let our voice be heard.

In 1989/1990 I hope that all of us who love Vincent and Catherine and believe in their love will do all that we can to boost the ratings of the show. Let us write letters, talk to people, and promote B&tB in any way we can. It is up to us fans to keep the dream alive.

[...]

If there ever has to be an end to the series, I hope that we will be able to see Catherine and Vincent in a world that will accept both of them. I cannot imagine that the writers would be so cruel as to separate them. I will not accept the idea that we live in a world where we can no longer hold on to dreams and expect them to come true if only we believe.

As much pain as it causes us, the fans of Vincent and Catherine, and especially of Vincent we have to remember the lesson laid out for us in all of its rich form. Sometimes the lesson is subtle (I am always amazed at the subtleties in this program) and sometimes it is a slap in the face, but it is always there and it behooves us to remember when we write letter to Mr. Koslow, and try to shape the future of the show in our hopes for Vincent and Catherine, that there is a larger vision for the total entity that is Beauty and die Beast, than the pain of its parts.

B&tB causes me so much pain so often to watch. Sometimes, I do not want to think so hard or feel so deeply. Sometimes, I wish to sit back and relax and let my spirit be salved with the opiate of mindlessness that most TV is, but the way to grow is to "confront our fears" and our pain and THINK. I salute you. Beauty and the Beast, for forcing one to think, and to feel, just as the finest novel, play, or poem does. Keep it up.

When Father said, "You two share something quite extraordinary. It brings out the best in all of us," I believe he was referring to us as viewers, as well as Vincent and Catherine. The show has come to mean many things to many different people. It seems to have lit creative candles in all of us. I thought that I was alone in my feelings for this show. How wonderful to find I am in a very talented and special group of people who have been moved by their story. It's rather akin to how the people in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" felt. They dreamed, they wrote, they painted, sculptured images from their minds and their hearts after being exposed to a common experience. They went about their business until they were all drawn together to share their feelings and thoughts.

I haven't joined a fanclub since the Beatles. As a "baby boomer", I purchased Star Trek fanzines for years just to keep it alive until Paramount woke up. I am impressed with the variety of people the show reaches.

[...]

I have the calendar. I have the poster. I have the special edition video tape (even more special because I had to track it down in beta) I have every episode on tape. I have two highlight tapes that I have transferred my favorite scenes from each show on to. I have a 100 page scrapbook of clippings...I had to put them somewhere. They kept falling out of the folder I had them in. I watched for the first time Vincent smiles, drank, laughed, cried. I even spotted the "blooper" of Vincent's hand minus his 'fur' in one episode. I paid $10 for a book on poetry because I was looking for a poem from the show. My friends wouldn't believe that They think all I read is the TV guide and the STAR! I scour every magazine for articles or news on the show. I have written to everybody connected with the show. My first letter was to Ron Perlman. I have received a couple of prized replies and an autographed picture. I have Beauty and the Beast Fan on my return address labels. My friends have let me go about my 'Beast Business' in quiet understanding. When we had construction going on at the hotel, there was a lot of banging on the pipes..."Hey Darrilynn, it's for you, he wants you to meet him under the hotel." My computer access code has to do with the show. Am I obsessed? Or is it possessed? What ever it is - I love it. Friday night I am cloistered in my room, the phone is turned off and the VCR is on.

I do not wish to see Vincent over-merchandised. Some standard items, like the calendar and poster are nice...as Ron Perlman has said: "I would hate to see Vincent on a lunch box"...

I have received two fanzines and have ordered information on about six more. I find it interesting and ironic that we all seem to be thinking along the same line, ('we all' referring to the things I've written and read). We want them off the balcony and in the apartment once in awhile. The balcony was romantic at first but please...give us a break already?! We want them to sneak out of town and up to a cabin secluded in the woods!

A recurring theme is 'get Vincent into Catherine's so she can take care of him in the apartment'. He's ill and can't make it home so he gets to go into her apartment. I had to laugh when I read this so many times in the stories because it was a theme I wrote about as well! (ed note: It's an old trick and still works - witness this season's ending) my story, I had Father telling, in flashback, about Vincent as a boy while they kept a vigil by his bedside.

We want Catherine to nurse him back to health as he nursed her in the pilot. This must be the 'Earth Mother' in us. Kim LeMasters once said, "Television should evoke emotion in the viewer." When Vincent is in some sort of jeopardy as in "No Way Down", or "Nor Iron Bars a Cage", or danger I find my feeling very involved and I like that. Vincent in not indestructible. By allowing him to be hurt once in awhile, we are reminded of his human side and that he is very much like us.
I feel like a "helper" with all the letters I've sent to CBS and the local television station. It's a good feeling.
What is this magical show that has taken a hold on me? Never has a series done this to me before. Tune in to a TV show, watch, turn off TV, end of that!!! But not so with this series. For long after the TV is turned-off, "Beauty and the Beast" is still with me, day and night. Sometimes I can't help but wonder...Did they do voodoo on this show, that it is able to reach out and capture my mind, my heart, my thinking, my very emotions? But then the truth comes at me... No voodoo, just the most wonderful, magical, beautiful series ever created!!

A subject I would like to address, and that is where I have read that you created Vincent as a "Beast with human qualities". Sorry, Mr. Koslow, but I have to disagree. To me, Vincent is a "Human with Beastly features." Why? Because animals do not have souls!! And Vincent does! End of that discussion!

How long do you and the rest of the series crew, actors, actresses wish the show to run? Eight years like Magnum PI, twenty years like Gunsmoke? How long will viewers stay interested if their relationship is not allowed to grow? I myself, will continue to watch the series for the romance alone. The more romantic scenes, the better! But I also would like to see their relationship develop.

[...]

As for the Kiss, a little peck now and then: a mild soft, warm kiss wouldn't hurt. After all, as another fan already mentioned, Vincent is capable of kissing, for he kisses his father. Of course, not in the same manner he would kiss Catherine, but still a kiss.

By the way, how does Linda Hamilton feel about this? The next few lines go to you, Ms. Hamilton. You are one terrific, beautiful lady, actress. By the way, can you sing? I would love to see/hear Catherine sing a love ballet to Vincent!

Now to Ron Perlman/Vincent... Mr. Perlman, your portrayal of Vincent is... there are not enough words to describe it. A woman's dream come true! The perfect, ideal man! Sexy, loving, considerate, etc.. but you have heard this before, uh? And those blue eyes! Paul Newman who??

So Vincent's not allowed to make love? Hell, he doesn't have to! With his voice alone, he undresses a woman and sends her to highs she's never felt before! Opal Stone, you lucky lady!! Thank you, Mr. Perlman for bringing Vincent to life for us. May we enjoy your great acting for a long, long, time.

Back to you, Mr. Koslow, whatever you and the rest of the writers decide to write for us this coming season, if it is anything like the last couple of seasons, we are going to love it!!! Just continue to give us Romance, Romance, and more Romance!

Now to my companion fans. Texas Fans where are you? I see very few of them! Surely, there are more! Has anyone started a fanclub in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area? If so, I'd love to join. Never been a leader, just a follower, but I am willing to do my share of work. With the letterzines I now do not feel alone anymore. I no longer feel weird for having fallen in love with this series.

The advice in the first newsletter to those who do aspire to write a story or script for the show is true and very much to the point Expensive as it is, acquiring an agent is the wisest course. There is another method for the freelance writer, though. Thousands of spec scripts constantly pour into the various studios. Similar to a publisher's slush pile, these scrips are read by a staff to determine if the story idea is appropriate for the show and if the author has the necessary writing skills. A handful of these scripts are passed along to be read again. Rarely is the original spec script bought However, if the story editors feel it has the right qualities for that particular show, the writer is invited to come in and pitch some more stories. To be successful, you should have at least three or four story ideas. Then, if invited, you are required to appear in person and simply tell your stories in front of an audience to the editors and producers. This is not easy. Even though the editors try to make you as comfortable as possible-after all, your good story is to their advantage-many good scripts never see the light of day because their authors were nervous. To follow this path, a course in public speaking is a good idea. If the story editors are impressed, they might negotiate to buy your script. Writers Guild rules are very specific. No one can ask you to write something without agreeing to pay for it.

In "Everything is Everything", Father says the playwright depends on the actors to bring life to his words. But, let's face it, the words have to be there first. And then comes the re-writing and the re writing and the re-writing.

For months I thought I was the only adult (of the female persuasion) who's Friday nights belonged to an incredibly fascinating male named Vincent. And while it really didn't matter (I like what I like), I'm pleased to know I'm in good company and that we're all keeping a watchful eye on CBS. I know I've certainly done my part, from sending letters to the programming director and TV Guide (whenever they knocked the show unfairly); to calling and writing my local affiliate for pre-empting at least three first-run episodes during hockey season.

I'm happy to report they quickly saw the error of their ways and began broadcasting B&tB either later in the evening or the next night after the late news. I was getting pretty tired of

driving to my sister's house in Syracuse (approximately 80 miles away) with video tape in hand, whenever the local station decided hockey was more important. The things we fans won't do...

v.2 n.7: Sample Interior

v.2 n.8 (December 1989)

Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter v.2 n.8 was published in December 1989 and contains 28 pages.

front cover of v.2 n.8
back cover of v.2 n.8, Patricia Yagodinski

Editorial and Layout Staff: Patricia Adams, Rita Adams, Scott Coppernol, Eileen Hartwig, Deb Hense, Linda Palm, and Janet Schmidt.

From the editor:

Well, gang, its been a long haul, but we got our third season coming up very soon. We have some good news and some bad i«ws about this new season.

The good news: We have the same writers who have given us two wonderful seasons of shows back doing the third season. We get to see more of Jay "Joe Maxwell" Acovone, and Edward "Elliot Burch" Albert.

The bad news: They have kept the same advertising agencies and publicist. This means that it is up to us to get the word out about the new season. So I have a few ideas on this subject:

- Help the needy in your community: Sponsor a fund-raiser Winterfest in your area. Make sure the local papers and tv stations know that your fundraiser is patterned after the show. It could be just a pot-luck, or a masquerade.

- Have a season opener party and invite the local press and tv stations.

- Write or call your local entertainment editors and ask for information and interviews to be published about Beauty and the Beast.

- Public TV is always looking for informative topics to broadcast. Put together a panel discussion based on a topic like:Television today, good or bad influence? Make sure you have an educator, a religious person, a librarian, and yourself (or some other articulate person) on the panel. Then slant the discussion toward poetry, music, Shakespeare... Using examples from Beauty and the Beast, and other shows also (ones.being aired by that station would be an extremely wise choice).

In doing all this - make sure you send clippings and tape copies to Witt/Thomas to let them know you are doing your best for the show! They need to know how much free publicity we garner for them.
Also from the editor:

A word of caution to those who are saying they are not going to watch the new season if Catherine is not there. Think about what you are truly saying. You are telling Ron Perlman who goes through four hours of makeup each day he is on the set - that his contribution of talent, and his efforts as Vincent, on behalf of this show is at best, nominal. You are also telling Koslow and company that their efforts to make the best of a bad situation (Linda sitting out because she wants to spend time with her newborn) is unappreciated. You are giving everyone associated with the production the impression that their efforts to bring us a worthwhile, value-filled show is wasted.

And [think about] the impression you are giving to the other actors on the show. You're letting them know that they have wasted their time appearing on it.

You are killing the show before it is even being shown! I believe you should give the new season a fair trial - watch four or five episodes before you give up on it, anything less would be tokenism on your part. I myself, plan on watching each and every episode of the entire season before I make a judgement of whether this season is good or bad. I'm not going to make a hasty judgement based on few rumors, or one rough episode. There have been other episodes in the last two seasons that I have not cared for overall, but I have always found there was at least several moments of beauty, of revelation, of emotionalism that I loved in each episode. Some episodes had more than others but hey, that's life. Life is a bed of roses, thorns and all.

So let's counteract the naysayers by writing letters of support to each magazine where a negative letter appears! And let those editors know that there are many more of us who love the show than hate it, and we're working on converting those who have yet to watch it.
  • Whispering Gallery (3)
  • Chamber Musings: Interview with Howard Gordon (5)
  • Lights of Winterfest: A Very Special Plea (12)
  • These Dreams, song lyrics, the band is "Heart" (13)
  • Second Season Episode Poll (14)
  • Candleglow: Letter of Comment (single letter by a fan who met someone through the fan club and proposed marriage to her) (15)
  • Local Area Fan Club Listing (16)
  • An Idea is Born, article by Deb Hense (describing writing for television, various roles, various hurdles) (18)
  • Tunnel Fan Quality Awards, Nominations Are Still Open (25)
  • Standard Policy (28)
  • Addresses to Write (28)

v.2 n.8: Excerpts from Interview

From the interview with Howard Gordon:

Alex [Gansa] and I met at Princeton, where we were both seniors in the creative writing department. We wrote novels - not together- separately, two different novels.

[These novels] need some work, serious work. They're very typical first novels, a coming of age. We were both respectively bound for — Alex to Stanford Creative Writing School and me for New York NYU Creating Writing Program. They're both good schools, and both of us had won scholarships and were going to go. Then one night in the same breath, we both said let's pack our bags and go to Hollywood. And we did. We actually didn't leave till November. We were caretakers on a private estate — an island in Connecticut where we started writing a screenplay based on the life of Lord Byron. But we never really got much done. We spent most of our time sailing and water skiing and stuff. We were getting restless and actually wrote a St. Elsewhere Spec Script that summer.

A Spec Script is what one writes to show that you have talent. It's how you sell yourself. So we packed our bags and came back to Los Angeles. We got a job writing for "Spencer" soon after that. The way we landed that job was through our own private business - we were SAT tutors. We taught for the college entrance exam. In our first group of students was the daughter of the executive producer of "Spencer for Hire."

Talk about luck! We actually had a lot of sons and daughters of people involved in the business. I suppose part of the reason we were "lucky" revolved around the fact that we had put ourselves into a situation where we could interact with them. That's one of the reasons why writers who want to break into television move to Los Angeles - to just be there, to create the breaks. We had a lot of sons and daughters of producers and actors, but it took the kindness of a guy who believed in us to give us that first shot.

[...]

We sent [our St. Elsewhere spec script] to somebody who knew somebody who knew the hairdresser of the secretary. So it was a rather tenuous connection. Six to eight months later, they actually finally wrote a very curt and polite note rejecting it. I think it's hard enough in this industry to get started and apparently there must have been some problem. I was worried about the next script. So I was a little bit upset with St. Elsewhere for not having at least one qualifying clause saying "Good effort, there's some talent here." But there was nothing. Thanks but no thanks. We got letters from Hill Street Blues that were very encouraging. At least continue the effort, there's some wonderful stuff here and you guys demonstrated some obvious talent but we can't use you right now.

What do we think they're looking for in terms of talent? The ability to take existing characters and put them through the dance and put them through a dramatic situation in line with, in the same tone as the series. [1]
George has been in some of his episodes. He was in "When the Bluebird Sings." Did you see that? He was in the back with his girlfriend Kara. They're sitting at a table behind Catherine and Kristopher. That was a wonderful show. Frankly, I think that is my favorite of all the ones he has written so far.

References

  1. ^ "The ability to take existing characters and put them through the dance and put them through a dramatic situation in line with, in the same tone as the series." - Sounds like fanfiction!