By Herbie J Pilato
It’s important to stay the course.
If you have a dream, whatever that dream might be, if it’s a good dream, that will somehow benefit others, bring a measure of joy, information, entertainment – especially in a positive way, then you have to stay the course. It becomes your obligation to fulfill that dream – for yourself – and others.
For me, dreams are whispers from the Universe how what next step one is to take in life. To deny those dreams…those whispers is not only a disservice to one’s self, but a disservice to others who might benefit from that dream.
When I was growing up, in Rochester, New York, it was always my dream to have my own television show. It has taken more than fifty years for that dream to come true, and but it is happening. Certainly, along the way, there have been obstacles. Some may even consider time to be one of those obstacles. But I do not. Because I believe that what you do has absolutely no relationship to when you do it.
Into this mix, I cannot stress enough the importance of persistence; never giving up, teamwork, respecting your colleagues, co-workers, business partners, and friends along the way, whether or not they are directly connected to your dream. It’s never a bad thing to be cordial, kind and courteous in all your dealings, be they business or personal. A respectful manner is always appreciated in every kind of association, and mostly certainly every kind of professional association.
Years ago, my eighth grade teacher gave each of in our class a famous quote as a gift. At the time, I thought that was not much of a gift. But in retrospect I soon realized it was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The quote she gave me was from Emerson who said, “No [one] is an island; no [one] goes [their] way alone. Whatever we send into the lives of others, comes right back into our home.”
That remains impactful to me. To this day, I try to “send out” only good things…good thoughts…good words. I try to be as positive as I can, in my work and in my play. I don’t always accomplish that, but at the same time I always reach my goal…my objective…because I try. And in the process of that “trying,” with good intentions, dreams come true.
Mine certainly have – again, and again, particularly with Then Again with Herbie J Pilato, the seeds for which were planted with the weekly live events that I hosted throughout 2015 in the Los Angeles area in book stores like Larry Edmunds, and Barnes and Noble, particularly the Barnes and Noble in Burbank, California.
These events commenced in June of 2015, when the owner of Larry Edmunds had asked me to host a book signing featuring actress Cindy Williams, star of TV’s classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley. Cindy had recently published her best-selling memoir, Shirley, I Jest, and before and after the signing, I introduced and moderating a Q&A with Cindy and the audience.
Shortly after, the community relations manager for the Burbank Barnes & Noble asked me to host a weekly Throwback Thursday event during their Get Pop-Cultured month of July. At those events, I was told I could host any classic TV celebrity author of my choice, and do a Q&A with them and the audience. Those Throwback Thursday events became so popular, that it was decided that we continue them throughout the year.
In the midst of all of these events, I would also host similar book-signings of my own and other classic TV celebrities throughout Los Angeles. But it was at the Burbank Barnes & Noble store in particular, where I began to hit my stride…a stride that had be ultimately honed over the years based on my own signing-events for various of my own books, including Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery, and Glamour, Gidgets and the Girl Next Door: Television’s Iconic Women from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, among others
By December 2015, the Throwback Thursday events were popular than ever. Everyone from actress Kathy Coleman, star of classic TV’s Land of the Lost, to others like Days of Our Lives soap stars Gloria Loring and Thao Phengalis and Archies music sensation Ron Dante were making special appearances on the show. But it was writer/producer Joel Eisenberg, of The Chronicles of Ara, who proved to be one of my most pivotal special guests.
For a unique two-hour Christmas/Holiday event held in mid-December, I asked all my previous guests to return and reunite, including actress Caryn Richman (The New Gidget), who I requested to co-host the event with me, and guest Joel Eisenberg.
After the event was over, Joel approached me and said, “I want to turn this into a TV show, and I want you to host it.”
“This,” being a classic TV talk that will mirror the live events, as it focuses on the social and artistic impact of classic television shows, as well as the personal and professional lives of its stars.
Needless to say, I was simply blown away by Joel’s statement.
I was content with hosting my weekly events, to which I was dedicating 40 hours a week with regard to planning and preparing, booking guests, etc. All free of charge. I didn’t make a dime. I invested money, in fact. But it all paid off…in countless ways.
Joel and business partner Steve Hillard, under their Mirkwood Partners banner, then teamed with executive producer Gil Adler (Valkyrie and Superman Returns), executive producer Lori Girsh Eisenberg, and director Steve Akahoshi, of Unstructured Plans, and Geek Nation Studios, headed by Brian Keathly, Clare Cramer and Len McLeod to create a sizzle-reel which featured guests like the afoementioned Caryn Richman, Kathy Coleman, Ron Dante, and Gloria Loring, in addition to Stanley Livingston (from My Three Sons), Geri Jewell (The Facts of Life), Kung Fu creator Ed Spielman, actor Radames Pera (Young Grasshopper on Kung Fu), Larry Thomas (the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld), and writer/producer Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, among many more.
Only about six months later, we set up the show with the Decades Network, which I feel is the most elegant and sophisticated of the classic TV-oriented networks – and I was nothing less than thrilled.
Moral of the story? Sometimes, when you’re not even looking or thinking about it, you’re dreams come true.
Mine sure have – and I’m grateful for every step and second of it along the way.
The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.