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The Weekly Blague

L.A. Story

My impending journey to L.A. for a May 12 event at Book Soup, where Beaver Street is currently a featured title of the week, is a bit of a homecoming. I lived in L.A. for a while, in 1980, at what was then the Montecito Hotel, on Franklin Avenue. Fridays, an upstart L.A. version of Saturday Night Live, had invited me to try out as a writer. Because of an ongoing writers' strike, it was a strange time to be in Hollywood; Fridays was one of the few shows in production.

At ABC studios, I met with the two producers, John Moffitt and Bill Lee, along with comedian Jack Burns, one of the show’s writers. They asked me to write some skits, and to give me a thorough understanding of how Fridays worked, they allowed me to attend meetings, rehearsals, and live broadcasts, and gave me access to their video room, where I could study tapes of all the shows.

Back at the Montecito, I sat in my room, gazing at the smog-enshrouded Hollywood Hills as I banged out on my portable typewriter a half-dozen skits, including a number of “cold openings” for the show, one of which involved a Charles Manson song-and-dance number.

Then I waited for what I was sure was going to be a job offer—and continued going to rehearsals, meetings, live broadcasts. But neither a job offer nor a rejection ever came. I found myself in a weird gray area, seemingly welcome at the studio, though not in any official capacity.

One afternoon at a writers’ meeting, Larry David, who was also a cast member, said to me, “Did they hire you?”

“No,” I answered. “Not officially.”

“Then,” he said, as everybody else looked on in utter silence, “you have to leave.”

David escorted me out of the conference room and then called security to have me thrown off the lot.

A few weeks later, back in New York, I turned on Fridays. The cold opening, which contained a few lines from a script I’d submitted, was a skit about a security guard ejecting a writer from the ABC lot.

My subsequent visits to L.A. have all been considerably warmer.

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