Saturday, September 12, 2009


Photo:  Ken Hively, L.A. Times

Army Archerd died this past week at age 87.  

He was a reporter.  He wrote a well-known and well-regarded column for Variety (until 2005) and later continued writing his column for   

He was one of the original bloggers, you might say, giving us the latest news about Hollywood deals, casting and things he felt we needed to know, for better or worse.  He was the columnist that broke the news to America and the world that Rock Hudson was dying from AIDS.  Those who knew Army Archerd said his intent was never to be malicious, but to speak the truth when it needed to be told -- he also stood up against the blacklisting of the 1950s.  He served in the United States Navy during WWII.  

I grew up watching Army Archerd interview stars on the red carpet for the Oscars.  This was long before Joan Rivers and the more snarky personalities came along to do it.  He seemed to know everybody in Hollywood and they knew him.  There was a mutual respect for each other and the movie business.  

Just recently I discovered that Army Archerd was born in the Bronx, right here in NYC.  Hey, that's where I was born.  But, Mr. Archerd touched my life in a more profound way that was much more unexpected... 

Back in 1999, my original screenplay "Brutal Pattern" was optioned by a Hollywood production company and Mr. Archerd wrote the following about it in his column:

Posted: Wed., Jan. 13, 1999

Heche won't quit before shooting NYPD pic

GOOD MORNING: As for Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres quitting the biz, Heche called "Brutal Pattern" producers Mike Farrell and Marvin Minoff to tell them, "I didn't mean you!" Heche is set to star as an NYPD detective in their pic, in which she and her male partner (yet to be set) are tracking a serial rapist. The tough story is scripted by Janet Lawler.  The producers are enjoying the success of "Patch Adams," now over the $84.2 million gross mark. 

The producer Marvin Minoff later sent me that original Variety magazine.  I still have it and treasure it.  The script never got made into a movie like planned, but it was still a wonderful day when my unknown name and script got a mention in Mr. Archerd's column.  My mother was thrilled.

We also lost another great writer in Hollywood -- Larry Gelbart.  He wrote gems for the screen, theatre and television.  He wrote the TV series "M*A*S*H" and "Tootsie" among other well-known projects.  I grew up watching those doctors "Hawkeye" Pierce, Trapper John and B.J. Hunnicut on CBS.  Their wisecracking dialogue sung through my TV set back in the Seventies.  I didn't always get the jokes at the time, but I knew what I was hearing belonged to a unique voice -- that voice originated with Larry Gelbart, on the blank page.  Unfortunately, I never had the honor to meet Mr. Gelbart, but B.J. Hunnicut went on to someday option my script (actor Mike Farrell).  

What is it they say about those Six Degrees of Separation?

Both of these men, Army Archerd and Larry Gelbart were giants in Hollywood.  They touched all of our lives, in one way or another.
Until next time.


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