Transcript:

Speaker OK, let's let's go back to I mean, you know where you are now, we know.

Speaker The story that we read about of how you got there, but we don't know is what inspired you to take that path. So if we go all the way back to the beginning for you, what was it about entertainment that interests you or even the business side of entertainment that interests you?

Speaker My father was a frustrated singer, and so too is I. And. I didn't have it and then give it to. And so when I got out of the Air Force.

Speaker Stepping back a little. When I went to UCLA. My father. Call me just before I interviewed UCLA and he said. I said, why haven't I got my allowance check, and he said, I hate to tell you this, but he said, I'm I'm broke, you're not going to get any more allowance. And I got so furious with him, I said that I'm just starting school and you're telling me no more checks. And then he said, that's the way it is, the best thing that ever happened to me. So I ended up booking bands and catering parties and working my way through college, doing that. And of course, occasionally when I would book a book, the band, I would book a boy singer named Jerry Andrews and. And get booed off the stage all the time, but in any case, that's that's basically took me five years to get to UCLA and then. But I I really function more and more or less as an agent, and then when I was in the Air Force.

Speaker And luckily, I I got my wings as a jet pilot and the Korean War had ended, so I didn't I would have been shot down over the Yellow River or something.

Speaker But I. I ended up.

Speaker Being in the Air Force about three years and I wanted flying assignments, but unless you sign up for an extra three or four years. You couldn't get a jet assignment, so. I was flying, instructing in light aircraft, and when I got transferred to Mesa Air Force Base in Sacramento, which was near my home where I was born in Fresno, there are a lot of military bases up there and I only flew three days a week. So being I only got 600 dollars on flight pay and I had a wife and three children to support. And I put together a circuit of military bases and I booked the talent. And the talent would play the officer's club, the NCO club in the enlisted man's club. And then the weekdays. I had had to play the Sacramento in Monday through Thursday. And so I was an agent. And when I got out of there, when I got up out of the Air Force, I tried to get a job at MCI and Whitmore's and GHC, which were the big agencies at that time. And I want to work for us for a short time with and Swanson, who is one of the big literary agents in town, independent literary agents, I work there about a year and I got a call from that tenant at UCLA. I mean, MCE and Tanin said he was getting out of the band in that department and that. To get out and the move on television, he had to find a replacement and if I'd come and meet his boss and got hired, then it'd be good for me and would be good for him. I met his met his boss, Eddie Green, and they hired me. And I've always said I got my MBA at MCI. So I became an agent at MCI and I was there for years until the government put us put us out of business. And I trust Lou and I mean, Lou Osserman had had moved forward over at Universal and between. Whether to give up the agency or give up universal, it was an easy decision, and so 100 of his dark suited agents. We're out on the street and there were six. Splintered groups and and I was part of one of the smaller groups and from that I.

Speaker Eventually ended up with my own agency and Charbel artists and the rest is some kind of mediocre history.

Speaker So then you had you had to transition from from that to this world of television where there shows on the air at the time that you were watching or that you relate to that made you feel like, oh, I want to be a part of that? Not really.

Speaker I. Well, I was at a.

Speaker I got a call from a Bro Adams who is in television, and he said, we have a couple of clients who are doing a film called Come Blow Your Horn at Paramount and Buddy Hawkins directing it. And Norman Lear is producing it. And they need a favor for somebody from somebody in the band in that department. So I went over to Paramount and that was the first time I met I met Buddy Norman and I figured what they gave me to do. They gave me some assignment to get some actor that they wanted for a show or something. I don't remember exactly what it was, but we got along swimmingly.

Speaker And and then I from time to time, I would see what you are doing because I represented Henry Mancini and Henry and Bud were very good friends. So I saw Bud socially with Henry and his wife and me.

Speaker I have some water chance that I was doing that.

Speaker I don't mind getting more exercise today.

Speaker I don't know how much of this I know how much of this issue you want.

Speaker Oh, it's it's great. It's great. All of it is fine. Yeah. And we haven't had anyone actually sort of talk about that time period. You said it's important.

Speaker Don't don't go and say, OK, so I was just an active part of department and I did this this favor for Norm and Bud. And they were very appreciative. And as I say, I've stayed in touch with Bud and then when I went out of business for myself.

Speaker I didn't see I didn't I never I don't think I saw much of Norman at all. And after all of the family went on the air.

Speaker And it became a smash. One called me and said that they were doing a an album, a record album of the show of All in the Family, and I knew the record business and he didn't. So he was picking my brains over a period of time. And he would call me two or three times a week and ask me about this and that. And I basically gave the outline of a deal and he was talking to the record company and. And and he really didn't know what to ask for or what the terms were in this or that, and he actually sent me a copy of the contract to read and I made some changes. And I finally got to the point where I said any. Anyway, you thanked me very much and said, what? And then about four months later, Bud called me and said, We have another show called Sanford Son on the Air. And it's. It's huge, too, and. In the meantime, I'd watch Sanford and Son I'd seen seeing all of the family and as you know, all of the family didn't become a hit. It took some time before it really took off. Sanford and Son, on the other hand, was picked up very quickly. So when bad call, I said, you know, but this is a business that I'm in. And I gave you a freebie on the first one. But if you want me to get involved with a Sanford and Son album. You're going to pay me and if you you know, so he said, well, let me talk to my attorney or our attorneys and business manager or whatever, and we'll see. And then from that, Norman got involved and they ended up making a deal with me. And then eventually over a period of time and. As I guess it was, nineteen seventy two preceded.

Speaker They called me and I had a meeting with them and they said, you know, and I think it was more more Norman's idea than bonds, but they said, we'd like to have you come over and run our company, which is where it's growing. And and we need a business guy and, you know, we're creative fellows. So in the meantime, I had sold the agency and my agency and had been.

Speaker Looking around and interviewing, I wanted to bring someone in the business, a business man in the business that had no exposure to the business ever before, so it wouldn't be some retread or some relative or some kinds of business is loaded with friends and family and all that. And I wanted so I started interviewing people.

Speaker I must have interviewed 50 or 60 people over a period of about going back to 1971 and. One day I got a call from from Tim Negley and we were talking and he said, What are you doing? And I said, I'm trying to find Mr. Wonderful Mr. Wright. And I told him what the story was. And I said, I want to train in the same way that MCE trained me, but I don't want anyone that's ever been even close to showbusiness. He said, well, I know this guy, Alan Horn, he's he's got an MBA from Harvard. He's a very nice guy. He now works for his assistant brand manager at Procter and Gamble. And you should meet him. He's an interesting guy. So I said fine, and I call Alan. He was in Cincinnati working for Procter and Gamble. And I happened to be pursuing my interests in and pay television and cable. And I was working door to door selling cable in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in the dead of winter. And to learn what? Worked and what didn't work and whatever else, and I got we got paid by a small group of salespeople and we ended up, Alan said, we're trying to get together. And we finally met because I was going back back home. We finally met in the Pittsburgh airport in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he flew in from from Cincinnati and.

Speaker He was coming in at night and I said, well, I'll be at the information, that's what I said. What do you what do you look like? How will I recognize you? I won't be that many people in the airport at that time. He said, well, he said first you'll hear me. And I said, well, you know, how will I hear you? And he said, Well, he said, I wear human heels. He said, First you'll hear the Cuban heels. And I started thinking, Oh, boy, and what have I gotten myself into? And then he said the other thing he said, You'll be able to recognize me. You said, I have an afro, which is about a foot high. And I thought. You know, he didn't tell me he was African-American, but that's OK. And he said, I have a Fu Manchu mustache and I thought, oh, boy, this is really going to be murder. So. We met at the place and just chatted in the airport and he told me a story and everything, and he had a. A gold. Ring with a diamond on his pinky finger. So between Afro. And the Fu Manchu mustache and the Cuban heels and the pinky ring on his finger was a little off-putting, but. He. It was a good looking guy and very, very charming and more importantly, obviously very smart, well-spoken. And in spite of all the other things, I liked him and we kind of hit it off and I interviewed him for six months. And until the fact until the point where both of us. We're borderline on hating one another and the last. He finally said to me, you know, how long is this going to go on? I said, we're going to have one last meeting at the New York Athletic Club and I have to break for a piece, a little drink of water, if I may.

Speaker You want all of us alone.

Speaker It's a bruise anyway, especially if you. Flattery will get you everywhere.

Speaker OK, so we're we're in the New York Athletic Club. At the swimming pool level, we take a. A hot steam, wet steam, and they had a little alcove. They still do a little alcove where they would serve lunch and breakfast and you'd be in towels and other members would be there.

Speaker And there were a bunch of Irish men that lived, all Irish guys. I can see that now charming that lived in the and they were sitting around and the tables were closed. So I sat down and we were having coffee and whatever, and I sat down and I want you to give me. Your best pitch as to why I should hire you? And keep it short and whatever or whatever, this time, these guys are all Irishmen at the next table started listening to this and Allen started out with this. Terrific, you know, he had his silent on and he was giving the sales pitch and it was really quite good. And Allan, as you may know, was a at that point a four or five degree black belt type QUANDO, whatever. And he was, you know, well built in great shape and obviously very strong and.

Speaker So he's going to be going through his speech and speech and pitch and everything as he gets to the end of it to emphasize the closing, he says. And consequently, there's no one any better than you can find in me. And he does this and he puts the death at least an inch and a half in the wall of a New York athletic club. And one of these old Irishmen came over and leaned over and touched me on the shoulder. And he said, you better hire this fellow before he breaks the building down. And so we ended up making a deal. I asked him how she made. He said 25000 here.

Speaker I said, good, I'll pay you the same 25000. And he said. But he said, I will you pay for my moving, and I said, yes, I'll pay for you moving. And you said.

Speaker I'll have to ship Charles. Charles can't make it. And I thought Charles was his dog or something, and I said, well.

Speaker So so we'll pay for child. What kind of a dog is he says, no, he's not a dog is my car. I said, Well what what is it? He says, it's an Austin Heeley and it just doesn't have them.

Speaker It just is too old and it just won't make it. So he said, I like to shove it my way. I'd like to ship it by train. I said, OK, fine. And he said, and then my clothes. I said, fine with your clothes and some furniture. I said, fine with the furniture. And so that was a deal. I mean, dissolve. So I've now hired him. And. I made a deal with your lawyer and he was coming to work for me as I made the deal with with Norman Board, which took some time because of their lawyers and accountants and business managers and such. I said I told him, I said part of the deal to balance in law and I mean to. But Norman, I said is that I have this young man from Proctor and Gamble, MBA, etc., and he has to be part of the deal. And I will bring him in and put him in and I'll teach him business affairs and he's making five thousand dollars a year. And I said we would like to meet him. So they met him. And even though and I warned them, I said, you know, he's got an afro.

Speaker I said, we're going to get rid of the Afro. We're going to we're we're going to do a little makeover with this guy. I said, you know, he'll clean up real good.

Speaker And and so they met him. They liked him. And we had a deal and. Then I got this one for the thing on Alan, so we moved in with about Norman in their offices, I'm in Century City and. I got the bill moving, Bill, for Olins stuff, and I'm working on it and the cars there, and that's OK. The clothes are there. That's OK. We'll get that. And. Some pictures and other personal things, and then there were there were five cords of wood. Of of of what Ken Lay and.

Speaker Wood burning fireplaces and I was the wood was so heavy, it was the biggest charge, it was more than bringing the car or anything else. And I saw this thing. And so I called him into the office and I said, you know, we said, OK, in the car and everything else. Is it what the hell is this with the wood? I said, you know, this is California. We will burn. You know, you want to be able to use it. And we got a lot of wood out here. If you want to buy it, you don't have to. You know, this is two thousand dollars for this wood. And he said, well, I said, why would you do anything like that? He says, well, he says, you know, Jerry said, I just bought it.

Speaker And, you know, waste not want not. I said, Well. You're paying for the wood. So anyway, he said, OK. So anyway, that was the start of of of some great.

Speaker What was the word for?

Speaker Well, he was going to he was in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in the winter it got cold and he put in his chimney. So he figured, no, he didn't.

Speaker He figured, we all have a fireplace out there. I'll use the wood out there. He bought and paid for it. Like to leave it there.

Speaker Sounds strange, but it is strange, but it's true.

Speaker So so you brought can we take one more, I'll just come in every time and ask you, can I walk in at the same time? I have an hour. I work Ruski.

Speaker Thank you so much. You're welcome.

Speaker So when you talk about Blood and Norman and you felt it was more Norman's idea to come after you, Norman talks about it in his book a little bit, but he talks about the chance of coming after you. And his persistence, as we all know, is relentless. He's always been that guy. Can you talk a little bit of that from your relationship with him and what persistence means?

Speaker Your eyes about normal?

Speaker Well, I don't think there's I mean, when he sets his mind to something.

Speaker He is relentless, I think is the word and.

Speaker You know, when he gets focused, beware, because he. You know, he's used to getting. What he wants and. And doesn't give up easily. He's kind of like a dog with a bone.

Speaker What?

Speaker No, I had I had reservations, I was doing quite well and.

Speaker I had.

Speaker There was some difficulty because they had a lawyer that they were paying five percent to. And they had a business manager. They were paying 8% to. Or when they were just. When they were writing and producing for others, they would possibly make between the two of them something around, say, a million dollars a year, which was a lot of money then, still a lot of money. So paying 100 or 150 dollars, 150000 off the top was different. But all of a sudden now the company was going to be grossing hundreds of millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions dollars, but tens of millions of dollars, certainly. And that made no sense to me. And I know that that.

Speaker They had been with the lawyer, with the lawyer and their business manager for a long time, and Bud was more involved with them then than because I was kind of handling some of the business and but was more interested in business than Norm and reading always and in the creative area. So I had some reservations and I had to get over. We had to get over that. And they they assured me that I mean, one of the key deals was I said, look, if we're going to if I'm going to do this.

Speaker I want to I want it when it comes to business, I want to call the shots when it's in the creative area, you guys can call the shots when the two overlap with the creative in the business come together.

Speaker And there's money involved and budgets and that kind of thing. I want to be the deciding factor. And unless I can have that clear understanding and in writing, I don't want to do it, and I also want an option to buy a third of the company at book value. And it was that was something, of course, that the.

Speaker Well, the businessman is not, not surprisingly, the business manager and the and the attorney, they wanted me and Alan to join the company like they wanted.

Speaker The parks, you know, I mean, they didn't want us in the picture because they had they had these guys captive, really so and that was the other thing I insisted of. I said, I'm going to come in and do an analysis of the business. And if it means.

Speaker Terminating both the attorney and the business manager. I want to have the right, the sole right to do it, and that was a big thing to get over, especially as it related to Bud, because especially as it related to the business manager, because Bud and a very close relationship with a business manager and.

Speaker It took a deep breath and said, OK.

Speaker And.

Speaker But I made the mistake.

Speaker The contracts were drawn to business manager in the. And the and the attorney kept floating his contract around and around and around, and my attorney said, don't go over there until you get your contract signed. Well, if it had been up to these two fellows, I would never have gotten a contract. And that would have been that they would have been very happy. So I made the decision, the business, to go over there without a signed contract.

Speaker And I'm glad I did and.

Speaker And we had them. A lot of bumps in the road, like anything, but we had, you know, a 15 years.

Speaker Should they regret it as well? Alonzo's story short, Allan told a story earlier today that Norman also mentions in the book about. Him making a decision to step down and replace himself with Allen, but never told you that it was happening to fallout.

Speaker Oh, boy, oh, boy, do I remember that we had a meeting.

Speaker Norman had made the decision. That he was going to step back. And I mean, I knew that he was thinking of pulling back. We had a. A meeting with the key executives. Daniel Acosta and.

Speaker There were 12 or 15 of the key executives there, and by that time, the company. And we had grown and in a way, it was really largely because of Norm, and it was not largely because of Norm, it was a house of kids. They were half our situation comedies. At one point, the companies had. Six of the top 10 shows, and I think the first. One, two, three, and then the other three were. Before 10, I don't think was anything ever got down to 10, which was pretty unheard of at that time, and and he he had fact, in fact, changed the course of television with with from from The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres and all that. Pablum that was hard due to stuff that was relevant to what was going on in society and and in the country and.

Speaker What was the question, again, talking about his idea to replace it and also where we're down at the end, that's what happens when you get to be over the age of 21. So at some point, we went over the numbers and reviewed things in less than the other and whatever, in a normal as I normally can do, sit up and said I have a I have an announcement and I want to make and he said, I'm an preamble is extremely well spoken, et cetera. And he said. I made a decision that I'm stepping back on. I'm not going to be involved as a creative head of the company any longer, I'm going to pursue some other things and. It took me a long time to to decide who I wanted to replace me and and went on about how difficult a decision it was, et cetera. And as he's doing this, I'm sitting there saying she's never mentioned this to me. I'm thinking about. Which are the people in this room? He's going to choose. I know he's not going to choose me. I know he's not going to choose Alan. I mean, we're both businessmen. I mean, Alan was down when he was riding his bike. He was studying the financial reports and all of that kind of stuff. And that's what we were doing. And then I said, what's it going to be for Jimmy Carter? Is it going to be Albertan? And I was doing this. And then. He he said so, and everybody is waiting with bated breath, waiting on the edge of the seat as to who who is he picked to do this. And he said, so my replacement is going to be and I'm so proud of it. And went on and on and on. He said, is Allanah.

Speaker And I just was absolutely. Ston dumfounded. And fried a bit.

Speaker And I I said, you know, I'm saying, how can this guy, my partner, do this kind of thing? And with with my guy, by the way.

Speaker And so I was you know, I I think at some point I turned to Norman, we had quite had quite a few words about this thing and it's something that's really stuck in my craw. And so I Nehalem about it all the time. But at the time I said, you know, you're you're you're beginning to piss me off. And how could you do a thing like this? I wouldn't do this to you. And I went on and I mean, we had it was a tough a tough week or two. But in the meantime. He was right and I was wrong because I didn't really think Allen had the greasepaint in his blood to be able to do to pick up that those reins and do it. And I was wrong and I had to admit it. And of course, the rest is history in terms of what went on, what Alan Stone and I did get that diamond ring off his finger. By the way, he didn't want to take it off. It was given to his father. I said, go to Tiffany. And and ask them if men wear rings other than wedding rings, and of course, they don't.

Speaker So he.

Speaker He kept the ring when I was I I think he may have offered it to me when I. I don't wear rings anywhere, but I love it, but I loved his father.

Speaker So what is it about Norman that essentially he clearly betrayed you in a way, or did you betray his heart?

Speaker That's kind of hard. But but, you know, when I come back, surprise you, whatever. As you said, business partners make a decision that was.

Speaker For the business as a whole, so it should have been you should have been counseling as well. But what is it about him? And if it goes to the persistence that we talked about earlier, that always. People are willing to say yes to. What is it about him specifically?

Speaker Well, in terms of.

Speaker In terms of Alan specifically, I mean Alan.

Speaker I know saw this as a tremendous opportunity and a promotion and to be able to get out of the business area and get out of the creative area and learn, learn a new set of, you know, develop a new set of muscles, so to speak. You know, Norman is Norman is a hell of a salesman, and when he's got that selling light on. He's he's hard to say no to especially. When he if he's really got his mind set on something and of course he is a fountain of ideas, I mean, he's got and he is a tireless worker. I mean, even at 92, I mean, I forgot to I can't keep up with him. People that are half that age can't keep up with him, you know, having been on the road with him. And he's. He's irrepressible, he's unstoppable, he's he's an innocent, he's unique, he's an extremely talented guy, he's brilliant. But like all brilliant people, you know, he has we all have our flaws. And Norman's got his share to.

Speaker What are some of lost?

Speaker How much time do we have to see what we know? It's hard. Absolutely. We talk about 30 and 40 minutes. OK, well, what time is it?

Speaker About three, 20. Well. The one of them is I think we've we've talked about this for I think is.

Speaker I think.

Speaker I was there about two months. Around me, two months, I remember him, Bud Yorkin, we're partners for years and years and years and years and years and.

Speaker Norman never mentioned anything to me at all when I came in and and it wasn't more than two or three months.

Speaker And Norman called me into his office and he said. I have some very serious I want to talk to you about, I said fine, they said.

Speaker I I want to be captain, my captain, captain of my own ship, quote unquote, I want to be captain of my own ship. And I said, well, what do you mean by that? He said, well, he said, I don't want to be partners of body organ anymore. He said, I feel like I'm carrying I'm doing most of the creative work. And then what is and is is. Is really not holding up his his end of the bargain and. I want to be the captain of my own ship, so I said, well, Norman. You know, you just brought me in and I've been asking to get my contract signed and and whatever, and now you're telling me that, you know, I'd be partners with wood, but you are so in a very, very awkward time. And Norman said. Well, what are you going to do? He said. I don't know. I'm not sure yet. I don't know. I just know one thing I don't want to be partners with, but are you working any longer? And so it came as a complete surprise to me, and I don't think. I don't think Norman was I don't think Norman treated, but the way a man should have treated someone that has been his partner and successfully his partner for that many years. I felt that that was that that that day, I thought that he handled that badly. I also think that I.

Speaker I didn't handle it well, I don't think I treated unfairly either, and it's so I think that that that was that was a mistake. The other thing, Norman has a. He doesn't give up. He's not. It doesn't give. Other he didn't give, in my opinion. And other people have commented that he has been. He's failed to give, he failed to give. Adequate credit to the other cocreator that were that were working on the show, the other directors and writers and producers that were on the show.

Speaker Because he could not have done and he knows this, he could not have done all these shows by himself, he needed the support. Now he is he's got some terrific talent, his talent in terms of of casting and writing and being a script doctor and and and making the kind of decisions and also, you know, hiring the right actors and and hiring the right directors and attracting those and and really being a creative leader. But I think, as Ronald Reagan said, you know, why do you love me quoting Ronald Reagan? But Reagan said to me, it's amazing how far a man can go if he isn't if he's not concerned about who's getting the credit. So I think that that's that's you know, I think it's a form. And I think, you know, I think Norman recognizes that he you know, he should.

Speaker He should have had people on the back and give him more and more credit. I mean, that's one thing. What was the question you asked?

Speaker We talked about flops. I want to give you something to read the first.

Speaker Is that a little harsh? No, no, no, it's fine, actually. Perfect. What's one drink? Oh, yeah. To read. It's not vodka.

Speaker There's another bottle of vodka. No.

Speaker Can I have another bottle of water though. I drink this one. Yeah, we have one here.

Speaker What do you prefer to be OK with. No, this is fine, but we have another bottle.

Speaker The only reason they aren't good is because I got the straw.

Speaker Shaabi, such a pain in him. OK.

Speaker I think you might recognize these road.

Speaker OK, rules of the road, tell me tell me about these and when you create them, why and if you can read the first three.

Speaker Well, I was when I got out of the Air Force and joined MCI, you know, when you're in the Air Force, they have manuals for everything.

Speaker So if you're made officer of the day, you go get out of the day manual and it tells you what you do from the time you show up and whatever till the time you are no longer you relieved of duty and MSBA, they didn't have any manuals.

Speaker I mean, it was whatever you picked up there, you had to pick up by osmosis. So they didn't have any rules of the road. But I so I would I mean, for instance, they didn't have a. Nobody said to you, and when I went inside, I didn't have to work in the mailroom, fortunately.

Speaker I started out as a junior agent and.

Speaker Rosa, the office manager, came in and said.

Speaker We like dark suits. No patterns. Five, I'll choose.

Speaker And socks that come up to the knee level. Dark socks, no pattern. If you your ties have to be very, you know, somber. Not colorful stuff, tasteful, and if you wear French cuffs, we don't want any of your cufflinks have to be subtle. They can be some big ugly cufflink and.

Speaker Why? Well, Mr. Wassmann says it was always best to ask, Mr. Wassmann says that we're in a rather undignified business, so we must dress ourselves in a very dignified way. So if you saw Wassmann, he was invariably in virtually a black suit or a dark, dark blue suit with a plain colored dark tie and white shirt and five Eilert shoes. And that was it. That was. And. So they had these rules that were unwritten and there was nothing written down if what they did have. So part of the rules of the road. I'd like to take credit for all of them, but I can't think they actually came, a number of them. I rewrote some of them, but they never wrote them down. But if you're on the road with with Martin and Lewis, I remember being on the road with Martin and Lewis and one of the senior agents said to me. First of all, if anybody takes a picture of Martin and Lewis and you're around. We don't want to see a picture of you with Martin Lewis, you step out of the picture. You're invisible, and Martin and Lewis want to take all their clothes off and run up and down the halls naked, you know, get naked with them and run up and down the halls even if they want you to, which they may just detest you. You guard the halls so nobody sees them.

Speaker Yes, sir. And so they.

Speaker They had all of these things and. And I incorporated incorporated some of those, and we'll never talk to the press. And that kind of thing, so when I went into business for myself, I decided that I would write down some of these things that the hell, I'm not going to have everybody learning by osmosis because we had quite a large company.

Speaker With nearly 3000 employees and I I said, I'm going to write them down and give them to the executives and. And make them, you know, adhere to them, and if any of them don't adhere to the.

Speaker Sayonara.

Speaker The first three days of.

Speaker Stay clear of the press, no interviews, no panels, no speeches, no comments. Stay out of the spotlight. It fades to suit. To no nepotism, no hiring of friends.

Speaker Three never rehire anyone.

Speaker Those first three. Augmentin follow.

Speaker Well, there were a lot of people don't have don't have there's a few rules for normal good luck. He's got his own rules. It's the normal rules.

Speaker That's what I was going there.

Speaker Probably more fun.

Speaker What is it? What number 19. What is what does that mean?

Speaker When you're when you're a salesman.

Speaker And. Read the read of.

Speaker Number 19, don't be a customers person. Don't be a customers man or don't be a customers person, man or woman.

Speaker I always am amazed when you when you're you're talking to a potential buyer and he says, you know, different choices, I, I got to tell you, they go on and carry on about this guy that that's representing you, that your salesman covering this is this buyer, potential buyer. And the buyer is talking and saying, what a great guy. I've hired the salesman and I just I didn't I just love you know, he buys me dinners, we go out. He's really a hail fellow, well met. And this and that. And the minute I hear that, I call the guy in and I sit him down and I say. You're not doing your job, you become the customs man.

Speaker I want to hear him saying, you know, Charlie, the buyer's saying about Charlie, you know. Charley is a tough guy.

Speaker He gives up on nothing and never gives up, and he is a piece of pest, and I ask him to give me a break on prices, he won't give me a break on prices. And so I'm going to try to go around him and come to you and ask, can I do anything? I'd say, no, you can't do it either. That's what I want to have that kind of relationship. I don't want some salesman who who thinks that he's buttering up to the to the customer.

Speaker So don't become a customers man. I probably don't explain that to clearly with.

Speaker I got it, I did earlier better when I was younger, I want to and this leads into I'll take that from you for sure, unless there's one that you want to read again. No. Going into the talk about sales, you know, a lot of times I've heard through the years, people call you the father of Syndicate, the creator of syndication. And I you touched on it briefly earlier about, you know, specifically Mary Hartman.

Speaker Mary Hartman was kind of was kind of what it was the show that instigated all of that. Well, let me first make it very clear. I am.

Speaker In no way am I the father, syndications, syndications, something.

Speaker That went on in television long before I ever got on television.

Speaker What we had a very unique situation.

Speaker That that Norman and I and Bud and Allen and the rest of the guys were in the company. Inherited. And that was. That for the first time, because of the financial and syndication interests here before before this, this law had been put forward by the FCC. The networks than there were at that point, just two and a half networks that CBS, NBC and ABC and ABC being a half. If you were a creative guy and by the way, but normal creative guys, and guess what, I'm all in the family, guess who owned. Most of all in the family. NBC and CBS. And guess who owned the syndication rights? Not Tannum. NBC, so they. And by the way, not only did they have those rights, you had to produce your show in their facilities, at their prices. I mean, it was a real. Oligopoly, I mean, it was it was a monopoly that they had then they put these rules in and said that. Because they got enough complaints from from the creative community, they said no longer starting on this date, no longer can can the networks own any shows or have any syndication rights whatsoever. Well, in the case of. Of all of the family, one of the things that we did do and when one of them wanted to me and one of the funny funny, if you want to hear a funny story about Norman Lear and his.

Speaker When he goes off, you know, when he goes off on his cloud or whatever the hell he goes off on. We didn't have the rights.

Speaker To we didn't have the syndication rights at all in the family.

Speaker And.

Speaker And it these rights have been spun off by CBS to Viacom.

Speaker Which was the government made them spin it off because they had cable and other things and and with it, they spun off these rights to Viacom and but we had the rights. I read that. We read the contracts and we have the rights.

Speaker To strip the show out, the syndicated strip it on network, we had the network stripping rights, which meant that we could sell it to one of the three networks to show five times a week in another time period, generally in the daytime, Monday through Friday. That was network stripping. So we Al and I devised a plan if we could keep. Viacom, if we keep stripping network, stripping the show and keep the product away from Viacom so they couldn't get their hands on a syndicated. That we might have a chance at some point to get the rights back from Viacom.

Speaker So we had him we went and we went first to CBS and they gave us an offer of 11 million dollars to strip all of the family at 11 o'clock in the morning on the CBS stations. It was like found money. And we were all excited, Norman. And I mean, Al and I were very excited, but was over the moon. And it was 11 million dollars, just found money and. So what tenorman, we went to Norman, I went to Norman Sidedly and said, guess what, we've got to thinking this and that and the other. And he said, Oh, that's great. That's terrific. And.

Speaker And, you know, congratulations, and I said the. The one of the things we wanted to tell you, Norman, is that in prime time, the networks allow only four minutes of commercials.

Speaker So you've cut the shows to twenty six minutes. But when they show the picture, do the shows before prime time, they're six minutes, so you're going to have to cut two minutes out of each show. And he says, no way, Jose. It's just absolutely no way you guys go back, then go back to CBS and tell them we're not going to cut the two minutes.

Speaker And. If they don't want to come to two minutes. We are going to do it. So I figured, OK, so I go back to go back to CBS and I meet with. Bob Daly, who at that point was the head of business affairs at CBS and of course, Bob, as you know, has gone on to.

Speaker And remember, we we were good friends, and so I explained to him and he said, he said, you've you've got to be kidding me.

Speaker He said, look, we have a policy here. We're not going to make an exception when it's six minutes of commercials. And I'll tell you, Mr. Clear, that if he wants our 11 million dollars. But we're really doing this kind of as a favor to you guys, if you want the 11 million dollars cut to two minutes, otherwise you have no deal. So I went back to Norman and we had a meeting and. And I've said I went back, I said I pleaded the case and. Stomped up and down and said, what is the matter of this and that and the other? It's all in the family and Alan did to. And and he said. And I'm quoting him very close. He said, you guys just you just don't understand, do you business guys just don't understand. He said, would you go to Michelangelo and ask him to make the Mona Lisa a smaller. And I thought, wait a minute, Norman, this is craziness. I said, don't don't start comparing all the family to the Mona Lisa, for Christ's sake. And I mean, it was almost I mean, laughable, I mean, so huge, that's it, there's no deal. So I go to Gene Johnson, who is our attorney and a good friend and a good friend of New Orleans, and as a matter of fact, Norman was the one that brought him and hired him. And I explained the situation he goes to to Norman. And he comes back shaking his head. He says, I can't talk him out of it. He won't do it. They can't cut two minutes out of it's perfection.

Speaker If you're going to run the whole show, you guys just don't understand.

Speaker So. We're trying to figure out how we protect, you know, how do we get the 11 million dollars and so. Which tell me how you think about it now, is to me just.

Speaker Only only Norman Lear or only in Hollywood.

Speaker Norman comes back, I got a call from I want to know why I pleaded when I said you're behaving like a, you know, come on, for Christ's sake. And he wouldn't come off it. He had he was dug and boy and. I got a call from Johnson and he's shaken.

Speaker He's trying to get the water out of his ears. He says, well, he says, you're ready. I said, yeah, I'm ready. He said, well, I just talked to normal. He said, I just talked to him. And I said, yes, he said.

Speaker Here's what he'd like us to do. I said, OK, tell me, he said.

Speaker He would like me to meet with his psychiatrist, Judd Marmar for an hour and explain it to Judd Marmar as to why the two men should come out. And after him, after I tell him the legal reasons and the things in my view, then he wants to meet have you meet with John Marmar and tell him as his partner and as the head of business, et cetera, whatever. And then Judd Farmer will decide. He will he will make the deciding vote as to whether the show will be stripped in, the two men will come out.

Speaker So I I just said, well, this is this is classic, that's a classic naclerio I got low.

Speaker So they want to to me with my mom and I asked him what happened. He said he's a very nice man and he said he took notes and he listened and asked some questions and it was.

Speaker I was teaching them the business and whatever, and I said, well, did you get any hint from from him as to how he was thinking or anything? He said No, not at all. He said, I think I think we've got a it's a tough sell, he said. I think Norman's got him down to something like this, so that I had the meeting with John with John Moore, very nice man.

Speaker And I had my selling my daughter and I had my sincere blue suit, and I can't explain to him this and that, he asked me questions or whatever, and I didn't.

Speaker I didn't.

Speaker I well, I was not being I was pleading, I just told them the facts and told him my recommendation and I thought the doorman was wrong and.

Speaker And then he also owed it to his partner at York and not to behave this way. So I got no clue from him. As to what he was thinking. Thank you very much, Ali.

Speaker The next thing that happens is I get a call from a day goes by and we're all on tenterhooks. In the meantime, CBS, I'm trying to keep the laughter alive so that we've got the weather. I don't go through all of this in an interview. CBS says, you know, some we've changed our mind about it. So, Norman. Norman called, he said, well, I've got bad news for me and good news for you, Judge. Decided that it's good for the company and I shouldn't do this. And I don't know how we're going to take the two minutes out, but we'll do it. So. That's just I mean, I think of that now, and I and I just I have to laugh. I think it's a wonderful story. It's a great story. I need some. And it's the truth. By the way, I have some water.

Speaker Oh, really? Yes. So much.

Speaker Well, I talk too much, so it's great. We're going to go live. Actually, that's a good.

Speaker Entry point to.

Speaker You've already mentioned a club and the you being who you are in politics, and what will you respond to he responds to, yet the two of you remain so close through all these years having. Completely different views on this subject. How did you did you with their stories of you guys talking about it? You do avoid it. Had it had it?

Speaker Well, I mean, they play.

Speaker And any.

Speaker In the early part of the relationship.

Speaker When when I fully understood where he was and he fully understood where I was.

Speaker We'll get into the discussions and at some point we we both realize that. I mean, I wasn't going to change his mind and his point of view, nor was he going to change mind, and we both agreed and shook hands on it that we just would not talk politics and we didn't. The only times we ever did, we kind of laughed about it and whatever. And every time I would try something and say, remember our deal? And I would do the same when he would get into one of his rants about how about how stupid the Republicans were.

Speaker So what about the the if we if we can go to this sale, the decision to sell the company that day?

Speaker That thought was in a collective between all of you who decide to sell a company or, you know, I decided to sell the company.

Speaker Norman did not want to sell the company. And the reason that I made the decision and recommendation.

Speaker To my partner and to my partner's wife, Frances, who, by the way, had a you know, there were she had an equal an equal voice, really.

Speaker Was for two reasons, one. And the most important was that.

Speaker They were changing those fencing rules that I talked about earlier.

Speaker The networks had been.

Speaker Working on that Monday on the FCC, because now there are a lot more channels, et cetera, et cetera, and they had been. Lobbying the FCC and Congress to eliminate the financial and syndication rules so that. In the next year or so. Networks, as is today, the network can own.

Speaker All of show. And all the syndication rights and.

Speaker And then the business doesn't really work and you're just you're working for the network essentially, and of course, if you're a big time producer, you can get a bigger a bigger piece and bigger salaries and all the rest of it.

Speaker But you can't ever be you can't you can't really ever be where the pot of gold is and the pot of gold is, the syndication rights, the back rights.

Speaker And the other reason was, Norman, we had had a hell of a run Norman had enjoyed. I think undoubtedly the longest run of any. Creative. Television producer and the history of television. It was, you know, nearly 14 or 15. Your run and. I just felt that. That the time had come my instincts and also the big thing with the financial syndication thing, I just felt and also the timing was right in terms of the economy and the fact that we had this we now had these shows, we had a big enough number of shows in syndication that we could we could ask for and get a decent price for the company. And so I went to Norman and to do Frances and Norman was was very reluctant to sell the company. And Francis agreed with me and in Norman.

Speaker And I. And I told them, I said.

Speaker I mean, you brought me into this thing and if. I think we should sell on the other hand, if you don't want to sell.

Speaker And he said, no, he said I'll. He said Francis wants to sell if you want to. So what's what's so and so in 1985? We sold the company to Coca-Cola. With four hundred eighty five million dollars. And. Which was. I thought it was. What everybody thought it was a very good price at that time.

Speaker Especially when you're thinking at certain points during this period of time. But in Norman, we're at one point offered nine million dollars for the oil company. Nine million. Another time, we were offered six million and at one time.

Speaker Frank Wells, who was at at Warner Brothers, offered this 44 million. So.

Speaker Well, we're fortunate that we didn't sell any of those prices.

Speaker And and I didn't. And then the other the other thing is. Norman had said to me. Because we were partners, Norman had said to me.

Speaker Let's let's be partners and I'll be partners with you and we'll go we'll build another company. And I said, no, that I'm going to I'm going to tell you what you one time told me I.

Speaker I love you.

Speaker But I want to be the captain, my own ship from this point for.

Speaker And.

Speaker So he went his way with actory and. And we know, of course, we've when I was best man at enormous wedding, so I mean, we've become, you know, with each one of my dearest friends and I adore him and I adore the whole family.

Speaker I so wish we had more. What time is it? It's four o'clock, so I know you want to be out by 4:00, but we want 15 more minutes.

Speaker I'll give you 15 more minutes.

Speaker Do you have something that you have before I go?

Speaker I don't want to tell you one that I wanted to talk a bit about. How.

Speaker Sure. Can I have some more water, please? I wish I had a longer arm. I wouldn't have to buy that.

Speaker Maybe it'll still grow. Yeah. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Thank you so much.

Speaker I know we kind of touched on this earlier with you saying that you had a handshake deal, that you guys would not talk about politics, but in your your. You can say even based on watching the Archie Bunker that we watch with him singing and Meathead and and that hope that that Archie, you would describe himself as a patriot and Norman describes himself as a patriot, would you describe yourself as a patriot? Sure.

Speaker And if so, how do you perceive Norman's patriotism versus patriotism versus yours?

Speaker The same I don't see any difference at all. I mean, that's really what our country is all about in that.

Speaker What was your idea, remember when you purchased the Declaration of Independence?

Speaker I don't remember the exact date, nor did the thought of him taking it around the country.

Speaker Did you have any reaction to that?

Speaker I thought it was sensational about it. And I thought it was brilliant that he decided to to take it to everyone in the States I admire. I mean, I admire his active activities and politics and and. While I don't agree with with all of that, I certainly respect his right to do it and and I also admire, admire a lot of the things he's done.

Speaker What would one of those have been? I love liberty, are you part of that?

Speaker Well, I liked I love Larry, I wasn't I mean, I was part of it in terms of I was a. I was one of the people in the audience. I didn't have any trouble producing it, Norman Norman put put it together and produce it and all that. And I thought it was a patriotic show. He had Barry Goldwater there and showed, you know.

Speaker I thought it was a I thought it was well done.

Speaker I'm going to just have to have you read one part in the preface of his book.

Speaker Starting with. Down here, having heard start there and then and with the title.

Speaker Having heard that we had fallen into such dire straits, my son in law phoned for me from New York and asked me how I was feeling. My answer was terrible, of course, but then I added, But I must be. But I must be crazy, John, because despite all that's happened, I keep hearing this inner voice saying even this. I get to experience. Early the next morning, my son in law was on the phone again. He'd heard me say once that I wish to be cremated when I died, and he was calling to ask me to please, please change my mind. I ask why in a voice that was choked a bit at the finish, he answered, because someday. I want to take my children, your grandchildren, to the gravestone that reads even this, I get to experience.

Speaker What's your thoughts on the title of the book and how it came about, why it's it's.

Speaker It's Norman's.

Speaker Attitude towards life. I mean, he essentially takes things in stride. I mean, he's he's he's he's unbelievable. And let's listen. He's. No, actory was a. Financial disaster and.

Speaker Fortunately.

Speaker With the help of Alan Horn and myself and Al Gore, we were able to. Get him out of this, Norman is always and now is he's changed, of course, a long time ago. But Norman at one point thought that you could pick a business man just, you know, low hanging fruit. You just go to any tree, any and. Oh, I need a business man. What is it? This piece of grapefruit or piece orange. And they're all one and the same. And he did. And he picked the wrong guy and. Norman is not a business man. He is. And I think he now admits that he's not a business man, and if he doesn't, I'll kick in the pants on the opposite side.

Speaker Do you think you're a creative man?

Speaker No, I think I'm a creative businessman. But I think I you know, creativity comes in all different sizes and shapes and forms.

Speaker Norman is certainly a very creative, creative guy.

Speaker And I'm not putting myself in his league between. Steve Jobs is once a creative fellow, Walt Disney, of course, was on the other side of the ledger was it was more of a Norman Lear kind of creative guy.

Speaker Yeah, I want to just circle back a little bit to talk to some of the network battles program practices that you guys encountered with some of the shows, were you part of it all, your big. OK, I'd love to hear if there are any sort of stories about that or sort of how difficult it was to get Norman show on the air at the time.

Speaker And if it's what if it's you know, if there are shows that because of the battles that you all thought that they're sort of how that has led the way open doors for TV that came afterwards. So sort of to start with the first and you can answer a different sort of about what the what that was like.

Speaker Radio personalities.

Speaker Well, the person that dealt with program practices primarily was Norman. And.

Speaker I think he took them on like nobody else has ever taken them on. And it was always if he felt strongly enough about something because some of some of the stuff was just asinine and silly and taking out this word and that word. And you can't do this and this this team of people back there who basically. I had never written anything or created anything in their lives, were sitting there second guessing one of the greatest creators that ever came down the pike in terms of television. And Norman was very, very tough, as you read in the book. I mean, he he was, you know, come and take my heart with you.

Speaker And they finally got to the point where they think they could give his spiel. I'd go in and see him. They say, don't tell me. Don't tell me. Yeah, he's not showing up, not come and take the house. He doesn't give a damn. But we've heard that we're blue in the face. He's you know, we don't think he's that crazy. Right. I said, I assure you he's that crazy.

Speaker I went along and I would have to convince him he is that crazy. We were not going to show up and you're going to have to pay any extra money to take care of Connor, not us. I mean, that was one of the big things, because as he shows become more important and the stars become more important. Forget that they had contracts that they signed with you for this, this and this race, the blackboard. You know what's going on when you see the kids from friends who are getting you know, at some point, I think that for the last go round, they were getting like a million dollars an episode or something. So the big thing there was always to get the network to pay for it. And so it was. It was always kind of a. Them against us kind of thing, and they were at the end of the day, they were. They had a better business than we did and Bob Daley, I remember one meeting. Daley was now head of CBS campaigning in. Bill Paley, who who is the founder of CBS, had made Bob Dailey, the head of CBS and Bob said, I'll do it. I like to live on the West Coast.

Speaker So. I remember one one meeting both.

Speaker Alan, I that would come in. Somebody had come to Norman at a cocktail party, I was one of the murderous things we'd face would be at a cocktail party. And they would say to him, we heard this other show got so much more money than you and this and that the other and and and then he would come in. Are you sure that we got the right money? A lot of false information. But someone had come to Norman and had shown Norman how much money. CBS was getting four commercials and all in the family. And and then added it all up for a year and and it put. How much they were making. From the show, I can't remember the name, the number at the time, but let's say they were making 50 million a year from all in the family and and we were making six million a year. This is before syndication or something like that, say 10 million and. So. Alan, I decided that we would go in and see if we couldn't. Rather than taking a fee, get a percentage of the advertising revenues. So we got our pitch together. I went with Alan and told daily.

Speaker We're coming in for a decent did you guys ever do you ever give up? You never give up. You're always here. I know why you're here. You're here because you want more money. You want more money from us. I said, you know something or a few things. You're absolutely right about this.

Speaker You're absolutely right about that's why we're here. We want more money. But this time we have a different idea for you. He said, I'm all ears or something. And so I took him to this whole thing about this is how much you're getting for a commercial.

Speaker This is how, you know, this is how much you have to be the advertising agency.

Speaker And I didn't see any legislative involvement. I was smart. Smart because he knew he knew the numbers better than we are. And we did.

Speaker We got through this thing and. So I said, you know, normally an artist or gets at least 50 percent when Harry Belafonte goes out and sings in a concert, he gets 60 percent of the gross 60 percent. We're getting. Six percent. So I don't want we we don't want 60 percent of what we do want, we want to split with you. If you net from your advertisers 50 million dollars, we want 25. And and that's what's fair, Bob, and we both went out and made a pitch. Much more concisely than I. And I've sat there and he said. When I turn, I don't have to talk to anybody. He said, I turn you down out of hand. He said. There's no way we're going to do that. We've never done it before. We're not going to set any kind of a precedent or anything else. And we argued back and forth and forth and back. And I'll never forget this line as far as where I'm going to the to to the to the door with Alan. Bob said. With you, said Jerry, and I turned back and he said, don't be upset, don't be upset, don't get too upset, he said, just realize one thing, Jerry. We have a better business than you do.

Speaker And you were right.

Speaker So what was New Orleans and the fighting with the aim to get things done and they finally got to the point where they they didn't just cave.

Speaker But I don't think there's any question that Norman, why by taking the positions he took, made it easier for the rest of the rest, you know, open the door a little wider and wider and wider so that other producers and the way in the ones that would come. Will you see what's going on at home today? It's a whole different set of circumstances, especially with people who can do anything they want.

Jerry Perenchio
Interview Date:
2015-02-19
Runtime:
1:28:19
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
N/A
MLA CITATIONS:
"Jerry Perenchio, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 19 Feb. 2015, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1052
APA CITATIONS:
(2015, February 19). Jerry Perenchio, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1052
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Jerry Perenchio, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). February 19, 2015. Accessed January 23, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/1052

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