Jim Harold interviews Scott about his new book thirtysomething at thirty on The Great TV Podcast. They discuss the series and how it shaped television. Jim does a podcast that covers classic TV series and thirtysomething certainly belongs in that category. You can listen to it here.
She broke my heart. That started it all. I sat in my room with my heart pounding and my thoughts racing. How could she have done this to me? I grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper, and decided to write down my thoughts. The first thing I wrote wasn’t about what happened or a plea to get her back. I wrote two words: Chapter One.
I was 10 years old. I wrote Life In Timberline. A 6 page hand written lament about my first love.
Today, June 7th, 2017, 37 years later, my first book is published. Yes, in 2014, I self published an eBook called Scott Luck Stories, but this book, thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history, has pages, a cover, pictures and an ISBN number. This book is on sale across the globe. It can be found in book stores, online stores and on my own website. I have signed over 90 copies already and sent them out. I did it. I didn’t know at 10 years old that I was becoming a writer, although the fact that I wrote Chapter One before I shared what was on my mind, should have been a clue.
For my entire life I have written things. Movies, songs, Broadway reviews, Television series, essays, novels, blogs and magazine articles. But now I am published. This journey of bringing this book to life has been an amazing experience. My favorite part of my book is my Special Thanks section. Mostly because there are so many people who helped me get here. I love thanking people who help. I won’t repeat those thanks here. They are in my book. Did you know I have one? I do. It is fun to have a dream come true.
So let’s talk thirtysomething. It started as a podcast and just an interview with Richard Kramer. It grew so quickly, and before I knew it, I was getting emails on a daily basis from some of the artists who have inspired me the most. Writers whose words set my life on a trajectory of honesty and compassion. Actors that made me understand what creating characters was all about. I spoke with directors that shaped how I would film scenes for my movies. I learned so much about art by doing this project. I am excited to share thirtysomething with the world, but I am more excited to share how good art is crafted in a time where well crafted items are usually thrown away for something new and inferior.
I also need to thank the fans of thirtysomething. These people love this show in such a deep way. I can’t imagine the letters and comments that the people connected with the show must get. I get Facebook messages all the time with people just pouring out their hearts to me. This show touches people in a way that just doesn’t happen anymore. I am honored to take these stories and listen. I respect the show and the fans that created all these feelings.
I have had a very good year and half working on this project. I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful wife Jennifer that supports me everyday. No artist thrives without encouragement. I am lucky I have it.
There will be other projects, The Blue Rose Magazine is taking off, and I have 3 other books I want to start as soon as I can. The thirtysomething project will always be my first book that actually worked out and was born into the world — just like I dreamed as a ten-year old. I am still excited to write those magical words that I wrote so long ago. They always mean begin. Begin is such better than finish. So while I put this experience to rest, I know that I will very soon grab a pencil and paper to write again: Chapter One.
Jim Harold invited John Thorne and Scott Ryan to guest on his wonderful show, The Great TV Podcast, to discuss the return of Twin Peaks. They talk about the original 29 episodes, Fire Walk With Me and the new series that debuts on Showtime on May 29th. They also discuss Blue Rose Magazine, Issue #1 and how the magazine covers the new series.
Listen to the interview here or head out to iTunes to subscribe to Jim’s podcast. Scott will be a guest on a future episode to discuss the upcoming book about thirtysomething, thirtysomething at thirty.
Ever since we started the thirtysomething podcast, one guest has been requested the most, Ken Olin – Michael Steadman. Your wish is granted. Join Carolyn and Scott for a 90 minute interview with Ken Olin. We talk about the thirtieth year of thirtysomething as well as his directing on the new #1 hit show, This Is Us.
We ask him about a few episodes of thirtysomething and his thoughts on a reunion show. Ken also talks about what it was like to read my upcoming book, thirtysomething at thirty. We asked him different questions than I asked him for the book, so there is little cross over. If you want to hear Ken talk about working with Mel Harris, how he developed his character and the intense scenes in “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, you will want to order thirtysomething at thirty.
Enjoy this laugh-filled conversation with the one and only, Ken Olin.
As we celebrate the thirtieth birthday of thirtysomething, I have been trying to think of fun ways to discuss the show. Of course, one way is my new book thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history which will be released on June 7th. You can pre-order it from this website. The book lets the actors, directors and writers talk about the episodes. But what about the fans? I thought it was time for you to have your say. I put out the word for fans to send me their top 5 episodes. I gave each vote a weighted number, 10 points for #1 and 2 points for #5. The votes have been tallied. Here are the top 10 episodes voted on by you, the fans, and this time there is no electoral college to mess things up.
Let the countdown begin:
10. Happy New Year – Written by Richard Kramer Season 4 Episode 72
Michael and Hope have a New Year’s Eve party and all but one of the group attends. This episode, according to writer Richard Kramer, is his tribute to the James Joyce novel, The Dead. Richard told me about the challenge and the gift of writing an entire story that had to stay in one set, the Steadman household. I am not surprised this is a fan favorite because this episode shows all of our friends together. It feels like family. The problem is, death is hanging over everyone. Nancy is not in this episode, but her cancer lingers over every smile that Elliot (Tim Busfield at his very best) shows. He tries just a little too hard and we can feel his sadness. I loved getting to talk to Richard about this episode because I totally disagree with him about what this episode means, but I guess he gets to win because he wrote it.
9. Fighting the Cold – Written by Joseph Dougherty Season 4 Episode 77
Another gathering at Hope and Michael’s house where death is an uninvited guest. Viewers were put through an emotional roller coaster the week before this episode aired. Now the show comes to a cold, cold place where everyone has to deal with the loss of Gary. This is another episode that takes place in one set; we have everything we need here. Joe Dougherty says this is the best directing he has ever done. It is some of the best directing that anyone has ever done. The way this episode handles flashbacks is spot on. The set looks cold and we feel the pain that Susannah is going through. Patricia Kalember gives a great performance in this one.
8. Strangers –Written by Richard Kramer Season 3 Episode 44
Last week I wrote an entire blog about this episode. You can read a detailed explanation of this episode here. This episode mattered to people because it displayed homosexuality just like it showed everything else on thirtysomething – just how it is in real life. Television and America needed to be told to start facing AIDS and homosexuality back in 1989. I am hopeful it doesn’t need to be told those things today, but it probably does. Love is love is love is love. As I mentioned in the blog, it is the Melissa story that is truly moving in this fan favorite.
7. Tie: Michael Writes A StoryWritten by Joseph Dougherty Season 2 Episode 34
Michael Writes a Story is very pivotable in the journey of Michael’s life. He is out of work and decides to take a stab at writing. It doesn’t play out as he hoped. In the meantime, Miles Drentell is offering Michael an offer he can’t refuse, a job. The juxtaposition of art and commerce collide to tell a story that, for me, is the most personal. After seeing how high this ranked, I must not be alone. This is a fun episode to watch the first time, but the second and third time, you start to see how much this decision changed the Steadman family.
Closing The Circle – Written by Richard Kramer Season 4 Episode 80
In Closing the Circle, Michael’s life is changed because of forces outside of himself. Everyone else has moved on from Gary’s death. This episode brings to a close the story of Gary/Susannah/Michael. An unlikely threesome of people who were all headstrong. I am never a fan of ghosts on television. When people ask me why, I always say because thirtysomething did it right, so no one else should even try. When I interviewed Richard Kramer, who also directed this episode, he said the above shot was his favorite. It shows how alone Michael feels at this moment. The end of this episode breaks my heart every time. I have told Richard that no man has made me cry as much as he has.
6. Tie: Ellyn’s Wedding – Written by Jill Gordon Season 4 Episode 79
Just when the show was at its darkest point, they give us the highest peak of happiness in the series. Ellyn and Billy get married. This episode is structured as a fun flashback that tricks us and plays with our expectations. But it is the end musical montage that sticks with me. Director Scott Winant designed the ultimate wedding montage set to the Ray Charles classic, “Come Rain or Come Shine.” I don’t see how anyone can watch Polly Draper’s acting and not cry at the end of this episode. After having so many sad cries, we needed a happy cry so badly at this point in the series.
We Gather Together – Written by Susan Miller and Richard Kramer and Edward Zwick Season 1 Episode 6
My guess is fans of the series watch this episode every Thanksgiving, hence it ranked high on the list. The gang gets together for Thanksgiving while Hope stays upstairs and looks at pictures. One thing that ties all of these top episodes together seems to be the feeling of friendship. This is the first episode in the series that really showed us that they are actually a family, not just friends. That theme grew deeper and deeper as the series continued. What could be more familiar than gathering together at Thanksgiving with our loved ones?
5. The Go Between – Written by Joseph Dougherty Season 3 Episode 61
The two part story about the take over of DAA begins here. This episode probably has the most plot of any in the series. We have watched Michael and Elliot grow in the business world since the pilot. This episode brings all those moments to a head. The cliff hanger ending of Michael firing Elliot is shocking as he sits next to Miles, the heir apparent. When I was doing research for the book, I found out they were supposed to win and Miles was supposed to leave the show. At the last minute, Marshall said, “Are we crazy? Why would we lose Miles?” Good choice.
4. Arizona – Written by Susan Shilliday Season 3 Episode 59
Not that anyone asked, but this is my all time favorite episode of thirtysomething. Michael and Hope visit Hope’s parents to celebrate her parent’s anniversary. This put our favorite couple trapped in a house where they can’t escape each other. This is where we see the cracks in their marriage, magnified by the watchful eye of Hope’s mother, the wonderful Shirley Knight. This was the last episode written by Susan Shilliday and the last episode that Edward Zwick directed for the series. I guess when you hit perfection you get out. I like to say this episode is an hour of what marriage is really all about. If you have forgotten this episode, go watch it again and thank me later. The fact it ranked #4 I guess means, you haven’t forgotten it.
3. Therapy – Written by Susan Shilliday Season 1 Episode 11
I feel like I could spend the entire paragraph just writing about how this is only the 11th script for this series. This episode is so good it should be much later in the series. One of my greatest honors in writing the book was the fact that I got to interview Susan Shilliday. Her scripts are so personal and well written. This episode finds Nancy and Elliot working on their marriage in therapy. The arguments between the characters are so real that viewers forgot that they were watching television. You know how I said I can’t stand ghosts on TV, well that goes double for shows that use a therapy session. If you can’t do it as well as this episode does, then don’t even bother. Also, the “B” story, Ellyn’s tattoo, is the best use of a “B” story. If anyone ever asks me to teach a class on television, I will use this as an example of a perfect script.
2. I’ll Be Home For ChristmasWritten by Richard Kramer Season 1 Episode 9
I consider this the first great episode of thirtysomething. It isn’t that the first 8 aren’t good, they just aren’t to the level that the show develops to. In this episode we really see who Michael is, we see how important family is and we learn about Melissa and Michael. I watch this episode every Christmas and cry. I always think that when Melissa steps out of the shadows, I won’t cry. Not this time. I can hold it in . . . but nope, I cry. This is my favorite Richard Kramer script. It came in second place with a bullet. No doubts, no ties. This is obviously an episode that the fans cry at too. It’s Hanna-claus. Happy Pagan Ritual.
AND THE #1 FAN EPISODE IS . . .
1. Second LookWritten by Ann Lewis Hamilton Season 4 Episode 76
There are some twists that we just don’t see coming. There are moments of television that will live in us till we die. Second Look is one of those episodes. This episode came in first place by a ton. It crushed everything else. With a script that handles death so simply, direction by Ken Olin that doesn’t give the viewer a moment to prepare and acting from Patty Wettig and Timothy Busfield that is just heart breaking, I am not surprised this is the number 1 pick. Cancer, death, friendship, loss and love. This episode has it all. Here is an excerpt from thirtysomething at thirty from writer Ann Hamilton about how she was chosen to write this script.
Ann Lewis Hamilton: Ed and Marshall were very democratic in how they would hand out big scripts. It was kind of the luck of the draw that I got to kill Gary. My dad had died ten years earlier and I never liked on television when death is too Bergman. I wanted to write about the simplicity of it. I wanted people to say, “Gary’s dead. Gary’s been killed.” When my father died very suddenly of a heart attack, there was not a lot to say except, “My father died.” It was the simplicity of the lines that I really like. -Except from thirtysomething at thirty
Great list of episodes. Thanks for voting everyone. There is one thing I want to point out. Every list submitted by a fan had 1 episode on it that no one else voted for. Think about that. Everyone has that one episode that only they love. I think that speaks volumes about the series. So while episodes like Nancy’s Mom or Undone or Her Cup Runneth over might not have made the top 10 list, they received votes by fans who love the series. Next week’s #thirtysomethingthursday is going to be huge. Tune in and see what I have in store for you. Be sure to pre-order the book, thirtysomething at thirty, at this site to get the free postcard of the front cover and for me to sign it.
For years I have had a deep love for David E Kelley. He has long been my favorite television writer ever since the days of LA Law. I decided to rank the top 10 characters he ever created. There are so many great ones I had to go to 15. I decided that the shows I would pick from had to be created by him as well. Therefore, there are no LA Law people or Doogie Howser.
15. Shirley Schmidt from Boston Legal. Usually when a woman is brought on a show to “Straighten Up” the office, the female character is a full on Bitch. The amazing thing about Shirley is that she takes control and is a fun character. She keeps her femininity during stories with Tom Selleck and later John Larroquette as well as she keeps her strength in running the office. I wish more shows would develop women with two sides of their character.
14. Dr Sung Park from Monday Morning’s. We only got to spend one season with this character, TNT cancelled this show. I believe he would have risen to great heights. He started off as a bad accent and a bad old time joke, but he was already becoming real. This is a David E Kelley staple. He gets you with your own limitations then knocks them down one by one. “NOT DO DEAD”
13. Scott Guber from Boston Public. This show never rose to the level of the concept of a series set in an urban public school. That idea should have been where Kelley shined the brightest, but they focused less on issues and more on teen drama. The star that did shine was Vice Principal Scott Guber. I mean come on a principal named Guber. He balanced his character with a mix of complete discipline and a dash of every man who has ever had a small job. This is a series that should have been released on DVD. I have not seen it since it was on, but I never forgot Anthony Heald’s performance.
12. Hands / Jerry Espenson from Boston Legal. Let this be a lesson to any TV guest star. “Hands” came on with a two part episode arc and stayed on the show until its end. This character goes through so much. He is a man who doesn’t let his Aspergers syndrome hold him down a bit. While at first he is played for comedy, he grows to teach us how to treat others. He is almost the “Spock/Data” character that teaches us and directly, Alan Shore, what it means to be human.
11. Richard Fish from Ally McBeal. Part of picking this character is knowing how much Fish would have loved the Trump era. The only thing that mattered to Fish was money. He would have loved the Republican doctrine of the rich are all that matter. Some of his arguments in court about women, love and money are the kind of speeches you could listen to forever or as he called them Fishisms. He also had a soft spot for strong women. I sure wish that I knew his “knee pit” move that drove the women crazy.
10. Jill Brock from Picket Fences. Mom’s are really difficult characters to make interesting. Making Jill the town doctor helped round out her character. Sometimes she was the voice of reason with science. Sometimes she was a panicking mother who reacted with only her heart as her guide. You know, just like you and I do. No one is perfect in real life. Jill was often on the wrong side of topics. She was against busing, she was for a dentist keeping his AIDS a secret from his patient. There is no way that at one point you weren’t totally mad at Jill and then another, totally on her side. This was an Emmy magnet of a role for Kathy Baker who I believe won the Emmy 3 out of 4 years.
9. Eugene Young from The Practice.The Practice has the least zany characters of all David’s shows. That is probably why it was the most successful show he ever created. Eugene is a very serious character. He carries the weight of the legal world upon his shoulders. He takes his clients and their rights very seriously. When Eugene has to deal with Ally in a cross over episode or Alan Shore in the final season, you can see the battling of the inner world of David E Kelley. When Eugene gets angry, he gets silent and you sit there and watch the inner workings of a great actor. I miss him.
8. Ling Woo from Ally McBeal. Ling joins Ally in the second season and the show is never the same. Her growl, her meanness and her coldness was the perfect antidote to all of the emotion that Ally McBeal felt. The episode where Ling befriends a child with cancer shows you that she also has a heart. When a character like Ling cries, it is hard to keep it together. Her relationship with Fish was when her character worked the best, once they split up she didn’t quite have the same flair, but her sexuality was a great addition to the show. It was fun to see a woman who was so great at sex that she refused to do it because it allowed men to be ruled by their “dumb stick.”
7. Dr. Jeffrey Geiger from Chicago Hope. If he had stayed on the show for more than 29 episodes, this character would be my #1 pick. I loved Dr. Geiger so much that to this day I have refused to ever watch an episode of ER. Geiger was brilliant, troubled and arrogant. The creators of House MD should have paid Mandy Patinkin royalties because they basically stole his character. The second episode of Chicago Hope gives you background into why he was the way he was. I won’t spoil it here. Some people didn’t like how he sang in many episodes, I loved it. I wish that Chicago Hope would have continued to be as great as it was that first season, but it never did. However, I would put those first 22 episodes up along side any first season of a show and all of it is thanks to the character of Dr Geiger.
6. Denny Crane from Boston Legal. Introduced on the last season of The Practice, Denny Crane arrived as a once great lawyer who is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s. The only thing he can remember is his name, so he says it all the time. What the character actually became was the Archie Bunker of the Bush years. His opinions on the Iraq war and 9-11 was basically Carl Rove talking points, so they were naturally hilarious. He is paired with his liberal best friend Alan Shore. This show now plays like a logical comedy but in 2004, no one was making these jokes or confronting Bush on television. It is amazing that just a decade or so ago we were unable to voice a dissenting opinion on our government. Just in case you forget what life was like in the early 2000s, Denny will be there forever to remind you.
5. Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal. Ally was totally misrepresented by the media. She was not ever supposed to be a character that women aspired to be. She was not Mary Tyler Moore. She was much more a Don Draper. A business woman that allowed her “female” sides to run amuck. She was flawed, silly, lonely, sad, smart, capable and happened to be a woman. When a few years ago I read Anna Gunn’s essay about how people hate her character on Breaking Bad, I thought about Ally. Calista could have written a similar article. Feminists were livid that Ally wanted to find love and did anything she could do to find it. I thought that was what we all wanted? David E Kelley creates his female characters and his male characters the same: massively imperfect. Ally wasn’t a perfect woman, that is what made her perfect.
4. Douglas Wambaugh from Picket Fences. I had never seen a character like Wambaugh when this show debuted in the beginning of the Clinton era. He was a full out character. He says crazy things, makes himself the butt of every joke and is always silly. The other side was that he won his cases in court. After the verdict, everyone treated him like he was the butt of every joke and it hurt him. Most times the “silly” character doesn’t realize how he is thought of by the rest of the cast of the show. The genius of this character was that every comment hurt him, mostly because he deserved it.
You watch him do anything to get off a client who is guilty and then you watch him suffer with those results. One of the most painful moments in this series is when Judge Bone tells Wambaugh that if he wanted to hurt him, he would simply hold a mirror up to him. Nothing makes us quake more as humans than having to look at our true selves. The key to a classic Kelley character is that they make you laugh and then make you feel bad for laughing at them.
3. John “the Biscuit” Cage from Ally McBeal. The real reason you should watch Ally is for this character. The Biscuit dancing to Barry White is a TV memory that will last you a life time. And that is just in season 2. This character has more quirks than all the rest of these characters combined. He hears bells, pours water, has a pet frog, can make nose noises and always demands a fresh toilet bowl. This is a character that makes you laugh so hard and breaks your heart at the same time. His closing arguments which are usually pulled from his childhood are always amazing. Peter MacNicol finally won an Emmy for this character in the fourth season. He was competing with Robert Downey, Jr from the same series. I never thought he would win, when he did, it was one of my all time favorite award show moments.
2. Alan Shore from Boston Legal. I really can’t imagine a more complex character than Alan. It had to be an actor’s dream to get this role. He is comedy. He can have word salad, flirt in the most inappropriate way or do the tango with Denny Crane. He is drama. He can fight the banking industry over credit cards, take on the Army for not supplying our soldiers with body armor or take on the television industry for canceling Boston Legal. Alan is a slime and a saint all in the same breathe. The amazing part is that you believe both sides always. In a time when same sex marriage was seen as something awful, Alan and Denny created a sexless marriage (is there any other kind? Boo-ya!) that I think paved the way for America’s acceptance. I would go so far as to say the love between Alan and Denny might have been the most pure love ever shown on television.
1. Judge Henry Bone from Picket Fences. My guess is you have not heard of this character and that is because it is pretty hard to watch Picket Fences in this streaming world. The complete series has not been released on DVD and it is not on Netflix. Judge Bone is faced every week with a serious case that the town (re: America) is talking about. Could be AIDS, guns in the class room, spousal abuse and he makes his decisions so perfectly. Picket Fences is morality play every week. Judge Bones weighs those morals and decides in the way we wish our leaders would. Sometimes he lectures us and sometimes he inspires us, but he never falls victim to the winds of popularity. We know very little about his personal life but the nuggets that fall out are so jarring to us they bring us to tears. From a man who has given us so many amazing characters, David E Kelley’s greatest achievement is Judge Bone. Now….GET OUT.
“Strangers,” the 44th episode of thirtysomething, aired back in 1989, or was that 1889? The world went crazy for a moment because two men had the nerve to sit side by side, shirtless in bed and have a conversation. Last week the Entertainment Weekly did a 5 minute oral history about the episode (Will it be ungracious of me if I scoff? I wrote a 370 page oral history about thirtysomething. 5 minutes??!!) Advertisers pulled out of the episode, ABC threatened the producers and the Christian right protested. The episode played and the world went on. But what were the true lasting effects of this episode? If you watch “Strangers” in 2017 it is pretty tame. No one would bat an eye. I don’t think even VP Pence would try to pray the gay out of it.
So how controversial is this episode, written by Richard Kramer and directed by Peter O’Fallon? Not at all. Two men meet, have an affair and then are too afraid to call each other the morning after. So, is that why it is called “Strangers?” No. The stranger in this episode is someone who is very familiar to thirtysomething viewers. The stranger is Melissa Steadman, the wonderful Melanie Mayron. Melanie won the best supporting actress Emmy the previous season for another episode written by Richard Kramer, “Be A Good Girl.” Richard claimed Melanie was his muse on thirtysomething. He wrote some of her greatest scenes in the series. With all due respect to Melanie’s performance in “Second Look,” which is the single most heartbreaking moment in a heartbreaking episode, I submit “Strangers” is Melanie’s best work in the series. Work that is not given a mention today whenever television historians talk about the episode.
Melissa is dating Lee Owens (Corey Parker.) Lee is younger than Melissa and she is embarrassed by that. She doesn’t want her friends to meet him, she doesn’t want to be judged. So she does what we all do when we are scared, she tries to ruin everything. The end of the episode has a fantasy sequence where Melanie plays 3 different roles. She boxes herself as she watches from the crowd. The reason “Strangers” resonates with thirtysomething fans thirty years later, isn’t because two men sat in bed next to each other. It is because Richard Kramer looked into our deepest hidden fears where we all know that the only obstacle in our way is ourselves. That human moment of facing who the stranger is, ourselves.
Richard Kramer: I feel incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to write that episode. I was supported by Ed and Marshall at a period when not everybody would have been supported. One of the principles of the show was that we couldn’t do an “important” episode. I wasn’t trying to write the gay scene. It was very much about something else. It was about the burden of self consciousness and absorbing what other people think of you. Melissa was letting that be an obstacle in her life.Melanie Mayron: The theme of the episode was how we sabotage relationships. Russell sabotaged his and Melissa sabotaged hers. We get something good and then we stand in the way of it. - from thirtysomething at thirty - Bear Manor Media and Scott Ryan Productions
The reason this episodes sticks with me all these years later is a small scene between Melissa and Lee. Melissa is fretting over her friends meeting Lee. Corey Parker does some of his best acting when he responds with, “No one is watching, No one cares.” I wish I would have taken these words to heart sooner in life, I bet we all do. These little gems are peppered through all of Richard Kramer’s scripts, as well as all episodes of thirtysomething.
Even though I have talked to Richard many times, he was a huge help on the book and always made himself available to assist, I have never asked him this question. Did he listen to Billy Joel’s The Stranger when he wrote this episode and picked the title? Billy Joel sings in his 1977 song, “Well we all have a face that we hide away forever and we take it out and show ourselves when everyone is gone.” They could have used that song and it would have fit, but it probably would have been a little too Mad Men end credits-like. thirtysomething was a great show because it never hit the nail right on the head, it just set up the nail and laid the hammer on the table and let you finish the work yourself.
While television fans can look forward to the return of Twin Peaks and Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2017, they can also look back at one of the pop culture icons from 1987. thirtysomething, a show about 7 friends in their thirties, turns thirty on September 29th, 2017.
When we were introduced to Michael and Hope they had just had their first child and were deeply in love. Conversely, we also meet Elliot and Nancy who are ten years into a marriage and falling out of love. Over the next four years these characters, along with Melissa, Ellyn and Gary, go through so many changes that a network executive would panic today. These 7 characters became so real to us that fans had trouble separating the actor from the character.
Fans related so closely with each story that they connected it directly to their own lives. The show became a poster child for the baby boomer generation. Cancer, business failings, death, parenting and being single were just a few of the topics covered. The writers took all the normal plots from night time television and threw them aside. The main story in the pilot is about finding a baby sitter . . . and that is it. The series moved slowly and with purpose. The characters’ lives as well as their homes were messy. Anyone who has raised a toddler knows that the floor of your house is always covered with toys and laundry. The creators, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, brought this reality to television for the first time. For years, I kept going back to the series because I missed these characters and always wondered, why couldn’t another show do “real life” this well?
Parenthood tried, Brothers & Sisters tried, This is Us is trying right now on NBC. While those shows were good and This is Us even has Ken Olin, Michael Steadman, as the executive producer, none match the simplicity of thirtysomething.
On June 7th my book, thirtysomething at thirty, will finally be published. I was able to interview the entire main cast, Michael, Hope, Elliott, Nancy, Gary, Melissa and Ellyn. I spoke with every writer who wrote more than 2 episodes of the series. I spoke with the creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. I then assembled all those interviews into a round table reunion of the people who crafted thirtysomething.
There are over 150 photos in the book, the final script that was never filmed and essays from Peter Horton (Gary), Ann Lewis Hamilton (wrote “Second Look”), Joseph Dougherty (wrote all the great Miles episodes) and even an essay by the Mad Magazine editor, Nick Meglin, who paid the thirtysomething set a visit.
There is a special section all about the directing of the series where all the directors talk about the rules of directing on the series and what they learned from Marshall and Ed about staging a scene. Most of the cast would eventually direct an episode of the series. They tell tales of what it was like to watch dailies with the rest of the cast at lunch every day.
thirtysomething may not be streaming anywhere (really, Netflix?) but it is engrained in the memory of the fans that adored it. 2017 serves as the year that the show finally reached its own age. thirtysomething at thirty set out to tell the story of the series and honor the amazing work that these artists did over a 4 year period that we are still talking about thirty years later.
thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history was released by Bear Manor Media on June 7th in hard back and soft back. Scott interviewed all the main cast and writers as well as producers, directors and guest actors of the 1987 series, thirtysomething. This book also contains never before released photos as well as the script to the final episode that was never filmed, due to a law suit. Scott combines all the interviews into one episode guide where you can hear the story of thirtysomething from the talented people who created it. With a Foreword by Ann Lewis Hamilton, an Afterword by Joseph Dougherty, an essay by Peter Horton (Gary) and interviews with Ed Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Ken Olin, Timothy Busfield, Melanie Mayron, Peter Horton, Polly Draper, Patricia Wettig, Scott Winant, Paul Haggis, Winnie Holzman, Richard Kramer, Dana Delany and many more.
Scott Ryan’s debut collection of 20 short stories explores the author’s own everyday misadventures of living in modern day America. From the trials and tribulations of corporate office jobs to parenting, Scott Luck Stories will leave the reader laughing out loud while following Ryan’s hilarious and offbeat insights into life’s unpredictable and absurd twists of fate. Based on the podcast of the same name, Scott Luck Stories have been rewritten for publication and deliver comedy gold while revealing a more poignant undercurrent that delves into the nature of family, relationships, and how we choose to live our lives.
Readers will find delight in this short story collection’s sage advice, whether it comes from a fast food chain or the bottom of a dirty diaper, inspiring them to see the upside of just about any situation be it a traffic jam or a job interview from hell. Contemporary and straightforward in tone, Scott Luck Stories are tales we can all relate to, yet it takes a gifted storyteller to reveal the humor that life’s worst and best moments deliver 365 days a year.
Scott is the managing editor as well as a writer for The Blue Rose. This magazine is released every 4 months and covers the Showtime series, Twin Peaks. Interviews with the creators, cast and crew of the David Lynch and Mark Frost’s series. Reviews, commentary and essays abound in this full color publication. It can be purchased digitally from Amazon and iTunes or in hard copy form from bluerosemag.com
4. The Last Days Of Letterman
Coming in 2018 Scott will publish the look at the Late Show with David Letterman. The book will focus on the last 6 weeks of The Late Show and the episodes that let Hollywood, politicians and fans say goodbye to David Letterman after over 30 years on late night television. The book will feature interviews from the producers, writers and directors of The Late Show as well as a recap of the last 28 episodes. Like the Facebook Page for more Information.