back to school, las vegas, penn and teller, star trek, terry farrell, TV, Uncategorized

Valerie Desmond is Getting Married – The Time I Met Terry Farrell

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Terry Farrell – Back to School

In honor of Terry Farrell and Adam Nimoy (Spock’s son) getting engaged, here is a brief recounting of my encounter with Ms. Farrell.   I hope this will not bring on a restraining order, but I digress.

For one glorious year, actually more like nine months, I had the pleasure of working with Penn and Teller on their show Sin City Spectacular.  It was amazing.  If you haven’t seen it, try and find it.  During that time I produced many bits, but it was one that didn’t happen that stood out from the rest.

When I was assigned a celebrity, I tried to find some unique talent that they could bring to the table.  Sean Hayes played the piano and then went on a rant about the Gettysburg address, Judge Reinhold whistled by a campfire and then walked away with a fake armadillo while Gordon Clapp of NYPD Blue fame went bare assed while read a page from his diary which turned out to be a Penthouse forum encounter with his Emmy.

When someone didn’t have a secret talent or couldn’t think of something they wanted to showcase, it was left up to me to try and find something, anything, for them to perform. The fall back was having them do a trick with P&T.

One day I got assigned Terry Farrell.   Yes, Terry Farrell or as she would always be known to me, Valerie Desmond from “Back to School”.  Others might know her as Dax from a little show called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

So Terry and I spoke and laughed and in the long run, she decided to leave it up to me to come up with a funny bit, bad idea.   I mean I was the guy who once proposed pubic hair makeovers as a show topic.   A couple of days later I called Terry, I now had her home number, and proposed something along these lines:

“Even though you can’t really sing or dance, Why don’t we pretend you’re in a 50’s girl group singing the song “Lollipop”.   The backup singers will be singing while you go to work licking a lollipop.  Things begin to get out of hand and in a sexual frenzy you run into the audience and begin to give someone a lap dance.  As you’re about to reach orgasm, the song will end and Penn and Teller will come out and say goodbye.”

There was silence, but this was good.  It wasn’t dismissed out of hand, a minor miracle. In fact, she thought it was funny and was game. This was easier than I thought.  Talk Soup here I come.

Now, bits like this can sometimes take on a life of their own.  The more time someone has to think about the bit, like the one above, the more likely they might realize that its not the best idea.  Time was not my friend.

As someone who never slept, especially in the days before we would fly out to Vegas to tape the show, I was prone to checking my work voicemail incessantly.   With three days to go I thought I was safe, but then, at 5:00 AM,  I got a message from Terry saying she had rethought the idea and wasn’t game anymore and said we should talk later. Calculating that she had left the message only minutes, ok maybe a few hours before, I decided to write up a quick revision, fax it over and call her to review it.  I mean who doesn’t like getting a call at 5:30 AM from a frantic producer who’s trying to get you to perform oral sex on a lollipop.  It went to voicemail. Not one to give up, I called again. She didn’t pick up.  Needless to say, several hours later I got a call from her publicist who wasn’t too pleased.   After that. I didn’t speak to Terry until Vegas.

A few days later, we were to meet face to face.  I was nervous, even more so then normal.  What would she do, what would she say.  I was ready for anything.  In the long run, she was cool, laughed about the whole thing, but said if I ever contacted her again she would file a restraining order.  I’m not sure if she was kidding or not, but I didn’t intend to find out.  Unfortunately, she didn’t do the bit or even the 5:15 AM rewrite below,  but I did get her to leave a voice mail message, as Valerie Desmond, for my friend.  It’s still his most prized possession.

As a post script, the following year I met Terry again while I was working at Donny and Marie.  I tried again, but the lollipop bit didn’t work out there either…and fortunately it didn’t result in the threatened restraining order.

Terry Farrell bit Part 2 – written and faxed at 5:15AM



Cindy Margolis, donny and marie, Internet, TV, Uncategorized

Cindy Margolis – The Perfect Answer


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Cindy Margolis – Queen of the Internet


During the infancy of the internet, there was a woman who took the web by storm, Cindy Margolis.  She was and still is known as the Queen of the Internet and/or the Most Downloaded Woman in the World and once again, through sheer luck, she was my guest on Donny and Marie.  Here’s her intro.


A bit of background.  At the time, late 90’s, and not shockingly, still today, I was, am and always will be a New York Jew who loves deli.  While living in LA,  I had two go to places, Canter’s which is on Fairfax and Jerry’s Famous which had locations throughout LA. Each had their own charms, charged New York prices and supplied a fix of kosher style deli.  The reason I bring this up is because Cindy, at the time, was married to the owner of Jerry’s. Jackpot.   Her photos were beautiful, but a pastrami sandwich at Jerry’s was heaven.

Prior to her appearance on the show, I did my standard pre-interview.  This would be somewhat different.  While I’m sure others asked lurid questions, I was focused on something else, coupons from Jerry’s.  Somehow I would have to bring up her husband and then casually bring up my fixation with deli, then finally coming in for the kill asking for some coupons.  It was a plan.  My stomach approved.  And then it happened.  With the business questions out of the way, I could turn the conversation towards marriage and inevitably on some coupons.  Little did I realize my fixation on smoked meat would elicit the following:

You just celebrated your anniversary?

We just had our year anniversary. We decided that after a year to go to counseling. We went separately to a husband and wife team. When I went, there was this man sitting there in the office. He looked at me and said that he had just seen me on TV and that he had a couple of my posters. I thought it was weird that this therapist would have this stuff, but I began to talk to him and tell him about my marriage.   Eventually the woman therapist came out and I told her that her husband was so nice. She told me that it was not her husband, but an electrician working at the office. I can’t believe I told him such intimate things. I can just imagine him sitting around talking to his buddies.

Perfection.  Home Run. Touchdown.  Short of bringing the electrician on to confirm things, this story had everything.   Sex, embarrassment and more sex.  This appearance led to several more on our show…and I always was the producer…and I always celebrated with free pastrami after the taping.

donny and marie, miss america, TV, Uncategorized

Miss America

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Miss America 1924 – She was not my guest

Back in 1999, when no one was quite sure the world wouldn’t explode with Y2K,  I was working on Donny and Marie and they entrusted me with producing Miss America; more likely, it just fell on one of my show days and despite the trepidations of what international incidents I might trigger by speaking with her, they let me proceed anyways. I just found my notes of questions that I wanted/possibly did ask her.  In retrospect, they probably should have rethought me leading this segment.  While the questions start off tame, as with many of my interviews, they seem to veer off on an insane tangent by the end.


Why do you think you won over everyone else?

Do you have any hidden talents that we didn’t see last night?

What is happening next in your life?

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

If you were a judge, who would you have picked?

What was the toughest part of the competition?

What do you hope to accomplish with your reign?

Do you think you are ready for the all of the attention?

How cold do you think the water is going to be when you jump in tomorrow?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Are you a little bit country or a little bit rock n’ roll?

Who was your favorite Miss America?

Unfortunately, I can’t find the answers to these probing inquiries, but rest assured she did not, like most others, answer the tree question.

Did I leave anything out?   Let me know in case I get to interview again sometime this century.



las vegas, magic, Script, TV, Uncategorized

Comedy Bit – Judge Reinhold

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Judge Reinhold – Fast Times at Ridgemont High

While working on Penn and Teller’s Sin City Spectacular, a great show on FX that was cancelled way too early, I had the pleasure of collaborating with celebrities.  As one of the producers on the show, it was my responsibility to try to get the guests to do something out of the ordinary, something that you would never expect to see, something that would hopefully allow P&T some down time.  It was easy for the celebrity to say, “I love Penn and Teller, can’t I just be in a bit with them.  I really don’t want to do anything else.”  For some, their names shall remain nameless, there was no option.  They refused to play along.  In fact, in one instance, a guest, someone who became a huge TV star a few years after our little show, cancelled, rather than try to do something out of his comfort zone. He was the exception.

Then there were those that played along.  Below is the final product from the amazing Judge Reinhold.  A great job, sounds incredible and the bit has a perfect ending.    The initial idea was a bit more bizarre.


When I found out Judge was going to be one of my guests I was beyond happy.  He was Billy Rosewood from Beverly Hills Cop, Brad Hamilton from Fast Times, Elmo in Stripes; hell, he was even Aaron the close talker on Seinfeld, and now it was my job to produce him.

We got on the phone and discussed ideas for a bit.  It was then I found out he was a whistler.  Not the annoying kind, like the guy on the subway who is driving everyone crazy, but an amazing whistler, a whistler you wanted to hear.  But we were on a TV show, a kinda crazy one at that, so we had to do something to enhance the bit.  Even in the days prior to YouTube, you still needed a YouTube type moment.  I mean we did have Talk Soup on E! to strive for.

So Judge and I spoke and plotted and laughed and came up with an amazing visual.  Yes he would whistle, yes it would be a western scene and yes it would appear to be a straight bit, but the end was where we would wow people.  In our bantering back and forth we came up with Judge finishing his performance,  turning around,  and revealing chaps with no pants. After mooning the entire free world, he would mount a miniature horse and ride off the stage.  Perfection.  A total surprise.  The perfect button, to a straight musical performance.

Well, the saying best laid plans of mice and men often go awry applies to TV prep, even when mice aren’t involved.   A week away, things were set and then I got a call from Judge. He was still laughing about the whole concept, but he broke the news to me, the sight of his bare ass would not be happening on our show.  He called his manager, the kiss of death, the voice of reason, one of the few adults in the room.  He reminded Judge while the bit MIGHT be funny, the thought of losing some of his endorsement deals, all which have a moralities clause, probably wasn’t a good idea.  No pleading would work.  There was no way we could cover that potential loss.  It was done.  Bare ass out, everything else in.

The night of the taping.  Everything was set.  Judge was in costume.  The minature horse was backstage.  The campfire scene was set.  And then we waited.  The call time was 9PM but we were running behind  It was now 10PM, then 11 and soon it was closing in on midnight.  It was then the animal handler came over to me and said they had to leave.  The horse was pregnant and couldn’t really stand anymore.  And one other thing, she couldn’t take anything on her back.  So now, minutes away from taping,  I had a minature pregnant horse who couldn’t hold weight and now had to leave the studio.  We had booked them for six hours and they were leaving after four.  I had just gotten screwed by the horse handler.  As the horse and owner waddled off I had to think.  It was now time.  No bare ass, no small horse, just a campfire and aardvark.

“Pick up the aardvark?”  That was it.  I can’t be sure if it was Judge or me or someone else who came up with that idea, but it was perfect.  No one would see it coming.  It was just crazy enough to work…and with the taping about to happen any second, there was little else we could do.  We improvised and killed.  The audience loved it.  The camera loved it. And even the fake aardvark was happy.


TV, Uncategorized

New York Brady Bunch Blue


Brady Bunch prior to meeting Sipowitz

I’m not sure why this exists, but back in the mid-90’s, before I even ventured into the TV world, I wrote this mash up short script of beloved 1970’s TV show Brady Bunch meeting gritty 1990’s cop drama NYPD Blue.  Please forgive the lack of format.  Enjoy….I think.





Reality TV, Script, TV

The One That Got Away

File from the TV days

Here is a pitch I made at the start of the reality TV craze.  I was looking to do something outrageous.  It still hasn’t been made.   



The latest craze in television is reality programming. People are obsessed with looking inside other lives. No where is that more evident then with the success of The Osbournes. Yet, with all their horseplay, cursing and seemingly questionable behavior, they don’t hold a candle to what the world is about to see. Prepare yourself for GET OUT OF MY HOUSE; a reality show like no other.  

With the divorce rate at over 50%, everyone knows someone or has themselves been involved in a divorce. People know about the fighting, the love gone wrong, the ultimate break-up and the inevitable re-coupling with another. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE takes you where no other show has gone before. Inside one house, two couples, and their children. The catch is that one of the couples has been divorced, and not a pretty divorce at that. How will they be able to live with their ex and their new mate under the same roof for the next 30 days. What will transpire? How will the insults fly? How will the annoying habits be magnified when the divorced couple is back together again? How will the new spouses get along? And the kids…what will happen when they are forced to interact under the same roof? With cameras in every room, every bit of action will be picked up. And particularly juicy bits of dialogue will be rebroadcast for everyone to hear and comment upon.

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE appeals to all. Watch the interaction you’ve only dreamed about. If you’ve been divorced, you’ve been there. If you know people getting divorced, see the reactions of the other side of the story. Sparks will fly from eating dinner to watching TV. Joint parenting decisions will never be made like this again. And when the family reunion with the extended family takes place, it will be like nothing Jerry Springer could have ever imagined. Nothing will be off topic, nothing will be edited out. See the real live footage of everyday divorced Americans and how they live. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE will take us where reality shows have dared to go.