GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

David Permut, Marshall Brickman and Clarence Conly

In looking through a box of photos and documents this morning, I came across a note to me from David Permut who was the first producer (Blind Date/Dragnet/The Marrying Man) to make an offer on a story from my (Interview) TV series. It was clipped to several pages of a treatment written for the project (titled The Pursuit of Happiness) by Marshall Brickman who was Woody Allen's co-writer on Sleeper, Annie Hall and Manhattan and also wrote and directed The Manhattan Project. Later, Marshall co-wrote Manhattan Murder Mystery with Woody. I'd forgotten he had changed the character name from Clarence to Chester.

Following on the reception of our project (based on the Stevie Williams story), David Permut asked to see some other episodes for development consideration. I sent some cassettes to his office and a few days later David is calling me saying we had another winner. "Which one?" I asked since I'd sent a random selection of four tapes that were within my reach at the time. "Clarence Conly, of course!" was his reply. The story was about Clarence, a meek assembly line worker at the GM plant in Van Nuys who wins six million dollars in the lottery and parlays it into a nine million dollar debt. A few minutes into the taping, I began breaking up as the actor was giving such a marvelous performance as this hapless character and I could not contain my laughter. As we continued taping, I felt that my uncontrollable response was ruining the show but that we could tape it again after I'd gotten the laughter out of my system.

Later when we looked at the show, I realized that any interviewer in his right mind would also be laughing at the improbable, yet earnest, responses 'Clarence' was giving:

Me (as interviewer): "If you could do it all over again, would you do it differently?"
Clarence: "No, I would probably do it all the same"

Thus ensuring he would end up with a monumental debt again. We'll let well enough alone, I decided, and it was the right decision as David was still laughing at what he had watched when he got me on the phone. We made the same deal as before but this time, I had something in mind. "Have you given thought to a writer/director?" I asked him. He said he hadn't. "What if I can get Marshall Brickman interested?" David replied, "Perfect!"

I'd never met Marshall but felt he had the flair to deal with 'Clarence' having collaborated so well with Woody Allen. I called Marshall's agent in Century City and asked simply, "Do you know who David Permut is?" He did, indeed, came the immediate response. I told him that David and I had a project that we would like to propose to Marshall Brickman as a writer/director. Would he care to receive the submission? Yes, he would, and so it was that I sent over a tape of Clarence Conly (Interview).

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