Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dress British

My life as a personal manager started at company in Beverly Hills called D'Blity.

D'Blity was an acronym for Dress British, Look Italian, Think Yiddish!

A group of very talented comedians from Chicago's Second City had come out to LA to claim fame and fortune. I was working at Columbia Pictures TV for Ed Fishman and Randy Freer on an NBC game show called The Fun Factory. We hired them for the show. They were very talented and funny writers and performers. It was a daytime comedy-game show. It was the first and last of the genre.

I was lured away by their manager...a smooth talking man named Stan Sirotin. I would come to find out later that smooth was the least of his issues. But I packed my bags and left game shows to become a manager. Personal management is a hard business. It's faith, compromise, baby sitting and full time problem solving. It is also a business of feast or famine, and the feast was about to end.

Stan was the expert. His wife Beryl kept the books. I was a manager and next door to me was Jerry Cutler. Jerry was part manager, part client and full time Rabbi for the Synagogue for the Performing Arts. If Jerry wasn't auditioning for a congregant, he was giving Bar Mitzvah lessons to Charlie Matthau. We were down the street from a Chinese take out place and a block away from the Friar's Club. It was a perfect recipe for disaster.

Stan fashioned himself as a real Hollywood deal maker. One minute he was helping negotiate a deal for a Johnny Carsey's wife (Marcy) for her first job at ABC as the Manager of Comedy. The next minute, he was renting Neil Diamond's house in Malibu. But Stan's greatest gift was also his worst. He didn't know how to tell a client that some jobs were better than others. He recommended everything. For Stan, it was 'all great' because there was a commission.

He talked Mert Rich into doing a local show on KNBC called The Busing Game. The title alone screamed...stay away. Not Stan. He bought the rights to a movie called Spade Cooley, because he was told that Dustin Hoffman was interested. They guy who sold him the rights was a producer of pornographic movies from the Valley.

And it went on like that for about 6 months. Each day was a new adventure, into Stan's own little Hollywood. The breaking point for me came one day when I looked out my window. Across the railroad tracks was the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Each day, one of the maintaince guys would come out and hose down the sidewalk. Nobody in LA ever uses a broom. Anyway, it pouring and this guy walks out in rain gear and an umbrella and starts hosing down the sidewalk.

It was time to go.

And I went from the famine to feast. Within a few days, I hired by Howard Rothberg who represented Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Dom DeLuise, Larry Gelbart and Richard Dimitri. At D'Blity I couldn't get my calls returned...and literally the next week my phone didn't stop ringing.

PS. That small group from D'Blity went on to great success. Execpt for Stan. He had some legal troubles a few years later in Pasadena and the last anyone heard had moved to France.

The clients did much better. Mert Rich is an award winning TV producer and writer in Los Angeles. Marcy Carsey went on to become one of the most successful TV executives, and with her partner Tom Werner created some of the best shows on TV, including The Cosby Show and many more. Mitch Markowitz's writing career took off with movies like Good Morning Vietman and Crazy People, Dick Blasucci is the executive producer of MAD-TV, Bette Thomas directs feature films, and Doug Steckler became a big star on LA Radio.

And I moved to Seattle where it rains all the time.

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