Johnny Yes-No

Journal Entry. Toronto.
Sunday night, January 27th, 1980.

Sitting here at 63 Kendal with a beer and another great 'Don-dinner' - a pre cooked Loblaw's ham smothered in Cheese-Whiz with a side order of baked beans. Thank God, I come from proletarian roots.

I'm going to have to learn how to cook one day although I can never really figure out why. I like what I eat.

I've been "seeing" the beautiful and talented Marika who's a producer on Quirks and Quarks. She took me to Jay Ingram's party on Saturday night where I got into a long discussion with a guy called Stuart McLean who works on Sunday Morning.

He's a real "Torontonian" full of patronizing bullshit. He said I had an Alberta accent (WTF ?) but still invited me to play raquet-ball at his "club". What he doesn't know is that I am a raquet ball God.

(Editor's note : I kicked the shit out of Stuart a few days later and he never spoke to me again.)

Richard asked me to sit in on a Senior Producer's meeting with As It Happens. Management is thinking of doing some sort of joint AIH-Morningside national radio special for the Quebec Referendum. The Sunday Morning crowd have opted out. They're a strange bunch. Very isolated from the rest of us. They come and go in the middle of the night.

At the meeting we talked about who to hire as our roving reporter to get tape from-the-streets. The AIH gang had lots of names - Nick Auf Der Maur, Josh Freed, Roch Carrier. I thought I'd lighten things up by suggesting a friend of Margaret Laurence's, the aboriginal actor Johnny YesNo.

That's his real name. Johnny YesNo.

Bad idea - not a smile in the whole room.

Dault told me later that I'd embarassed the show so I scurried into Harron's office and hid. Don laughed and said that his wife could get me a job on Cape Breton.

Gotta watch that Alberta mouth of mine.


Journal Entry. Winnipeg.
Sunday night, October 21st, 2007.

George Romero was right - we are the Living Dead.

This period - right now - until the networks start spending their next round of CTF money is when producers turn into zombies. Not quite dead but not really alive either.

This is the time when cheques bounce and businesses go into receivership. Friendships explode in a spew of debt and litigation and venom. Marriages come apart. Familes fail. Children cry.

And best of all...bloody Christmas is on the horizon. Halleluja.

For the next few months a frenzied horde of producers will be lurching from MIP to Real Screen to the Science and History Congresses with out-stretched hands (Hi ! How are you. Thanks for your time) ... glazed eyes (no..no..I'm fine. I can sleep on the plane) ... all desperately seeking that life sustaining feast of blood otherwise known as international money.

For the past nine months they've worked hard and smart. They've created and pitched and piloted. But then the network guy has called with that KILLER message - "...we like it. But there's no money 'till the spring".

Been there. Heard that.

So what to DO ? Drop the show and start developing something else ? Hmmm - no.

Put MORE of your own money into research hoping that three months from now you'll get a greelight ? Maybe. But not little guys like me. I have bills to pay - now.

Look for a co-producer ? Probably not. In my experience it takes too long and you're forced to give up way too much for what you get in return.

So, you gamble another 5k. Go to France - to Washington - to London and hope a foreign net will pre-buy.

And there IS money out there - sometimes the zombies catch someone. A couple of years ago I did a 2 x one hour doc for Global about the Bronfmans. ARTE in France picked up Franco-German rights paying 80,000 Euros for the territory. We were still under-financed but at least when Christmas rolled around we ate turkey flesh - not human.

I suspect ole' George is eating pretty well these days too.

'08 is the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead which cost 114,000 dollars to produce. Estimates are that it's made about 50 million worldwide with a major re-release coming soon.

..and that my friends - is why we do, what we do.


Tara said...

hey its tara, here is the website i was talking about where i made the extra summer cash.......... the website is here

Anonymous said...

note: still have not learned to cook