Monday, January 19, 2009

WE ARE THE ARTISTS, PAULY, MY BOY!

I never intended for this blog to be about my Freakazoid memories or anything like that. And, after this post, I shall go back to talking about the interesting things.

However, ever since my post about Ricardo Montalban's passing...I've heard a small voice persistently nagging me in my quiet moments: "Oh, fine. Ricardo gets a nice little tribute. And me? What do I get? Nothing. That's what! Not a crumb! Oh...the pain. The pain..."

Okay, Jonathan. This one's for you...

Long after Freakazoid was cancelled and we all moved on to other projects, my phone would occasionally ring. "Hello, Pauly! Call Johnny! Let's have lunch."

And so we would. John McCann and I would meet Jonathan Harris at Mistral in Studio City. The lunches were always a blast. A little Chardonay, a little food and LOTS of stories. Jonathan could tell a story like nobody's business. And all of them were true. Jonathan occasionally peppered his stories with a modicum of profanity that would make a sailor blush. It was wonderful. Vintage Harris.

I promise director Troy that I won't write about anything we covered in the Season 2 DVD. Suffice to say that Jonathan liked working on Freakazoid. "I love the anarchy," he would say. "Delicious stuff!"

When he was sure that John and I actually knew what we were doing and weren't "network people", he decided to take us under his wing and offer us constant encouragement. Having gone head to head with "network people" for much of his career, Jonathan boiled it all down to this simple phrase. "F#%$  'EM!"

"Remember this well, my lads," he would say. "We are the artists. They are bean counters. They don't have a F%&#@ing clue!" Jonathan's advice was to always keep on doing what you're doing and if they don't get it. Too bad."

When Freakazoid was slowly cancelled, Jonathan said, "Typical. Just typical! You musn't get downhearted, my lads. Promise me! You musn't let THEM get to you. If you do then THEY have won. And we can't let THEM win." I can still hear the old guy. It's advice I have always kept close.

Not only would we have lunches, but Jonathan would call from time to time to check in and see how it was going. "What are you creating? Is it wonderful?"

When Doug Langdale, John McCann and I were developing the Daffy Duck primetime pilot for the WB, we wrote a part for Jonathan as an insane "network person." Jonathan loved the irony. Sadly, we never got to record it.

When friends threw my wife and I a huge baby shower/party, Jonathan was in attendance. I remember seeing him at one of the tables holding court. I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. When Jonathan held court is was great. But you had to get him started. "Hey, Jonathan. Tell us about Irwin Allen."

He would look at you. Then..."Irwin Allen! IRWIN ALLEN! Let me tell you about IRWIN ALLEN! Why I remember the time..." 

Anyway. Jonathan was a great man. A nice man. A caring man.

So, Jonathan. Is that okay? Happy now?

It'll do, Pauly. It'll do.






7 comments:

  1. Hey, its *your* blog, it doesn't all have to be about one thing or the other, so don't worry about that. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who enjoyed reading about Mr. Harris, thank you for that great tribute. He's absolutly right about the "bean counters", that's wonderful advice.

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  2. Paul

    Wonderful tribute, and what a deserving subject.

    Jonathan was a fabulous addition to the Freakazoid universe.

    I remember the first time I saw Jonathan Harris on TV. Years before. I must've been eight or nine. Jonathan played the alternately condescending and obsequious hotel manager on "The Bill Dana Show." "Jimenez!" he would snarl at his flustered employee.

    This was the same show that introduced Don Adams to a wide national audience. Don played house detective "Mr. Glick."

    Those three comic voices -- Jonathan Harris, Don Adams and Bill Dana --firing off funny dialog at each other: sitcom heaven.

    Within a year after "The Bill Dana Show" ended its run, Don showed up on "Get Smart" and Jonathan found himself "Lost in Space" as Doctor Smith. "You Ninny!"

    And of course, in today's news: the man inside "Lost in Space's" Robot passed away. Bob May. He was the grandson of Chic Johnson of Olsen and Johnson fame. (As we know, the first 10 or 15 minutes of Olsen and Johnson's "Hellzapoppin'" is one of the great pieces of comic anarchy on film.)

    God bless them all!

    Tom (Ruegger)

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  3. We once asked him if he had a part in the remake of "Lost in Space." Jonathan sneered: "Cameos are for unemployed actors."

    He was never that.

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  4. I shall never want to accept responsibility for withholding another great Paul Rugg story/tribute/anecdote/sentence/photograph/artists interpretation from the public in the name of the DVD... I couldn't have that on my conscience.

    Blog away - because I love reading it on a daily basis and other people should too! You and John's respective blogs have become daily routine for me (just like locking the door 16 times and turning off the light seven times before leaving).

    Besides, I think we've got tons of good surprises on the DVD that there's no way we could ever spoil. You've haven't told anyone how to access the hidden flying space monkey footage, have you? Oh God, I've said too much.

    Troy

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  5. I think you're confusing OCD for Routine there Troy, but as I'm slightly OCD myself, I won't get you heck for it.

    It's part of my routine too. Everyday my husband asks me, "What did you do today?" To which I reply, "I drew some stuff, cleaned some stuff, and Paul/John wrote something funny in his blog."

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  6. I'm not OCD, I just like numbers... I'm like the Rain Man. For example, did you know you posted exactly 248 characters in your comment (305 if you count spaces).

    Definitely... definitely...

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  7. Nice attempt to pass yourself off for a sevant. I bet you get all the girls that way. I see through your lies!

    Mine isn't so cool, it's tourettes. It didn't really manifest itself until I was 18, very frustraiting.

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