In Brief— In Part 3, Bay describes some of the reminiscences of his years with Fox Broadcasting Company, the ups, downs and in-betweens, the stars, the management, the hiccups and anything else that occurs to him before he moves on.
Glamor and Character-Assassination—
How about a little on FBC’s talent? Some of the actors on early FBC shows went on to become stars:
Johnny Depp, one of the leads in 21 Jump Street, has gone on to major film stardom. Though I never met him, he was described as greasy and ill-kempt. That was then; I have no idea regarding his appearance now.
Brad Pitt made a guest appearance on 21 Jump Street and was a principal in a short-lived anthology segment that aired on FBC. He has, as we all know, become a major star, is married to Angelina Jolie and has six kids. I’ve never met him either.
Jim Carrey was featured on In Living Color as the burn-scarred Fire Marshall Bill. He is reported to have said that if he hadn’t become a comedian he would be in a tower in Texas shooting at people. I believe the report. I’ve seen him on the set of In Living Color, a huge but possibly fragile ego wrapped in a cloak of attempted invisibility…except on-camera. Mr. Carrey is one of my least favorite people.
No doubt there are several others, not least executives and producers, who have gone on to greater fame and wealth…or death. I have probably forgotten them…as we all will be.
A few of the FBC shows deserve mention. Married…With Children, the long-lived show that may even be showing today in some late night timeslot, was one of the two most professionally done sitcoms I ever experienced. It starred—among other worthys— Ed O’Neil and Katy Sagal and was the product of Ron Leavitt and Michael Moye who were always courteous toward me. Never once in my experience was there a need for a reshoot. The cast was always ready; the weekly rehearsal and the show always went off on time. I still have the T-shirt signed by the group that was given me when I retired.
About the much-ballyhooed complaint of the woman from Michigan saying that Married…With Children was disgusting, the less said, the better. Thanks to her feckless whine, it put the fledgling FBC on the map and bothered Barry Diller not a whit.
In Living Color was another show that was handled professionally. In spite of the ulcers they must have developed, my weekly appearances on the set found Keenan Ivory Wayans and Tamara Rawitt always polite, calm and professional. Initially, I had concerns about the two gay reviewers played by Damon Wayans and David Grier because of my contacts with representatives of gay organizations, but they were largely put to rest by the positive embrace of the characters by the gay community. The only ripple was in the live half-time show during the Super Bowl when Damon and David “outed” the athlete Carl Lewis. Lewis complained, but his being gay was widely rumored and the ripple faded quickly. Carrey’s over-the-top portrayal of burn-scarred Fire Marshall Bill was a concern to fire professionals, but Keenan toned down the makeup and the complaints subsided.
Two other of the many shows on FBC deserve mention here: The Simpsons and The X-Files. The Simpsons is, as everybody knows, an irreverent take-off on reality. One of my fond memories of that show was a beer-burp of a meeting with an agency man for Anheuser-Busch who complained about how the show denigrated Busch Gardens. What is the world coming to if we allow one of the icons of America to be lampooned? Linda handled the show masterfully and can no doubt regale you with tales of The Simpsons, a genuinely worthwhile show.
The X-Files was sliced baloney that way too many people believe is the truth albeit one that is cunningly hidden from us by the government. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson played two credulous FBI agents who investigated otherworldly powers in defense of God, Country and the American way-of-life. Curse those flying saucer aliens!
Having described a few of my numerous recollections and my guiding philosophy, I will end this part with my resignation from FBC in 1994.
Burnt out by eight years of stress, I called a departmental meeting and told the staff that I was resigning to move to Sweden. Shocked silence filled the room. Following my announcement, I met with David Grant to tell him and to make a strong recommendation for Maurie to take over my chair. Grant’s dislike for Maurie led him to instantly shrug off my reasoning. He jumped at the chance to appoint the man of color I had hired earlier. The heir-apparent was a ho-hum, frequently absentee editor, and not of the quality needed to head the department. It was another of Grant’s ham-handed decisions that came back to haunt FBC.
Grant not only made BS&P’s task considerably harder, but he rose to higher office within the company…of course. After all, Murdoch’s anointment of the ultra-partisan Roger Ailes to steer the forthcoming Fox News gives a revealing picture of the Great Man’s thinking. I have long suspected that my resignation letter to top management detailing Grant’s conflicts-of-interest may have been an incentive in explaining his rise within the company. In any case, I departed FBC in October of 1994 without fanfare as if I had never existed. Ah-h, the corporate world.
And so ends this part of my recollections of the eight years I spent accumulating stress at FBC. My memories are not all there, but I have discussed my sometimes unconventional philosophy, provided glimpses of FBC’s management and a few of the stars and shows. Should you have missed some of my observations in Parts 1 and 2, you can read what you missed by tracking down below this piece. Next week will be what I believe is the final part of this trip down Memory Lane.
If you have any comments or questions, let me know and I will respond…assuming the brain keeps working.