Sunday, August 07, 2022

Karyl Miller Resume 2022

                                               Karyl Miller
                                                           Karyl Miller 2022
                                                            Writer- Blogger

Content creator: blog posts, niche articles, newsletters, email copy, landing pages, SEO, research, speeches, dialogue and comedy punch-up and targeted cartoons.

: (Story Editing i.e.: dialogue and comedy punch up): New series of YA books for teenage girls “’Nama Beach High,” - Zondervan Publishing: “New Girl in Town,” “False Friends,” “Fault Lines.”

                                                  HOLLYWOOD HIGHLIGHTS
"The Cosby Show," (pilot and premiere season) BUY: Cosby Show Season One . "My Sister Sam," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show, BUY: The Mary Tyler Moore Show , EMMY AWARD - Best Writing - "Lily Tomlin."

AWARDS: 2020 - Writers Guild of America 101 Best Written TV Series (for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Cosby Show”). Emmy Award Winner, Emmy Nominations (2), Writer's Guild of America Award Nominations (2), The American Academy of Humor Best Writing Award, and the Rolling Stone Magazine TV Show of the Year Award. People’s Choice Awards (2).

BOARD/CHARTER MEMBER: "First Stage" - LA play reading group
FOUNDER - Writers Guild of America Women’s Committee
PRESIDENT - Southern California Cartoonists Society - the San Diego Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society
CHARTER MEMBER – Women in Film

Erma Bombeck Writers Conference U of Dayton
USC Film School, UCLA Film and TV Dept., UCSD, San Francisco State U, UC Irvine, Caltech, Loyola-Marymount U, Writers Guild of America, California Women Lawyers Association, Black Women Lawyers Association.

ORIGNAL SITCOM PILOTS: Exec Producer (show runner) and Writer – "Life of Riley - The Country Music Sitcom," pilot starring Mickey Gilley, Mel Tillis, and Irlene Mandrell for Ozark Video Prods. Original half-hour pilots, re-writes, and consultations on live-action and animated pilots for NBCUniversal and NBCUniversal Family Network. “Millionaires,” sitcom pilot for Norman Lear and CBS. Many half-hour pilots for NBC, ABC, CBS and Showtime. “Meet the Millers” and “Sherman Oaks” for Showtime and Vin di Bona Productions.

DIRECTOR - "Sherman Oaks" sitcom series and pilots "There It Is," sitcom hip-hop pilot for Showtime and Vin di Bona Productions. All B roll and monologues.

ANIMATION: Damon Wayan's "Waynehead," series for Warner Bros. TV. Untitled pilot for Rosie O’Donnell. Consultant, “The New Woody Woodpecker,” “Go Grrrl,” and many others for NBCUniversal TV.

SITCOM SERIES: Supervising Producer and Writer - "My Sister Sam," (starring Pam Dawber and the late Rebecca Schaeffer), "Kate and Allie," "The Cosby Show," Executive Story Consultant, "Love Sydney," (starring Tony Randall) "Diff'rent Strokes," and "Erma Bombeck's Maggie.” Written as Karyl Geld: "Maude," "Sanford & Son," (co-written with Richard Pryor),”Barney Miller," "Bob Newhart," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and many others. IMDb complete list of produced writing credits.

FEATURE SCRIPT: "Scouts," for Kevin Costner's TIG Productions/Warner Bros.

UNION: Writers Guild of America, West


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hillary Can Win By Doing This One Simple Trick...

Hillary can win by doing this one simple trick …Wear the same outfit twice!  Sure it sounds shallow, because it is.  Commenting on the female candidate’s appearance is a sin, especially if you’re a pioneer femi-nazi libtard like me.  But if Hillary is wondering why more young women and more ordinary women aren’t relating to her, well, her endless fashion show of beautiful, butt-covering jackets could be one reason.  Every day, she’s decked out in at least $2000 (my estimate) worth of gorgeous brand-new mature CEOess outfits.  Dare I mention her stunning, perfectly coordinated Statement necklaces?  Yes, they’re fabulou$! I can’t stop myself from wondering who gets Hillary’s hand-me-downs.

It’s hard to be dressed for success these days because everyone is more casual, including the candidates. Do clothes still make the man? We can’t unsee the image of a paunchy Ted Cruz with a plaid shirt precariously stretched over his pillowy midsection.  Dressing casual isn’t for everybody.  Do you want to see Hillary in Carly’s low-rise skinny jeans?  (I apologize for planting that visual in your mind). 

Still, I get where Hillary’s coming from.  A collection of sharp clothes is one of the perqs of earning the big bucks, plus you’re expected to wear sharp clothes for your high-level job.  For the female exec, it’s the vicious cycle of work, shop, work, shop.

Elizabeth Warren is the most perfectly dressed female politician.  She’s mastered the art of being practical with just the right amount of pizzazz.  Warren wears the same basic black pants and black top every day, but she tops it off with collection of brightly colored short mandarin jackets – all the same exact style.  It’s almost a uniform.  Wouldn’t you know Elizabeth Warren doesn’t waste any time choosing an outfit in the morning?  That’s so very Elizabeth Warren.

Another fashion example: Nancy Pelosi. She’s rich.  She could easily put on a fashion show every day if she wanted to.  Instead she wears beautiful mannish pantsuits and same beautiful jade necklace over and over again.  Looks great.  Looks successful enough.

If Hillary hopes to attract more women: NO NEW OUTFITS till November.  She should start wearing each outfit at least 20 times; like a normal woman does so that she can divide the cost of the outfit by the number of times she will wear it in order to justify her guilt. Votes will follow.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bye Bye Boehner

Open Letter to departing John Boehner.

Goodbye Leaker of the House!  Goodbye to your big icy blue watery hound dog eyes.  Goodbye to your Cowardly Lion sentimentality, in short, goodbye to your undiagnosed melancholia.  Only a man could have gotten away with this much excessive bawling.  If you were Jane Boehner, they’d have said you were on the rag, or thrown you in the loony bin or whatever the politically correct term is for the nuthouse these days. 


Goodbye to your not-just-for-St. Patrick’s Day Kelly green wide neckties and your swarthy Man Tan skin.  You were a clown in men’s clothing and fairly easy to draw.  Goodbye to your cigarette smokin’, martini swilling, macho Mad Men persona.  Goodbye to your oily Sinatra swagger, your Vitalis hair, your radio announcer baritone and your condescending, mocking attitude.  You weren’t the most interesting man in the world, but you were certainly the orangest.  I can’t believe I’m going to miss you! 
Karyl Miller


Monday, March 02, 2015

Boehner's Boner

When I first heard about this secret invitation I was so outraged, and still am. To go over the head of our president is so disrespectful. Now I see it as the trend that it is - today we can and do avoid the gatekeepers. You want to be an actress?  make a video and get famous without the permission from a movie studio. Simon and Schuster hated your book? publish it yourself. Our voices will be heard.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

QUITTING COSBY - 12 Years a Writer

            We wrote and filmed four episodes before the "Cosby Show” show went on the air.  My writing partner, Korby Siamis, and I were absolutely convinced that “The Cosby Show” was going to be the biggest flop of all time.  Here’s a cartoon she drew and sent to our agent, Bernie Weintraub.  She drew a sinking ship-- “The S.S. Cosby”-- and stick figures labeled Korby and Karyl swimming back to L.A.  Why?  The cast was wonderful; the writing was top notch.  But live in the studio, the audience reaction seemed luke warm.  They didn’t seem like they were loving it.  No question the writers were living in a bubble (true on all shows) but did our bone-weary exhaustion completely color our perception?  The feminist in me thought who was going to believe Claire is an attorney AND cooks a full meal for six in high heels every night, keeps the house clean with no maid, and why is she not completely and totally exhausted like the rest of the moms in America?  Who is going to believe she’s never mad at Cliff, no matter what he does?  Claire’s a mom who's having it all and she’s got a briefcase that looks empty.  So fake!

            Day One of “The Cosby Show” began at lunch on the 65th floor of 30 Rock in an all glass private party room adjoining the famous Rainbow Room.  This was my 12th year a writer and I already knew the First Day is the Best Day on any TV show because nobody knows anybody yet, so nobody hates anybody yet, etc., etc.  It’s downhill after today.  Still, the views from here are fantastic.  Truth be told, that’s why I took this job.  Not to bob and weave for a comedy superstar (been there, done that), certainly not to stay up all night writing joke after joke till I want to KILL THE PERSON WHO IS KEEPING ME AWAKE!  DISCLOSURE:  I took this job for 1.  A free trip to New York, all expenses paid.  2.  To have fun in New York  3. The $$$$.  4.  To get a break from my rebellious teenage son.

            It was a gorgeous July day.  Spectacular views with all of New York at our feet, literally.  We were gathering for a First Table Reading of our script with Bill and cast.  This would be the first day of everybody meeting everybody else.  There were two long tables.  One table had a script set at each place: our script, Korby’s and my perfect script, a script so wonderfully written it would be filmed First.  On the other table was a bar mitzvah- worthy spread of deli delights on silver platters.  There was a silver coffee urn, fine china and pink tablecloths!  A floral centerpiece!  It doesn’t get any nicer!  I love my job (at least so far)!
            A few NBC executives were milling around along with the William Morris agents (who had packaged the show), Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey (exec producers), and a reporter from TV Guide.  We met our line producer, Caryn Mandabach, who was around thirty and extremely pregnant.  The child actors and their parents were there.  Gorgeous kids have gorgeous parents.  Phylicia Rashad, who was going to play Bill’s wife, was just charming and went around introducing herself and asking us about ourselves.  She loved our script!  We loved her.  How could you not?  Everybody we met complimented us on our script.  We were the writing stars of the day!  “The Cosby Show” will appreciate my writing.  Yay!  Everyone was mingling and nibbling, and NIBBLING.  An hour goes by and we’re sick of nibbling and smiling at each other.  I was already tired, having arrived at 6 AM on the red-eye.  Everyone’s looking over everyone else’s shoulder and keeping an eye out for the man of the (no-longer-lunch) hour, Bill Cosby.
            Suddenly everybody in the room perked up.  That could only mean one thing in show biz: the star is in the building.  Cosby enters with his longtime agent, David Brokaw, over an hour late.  No smiles.  No apologies.  Ouch!

              As Cosby made his way around the room, he could have just stepped from the pages of GQ.  His silk shirt and linen jacket exuded style and star power.  He wears a bulky sterling silver ID bracelet engraved with the words “Camille’s Husband.”  I’m wondering, He needed a reminder?  And why did he have to spoil the picture with the stinky old wet cigar?  What is with men?  Even unlit, don’t they know cigars stink?  Don’t they care they’re driving people away, especially me?  
              After Bill sat down, everybody quickly took a seat at the table.  The director, Jay Sandrich, welcomed everyone and went around the table first introducing the actors and then the writers.  It was like the first day of Camp Success and everybody was smiling and happy to be there on full scholarship.

Cosby was reserved to the point of being almost not friendly.  I tried not to take it personally even though I had fantasized he’d immediately get a kick out of me and think I was cool.  When you’re a major star, everyone wants to be your friend and you have to be careful who you welcome into your inner circle.  We also knew Cosby had wanted black writers on the show.  Carsey and Werner hadn’t found a black writer yet, but were still actively looking.  The title of Producer (which should have been my title) was being held in reserve in case a qualified black writer materialized.  For now, the first “Cosby Show” writing staff of four were one hundred percent white, seventy-five percent Jewish, and fifty percent female.  I hoped Cosby wasn’t going to hold that against us.  However, if I had created a show starring a woman about her life as a woman, I’d be mad if they only hired men to write it.  I’d be furious.  

      Jay Sandrich had directed my second “Mary Tyler Moore “episode, “WJM Tries Harder,” and other episodes of mine over the years.  He was very gracious in introducing us and praised our script.  “They perfectly capture the voices…”  blah blah blah.”  The reading began.  Jay read the stage directions aloud and then the actors jumped in.  It was the first time we had heard our script on its feet and it was pretty exciting.  It’s very gratifying to hear the little chuckles and laughs along the way.  Everyone seemed pleased.
            Korby and I had lifted the theme of our script, “You’re Not a Mother Night,” from one of Cosby’s most enduring monologues where he gives his long-suffering wife a night out at a fancy restaurant.  Claire automatically cuts Bill/Cliff’s meat out of habit from excessive mothering.  Back home after dinner they wind up dancing romantically together in the bedroom, whereupon Bill says, “Let’s get it on.”  They kiss and we fade out.  End of episode.  
            Keshia Knight Pulliam, who was five, sat next to Tom Werner, who was thirty-five.  Like a nice daddy, he shared his script with her and pointed to each word she should read aloud. She was completely adorable.  Everybody loved her.  Malcolm Jamal Warner was perfect and seemed to have already memorized his lines.  All the actors gave it their best with one exception: Bill Cosby.  As the reading went on, Cosby began to mumble his lines into his lap.  He was visibly unhappy and barely projecting his voice.  Obviously Cosby was the only one in the room who hadn’t read the script beforehand.  Everyone exchanged furtive glances of alarm.  The reporter from TV Guide feverishly took notes!  Eventually, just to make sure we picked up on his displeasure; Bill shoved his entire cigar into the side of his cheek so that only a few inches stuck out.  His line readings became indecipherable.  I started getting heart palpitations.  I couldn’t wait for the reading to be over so I could throw myself out the 65th story window onto 50th Street.  By Fade Out, the Wrath of Cosby permeated the room.  There was polite applause, but the director was quick to announce that there were “a few kinks in the script” that needed to be worked out.  "Perfect, but with kinks?" That's a new one. 
            When you sign on to staff write a new TV show, you never know if that job will be a dream or a disaster.  For instance, when we signed on to staff writer Tony Randall’s “Love Sidney,” the fired writers from the previous season told me, “Tony Randall's  a maniac and a monster.  There’s constant rewrites, no days OR nights off, so if you’re taking the job just to see New York, forget it.  You’re never leaving the Writer’s Room.”  We took the job anyway.  Tony turned out to be a doll.  I saw New York and had the time of my life.  It turned out the previous season, Tony’s wife had been gravely ill, so Tony can be forgiven for his uptightness.  His anger was temporary.  I realized you never know the pressures that go on in another person’s life that can turn them into a Gila monster and you,  his lunch.     
            Like everyone in America, I loved the stand-up Cosby, the “I Spy” Cosby and the irrepressible Jell-O Cosby.  But there was a new Cosby, a late night talk show guest - Cosby who was a snarling preacher.  He was scary.  I told myself maybe Reverend Cosby was grumpy because he needed his own sitcom.  Cosby wasn’t doing “The “Cosby Show” for the money.  He already had all the money in the world.  IMHO Cosby was doing a sitcom because it was the biggest pulpit he could find.  Reverend Cosby had a message and he wanted America to hear it.  I could totally relate because I write for the same reason.  I hoped and prayed, now that Cosby had a sitcom bully pulpit, he’ll morph back into the Jell-O Cosby. 
            A private meeting was called post haste with Cosby, Brokow, Carsey, Werner, Sandrich, and our exec producer/head writer whom I’ll call Geeky.  All of us little people were sent out into the hall like schoolchildren while the grown-ups held their secret talks.  If Geeky doesn’t defend our script, Korby and I will go from stars to schmucks in thirty minutes flat.  It was all in the hands of Geeky.  Heaven help us.

The upshot of the private confab is that Bill had “serious problems” with our episode.  He had an idea of how to “fix” our script, but a new set will have to be built.  Karyl and Korby’s script is set aside and a re-write on the next almost written script – will begin.  A script by (surprise, surprise) Geeky.

Bill’s “improvement” on our script?  Instead of a restaurant, Bill takes Claire to a hotel room and the dinner is brought via room service.  That way, Bill reasoned, sex can take place immediately following the meal.  Really?  As a woman and mom, if my husband gave me a night out away from mothering, I hope we wouldn’t spend it hidden away in some hotel room eating notoriously terrible Room Service food just so we can conveniently have sex after dinner.  I would be furious, thinking I hunted  for the perfect dress, got my hair done, and got waxed SO HE COULD HIDE ME IN A HOTEL ROOM?!  This hotel room idea was a man’s fantasy of what a woman/mom wanted, but it was actually what the man wanted.  And the man was my boss.
            More bad news for me:   The Cosby Show wasn’t going to be shot at Rockefeller Center because “Saturday Night Live” takes over the studio.  Been there, done that.  We were going to be working out of Brooklyn.  I HATE working in the middle of nowhere.  PROOF: In my previous career as a dress designer, I quit a perfectly good job because I had to leave Manhattan to work in a factory in Long Island City.

              NBC Studios Brooklyn was a decrepit brick building in the heart of a run-down Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  Midwood, Brooklyn is famous for only one thing:  It is the birthplace of Woody Allen.  Is he still living there?  No, of course not.  He moved away and for good reason: There were no decent restaurants, no fashion boutiques, none of the New York big city sights and sounds I had taken this job for. 

              Like on all new shows, the offices were makeshift and temporary.  There were never any actual offices for us to work in.  Over the years I’ve worked in myriad hellholes including trailers, dressing rooms, hotel rooms, and once in the back of a speeding truck.  Our producer had rented two apartments to use for offices in a pre WWII residential building near NBC.  The groaning elevator took around two years to go up two floors and reeked of Ben Gay and matzo balls.  The tiny dark living room was set up with a card table and steel folding tin chairs: our ad hoc Writer’s Room.  So inspirational, especially the previous tenant’s granny-like wallpaper!  Caryn, Tom and Marcy had the apartment above us along with the secretarial pool and mountainous piles of office supplies.  A fire hazard waiting to happen.

              The desks and typewriters were rented and they looked it.  The secretaries had a new-fangled thing that only one secretary knew how to use and nobody would dare touch -- a computer.  Instead of the Empire State Building and the stunning Manhattan panorama, my view was of Avenue M, the main drag, with its ancient kosher butcher shops, candy stores and low-end baby boutiques.  Instead of spotting fashionable women dashing in and out of Saks Fifth Avenue, I would watch the prudently dressed Orthodox Jewish moms in their wigs and white tights with their enormous broods of children in tow marching to Yeshiva school.  I think: This is the cult branch of my religion and like all religions it’s about the subjugation of women.  These are the thoughts that float through my mind while writing comedy.   

              Tuesday we assembled on the dark, freezing NBC sound stage for a cast reading of the new first Cosby episode.  We writers had worked past two AM writing Geeky’s script in a sub-zero conference room in NBC 30 Rock.  Isn’t a freezing room a form of torture?  This is why I know I wouldn’t last two days at Gitmo.  I hate being cold and I hate being tired and, guess what?  I’m both and I haven’t been on the job one week.

To those former bosses who have accused me of having an "attitude problem,"  I say, Fuck You!  Fuck you for keeping me up all night because you didn’t think the script was funny enough!  I guarantee you I was funnier at eleven than I am at one AM.  Why can’t you make a fuckin’ decision?!  But we don’t get to go home till the executive producer, the King of All Comedy declares the royal script sufficiently funny.  So we’re being punished with sleep deprivation for being not funny enough.  Happens on EVERY show.  Everything is taking twice as long as it should.  My bosses are always the kings and queens of comedy and we, their mere court jesters.  Been there, done that.  The thrill was gone.  Way.

              The “Cosby Show” had arranged for a Town Car to pick the writers up in Manhattan and deliver us to Hell every day.  There was BabyCakes, Geeky, Tom Werner, Korby, me and our driver, Jupee, from India.  We were Jewish sardines in a Crown Victoria.  As we emerged from the Midtown Tunnel I took a wistful last glance at my beloved Statue of Liberty.  I said a silent goodbye to her and to the beauty of Manhattan.  Soon we were at NBC in Brooklyn.  We went from the hot July sun into the dark, dank mildew-y freezing NBC studio.  There were the usual bleachers set up` across from the familiar Huxtable household set.

Our group had grown since yesterday.  Our numbers now included stagehands and wardrobe people.  New York Child Protective Services laws mandate that besides a parent or guardian for each child actor, a social worker and a tutor must be on set at all times. 

              Bill had an entourage of two: A personal chauffeur and valet who held Bill’s cigar for him while he was acting, and Bill’s teenage son, Ennis, who was a “gofer.”  Ennis was a tall skinny kid of sixteen.  He was shy and, like everybody else, seemed a little intimidated by his dad.  It must be difficult if your real dad is everybody’s fantasy dad.  Celebs’ kids are notoriously screwed up and spoiled, but Ennis exuded good upbringing.  He was a lovely kid.  Sadly, ten years later Ennis was murdered in a random robbery on an LA freeway off-ramp.

              The cast reading went well.  Cosby was more engaged than when he was reading our script.  He only swallowed a quarter of his cigar!  Naturally, Geeky was hailed as the show’s savior.  He stood up and took a big exaggerated bow while everyone applauded wildly.  Did Geeky share the credit or acknowledge those of us writers who lost sleep making his good script great?  He did not.  Not a peep.  So now I return the favor by omitting his name.  

              After the reading there was a break before rehearsal.  Bill/Cliff’s doctor’s office set, which didn’t exist in the abbreviated pilot presentation, had been built and the producers wanted to show it to him.  The writers went to see it, too.  Bill was playing a gynecologist, but when he saw the stirrups on the examining table he winced.  Apparently he was only thinking of Cliff being a cute baby-deliverer but neglected to contemplate the yucky lady parts place where babies came from.  He had the prop man remove the stirrups immediately.

              BabyCakes and I were poking around backstage when Bill came by on his way to his dressing room.  “Ah, my writers!  Gotta minute?  Let’s talk about some stories.”  He seemed fairly upbeat.  Maybe yesterday was an anomaly.  I was nervous as we followed Bill backstage in the dark, through a labyrinth of giant black curtains.

              Bill’s dressing room was tiny, old and cold, with exposed brick like a tenement.  Cosby obviously hadn’t personalized it yet.  There were no pictures or telegrams or the typical things you’d find in an actor’s lair.  We sat across from Bill on a threadbare pink satin piano bench that was wedged into an alcove.  I immediately took out my notebook and pen, in case any good story ideas got pitched.  Since I had failed to win Bill over on day one, I was hoping this was my second chance.

              Bill sees my pen and says, “Don’t bother with that – let’s just talk a little and get acquainted.”  I thought, Great.  I put down my pen.  Bill asks, “You’re four- eleven, right?”  Turns out, so was Bill’s mother! Cosby likes short ladies!  I’m IN!  “I’m going to call you ‘Legs’,” he declared.  I took it as a compliment.  

              BabyCakes, unable to let the attention fall on anyone else for too long, launched into his I’m just a first-time writer and humble country boy show.  He says with wide- eyed wonder, “I cannot believe I’m sitting here with Bill Cosby!  I was only in Hollywood for one month!  I’m from Podunk.  If a guy like me wanted to learn about jazz, where would he start?”  Cosby’s love of jazz is well known.  Was it shameless pandering or genuine interest on BabyCakes part?  It didn’t matter. Bill completely perked up at the thought of schooling this goofy-cute and funny young man in the nuances of Dizzy Gillespie et al.  In my mind, I rolled my eyes.  There’s one on every show just like there is in every office and every classroom.  They’re not bad guys.  They’re young, attractive, fun and they have an uncanny talent for getting ahead in this world.  BabyCakes was just the newest! BabyCakes’ greatest desire was to be “SFL”-- meaning, “set for life.”  A man in his late 20s was planning his retirement.

              Cosby turns his attention to me and asks what other shows I’ve written.  Before I can begin BabyCakes interrupts and says, “She knows Richard Pryor.  She wrote a ‘Sanford and Son’ with him! She won an Emmy with Richard for writing on the first two Lily Tomlin specials.”  BabyCakes was telling Cosby that Other black comics liked Karyl and Bill should too… or something.

Whatever BabyCakes intention, it backfired.  Upon hearing the name Richard Pryor, Bill’s attitude completely changed.  Just as he had done the day before at Rockefeller Center, Bill could barely speak.  He stared at his knees and said very softly, “No… like… dir-ty talk. “  Then the unlit wet cigar went all the way into the cheek and I knew I was shit after all.

               BabyCakes, ever the eager beaver, jumps in, “Got any story ideas, sir?”  Cosby was in charge of accepting or rejecting story ideas, so finding a story Bill liked was a big leg up on a script assignment.  “Yes I do,” said Bill, whereupon he put his hands behind his head, looked at the ceiling and rattled off a slew of absolutely fabulous story ideas.  Some ideas were kernels, others more, but all eventually became scripts.  BabyCakes and I were writing as fast as we could, but BabyCakes took dictation like an ace stenographer on speed.  I’d never seen anything like it.  At that moment I realized, if you could write fast enough, you could become the star writer on this show because Cosby himself would tell you what to write.  The best Cosby writer was Bill Cosby. 

               Wednesday afternoon there’s a run-through on the stage so the writers can see what’s working in the script and what isn’t.  Secretaries, interns, parents and guardians of child actors, extras and stand-ins are summoned to take up seats in the bleachers and to laugh where it’s funny.  The writer’s personalized director’s chairs hadn’t come yet so the writers sat in the back row of the stands.

              There was a scene in Geeky’s script where the doorbell rings.  Tempestt Bledsoe/Vanessa runs from the kitchen to the front door yelling, “I’ll get it!” and opens the door.  Malcolm enters.  Suddenly Bill steps out of character and yells, “Cut!  Stop the music!  Everybody hold your places.”  All eyes are on Bill.  I thought it was shocking.  The director is the only person on set ever allowed to call “Cut.”  It was a breach of show business protocol.  I held my breath wondering what would happen.  Was this the tip of the iceberg as far as Cosby’s controlling the show?  Short answer: yes.

              Bill had a serious problem.  “Is this little girl going to open the door without knowing who’s on the other side?  I gulped.  Cosby was so right, but I knew fixing this minor detail meant yet another late night rewrite.  Why?  Because, it’s not going to be simply Vanessa asking, “Who is it?” and Malcolm answering, “It’s Theo.”  That would be too easy and not funny.  It’s got to be something cute like Vanessa saying, “Who is it?”  And Theo saying, “Come on, open the door.  You know who it is.  It’s me!”  And then Vanessa might say something like, “Me who?”  And then Theo would say, “Theo, your brother.”  Then Vanessa would say, sassily, “Oh really?  You got any proof?”  Etcetera.  Add that exchange and the script will be a page too long and we’ll have to cut some lines elsewhere in the script.  With Geeky, THAT could take hours and HOURS.   

               “The WRITERS don’t have a problem with the door?”  Bill booms.

              Geeky mutters to me out of the side of his mouth, “Obviously we didn’t have a problem when we wrote it.  It’s a minor detail.  It’s a dramatic license, for Christ sakes.”  Bill doesn’t want to let it go.  He shades his eyes, squinting up into the dark bleachers.  “Somebody, turn up the lights so I can see who I’m talking to!” he yells.  BLAM!  The houselights come on.  I have a heart attack right then and there.  Geeky whispers to me, “Stand your ground, this is bull.  We’d still got the pilot to finish writing tonight.  I need some sleep.  You gotta help me out. ”   

              It gets worse.  Cosby’s voice bellows, “Will the writers who are parents please stand up.”  I want to die.  Geeky and I stand.  All heads turn to us.  “Do you let your children open the door without knowing who’s on the other side?  What about you, Legs?”  I’m dying.  Cosby already hates me twice, for my script and for Richard Pryor.  Now I’m about to dig myself another hole?  “Legs, do you let your child answer the door without asking?”  

               “Yes,” I peep, unconvincingly.  There was no time to explain that our door had a fan shaped window in the top, so we could see easily who was on the other side.  Of course my son knew not to just open the door for anybody, but Geeky was depending on me to hold the line with him against Cosby.  Cosby is now glaring at me like the bad mom and/or lying writer that I am.  ”And it’s okay with you?” he asks with great disgust.  All I could do was grin and shrug my shoulders sheepishly. 

              Next it was Geeky’s turn.  At last, Geeky will rescue me.  “How about my Executive Pro-Doocer?  Do you let your children answer the door without asking?  ” booms Bill.  Geeky says, “No sir, I don’t let them open the door ever, even to go out.  I pass them through the window, but only to people we know really well, like their grandparents.”  That gets a chuckle from everyone, including Cosby.  That leaves me standing in a steaming pile of bad parent poo.  Thank you Geeky!  “Back to the drawing board, kiddies!”  Bill says pointing at the writers.  We worked on BOTH scripts that night.  At three AM we finally finished the pilot script scenes, which were going to be filmed Friday night along with Geeky’s episode.  

              The Cosby schedule almost never improved.  Since there had been no pre-production time there was no backlog of scripts.  All of the freelance scripts needed complete re-writes.  Our scripts were typewritten which made the entire pre-computer process of assembling a daily script amazingly, fantastically, time consuming!  We could never catch up.  In our spare time, we were tasked with reading from a pile of scripts to find writers worthy of replacing us when we went back to LA after the ninth show.  We often worked all day Sunday too, and only got to quit at 4 PM because that was the deadline for Monday’s script to be typed and duplicated.   

              Wednesday’s breach of parenting ethics lead to the hiring of Dr. Alvin Poussant, Ph.D. Poussant was a psychologist and a longtime crony of Bill’s.  The good head doctor was going to review each script to make sure that it passed psychological muster.  To me the whole arrangement had the stink of censorship and I hate all censorship.  My motto is: stay away from experts or they will SUCK the comedy out of your script.  In my experience there’s no greater comedy-killer than psychologists.  Putting a shrink on the payroll meant we were going to do more than entertain.  It meant we were going to TEACH.  Reverend Cosby wants to sell his code of ethics to as large an audience as possible.  The sitcom is his forum.  

              Bill wanted to show the TV audience THIS is the proper way to live.  If you have these Huxtable morals and standards, you will lead a good, purposeful life.  Cosby was doling out life lessons, just like Garry Marshall did on Happy Days and Tony Randall did on all his shows.  The Cosby pilot was the perfect example:  Cleo and Cliff are in the bedroom.  The son tells the father he plans to drop out of school.  Bill sets Theo straight with a funny money demo.  If that didn’t get the message across, Cliff says, “I brought you into the world and I’ll take you out!”  The father says essentially, “I will kill you if you drop out of school and become a bum.”  That was Bill’s message to youth and I couldn’t agree more. 

              The TV Guide article came out about the first Cosby cast reading.  The writer described Korby and me as the “slack-jawed writers” reacting with shock to Cosby’s trashing our script.  I guess it was some sort of vindication.

              After we got home, Tom and Marcy invited us to the Cosby wrap party at the LA Museum of Science and Industry, to a Cosby Emmy party at the David Geffen Theater, and to a slew of Cosby related events.  Months later I visited the gorgeously remodeled NBC Studios in Brooklyn.  Besides putting in new beautiful offices, they had a professional kitchen with a chef cooking healthy lunches and dinners for the writers.  I finally got to meet one of our replacement writers -- a guy I like to think I had helped discover from a pile of scripts on Marcy’s desk.  I had read his off-Broadway play. With a name like Matt Williams, I was sure Cosby would finally get his wish and have an excellent black writer.  He got an excellent writer, albeit white.  Best of all Bill was more than gracious when he spotted his old friend “Legs.”  He said he didn’t know I was leaving till I was already gone.  I guess that’s an example of the deep separation between Stage and Writer’s Room.  I was relieved Reverend Cosby still had a little Jell-O left in him.   

“The Cosby Show” was a milestone for women in sitcoms.  We had a female executive producer and female line producer, plus two women writers (although technically, as partners, we were only counted as one person).  I felt like women were finally making it in sitcom.  One day on stage I noticed our producer, Caryn Mandabach, was missing.  I asked around and someone told me she had her baby yesterday.  “Oh.”  A little while later I spotted Caryn walking around on stage and she was still big as a house.  “Oh Caryn, you’re here.  Some idiot just told me you had your baby.”  And Caryn said, “I did, yesterday.  He’s up in the stands with his nurse.”  Caryn waved to a smiling toothless black lady in a white uniform.  The lady waved back while holding a teeny, tiny one-day old baby.  ONE DAY!?  ONE DAY?!  And she’s back to work, like she skipped work yesterday in order to get her roots touched up?  What was the world of working women coming to?  
              (The day after I gave birth I was still in the hospital, walking bowlegged while straddling an industrial strength sanitary pad the size of a canoe.  My hair was in a point.  I was exhausted, stressed and so overwhelmed it lead to a case of post-partum depression so severe it lasted for eighteen years!  Did I rush back to work?  I did not.  I took six months.) 

              My generation of working women accepted the old Ginger Rodgers dictum that said to get ahead women had to do what men did “backwards and in high heels.”  This was my 12th year in show biz.  Caryn represented a new generation of Hollywood working women.  She couldn’t take a few days off to have a baby?  Now we’re supposed to give birth in the field, tie the umbilical cord with our teeth and go back to picking cotton?  What the hell!  If Caryn set the new standard, I couldn’t compete.  I had neither the stamina nor the ambition, but Caryn did.  Eventually it paid off to the tune of three hundred million dollars when “The Cosby Show” was sold into syndication.  No one can say she didn’t earn it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

JFK Assassination

I'm reposting this memory piece on the murder of JFK. 

John Kennedy Inaugural , 50 Years Today
by Karyl Miller

50 years ago today John Kennedy was sworn in as our knight in shining armor. I was in high school, but I would have voted for him if I could have. For those of you not fortunate to have been there suffice to say, Kennedy was the white Obama. We Democrats just loved him. He was young, he was smart. He was a gorgeous man with a gorgeous family. He shared our values. We just loved him.

50 years have gone by and I STILL can’t watch Kennedy videos without getting as lump in my throat. I remember watching Kennedy’s Inaugural speech – we were so thrilled. So much hope, so alive. And then, the opposite. I realize now I will never get over the loss of Kennedy. Every Kennedy image reminds me of what might have been and brings me back to that horrific day when we were hearing the impossible. “The president’s been shot.” I was thinking Not OUR president. They must mean some president from some backwards country where they’re always overthrowing each other. Not here. We don’t shoot presidents in America.

I was a just-out-of-high-school showroom girl at a wholesale hat company in the legendary garment center in New York. The switchboard girl said “The president’s been shot.” I thought that maybe they meant our boss, Mr. Abramson, the president of the hat company - whom I hated, but not that much. Someone hated Mr. Abramson even more than I did? At least that’s what I told myself when they sent me to the bank to make the deposits. 

The garment center was jammed, as it always was back when we still manufactured clothing right there in NYC USA. This was the hub. The joint was jumping. Trucks were honking and double parking and backing in and out of driveways. People are always yelling at each other and flipping each other off. Sidewalks were teaming with Puerto Ricans navigating racks and racks of clothing between the salesmen, the masses,  the 6-foot models all painted up and scurrying to their next job. 

1407 Broadway was the Mecca of it all. There was always a line up of chauffeured black Cadillac limousines circling the building waiting for their owners – the top designers who worked there. As I got closer I realized every chauffeur had his door open and a crowd gathered around, trying to hear the radio. If you accidentally made eye contact with a stranger, you exchanged worried looks. Everyone was wishing Please don’t let it be true. The people closest to the radios passed the info back to us. I heard what sounded like “presidente” in fifty different languages. Then I heard the word “morte,” which I guessed meant the news was very bad indeed.

My heart sank. I had to stop fooling myself about Mr. Abramson. I had to accept the fact that our beloved president John Kennedy was shot and killed. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, they got worse with more and more dying in Vietnam. Then they killed Martin and Bobby – Bam! Bam! Back to back in 60 days.  We boomers and beyond had the optimism beat out of us. That’s what happens when they take away your heroes. It's not just Kennedy I mourn today. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Filner vs. Weiner

Women Wonder:  What if Mayor Filner sexted us and Weiner Frenched us?  Would that be better?

Today every woman in my Zumba group agreed we would die if our mayor, Bob Filner, stuck his tongue down our throats.  As a Democrat, nothing makes me madder than Democrats behaving badly.  My opinion of Weiner the-wienie-waver?  I‘ve never sexted but certainly wouldn’t do it with a stranger, especially one who called himself Carlos Danger.  How can you say that name without laughing?  Wasn’t the name Weiner funny enough? – Especially when you’re sending photos of same?  Carlos Danger, the world’s most in-teresting dick.

Before they had a word for sexual harassment at work, my generation of women called it “having a job.”  By today’s standards, I‘ve been harassed on almost every job I’ve ever had. In the sixties, being harassed was the price a woman paid for the privilege of being one of the boys (though paid less).  We trained ourselves to ignore the silly little men and their pathetic attempts at flirtation. 

Filner’s excuse for his behavior is: he’s from the Mad Men generation where harassing women was a time-honored business activity.  Oh, yes, I remember it well.  Women had to be good sports or we’d be out of a job. An occasional swat on the butt?  Fine. Rubbing my shoulders?  No big deal.  Telling an occasional dirty joke?  No big whoop.  Forced Frenching?  NOT OKAY!  Never was and still isn’t!

I remember the first time the subject of harassment hit the news.  At first no one was sure know how to pronounce harassment.  Was the accent on the ha or the ass?  It was during the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Anita Hill, an attorney and former Thomas underling (at the EEOC, ironically) came forward and accused Thomas of harassment.  She was forced to recount the most embarrassing details of Thomas' crude and dumb and on television.  Not one woman in America doubted Hill’s story.  It was obvious this refined and serious woman didn’t dream up something about “a pubic hair on a coke can.”  Or a porno movie called “Long Dong Silver.” Thomas was obviously guilty (as far as women were concerned).

The entire country was glued to the hearings.  Men couldn’t believe or understand why Hill didn’t quit. Women couldn’t understand why men couldn’t understand why a woman would just ignore the harassment.  It was a way of life for working women!  More than a few couples broke up arguing over the subject.

Besides Anita Hill, there were five other women waiting in the wings to testify against Thomas, but they weren’t allowed.  If the five other women had testified, would Thomas be a justice on the Supreme Court today?  Would a man who obviously knew he was breaking the rules be rewarded with a lifetime job interpreting the constitution?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rebecca Schaeffer 7/18/89

Rebecca Schaeffer 7/18/89
Actress, gun violence victim, forever 21. 
Remember her tomorrow. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Don't Take Your Daughters to Work Day

Thursday is Take Our Kids To Work Day. Since women are still only making 70 cents to a man's dollar, let's not show up for work at all. Maybe it would benefit women more if we just said no to the gyno dollars and let the whole damn office, restaurant, store, school, hospital and factory fall apart without us. 

After a day spent NOT taking our daughters to work, let's get together in our back yards and light up our barbecues, but instead of cooking dinner, let's re-enact a moment from feminist folklore: Let's burn our bras! Let's toss our foam-filled Victoria's Secrets onto the flames. Let a bonfire of the bras send out a toxic smoke signal that says "We're raising a stink because we want the financial equality we were promised years ago and we want it today!"  


Friday, March 08, 2013

International Womens' Day

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio 
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pope Resigns

 Protected Roger Mahoney who protected numerous child rapists.  
Only he knows the whole terrible truth.
Good riddance and may he be haunted by his misdeeds.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dear Abby RIP

If I could be any other writer, I always wanted to be Dear Abby.  Dishing out homespun advice and Jewish wisdom to the confused masses seemed like a dream job.  I was Abby’s biggest fan and one day I got to meet her.  I was writing on a new family sitcom created by Erma Bombeck.  Erma was the Executive Producer of “Maggie” and she was the sweetest and easiest boss I ever had.  Erma knew absolutely everybody. Behind Erma’s desk was hung an enormous patchwork quilt, each square containing a famous person’s autograph embroidered.  The daily parade of luminaries who came to take Erma to lunch was amazing – one day in walked Ann Richards, the governor of Texas.  But toping them all, for me, was when Dear Abby walked in, resplendent in her trademark helmet hair.

Like every woman in America, I have a treasure-trove of yellowing Abby columns on my fridge and I insisted on recounting them to Abby before I would let Abby and Erma leave for their lunch.  Abby was more than gracious while I ticked them off.

          Here are a few of my Abby faves:

1. A poem called FORGIVNESS
The friend who ran off with your wife, Forgive him for his lust, The chum who sold you phony stocks, Forgive his breach of trust; The pal who schemed behind your back, Forgive his evil work; And while you’re done, forgive yourself for being such a jerk.

2. “Regret is the cancer of life.”

3. A story about a teacher who had her students write down one good thing about each person in the class.  The teacher then copied them over and gave each student a list of 30 positive things others had said about them.  An Abby reader died and the list was found in his wallet.  He had carried it for forty years.

4. Letter writer Lois in New York didn’t ask for Abby’s advice but sent some of her own pearls of wisdom about not trusting male nurses because “men are the adulterers, the child molesters of the world…”  I thought Lois that was pretty funny and I guess so did Abby.  Abby will be missed.

Karyl, sad in San Diego 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

White House Lunch

                           Yes it's tasteless and the drawing isn't good, but did U laugh?