Category Archives: Emmys

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Rocky, Jack & TV’s Golden Age
Part Two

by John D. Ferguson

The wannabe TV scribe meets the show’s head writer who is arrogance personified. 1,637 words. Part One. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Manhattan – 1954

I set up my new working area right by the only window in the room. The glass pane was so filthy you couldn’t see if it was night or day.

Milky came over to inspect. “It’s so crowded in here, Rocky, that you’re gonna have to lose some weight or park your ass out the window to make room.”

I decided to join in. “Is that a window or am I looking at a large glass of tomato juice?”

Milky thought this over and a little smile came to his face. “Okay, not bad. But take my advice: you’re gonna be dealing with four of the smartest and funniest people in television so you better stay on your toes or you’ll be eaten alive. You know how I know this? You see that Emmy award on the shelf?”

I looked over at the bookshelf that hadn’t seen a dust rag in years and found the Emmy with a bra hanging off one of its wings.

“This ’53 Emmy,” Milky continued, “tells you we are the best comedy writing team in television, at least for last year. And that…”

He stopped in mid-sentence, looking at the bookshelf and then around the room. He went to each desk and looked underneath. He even searched in the wastepaper basket and in the closet. He stopped and rubbed his chin and then threw up his hands. He looked over at Hattie.

“Where the hell is it?”

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Rocky, Jack & TV’s Golden Age
Part One

by John D. Ferguson

A wannabe TV writer starts his dream job amid the stuff and staff of nightmares. 2,220 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Manhattan – 1954

I guess it was the mid-fifties; the only way I can visualize New York in those days was in the leafy fall and the cold gray days of winter. It comes back to me like one of those art house films. Everything seemed painted in white, black and gray.

I was living a great life back then. I’d survived the Korean War and dodged working at my father’s bookkeeping firm by using the G.I. Bill to get into City College. That’s where I graduated with my English Lit degree and decided to practice my new craft in the NBC mailroom. A great job if you have no other ambitions in show business. You make all the right contacts and you have a little gambling book on the side. If you don’t screw up the mail, you’ll have a job for life. It was there I came to know Mort Schumacher, the Head of Programming, and started dumping my scripts into his mail slot.

I did this for three months: banging away at my father’s old Underwood at night and finishing a script every two weeks. The first one I personally handed to Mr. Schumacher and told him how much I wanted to write for television and why it was my life’s ambition to become the Chekhov of the electronic media age, and on and on. After, I’d just leave little notes attached: “Here’s another one! Hope you enjoy… Rocky.” Or, “Cranked this out in forty-eight hours and no sleep and seventeen cups of coffee. If you get the chance, please look it over… Rocky.”

My real name was Lucius Bauderchantz and my family called me Luther and my friends, Lucky. It was in the service — because of my stocky build, curly dark hair and bent nose — that they started to call me Rocky, after Marciano. This confused the hell out of my parents; when people would call the house and ask for Lucky or Rocky, mom and dad weren’t sure if they’d forgotten about another son hidden somewhere.

All of my hard work finally paid off one day when I was summoned to Mort Schumacher’s office on the thirty-eighth floor, all brass fixtures and wood paneling.

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Four

by Michael Barrie

The L.A. psychologist follows the seductive allure of his new-found showbiz fame. 3,152 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


“The mailbox is full and cannot accept messages at this time.” What a difference an anonymous tip A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBmakes.

Say hello to Dr. Dennis Corbin, Hollywood guru. My client list now rivals that of a boutique theatrical agency. The driveway is a Red Carpet arrival ceremony, sans couture. I feel bad for Caroline. She held onto Dennis Corbin stock forever then bailed before it popped. Like selling Apple in 1997 before Steve Jobs’ return.

Sitting before me is my latest celeb. Welcome to Corbin World, Monica. You may have seen her standup on one of the late night shows. Monica Reardon, with her Nordic noir hair, tattooage and piercings. I know what you guys are thinking: get a load of those big tats.

She started out doing random, disconnected jokes: I stuck a pin in a pincushion and my couch dropped dead. I like to feed unpopped corn to pigeons and watch them explode in the sun. Realized non-sequitur comedy was a dead-end and developed more personal material. The result was a trifecta of well-received HBO specials: Potty Mouth, Old Maid, and No Immediate Survivors. She dug deep and hit a gusher.

At the moment, she’s fidgeting with a soft pack of Pall Malls, unfiltered.

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Three

by Michael Barrie

When he’s thanked on TV, the L.A. shrink tries to become Hollywood’s new must-see. 2,354 words. Part One. Part Two. Part Four. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


It’s one of those nights, rare in L.A., when you can hear the quiet. There’s a faint but audible electric buzz.  A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBThe Adirondack chair is as hard and cold as slate. Across the black void a woman in a lighted window washes a single plate. The sprinklers whoosh on. I flick my cigar into the wet grass.

Stop The Presses! is great. I love my recurring role on it. I’m their Keyser Söze. Three days in, the Dr. D mystery — a non-story, if ever there was one — is kept alive by my client Sadie’s trendingness and a slow entertainment news week. Not that you’d guess it from Carlito’s caffeinated hysteria. But it doesn’t take an “entertainment reporter” to know that with no new news, this story will soon die. Then I can forget about a bonanza of new clients. About turning things around.

I freeze-frame on the show’s closing crawl: Got a tip? Submit tips anonymously: tips@stopthepresses.com.

I read a line once in a self-help book that stuck: the best way to escape from your problem is to solve it. This thought is accompanied by dramatic music: the startup chord of an iMac. Followed by these words on the screen: the ease & simplicity of Gmail, available across devices.

Create an account.

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part Two

by Michael Barrie

The L.A. psychologist is more focused on his bumpy marriage than his showbiz clients. 2,512 words. Part One. Part Three. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


Food Merchant is a family-owned Southern California supermarket housed in a former warehouse on A5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EBLincoln Boulevard. Step inside and you enter a world of specialty foods lovingly displayed in a Disney theme park version of the Kasbah. A colossal indoor souk divided into sections with names like Marrakesh, Algiers, and Casablanca posted on banners overhead. It’s 10:40 a.m. and I’m here, as on most days, killing time. My next (and last) appointment of the day is at 4:00. It’s why Caroline’s lost all respect for me.

Her Big Grievance #1: Not holding up my end. I could surprise her with FM’s Natural Turkey Bacon, smoked over hardwoods without preservatives. See, Caroline, I’m bringing home the bacon. A joke, Caroline. Ah, forget it.

Big Grievance #2: Dr. Dennis Corbin, Day Trader. I studied the financial markets. Study may be too strong a word. I skimmed business news on the Internet. Watched that morning guy on One For The Money. He rated E-Tec a strong buy. “Lithium-ion batteries — it’s the future, Caroline. Cell phones, electric cars, personal computing. Green technology. Trust me, I’ve done my homework.”

Big Grievance #3: Buying more on the way down (technically, #2A).

Big Grievance #4: We were going to start a family when we had the savings.

I won’t get into the Little Grievances.

My new ringtone: Kubrick’s 2001 theme. “Hello?”

“Dr. Corbin?”

“Yes?”

“Sadie Cowen gave me your number.”

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How Does That Make You Feel?
Part One

by Michael Barrie

An L.A. psychologist with a boring practice has one cool patient: an Emmy-winning tabloid princess. 2,571 words. Part Two. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


“Graceful, isn’t she? I’m a full-on spastic.” The presenter in the tangerine gown fighting with the envelopeA5B3E0F0-C9C6-486D-B9BF-98B356EAA0EB is British actress Myrtle Davies. Myrtle won last year in this category — Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series. She’s in the third season of that cable show set in Brooklyn where she speaks in a New Yawk accent. It’s surprising to hear her proper English, as if this were the acting.

“Bless your patience,” she says, tugging at the enclosure. Myrtle yanks the card free. Applause. “How humiliating.”

Caroline and I are sitting at opposite ends of the living room couch. Alan, our black shepherd mix, takes up the demilitarized zone. He sleeps a lot these days. We’re watching the Emmy Awards on the widescreen. Caroline hates award shows, but the marriage counselor wants us to do more activities together, so she sits there working on her laptop. She can’t stand this Hollywood bullshit. I love it. All of it: the golden lives, the yawping narcissism, the better class of women.

“And the Emmy Award goes to…” Myrtle scans it, breaks into a broad smile. “Oh, this is extraordinary… Sadie Cowen! Yes!” The orchestra plays the Good To Go theme. It’s the first comedy series based on a food delivery app.

Myrtle and Sadie are friends. I know this because Sadie told me so in therapy. I, Dr. Dennis Corbin, also know that she and Myrtle had a threesome this summer with Ezra Garrett. Google says he’s a “fuckboy” and a “wannabieber” who starred in something, I forget what. At the time, Ezra was a hair shy of eighteen, a fact discovered late. It threw Sadie into a panic. “Ah’m a rapist,” she moaned in her Texas drawl. It took most of a session to talk her down. But, hey, that’s what I’m here for.

I’d like to share this bit of gossip with Caroline. It might make her laugh, something I was once able to do. But professional ethics prevent it. So I say nothing as she goes over Monday’s cases and Hollywood continues to celebrate.

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Crimes against TV

Crimes Against Television

by J.M. Rosenfield

TV FICTION PACKAGE: An Emmy publicity stunt goes terribly and hilariously wrong. 2,665 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.


It materializes out of the smog at daybreak, low on the horizon over the San Gabriel Mountains when most of Los Angeles is still asleep. From the early news reports patched into his headset, Garrett discovers that people just waking up to their morning coffee are already calling in about it. Some claim to be witnessing a UFO. Or even a falling angel.

“It’s like trying to shoot Jesus,” he hears his cameraman say as if he, too, is rising from a dream.

The figure is attached to thick wire ropes that dangle from a harness beneath the open cargo bay of the big chopper, a heavy-lift Sikorsky Skycrane. The first rays of sun glint from gilded wings as the figure glides serenely with outstretched arms over the industrial outskirts of Van Nuys. It turns and banks in a long sweeping curve over the palm-lined tracts of Studio City, flying up and over the hillside estates of Mulholland, dropping in low at treetop level through Beachwood Canyon until it hovers motionless, a pinpoint of flashing gold over the Hollywood sign.

Garrett is seated comfortably next to his pilot in the little chopper, a Bell Jet Ranger, the chase craft orbiting the spectacle at a distance. He’s relieved to discover a sense of stillness above the traffic just beginning to spill onto the freeways. But this tranquility is short lived. He can see prop-wash kicking up squirts of sand on the fire road that snakes its way above Hollyridge. And he knows the deep penetrating thwack of the chopper blades is rattling the flimsy stucco homes packed into the sides of the canyons. He can see people beginning to crane their heads out of doorways and sliding windows.

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