“Alone with Hans Conried for a moment, I said, ‘You’re a major talent with a big reputation. Why do you agree to substitute for another actor without a single question, not about billing, or even money?’ His response became a marker along my career path. ‘I work to work, Norman, and the rest follows,’ he said, adding, ‘When it isn’t about the money, it’s funny how much seems to come your way.’” (139)
“Typical of Fred Allen was his attitude toward television. ‘It is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well-done.’ As to ‘the minds that control it,’ he said, ‘you could put them in the navel of a flea and still have room enough beside them for the heart of a network vice president.’” (147)
“As I would learn in the seventies, a dozen protest letters from among millions of viewers were considered a “flood” to an advertising agency.” (163)
“I learned from Kib that just about anything can be improved, and that reaching for perfection, not necessarily achieving it, was worth the effort.” (171)
“I dictated the first draft of everything I wrote.” (207)
“I told Richard Brooks I had never owned a camera, had never taken a lot of pictures, even of my children, and knew nothing about lenses and such. He asked me, in that case, why in hell I had been toying with the idea. I was stumped, and Richard answered his question for me: ‘Because you know what you want to see, don’t you?’
Oh, yes, I had to acknowledge, I knew exactly what I wanted to see.
‘Then get yourself a great cinematographer and tell him what you want.’ (225)
“Comedy with something serious on its mind works as a kind of intravenous to the mind and spirit. After he winces and laughs, what the individual makes of the material depends on the individual, but he has been reached.” (235)
“The audiences themselves taught me that you can get some wonderful laughs on the surface of anything with funny performers and good jokes, but if you want them laughing from the belly, you stand a better chance of achieving it if you can get them caring first.” (262)
“A relatively small group of agitators, especially when convinced God is on their side, can move corporate America to quake with fear and make decisions in total disregard of the Constitution that protects against such decisions.” (266)
“An audience is entertained when it’s involved to the point of laughters or tersa – ideally, both.” (266)
“There is stress, and then there is ‘joyful’ stress.” (279)
“A rabbi shared his Talmudic-style version of what I was attempting to convey: ‘A man should have a garment with two pockets. In the first pocket should be a piece of paper on which is written, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’ In the second should be a piece of paper on which is written, ‘For me the world was created.’” (402)
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