Monday, November 23, 2009

Film Production - In Praise of Harlan Ellison

In Praise of Harlan Ellison

In junior high in Seattle, I remember tuning in the brand-new "Star Trek" show, completely by accident. Had no idea what it was. First episode I saw was "City On The Edge Of Forever." I loved it, and watched the show ever after. I did notice that the quality of subsequent episodes wasn't as good.

In high school, my friend Merlin did something for which I am still grateful, slipping me a copy of Harlan Ellison's "A Boy And His Dog," saying, "This is the dirtiest story I ever have read." It certainly was. I HAD to read it, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Then I went away to Hollywood to make movies. I worked on a whole bunch of visual effects movies, many of them Oscar-worthy, with large budgets. Eventually, I grew tired of tech stuff, and set out to create my own Art and Movies again.

For a dozen years, I owned and ran an improv comedy theatre in Hollywood. While I was painting my theatre seats, a nice lady volunteer helped me, and we got to talking. She listened as I went on and on about what books and shows I liked.

I mentioned Harlan Ellison's work, and why he was one of my absolutely favorite Writers, and she listened more intently.

Then she told me some Harlan Ellison details I'd never heard. A little more conversation revealed her to be Harlan Ellison's ex-wife. Now THAT was an interesting surprise.

Then one morning, I went to put garbage into my dumpster behind the theatre. I couldn't, because it was full of Harlan Ellison's office garbage. Notes, envelopes, papers, all with his name. 

I wrote him a note, saying I had a Hollywood dumpster full of his garbage, and I wanted to put it on display at my theatre, with his name on the sign out front.

My collection lacked the personal touch, and did he have any personal garbage? Fruit rinds, coffee grounds, that sort of thing?

I left my phone numbers, and he called me on most of them the next day, and we had some of the most fun phone conversations I've ever had. He's not just a good Writer, he's a dazzling conversationalist, too. A smart and funny man. And those are just the best.

Why was his garbage in my dumpster? That's not important, but if you send me $2, I will make up something.

I asked him once, if it bothered him Jim Cameron swiped his TV shows to create "The Terminator." He said, "Nope! As long as they pay me money." He is my role model on that topic.

Pay The Writer

I've enjoyed Harlan Ellison's work for years and years, I have crossed paths with him enough to know he is brilliantly smart and creative, and that puts him at odds with lots of mediocre people. 

Long live Harlan Ellison!

Sam Longoria


Poor Harlan had a heart bypass in 1994.

Then he had a stroke in 2014.

Harlan proved himself amazingly strong and resilient, and didn't let those things stop him, or even slow him down really, to an amazing degree.

28 June 2018, Harlan passed away, and today I mourn.

Harlan Ellison was great, and I'm glad our paths crossed, and I always will value his wit and his great advice. I learned many things from him, about Writing and Marriage and Dealing With Life. And what else is there?

Farewell, Harlan.
We might have argued about it, but
I truly believe I will see you again.

Harlan Ellison
City On The Edge Of Forever
A Boy And His Dog
The Terminator
The Outer Limits
The Twilight Zone
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream

No comments:

Post a Comment