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Be sure to click on my He-Man story about my days at Filmation Stuidos!
And please come back on October 15 for a whole new Rowby Rebooted
comedy series right here at Rowbyville!
Berenstain Bears - Part 1
I was writing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for Filmation Studios when I received a call from Gordon Kent, a multi-talented artist, writer and all-around animation talent. Gordon asked me if I would like to freelance an episode of the upcoming CBS Saturday morning series "Berenstain Bears". I jumped at the opportunity and met with Gordon and the Southern Star creative team where they provided me with the pilot script as well as an assortment of Berenstain Bears books. I chose my favorite book of the batch "The Missing Pumpkin". I took it home and started writing the script. It was a simple story and i thoroughly enjoyed turning it into a cartoon.
Unlike some writers if I am working from existing material (such as the Berenstain Bears book series), I don't try to change the story just to make changes. If the original story works then I see no need to modify the story just for my own ego. I kept much of the dialog and plot. I added my own touches, of course, including comedy material that enhanced the existing story.
It took a couple weeks to write the script and I turned it in, and got back to work finishing my current He-Man script. A few days later I got a call from Gordon Kent. He said Stan and Jan Berenstain were thrilled with my script. In fact they were flying to Hollywood from their farm in Pennsylvania to meet with me. This was very unusual for the Berenstains, who rarely left their farm -- they were so busy writing their extremely popular series of books.
Now I should say that over the years as a successful network television comedy writer I have met some of the world's biggest movie stars. I have shaken hands with some of the most powerful political leaders, including Presidents of the United States, and more. I have become blasé when I encounter most celebrities. Except for a few, who I have had the pleasure of meeting and/or working with working with (Lily Tomlin, Paula Poundstone, Carol Channing, Julie Andrews, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Florence Henderson, and of course Soupy Sales. I am simply not usually impressed with most celebrities.
That said, meeting Stan and Jan Berenstain was a thrill and a delight. And I must say, the Berenstains were also equally thrilled to meet me! They took me to lunch at the famous Musso and Frank Grill in Hollywood. Over dinner they told me how astonished they were at how perfectly I captured their characters and transformed them for animation. Stan and Jan were so unlike most of the show biz types I had worked with That is, they seemed just like ordinary people -- not unlike Papa and Mama Bear. Stan and I hit it off right away, and over the years became close, creative friends.
Stan explained to me how nervous they were to entrust their precious Bear Family to network television. They had built a legacy of countless fans over the decades and wanted the cartoon series to build on that foundation.
Over the next couple of years I worked very closely with Stan and Jan on the CBS Series and had a lot of fun. I mainly worked with Stan, exchanging phone calls several times a day.
Come back soon and I will share more stores about all the adventures I had writing the Berenstain Bears.