Sunday, September 10, 2006

Recalling My Week at UPI Hollywood

Whatcha Gonna Do, Kiddie-Boos cos You got a Date with David Cassidy

Side splitting hilarious is the 1971 teen fanzine “Spec” which must be short for spectator. My friend Babs gave me this rag last night and it brought back memories of my very short stay at the UPI Hollywood Bureau in 1963 in the Los Angeles Times-Mirror Building.
UPI frankly didn’t know what to do with me so they shuffled me off to the Hollywood desk where I worked with a young woman who was a student in broadcasting at USC. One of her instructors was John Thompson who she referred me to and that bit of kindness landed me a job as a go-for editorial assistant at NBC News where Thompson was news director. (He was later fired for some improprieties; the details escape me.)
Working on the Hollywood desk got me out of firing range of Vernon Scott’s paper torpedoes.
I definitely was not up to the challenge of fabricating a piece on Ricky Nelson who was recently married to Mark Harmon’s sister and they were expecting their first born. These features were distributed by mail to newspapers worldwide. Since the Nelsons did not allow interviews, I needed to make up something benign out of thin air. I had difficulty rewriting a news release let alone make up some garbage about them shopping for strollers and diapers. As if I really cared. I did a quick count from the marriage date to when the little cherub was due and said to my coworker, “there’s our story.” She was not amused. I did not last long at Hollywood UPI, but here’s an example from the esteemed “Spec” on what was expected of me, I am sure:

“FLASHES!! Starting next September, you’ll be able to spend each and every weekend with Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy on ABC-TV! The great, grand, glorious and good news is that Bobby Sherman will have his own half hour show each Satruday....Of course darlin’ David Cassidy will continue to star in the “Partridge Family” ... you don’t have to worry about watcha gonna do, kiddie-boos, cos you got a date with David Cassidy every Friday night and Bobby Sherman every Saturday night!”

This hilarious cutline displays self-contempt by the writer and a loathing for the readers of this dreck. You couldn’t write this stone sober, but it paid the rent for some poor bugger. No way, kiddie-boos.