This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Tale Of Two Bernies...

On Saturday, I heard that Bernie Brillstein passed away. He was 77. Brillstein was an influential talent manager and producer who had led a career in show business for over fifty years. He started off, like many , in the William Morris Agency mail room. In the late 60s, he founded his first management company—Brillstein Co. In later years, he partnered with Brad Grey to form Brillstein-Grey, a personal management and production company which remains well-known in the industry.

We can thank Bernie Brillstein for his help in launching “Saturday Night Live” and “The Mumpet Show” (which I’d watched countless times throughout my childhood.)
Without him, “Happy Gilmore” and “The Cable Guy” might still be in development hell. Without him, my childhood could’ve been robbed of such goofy, yet fun-loving entertainment such as “Alf” and “Ghostbusters,” both of which Brillstein executive produced as well.

Later the same day, someone told me that Bernie Mac died. “Bernie Mac?” I vaguely knew he had been hospitalized with pneumonia, but the last snippet I’d read said that he was apparently responding to treatment. It was possible, yet unlikely. Rumors….gossip, the beginnings of an urban legend, perhaps. Losing two Bernies, both entertainment giants, in one day? With a roll of dice, the probability seemed against it until

I turned on the news that evening to hear newscasters reporting the sudden and shocking death of actor and comedian Bernie Mac at age 50. How could a man, so full of life and spirit and talent, be extinguished so quickly? Bernie Mac came from nothing yet accomplished so much in his 50 years. People that worked with him said that he occupied a room, but was huge presence was never intimidating. On the contrary, he was approachable, fiercely funny, and loved by many.

I know this to be true. I used to work down the street from CBS Radford Studios where “The Bernie Mac Show” taped. I know Scott Vogel who occasionally did storyboards for the show. It was always a good gig for him. The cast and crew were always friendly and inviting, he told me. I believed him wholeheartedly because my experience backed that up.

This was also back in the age (not so long ago) when I was still cultivating my espresso talents at one of the local coffee joints. Several crew members from “Bernie Mac” were regulars there. I knew them by name, I knew their drinks by heart, and I also knew that they considered themselves extremely lucky to be working on “The Bernie Mac Show.” I know this to be true because I remember some of the same crew members coming in the day after they learned the show was cancelled. I could see the sadness in their eyes, the look of being lost, unsure of where they or their careers would be headed next. A fantastic chapter in their lives was ending. Those cast and crew members dispersed. Some moved away, some went on to other shows. Yet, this week, they are again united as they mourn the loss of their “Big Mac” leader—the guy that brought himself and that working experience into their lives.

Two Bernies in one day. What are the chances? A roll of the dice and even the best of us, the most spirited, the most talented, the most passionate can be extinguished at any time.

Somewhere in heaven, two Bernies are shaking hands and laughing. And in Brillstein, Bernie Mac just might have met his new agent.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
"The Bernie Mac Show" storyboards by Scott Vogel.

No comments:

Post a Comment