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  • It was September of 1985 and I had joined the CBS Television Network with a mandate to bring their Childrens Programming division into the modern age. While they were number one in prime time they were dredging the bottom of the Nielsen pool when it came to anyone under 65. They called CBS the "Tiffany Network" because of its sterling reputation as a purveyor of entertainment par excellence, but it was quickly becoming better known as the "nursing home channel" for the "Murder, She Wrote" set. Indeed, when I arrived there you could see cobwebs settling on the upper tier executive's shoulders like so much dandruff.

    So I came up with this plan to model my Saturday Morning schedule after a Saturday matinee at the movies format: cartoons, comedy, science fiction, horror, and adventure, and began to round up the very best authors, screenwriters, filmmakers and musicians to work for me: Chris Columbus, Pee Wee Herman, Peter S. Beagle, Jimmy Webb, Danny Goldberg (the music mogul), Don Fiedler (The Eagles), Phil Hartmann, Richard and Wendy Pini (Elf Quest), Jeph Loeb, Mathew Weismann, and many, many more. I even met with Avco Cinema corp. to discuss running promos for my Sat. morning cartoons directly in the movie theaters.

    At the very top of my creative dream list was Maurice Sendak. So, I put a call in to my close friend and up and coming film producer, John Williams ( Shrek, Vanguard Films and Animation), and we agreed to fly up to St. Paul, Minnesota to attend the U.S. premiere of "Where The Wild Things Are" Opera, where, together, we would double team the great Sendak and convince him to adapt Wild Things for television. Williams was heir to one of the great American fortunes (Remington Rifle) and my favorite go to producer. He had the money, determination, and the guts to put his money down when it came to intellectual properties. And, believe me, in the land of ever procrastinating, band wagon jumping LA, that was a rare commodity. A commodity that would pay off in droves when he single-handedly discovered William Steig's "Shrek" in its original novella form.
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