Happy Is Fast While Sad Is Slow

About twenty years ago, I attended a Tony Robbins event in Del Mar, California.

Tony spent a good deal of time discussing pain and pleasure and concluded that individuals will do whatever possible to avoid pain and have pleasure.

He had five poor individuals on the stage with him, and the subject was “time.” He was trying to determine what represented a long time and what represented a short time. He was making no progress, so he ambled into the audience.

As all six-foot-seven of him loomed above me, he glanced at my nametag and said: “Okay, Norman, we have never heard from you. What do you think is a long or short time?”

I thought for a second and answered: “A long time is any amount of time when you are having pain and a short time is any amount of time when you are having pleasure.”

Tony loved my reply, and we all discussed it for a half hour.

Very early in my career, I discovered that, when the staff was having a good time, we/they performed better, and the time at work simply flew by.

I once was interviewed by the New York Times concerning my departure from Columbia Pictures and my starting a television company for Polygram. I told the reporter that I had left Columbia because it stopped being fun.

My new German/Dutch management went nuts when they read it. They had absolutely no concept of fun at work. The head of the company (a lawyer) called me and asked what I meant. I was not proud of myself when I answered that perhaps it would be better stated if I had said “the gratification of success.” He was happy about that.

I wonder how they deal with that issue at Harvard Business School.

I recently came across a quote that I wish I had written: “Money in all its disguises is the religion of humanity.”

Those that maintain that money can’t buy happiness are correct to a certain extent. However, money can certainly provide a certain amount of pleasure…and yes, even happiness.

But, however you find (or define) happiness, I’ve always believed that happy is fast while sad is slow.

I will conclude with a poem I wrote just before Thanksgiving. I call it “Doggies”…

It’s Thanksgiving soon, and I remember so well
The sights, the sounds, the warmth, the smell.
We had big dinners, and kids came too.
When it was time to eat dinner, it was all so swell.
Dinner was liked by our dog Annabelle.
She was imported from London, all fluffy and white,
A Maltese so tiny, but she was a fright.
She barked at all doggies and wanted to fight
Them no matter how big, and she was so slight.
She was the same color as our living room rug.
She loved all celebrations, and she looked all around
‘Cause people dropped food there that Annabelle found.
She would sleep with my children and cuddle up snug.
She was so sweet, and she was so nice.
I think of her often, not once or not twice.
The years are all gone now; they sped quickly by.
I think of dear Annabelle, and at times I cry,
For things are so fleeting no matter I try.
She’s gone forever; it’s been sad for me.
Yet I found Valerie; she was such a love.
She had a big doggie, a gift from above.
The dog’s name was Jerry, a hundred pound Doodle, all fluffy, all white.
Jerry was also quite crazy but such a delight.
Now Valerie’s gone, and Jerry’s moved away.
I miss her and two doggies both by night and by day.
Happy is fast while sad is so slow.
I need to move on. I need to just go.

Find the Hat

by Norman Horowitz

“Shorty” was scouting locations for the production of Gone with the Wind. He stood up on the back of a moving pickup truck, and the wind blew off his hat. At the first opportunity, he purchased a new hat to protect his bald head from the sun.

Shorty filed his detailed expense report for, shall we say, $4,385 and included $6 for his hat. His report was rejected because of the $6 he had spent for the hat, and he was asked to resubmit the expense report without the hat, which he did.

Supposedly, he submitted a report for the same amount with the admonition: “I dare you to find the hat.”

Many media managers were and are obsessed by “finding the hats.” I have worked for a few of them. While they were doing this, Rupert Murdoch was out expanding and diversifying his business.

I still remember my first senior management meeting with the head of Polygram North America. The company had just lost $100 million, and the only subject discussed was whether we were all willing to fly Business Class instead of First Class. Nothing else.

Later on, I arranged for the Polygram president to meet with very senior people at three major companies to discuss the formation of a joint venture entertainment company. The morning of the scheduled meeting, my Polygram president asked me to postpone the meeting because he needed to attend a previously unscheduled budget meeting. The joint venture meeting never happened.

For many managers, their operating goal is to doggedly “find the hat” rather than to expand their business activity.

There is a joke about a board meeting of The Really Huge Company: There were two items on the agenda. One concerned the multibillion-dollar investment in nuclear energy, and the discussion concerning it took 3 minutes. The second item was if they were going to continue providing free coffee to their administrative staff, which took over an hour.

The conclusion is that no one knew anything about nuclear energy yet everyone knew about coffee.

I continue to ask myself how an Australian media person like Rupert Murdoch was able to create a media mega-company while the majority of the Hollywood establishment sat around and waited for someone to come along and buy them.

Was the Road Runner a Communist?

by Norman Horowitz

My career spans fifty years at Screen Gems, CBS, Columbia Pictures, Polygram, and MGM/UA, as well as time spent as an independent. I have never been involved in selling, financing, or producing anything for television with any intention of doing anything other than making money. That is what I was paid to do by the taskmasters where I worked. I often failed, but that’s what this business is all about.

Examples abound. Screen Gems made a TV movie called The Caryl Chessman Murder Case. Chessman was a convicted robber and rapist who gained fame as a death row inmate in California. Chessman’s case attracted worldwide attention. He became a cause célèbre for the movement to ban capital punishment. Yet my company made this TV movie to make money. Nothing more.

So I was surprised when a producer friend sent me a book titled Primetime Propaganda, claiming to be the “inside story of how the most powerful medium of mass communication in human history has become a propaganda tool for the Left.”   Continue reading “Was the Road Runner a Communist?”

When It’s Not Appropriate to Define “Appropriate”

by Norman Horowitz

When I was at Polygram in the ’80s, we produced a program with the RKO General stations called Eric Severeid’s Chronicle. Eric had been a journalist of note at CBS.

I screened the first program of the series, and I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw. It’s my belief, however, that comments and suggestions about entertainment content by people like me is absolutely what screws up the process.

I had lunch in New York with Eric, and I began the discussion by humbling myself. I told Eric that my news and journalistic experience was essentially meaningless, and that I held him and his career at CBS in the highest regard. I explained that we sold his show to individual stations throughout the country, and that there was to be no editorial control whatsoever. I wanted him to know that his “commentary” could be as outrageous and blunt as he chose to make it.

Eric told me that was never under any restrictions concerning his commentaries at CBS News. Eric continued to be Eric, the program lasted one season, and no one was ever upset by anything Eric said in any of his commentaries.

In my opinion, most broadcast network on-air “journalists” are latter-day versions of Severeid. They exist and report “within the same invisible box.” When they are reporters, they report, and when they are making commentary, it is so designated.

Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann, and Jon Stewart, on the other hand, are not journalists. You need not be a journalist to be the “teller of truth.” But what about Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace? According to The Hollywood Reporter: Continue reading “When It’s Not Appropriate to Define “Appropriate””

After All, Someone Needs to Get the Job Done

by Norman Horowitz

I am the product of the industry in which I have worked for 50+ years. In fact, the only insight I can bring to anything is not based on my intellect, but rather on my experiences in life in general, as well as the Air Force and the business of television.

I grew up watching my father run his small dress manufacturing business at 1385 Broadway in New York. To me, he was to me the ultimate operating executive in that he knew everything he needed to know to run his business. Everyone who worked for him had a job to do (including my Dad). He had no “formal” business training, yet he ran a profitable business for many years.

My career in the entertainment industry started as a part-time, minimum-wage shipping clerk and messenger for the editorial department of Screen Gems Television in New York. In the intervening years, I became a functioning operating and sales executive. Although I’ve had many staff positions in the intervening years, I’m still an operating guy.   Continue reading “After All, Someone Needs to Get the Job Done”