A Part of My Life with Lawyers and MBAs

MGM/UA owned the three Poltergeist movies. We were in the middle of selling the “new” Twilight Zone series that we made in association with CBS, and it was doing very well.

To me, in the business of syndication, “the name is the thing” when introducing new content.

This is from a presentation for Poltergeist: The Series that I wrote over twenty years ago at MGM:

Was there ever a time before the beginning of time?

Will there be a time after the end of time?

Is there space at the end of space?

Is there space before the beginning of space?  

Belief in God allows you to ignore these questions. Belief in an unknown higher power will allow you to at least try to explain the otherwise inexplicable.

Having said that, there was a time before time began, and a place before space began. “The Higher Power,” creator of all things, decided to have plants, microbes, animals, viruses, and the highest of life forms, “people” throughout the Cosmos. These “human-like forms” were unlike all others. They possessed what we would call “souls.”

These “souls” exist under the domain of the higher power. They inhabit a “body” until the death of the body, and then they move about the universe searching for another incarnation. There have been countless “souls” drifting among the star systems, searching for a new “body” to inherit and inhabit. They wandered throughout our known and unknown universes in a manner not as yet understood. These “souls” without “bodies” were and are what we call ghosts or “Poltergeists.”

These souls were created without morality as we would know it, yet through the eons, some souls have developed what we would call “contemporary morality,” while some have not. There are highly evolved Poltergeists (good people) and of course there are evil spirits (bad people). The souls that wander the universe lacking incarnation both good and evil are the ghosts that we know and often fear…

The funniest thing happened when I had a meeting among our three production partners (who, by the way, were financing almost the entire production cost of over $70 million) when one of them asked me to describe one episode. I replied that, although I had written about the series, I had no clue about any storyline. I indicated that we would hire the best writers to do that, and that I was certainly not one of them.

At the time of my departure from MGM, we were to make 90 half-hour episodes in the UK, Germany, and Canada. It would have happened, but a purportedly brilliant 31-year-old lawyer named Kenin Spivak wanted to supervise a very complicated co-production arrangement that I had put together. As we all know, 31-year-old lawyers know best. The deal quickly went away, as the partners in the project were not at all happy about it being managed by a clueless 31-year-old lawyer.

I did have more fun working at MGM for Lee Rich then at any other time in my career. Lee was great in that he did not always agree with me, and he would yell a lot, but he accepted my yelling back at him. The good times ended when the owner hired someone to sell MGM. That was the latest “beginning of the end” of that chapter in the tarnished history of the once-proud company.

Welcome to Hollywood!