Thursday, April 27, 2006


Hi, guys --

Well, Elaine and I just got back from our whirlwind trip to upstate New York. We had an amazing time, and it was a joy to see such gorgeous terrain, even if it tended to be a tad rainy while we were there.

The main purpose of the trip was to attend the First Annual Rod Serling Symposium held at Ithaca College. Rod vacationed in Ithaca and actually taught writing in the summers there from the mid-Sixties until his death in 1975. In fact, Cayuga Productions, the company that produced THE TWILIGHT ZONE, was named after Ithaca’s Cayuga Lake.

Our first full day there, Elaine and I spoke to several classes of film students, then admired five of Serling’s six Emmys in a display case (for the record, he won two for TWILIGHT ZONE, one for PATTERNS, one for REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, one for the PLAYHOUSE 90 episode THE COMEDIAN, and one for the BOB HOPE CHRYSLER THEATER presentation of “It’s Mental Work”).

Ithaca College’s Gordon Webb treated us to a splendid breakfast, then his wife Cathy drove us around town for a tour. We’re very tempted to buy a house there to write part of the year (prices are far lower than Los Angeles’ crazy heights).

Then in the evening, we enjoyed a banquet and I was able to catch up with CAROL SERLING, Rod’s widow and executor of his estate, and Rod’s daughters JODY and ANNE. Elaine and I had dined with Carol recently, but we hadn’t seen the kids in over twenty years, so it was quite a treat to talk with them again. It meant quite a lot to hear how complimentary they were about THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION.

In addition, I met Anne’s sixteen-year-old son SAM, Rod’s grandson (here with his mom Anne and myself).

Then finally that night, the event I was nervously awaiting – my keynote address on Rod Serling. When I’d asked Gordon some time earlier how long he wanted me to talk, he said two and a half hours. I swallowed my gum!

Fortunately, I had adequate time to prepare. I decided I would take my audience on a journey paralleling Rod’s career with the history of television and my own journey from writing the book through to working in TV. In essence, I was determined to point out that Rod not only changed television history with THE TWILIGHT ZONE but also essentially created the modern television showrunner, where the WRITER runs the show; beyond this, Rod was the direct inspiration and high-water mark for many of the top creators of TV drama in the last forty years, from J.J. Abrams (LOST, ALIAS) and Joe Straczynski (BABYLON 5) to Ron Moore (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), Joss Whedon (BUFFY), Chris Carter (X-FILES) and beyond.

So for over two hours I addressed an audience of well over a hundred people and showed clips from the first TZ pilot “The Time Element” (which aired on DESILU PLAYHOUSE), all five seasons of TWILIGHT ZONE and scenes from shows I written such as BEYOND REALITY, DEEP SPACE NINE and SLIDERS (not in any way to equate myself with Rod – who was truly incomparable – but rather as illustrations of his enduring influence over many series).

The speech went over very well, and people were quite complimentary to me. NPR was there for interviews, as was a San Francisco radio station.

The next day, I sat in on several panels and signed copies of THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION. Elaine and I also had time to grab a lunch with NICK SAGAN, novelist and writer for STAR TREK - THE NEXT GENERATION and STAR TREK VOYAGER, and his wife C.J., also a novelist. I'd known NIck since he was sixteen, but hadn't seen him in recent times since he'd moved to Ithaca. It was great to spend some time together.

Then the next morning, it was off to Ticonderoga to see the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES sets and work with the actors.

More to come...



At 10:30 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

This is amazing. After all these years....

Hey, I always knew you'd be the captain!!

Thanks for sharing.

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Kid Sis said...

Definitely in the right seat!

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Tom said...

That must have been an awesome feeling. Big-time congrats!


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