by JV Hart
When I fled LA in the mid 70’s, in debt as a failed producer, and returned to NY, I had no idea what I was going to do to support my wife and someday family. My wife Judy said, “You’re going to write.” That had never occurred to me as a real job where I could earn real money. I had been raising money for other people’s films and complaining about the scripts. Agents and producer-friends in LA said I would never have a career if I did not live in LA. In retrospect, that was all I needed to hear. My first writing experience in NY was not as a writer but with another writer–and one of my heroes. Marshall Brickman will not remember our lunch at the Russian Tea Room that the late, great Robbie Lantz arranged, but I certainly do. Marshall met me cold and without really knowing what the meeting was about. My intention was to pitch him on writing the Southern version of Annie Hall. You can imagine my joy when I learned he was a member of the famed Tarriers and played guitar to Eric Weissbord’s brilliant banjo that was the “dueling banjos” music performed in DELIVERANCE! Perfect. Brickman. Deliverance. I was home free. He would write a brilliant screenplay for free that I would produce.
Marshall patiently drew out of me stories of my Southern upbringing, life in the South and my colorful in-laws and outlaws. And I do mean patient and nurturing, which I have learned is his generous way, having served with him on the WGAE Foundation board. He finally looked at his watch and politely informed me he had to meet Woody (Yes, I was impressed). Then he quite genuinely spoke the words that clearly I needed to hear. “You should write this, Jim, not me. This is in you. Write it.”
We parted ways and would not meet again until our kids performed Shakespeare together in school. I walked uptown to our apartment repeating over and over, “Marshal Brickman said for me “to write”….”to write”….”to write”.
And so I did. My wife was right.
Thank you, Marshall. I think he even paid for lunch.