“If I hear one more pitch for a reality show, someone is getting fired.”
Larry’s head was hanging low and his hands were placed on both sides of his balding head. He hoped that by applying enough pressure to his temples he might stave off the inevitable headache that arrived with every Tuesday meeting of his ‘creative team’. How did things get this bad?
Larry had begun his professional life as a credentialed historian. After completing his undergrad at William & Mary and then a Master’s at the University of Chicago, he had spent a year as the personal assistant to famed biographer Theodore Chamberlain. His work with Chamberlain had been educational, even if not professionally gratifying. The press had no idea that it was Larry, not Chamberlain who wrote the final three chapters in his acclaimed biography of George Robinson, first mayor of Pittsburgh. Chamberlain was going through a messy divorce at the time and his trust of Larry had been so complete that he asked his young assistant to put together ‘first drafts’ of the closing chapters. After a year with his mentor, Larry had mastered Chamberlain’s writing style. The result was so well done that Chamberlain submitted them to the publisher unchanged.
“It will be our little secret,” Chamberlain had told him.
Over the next 10 years, on the anniversary of the publishing date, Chamberlain would send Larry a bottle of champagne and a handwritten note. When Chamberlain died in 2005, Larry was glad to put the whole thing behind him. By that time he had somehow found himself at the History Network. After taking a consulting job on a miniseries about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Larry had impressed the network executives so much that they brought him onboard. Now he was the Head of Programming, with an impressive salary to match the title, but he felt like he had entered the 5th Circle of Hell.
While the network had never been known for its strict adherence to methodology when producing its shows, a generous critic could say that they got the general facts correct and also promoted the field of history, always a good thing in Larry’s mind. Somewhere along the way though, they fell off track. This morning Larry had heard three show pitches each worse than the last. As his head began to pound, he began to mentally review the insane proposals…
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