Create Good Art and the Rest Will Follow: Congratulations Bob Newhart

Bob NewhartI just heard today that Bob Newhart will receive an Emmy for his guest star appearance as Professor Proton on The Big Bang Theory. The taped show will air September 22,2013 at 8:00 p.m.  Bob plays an aging former kids’ show host, revisiting the befuddled character that he has played so well for so many years. Bob is the deadpan straight man who can’t understand the crazy hijinks going on around him.
Born in 1929, Bob turned 84 on September 5th. Although Bob has been nominated for other Emmy’s, this is his first win. What a birthday present!
In addition to his work as a standup comedian, Bob is remembered for his show The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) where he played a psychiatrist, and his follow-up show Newhart (1982-1990) where he played Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon. In a famous television moment, the finale of his second series linked back to his first series in a dream sequence mocking the infamous shower scene in Dallas.
We find out the entire second series was a nightmare that ends when he wakes up in bed with Emily, played by Suzanne Pleshette. The bedroom from the first series was recreated for this scene, and I remember it to this day. TV Guide chose this finale as the best finale in television history.  In my opinion, nothing comes close to the  way that the last scene of that show opened on a dark set with Suzanne Pleshette’s typical whine.
What makes Bob Newhart’s career so memorable is his ability to play deadpan in the middle of bedlam. He nailed it on The Big Bang Theory, proving he’s still got it. Professor Proton had as much trouble navigating Sheldon’s brand of crazy as Vermont innkeeper Dick Loudon had with Larry, Darrel, and Darrel.
When I heard he won, I was surprised that he didn’t already have at least one Emmy award for one of his shows. I wondered whether the actors who won against him have stood the test of time. So I decided to do some digging.
It turns out, Bob Newhart’s arch nemesis is Michael J. Fox.
1985 – Bob was nominated in 1985 along with Ted Danson for his work on Cheers, Robert Guillaume for Benson, Harry Anderson for Night Court, and Jack Warden for Crazy Like a Fox. Of those, the only one that I have never heard of is Jack Warden in Crazy Like a Fox. Robert Guillaume won for Benson.
1986 – Bob was nominated along with Jack Warden, Ted Danson, Harry Anderson, and Michael J. Fox for his work on Family Ties. Michael J. Fox won.
1987 – The slate of nominees didn’t change much: Michael J. Fox, Harry Anderson, Ted Danson, Bob Newhart, and Branson Pinchot for his work in Perfect Strangers. Michael J. Fox won again.
Situation comedies ruled in the late eighties, and there were strong contenders each year. I remember all of those, with the exception of the Jack Warden show, and almost 25 years have passed. I absolutely loved Cheers, had a huge crush on Michael Fox in Family Ties, and loved Night Court. So I can’t complain about the field of nominees.
It’s difficult for comedians playing the “straight man” or deadpan to win Emmy awards. Andy Griffith never won an Emmy for his role of Andy Taylor, while Don Knotts won several times as Barney Fife. We often remember the joke, not the painstaking setup.
Congratulations to Bob Newhart for his long overdue win. As I watched that episode, I remember thinking he still has it. It makes me want to listen to the album where he’s a security guard at the Empire State Building who has his first night on the job when King Kong starts his climb. Classic.
What is the moral that I take from this? Make good art. The rest will come.

Photo Credit:

SI Neg. 2002-22477.08a. Date: 10/30/2002...Comedian Bob Newhart, recipient of the 2002 Kennedy Center Mark Twain Award for American Humor, speaking at the National Press Club. ..Credit: Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)

Birth of a First Draft

Yesterday morning I finished the first draft of No Time for Love, Lee and Elizabeth’s story. Lee is the brother of the hero in my first book, No Strings Attached. When last we saw him, he was dating Deena, who works for his mother. We find out his story in this book.

What happened with him and Deena? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Lee has done as promised and started his own security firm, now called Security Solutions. He doesn’t want to focus on personal protection, but he can’t turn away a lucrative contract protecting Elizabeth Birch, the daughter of a State Senator and candidate for Attorney General. Someone is trying to kill her, and his job is to keep her safe, find out who is trying to kill her, and keep the whole thing out of the media. He’s only got one problem: Elizabeth doesn’t need or want his help and she gets in his way every turn.

Sound interesting? I hope so. Here’s a picture of my newborn, still covered in sticky fix-it-flags.

My Baby

Currently I have over 60,000 words, and about 175 pages. As I add more depth and sensory detail in coming drafts, it will get longer. But before I go too far in the revision process, my husband the lawyer has promised to give it a quick read for plot only to see if he believes the story line. Since my main character is a lawyer running for Attorney General, in ways this is his world more than mine. While I’ve picked up lingo from him for years now in the way he talks about his cases, I want to see what he thinks about the bad guys in this one. If he can believe it, then I know I’ll have something, because he doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

I’m sure together we will tweek the storyline, then I’ll get hard to work on revising. Once I’m happy, I’ll send it to my editor, who will help me make sure my language is the best it can be.

Then it will come to you. I promise.


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