The Genius of Larry Gelbart: What Made Him Special

Sep 13, 2009  •  Post A Comment

 [As previously reported on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, writer Larry Gelbart, who won awards for writing for TV, movies and Broadway, died of cancer at age 81. This is our tribute to Gelbart]

By Chuck Ross

In 2002, as we here at TVWeek were ferreting out what pilots the networks were ordering, we found out that over at Touchstone and ABC Steve McPherson and Susan Lyne had ordered up a pilot from a script written by a 74-year-old.

That alone would have piqued my interest, but when I found out that the 74-year-old in question was the legendary Larry Gelbart, I immediately set out to track him down.

I had long been a fan of Gelbart. His Emmy-winning HBO movie, “Barbarians at the Gate,” is a favorite of mine, as is the feature film “Tootsie,” which Gelbart co-wrote.

I contacted Gelbart and told him that we’d like to do a feature piece about him. He invited me down to the set of the pilot, and then we continued the conversation later at his home in Beverly Hills.

He was warm, gracious, and a wonderful storyteller.

In this piece Gelbart tells a lot about what made him tick as a writer.

We titled this cover story feature than ran on April 29th, 2002:

Larry Gelbart is Back
By Chuck Ross

Rosebud, my ass.

That’s the name of Gelbart’s new drama pilot for Touchstone Television and ABC.

"They won’t let me use the `my ass’ part," Mr. Gelbart says mischievously, his eyes twinkling. "Not good for the image, you know."

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