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New blog posts will be uploaded at 5:00 PM CST
Every Tuesday & Thursday!
A writer's life during the golden age of television

I’m Jack Olesker, creator, writer, producer and director of more than twelve hundred episodes of television, eighteen motion pictures and seven published novels. I've written and created many animated series during The Golden Age of Television Animation -- – the 1980s through the 1990s – including Care Bears, M.A.S.K., Heroes on Hot Wheels, The New Adventures of He-man, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater, Popples, my co-creation of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and many more.

It’s been my joy to have entertained countless millions of viewers who were young fans and stayed fans as they grew up and introduced their own children to many of my series continuing to air worldwide.

And now, through my A Writer’s Life…During the Golden Age of Television Animation blog, I’m going to take all of you on an amazing journey back to those shining years of animated television series. It’s a real-life journey that has everything – history, action, adventure, cliffhangers, comedy and drama, suspense, devastating disappointments and tremendous triumphs.

We who labor – and labored -- in the animation industry are forever indebted to you for being fans. So my A Writer’s Life…During the Golden Age of Television Animation blog is a labor of love dedicated to you. It’s my way of saying “Thank-you.” I promise it will be a fascinating journey.

Let’s go on it together!


It was raining hard. I couldn’t sleep. I got up, went to the kitchen, made a glass of warm milk and sat in my dark living room listening to the rain.

It took me half an hour to figure out why Jean and Andy allowed story editors to be paid for writing episodes of a series they were story editing. I didn’t delude myself into thinking Jean and Andy were encouraging story editors to write scripts for shows they were story editing just because they were nice guys.

No. It came to me that having the story editors write episodes removed a whole layer of the creative process. Who knew a series better than its story editor? If the story editor was writing his own episodes then there was no need for him to work on editing an outside writer’s script to bring it into the ‘house style’ of the series. The story editor had already done that by writing the script himself.

I took it to its logical conclusion. If I was the story editor who initially chose storyboards to be presented to Lori, Jean and Andy, and if Jean and Andy had no problem with me writing scripts myself, I’d write my own story spring boards, present them to Lori, Jean and Andy, get scripts assigned to myself, write the scripts and make the script writing fee...which was exactly what Lori, Jean and Andy had already done when they sent me home to write Care Bears story spring boards!

It occurred to me that it was time for me to start shopping for a nicer car.

I went back to bed.

As I walked along Ventura Boulevard that evening, I thought how it never occurred to me that once I was on staff I would not only be paid to story edit other writers’ script for a series, but I’d be encouraged to write episodes myself.

That wasn’t how the industry usually worked. Years later, when Robby London came on as VP, Creative Affairs, he bristled at staff writers being paid to write episodes. He said while he was at Filmation, writing scripts pro bono was expected.

It made sense that if you were a paid staff writer, scriptwriting was a part of the job. Even if you wrote scripts while you were home, off the clock, to be paid a script fee on top of one’s salary, I felt, would be like double dipping.

Jean and Andy disagreed. Their policy was that if you wrote a script while on staff as a story editor you would be paid for it. Not only that, you would be well paid for it. Writing scripts while you were physically in the studio, rather than after work, at home, was a gray area. But while it wasn’t overtly condoned, as long as you were current on your work, everyone looked the other way if you were writing a script while in the office.

Still, I decided to keep the small rules. So I started working on my Care Bears treatments when I got home that night.

I was tired, but I was feeling good. I would never, ever tell anyone in the industry I was tired. Everyone’s tired, all the time. We all work hard, all the time. To say one was tired would be stating the obvious. Worse, it could show weakness.

On the other hand, I thought it would be fine to say I was feeling good. I had a lot to feel good about. I was on staff. I had a great salary. I’d gotten a promotion within a blink of an eye. I’d proved my initial worth as a player in the game. And I’d been elevated from a cubicle to an office. Who wouldn’t feel good?

So as Lori, carrying a manilla envelope, intercepted me heading for the doors and asked, “How are you doing?”, I answered, “Feeling good, Lori.” When I added, “I’m heading to the library to do some research”, she brought me to a stop by saying, “No you’re not.”

One thing I’d learned about the entertainment business was it’s fluid, ever-changing and, like quicksilver, impossible to catch. If you were smart, you didn’t even try. You just adapted and went with the flow.

When I asked, “Where am I going?”, Lori allowed a smile.

She said, “Home.” She handed me the manilla envelope. “Jean approved two of your Care Bears springboards. Start writing the treatments.”

I answered, “You got it” and opened the front door. But before I could walk outside she said, “You get twelve hundred and fifty dollars for each script.”

My knees went weak.

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