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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 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!


After my latest exchange with Howard, I reluctantly return to my office. My in-boxes are pathetically empty. I have no phone messages. Sadly, I see this happening for a long time. I miss the interaction with writers, the scripts – writing or editing them –being involved with a series and knowing it will have a positive impact on children.

I also feel guilty. I’m making a lot of money as a staff writer/story editor at DIC. How can I sit around hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month doing nothing and justify being paid?

A knock on my door brings the message that I won’t have to justify sitting around doing nothing for a month, a week, a day or even an hour. I call, “Come in.”

Lori opens the door and, like a seer, asks, “Did you think we’d let you sit around here doing nothing?”

I answer, “I was starting to wonder.”

Lori grins. “I’m not surprised. It’s been a whole hour since you turned in the last Care Bears script.” She comes in and asks, “Do you know who Heathcliff is?”

Desperate but knowing it’s a mistake, I give the only answer I can. “He was the protagonist in Emily Bronte’s novel”

The smile leaves her face. “Very funny, Jack. We all read Wuthering Heights in English Lit 101.”

Sensing I’ve got the wrong Heathcliff, I surrender. “I give up. Who’s Heathcliff?”

She places four floppy discs and four video cassettes on my desk and answers, “He’s a cat.”

As Howard’s audience disperses, he moves toward me, an anticipatory look of veiled glee in his eyes. He asks, “So how’s Care Bears coming, kid?”

I do not like his use of the word ‘kid’. I know I’m relatively new to children’s entertainment but this is not a day I need to be reminded of it. When I tell him, “I just delivered the last script to Lori” he brightens. Thinking he should also be worried about the season wrapping, I add, “I don’t know if we’ll get a pick-up for more episodes.”

Without a blink Howard says, “Care Bears is going to Nelvana for the next season.”

Showing my lack of knowledge about the children’s entertainment industry, I ask, “Who’s Nelvana?”

Howard puffs up, pleased to ‘teach’ me something. “They’re a Canadian animation studio. Word is they underbid DIC.”

I ask, “How can they do that?”

Enlightening me further, Howard explains, “They get a subsidy from the Canadian government. They can produce the series for half of what DIC charges.”

When I say that doesn’t seem fair, Howard replies, “Welcome to the world of international television, kid.”

Three things happen after our conversation: I assume Howard’s right, I realize I have research to do if I want to be a part of this industry and I still don’t like him calling me ‘kid’. Howard’s stock has gone down a couple points in my book. It would be that way – up and down, up and down – for as long as I would know him

After I deliver the final Care Bears script to Lori, I slink to my office. The letdown hits me like a blacksmith’s hammer. I’ll feel it over and over throughout my career. I’ll spend so many months with wonderful characters and suddenly a series is finished and the characters are gone. I miss Grumpy Bear, Champ, Friendship Bear, and the whole crew. I miss them a lot…

Brooding in my windowless office, the silence closes in. I walk from my office feeling like I’m moving in slow motion as I pass artists and writers. I imagine them stealing glances at me, thinking, “There goes Olesker. His series is over. Poor guy. Dead man walking.”

I come around a cubicle to see Howard holding court, surrounded by newer staff and writers, pontificating about his glory days directing films for legendary B-film producer Roger Corman. When he’s finished, someone chimes, “I saw you at Hamburger Hamlet last night

with a gorgeous gal. How do you do it? I mean…you’re not…” When the newbie fumbles, realizing his gaffe, Howard lets him off the hook with, “I know what you mean. I’m no John Travolta.” There are nervous snickers.

Howard lowers his voice conspiratorially. “Here’s how I do it.” He pauses, milking it as he watches his audience move in closer for the reveal. He confides, “I ask a hundred beautiful women to dinner. If three accept, then I’m doing pretty well.”

There’s good-natured laughter all around, Howard basking in self-denigration. I reluctantly calculate his stock rising a couple points in my book. Anyone who can laugh at himself is okay with me.

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