Untitled design (4).gif

BLOG

Work animation  (1).gif
Untitled design (4).gif
New blog posts will be uploaded at 5:00 PM CST
Every Tuesday & Thursday!
An-Invitation-to-All2.gif
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 on 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!

- JACK OLESKER

1984 was a good year for this writer who was enjoying A Writer’s Life…During The Golden Age of Television Animation. My first episode of television -- “The Forest Littles” Episode 3 of Season 2 of The Littles had aired. It was definitely cool to see my name right under the episode’s title on the TV screen.


Jean still maintained his professorial aura when talking about writing for television. But it was increasingly apparent to me that he knew his stuff.


I must have been doing something right because the studio assigned me two more scripts for The Littles. I was being paid $1,500 for a half-hour script. That may not sound like a lot, but adjusted for inflation it would come out to about $4,500 in 2022 dollars. Not enough for me to retire to the South of France, but I’d earned just $350 a week as an Associate Editor at Entrepreneur Magazine, so it was a nice hit. Still, I knew that to live off my writing I’d have to write a lot more than two or three episodes of The Littles each season.

Jean was teaching me more and more. “You can’t use TILT DOWN AERIAL SHOTS in animation because you’d have to animate every creature on the ground.” “Don’t ever have a tiger in a script again. You can’t animate the stripes!” (And back then you couldn’t.) I was learning. But while everything seemed to go fast in the beginning, now it felt like I was slogging through mud. I wanted it to go faster.


Then two things happened that changed everything.

Updated: 6 days ago

You have to understand that by the time Jean and I sat down to work on my script for The Forest Littles, I was already a professional writer. My first published novel, No Place Like Home (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), was a bestseller. Sherry Lansing, who would go on to become the longest serving CEO of a motion picture studio (Paramount Pictures), shepherding films like Titanic, Fatal Attraction and The Accused, bought the film rights to the book and I’d followed with three more successful novels.

I’d spent two years in L.A. as an associate editor at Entrepreneur Magazine, afterwards writing commercials for voiceover genius Mel Blanc’s son, Noel. And I’d sold a movie script based upon my occult novel, Beyond Forever (Signet). So while I may have been a newbie in the television industry, I was no babe in the woods.


Up until now, Jean had treated me with the respect I thought I deserved. But now that he had my first television script in his hands, the honeymoon was over. We spent two long hours in my rented condo going over my script, each page with his hand- scrawled notes on them. Every note described what was wrong with my script. There wasn’t a single note that said “Good job, Jack!”, “I like this!” or “Very clever!”


And his attitude was different now. Where before he’d been friendly and even jocular, now he assumed the persona of a college professor. It would be many more editing sessions with my scripts before I came to appreciate the reasons for the change in my mentor.

I read a couple more of Jeffrey Scott’s scripts. He was amazing – smooth, a great storyteller, making it look effortless which, of course, was hard to do.


Jean and I had a lot of meetings. Sometimes we discussed Jeffrey’s work. Sometimes we discussed how Jean saw things, how he saw characters and situations working. He spoke very little about format and structure, paying me the compliment of knowing I had done my homework which, by now I had, devouring books on writing for television.


I had a good handle on structure and format and I was straining to get started. First, Jean had me write a story springboard – a two-paragraph concept for an episode I titled The Forest Littles. The springboard featured The Littles leaving their comfortable home, venturing into a forest where they fell into jeopardy. We polished the springboard until Jean was happy with it. Next he told me to expand the springboard into a treatment, outlining a detailed synopsis of the story scene by scene, which I did.

We spent a day editing my treatment and finally he told me to write the script.


By now we had had a modus operandi -- me a night owl, him an early bird. At midnight I slid my first television script under his door and went to bed, confident my golden fingers were taking me where I wanted to go.


By morning I’d find I had a lot to learn.



Untitled design (4).gif

VIEW JACK'S BODY OF WORK