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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!


By the time I walked around the corner and saw Howard R. Cohen in front of me, I was frazzled. I’d had a long night working on my two treatments based on the Care Bears springboards had Jean approved. And then I did something I rarely do: I got up at six A.M. to finish writing the treatments.

I’d always been taught to do more than is expected of me – remember my father’s story about The Twenty Dollar Man and The Forty Dollar Man? It’s fifty-nine years later and I still do. Speed, along with talent, is an essential element in the runaway train world of television. I’m a fast writer, so I was determined to deliver and demonstrate that I had the added value of speed, along with talent.

Understand that story springboards can and should be short and to the point –

punchy and crafted to quickly gain the reader’s attention. Sometimes the best story springboards are a single sentence. If you read “It’s a Cinderella story about a washed up club fighter who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship of the gain the reader’s attention. Sometimes the best story springboards are a single sentence. If you read “It’s a Cinderella story about a washed up club fighter who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world” or “It’s about a serial killer great white shark who attacks the same resort seaport village…over and over and over again” you immediately grasp the idea and, if you were a good studio acquisitions executive, you’d at least greenlight Sylvester Stallone or Peter Benchley to write the full treatment for Rocky or Jaws (and never mind that it only took Stallone three and a half days to write the whole screenplay for Rocky!)

But writing a full treatment is very different from writing a short story springboard and is, I think, worth two blog posts. So hang around and read on.

It was an afternoon in 1984 when I scoured around DIC’s studio searching for Howard Cohen, DIC Entertainment’s resident ‘great man’.

Almost a quarter century later, in 2008, V.S Sundarajan, CEO of KEN Creative Studio, would lead me through the most elegant restaurant in Chennai, India, past incredibly attentive servers wearing starched white uniforms with so much gold braid on them that a British admiral would blush.

We walked to a long table with a dozen well-heeled, very well-dressed investors seated around it. I’d recently been appointed President of KEN Creative Studios, not long after they had purchased the film rights to my screenplay, Ninja Knights: When Warrior Worlds Collide. V.S. slowly scanned the investors and then proclaimed, “Gentlemen, I give you Jack Olesker…” He paused for dramatic effect and added, “…The Great Man.”

I didn't know if I should be embarrassed or flattered. I think I was a little of both. The reason I’ve said the entertainment business is sometimes a brutal business is because it is. There were days during my long career when I’d figuratively throw my arms out like Yul Brenner’s Ramses about to give chase to Charlton Heston’s Moses in The Ten Commandments and, in my mind, call out, “Bring me my battle armor!”

But there were other days. Oh, there were other days...

Writers come and go. Those of us who have long ‘survived and thrived’ – gosh, I love the sound of that! – did so, and do so, through talent, guile, business sense, ruthlessness but fairness and a relentless work ethic. So maybe V.S was right when he said I am a ‘great man’. (Sorry, but I’ve

always felt humility is an overrated virtue.)

Still, back in 1984, my much-younger self was just barely getting started in the entertainment business. So as I rounded a c

orner in DIC’s studios and came face to face with DIC’s in-house ‘great man’ -- Howard R. Cohen -- standing in my way I ‘d be lying if I didn’t say I was intimidated.

I had to confront him about not attending the Care Bears meeting, but I kind of withered in his presence.

One of the things my father taught me as a young man was there’s a right way to be tough with someone. “Step on the toes of their shoes, but don’t mess up the shine.” Years later I’d learn he’d coopted the quote from Harry Truman, but it didn’t matter.

I was tough and gruff when I told my writers they had to show up for this meeting. Now it was time to ‘make nice’. I was cordial and welcoming as I went through what was required. But I was clear about it.

The writers were to create and deliver at least three Care Bears story springboards within forty-eight hours. So they’d understand this wasn’t a frivolous request, I shared that we were two weeks behind schedule and the series could be pulled if we missed airdates.

Another was smiling. The others, except for the writing team, were expressionless. The team of Eleanor Burian-Mohr and Jack Hanrahan was scribbling furiously on legal pads.

They’d been doing this since I began the meeting. Smart, I thought.

After the meeting ended, I bid each writer good-bye. When Jack Hanrahan approached, I knowingly asked, “So what do you think of this ‘Olesker-guy’ now?”

Without missing a beat, he answered, “I like him.” Smart again.

I smiled. I liked him, too. Tomorrow I’d learn how amazing Jack’s writing partner, Eleanor Burian Mohr, was. After they left, I went to find Howard Cohen. He was on staff…but he hadn’t attended my meeting.

Not smart, I thought.

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