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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!


I’d learned early in life that when you’re in a crisis you have to act decisively. With Care Bears being two weeks behind schedule, I had to act… and decisively.

I spent the rest of my first day as story editor placing calls to writers. If their line was busy, as it often was in those before-voicemail days, I’d call again in ten of fifteen minutes, and again and again until I reached them.

Sometimes I’d get an answering machine, which I intensely disliked. I’d far prefer the phone keep ringing if no one was available and try again later. It was a lot better than leaving a message and being at the mercy of someone to call back.

When I’d get a writer on the phone I told them I was the new story editor for Care Bears and there’d be a writers’ meeting in the DIC conference room at noon tomorrow. Most said they’d be there. Two or three said they weren’t sure they could make it. One said he had an appointment at noon. I told him to break it. I told the others who “weren’t sure they could make it” that I was sure if they didn’t attend the meeting they wouldn’t be working on Care Bears…or any other series DIC had in the works.

As the day neared its end, I was confident I’d have a fine turnout for my first writers’ meeting. I packed up, planning to head to the library.

Funny how things don’t always work out like you want…

I didn’t have much time to mourn Sandy Fries. Lori walked to me standing by the Care Bears desks and said, “Come with me.” As we walked past staff writers writing and artists drawing, I looked to the second floor walkway. Andy, Jean and Kevin were by the railing. I thought I saw Andy smile. Then they turned and walked away.

Lori opened a door and as we walked into a windowless but comfortable office, she said, “Your office.” There was a weathered oak desk, a brown leather executive chair, a couple of office chairs, tan metal file cabinets, the requisite phone, a Rolodex, plenty of pens, yellow legal notepads and, taking my breath away, a huge computer monitor and keyboard perched atop the desk, wires running to a tower hidden below.

“Thank you, Lori.”

She answered, “You earned it.”

I ran my fingertips over the Rolodex and looked to Lori. “Writers?”

She nodded. “You’ve got two weeks to get the series back on schedule.”

I said, “Done.” She nodded, knowing it would be. I sat in my chair and added, “I’ve got work to do.”

My benefactor grinned. “Indeed you do.”

As she was leaving, I asked, “Can I have the conference room at noon tomorrow?”

She said, “I’ll get it for you.” Then she left.

I looked at Rolodex, picked up the phone and called the first writer. It was going to be a long day, an even longer one looming tomorrow.

When I returned to the studio the next day, Sandy was gone, his desktop cleared of whatever had been his. I was the Care Bears’ story editor now. It was bittersweet.  Sandy wasn’t a bad guy. He was a smart guy, had earned an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia.  

But being a story editor wasn’t for him.  It seemed to me that he had been adrift, and one didn’t survive long in the entertainment world if one was adrift.  Much later, I’d look him up on what would become the web. He’d write an episode of Jem here, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling there. But except for snagging a slew of Tom & Jerry Kids’ episodes, most of his gigs were single episodes.

He never worked again as a story editor.

The last I knew he was teaching at a college, which seemed the right fit for him.

This children’s entertainment business, as I’ve said, can be brutal. It’s not all about writing for warm and fuzzy teddy bears. It’s also about politics, relationships, maneuvering, jockeying and sometimes doing something you’re not proud of, but something that nonetheless needs to be done.

In the epic film, Patton, there’s a scene in which the hard-edged general whose audacity and dogged determination and relentlessness did more than any single person to win World War II is walking through a battlefield with his aide-de-camp after a battle. Patton surveils twisted tanks, bodies everywhere. He looks up at acrid, choking black smoke rising and after a moment, in a grim confession, rasps, “I love it… God help me, I do love it so... I love it more than my life...”

I would come to know what the warrior general meant.

People die in wars. It’s sad, and for a time you mourn them. But if you’re a warrior you resign yourself to knowing it’s a part of war and often to the benefit of those who go on battling for the victories that they and fellow warriors seek.

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