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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!


Time marched on. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and I kept writing. I finished my Get Along Gang script. I wrote two more scripts for The Littles. I still wasn’t getting any accolades or even an “Atta boy” from Jean.

It would take another fifteen years until he’d explain why. It didn’t matter. I accepted it was his way. I was in the entertainment business now, so I thought I should learn how itworked. The first thing I learned was that anew engine was starting to drive children’s television–toy, product and licensing revenues. For sure there were merchandise tie-ins all the way back to Mickey Mouse in 1928. But now merchandise tie-ins were coming in to their own.

Toys, product and merchandise sales generated revenues, providing production funds for television series. In turn, television series created exposure that generated more toy sales which, in return, generated still more revenues that funded the production of new episodes and new seasons of series.

I did my research and learned the two series DIC was producing–The Littles and The Get Along Gang–didn’t have much in the way of merchandise tie-ins. That worried me. What would I do if the production funds for the shows weren’t there and they didn’t get picked up for another season? Something nagged at me; something Lori said about how The Get Along Gang was owned by Those Characters from Cleveland, which was, in turn, owned by American Greetings. I wondered why she said that. This was long before the internet, so I headed to the library.

I threw myself into my work.

Once, many years later, before Kim and I were married, I would visited her in Kansas City. A first grade teacher who was renting a bedroom in Kim’s home knew I wrote for children’s television and asked me to come speak to her class.

I told the children what it took to write for television and how much I loved it. At the end of my lecture I asked if there were questions. A six-year-old girl named Rachel asked, “Is writing hard work?”

I answered, “Well, there are times when I write for ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day; sometimes more. At the end of the day, I’m not tired like this…” I pointed to my bicep. “But I’m tired like this…” I said, pointing to my left temple.

Rachel thought about this, then said, “I get it.”

Now, after hours of reading and rereading and re-rereading the Series Bible for The Get Along Gang and making copious notes, this was one of those fourteen-hour days. I was exhausted, drenched in sweat. I hit the shower, cold water washing over me.

I’d gotten too full of myself. Jean, Andy and Lori weren’t having meetings about how I “had potential and could be of benefit to them.” And it was a stretch to think they were “grooming me for something”. But I was thirty-four. I’d had three novels published and written, three television scripts, with more on the horizon. I might not be vital to the studio’s growth...yet. I wasn’t just a ‘cog’. I was in a good place. I decided to enjoy it…and to be thankful for it.

Mike Stokey, who would become my best friend, was a word processor at DIC and would go on to become a renowned Military Technical Advisor for films and television series that included Born on the Fourth of July, Band of Brothers, Starship Troopers and many others. He once said when “When you get excited it’s ‘elevator going up’!” He was kind enough not to add when I “get deflated it’s ‘elevator going down’…”

The Series Bible for The Get Along Gang was amazing; not because of the series itself, but because of the structure contained within it. There were lengthy sections about the series’ Backstory, Concept, Characters, Locations, Format and Story Springboards. Skillfully written, it created the entire world of the series. I was awed.

But as dusk fell, my elation waned and I was stuck in an elevator “going down”, reflecting how pompous I was to think Jean, Andy and Lori were strategizing about how Jack Olesker, having written three episodes of The Littles, was going to play a vital role in the studio’s growth. Jeffrey Scott was Jean’s go-to writer. Jean said I wasn’t even allowed to say his name. I drove to the studio, went to Lori’s office and asked to see everything Jeffrey had written. She pulled out file after file after file, piling them on her desk. “At last count, a hundred and thirty-six episodes of produced television.”

My elevator hit rock bottom. At best I was a minor cog.

Lori softened. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re just starting out. Go home and get to work on The Get Along Gang.”

I slunk out of her office, my tail firmly tucked between my legs.

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