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.