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#87 The Friendly Folks From the Flyover Zone

I believe it was Sumner Redstone, the late chairman of both Viacom and CBS, that once said, “The Midwest is a flyover zone between New York and L.A.” What Mr. Redstone, or whoever it was that said it, didn’t realize is Midwesterners like it that way. “Keep those jets up at thirty thousand feet!”

Well, I’m a Midwesterner, born and bred, but after seven years in Los Angeles, I’d nearly forgotten how much Midwesterners love the Midwest. Walking into Those Characters From Cleveland’s conference room brought it all back for me. Here were genuinely smiling faces, warm welcomes and then ten minutes of execs asking about my

writing and novels, showing they’d done their homework about this young man from L.A. who was actually from the Midwest – a point I made in short order and which was well-received.

Throughout, Andy was mostly silent. I was coming to realize one of the many skills the man who would end up being one of my four great mentors possessed was his disarming ability to sometimes remain silent and just listen. There is, he knew -- and, over time, I’d come to find out -- much that can be gleaned from listening.

Just before Those Characters From Cleveland’s execs moved into the business at hand, several said how much they’d liked the Care Bears scripts so far, and particularly the ones I’d written. I was starting to feel exhilarated. It was pleasantly surreal. I was floating on air, up in the clouds near Care-a-lot where my Care Bears friends dwelled.

And then the rug was pulled out from under me and they got down to business…


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