Thursday, May 8, 2014

Celebrity Week Part 4

Some of you may not recognize today's celebrity.

She has the looks of any actress but made her name behind the scenes and never on the screens.

This is Jamie Tarses.

One time girlfriend to Mathew Perry.
And also one time President of the ABC Television Network.

I am forever indebted to Ms. Tarses for having the cajones to pull the trigger on our now famous/infamous ABC Yellow Campaign back in 1997. That bit of good fortune changed the trajectory of my career. And like so many other campaigns before it, could have easily died and never seen the light of day.

Working with Ms. Tarses and her boss Bob Iger -- who is now the CEO of Disney -- as well as her staff, including my friend Alan Cohen, was an education unto itself.

There, in the hallowed hallways of the American Broadcasting Company, we were introduced to the fascinating and often-slimy world of Network TV.

If you, my advertising colleagues, think our industry is dysfunctional, you should witness the Somali-type governance of a major broadcasting network. Each show was its own fiefdom, clawing for more production money and more network promos, often at the expense of their competition, the other shows.

Show runners and executives slithered through the hallways at the ABC corporate headquarters, with their backs against the drywall to protect against any unforeseen attacks.

For us, the agency guys, it was all different. Jamie Tarses and her crew looked forward to seeing us. At least it seemed that way.

We never had any hidden agendas. We just showed up with a bunch of billboards or some 30 second spots. And the criteria was painfully simple.

If the work made her laugh, it got produced.
If it didn't make her laugh, we'd go back to Playa Vista and make some more.

My partner John Shirley and I would often leave the Century City offices and high five each other. With one of us saying, "it'll never get any better than this."

Sadly we couldn't have been more prescient.

Thanks to this thing called social media I was able to contact one of the talented young art directors, Mark Cohen, who worked on our team. He graciously forwarded me a copy of an ad he did with a very talented writer, Maya Rao.

If memory serves this was also one of Ms. Tarses' favorite ads, it remains one of mine...

1 comment:

Mark Cohen said...

My most fond memory working on that campaign: I commented to the "Hollywood" photographer that I read the script for the show we were shooting promos for and it was quite lame. He immediately sold me out to the client and I was asked to leave.
How wrong I was about that show. Years later, Teen Angel, the show that reignited Maureen Mccormick's Oscar winning acting career now shares television history with the likes of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Office. Lesson learned, American Broadcasting Company.