The Killer Producer
Lately, if I happen to be looking through my address book for a phone number, I’m apt to stop when I come across the name of someone I haven’t been in touch with for a while. A friend, maybe, or an acquaintance. When I do, I’m likely to fire off an e-mail with no more length or gravitas than this:
Hey, how you been?
The gesture is a small one, but I didn’t used to do this. Days that were filled with the pressure and crises of running a national cable television program had little room for casual nicety. If I wasn’t in the control room producing it, I was in my office thinking about how to produce it. If the talent was unhappy, I’d let it gnaw at my gut. If somebody screwed up, I could go off like a roadside bomb, in a finger snap. I knew this. But the show so consumed me that it couldn’t be merely acceptable. It had to be great. I had ambitions. I had to be the killer producer.
Then one day, with no warning whatsoever, I became scary sick in a random and hard-to-figure way, given that I was not even forty years old. Most people with the medical emergency I had do not emerge from the experience physically intact, if they emerge at all. Weeks later, my health restored, I went back to work, and was eager and happy to do so. Illness hadn’t scared me into some big life makeover. I had no urge to surrender my spot in the fast lane for ownership of a B&B in Vermont.
But serious illness had recalibrated me. It had brought a trove of knowledge, as if I had involuntarily paid a painful tuition for an elite education. It was about letting go of my fears. It was about what I could control and what I couldn’t, and how people felt about me, really felt about me. It was about how to use time. It was even about Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States.
It would be nice, I thought, if everyone could get the education I had gotten without having to nearly die.
So I decided to write a book.
© 2011 Chris Licht