10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 16, 1998
truth of Holl1ywood'
Savage brothers grow into big stark
Fade in: "Conversations with My
Agent" Cut to: A half-true story of
the inner workings of television in the
one and only Hollywood. Rob Long,
co-executive producer of "Cheers,'
depicts the hardship and excitement
of the life of a Hollywood writer.
While the story of Long's trials
and tribulations are less than exhil-
arating, any person thinking of
becoming a Hollywood writer
should read this book. Although, as
Long writes on the first page, the
story is only half true, it reflects the
hardships of making it big in
Long offers an honest look at
Hollywood. He brings the reader on
the journey of the writer himself.
The journey starts at the beginning
of writing a script. The reader then
travels to offers from the studio and
from the network and, in many
cases, to filming a pilot. But, the
journey ends with the final and,
unfortunately, inevitable step of
being canceled. The reader thus
learns the process that all scripts
endure. Long depicts just how com-
plicated it is to make it in
Hollywood and reveals the unique-
ness of all sitcoms that make it
through an entire season.
Long's story is amusing and
entertaining and while it is interest-
ing enough to hold the reader's
attention, upon completion the
reader is left wondering why he
began reading the book in the first
Those ,who dream of being a TV
scriptwriter in Hollywood cannot
afford to miss this book. Long's
account is so honest that one gains a
true understanding of the
Hollywood writer. It offers an hon-
est look at agents, and how easily it
is to go from being a somebody to a
nobody in a split.second. For those
with no intentions of being a
scriptwriter, this book does little
more than entertain.
Logging Long's constant failure
throughout the account, the reader"
wonders why anyone would trust:
Long's authority. He repeats the
constant cycle of writing a script
that never makes it. It seems that
had this book been written by a
more successful writer, a reader
would be more apt to have interest
in it. Then it becomes clear that
Long's failures are characteristic of
Hollywood. Having "Cheers" under
his belt offers Long the authority to
write this book because he was part
of an extremely successful project.
But as Long writes, as soon as
"Cheers" ended, so did his success.
Such is the sad story of Hollywood.
"Conversations" is written in the
format of a Hollywood script. It is
quite a quick read and while at
times a bit confusing, the script
style in which it is written holds the
reader's attention and offers a bit of
There is one area where Long is at
fault. Though this book is most like-
ly intended for those who plan on
having a profession such as Long's,
the-common man may also read this
book. But the constant abbreviations
and script lingo are source for some
confusion. This aside, the book is
very organized. Writing it as a
script allows Long to jump forward
and backward through time with no
confusion at all.
While "Conversations With My
Agent" embraces nothing profound,
it is an interesting look and the
inner workings of Hollywood. In a
society so consumed by TV,
"Conversations" offer some insight
to all. For those future Hollywood
script writers who, after reading this
account, still wish to pursue such a
career, good luck. Fade out.
Los Angeles Times
HOLLYWOOD - Fred and Ben
Savage have grown up before viewers'
Fred came to fame playing Kevin
Arnold in the classic ABC series "The
Wonder Years" Now 22 and one term
shy of getting a degree in English from
Stanford University in Palo Alto, he is
entering his second season on NBC's sit-
com "Working," playing a young execu-
tive who wants to ascend the corporate
ladder by virtue of his own hard work.
Ben, who will turn 18 on Sunday, is
about to start his sixth season on ABC's
comedy "Boy Meets World." Though his
TV character, Cory Matthews, will be
attending college in the fall, Ben has
deferred his entrance into Stanford for a
Over several iced teas at a Los
Angeles restaurant, the two brothers are
bright and fun. Though they are mostly
unrecognized at the restaurant, one
young girl shyly walks over for an auto-
graph from them both.
"Ben always sells me out, because all
kids recognize him a lot more than they
recognize me, Fred says with a laugh.
This summer, the Savage siblings
toiled in the theater. Ben received good
reviews here for the Israel Horovitz play
"Unexpected Tenderness," at the Lee
Strasberg Institute, while Fred went to
Cape Cod and Connecticut to star with
his "Wonder Years" father, Dan Lauria,
in the play "Wendell and Ben."
Q: How did you like your life in the
theater this summer?
Ben: It was such a nice change from
what I'm used to on the show. It was a
really nice contrast. A lot of people I
work with on the show have been
telling me, "You've got to open your-
self up." (Fellow "Boy Meets World"
actor) Bill Daniels was always one of
the people who encouraged me to do
Fred: Mine came about through a play
reading. I read it (last year) with Dan
Lauria, the guy who played my father on
"The Wonder Years" The audience real-
ly responded to it. We both said we have
some time this summer and let's put it
I love being at the theater. The
moment I got to the theater, the moment
I left - I loved it. I loved performing. I
it was like to go to school on the set an
how to handle school, especially durin
his junior and senior year, when acid<
mics became really important and co
lege was an issue.
Ben: I went to a regular high schoo
I think the difference between "Bo
Meets World" and "The Wonder Year:
is that "The Wonder Years" would r
for months at a time and he would rarel
get to go back to school until March c
April. With a sitcom, you do two orthre
episodes and you get a week off. IDurin
that week off I'd be at school for a iveek
I didn't get the full high school eiped
ence, but I got enough.
Q: How did acting happen? Was
something your parents wanted fo- yo
Fred: When did you get started?
Ben: I don't know. Fred was do
and then I did it.
Fred: I was doing commercials. W
grew up in this little town about 25 mile
north of Chicago. I was like 5 years of
and there were auditions being held a
the local community center for a hot do
commercial. So, my mom and all m
friends and their moms, we all went t
the community center, just for some
thing fun to do. I don't really reme
it that well. I ate a hot dog and a
happy about that. Nothing 'came of it bu
this director remembered me and calle
me back a couple of times. They calle
us back for a third audition and my mor
asked me if I wanted to go (to dowtow
Chicago) again and I was, like, "What i
it for?" It was for Pac Man vitamins. 0
course, I was, like, "Of course, o
course." I got it and I started gettin
more and more commercials.
Chicago now is like L.A., but w
was getting started it was a lot sni
particularly for young actors. The marke
wasn't flooded, so there was a need fo
Courtesy of NBC
Fred Savage is trying to grow from his "Wonder Years" Image with his role on the
NBC sitcom "Working."
Q: Do you both discuss each other's
Fred: We see each other's stuff.
Ben: But we really don't talk about
each other's work. We do support each
Fred: Especially because we are on the
same lot, so I always go over and see
him. We look out for each other. When I
first came to do "Working" on the lot last
year, it was my first year doing a sitcom.
Ben was, like, a five-year veteran at that
point in the sitcom world. He would
always come over to our stage and stick
his head in and see how I was doing.
That was the first time Ben was kind of
thje pioneer. He was kind of the guy who
ventured into this first.
Q: Has it been strange to spend your
youth on television'?
Ben: I think there are certain advan-
tages and disadvantages. I could never
try out for the basketball team or partic-
ipate in some sports teams because I had
other commitments. But at the same
time, you are forced to grow up really
quickly because you are working with
adults. That helped me incredibly
because you are sort of forced to grow
up in a matter of years. Most kids slow-
Q: Is there any sibling rivalry over
your career or just normal stuff between
Ben: I don't think there has been any-
thing except what most brothers fight
over - trivial things ...
Fred: Annoying stuff, certainly not
professional stuff at all. We haven't com-
peted with each other, but that may
change when I'm 34 and Ben's 30 and
we're going out for the same roles.
Q: Fred, when Ben started "Boy
Meets World," did you offer him advice
on what life would be like as star of a
Fred: I think the times that we would
talk wouldn't be as much professionally
as personally - like Ben deferring his
freshman year in college. We talked a
lot about that because he was going to
Stanford and I was at Stanford. We
talked a lot about high school and what
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Ben Savage has been making his mark in the industry with the ABC hit "Boy
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