How 'Soap's' Jay Johnson helped me better understand what I do.
I think one of the greatest compliments I've ever received for a book was from actor/ventriloquist Jay Johnson ("Chuck & Bob" from the 1970s show Soap), who wrote the following on his blog way back in 2014 shortly after the publication of Soap: The Unauthorized Inside Story of the Sitcom that Broke all the Rules.
This book is a candid look at television show business without make up. It says unauthorized on the cover and it is most certainly not a fan magazine treatment of the SOAP story, nor is it a tabloid hatchet job. It doesn't pull punches but there are no round house sucker punches either. It is the story of people just trying to do their job never realizing that 40 years later someone would be asking questions about it.
Perhaps it took forty years and an independent outsider like A.S. Berman to realistically look at the tempest that surrounded SOAP as the 1970's came to an end....For me this was like finding a high school year book hidden away for almost half a century. With the perspective of looking back I got to experience those years all over again with the assurance that everything would turn out all right a half century later.
Buy the book... this one is mine.
One of the hardest parts of any book project for me is trying to convince the people I want to interview to talk to me about their work. In a world of shock bloggers, tell-all gossip books and look-at-me YouTubery, trust is hard to come by. In just the short excerpt above, I think Jay pegs my work pretty well. In fact ever since his "finding a high school yearbook" line above, that's more or less how I've approached every book since.
Incidentally, if you loved Jay Johnson on Soap, or enjoy brilliant, poignant stage shows in general, you really should pick up a copy of Jay's Tony Award winning show The Two and Only. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll see what a true independent outsider looks like when he's at the top of his craft.