Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Tough Road Ahead...

One of my relatives recently asked me, "Why are you writing this blog? Does anybody really read it?"

I thought for a moment, (perhaps so I wouldn't bite her head off) and replied, "Because it's about the fire/rescue service. That's important to me and I hope it's important enough to my friends on Facebook and the followers on Twitter, because it's important to me and all most every other firefighter out there."

"Oh," was her sole reaction, as she turned and walked away.

I don't know why I was thinking about that little episode today, but as I did, it appeared to me that her reaction is symbolic of the general public's reaction to the fire/rescue service today in 2011. Unless you're a volunteer in a relatively small community, most of the residents you protect are better acquainted with their exterminator than they are with you, the person who just might save their life! However, that's not to say that your residents don't know about you!

If you're in a career or combo department, there's every chance that the paid crews are members of the IAFF, and rightfully so. However, whether your union initials are "IAFF" or "UAW", your residents pronounce those initials as "U-N-I-O-N." And to them "U-N-I-O-N" means money out of their pockets through their taxes, fire access fees, etc. Because as we all know, firefighters get paid for doing very little. We sit around the firehouse 95% of the time and occasionally respond to an alarm. And for that little amount of work your salary (which is also too high, to them) is augmented by this huge pension you're accumulating, so that you can retire in your mid-to-late 40's, receive a juicy pension, and then work in a new profession. You'll be living in the high class at their expense. Never mind that besides working your shifts, you work another full-time job and/or grab as many overtime shifts as possible, all just to make your mortgage payment each month. Oh, and your wife is working two jobs, as well.

Yet, no matter how many times those bells ring during the middle of the night, you're up out of your bunk and on the wagon, rescue, or truck, to answer the alarm. And you never know what that alarm is going to bring to you.

Thus, your section of the "tough road ahead," from the title of today's posting, is that every member of your department must do whatever it takes to convince your government officials and the public, that we earn every penny of our salaries and pensions. And to remind them that we NEVER say NO to answering an alarm. No strikes, no "sick-outs;" we answer every alarm. When they dial 9-1-1, they know that we will show up as quickly as safety allows. We will care for them and their property. We will comfort them. We will assist them. This is who we are and what we do.

Now, if you're a member in a combo or volunteer department, your road is going to be just as difficult, if not even more so. And that's because beside your dependence on your municipality's funding, your department cannot and will not function without increasing the number of volunteers that will serve your department and your community. In a volunteer department, we must invest our time in successful recruitment and fund raising campaigns. We must take both of these responsibilities seriously, or we face the dangers of being under-staffed and ill-equipped.

Very few volunteer departments receive enough funding through their municipal tax base. That money may be augmented by insurance taxes, i.e. New York State's "Foreign Fire Tax," which mandates that any foreign or alien insurance company that writes fire insurance in New York State, must contribute 2% of the fire premiums written on property located in NYS to be distributed to the fire departments and fire districts statewide, or other types of assessments. More importantly, a lot of the necessary additional funding comes from fund-raising projects run by the departments, from direct-mail campaigns, to annual carnivals, barbecues, etc.

Yet, without enough volunteers, all the money in the world will not make a difference. And those recruitment efforts are also facing difficult, uphill battles. In this economy, the person who used to work one job, is now working two, as is their spouse. The kids are are more involved today in extra-curricular activities than ever before and the family depends on carpools to shuttle those children. And for the family where a parent or parents are unemployed, they need to spend almost every waking minute seeking employment. Who has time to respond when that siren goes off?

Listen, it's up to us. No one is going to "sell" us to the public better than we can do it ourselves. However, to do so, the first thing we have to do is stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Yes, both of these situations stink. We can either bury our collective heads in the sand and wallow in the muck and mire of the situation, or we can task ourselves to rise above the negativity and educate the public about who we really are. How hard we work each and every shift or on each and every call. We all know that the simplest of calls have resulted in the ultimate price being paid.

Be positive, be strong and remember, 343 of our brothers will always have our backs.

Till next time...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Were You...?

The summer of 2001 was turning out to be a very successful one, both on a professional and personal level. My wife had qualified for for a teacher's scholarship for a trip to Israel and we decided if she was going to go, well, I had to find a way to do so, as well. We have family that live outside of the city of Haifa, as well as friends living in the greater Tel Aviv area, and this would be the perfect opportunity to see them all.  From a professional standpoint, we had just released the pilot episode of "America's Heroes: The Men & Women of Fire Rescue," which was being marketed internationally. 

With a few phone calls, I was in touch with the office for the American Magen David office in Illinois, which pulled some strings and booked me an interview with the Director General of Israel's EMS service, Magen David Adom, as well as permission to ride with several units from Jerusalem south to Ashkelon, on Israel western coast on the Mediterranean. Additionally, my dearly departed friend, Todd Miller, made arrangements for me to speak with a major producer on one of Israel's national networks.After spending about five days with our relatives in the northern part of the country, my wife and I went our separate ways, her to her teacher's program and me to my ride-alongs.

My meeting with the Israeli producer went very well. He loved the framework of our show and asked me if I could return to Israel after the High Holidays of 2001, to help him produce an Israeli version of our show. We set-up some tentative dates and programming ideas and left our meeting, both looking forward to the following Fall.

Upon my return to our office in August, I received a phone call from a good friend explaining that a leading talk show based in New York City, wanted to produce a segment for National Fire Prevention Month in October, that would feature young children and a quick fire education, yet fun, TV spot, as the host of the show was deeply enamored with the fire-rescue service both in New York City and nationally. I tried backing off, but he wouldn't hear of it, since he knew of my background in education, plus he was a very important supporter of our show and web site.

I wrote up a quick treatment for a segment with children 8-10, plus a national fire-prevention mascot, fire-equipment and several firefighters. I sent if off to my contact who was brokering the deal to see what would come of my ideas.We shot a few faxes and email back and forth, fine-tuning the segment, until we both felt it was as good as it could be. I sat back and waited to see what might happen.

On Friday, September 7, 2001, I received a phone call from the broker, ho advised me that the segment had been reviewed by several of the show's producers and they liked it a lot. They too, had a couple of ideas, but felt it was clear enough to meet the host's desires. They would be presenting to her at the following Tuesday's staff meeting at 9:00AM at the studio and would get back to me.

I was on "pins and needles" that weekend, because this would give both our company and our show a big push for the domestic, US television markets. But life rolled on, past the weekend, past Monday, then into Tuesday.

A close friend and I shared our office space in Ft. Lauderdale. He had seen many of the video submissions we had received from dozens of fire departments around the country and as we watched them together, I would teach him some of the signs that firefighters look for at an incident scene. One of those was the color of smoke. Dark, black smoke indicated strong fire and burning; colored smoke often indicated chemical or hazardous materials involvement, and grayish smoke was often a mixture of smoke and steam and was a sign that firefighters were putting water on whatever was burning.

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting at my desk going through my email, with my scanner running in the background. Suddenly, I heard a Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department unit mention that something had happened in Manhattan, a "10-75, All Hands" alarm. Turning to the Internet, I tried to get on to a great web site ( that broadcast the FDNY radio channels. But each time I tried to log in, up popped a message saying the site could not be accessed. And the chatter on the scanner had been kicked up a couple of notches as more details became available. 

I went into my editing room and rolled one of our 25-inch monitors out to the main office area, hooked up a jury-rigged antenna and tuned to the first station I could find. That's when we saw the beginning of the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. As we watched, we saw, live, as the second plane hit the South Tower. We l,looked at each other, both realizing what was happening on our soil, not some unknown locale in the Middle East. My friend asked me how did I think the fire service would douse the fires burning in the two buildings. I told him, "They can't." Then, of course, we heard about the Pentagon and Shanksville.I 

We watched for a while, then I had to start answering phone calls from around the country. I was back in the editing room a few minutes later when he yelled out to me, "Steve, come here and look! They're getting water or foam or something on the flames, because the smoke is turning from black to gray!"

Riveted, I sat there watching the scenes unfold before us. I let the telephone ring and go to voicemail. We didn't utter a word to each other. We just sat there silently, letting the tears stream down our faces.And I knew right then and there that fate was not taking me to New York or to Israel. It would keep me in Ft. Lauderdale, doing what I could, in my own small way, to help our country come together in mourning and grief.

Shortly after the North Tower fell, I left the office and headed over to the local blood bank office in my home community, not only to donate my blood, but I felt certain that I was the first of hundreds who would arrive that day. As life would have it, I worked at that blood bank for three straight days, until it was announced that there was absolutely no hope for, or need of blood, for survivors.

Where were you?

Friday, September 2, 2011

And Her Name Was Irene...

As a Florida resident for the last 19 years and having experienced both Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Wilma, many of my co-residents considered ourselves quite lucky that we did not have to experience a full-on encounter with Hurricane Irene. However, what was lucky for us proved to be terribly tragic for those living from North Carolina up through Vermont.

Over 40 deaths have been reported to date. Damages are so high that Irene has been placed in the Top-10 most expensive natural disasters in recorded U.S. history. I grew up outside of Boston, MA and can remember preparing and then experiencing a couple of hurricanes, as well as numerous blizzards and nor'easters. However, nothing I experience in my first 22 years bore any resemblance to what Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene brought to the northeast.

The loss of life of just one person is one too many in any one's book, but one loss that I had heard of shortly after fire-rescue operations began in New Jersey, hit home harder today when I received the monthly alumni newsletter from Brandeis University, from which I graduated in 1974.

When I attended the school, it was before I had had the opportunity of volunteering in either the fire or rescue services. Living just a short 18 miles from Boston and another 15 miles from Worcester, 99% of eastern Massachusetts was, and continues to be services by career fire-rescue agencies. Simply put, there was no chance for me to volunteer until the mid 1970's. While attending Brandeis, I was able to land a campus job with campus security (unarmed, at that time). Our main task was to verify parking passes across the beautiful suburban campus and write infraction tickets. 

In 1983 Brandeis established Brandeis Emergency Medical Corp or BEMco. It has been staffed by over 670 student volunteers, all trained to state-standards in BLS or basic life support. Any number of its members have gone on to become physicians, physician-assistants, and paramedics. One of those volunteers was Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad member, Michael Kenwood. Michael, a quick-water rescue technician, lost his life after attempting to ascertain if a submerged vehicle, overtaken by flooding waters, was occupied.

Here is the community story about this hero, who he was and what he did:

So, though I may not have known him, we traveled on many of the same paths, attending classes on the same campus and offering our time and energies to help those in need. However, Michael paid the ultimate cost for his duty to his community. May his memory be for a blessing and may he rest in peace.

And Irene was her name...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"In Sickness and In Health..."

There are several subjects I wanted to address in this post. First of all, we finally have the additional video that we shot in early spring at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Fire & Safety. I've reviewed it a few times and looks like it will add some better explanations, voice-overs, etc., to what we shot in San Francisco last year. I might be overly optimistic, but I could see the new "teaser-reel" being reading in the next 4-6 weeks. We'll be sure to post some snippets on the web site or Facebook in the near future.

(If you have an interest in the fire service and you're heading to South Florida, you should make a point of stopping by and visiting the museum

Whether active or retired, the four letters that no firefighter wants to hear, are LODD - Line of Duty Death. When this tragedy happens on the fireground, as happened in Worcester, MA, Pompey, NY, and Charleston SC, to name a few, the stories are usually spread all over the media. From the live reports of "Eyewitness News," to large, dark headlines in daily newspapers, the news of a firefighter or firefighters dying "in the line of duty," is all-too-often understood to mean that they died from the fire, or a collapse, entrapment, etc.

However, that understanding is actually a misunderstanding, for the majority of firefighter LODD that occur in this country often happen no where near a fireground or rescue scene. Instead, they happen in the firehouse, at home, at the gym, and other mundane locations. For many of these tragic losses might have been prevented if the person/people concerned had taken better care of themselves.

Look, we all agree that those of us in the fire service are the crazy ones - we run into a building everyone else is running out of. And we're also the ones ready to rush to someone's - anyone's aid, at the drop of hat. But who rushes to our aid? Who takes care of the firefighters who do not take care of themselves?

One of the leading industry magazines is "Firehouse," under the terrific leadership of long-time editor, Harvey Eisner. Each month's issue contains one dedication to firefighters who died in the line of duty and a second and separate listing of firefighters, rescue personnel, and affiliated civilians who died in the line of duty. And in almost every dedication or listing, the smallest number is attributed to an actual occurrence on the fireground. The rest are often either road accidents and/or personal health issues. And with nearly 70% of this country's life and property protect by volunteer or paid-on-call firefighters, the men and women dying are our neighbors and, God forbid, our family.

So, how are these deaths attributed to LODD? The actual standards are developed by government and professional organizations, such as the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Thus, if a firefighters dies on the way to a call, on the way home, during the night after a call or a strenuous training exercise, etc., the death is classified as LODD. In a recent issue, a rescue responder, who had developed Hepatitis as a result of performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation more than a decade ago, was declared an LODD. But those type of attributions are few and far between. All too often, it happens either on the way to, or subsequent to, a training exercise or actual call.

And we, the firefighters and rescue personnel, are our own worst enemy. Because we will always make time ti help someone else, but we're too damned busy to take care of ourselves! We're told we have to lose weight, improve our conditioning, stop smoking, reduce stress, etc., but we're too busy to do so. And if today's American fire-rescue crews do not start taking better care of ourselves, our families, neighbors, and communities are going to suffer. Being a firefighter is not the once glorified job it used to be when I was a kid, or even ten years ago after 9-11 and the loss of our 343 brothers. Weeks later, fire departments across the country were swamped with applications. Yet today, with civil cut-backs, loss of benefits, both union and personal, and the ever-growing need for the heads-of-households to work two jobs each, the "job" isn't as attractive as it once was. And please, visit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation at

It's time we take care of number one or we'll all be stepping in "number two."

Speaking of 9-11, it's hard to believe that the 10th anniversary is almost upon us. The pundits and "news" stations are already rolling the videotapes of that terrible day and it seems that after what this country just went through regarding our debt crisis, we should be ashamed of ourselves to look back and see our "loyalty" after that tragic time; flags fluttering from almost every vehicle and flying from homes and buildings. No "red"  or "blue" states, just one country of Red, White, and Blue!

Is history bound to repeat itself? Are we all going to be Americans for just one day, again and then return to our bickering and squabbling? Are we not greater than this? What will it take for us to join hands as a country again, and come together to govern and lead our country?

With that in mind, what are you going to do on September 11, 2011? There's a national organization you can check out, or check with your own communities to see what they are planning. At the very least, visit a local firehouse, whether it's on a shaded, rural road or in the heart of "Da Bronx," and say, "Thank you." Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if you also added, "And please take care of yourselves, too!"

A brief post-script here: A big "hello" to a great friend of mine from my early firefighting days in Guilford County, NC, Roger Brooks. Roger was one of three, rotating duty-men, who worked the 24/48 shifts. He's a great guy and was a terrific mentor to me. We were able to get together for the first time in nearly 20 years, a couple of weeks ago. He retired as a Captain, from the Greensboro Fire Department about three years ago. At his home, he showed me a beautiful "life-line" plaque, with every badge, stripe, and bugle he earned in his career in the fire service. But he also told me about a new project called, "The Thin Red Line." While it started by promoting the NC Fallen Firefighter Foundation, it has grown way beyond that. The thin red line represents us, the firefighters of your community, who always show up to face the "thin red line," and hold that line to the best of our ability, for as long as we can. Roger was kind enough to give me my first "Thin Red Line" wristband, and I've been wearing my own and passing new ones out to other firefighters or telling them about the project. For more information, visit Thanks, Roger!

Till next time....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Heh Coach-Please let me still play??

7/08/2011 - Just two days after the 265th celebration of this great country's bid for independence from under British rule, the facts and figures are still rolling in regarding the number of injuries, both light and severe, as well as any possoble deaths, from this year's displays, about forty-eight hours ago.

The averages in years past have fluctuated between 1,800 - 2,100 injuries reported, beginning with light, superficial burns to fingers and hands, all the way to the partial or total loss of eyesight, as well as partial and/or complete avulsions (sic, loss of...) fingers, hands, noses, and eyes, plus the accompanying partial or full hearing loss.

The problem we face in tracking down the true numbers and details, is that many villages, town, cities, and states, are often slow to characterize these injuries in their official report. And this reticence to provide accurate figures, comes on the heals of some of the strongest and well-funded campaigns to encourage citizens to use only those devices that meet the legal statutes of the community or state.

Yet in some communities where these efforts are undertaken, one might be able to visit any road-side tent or table selling fireworks, and find every manner of fireworks specifically excluded from the legalities of the state. In a community very close to where I reside in South Florida, the crowds before the 4th of July fill the parking lots, neighbors' lawns, and almost any other type of parking space, where buyers anxiously push through lines to get their 4 completely full shopping carts, which are full of all manner of illegal firewords, to the register. Outside the very same store, management has hired half a dozen county sheriffs'deputies to direct traffic around the busy shops. Meanwhile, there are deputies inside, to help keep the crowds orderly.

And here's the rub that spoils the party. In order to purchase all of the fireworks that are normally banned (i.e. any that emit sparks or shoots fiery balls into the air, or launches any burning piece into the air, the buyer must attest by signing an affadavit, and swearing that the aforementioned illegal aerial fireworks will be used to frighten birds away from rock quarries, sand pits, and other construction sites.Virtually, every affiant is taking a false oath and lying. He knows that and the shop's proprieter knows that. And do you know what? Almost all the cops who are working at the store and earning overtime pay, they know that affadavits are all false. So, if that's the case, what to they do?

They get in line to buy those same illegal fireworks for themselves, families, and neighbors.

Happy 4th All

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We Who Sacrifice Are Being Sacrificed!


I recently opened the latest edition of "Firehouse" magazine. On the Editor's Page, there's a copy of an old "WANTED" poster. The face was blank below a fire helmet. I added the edited version above.  Either way, it's a sad truth of the times, on multiple levels.

First, in almost any and every municipality's budget discussions, the fire service is often served up, frequently, first, as the sacrificial lamb. Be it a volunteer, combo, or career department, their budget is ripe for the chopping block. Whether it deals with pensions, pay-rates, personnel, and/or equipment, fire-rescue service budgets are being sliced and diced as if they were in a Ron Popeil, "AS SEEN ON TV" hand-slapping chopper!

So what does the above have to do with our saga and efforts? The connection is quite simple: the TV executives are treating the fire service the same way, as a pariah.

It was almost a decade ago that members of the fire-rescue, EMS, and police services, were the heroes of America. Every politician couldn't wait to get have his/her picture taken with a member of the emergency services. Of course, after the tremendous sacrifice of our 343 brothers from the Fire Department of New York, firefighters became the "darlings" of the politicians and public alike. All around the country, people would stop in to visit their local firehouse; families would bring cakes, brownies, even entire meals for a shift. Pictures were taken of thousands of kids sitting on apparatus, wearing helmets and turn-our gear that were multiple sizes too big. And smiles were on everyone's faces.

Now ten years later, we're the pariah, the "enemy." The budget crisis being faced by villages and towns, cities, states and the feds, are being blamed on unions, especially those of the emergency services. Never mind that a fire department may be a 100% volunteer organization, whatever benefits they are entitled to (usually relating to Line of Duty Disability or Death) are being cut wherever possible. Money for turn-out gear, equipment, and apparatus has been or is being allocated to different areas or trimmed to the point of being useless, if there is any left at all.

The same holds true for television. A decade ago, every major cable/satellite network couldn't program enough hours of fire-rescue footage. From old episodes of "Emergency" to the latest reality-style ride-alongs, prime-time was full of flashing red lights and wailing sirens. Sponsors might wait in line to sign up to have their products seen on one of these shows. It was a great time to stand up as a member of the emergency services.

Today, we're old hat. The production company in LA that we've been working with for the past year, has gone to numerous production meetings with the networks. They're looking for the next "big thing," something with substance and meaning like, "Jersey Shore," Teen-Age Mothers," and "Swamp Men." Not to say anything about our brothers and sisters in blue, but their shows are continuously making the airwaves. Besides, "COPS," we've recently seen reality police shows about female police officers, especially those who work in vice (prostitution) and narcotics. There's even a new one, based right here in Broward County, about police dogs. And that's fine. I'm glad that at least one branch of the emergency services has a spotlight.

But what about us? Try to propose a reality show about the fire-rescue service, even one that is not a ride-along, and before  you can even finish the word, "fire," you're shown to the door, ordered never to return until you can bring a show about, cheating, cross-dressing firefighters, who secretly wed those teen-age mothers and move their new family to the Fire Island Shore!

All our agents have heard from the network buyers is, "Don't bring us anything connected to the words, "fire" or "rescue." They are not even given an opportunity to present an idea that's never, ever, been done before (OK, like ours). And to me, what is so ironic, is that in the event of an emergency at their place of business or their home, each one of them will most likely dial "911" and eagerly await the members of their local fire-rescue agencies.  And when their emergency has been mitigated, they will proffer their profuse appreciation, perhaps with words like, "We don't know how to thank you."

You know what? It's about time that we start providing them with a suggestion for how they could thank us. And I'm not just talking about our show. I'm talking about the fire-rescue service in general. Look at procedural dramas. There are close, if not more, than a dozen police dramas on TV today. When was the last time you saw one about the fire service? Was it ""Firehouse" with the actor who played Ben Casey, or was it "Code Red," with Lorne Greene?

So next time you have pause to think of a way to thank your local fire-rescue services for assisting you through an emergency, bake the brownies, but also, drop a line to the big cable/satellite networks and ask them, "Where's your show about the fire-rescue service?"

Friday, February 18, 2011

We Continue to Move Along...

Well, he we are five weeks later. And guess what? No bad news! As a matter of fact, things are progressing nicely.

Joel and I got together just over a week ago to write the new script for the new pitch-reel. I had contacted the fire department of the community in which I live to shoot the video here. However, that was several weeks ago and the last I had heard from their PIO was that our request had been forwarded to the city attorney. Why it had to go there, considering we were not showing their name, we were not doing any ride-alongs, etc., only Heaven knows. Anyway, we sent our the script to the rest of the partners and got some great ideas back for some minor revisions and shooting angles.

In the meantime, Joel contacted a friend with the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Department, explained our plan to them and they welcomed us with open arms. So, if all goes as planned, we'll be shooting the video next week, Wednesday through Friday, as needed.

For this shoot, we're bringing in the "big guns," Mike Zimmer, the former chief videojournalist for the local NBC affiliate. Mike is a ten-time EMMY-award winner, as well as a winner of both the DuPont and Peabody awards. He also served as the president of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee last year. Oh yeah, and he produces and shoots his own show, "Sportsman's Adventures with Rick Murphy," which airs on Sun Sports Network.

From a personal standpoint, it's nice to be able to look forward to working on this show again, And though there are no guarantees ahead of us, we are making forward progress. We're doing some things out-of-order, such as shooting the pitch-reel before we actually re-write the treatment for the show. However, since we're taking a whole new direction from what we shot in San Francisco (under poor direction), that's OK. BTW, did I mention that when the video is ready, we going to let you, our followers see it and let us know what you think. We'll post it on You Tube (DalmatProd), Facebook (search for Dalmatian Productions, Inc.) and right here on the blog. So you have that to look forward to!

Til next time...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A New Year...A New Production Company...A New Direction...... Does That Equal a New Chance?

     First off, Happy New Year to one and all. I apologize for the passage of a considerable amount of time since our last posting, however we have been riding quite a roller-coaster in the Hollywood-TV Programming roller coaster during all that time. So let me recap...
     For most of the late summer and fall, we were waiting for our former production company to edit and produce our teaser reel. This is a 3-5 minute video that our agent would show to the network A&D (Acquisition and Development) people to gauge their interest and/or make a sale. Thus, it is a very important tool in our efforts to sell the show. After weeks and weeks of pleading, cajoling, and even some threatening, we finally received the first "cut" of the pitch reel.
     While the moment was exciting, the product was just OK; nothing I'd write home about. We passed it around for all of us to see, which was followed by a company-wide conference call, during which we made a list of suggestions for "several" changes we felt necessary.
     We sent our list out to L.A. and waited for the re-do. After a few more weeks, we receive the second cut and were unanimously...disappointed! To be honest, for the most part, it sucked. After all this time, months after we had been to San Francisco, we had nothing more than a promo for any run-of-the-mill fire reality show. And that is not was we are about.
     After sending emails back and forth, the trail went "cold," i.e., we cannot get any reply from L.A. After several additional weeks, two of the partners met with the production company in Los Angeles and for all intents and purposes, "called them out." It was time for them to sh*t or get off the pot. It began as an acrimonious meeting, then settled into a more professional one. We finally thought we had hit the target.
     Not so fast, my friends. After that meeting, we lost contact for over a month. Phone calls weren't returned (OK, that was nothing new), emails weren't answered, (OK, that wasn't new either). We just could not get a word from them.
     Finally, close to Thanksgiving, we receive an email, out-of-the-blue, that tells us that our production company could no longer work with us on our program. Plain and simple. There had been no advance hint of this, by phone or email. To say that it took us by a kick-in-the-gonads surprise, would be an understatement.
     In some ways, it was a relief, but that did not assuage the initial anger we felt upon receipt of that email. And after all this time, the least we deserved was an explanation.
     That came several days later, when our L.A.-based partner, called to let me know that he had met with one of the principals and found out that the key partners in the company were going separate ways. In turned out that it had nothing to do with us or our project. And, had we not been so incensed when we received the email, we might have seen a "coded" message included, that basically said that the partner who wrote to us was still very interested in the project. The email, it turn out, was a legal requirement, as much for us, as it was for them.
     It's taken until last week to start the ball rolling all over again. I had a very good conversation with our partner, finally ensconced in his new company and new contact info. In that conversation, we began the discussion as to how to re-tool the show back to our original concept, which would remain true to our fire/rescue background and promotion and add some fun, comedy, and great reality to the mix.
     So that's the story. We hope to be back to work on the re-write by next week. Once that's done, we'll see what our production company's agent has to say about the idea and any constructive feedback she may have. If she likes it, then we'll plan a very quick trip to San Francisco to pick up some additional footage that will play into the re-write. Then, we start the process all over again.
     Does it get discouraging and disappointing? If it didn't, it wouldn't be Hollywood. After over ten years of trying to launch a reality TV show about the fire/rescue service, we've learned to take the hard knocks. But this time, we've come with a little "secret weapon" that we hope will help us get the job done. What is it? If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?
     Till next time...