Be nice!

When you’re working on a writing staff for a TV show, you’re spending more time with your colleagues than you are with your family. And like your family you have good days and bad with your fellow writers.  It’s important to get along with them, not only to make your work more pleasant but a lovely side benefit is that more often than not, you end up with dear friends long after you’ve all moved on from that show.

I was hired on “Knots Landing” mid-season, when the staff was already established. As excited as I was to be working on “Knots” I was nervous about meeting the other writers, fearful that they might resent a new writer dropped into their midst.

I will never forgot my first day of work. I was given a former storage room as an office, windowless, small, with a desk and chair squeezed in among the supplies. Suddenly, the three other staff writers, crowded in the doorway to introduce themselves. Rachel Cline, Don Marcus, Jim Magnuson. They made room in my office to hang out with me, and they could not have been warmer or more welcoming.

I was so touched that I vowed then and there that if I was the “old hand” on a show, I would be as warm and welcoming to the newbie as Rachel, Don and Jim were to me.

Years later, I was hired on the Aaron Spelling soap “Sunset Beach” where, as the last one hired on the original writing team, I was again given a warm welcome by the other writers. I’ll never forget Betsy Snyder walking around the large conference table, hand extended in greeting, joking about why she couldn’t join me and the other writers for a welcome to the show lunch a few days before. I was new to daytime soap and feeling out of my element. Betsy, who sat next to me in the writers’ room was patient, helpful and encouraging. When I was hired to write “Poor Anastasia” in Russia she was my first choice to help me come up with story for the series.

When Betsy left “Sunset Beach” she was replaced by Paula Cwikly. I only knew Paula as an NBC executive but I was determined to follow the path of Rachel, Don, Jim and Betsy and extend her a warm welcome. As a result, Paula and I remain the best of friends (in fact we’re having lunch today), and when she became headwriter of “Days of our Lives” and I found myself unexpectedly unemployed, she immediately hired me to write scripts on “Days.”

Betsy has also remained a good friend, as has Don (as well as other writers from my various shows).   I love that my friends and I hire each other when we can. But I especially love that after all these years we have remained friends.

Being nice costs nothing and gains you everything.

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