Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"A Funny Thing Happened" - by Lester Colodny

And now for something completely different.

Monty Python fans will recognize that catch line, but it happens to be the theme in the rollicking life and roller coaster career of Lester Colodny, whose new memoir, “A Funny Thing Happened - Life Behind the Scenes: Hollywood Hilarity and Manhattan Mayhem”, attempts to chronicle all the weird and wonderful events, and characters, that have crossed his path in the entertainment field.

Recently published by SciArt Media, written by Mr. Colodny with Susan Heller, the book opens with the horrific and classic barrel of monkeys story, a true event of a simian takeover of the set of NBC’s “The Today Show” during which Colodny was the show’s writer and associate producer.

Mr. Colodny kindly granted me a phone interview and discussed his long and varied career as a writer of plays, ad copy, of news prĂ©cis, and screenplays. He stumbled into acting and stumbled into Mae West, touring with her show “Diamond L’il”. He worked as a literary agent, a talent agent, and director of television commercials. He won an Emmy Award for a special with Jack Benny he wrote, directed and produced. He won several “Clio” awards for his unique “Xerox” commercials.

Now, at 85 years old, Lester Colodny is enjoying a new endeavor as a director of community theatre plays in Connecticut.

“One of the things that irks me is I think I’ve missed my calling,” he says, having discovered a “natural affinity for directing.”

He has worked with the Ridgefield Theater Barn, directing Christopher Durang’s farce, “Beyond Therapy” in 2009 as noted in this previous “upcoming plays” post. A month later he directed “Jake’s Women” for the Town Players of New Canaan, Connecticut, and a few months ago worked with Curtain Call in Stamford on “Driving Miss Daisy.”

“Really fine professionals have come and told me that my shows are good or better than many of the shows on Broadway.”

Mr. Colodny is currently in rehearsal with the comedy “Enter Laughing” by Joseph Stein, adapted from the novel by Carl Reiner, which will be produced by the Westport Community Theatre from September 24th through October 10th.

“We get a pretty good turnout,” he said, noting that in the past he had also directed some community theatre in New York, Illinois, and in California.

Lester Colodny brings with him a lifetime of experience, including a brief stint on Broadway when a play he wrote starring Joan Rivers opened and closed with in a week, “a tremendous flop,” he says.

Throughout the course of his varied careers of wearing many hats, Lester Colodny worked with, partied with, or clashed with many famous names in the entertainment business, which are recounted in his new memoir, “A Funny Thing Happened.” We discussed this last week in this post from my New England Travels blog.

For more on his adventures in film and television, join us next week at Another Old Movie Blog.

For more on Lester Colodny’s book and to order your copy, have a look here at the SciArt Media website. SciArt Media is a new publishing company in New Hampshire, which specializes in books by New England authors.

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