Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest today, Bruce Sallan. Bruce is a former independent television producer and before he was thirty was an ABC Television executive. He produced over 30 television movies, pilots and series where he was the recipient of many awards. Included among his many credits are The Jesse Ventura Story, Generation X, and far too many more to list.
Along the way he was fortunate to work with such actors as Ingrid Bergman, Ron Howard (before he was a director), Mickey Rourke (THAT is a story), Don Johnson (another even better story), Ben Affleck, Hal Holbrook, Barbara Hershey, Sissy Spacek, Henry Winkler, Alan Arkin, and Brian Dennehey. He wrote articles for Daily Variety and the Producers Caucus Bulletin.
He has published A Dad's Point of View and The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad's Point-of-View.
Presently, Bruce writes a weekly column, A Dads Point of View and blog series: Men vs. Women, and Social Media, Social Good.
Norm: Good day Bruce and thanks for participating in our interview:
How did you get started as a producer in television? What was your training?
Bruce: First, thank you
for having me as a “guest” and my story of getting
started as a producer is interesting, to say the least. My ONLY
connection (and connections are everything in Hollywood) was that my
dad - a dental technician - once made dentures for Joan Blondell. So,
I had to find my own way.
While getting my MBA at U.C.L.A. I worked at a tennis club that was frequented by many executives and producers from showbiz. I met a producer who introduced me to another producer and he eventually hired me as an intern after I did an imitation of Peter Guber, the renowned executive and producer.Unbeknownst to me, this producer was a childhood friend of Peter’s and he laughed so hard after which he said, “If you can get Peter that well, I’m hiring you!” I was a “paid” intern - $250 per month.
Norm: As a follow up to the last question, what made you switch to becoming a writer and what keeps you going?
Bruce: Well, switching to writing followed 25 years working in showbiz, after which I was a stay-at-home-dad, then divorced, and found my brain was turning to mush. I also found that dads were being disparaged so much everywhere you looked. I began writing my column for a local throwaway newspaper. I then did some Internet research and compiled a list of several thousand newspapers and websites, first in the United States and later worldwide. I wrote to EVERY editor on those lists and got - eventually - over a 100 places to carry my column. Very few paid.
Norm: What's the biggest mistake you've made as a producer and writer?
Bruce: I didn’t network enough and I didn’t give enough to Hollywood-devoted charities. In other words, I wasn’t generous or social enough.
Norm: Could you tell our audience about your weekly column A Dads Point of View and your other blog series? Where do you get your information or ideas for your articles and blog?
Bruce: First, it’s my belief that if ideas don’t flow easily, don’t be a writer. I’ve NEVER had a block on ideas. They come to me when I walk my dogs, when I’m driving, and when I (constantly) interact with people I meet. I write down a title and keep several columns in work at any given time. Mostly, I write my opinions but when it’s a more serious topic (such as “The Real Problem Is” — http://www.brucesallan.com/2014/05/17/real-problem-part-one/) I will do research on the web.
Norm: How has your career as a producer/environment/upbringing influenced your writing
Bruce: My career as a
producer taught me to be resourceful, persistent, and creative. I
sold many of my series/TV movie ideas using unconventional means. In
today’s fractured world, “unconventional” is a
Also, having done so many varied things in my previous career and being a hyper guy, I found that writing was not enough to occupy my mind/interest and I broadened my work to include #DadChat (a Tweet Chat), “Because I Said So” (a comic strip), writing two books (so far), some speaking gigs, and a radio show that I did for 4 1/2 years (it’s free on iTunes - “The Bruce Sallan Show”), and more.
Norm: You have published two books, A Dad's Point of View and The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues: An Interactive Journal from A Dad's Point-of-View. What purpose do you believe your books serve and what matters to you about the books? As a follow up, could you give us a brief synopsis of each book?
Bruce: I believe any serious writer must write a book(s). My first book, A Dad’s Point-of-View, was simply a compilation of 100 of the best of my columns. I took the columns, broke them into chapter categories, rewrote many, and wrote an introduction to each chapter. I also wrote a summary of the best things to take away from the book. My second book - an e-book only - was inspired by a road-trip that I took with my son, driving him to college - from Los Angeles to Boston. On the way, I took hundreds of photos and videos. I kept a journal of our journey. After, I realized I had a book. I made many short videos, edited dozens of the best photos, and published it as an e-book.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Bruce: A writer-colleague of mine, back in my old days in television, got up EVERY morning and wrote for several hours. The rest of his day was spent, “doing business.” I believe you must write EVERY day. As for being good enough, use the three “P’s” - and practice, Practice, PRACTICE. I was fortunate early on to have a former English Professor offer to teach me to be a better writer because he was publishing my columns for his employer, liked them, but didn’t like some of the “mistakes” he saw in my writing. I “worked” with him for over a year, after which he “dismissed” me saying I had gotten all her could offer. So, find someone who will critique and give you (honest) feedback.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your articles, books, and other achievements?
Bruce: Google me or simply visit MY WEBSITE!
Norm: After your phenomenal successes in various careers, what, if anything, remains "undone" for you? What is the one thing you haven't done, that you are still "itching" to accomplish?"
Bruce: Well, I would hardly use “phenomenal” to describe my careers, but thank you anyway. At this point in my life, my biggest goal is to shoot in the 80’s with my golf game. I’m tired of the way “work” and “business” is done today. Very flakey, so I’m not sure I want any sort of regular job and I certainly won’t work for anyone other than myself.