Back in 1982, working for Showtime in their public relations department, I got a call from a guy named Ed Yost, who was some sort of manager and producer for various artists. I’d helped in in the past with some odd requests. “Marvin Hamlisch is pissed,” Ed said. “Nobody called to congratulate him on the ACE Award he won for Showtime!” The ACE Award was the cable television version of the Emmy Awards, at a time when cable wasn’t quite taken seriously, before the Emmy people included the likes of Showtime and HBO shows for anyone’s consideration. Marvin won for “Marvin Hamlisch: They’re Playing My Song.”
It was one of those days when everyone was either away or busy or indifferent, and no one seemed interested in handling the situation. So I stepped up. “I’ll call him, Ed. What do you want me to say?” Ed asked me to call Marvin at home, tell him I was from Showtime, and congratulate and thank him for his fine work. He gave me Marvin Hamlisch’s personal home phone number, and I did just that, in my most professional pseudo announcer voice. “Mr. Hamlisch, This is Andy Poretz calling from SHOWTIME! We want to congratulate you on the ACE Award and thank you for your amazing work!” “Um, okay. Thanks, I guess. Who are you again?” Marvin was probably not thrilled that an underling like me called him. I wasn’t the head of the company, the director of programming, nor even held an important position in the public relations department, after all. But we chatted for a couple of minutes, and Marvin groused a little bit about the whole situation. I had to lie and say “I loved the show!” when he asked what I thought about it – but at that time, my family did not yet have cable, and so we had no Showtime.
It’s no lie now though to say Marvin, I loved your work. You’ll be missed.