Not So Gentle Ben

CBS show-pitching office, February, 1965.

“Come in and take a seat please, Mister… let’s see… Howard? Is that right?”

“Yes. Thank you, thank you.”

“Well, why don’t you get right down to it then? This is the CBS show-pitching office so let’s hear your pitch for a show.”

“Thank you, thank you. Sorry, I’m very nervous.”

“In your own time.”

Bear By Nevit Dilmen - cc-by-sa“Okay, my idea is this: it’s a family show…”

“What do you mean by that, exactly? A show for the family, or featuring a family?”

“Oh, sorry. Yes, er, both actually. Families will love this but it’s based around the adventures of a family.”

“It’s not in space, is it? Only we’ve got one we’re launching later this year with a family called the Robinsons, a robot, and an old man with a thing for the youngest kid. It’s going to be called Pederast In Space unless the censors get their way. We’re hoping it will really fuel further interest in space exploration and aid with the formation of something called NAMBLA. I can’t tell you any more than that so keep it under your hat, hush-hush, right?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. No problem. Er, no, no it’s not in space. But there are some similarities.”

“Similarities is good. We’re much more likely to fund a pilot if we can remove the risk of doing anything new and exciting. Go on.”

“Er, well, okay, so if you replace the robot with a bear…”

“I like it!”

“… and space with Florida…”

“That could work I suppose.”

“… then, well, that’s it. It’s a family show with adventures. Mom, pop, little kid, and bear.”

“Hmmm.”

“Mostly the little kid and the bear.”

“Better!”

“It, er, could boost tourism in Florida. And interest in bears.”

“Interest in bears is good. Let me write that down. Interest. In. Bears. Lovely. And did you have any idea for potential actors? Anybody in particular you see playing any of these roles?”

“Well, I know it’s a bit of a cheek but… my son?”

“If he’s cheap then you can be as cheeky as you like. What’s he like?”

“I’ve got a picture. Here.”

Young Clint Howard“Thank you, has he had any acting… Good grief! What’s wrong with his face?”

“That’s just the way he looks. I’ve written some details about him here.”

“Okay, let’s have a… What!? You can’t call a kid that!”

“Clint?”

“Clint?! Oh! Oh! Yeah, it’s written in all capitals. Now I see. Whew! Yeah, that was crazy for a few seconds there. Oh right, so he has some experience then. Okay, okay. Maybe. Why don’t we move swiftly along then? You’ve got some ideas for storylines I take it?”

“Yes. There could be an airboat race in the swamp with an accident and the kid’s bleeding when the bear tracks him down and then becomes enraged with the scent of the blood and attacks the kid. Or the kid’s scout group could go out camping and disturb a beehive covering the kid in honey so the bear finds him and tries to eat him. Or a group of Florida hillbillies kidnap the kid and the bear rescues him but then drinks some spilled moonshine and goes crazy and chases the kid over a ravine. Or there could be a beach trip and the kid goes in the water and is attacked by a shark but makes it to an abandoned inlet and…”

“Okay, I think I can guess where the plot is going there. So it’s not a friendly bear then?”

“Er, no. Bears are dangerous. They shouldn’t be anywhere near kids.”

“I don’t suppose I can argue with that. Did you have an idea for a title for this show?”

“Yes. Ben the Killer Bear.”

“Right. Well, it’s punchy, I’ll give you that. Okay. Okay, I think there are things we can work with there; probably a few changes, but it’s a start. Why don’t I take this to the board and we’ll get back to you Mister Howard?”

“Oh, thank you, thank you very much.”

“No problem. There will be some paperwork to go through with Miss Anderson outside in a minute. Is there anything you want to know, or anything else you want to share?”

“How soon do your corporation’s life insurance policies pay out for the deaths of child actors?”

Author: Mark

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