Thursday, October 27, 2022


There were some nice reactions to my last piece about Toni Graphia and her success with the series Outlander. The best commentaries were more about Ms. Graphia than what it was I had written, and they were primarily from Cagney & Lacey alumni.

Georgia Jeffries, who also got her start on that show and who, with Ms. Graphia, went on to China Beach as well as to several other solid series, is still at the top of her writing game while also teaching her subject at the University of Southern California, responded first. Sharron Miller, who directed some of our best (and Emmy nominated) episodes on the show, checked in as well.

Like the original missive from the Scotland location of Outlander, these emails were warm, filled with pleasure at their erstwhile colleague’s success, and grateful for the environment at Cagney & Lacey where, they assured me, some of the best things in their careers were accomplished.

It is warm here in the sub-tropics, but that is what surrounds me. Warm and fuzzy on the inside too is what I have been feeling for days now.

The flip side to all of this are my thoughts of those who did not correspond. Sweet remembrances from Toni Graphia, Georgia Jeffries, and Sharron Miller aside… not everyone was fond of me in my role as the series’ 800-pound gorilla. I get it. Goes with the territory.

For instance, my battles with the brilliant writers April Smith and Bob Crais are well documented in my memoir, Cagney & Lacey… and Me.

In those days of the long ago, I believed I was a reasonable, even benevolent, despot. I would engage in debate with my staff, giving the impression (at least to some) of a non‑totalitarian environment. My stated stance was simply that if I could not convince you of the efficacy of my argument with my argument, well then, I would be willing to re‑examine my argument...  

That is not necessarily as benign as it might appear. I have always had a solid verbal skill set; few, particularly those in less powerful positions, could stand up to my oral blitzkrieg. Secondly, I was passionate; I cared deeply about what it was that we were doing, approaching the work with something akin to religious fervor. Thirdly, I usually had more experience than the person I was confronting. Hey, I had simply been at it longer… and through my entire career… put in more hours doing it. It was tough to beat me in an argument on my subject. April Smith and Bob Crais sure gave it a good try.

And then there is the team of Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin. I gave them their start as staff writers on The Trials of Rosie O’Neill. Since those days they have gone on to do some fine work, including TV’s The Killing and then Killing Eve.

Pre-pandemic I reached out to them with an idea for a series to feature my spouse; my call was never returned. While following through on what I thought must have been a mistake, I noted when Googling them that The Trials of Rosie O’Neill had been excised from this talented writing team’s collection of credits. That cut deeply, especially given “our history.”  

The late Bud Yorkin was Nicole’s father. He was the one-time partner of Norman Lear and had to be one of the richer and more talented men in the business. I knew him but did not know him well. It did not keep him from phoning me at my Rosie O’Neill office thirty years ago with a proposition. He knew I was looking for writers and that his daughter and her partner were among those being considered.

He made me an offer he thought I could not refuse. He proposed to reimburse me the then fledgling team’s salary if I would give them this start to their careers. “Bud,” I said as if we were the closest of pals, “you don’t have to do that. Save your money, I have already decided to hire them. They are going to be great.” I don’t recall him saying anything as the call ended. I do know we never had any occasion to speak again.

So, you see, the thing (whatever it may be) with Prestwich & Yorkin more than mystifies. I cannot recall ever giving anyone a better opportunity, or more license than I did these two. I paid them top dollar, honored their work ethic and professionalism, and gave them solid recommendations to any in the industry who asked. The payday of not getting a call returned and being expunged from their list of credits still hurts.

The grievances of Ms. Smith and Mr. Crais are well known to me; I respect their positions on the issues that divided us. I can live with their memories of those months we were encamped together, however unpleasant. But Dawn & Nicole as the inverse side of the Toni Graphia story? Wise as I have become in my old age, I am befuddled. They have a saying in our Nation’s capital that if you want a friend, get a dog. Where I come from we simply say:

That’s show business.



Barney Rosenzweig


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