Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Rita Lakin--A lady who has done it all.
If you meet Rita Lakin your first impression will probably be--pleasant elderly lady, probably a retired librarian or schoolteacher. How wrong you'd be. You're looking at a real Hollywood power broad. Rita spent a life as writer, producer, showrunner in the TV business. She was one of the writers of Peyton Place, the Rookies, Mod Squad. She was showrunner for Executive Suite, Nightengales,Flamingo Road. In fact everyone who reads this blog is bound to have seen at least one TV program touched by the hand of Ms. Lakin.
Now when she should be taking up bridge and needlepoint, she has started writing mystery novels and flourishing in a whole new career. So welcome, Rita, to Jungle Red. Tell us, what drove you to a life of crime, Rita?
RITA: Purely an accident. When I left “show biz”, I decided to finally write a novel after 25 years of scripts. I wanted to write about my mother and aunts and other relatives who retired to a condo in Ft. Lauderdale. But as I started to write it, I knew it wouldn’t sell. Because I was so ingrained with being “commercial,” I decided to turn them into elderly private eyes. And because they were so funny in real life, I knew it had to be a comedy. Ergo –crime.
RHYS:What do you miss about the glamorous life in TV land? What don't you miss?
RITA: PRO: Being the boss of about 100 people as a producer. Seeing my characters and stories come to life on the screen. Enjoying being involved in production like editing, dailies, having the fun of casting the actors, hiring and working with other writers, etc. First class airfare, best hotels when travelling. Really, really loved script-writing. And, not to be sneezed at, the money!
CON: Since there is a lot of money in that biz, you have to deal with a lot of sharks. Before becoming a producer, as a free-lancer, having to deal with the hundred network and production people who can order you to make changes in your work that kill the soul. Hardly ever do you get your work done the way it should be. Oh, all those egos!
RHYS: Gladdy is such a wonderful heroine--she spunky, sexy, witty. Completely shattering all stereotypes of what an older woman should be. So--in what ways is she you? Would you like to be her?
RITA: My character, Gladdy, is totally self-assured. And very wise. She says what she wants and does what she wants. I find myself becoming more and more like her. But, then again, I assume Gladdy and I are both in our second childhood and we can get away with a lot!
RHYS:It's a case of "when I get old I shall wear purple etc."And what about the latest book in the series?
RITA: I get a lot of fan mail and with it a lot of opinions. Most of my fans are women and want Gladdy and Jack to get married. I took a poll and 85% voted for marriage. The other 15% said it would ruin everything. I might add the 15% were men. I managed to keep the couple out of bed for five books, but the pressure was on. (and so was the suspense- will they or won’t they?) So, finally, in book six, GETTING OLD IS TRES DANGEREUX I bite the literary bullet and deal with it.
Rita's new book is in stores June 30. And if you get a chance to go to a book signing or hear her speak, she has such wonderful stories--casually dropping famous names, telling about the time Omar Shariff invited her to join the Mile High Club! I should also add that when we're not writing and promoting, Rita and I belong to the same AAUW group and laugh ourselves silly once a month playing board games.