My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” – THERE ONCE WAS MOONLIGHTING

Before Bruce Willis was BRUCE WILLIS, and when Cybill Shepherd was CYBILL SHEPHERD, there were only three TV networks, a couple independent TV channels, and cable TV was mostly just rebroadcasts of old shows and movies (HBO wouldn’t get an Emmy nomination until more than a decade later).

One of those three networks – ABC, the American Broadcasting Company – had a very successful series called MOONLIGHTING, starring Willis and Shepherd. Glenn Gordon Caron was the creator. The show began in 1985.


I had visited Hollywood a couple times by then, meeting with film and TV people and shopping around a couple scripts. Nothing ‘caught fire.’

In 1986, I wrote a spec script for MOONLIGHTING, a story I called “WE DON’T DO NO GHOSTS.” I sent it off to Jeff Reno at MOONLIGHTING. He liked it! He sent it over to The William Morris Agency which was at the time the most powerful agency in the biz. (In 2009, it merged with the Endeavor Agency and is now known as William Morris Endeavor.) Then-new agent Adam Isaacs called me about my script and invited me out to Hollywood.

At the time, I was at Paisley Park Studios outside Minneapolis, working with my friend Prince to open and market his new production facility and work on various video productions, including his Alphabet Street music video. Prince set me up with my office on the second floor next to the conference room, near his apartment. Those were the SIGN O’ THE TIMES and LOVESEXY days, great times with Alan Leeds, Matt Fink, Eric Leeds, Levi Seacer, Danny Soltys, Gilbert Davison, Robbie Paster, Matt Larson, Red White, Harry Grossman, Hawkeye Pierce, Cat Glover, Susannah Melvoin, Sheila E, and many other great people that I had the pleasure of hanging with. Most have forgotten me, but I remember them.

Prince was heading out on his worldwide LOVESEXY tour, and although I had worked on some of the tour prep, I wasn’t part of the tour. And, the William Morris Agency invited me to Hollywood. It was a tough decision. Leave Paisley Park and Minneapolis?

I went to Hollywood.

It was a pretty heady time for me. I recently was the Operations Manager (and Producer-Director-Writer) at Channel 29, a broadcast TV station in Minneapolis, the Number 15 market in the country.  Then I moved to New Life Productions, with its network-quality production trucks. Then I went to Paisley Park, where I helped open Prince’s studio and was his in-house video producer and promoter of PPS to Hollywood producers. I produced one of Prince’s major music videos and created a very successful souvenir video to celebrate the first World Series win for the Minnesota Twins. Now I was being called out to Hollywood by the William Morris Agency because of my script for an episode of MOONLIGHTING.

Once in Hollywood, the agency sent me all over to meet with a variety of executives, producers, and Hollywood bigwigs. I discussed WE DON’T DO NO GHOSTS with Marcy Carsey, head of Carsey-Werner Productions, producer of The Cosby Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and many other TV hits. I met with Dawn Steel, the first woman to run a Hollywood motion picture studio. I met with Barbara Corday, executive vice president of Primetime Programming at CBS Entertainment. I met with Robert Wise, director of West Side Story. I met with many people to discuss my writing, based on my spec script for MOONLIGHTING. A prominent attorney took me to lunch, wining and dining me because I was, as he said, “Somebody to watch.”

And then…

I became invisible.

Even though MOONLIGHTING was a top-ranked TV show at a time when there were only a handful of TV shows in any home, it suddenly stopped. Stopped dead. Conflict among the top people – between Cybill and Bruce, between Cybill and Glenn – caused the series to be cancelled; virtually self-cancelled, at that. Before anything became of my script; there was no WE DON’T DO NO GHOSTS episode.

And somehow, in true Hollywood style, I became invisible.

Nobody would call me back. My ‘back pocket’ situation at William Morris Agency dissolved without a word. Nobody was interested in me anymore. I was stunned. Being too young and emotionally crippled to figure out how to respond to this sudden end-of-the-road experience after it seemed I was on my way, I didn’t know what to do. My personal life was empty of any supporters, nobody close to me for encouragement or direction, nobody who believed in me. I look back and see how emotionally crippled I always was all of my life, ignorantly, totally unprepared for such a shock.

I got a job at the Radio Shack store in Toluca Lake. I have been trying to rebuild my life in Hollywood ever since.

MICHAEL R. BARNARD | IMDb | LinkedIn | Resume

One thought on “My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” – THERE ONCE WAS MOONLIGHTING

  1. Pingback: My bumpy road through “Hollywood” – PALLION THE YOUNG STALLION spec script for BoJack Horseman | Michael R. Barnard's Thoughts & Discussions.

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