Larry Mendte’s Life After “It” Happened
And that’s how I found myself in the executive offices at Fenway Park for a meeting with Tom Werner, the chairman of the Boston Red Sox and the most successful sitcom executive producer in history, with shows like “Roseanne” and “The Cosby Show” to his credit. I was standing in a conference room reading a framed box score from the 1918 World Series, featuring a young Babe Ruth, when Werner walked in. I told him I had lived in San Diego when the Padres — which he owned at the time — invited Roseanne Barr to sing the national anthem. “That cost me a lot of money,” Werner lamented, “because TV stations across the country dropped Roseanne’s show.” Great, my ice-breaker was an ice-maker. Werner was done with small talk. “So what’s this show concept?” The meeting went on for another hour as I gave a pitch to a man who has heard pitches from the funniest and most creative people in the country. It was met with the sound of crickets.
Then Bill Carey became news director at Tribune Broadcasting-owned WPIX in November 2009, and he suggested I meet with Steve Charlier, Tribune’s vice president of news. Charlier was looking for a way to hold an audience until the end of a newscast, after the weather. His idea was to run commentaries near the end of the broadcast. We met at an Irish pub in Manhattan, and he told me up front that I was a long shot for the job: “Write something, and we’ll see.”
I wrote a commentary about the fact that the F-word is becoming the most commonly heard word in the English language. It was funny. It was brash. It was everything Charlier asked for. But, again, crickets.
Maybe Bangalore was a good idea after all. Or … Turkey? A woman making a documentary about Turkish businessmen who helped thousands of Jews escape Germany during World War II contacted me about working on the film. She said it would involve traveling to Istanbul and Israel. I was interested, and she asked me to send a proposal that included salary requirements. I think I asked for too much because, once again, no reply. The chorus of crickets was now international.
WHILE I MIGHT HAVE been flailing at pitches for a year, I was learning as much as I could about the Internet. I created several blogs and columns — one for this magazine’s website — and I dove into social networking. One day on Twitter, I was chatting with the communications director for the government of Dubai. He asked if I was “the real Larry Mendte.” I wrote back, “Yes, I am. How do you know me?” He replied, “We have the Internet in Dubai.” Apparently I’m big in the Middle East.