However, none of this was helping me pay the bills. I was working as hard as I ever have in my life, creating shows, pitching projects and looking for work, and not bringing in a cent. When Fox didn’t renew Dawn’s anchor contract, we were feeling more than a little desperate.
Now, I’ve never been a very religious man, though I am trying. But there was something undeniably miraculous about the fact that right after Dawn was let go and we needed money to survive, we hit the lottery. It was a Powerball ticket I’d bought in New York City and hadn’t checked for a couple months. When I did in March 2010, there on the first line were the correct five numbers. We missed the Powerball, but hit it on the second line. I had the feeling that my late parents, Kitty and Bob, knew I was in trouble and did this for me. I know it sounds crazy, but I had that overwhelming feeling that the two people who took care of me growing up in Lansdowne were still taking care of me, years after their deaths. Dawn and I now have one of those oversize publicity checks for $133,006 at home. The real check helped pay our bills and let us take our two little boys to Universal Studios. The money went so fast, it scared me.
I still needed work, and I wanted desperately to keep my family in our Chestnut Hill home. Every day of my long, successful career working at TV stations in New York and Chicago and on “Access Hollywood” in Los Angeles, I dreamed of coming home to Philadelphia. I wasn’t ready to give up on that dream. I was spending our savings to send Michael and David to the schools they loved, and their college funds were solid. Dawn was loving being a stay-at-home mom, and I wanted to support that.
On top of it all, Alycia Lane was (and still is) suing me. (There is no money to be had, so the suit seems purely vindictive.) Her attorney was quoted in the paper saying, “We don’t want to leave him with a penny.” The lawsuit is ongoing, but it is only my children who can be hurt now. I wish she would see that. I, like many other people, wish I never met Alycia Lane.
THE SUIT, THE LEGAL fees, the missed job opportunities, the bills were all starting to weigh on me. Then suddenly the crickets stopped, silenced by a cell phone call in February last year. (By the way, my ring tone is the sound of crickets.) The F-word commentary I wrote for Tribune months earlier was a big hit with company execs. They wanted more. I traveled to New York, recorded five “on-the-street” commentaries in one day, and came up with a new production style that is already being copied. (That’s the greatest compliment in TV, by the way, to get ripped off.) The commentaries now air in two dozen television markets across the country, and I’m under contract with Tribune. I get tweets, e-mails and Facebook postings from Denver, Seattle, Grand Rapids and all the other cities where I get to rant nightly about social issues, politics and daily annoyances.