I am disappointed that the commentaries don’t run in Philadelphia. Tribune owns WPHL, better known as My PHL 17. But NBC 10 produces the newscast for WPHL, and I’m told that the executives at NBC made the call not to air my commentaries here. Of course, that hasn’t stopped NBC 10 news managers from continuing to send a steady stream of reporters and anchors and producers to call and e-mail me for interviews. One day I might give an interview or write a book or an article. For now, I’m still in the “post-it” stage; things are going well, and I don’t want to screw it up again.
I can’t tell you the right thing to do when the worst happens, but I can tell you what’s working for me. First, it’s important to be honest with yourself and those around you. It helps you to establish a starting point. Next, be open to change and willing to reinvent yourself. Finally, be excited about what you are offered, at least until something better comes along. The only thing you can control in life is your own attitude.
For a time, I avoided going out in Philadelphia; I was embarrassed and afraid of what people might say and do. Yet people have been wonderful. I have not been the recipient of one negative comment or even a dirty look. Quite the opposite: People have hugged me, told me they missed me, and have been genuinely concerned about me and my family. The only negative comments I’ve received are from anonymous trolls on the Internet, who coincidentally have different names but the same IP address — must be a large commune of Mendte haters sharing one computer.
I won’t allow anything negative to contaminate the reinvention of me, which is still in the laboratory, but initial trials are hopeful. I love the commentaries and hope to do them forever. Long before Jon Stewart joined the fight, I made a series of commentaries and interviews pressuring Congress to pass the 9/11 First Responders Health and Compensation Act, to help the heroes who are sick and dying from the dust and debris of Lower Manhattan in the days and weeks and months after the attacks. The president signed the bill into law in January. Using the TV camera to give a voice to the powerless and hold the powerful accountable is something I have long practiced and continue to believe in. My greatest “post-it” regret was that I’d lost the power to fight for causes that were important to me. These commentaries give me a new way to fight for what’s right.
Who knows what’s next? I could turn up on Philadelphia talk radio or a nationally syndicated TV show. My agent even had a conversation with a Philadelphia TV station that’s interested in me as a main anchor. Maybe Tom Werner will call. Maybe I’ll finish that Broadway play. Any of those things or none of those things could happen, or something else completely unexpected could happen. If it all falls apart tomorrow — there’s always Bangalore.
Or I guess I could sell my story to Hollywood. If you see a movie trailer starring Corbin Bernsen as Larry Mendte in his underwear, you’ll know I hit bottom.