|PHIL AUSTIN: In 1988 the writer's strike smashed directly into me and Peter as we worked - as Pyro Playhouse - for
Lorimar Studios in Century City. We had an office that was an apartment building acquired by the studio for offices and we had
Josh White - now a famous photographer - as our Secretary/Receptionist/Analyst and we had set to work developing scripts with
our partner Steve Skablow, especially "Eat or Be Eaten", which we had produced and directed for Cinemax as a starring
vehicle for Phil Proctor. As well, Peter and I developed an original comedy series that took place in a nursery called "It Grows
On Trees" and we had meetings with Leslie Moonves and we hoped for the best. We went to high-level meetings at all the
Networks as well. Ringo Starr and our old friend and manager John Hartmann came along and Lorimar's confidence was high
enough that we wrote a whole pilot script for Ringo and Billy Connolly. Actually, it was pretty good. Unfortunately, Ringo didn't
really want to be on TV. John apologized. I haven't seen him since, but I miss the Hartmann family in general. Canadians, you
know. All three brothers make me laugh.
I drive past Billy Connolly's house up here in the Hollywood Hills often, because it's directly on my route to the Warner's lot in Burbank. Billy collects old cars in garish colors and his house is crazy and antic, wacky colors and angles soaring out over the San Fernando Valley. We wave at each other sometimes. John Hartmann, Firesign Theatre's middle-period manager, is the older brother of Phil Hartmann of "Saturday Night Live" and "News Radio" fame. There are three Hartmann brothers, Paul being the other other, but he wasn't around much in those days. It's a little-known fact that Phil drew the album cover for the Firesign Theatre album called "Fighting Clowns". It was reproduced on the collectible Rhino single version as a picture-record as well. John Hartmann held the Firesign Theatre together through one of its most difficult periods as well as shepherding Austin and Ossman's loony film script "Saucer!" through two drafts. "Saucer" was really good, it was written for Embassy pictures as a parody of 1950's Science Fiction movies. It was deal that was originally worked out between me and a guy named Kim Jorgenson, who eventually wound up winning an Academy Award for producing "Out Of Africa". He got us a development deal at Embassy. David and I wrote the script. This was another period of time when Proctor and Bergman had gone off into the world of playing Playboy Clubs or whatever it is that they did. David and I got this movie job and had a very happy time writing it, and the script to this day has some very hilarious stuff in it. It was never made. They never had full confidence in it, but at one point I had a real nice meeting with a director named Joe Dante, who later went on to do films like "Gremlins", and stuff like that, and is definitely like a very high class kind of a autre' Hollywood guy, now. Joe was for a while at least interested in doing "Saucer", but nothing ever came of it. It's really got some really stupid and wonderful stuff in it.