Pomerantz shows years haven't tarnished his skills
Like writing for TV, blogging is considered a young person’s game.
But Earl Pomerantz, who toiled on iconic sitcoms for more than three decades, is putting the lie to that notion.
In turn, the site implicitly raises questions about whether Hollywood ageism has wrongly sidelined another fine scribe from the smallscreen.
The wide-ranging “Earl Pomerantz: Just Thinking …” (earlpomerantz.blogspot.com) gets little publicity, because Pomerantz does nothing to encourage it. But of all the blogs written by TV folk, it is arguably the sharpest.
“If you get to be old and your name’s on something, the response to it may be related as much to that as (the material),” Pomerantz says genially. “The longer your resume, the shorter your future.”
Nevertheless, whatever disappointment Pomerantz might have about the state of his TV career — with numerous credits as writer, showrunner or consultant on shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Taxi,” “The Cosby Show” and “The Larry Sanders Show” — he is thoroughly enjoying his online one.
“I’m a big fan of the medium because of the freedom it allows me,” says Pomerantz, who calls blogging his version of “retired guys playing golf.”
“It’s the exact opposite of what I made money doing. Basically, when I write for television, it’s almost like writing a crossword puzzle — it’s almost filling the squares in.”
Pomerantz began “Just Thinking” during the Writers Guild strike, although he had been out of work long before the scribes picked up picket signs.
“It was a career that was not happening anymore,” Pomerantz says. “The last show I did was (consulting on) ‘According to Jim,’ and that was like five years ago.”
“I wasn’t in the mainstream of writing, and I was mad about it. I had this sort of creative impulse and nowhere to put it.”
Aided by fellow blogger and TV writer Ken Levine, Pomerantz created his website and wrote his first post with no idea about whether there would be a second. Instead, they’ve come almost daily for the past two years.
The pieces cover topics both related and unrelated to the industry, though some themes recur frequently. In the ongoing multipart series “Story of a Writer,” Pomerantz provides a thorough insider history of life in
the TV comedy world, both as a series creator and as a hired gun.
And speaking of hired guns, there is also Pomerantz’s “Saddle Up!” in which he imagines interviews with characters that appeared in seemingly every Western made in the genre’s glory days.
For example, there’s “The Indian Who Shoots the Flaming Arrows”:
“The idea of flaming arrows always seemed strange to me. I understand if you’re shooting at something made of wood, like a fort or a cabin. You’re trying to burn it down. But shooting flaming arrows at a person, what’s the point? You’re killing the man and you’re burning him up. Isn’t one of those enough?
“You had to be a decent shot with those flaming arrows. One fella missed the cabin and burned down the studio.”
Pomerantz’s greatest gift might be his ability to spot the illogical, whether in life or in a teleplay — which is why it would seem his experience should be an asset rather than a demerit.
“Shows got to be different than me,” he concedes, noting a generation gap between himself and the style or substance of many modern comedies. “That’s where the parting happened, partly because of an age thing and partly because of a sensibility thing.
“(But) from a storytelling perspective, I believe there’s no such thing as time. I believe a good story’s a good story and always was, from Adam and Eve to what they’re doing now. … “The infrastructure is basically always the same, because it’s always a visceral thing. If you know that, you can contribute that element of that experience, and I don’t think that gets old.”
Pomerantz enjoyed the whimsy and innocence of recently retired HBO half-hour “Flight of the Conchords,” and says ABC’s “Modern Family” is the best sitcom on today.
“It’s smart,” he says. “It’s honest. It’s surprising … It feels its own strength. It knew what it wanted to be (from the start) and it’s fulfilling its promise.”
He also adds praise for “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” saying “If I were growing up, that’d be the show I’d aspire to be in.”
In any case, Pomerantz doesn’t lose sleep over his transition from the center of the TV comedy universe to his small shack on the frontier of the Internet.
“If somebody gets interested in me because of the tone or style or content of my blog, I would listen. But I don’t care,” he says. “I don’t care about any of that stuff that requires you to sell or hype something. That would sap my energy from the things I like to do.”