Excerpt: Wendy Walker's 'The Producer'


And yet, a piece appeared in Vanity Fair magazine, in September 2009, written by James Wolcott, criticizing Larry. In a snarky, critical tone, this writer called the show "the funeral parlor for the gods." He called Larry "America's chief mourner and grief counselor," and criticized him for "assuming the indispensable role of designated mourner to the stars, tollbooth collector at the last stop before the Hereafter, pallbearer beyond compare."

By the end, the author conceded that we needed Larry to help us get through these things. I suppose it was a backhanded compliment to have an entire article devoted to us in Vanity Fair, but the nature of the article was so negative, it implied we were doing it incorrectly. And then, this writer only referred to the deaths of Farrah, Michael, David Carradine, and Ed McMahon. What if he had waited until all ten celebrities were gone? What would he have said then? While we honored the rest of the people who had passed, should we have left out Teddy Kennedy? Or what about Walter Cronkite?

The truth is that millions of viewers have their eyes and ears trained on our show every single evening. When someone of importance in this country dies, the public assumes that Larry will have something to say about it. I take it as a compliment and a responsibility. These deaths were very important to the general public.

No matter what occurs and when, there is no crystal ball to tell us which direction we should take. There is no instruction book to turn to or anyone who has the answers. It's basically up to me and my staff, so we have to keep up with everything all the time to make the best decisions we can. We try not to second- guess ourselves. I go with my gut (it's usually all I have), I depend on my staff, and we book the best show we can produce. When it all looks impossible, I try to be the calm in the midst of the storm. Our reward is that each day, whether last night's show was great or mediocre, the palette is clean and we get to start all over again, a little wiser for what we learned yesterday. And a little bit more trusting of ourselves.

Freaking Out Is Not an Option

When you have to make an important decision and there are a variety of ways to go, the only clear path is to channel your intuition. Check in with your gut. We all have that intuitive gift to some degree. My psychic friends assure me of this, and I know it's true. Some people just have it honed better than others.

So, when the stress-o-meter hits ten, remember that losing your cool is not going to help or change the situation. When things get confusing and you feel frazzled and upset, try taking a deep breath and calming yourself down. Do whatever it takes to accomplish this. You may need to leave the room, sit in a quiet place with no music where you can't be disturbed, and take a moment to go inside yourself. Then ask yourself, What do I really want here? What feels right?

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