Updated: Aug 11, 2018
By: Jess Canty
I've been catching up on old issues of THR and I came across an interesting little blurb to the side of a feature story from May about Carol Burnett that got me thinking. Actually haven't been able to stop thinking about it...
Here is the excerpt:
REPORTER: What are you watching on TV these days? Is there anything that you really love?
CB: I'm into cable more than anything. I love Better Call Saul and Fargo. I think Vince Gilligan is a genius. I got to meet him. He came to the [special taping]. And the party afterward, because we’ve been trading messages. When I’ve had a driver drive me to work for the studio, that driver also drives Vince. I said, “Oh, you know Vince Gilligan?” And he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Oh, tell him I love him.” And then the next time, Jason, the driver said, “Well, he’s a big fan of yours, and they watch MeTV all the time.” I said, “Well, we’ve got to get me his email.” So we’ve been emailing. Then I invited Vince to the show and he came, so we got to lock eyeballs and meet, and it was great.
REPORTER: Can you imagine a circumstance where the two of you would work together?
CB: Well, I don’t know. I would love to. I’m such a fan. That imagination of his is wild, just wild.
A couple of takeaways from this little story that I think are important to note.
A-#1 is that Carol Burnett ain't too proud to network. At 85 years old and as famous as she is she has no problem asking her driver to hook her up with someone she admires.
This is REAL networking.
Who do you know? Who do you surround yourself with that can help you. Who is a fan of yours that may have a second cousin that works at Warner Bros.?
And see how Carol didn't just right away ask this guy to hook her up with Gilligan? She slipped in that she was a fan - assuming (correctly) that the driver would pass that along. And then when he reported back to her that Gilligan was also a fan she went in for the ask - "can you get me his email?"
If you see Carol Burnett show up on an episode of Better Call Saul you will know it is a) because of her driver and b) because she was willing to ask for help - but did it in a smooth way.
And don't say "yeah but she's CAROL BURNETT - that's why the driver helped her. She's also 85 in a business that values youth. She's a comedian and Vince writes pretty gritty dramas. My point is, I am sure she has just as many insecurities as anyone and could make these excuses ... BUT...
She's still putting herself out there!
And I would posit that it is this creative - and at this point second nature - use of "its all about who you know" that has kept her working for as long as she has.
#2 - I find it immensely interesting that she is such a fan of these two dramas.
Which speaks to what we are always talking about - that you MUST put yourself in a box. This business will most likely not allow you to do everything, unless you are the second coming of Meryl Streep.
Obviously the world is grateful that Ms. Burnett picked comedy - but I bet she could've done a bang up job on the dramatic side too. But she picked a lane of least resistance, and she has worked it - and is STILL working it - to the nth degree and had a lot of fun along the way.
The name of the game here is longevity. I hope y'all are in this biz for the long haul because there is no better business in the world to be in. And I hope all of us are as lucky to still be creating at 85 and beyond.
Well, that and having studio drivers.