A Station Eight Fan Web Site
This is hard.
It's been a bit of a stressful weekend, as my father went into the hospital with chest pains. A stint that had been replaced last year had failed and was replaced again Saturday morning during an angioplasty. I've been concerned, worried. But the procedure seemed to go well, and he was set to go home today. We seemed to have dodged a bullet.
But there was a second gun.
I slept in today. I woke up to two pieces of news:
1. My dad was good. Solid. My sister picked him up at the hospital and took him straight to breakfast. (My mother was annoyed at not being included - but that's a whole other story.) He's home now. I've talked to him. He sounded cheerful. All good.
2. Ed Asner had passed away.
I spent most of the day doing laundry and other mundane tasks. Life goes on, right? It has to. But it's been difficult getting my head around the whole thing. I've gotten many calls and texts today, offering condolences as if I were part of the Asner family. Folks seem to know how close I felt to Ed. But I don't want to exaggerate. Ed was my friend. I hope he knew I was his, as well. But I haven't talked to him in at least a couple of years. (You can partially blame that on the pandemic, I suppose. There are a lot of people I've lost touch with. If anything, this is a reminder to GET in touch. And I'm going to make an effort to do that.) In any case, there are many, many people who knew Ed better than I did, who were closer to Ed than I was.
Nevertheless, at the risk of turning this post into my own self-aggrandizement, I am going to spend a few paragraphs here on the subject of the Ed Asner that I knew and loved.
I was a fan of Ed's long before I met him. Like many, many people, he first entered my awareness playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Later, I got a kick out of picking him out of reruns, where he usually played the heavy in such series as The Wild Wild West and others.) But as Lou, Ed was simply brilliant. One of the truly classic scenes in all of television is the scene in the TMTMS pilot, where Lou interviews Mary for a job. Do yourself a favor and view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj286uBKCu0
That scene had a major effect on me, even seeing it as a kid.
Now, having just rewatched it, the genius of the writing and the two performances still knocks me out. But there was something else about Lou and Mary. Watching their interactions was a bit like watching my parents. The connection in my mind between Lou and my dad was especially strong.
Ed and my father were two Ashkenazi Jews from the midwest. My dad was from Chicago; Ed, from Kansas City. They were gruff AND loving. They even had mannerisms in common. There was much more, I'm sure, that they DIDN'T have in common. But something connected the two men in my mind. And, meanwhile, my admiration for Asner as a performer knew no bounds. When I saw him in the Lou Grant series, in Rich Man, Poor Man, in Roots, that admiration only increased. When I learned of his activism - and the price he paid for it - that admiration shot through the roof.
Years later, when we had begun pre-production on GARGOYLES, I thought of Ed Asner - or of Lou Grant, at least - as the inspiration for Hudson. In fact, when we held auditions for the role, I wrote at the bottom of the character description that "Hudson hates spunk." This was, of course, a variation on Lou's classic line from the above job interview scene. Now, to be clear, I never imagined we'd get Ed to play the role. I figured he was way too big a star for us to land. But low and behold, a few days later, Ed came in to audition for the part. Later, he told me that when he read the character description, he was initially thrilled. The "Hudson hates spunk" line made him feel like he was a lock to land the role. Then a couple minutes later, he thought that if he didn't land the role it would really be awful. But of course, he immediately understood the character and nailed his audition... only for Jamie Thomason and I to throw him a curveball, asking him to do it again in a Scottish accent. He nailed that, too.
Working with Ed was a joy. He was fun and funny and so supportive. In addition to playing Hudson (and Burbank and Jack Danforth/Dane) on Gargoyles, I also cast him as recurring characters on Max Steel (Chuck Marshak), 3x3 Eyes (Grandpa Ayanokoji), W.I.T.C.H. (Napoleon the talking cat), Young Justice (Kent Nelson) and Rain of the Ghosts (Joe Charone). When casting Peter Parker's late Uncle Ben in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ed was the only person I ever considered. He always brought so much to each and every role.
And more than that he was a great friend to me. After the first season of Max Steel, when I couldn't find a job for over a year and thought I might have to give up on my writing career, Ed was there, offering me support. We had lunch at Musso & Frank's. He looked at pictures of my kids out of my wallet and told me to laminate them. He introduced me to his son, Matt Asner, a producer. He didn't allow me to wallow in self-pity or to badmouth guys who I believed had done me wrong. He just reassured me that I had ability and would find my way through. He was, in essence, my work dad.
So today, as you might imagine, has been complicated. My dad is home and healthy. And Ed is gone. I'm grateful and sorrowful. And struggling. But life goes on. It has to, right?
Finally, I'm going to quote Hudson from Gargoyles. In "The Price," an episode that spotlighted the character, Ed as Hudson told Xanatos: "A friendly word of advice: True immortality isn't about living forever, man. It's about what you do with the time you have. When all your scheming's done, what will be your legacy, Xanatos?"
I think we all know that Ed Asner did amazing things with the time he had. And though we'll miss him dearly, his legacy is clear and shining.
Hey, thanks for hours of entertainment through your shows. I just recently finished watching the canon run of Gargoyles on DVD through the library (Me and a friend greatly enjoyed the journey, and had a lot of fun watching it!) after growing up on your other shows, like Young Justice and Spectacular Spider-Man. So, thank you, and as Iâm new here, Iâd figure Iâd try and put a question that isnât quite so... obvious.
Did Elizaâs palate change much after the Avalon World Tour?
I know you are not the biggest fan of hypothetical questions, but I have a question regarding Spectacular Spider-Man that can be considered one. We all know about the untimely demise of the show, and the fact that you and the team had an outline of where you wanted the series to go. If Sony were to do animated movies in Spectacular's universe (as that seems to be the only feasible outcome at this time), would you continue with your plans as they were back when the show was running? Or do you feel that you would include some ideas from comics in the past decade while the show was off the air?
Akeem, the reason I'm not a big fan of hypothetical questions is because there's no way for me to answer a hypothetical question like this. I DON'T CONTROL THIS STUFF. Given that simple fact (that fans don't seem to want to absorb), there are too many variables for me to answer. How do I know what I would do in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that this comes to pass? It depends on what my bosses want.
Let me start out by saying that I have enjoyed your work on Young Justice and Spectacular Spider-man and anything that I have seen of your work. But my question may be a bit long and/or complicated (probably). So I have watched Spectacular Spider-man for as long as I can remember and enjoy it for what it is, but the way it ended has always made me want more. I have thoroughly looked at the guidelines for the question I am about to ask and couldn't find anything, but I would like permission to make a comic series (if I do) of Spectacular Spider-man. I wouldn't want money for it as for me it would be a hobby, if I were to make it I wouldn't want to harm the fame and attraction that it has gotten in recent years. From what I have heard you say in your Spectacular spider-casts and your interviews that I can source back to you, I have written down in notes and will try to follow as best as I could (at least in a stort standpoint). I'm not trying to disrespect you in any way, in fact it is quite the opposite actually. In essence if there were a season 3 and however far along I am in this (if I go through with it) I wouldn't expect you to (no other way to word this) be inspired by me (I guess) let alone read any of the comic(s). But I would love an answer, if you feel uncomfortable answering here you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org); in no way is this an endorsement, but I am young (19 yrs old) and am known to make decisions based on an idea
What you're describing sounds like fanfiction to me. And I'm all for you doing that. And I don't imagine Marvel or Sony would object as long as you're not making any money off it. But I'd never be able to look at it for legal liability issues. In essence, it's none of my business.
Since it's cancelation, you've shared a lot about what was planned for Spectacular Spider-Man. I was doing a rewatch of the series the other day and finally noticed Flash's sister during the hospital scene. I'm curious as to whether there was going to be some grand overarching narrative with her in later seasons, or if she was just in the scene to serve as window dressing?
We had plans for EVERYONE.
Do you think there is more hope of Spectacular Spiderman coming back after Tom Holland saved Spiderman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He convinced Disney and Sony to negotiate over the rights for a 2nd time after Spiderman was temporarily off of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the 1st negotiation. I think Spectacular Spiderman can come back if you help Disney, Marvel, and Sony negotiate over Spiderman TV rights again. If they see the success of the series you've worked in like Young Justice maybe through a portfolio or something, they could give it another shot. Tom Holland showed me that rights issues can be solved if we take action though that might've been because of the big bucks of the movies. Times are different now, maybe if you can help propose those companies to make a deal over the TV rights, they can accept it because it can be financially better for both companies to run something like that. Times are different with revivals nowadays like with Young Justice, companies care a lot about money so maybe you and other people can convince that it will financially benefit both companies. I really believe one day, the series will be revived.
I don't help with negotiations. EVER. That's way above my paygrade.
(I don't even handle my own negotiations, frankly. My agent does that.)
And by the way, plenty of people have seen my successes on one show or another - and felt very, very free to ignore them. I am FAR from having the kind of clout that you're implying I have.
Thank you for your time and all the great series over the years.
Like other Spider-Man fans I feel it's unfortunate that it's unlikely for Spectacular Spider-Man to return due to legalities (would love to be proven wrong though).
However would you be willing to helm a new animated Spider-Man series for Marvel?
Hi, Greg Weisman! I was rewatching Spectacular Spider-Man, great show, and I was rewatching Intervention specifically. One thing that caught my eyes was the manager, Sullivan Edwards I believe, and I tried looking for a comic book or movie counterpart for him since in Amazing Fantasy #15 the manager is called Maxwell Shiffman. I found a Mr. Sullivan from Spider-Man 1, and a famous promoter in real life named Edward Sullivan, was the manager based on the SM1 character as a homage to the latter? Thanks!
The name was an homage to Ed Sullivan, the newspaper and television personality.
Were you involved with the creation of The Spectacular Spider-Man intro, and if so what involvement?
That was mostly Vic Cook and Phil Weinstein, as I recall. Plus The Tender Box, who wrote and produced the show's theme song. But I did have input.
Hey greg I got one question for spectacular spiderman.
This is something I've always wondered in every version of Venom.
Why did the symbiote covered Peter's face like a "normal mask", but then started to show the scary teeth and the jaw when he became bonded with Eddy?
Thank you, Greg!
Each relationship was symbiotic. Take from that what you will.