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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.
Let me just start by saying what a great writer you are. When I found out you were going to write a book I was elated. When I heard of your AudioPlay, I was ecstatic. Which is why I was so heartbroken when I read your comments about the Kickstarter experience and how jaded you were about it. More so because that basically means we won't get an AudioPlay for Book 2.
I'm really sorry it didn't work out like you were hoping. I haven't lost hope of you releasing Book 3, however.
A sincere thank you.
I haven't lost hope of producing an AudioPlay for Book 2 or of writing Book 3: Masque of Bones. It's not going to happen in the near future, but someday. Just not through Kickstarter.
I want to get the Audio Play of "Rain of the Ghosts"...but it's impossible to get if you don't own a credit card or are from outside of the US...is there a chance to sell it on Amazon? (it would solve your problem with low sale rates if it were just easier to buy it)
It's been on Amazon for years now and is still available. Hope you had a chance to get it. Or can get it now.
Hi Greg, just bought your audio story of Rain Of The Ghosts, fantastic original story, and not to mention love hearing our favorite voice actors in your story, and it was amazing, gonna go find the second book and read it.
I also wanted to ask, Timedancer is one of my most favorite spinoff ideas based onto Gargoyles, and the sheer idea of Brooklyn Time traveling is awesome! I wanted to know, just like you did with Rain Of The ghost Audio story, would you be able to do Timedancer like that? Bring in the old voice actors (Jeff and Thomas ect) and bring in new ones to voice the new characters that would have been in Timedancer?
Thanks for the kind words about Rain.
To answer your question, I'd love to do an AudioPlay of Timedancer, but I don't own Gargoyles or TimeDancer, so that's not an option at this time.
What's the status on Rain of the Ghosts? Are you going to do an AudioPlay for Spirits? Have you put Masque of Bones on hiatus?
For financial reasons, I've had to put both the AudioPlay of SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM and the writing of MASQUE OF BONES on hold. Unfortunately, we didn't sell enough copies of RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS (in either paperback or ebook form) and we didn't sell nearly enough e-copies of the AudioPlay for RAIN. I can't afford the time to work on this project right now, which kills me. But I will someday.
This won't mean much to folks who aren't living in the Minneapolis area, but KFAI 90.3/106.7 will be serializing the AudioPlay version of RAIN OF THE GHOSTS across five consecutive Sundays, starting at 9:30pm on August 5th, 2018 on their Sound Affects weekly broadcast. There's more info about the broadcast here: http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/sound_affects/schedule.html or here: http://www.kfai.org/soundaffectsaradioplayground. By clicking on the KFI website's "LISTEN NOW" button at the appropriate date and time, you can hear the Rain AudioPlay from pretty much anywhere with internet or WiFi.
I want to thank Jerry Stearns for making this happen.
For those of you asking... "AudioPlay? Rain of the Ghosts? What the heck is he talking about?" Here's a blurb:
Rain of the Ghosts
The adventures of Rain Cacique, a young girl descended from the indigenous TaÃno people of the Caribbean. Rain lives on the Ghost Keys, a chain of islands on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle, where her parents own and run a Bed & Breakfast that is both Rainâs home and place of employment. Rain goes from making beds for tourists to learning she has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Rain has a mystery to solve, a mission to accomplish and a destiny to fulfill. Book written by Greg Weisman, who also produced this audio play. Twenty actors in the cast, including Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, and Edward Asner, with Brittany Uomoleale as Rain Cacique. Full sound effects and an original musical score.
If you're interested in hearing this at your own pace on your own schedule, it's available on Audible/Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Rain-of-the-Ghosts/dp/B01MU5XQ06/ref=sr_1_1_twi_audd_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1532394865&sr=8-1&keywords=rain+of+the+ghosts
I'm truly proud of this work and urge you to check it out - one way or another.
1) I haven't seen Greg on Twitter for ages...what happened to him?
2) What is with "Masque of Bones"? Is there any hope left for the Rain of the Ghosts series? They were some of the best books I ever read and I would be so disappointed if the project just died...
1. I took a break from social media.
2. I'll get to it eventually, but it may be a LONG eventually. I'm afraid that neither book in the series sold well enough for my publisher to want to publish the third book. I was hoping that the audioplay version of Rain would generate some interest, both in itself, and the series as a whole. But that hasn't happened. So I will get back to Rain - and self-publish, if necessary. But right now, I need to pay the bills, with projects like World of Warcraft: Traveler.
You've said that you are never going to do another Kickstarter.
1. Does this mean you intend to never use crowdfunding as a source of funding something personal again, or specifically just the kickstarter platform is a no-go?
2. Can you elaborate as to why you will not do Kickstarter again?
3. If someone else (a group of dedicated fans) were to manage a kickstarter on your behalf (for something you either already hold the rights to, something that does not yet exist or something whoes rights are in the public domain), would you consider working within that arrangement?
2. A successful Kickstarter campaign is 100% dependent on one's own contacts. If I had know that my only route to success was to - in essence - beg personal friends and family for money, I never would have done it. And I'm certainly not going to do it again.
3. Managing a Kickstarter is indeed a pain in the butt. But that wasn't the issue. The issue is how something gets funded and by whom. My fans and followers, and I have a considerable amount, did not contribute enough to fund my Kickstarter. A handful of relatives put me over the top. LOTS OF PEOPLE DID CONTRIBUTE, and I'm very grateful to all of them. And I don't feel entitled to the money of those members of my fanbase who did not contribute. That's fine. But Kickstarter creates the impression that they bring investors to you. That was 95% not the case. Maybe 98%. And, then, added to that, it's been a huge hassle. And I'm still not done. Though I'm very close.
Simple question what are you currently working on as it is hard to follow sometimes and if you can talk or more specifically write about it what will you be working on that you know? Ohh and where can we watch it , or if read it when is it coming out or where can we find it I know you were writing a comic for Marvel I could never find it in several comic book stores.
Right now, I am working on two things. The third season of YOUNG JUSTICE and the second novel in the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: TRAVELER series.
We don't yet know where Season Three of YJ will air, but you can view Seasons One and Two on Netflix, on iTunes or on DVD or BluRay.
The second WARCRAFT book should come out in bookstores (including online bookstores) next November.
Prior to that, I was working on the second and third seasons of SHIMMER AND SHINE. Season Two is currently airing on Nick Jr.
I also wrote the first book in the WORLD OF WARCRAFT: TRAVELER series, which is currently available at bookstores (and online bookstores).
There's also my two novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM, both of which are currently available at bookstores and online bookstores.
Then there's the AudioPlay version of RAIN OF THE GHOSTS, which is currently available for download at Gumroad.com/RainoftheGhosts.
I recently co-plotted a CAPTAIN ATOM miniseries with Cary Bates, illustrated by Will Conrad. It will be available this January, 2017 from anyplace that sells comic books, including the DC Comics App, Comixology and iTunes.
Last year, I wrote the twelve issue STAR WARS KANAN series for Lucasfilm and Marvel. Those are available either as single issues, as two trades (STAR WARS KANAN: THE LAST PADAWAN and STAR WARS KANAN: FIRST BLOOD) or as an omnibus, again at Bookstores, online Bookstores, comic book stores and from the Marvel Comics App, Comixology or iTunes.
Finally, I also wrote the six issue STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK for Marvel Comics, available as single issues or as one trade (STARBRAND AND NIGHTMASK: ETERNITY'S CHILDREN [Attend University]), which AGAIN is available at bookstores, online bookstores, comic book stores, the Marvel Comics App, Comixology or iTunes.
Whew! I think that's it! Thanks for asking!
I haven't received my cds on Rain of the Ghosts part of the Kickstarter project.
We are still gathering signatures. As I've noted through Kickstarter Updates, I'm VERY sorry that this is taking so long - especially since we got the bulk of the actors all in one night - but getting the last few signatures has proven very difficult. We're getting closer now. I hope to update Kickstarter again soon.