Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lisa Mateas!

In case you do not know her name, it's Lisa Mateas.

She's one of the progenitors of THE FLAMING NOSE, but she is SO SO much more than that. I won't go on and on about her achievements. This would embarrass her. Still, I will say she's been a champion of TV for a long time. She's been in there, punching for fandom and for pure love of television so much that, if I told you all how much she's done, you'd be sending her copious e-mails in complete thanks. This is easy to say, but, believe me, you would be sending those e-mails (the Babylon 5 people alone would be turning out full force)!

I met Lisa in 1994, when I was applying for the job of Programming Coordinator at Turner Network Television, where she was the network's longtime Vice-President (and, thus, a progenitor of both Turner Network Television and Turner Classic Movies). I showed up on time, and I got the job, and I knew it immediately because both she and her cohort, Phil Oppenheim, acted like they had just won the lottery after they had met me. How many people can say THAT about people they've interviewed with? To work with Lisa and Phil was like working for the Wright Brothers: they knew it all, and I never questioned it. The astronomical plus was that these two were vastly funnier and more joyous that the Wright Brothers probably ever were. They were, for me, the king bosses of all time. If you can imagine your managers spending time blackening in the shiny white teeth belonging to celebrities on the covers on TV Guide while STILL remaining the smartest people in the building, then you'll know what I mean. Can't imagine it? No? Thank you. It was a one-of-a-kind job.

I was, I thought, strictly a movie guy when I met Lisa. But she saw something else in me. And she made me realize that TV was just as close to my soul as the movies were. It took me a while to understand this, but it happened. Now, I get the difference, and the nuances, that separate the mediums. And I have to say: after meeting Lisa (and Phil), my love of TV and movies are running neck-and-neck. In fact, I don't think one can exist without the other.

My tribute to Lisa was going to be, originally, a series of posts on Facebook. But I thought that was much more ephemeral than I could stand.

Lisa and I are still kindred spirits; we played VIDEO GAMES together, for God's sake. Even though we now live far apart, I will always carry her with me in my heart. And, clearly, this is the case with her, too; she is still always keeping up with my doings on FILMICABILITY, and constantly comments--in complete, loving, and authentic allegiance--on my articles. She has said, and I believe, that she is my #1 fan. And so, as HER #1 fan, I offer a single article in tribute to her wisdom and magnificence.

Even so, I respect her privacy. But I still feel I have to say how much I love her. And so I'll do it through television--her FIRST and TRUEST love. I think she'll groove on this.

So now I offer, for my dearest friend, a tribute through television. The following top ten clips--even though we may not have talked about them ALL straightforwardly--are still each sublime TV moments that will make me, forever, undoubtedly recall Lisa Mateas, and all the great times, and all the great loves, we've shared together. Happy birthday, Lisa! You make every world shine!

(The Andy Griffith Show; "Mr. McBeeVee" Season 3, episode 1, part 3; written by Harvey Bullock, directed by Bob Sweeney; this scene requires Opie's father, Andy, to believe in something that was unbelievable. Lisa and I still share a love of this series; I may be speaking out of turn for her, but I think that we agree this series, and perhaps this very series of scenes, are amongst TV's sweetest moments in time. Lisa is all about sweetness but, as you will later see, darkness plays a role as well).

(Leonard Nimoy, in full Vulcan makeup, doing an press interview for Star Trek, 1966-67; Lisa has an outspoken crush on Spock).

(Davy Jones, and The Monkees, delivering "Cuddly Toy" via The Monkees, 1967; Davy is another Lisa crush, I believe--and oh, how we love talking about how much The Monkees mean to us both).

(The insanely amazing opening credits to The Wild Wild West, with Richard Markowicz's unforgettable theme, and those beautiful animations; TNT played The Wild Wild West daily up until the late 1990s; Lisa named one of her cat Artemus!).

(The opening credits to the greatest one-season TV show of all time: Freaks and Geeks, created by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow; I think that if Lisa had had the power at the time, Freaks and Geeks would have gone on to a second season, and beyond; and we were THIS close...).

(From The Twilight Zone: "To Serve Man." Season 3, episode 14. Written by Damon Knight and directed by John Braham).

(From The Outer Limits: "The Zanti Misfits." Season 1, episode 14. Written by Joseph Stefano and directed by Leonard Horn).

(I Love Lucy, "Job Switching," season 2, episode 1, written by Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh and Jess Oppenheimer; directed by William Asher; Lucy is the avatar for this very site, which should tell you something).

(Leave It To Beaver, "Beaver Gets Spelled," season 1, episode 1, part 3; written by Bob Mosher and Joe Connelly; directed by Norman Tokar; I never knew how smart the Beaver was until I met Lisa).

(Joe Flaherty as Count Floyd, tubthumbing for "The Bloodsucking Monkeys of West Miffland, PA," from 1980 on Second City Television; Lisa and I both share a massive crush on Mr. Flaherty, who I think we agree is a genius).

She's a hilarious, wonderful lady. Lisa Mateas is my hero. How I adore her so! And she is the one and only person I know who is totally, completely, all about love. And here's a bonus clip, too!

(Joe Bob Briggs singing the Monstervision song, 1997; they'd be no Joe Bob hosting Monstervision without Lisa!)


Lisa said...

Dean, what can I say? I *AM* your #1 fan and love your awesomeness, always! How did you manage to reach right into my noggin and pick the perfecto clips??? I always wore my TV heart on my sleeve, clearly! :-) So funny, hilarious, brilliant -- such inspiration for the future and a reminder that what you love, you love! Of course no office environment has ever been as much fun as what we used to have together, and we had such amazing times playing all those games together -- some of my most hilarious memories, for sure! We could never have taken down those monsters alone -- teamwork, baby, teamwork! This post was more incredible than the power of the BFG!
Thanks so much and I am glad that our time together has continued to mean as much to you as it did to me, and will always!! xoxoxoxoxo

JW - Ashebrooke GA said...

Lisa is The Greatest!!!!

Jane said...

What a lovely, lovely tribute to the greatest TV lady on the planet...our beloved Lisa! Absolutely beautiful and I couldn't have said it better...although I will second it with all my heart and times a thousand. To have worked with Lisa (I had her six years all to myself at KTLA-LA yay!) was the biggest treasure I can recall for all the many years I worked in television. Thank you Dean...and Happy Birthday Lisa. From "monkey pants" to the "pin boys" graffiti, to the pig head interviews at Alpha Beta...wasn't it all glorious? I am honored to be your friend and to have shared those early days of independent TV. I will end with a line from Frankie, the infamous character from that crazy Australian women's prison series that you guys picked up at one point. "Your gonna be in here for years and years and years". Yup, you in our hearts and minds forever! May you have many more birthdays my wonderful friend!

Dean Treadway said...

Ahh, the good ol' BFG. That was the most fun I ever had playing a videogame! XOXOXO!