Remembering The Golden Girls with Stan Zimmerman

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

 In this episode, we chat with TV sitcom writer Stan Zimmerman who, as a newbie in the industry, was a writer for Season 1 of The Golden Girls. Stan Zimmerman has worked on many television series, including season one of The Golden Girls, Fame, Something Wilder with Gene Wilder, Roseanne, Wanda at Large, and the highly successful fifth season of Gilmore Girls. Besides writing and producing many television pilots, he and his writing partner James Berg rewrote the Emmy and Peabody award-winning Annie for ABC. They have also written for film, including both Brady Bunch movies.  

We chatted with Stan about being a closeted writer in the 80s and working on the iconic Golden Girls for its debut season. Even though Golden Girls has become of our LGBTQ TV history, it was still was a closeted environment and coming out as gay in the entertainment industry was career suicide. We also chatted with Stan about his close relationship with Estelle Getty (Sophia) and asked him if there was any truth to the Bea Arthur vs Betty White feud.  

Stan is featured in our latest of issue of Metrosource - grab
your copy today on newsstands or head to www.Metrosource.com.  

This is metrosource menty, officialpodcast to metrosourts magazine and home of short form interviews with yourfavorite personalities from the lgbt world and Beyon quit fun andinformative. It's metral source on the go out in cousins, Lak, hello, hello, hello. This is Metros,Horseminis, IM, Yor, host Alexanda rodriges lead rider for Metrosforse, anavid podcaster. Thank you for being a friend. Okay. Now, we've all had thisediscussions as to which golden girls- We are me, I'm the Blorsy, of course,thats blanch, an Dorothy, and on this episode we chat with TV, Sitcom Writers,Tan Zimmiman, who, as a newbe in the industry, was a writer for season. Oneof the golden girls stand has worked on many television series, includingseason one of the golden girls fame, something wilder with gene wilder,Roseanne Wande, an large in the highly successful fifth season of GilmoreGirls, and besides writing, and producing many television pilots. Heand his writing partner. Jamesburg rewrode, the me ndpbody award winningAnny for ABC they've, also written for film, including both Brady Bunch movies.A stand was featured in our latest episode or latest issue of Metrosaurcegrab your copy. Today, please welcome is to stand Zimement all right now. I can't say your name withoutsaying it like stand. Zimiment like I'm, some Jewish talent agent just had tosay Jewish, I'm sorry to say, but that I think we should lead into it and youcan be a Juke for a day. How do you like that Jufer? Well, I'm GOINTA haveto go over a slight operation. If you know what I mean anyway, on that note so before we get intobefore we get into our golden girls chat, I want to talk with you about thefact that entertainment has been in your blood since childhood. You used tohave a network in your basement as a kid. What what's that about? It wasactually my bedroom. I in my basement I...

...was doing the roller follies, which islike the ice folilies, but on roller skates, which I thought was a brilliantidea. I don't know why nobody's done it still p. In my bedroom, I had created afourth network at that time: they're only three networks, abccbs and NBC. SoI created a new network and I guess the Idi saw something about Hugh's, hugescorporation and actually there's hus net now, which I should own part ofyeah. I made it into the huges television network. I created my ownlogo. I made the ads- I literally programmed seven days a week againstthe networks that were already at their shows. So F, there was a greatperformer like I was in love with Ili Toman Stillam. I felt she deserved herown half hour. Variety show right. I mean at least a half hour. YEU couldhave had like a week of shows. I didn't care, they love to broide hin is ridyshows she would do occasionally, and so I gave h her own weekly, our comedyspecial, a comedy series or if a series, God canceled, I would bring them on orif I saw you know like a movie, I thought,Oh, that make a great TV series we're just crazy ideas that I would have soyou always had this an'. So you've always had this mindset understandinghow TV networks worked, but also, what kind of shows that you abscribe to andkind of inspired, and you did little acting dancing work. You were on stageon Broadway dancing behind Rudolph Nuryef, with the Jafrey ballet and first of all, it's Norea Ohwell. Youknow I like to make my own pronunciations, yes or rudy, for ifyou're really roady and also, if you glimpse very quicklyyou're in a few movies, such as cocktail you're. In what happened toyour performing, I thought you were condal risky business, Ritsky business. I knewit was a Tom Cruise where he's sweaty...

...and young and gorgeous I knew it wasone ofos and we had a scene together. It was filmed walking down largemonthere in la which kind of looks like Chicago suburbs yeah. I had met himbefore when I was casting in New York, so you know, of course I had to bringthat up and we had a special bond and he was great, really sweetsweet. GuyYeah, I was working in a casting office in New York City and he came in and hehad just finished taps, which is his first film. We had that beautiful, likeno hair breast cut, yep mm Yep, I know you're all excited and, and he was literally bouncing off upand down o the couch you know so it wasn't just on talk, shows Yeu. Theyears later I and you just couldn't help it love him.He was just in love with the business and just a cool guy. So a I did a lotof extra work. I was in woody Allens delek yeah. It was just to make money, it was youknow your starving writer and you just needeverything you tend to survive and to eat. So I kind of did that in thebeginning and I on Oaand, I just acted last October with Harry Nef, Wilson,crewse, Blair, underwood and Vanesa Williams. I mean that's a pretty goodgig. I was okay, just breathe and do it youknow, and I had written thi script. So I was rewriting and then the likerewrite this line. All right. Now we're filming it I'm like wait, you know, butit was. I was playing basically myself and telling my story of my my friendthat died by suicide, so it was every time I would start to get a littlenervous. Ind Be just tell it for Kevin, just focus on that and tell the storyand then you're looking at ines of Williams- and you know you can't helpup ye pulled in well and this project of yours, a lot of big names haveperformed. It been involved with it. As...

...we know you know, suicide,unfortunately, is is a big part of of the nation's problem and especially inthe Lgbtq community, and especially during covid. You know what you know being personally involvedand having this this huge theater project. What would be your message tosomebody that might be having suicidal thoughts, especially during covid? You know I come at, I'm not an expert,I'm not a doctor. I don't know anything, I'm just going to talk from the heartit's about we, you know nobody wants to die, it'sthat they don't want to feel the pain right to think about a world where youdon't feel the pain and that death is not. The answer to thatproblem is to figure out that their other solutions and to live for what'saround the corner, so my piece is actually has humor in it because I'm init and thens on hope. So it's all it's usingreal suicide notes, Ond circal, bandamor veterans and Lgptq and kidsthat werl believed and then actual notes of people thatsurvived it and hear what they have to say. You know living through it and it'sjust been such a learning experience for me and it's something I want to beperforming every week. It's just when I see it.It's effect on people of all ages. I really want to keep doing it more, soI'm hoping host Covid I'll be able to go out into different communities either, but I'm like I did in Clarmonnwith the high school I did with high school student and the on stage andsome teachers or just letting the world do this play all right. On a happier note, let'stalk about another project of yours, let's Lik another project, your sat hastouched so many lives, so you're, a young writer in Hollywood o this Ifound that works from is from bornes Noveltiescom. They made thisbeautiful, Tshirt Puddin. With a line.

I wrote that the Arthur said that's oneof my favorite lines, though I had to guilt them into sending me one butnow.I have it what's the line Mr stands in Immin. No! No! I will not have a niceday. Sometimes you just and we did quotid in the magazine, an therbeautiful article. I just showed it to my mother. You made a Jewish mother, soproud Ohyou love the article good good. Well, it was so much fun. Writing itand getting to know about some of the earlier days of golden girls. You knowwe look back at golden girls and it's this huge in anthology in TV historyand then an lgbt q history as well, but don't know as a young writer. How didyou find out about the golden girls job? How did you audition or how do yousubmit as as a new beat in Hollywood, and how did you find out that you gotthe job? I was pure casting couch, I d to sleep with all. For the ladies ask me: Who is the best? It was a Stele T. wasn't it that's whyI will always e Ior Yeah Yeh yeah. We, she was shortor sickin up, okay M,not going to go down O my od, you bring it out in me, N in the Lind. Now I knowyou we had gotten off. Our first series show wewere doing epin just you know one off an differentseries like we did fame. We did an episode of Thame that Janet Jackson wason and it was her first music video like that, and I take full credit for acareer. You know, I don't think you anything Jackson or line NOP. It was aw,it was all Zimiman, athe, Debi Allen directed the Great Devi Alen Yeah and we were pitching to bunch of shows likefamily ties. We had just gotten an...

...offer to write. It was actually we got the job on theBalary Harper show it's called Balleri yeah, but right after we got the job,vallery left the show and then e Cams family, or something that Sandy dunkanwas sandy. Don't come yeup yeah, so we were sent to write that episode andthen we got Tao call from our agent that there's this new show and then BC.It just got picked up. It's know a bunch of old, ladies, but then theystart saying be Arthur and betty white and we're like we'll go pitch. You know,so you work up episode, ideas, you Don a new pitch and that's how you audition,and so they had us right. Luckily, they bought one of our ideas and US ride it.They all love the script that we handed in and they mediately brought us onstaff and there we were season one you know, but all before the show hadgotten on the air yeah we still nobody knew that it wouldbecome what it became and back in those days, you never would have expected toshow about older women to be a hip, because that just wasn'tthe way Hollywood thought, unfortunately, and they still thinkthat way. But at the time they really just nobody knew ustand. What was one of the ideas thatyou pitchd, that that we never saw in season one that you thought would stillmake a great episode? Actually that's going to be in my book. I'm writing thegirls from golden to Gilmore, yeah, wonderful stores about all the lovely.Ladies. I've worked with and Roseanne, and I found I'm going through all myfiles looking at pictures and stuff, and I found like I sav all sorts ofcrap, but I found a little like scratched out writing of like some ofthe pitctes that we had that they didn't buy. So I thought it would bekind of cool to put those in the book. You know they just like one liner,stuff, yeahm Ou know I think causeis still been done, but you know whenyou're in the beginning of a series...

...you're just figuring out who thecharacters are yeah when we got out staff and really wasn't a thing thatbetty white arose told all these stories actually one of the episodes wewrote, we named the groom the writers in the room named Sayng O, we sat therethink wow yeah. I know- and I hadn't really realized thatbecause you're just in the room and things are flying and yeah back, I'mlike. Oh that's, our episode was the first time that that city was mentioned. I' stand. What was the very first readthrough? Like episode, one N, it's the pilot. It's Weno the pilot. Oh okay, wecame my guess for our. I have to look back on the recordswhether we came on staff before they filmed arth. I don't remember, but we were so scaredbecause you just go it was you know this big room and there he's like allof a sudden like the Arthur walks in it's, be Arthur. It's like you, like you know, with the long coatsand things yeah O, my God, don't look at me up. T wasso scared, N, Thi, Tathe White, with George Washington, hair, and it doesn't.That was one o really wanted to get in there that she had her hair was likeGeorge Washington because s it was yeah. It's like Lego, haire,yeah ID never moved so they thought that was you. Could I guess talk aboutDorothy's Houpe? Let you can't talk about about yeah roses, so we didn't say anything. I think theyintroduced you at the beginning of the read through and just said the names,and you know I could tell t artest lookd off wit, so those I mean I leve,probably twelve years old than yeah. I didn't know till years later that shewas not happy when she saw how young and I think it was me and Jim,because we looked super youn right and at first she was like how are theygoing to write for Vutole? Ladies and...

...she start seing the script into hercredit, she was like. I don't care what they look like:they're, writing, really good stuff and all for the women. You know which isnot normal on. He show an every interview always goes back to thewriters, yeah, giving them credit and it was so sweet, and especially this isin Harris who created these great characters. Stand. I want to talk about the LGBTclimate during that time, we're talking about the S and there's generations atwatch golden girls that have no idea what the actual climate was behind thescenes. What was happening in entertainment, you know even that theactors that come out rock Hudson had been outed the year that golden girlscame out and he was outed because of his. You know struggle with age and heactually died that that year Jon do. He did not Matt Right; he was out Ed Elt.An John was one of the only other celebrities that came out during the S.Rupert Evert came out late S, but it's not like today, where you know we havethis boom of open actors. Tell me what was it like your participation as a gay writer andalso what was happening with the idea of being openly gay at thattime in front of the camera? What was going on you? Couldn't I mean I was not a gaywriter. I was a closeted right, so it was just you never talked aboutwhat you did over the weekend. You couldn't- and you know, thank God forwomen like a Stillghetti that took on the you know, of the tailor took on theAIDS cause right. You know I till was going to benefits all the time, and sheknows especially. It was a personal story to her because she had come offof the Broadway show towards untrilogy ot movers. He was living through her cast members die. She would go tothe hospital, and definitely we didn't know that much about it. So the storiesI'm hearing because I'e Een I'm talking to her kid or to son- you know thatthey she thought she could bring them...

...food and make them better. Like shedidn't know- and you know so- God bless her- that shewas willing to be the voice and for Gay Mal actors.You had to be in the closet as well. It was so they couldn't come out. So itwas up to women to kind of be the voice and raise money. And thank God you knowso many entertainers female entertainers. I these benefits andraise money, while we just you know, were scared every day,because we didn't know we just sal friend dying. I mean I went to I thrememorials in one week and by yougot a cold. You Got Thatcoul, be it yeah, hiding partof the gym he was gotinto. Health shows and hey worked it a healthfood store- and I remember atsome restaurant in Hollywood he like took out all of his vitamin and I'mlike puct them away. People are going to think theire aid drugs. You know- and I felt terrible aboutsaying that good but Tut you had this. You know you were instilled with Thifear. First, you came from the fear of you know. If you're gay, you won't behappy N, you'll, neer, find anybody and then all of sid became pigger gayyou're going to just die. So there was just a lot of shameinvolved. Unfortunately, and I'm sure that stunted my growth is a gay man as a young gay man, butthe coincide with the time where I was working a lot. So I you know, you're onthe TV show and you're walking TA billion hours a day. You have no sociallife, so it kind of placed really having to go out into the gaycommunity and have relationships, because I was just so focused on work,my God Tiss, like therapy. Now I've solved Everythingael wethat's. What we do here, it's themagic of Metrosource, oh O, ingl. Okay, all make sense. I clim golden girl. No,...

...so that was very frustrating becauseyou know you go to work and you're, getting really close to everybody andeveryone's like sharing the stories, and we have this barbecueand. We didthis and what did you do? You Know Ive watched tha movie, youcan't say I went to Studio Waner, I was in Wes Hallywood, you know having adrink or I met this new guy. I really like you can't talk about it and I wasout to my even my family of that point and my friends just not Inin thebusiness world. So when did you start to feel confident enough to come out inthe industry as an openly gay writer? What at what point? What spark thatthat confidence? I think trusting my that I would be getting work and thpeople. I saw the people really like ther, writing and like us like justthought like. Are they really going to stop hiring usbecause we're gay that doesn't make sense- and I just didn't- want to be hidinganymore and you saw other people, you know slowly in towards it and then we got asked to do. I think itwas the LA weekly which the local La tre Cole paper, and would we be in alsoou facasine as well? Would you be like a writers coming outand our agents are like? No, don't do it a we'relike? No, we have to do it. U,let's do it we're going to be the ones so we just did it and you know,especially in comedy writers, because it's such wassuch a Nale. Gary Marshall, I remember reading some arbicle before I moved toHollywood. All the writers from happy days went and play basketball, and Ican't do that. Basketball Wris. It was not to be had so I was like. Oh my God. We can't be on awriting step of a Sitcom because we can't play basketball in betweenwriting scene. That's what we thought...

...and it was very straight white malewriters room and we were actually the first. You know writing couple at acouple, but right in treat yeah. I was gay that that yeah in the business and it's so funny you two were the onlytwo gay writers in the room and created one of the gayest shows still O on TV.Did you did you and James kind of have this? I we didn't create it. I miss 'nHarris created it, but we kept to going. You know, as of thewhole, writing stuff died that, with the wit, I'm sure we brought our gaysensibility. I mean that was our humor and I think that dit in you know,especially with charatl like Dorothy, I mean you know we came up with th. Oh, shecould just look at someone that burned yeah. You know when we've thought of thathand, he saw they got a laugh. It's like those are hours of not having tothink of a joke. You know, but there's no other actoi really do that that iveever Ting. What to Golden Girls Fans? Ask you themost, because I know hat you give a lot of talks. You do a lot of appearances.You did the the Golden Girls Cruise, but what what o fans ask you over andover? How are you so cute? No me, how old are you and then the other?Most of the thing is: How could you as a guy wrigt those characters, asthewomen, older one now, which is one of the favorite linesthat you wrote for the Gona girls that you're like damn? That was a good lineand I love it. It's toe this one. The most poigant is roses mother. So stopping me fromLiving Eisn't going to stop me from dying HM. I love that ine. I absolutelylove that line. You know when we wrote...

...it we're, like. I don't know it's kindof heavy for Sitcom episode and God bless him. They were just like. That'sjust stayed in it was you know we got that many for writer sfills award forthat episode, so it really taught us about that being real and blending. Ifit comes from character and its Footbul, you can go from something serious tosomething funny. You know which we were able to do, I'm Rosanne as well well and that episode particular Gros.His mom is also a blance, an the younger man which is so hilarious.Whenever my friends go on a date with a younger man, I do oarons and he lifts the table. Yeah, my o,that actor came on set, I'm like Whoa good casting yeah. He was hot. Now, did you a now? U You stayed aroundfor season? One did you watch the show after you left a little bit and you know we werebitter, and so I looked at it n Mor for because Iwas friends with Te Stelt and so we al stuff and then so you know she wouldbitch to me about the show- and you know just curiosity and I did love thecast, but then I saw you know as goose. Writing was just fekept repeating they didn't growas characters that kind of stayed the same, which is not any fault of thewriters. It was back then, because when they sold the show insidication they could move the episodes around. They call them evergreen. Sothey got be in any way where it's very different. Now you see shows that areserialized so like when something ha gos an came along were like holy fuck,like that we got ta write for that, because it felt more like real lifethat people grow an change and whereas golden girls, you know like by seasonfive and six, I mean completely hysterical, but I wanted them. You know to just get a little deeper. You know, and itwas just tat that kind of showt now...

Stan. Do I have to wait for your bookto come out to find out why you didn't stay with the show. I've got some duicy stuff in it, toogot a can't wait. Okay, speaking of so, there was whole rivalry between wewrode a script, and Li Thomas had a friend of theirs rite, a script andHersas. We written Ar. Wasn't this how we got on, but then I have some juice stuff, yes of dealing with silver foxes andSusan Harris who created golden girls was not happy with peoplein the media, calling it a reboot or remake of Golden Girl, and she let usknow under no uncertain terms, yeah I'll, be talking about that to and forour listeners and viewers check out the article with standind MetrosourceMetrosourcecom or on newstands, because we talk about silver foxes, which isstands script and you can probably describe it better than me. Well, the sort it's for older gay man,I mean thre LLD, agam man in one plink. They don't even know his name becausetheir friend Jerry keeps changing. twinks like he does his cars and Aleas and living in pump springs, and it was. The idea came from a documentary thatwe saw, which I didn't know about- that a lot of LGBTQ members go back in thecloset when they go into a sensiv living, because a lot of thosecommunities are not friendly to our community and thethought of somebody. You know finally be comingout enjoying their life and then in your later yoar having to go back inthe closet bethaught. That was such a great base for a show. Well, and that is definitely a fact.You know. There's the the the stone wall retirement home now in PulmSprings, it's right when you go in and I took a tour of it and it's Lgbtqcommunity because, just like you said...

...they were turned away from other homes.There was nobody to help, there's not the assistance that there is for openly gay, and so they were goingback in the clos et. Their families were not taking care of them becauseeither they had come out and it's kind of an isolated life and it's so sad tohave a full vibrate life as an openly gay person and then to go back to arestricted way of living. So definitely what I learned is that you know we needto be talking to all generations of our LGBTQ community and shows like goldengirls kind of open those conversations out, because we feel like we're bestfriends with blanche, Dorothy rose and Sophia, and it's the same kind ofrelationships we can have with people in our very own community who exhibitthose same behaviors by the way and sil has sex or everything. I mean everyfeeling and emotion. You know, but there's I still see so much agism inthis world and it's somehow can still be the but of jokes, and you knoweverybody has feeling no matter what age you are. So you know, and especially now, there'syou know in the Asian community there's a lot of violence towards older AsiansYeah. George Deka was just done the news, the other nigh talking aboutit, and you know we just have to look out foreverybody N. I just want to you know, maybe his Pollyanna, but living in aworld where why can we just all be able to existand celebrate? You know our differences instead of you know, one' better than the other I mean Thiis irs, never made sense to me what HIV to tell you as a fan of your writing,whether it's your TV work, your movie work, your web series work and your onstage work by the way. Everything that you write does have this positiveenergy to it, and even you have fun with different personalities and whatwe would call nasty personalities, but the end of the day. Everybody has thiskind of gentle quality to them, and therealways is that message of you know we're all in this. Together I mean youdo tell people stories from all walks...

...of life, but it's always quintessentialStan Zimimen thank you've always been so supportive,and I hope the world is receptive to me continuing to tell stories, because Ijust love doing it all right so telling stories. I just have to know B Arthurand Betty White Feud Stories Chore Fals. Do you think we're going to see a RyanMurphy Feud season? If he doesn't? Let me write that one. IFuck Right Yeh I'll text him right now back in the day, so proi know wher.This scel would love to write that one I'm going to address some of that inthe book, but also more because I was friends with the stell. So how wasdealtin into you know? I just heard from hers side of it: Yeah. Okay, allright, okay, a little rapid fire! Are you game? Okay, if you had to write aspinoff series for one of the characters of golden girls who would itbe for? I don't know why I sai glance. I wouldlove to have seen like a free blanch like yeah like a Prequel Ian, you knowin the south and what she was all getting into. You know, yeah for sure.Okay, which lead actress from the golden girls was your personal favorite,which I think the kind of Orer to know. Let's go YEP. What's one of the most extravagantthings you bought with your golden girls, writer money because you werestruggling writer and then you had an income. What did you buy? That was soridiculous. I have my house, then I might havebought my first little house yeah. Okay, all right. What was the name of yourbiography, be I'm writing it. My first was going to be calld when Iwas like just in New York and starting out it was going to be called I've seena lot and I don't like it. I do like it, so I can't use that. Ican't use that Tirtal, I mean' even tin,...

I don't like, but I just you know I I live more positively. I guess yeah so, and you know you had Harry Lopez Right, Mone, O your shows. I don't think so. I've interviewed a lot of Latinos. Weall look and sound the same after a while. We'll have the same names o livecoe. Oh No! I've not had him now, but were we're social media friends. OhYeah. He said something really wise. He said you're never wiser than you aretoday and that's why you should wake up with the joy to live and I was like that's such a smart way to look atthing. You know, you know you know the most. You know today, right now, yeah, that is very true. Okay, you haveto cash Dorty in the major motion picture of the bolnom girls. Today,what actress are you casting? Sarah? Oh, that's God. He Height, I kind ofwould love to see er with gray hair. Oh and I would love to see, be middlersblanche, and maybe Michelle Feifer, as as Rosit'll be like, which is a Vestla and Susen Surandon can be t jwishroo, Lan really. Well, she couldact. You know wt STANC, you can do accents. Just I mean she's adorable. If I loveher to death, but yeah no Cowe AIDS are up and haveer be so foryou probably pro I mean in today's Hollywood. Anybody can play anybody.Yeah enmet stone is Dorthy. You know what not ell my life. I N, you know Actors Work Mtonyeah, all Righttan, tell everybody where you want them tofind you and follow you. My Antri SI.

No S Zimervan Stancom and it's everything and there's fun.Little pictures, there's bio and you have to check out stand theater work aswell. Yeah Yeah. He was responsible for a verycontroversial version of the diary of Anne Frank, incorporating all thatnexactors that was covered on CNN and many many news outlets and his web series. ROC anel. Thank you,God rocking Ou and it stands web series star. Every favorite actor you've everever wanted to see, and it's a Jo Standin. You know I lovelove talking with you Fuckingith, you love to your mom, and I will see you inperson very soon, so we can actually clink some glasses. Yes, all rightstand. Thank you. Thank you. So much. This has been my chat with StanZimerman. You can read my indepth interview with him. An our currentissue of metrosource on new stands across the nation or an Metrosourcecom,and that's your episode. I'm your host, Alexandar Rodrigas, lead writer forMetrosaurce. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexander, is on air untilnext time stay true, and do you boot that has been another metrof sorse manyblack share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latestissue. METROCOURSE magazine on new stands or online at metuportscom.Follow us on Facebook, instagram, an netecort and on Twitnera Tet's USTcorse that Utel next time a a.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (42)