Stephen J. Cannell and I

I like Stephen J. Cannell. I do. He’s a very nice guy, and a Californian. I don’t know many of them, but the ones I see on TV all act like actors, and probably are, since they’re acting when I see them.

But Stephen J. Cannell is not only a writer, probably one of the best, if not the very best, screenwriter anywhere in the world, he’s also a great listener, and he thinks originally and clearly. Who but the Dalai Lama and Charlie Rose can claim to be great listeners? I don’t think most therapists, professional listeners, do it well.

I only met Mr. Cannell once, after an appearance at Books & Books. While he was at the lectern, I asked him about the names of his characters, expecting him to say they weren’t very important, but he surprised me. He’s very proud of his characters’ names, and I’m sure he ought to know!

It’s what would happen if I said, “my friend, Stephen J. Cannell”, that I’m wondering about. Would people say, “Hey, Marshall Price said that Stephen J. Cannell’s his friend!”, or “Hey, Marshall knows Stephen J. Cannell!”, or “Stephen J. Cannell thinks Marshall Price is a really great guy!”?

But I think I can say it, I just don’t know whether I should have to consider whether people will misunderstand what I mean. I can call him my friend, because we hit it off afterwards for a few minutes, and I know I like him. I’d like to talk to him for a few minutes more. He gave me his autograph on a small piece of paper I carry around in my wallet, and anybody who knows me at all knows that that’s rare. In fact, it’s unique, and I’ve never done such a thing in my life before.

Of course, I’ve got lots to say about Mr. Cannell, not because of anything he does, but the simple fact that he (not he, but thinking about him) inspires a lot of thoughts in my head. I’ve also got lots to say about the Dalai Lama and Charlie Rose, not that I’ve met them, or picked their brains, but you get what I mean.


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