Writing for presidents of The United States

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

A time to ad lib, a time to stick to the script.

One thing is about as certain as death and taxes. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be honored every ten years as the longest running radio program in America, probably the world. Long ago they outdistanced their rivals; beginning with Amos and Andy, and Lum and Abner in the 30’s; then in the 40’s and 50’soaps like “Oxydal’s own Ma Perkins,” “Our Gal Sunday” and “The Guiding Light;” comedians Bob Hope, Jack Bennie, and Red Skelton; dramas including “The Lux Radio Theater;” mysteries such as “The Shadow”, and “Inner Sanctum.: Bands, singers, and “Your Hit Parade”; all signed off long ago. But glory, glory hallelujah, The Mormon Tabernacle choir keeps marching on.

I was hired to write the script for one of these decennial productions. There was an interesting twist to the assignment. The show would include tributes from prominent people in America. They wanted these short speeches to be scripted, but also to sound like the person presenting them. The high point of these tributes would come from the President of the United States George Bush senior, and from former president Ronald Reagan.

I have done a fair amount of ghost writing in my day, and I like to think I can capture the vocabulary, syntax, and rhythm of my subject. I often talked to the person on the phone until I felt I had the essence of what they wanted to say, and how they would say it. I did not have access to the president or former president, but felt I had heard them enough to catch their persona and their ideas. I wrote the script, submitted it, and Bonneville Productions, the church’s broadcasting arm approved it. They sent the material to each speaker who approved and recorded their messages.

The program went smoothly. Everyone seemed pleased. The audience response was positive. I confess to a human weakness however. It is a small observation perhaps borne out by history. Ronald Reagan, one of the most esteemed of presidents by many Republicans, and some Democrats, delivered his speech masterfully down to the last comma. Sitting by my radio, I was basking in the satisfaction of it all.

George Bush started out well, then tossed the script and adlibbed. He said essentially, “The Mormon Tabernacle choir is ok, but I’m a country boy. I prefer Dolly Parton.”

Nothing against country boys, or heaven knows Dolly Parton, and I don’t know that there is any connection, but Ronald Reagan served two successful terms in the eyes of his supporters which would include me. George Bush tried for a second term, and we all know how that turned out.

Your next installment: Performing to a sea of stovepipe hats

Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.