Twitter @ByBruceReisman @BlankOnStage
At the age of 12, Bruce Reisman sat down and wrote a spec script for his then favorite show, “Lost in Space”. When arriving for his first meeting with the late and legendary Irwin Allen, the mogul was stunned to see Bruce and his mother waiting in the outer office. It was 1963, and from that point on, Bruce Reisman was in the “biz”.
As a protégé of Louis Pelletier, the Disney writer of such films as “Follow Me, Boys” and “Big Red”, Bruce was groomed to be a writer devoted to craft, emotion, humor, and truth. Before graduating high school in Woodland Hills, California, Bruce wrote scripts for “Bonanza”, “The Big Valley”, and “doctored” many pilots under the guidance of Irwin Allen.
At Cal State Northridge, Bruce quickly became known as the “best student director” in the Drama Dept. “He was the Mike Nichols of CSUN”, proclaimed Dr. William Schlosser, now 93, and the then head of the Theatre Arts program. “He was so impish and funny, I recall, but when he started to work with the actors, they revered him like he was Lee Strassberg”.
One L.A. critic compared Bruce to Orson Welles.
The late Jeff Corey, one of the best known acting coaches in the world, said of Bruce Reisman’s directing talent: “When I saw his student production of ‘A Hatful of Rain’, it was as good as the one on Broadway. The kid was a 21 year old director and evoked more emotion out of those actors than I could believe possible for someone his age. And he staged the action like long motion picture takes, so fluid, as if an invisible camera were following the actors around.”
After directing a dozen plays in college, Bruce hooked up with fellow student, Larry Wilcox, who had just been hired to star in a new TV series called “ChiPs”. Larry wanted to write, and asked Bruce to co-write a script for the hit show. They sold it, and Bruce was brought on staff and remained there for the first season.
From there, Bruce moved to work under the guidance of another TV legend, Glenn Larson, where he had his first on-lot office at 20th Century Fox; there, he wrote for “The Fall Guy”, “Automan”, Trauma Center”, and even wrote a spin-off entitled “The Fall Gal” for Barbara Stanwyck. At 26, Bruce was respected for his talent and known for his work ethic.
In 1980, Bruce, making enough money to take on outside creative challenges, began writing and directing his own plays, producing them in Equity Waiver Theaters, garnering both awards and full houses.
“He changed Equity Waiver Theatre in Los Angeles,” says Lee Melville, the original editor-in-chief of Drama-Logue. “It was he who raised the bar, both in production quality and commercial appeal. He took his experience from TV and infused it into his theatrical stories, whereas the audiences could be entertained but not condescended to. He was the Neil Simon of Los Angeles for years, and everybody wanted to work with him.”
The Daily News, in reviewing his 1986 production of “On Stilts”, said: “Bruce Reisman’s new play evokes the kind of power that only a Mamet or a Miller could display. As a director, he continues to get performances out of young actors that could make them all stars someday. He is the best director and playwright in Los Angeles, bar none.”
Bruce continued to work in television, on such shows as “T.J. Hooker”, “Mike Hammer”, and “The Young Riders”. He received a Humanitas Prize nomination for his work on “Tour of Duty” and was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for his controversial western script, “Requiem For a Hero” for the series, “The Young Riders”. He accepted his award in Oklahoma City alongside Kevin Costner, who was inducted the same night for “Dances With Wolves”.
In the early 90’s, as staff work tapered off, Bruce wrote several TV movie scripts, including an adaptation of James Fennimore Cooper’s “The Pathfinder”. From 1994 to 2000, Bruce sold TV movie scripts to CBS through various production companies. He continued to direct his own plays, commercials, short films, and of course, “Blade Boxer”, for which he directed for $100,000.00, which has become a VHS cult classic starring the late Dana Plato and Kevin King (whom he still considers the best actor he’s ever worked with).
Bruce says of that experience: “I’m proud that I got it shot in 12 days, but the script was terrible. The crooked distributor took the footage to Texas and cut it down to crap. But for a little martial arts movie, it’s not that bad. The kids still love it, and martial arts fans latched on.”
In the last 10 years, Bruce has continued to work as a much-respected writer, often used as a “script doctor” on many features and TV shows. Working under the radar, Bruce is brought in constantly to hone and tune dialogue for the major stars who actually request his services. And, in the midst of all this activity, Bruce sat down to write a novel. “The biggest challenge of my life,” he says. “I avoided it for years, but I just started writing and wrote 508 pages in 6 months.”
Entitled, “Sexual Justice”, the epic novel spans 30 years in the life of a modern Horatio Algier-type character named Justice Payne, who travels the world in search of his father, Bobby Quinn. The novel has rec’d rave notices and is available at amazon.com.
Most recently, Bruce completed “BLANK”, his first original stage play in 25 years. it was produced in Los Angeles, under his direction, premiering February 8, 2014, running for 6 weeks to critical praise. The author is in “talks” with various NY producer$ to move the show east. Inspired by the real life “collaboration” of Broadway stalwart JOSHUA LOGAN and best-selling novelist THOMAS HEGGEN, Reisman “fictionalized” their creative and emotional journey into a powerful depiction of the “writing” process,as the two “geniuses” created a “play within a play” on stage to often comical, and harrowing results.