Carl Reiner revealed how he came up with the idea for ''The Dick Van Dyke Show''
It's always in every writer's best interest to write from their personal experiences because it almost always guarantees that the content will feel honest and realistic. Everyone is walking through life with a different perspective, living vastly different lives, even if we exist side by side. To write what you know is to share your experience with others, to hold out a hand for someone to take, to see and be seen. It's a chance to let people know that they're not alone, a worthwhile mission, in many people's opinion.
Carl Reiner was kind enough to share how he invented the premise for his famed series The Dick Van Dyke Show, and not surprisingly, the idea behind the series was partially autobiographical.
In his book, I Remember Me, Reiner recalled entering a meeting with two writers who were interested in Reiner reading their pilot script. Reiner was already well-known in the industry, due to his work on Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows. However, Reiner wasn't satisfied with the pilot script the writers had prepared for him. Still, lightning didn't strike until his wife casually offered a solution.
Reiner wrote that his wife, Estelle, said, 'Honey, you can do better than this. Why don't you write one?" This was enough to get Reiner off to the races. But first, he needed a concept.
Reiner recalled that he was able to come up with the bare bones of the series while driving in his car alone, talking to himself. While some might find talking to themselves off-putting, Reiner greatly encourages it for creativity. He wrote, "I recommend it highly, especially to intelligent people like yourself. I suggest that an intelligent person asking him or herself intelligent questions is likely to get intelligent answers."
Reiner asked himself a question that you might find yourself asking every once in a while: What makes you so special?
Specifically, Reiner asked himself, "What piece of ground do you stand on that nobody else it [sic] the world stands on?" Reiner's response was "Well, I live in New Rochelle with my wife and two kids. I work in Manhattan as an actor-writer on a comedy-variety television show." Even then, Reiner knew he had struck gold, exclaiming, "That's it! Write about that!"
Of course, it's easy to see the journey Reiner took from himself to the creation of the character Rob Petrie, who bears a striking resemblance to the man himself. Let this be a lesson: Never be shy to offer your fresh new perspective, and once in a while, if you've run out of decent ideas, try talking to yourself!
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