Friendly grew up a “studio rat,” wandering the halls of CBS and NBC studios in New York City. This was during the ‘50s and ‘60s when the two networks dominated late-night television, namely with NBC’s “Johnny Carson Show.” While he spent most of his younger life in New York, he also saw a decent amount of time in Southern California, eventually attending USC to study television and film.
“‘Willing to be Lucky’ is definitely not a tell-all,” said Friendly of his first and “possibly only” book. “It took roughly three years to write, and it was overall an enjoyable process. The project really began when I was having lunch with some old friends. I’ve had quite an eclectic career – and reminiscing about some of the stories brought a wealth of memories flooding back. My companion asked me ‘Why don’t you write these down?’ So I did.”
After attending USC, Friendly returned to New York to start his career working with a local NBC news affiliate. His career eventually led him from the local news to producing the likes of Richard Pryor’s standup special “Here and Now,” talk show icons Tom Snyder and Tim Russert, represented Dan Rather, Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Vin Scully and many more.
“What had started out as news-driven, led to the talk shows, which were a huge source of entertainment television at that time,” said Friendly. “I also was able to have the honor of being the original producer of “Entertainment Tonight,” CNBC and King World, which represent Oprah.”
While the glitz and glamor may be appealing to a wide audience, it seems as though Friendly’s befitting surname and equal temperament provide life lessons as well. In fact, that was another reason to publish the book.
“I just turned 66-years-old,” said Friendly. “Around this age, you start attending a lot of funerals and memorials of close friends and family. I realized that I have learned some tremendous lessons during my experience in entertainment, and wish to impart that to future generations of those wanting to be involved in the business, as well as my family.”
For those interested in showbiz lore, “Willing to be Lucky: Adventures in Life and Television” offers a wealth of personal anecdotes involving some of the key players of their time. Not only does the book focus on the glitz and glamour, but also places a great deal of emphasis on what it takes to be a better individual, family member or (pun intended) friend.