I hope you all work with someone like Richard Matheson.

I met Richard Matheson in 2001.

I was 28 years old.  And I hadn’t produced a dang thing.

But I had a lot of ideas, and one of them was turning his novel and screenplay, Somewhere in Time, into a musical.

And somehow I managed to weasel my way into the house of Mr. Matheson, one of the most celebrated fantasy writers on the planet, responsible for a ton of original Twilight Zone episodes (including “The Nightmare from 20,000 Feet”), The Incredible Shrinking Man, I Am Legend, What Dreams May Come, Stir of Echoes, Duel,  and so many more, to make my pitch.

I showed Richard (he insisted I call him Richard, despite my desire to call him “Grandmaster Author”) a treatment of the musical, and even a scene or two I sketched out to give him an idea of what I was thinking for a stage adaptation.  He told me stories of the filming and about Christopher Reeve, about how he always thought it could be a musical . . . and then he told me he liked the scenes.

And to this day it is still one of the greatest compliments I ever received.

But he didn’t give me the rights.

Which was fine . . . because I wasn’t ready.  But I kept after them, sending him a note or two every year, keeping him up-to-date as I produced Awesome 80s Prom, and Altar Boyz, and so-forth.  We talked a couple times a year, and then . . . one day, five years after we met, his agent called and said, “Richard wants you to make Somewhere in Time into a musical.”

I don’t know why he finally decided to let me have them.  I was too excited to ask.  And too honored that he was giving me the chance; a chance which still to this day I feel so blessed to have received, which I think about every day I work on the show.

As most of you know if you saw my tweet yesterday, Richard passed away Sunday, after 87 years of entertaining millions and millions of readers and viewers, and being so loved by his friends and family, including me.  

I spoke to him a few weeks ago when we were making plans for him to see Somewhere in Time in Portland, a trip he unfortunately didn’t get a chance to make.  But in our brief conversation, he was still offering ideas, and doing what he also loved to do . . . crack a joke and show me that spectacular wit of his . . . still as sharp as ever.

Richard was a genius.  Period.  And he so loved what he did.

But I’ll never forget him for inviting me into his home, even though I had nothing on my resume except my passion for his story, and giving me a chance . . . when so many others wouldn’t have (and didn’t).

And someday, I’ll do the same for someone on their way up as well, as a thank you for what he did and continues to do for me.

I’ll miss you, Richard.  But I know you’re somewhere in time right now, making sure your musical goes well.

I promise I won’t let you down.

 

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Comments
  • Dr. Joe Wallace says:

    So excited for you and sad for the loss of such a great story teller. Somewhere in Time is an all time favorite of mine. I hope you get to put the musical on tour and bring it to Florida. A college colleague of mine was going to Portland recently for a conference. I encouraged her to go see the shoe while there and she loved it. I am a recently retired marketing and public relations director for a small college in Ocala, Florida.
    I wish you much success with your venture and thank you for not giving up on you pursuit of a dream. I also hope to see Somewhere in Time, the Musical someday soon.

  • Frank Geracitano says:

    I saw this wonderful movie many years ago and to this day It’s still my favorite of all! I really can’t put my finger on what the certain mystical powers it has on so many people. I hope one day the musical comes to the Buffalo, New York area so I can attend its performance and be mystified once again…………….

  • Jaysen Elsky says:

    This brought a tear to my eye.

    and I think you’ve already given many people some very exciting opportunities. Like the opportunity to expand the conversation about theatre.

  • Denise Franklin says:

    I too had the privilege of meeting Mr. Matheson about the same year that you did. He was at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan where Somewhere In Time was filmed. I had told him during the panel discussion that my two sons, who are both autistic, would just have to hear the music and would run into the room and watch the film. I told him that what ever the draw was to this movie, and none of us know exactly what that is, he had some how touched the autistic person too. Later during the autograph session he held my hand and told me that, “I had so touched his heart with my statement.” I was so moved by his sincerity. I will never forget it. I am so upset in hearing of his death this evening. I will truly miss him, as I had always hoped that some day we would meet again. Thank you for your tribute. It was wonderful. Denise Franklin

  • Lisa Pratt says:

    Together you and Richard have written for us a fine story. I have a tear in my eye reading it. That’s why Richard gave you the rights. He knew yours was the passion that would honor his story as a musical. Paying it forward is as good as it gets. Thanks for sharing.

  • Debbie Saville says:

    So true Ken…there are those special people/moments in our lifetime that leave lasting impressions.

    At my first audition, I showed up at the theater with a blank resume dressed up like a little old lady sang “Mr. Sandman” A cappella as I danced to a routine I made up in my bedroom. It was a funny audition as I figured if they were going to laugh it will be with me not at me.

    The owner/director of the theater smiled at this unusual audition and cast me as Chava in Fiddler on the Roof. I will never forget that day as it started my theater journey, many years ago.

    I recently reconnected with him knowing for years he has wanted to restart his acting company. I saw an opportunity and made a connection with a town council that is refurbishing an old community theater.

    I am happy to say this theater is now scheduled to open in October with my friend John at the artistic helm bringing back his acting company. I made time because he looked beyond my blank resume many years ago.

    Passing of special friends is difficult but I am certain Richard will be with you as Somewhere in Time will shine brightly because it was created with intent and passion.

  • Hello Ken:

    Your blog entries are always full of encouraging words, ideas and suggestions.

    This one brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for your kind words and a fitting eulogy.

    Dutch

  • Barbara says:

    I am a big fan of the short story and his “Duel” is one of my all-time favorites Just thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. Mr. Matheson was a brilliant writer and I can watch his Twilight Zone episodes over and over and still be mesmerized every time. I wish I could have met him. He will forever live on through his stories and the wonderful stories others tell about him. Thank you, Ken for writing such a beautiful tribute. I very much look forward to seeing Somewhere in Time.

  • Katherine says:

    Ken, you write so eloquently and with such heart. Your passion has always impressed me and touched me, and it also touched Mr. Matheson – oops, excuse me, Richard. Your humanity affects us all. Thank you for this glowing tribute, and for sharing yourself.

  • Michael L. says:

    I, too, want to thank you for sharing this moving and inspiring story. You’re a special man.

  • Beautiful homage Ken.
    This is the stuff that makes your blog so special and a pleasure to read.
    Respectfully.
    Edward

  • Arnold Kunert says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Matheson more than 30 years ago thanks to my dear friend Ray Bradbury, who was a great admirer and early supporter of Richard’s fine writing. When I met Richard at his home for the first time, he eagerly showed me a letter he had received from Ray Bradbury more than 20 years earlier in which Mr. Bradbury expressed great enthusiasm for Richard’s talent. The letter was framed and prominently displayed for all to see. He was a wonderful, talented man and very influential writer. He will be missed.

  • Zanne Hall says:

    What a wonderful story. I too am a devotee of Matheson’s and would have loved to have met him. Lucky you.

  • I was just a little girl when I saw that episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” on The Twilight Zone. Because of that great script Richard Matheson became a writer I have remembered since I was that little girl. I could say a role model. I add my sympathy at his passing.

  • Your tribute was straight from the heart. Lovely.
    “The Twilight Zone” teleplays of Mr. Matheson were exceptional, timeless. This is indeed a loss.
    But aren’t you pleased that “Somewhere in Time” went into production while he was still here? Talk about timing.
    RIP Richard Matheson.

  • terry holzman says:

    What an amazing story on so many levels. First of all how courageous to have approached Richard–your wit, charm and passion for the project impressing him more than your experience! Then, how you kept at it, kept in touch…sending Richard notes and telling him about your successes (a great lesson for us ALL), and then his finally allowing you the rights “when the time was right”. Beautiful. How bittersweet it must be for you that the musical is up and Richard is gone. I loved SOMEWHERE IN TIME too and look forward to seeing it on stage. Congratulations and condolences, Ken.

  • John David says:

    Ken,
    What a beautiful tribute.
    Thank you.

  • Nora says:

    Very sad to hear of the loss of such a talented and gifted man.and As for me, Somewhere In Time was one of hist best accomplishments. While I was in Mackinac Island attending the SIT weekend, you announced that Somewhere In Time will be made into a musical, I was ecstatic. When your dream finally became a reality, I was there (opening week) and saw the play twice. Loved it! My daughter had tears in her eyes. We were there for opening of the play, along with Jo and her family(INSITE). My best wishes to you and the success of the play. Would love to see it in Los Angeles.

  • Ellen Orchid says:

    My heart-felt condolences to you on the loss of your friend Mr. Matheson. I look forward to seeing your musical.

  • Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  • SOMEWHERE IN TIME newly adapted themesongs by David Todd Singleton are the REAL thing; and not to be missed on the upcoming album produced by David with and for Patricia Welch (The King And I). Wait till you hear it. So amazing!

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