I want to suspend the “no personal details” rule of this blog for a day, because I want to use this space to wish Happy Birthday to B.J. Markel and tell you all something about him. B.J., as some of you know, is the cornerstone of this operation; he is my business partner, and also my best friend and longtime mentor, and his birthday today is very special!
It’s difficult to imagine life without B.J. Markel! I must have people in my life who know a lot of stuff. I must have people who are witty, wise, and generous. But very few of us get all that wrapped up in one person.
I met Mr. Markel in 1988 when I visited my father at my dad’s home in Santa Barbara. B.J. was advising the Snyder family even then, and helping my dad plan out a strategy for my dad’s cartoon series, Roger Ramjet. B.J. knew his way around all aspects of the biz, I learned. A theater buff, he worked for years in summer stock, pursued both the creative side of film as a writer and also the business side as a buyer for Disney. Mostly, every time I saw him with my dad or anywhere a crowd gathered, people were happy and laughing.
B.J. and I really got to be friends after my dad died; we worked together on Roger Ramjet, and he was as concerned with preserving its integrity as I was. Our work brought us together, but the friendship was what really began to grow. I got to know B.J.’s son, Noah, his Mom, and we saw each other through the personal ups and downs of life, too. And all of it while laughing!
You have no idea how fun it is to kibbitz with B.J. Markel. He will tell you stories of the time he made friends with Jack Benny, the crazy antics of buyers at Cannes, and the true tales of what is really going on behind the scenes. He is also a savvy observer of the business and because of his background he sees how literature, theater, and film intersect, and can draw on experience from all those worlds. B.J.’s talents just appear! He can do anything it seems! And it’s why I have been calling him all these years with a wide range of questions — all of which he finds a way to answer.
That book you all are reading, Save the Cat!, would in no way be as successful as it is without Mr. Markel, who edited it. He and I spent hours working on it, worrying every line. He is also a law school grad who can figure out the legal aspects of a problem — or find someone who can. He is the ultimate “go to guy” who can call on an amazing range of friends — and is willing to do so. But that’s who he is. “Above and beyond the call of duty” — that’s how I think of everything B.J. does, the extra mile, the extra effort, the extra thought. And all of it done while smiling!
So, today is Mr. Markel’s birthday, a biggie! I want to just take this moment to say thank you to this man. To him and his wonderful wife, Tanya, and who I am so fortunate to know, I wish you all the best.