The real story behind “Trust Me” is the story of a lifetime.

January 22, 2009

trustme_gallery_010_512x341Hey, guys, who did those Effen ads behind you?

A colleague asks why I keep writing about my friend’s new TV show, “Trust Me.” He jokes: What are you –their PR man?

No. And my passion for “Trust Me” is also not because I supplied it with old advertising awards and hustled a few clients into the program. (Well, maybe a little.) But those are trifles. If they had asked, I would have lent these guys money.

You see I’ve known John Coveny (and to a lesser degree, Hunt Baldwin) for going on 20 years. I worked side by side with them at Leo Burnett. Over those years I became close with John and his wife, Mia. We’ve been through a lot together. Good and bad. When John left Burnett (under less than rosy circumstances) to pursue a writing gig in Hollywood, I said, there goes a dreamer. His odds of success were slim. He had only a screenplay and a couple phone numbers. Not to mention a nervous wife. Whatever life they’d built was now in serious jeopardy.

TNT PR doesn’t talk about this part of a show’s development. It’s off point. The back-story. Well, not to me…

Anyway, John had some dollars saved but they were rapidly being unsaved. I received many anxious notes from him asking about freelance, you know, until they finished this or that script. For a while they’d been working on a project called “Fast Lane” with “Charlie’s Angels” director McG. A silly premise, it went nowhere. Things got iffy. If Mia became frightened and exasperated by her husband chasing windmills, I couldn’t blame her. Who would?

The specter of failure wasn’t discussed. Right or wrong, men have their pride. But I knew the clock was ticking. Everyone around them did. And none, I imagine, were more aware of time running out than Baldwin and Coveny.

Just weeks before hitting a self-imposed time limit, which would have ended John’s “career,” the sun came up in the form of a goofy, sexy blonde named Kyra Sedgwick. They’d gotten in on the ground floor of another project. But this one clicked. Less than a year later they had a hit on their hands. “The Closer” became the number one show on cable.

This earned the team some breathing room. And it was in this clearing they created their own show, the one about their lives during ad time, the one that goes on national TV next week. Lots of people make a TV show happen. I’m sure Hunt and John owe more people than Lehman Brothers. Yet, to be the creator of a book or movie or TV show is… special. These are the children of men.

I’ve only flirted with success like theirs. When Touchstone optioned my first book, The Last Generation, I was euphoric. I could have passed out cigars. Long story short, NBC ended up balking at the pilot script and my dream ended there. That dream anyway. Go Happy Soul Industry!

This is the real story, then. For John and Hunt, the drama started years before next Monday’s premiere. Which is why I am riveted, and you should be too. Whatever it’s fate, “Trust Me” is the closest thing I know to a Hollywood miracle.

2 Responses to “The real story behind “Trust Me” is the story of a lifetime.”

  1. Sarah said

    Miracles DO happen, thanks for the story, and the inspiration. I look forward to the premier.

  2. baierman said

    Got to say I love this show too.
    They captured the way big agencies operate (or operated) and so much of it is deja vu for me.

    Question though: Do you think the show is too much about how the business is/was in Chicago?

    We were talking about this the other day at my NYC based shop. Everyone loves the show but a few people had worked in Chicago and commented that the big difference between the ad world in Chicago is that the focus is more on titles. (I’m GCD, I’m Head Account Director, etc) where as elsewhere it’s more about the work you’ve done. (I did that Gum campaign. I did those Pizza Hut ads.)

    Having worked in various cities, do you think this is true? Or is it more a function of how you have to write a TV show.

    PS – I hope the show gets picked up. For Jon & Whit’s sake. The move to Tuesdays is not a good sign I fear.

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