Rod Lurie‘s Killing Reagan doesn’t debut on the National Geographic channel for another 20 days (10.16), but at least now I can settle into it and bang something out when the time is right without any undue pressure.

Flashback: I was startled and concerned by Reagan’s shooting but not, truth be told, wildly distraught. The day it happened (3.30.81) I was working inside the McGraw Hill building (1221 Ave. of the Americas at 49th Street) for an MG division called the Product Information Network. For two or three months I researched and wrote a long, detailed report on the effectiveness of landfill compactors (tractor-like vehicles used in garbage dumps) and what the costs and benefits were to local governments.

George Finnegan, a McGraw-Hill exec whom my father was chummy with, gave me this freelance gig. Before he hired me I was desperate. Soon after I was hired as managing editor of The Film Journal. My economic situation became a little easier to handle after that. From ’78 through ’81 I’d been through three years of hand-to-mouth hell.