Before I took my first tentative stabs at small-time Hollywood journalism in ’77 and ’78, I was a timid, floundering wannabe…a “secret genius” living in Santa Monica, suffering from occasional nightmares and wondering where and what the hell.

Right around that time or more precisely in December of ’74, I was an audience member during a taping of Both Sides Now, a short-lived, Los Angeles-based impromptu debate show that was co-hosted by the conservative-minded George Putnam and the iconcoclastic Mort Sahl.

Sahl, whom I finally met and chatted with at the Beverly Glen shopping area in ’02, had been one of my all-time favorite comedians. He broke ground for an entire generation of hip, social-critique comics who began to punch through in the ’70s and ’80s (George Carlin, Bill Maher, etc.).

The Both Sides Now guest that night was screenwriter Robert Kaufman (Getting Straight, Love At First Bite). Kaufman’s latest screenwriting effort, the Richard Rush-directed Freebie and the Bean, had just opened that month. I wasn’t a fan of the chaotic action-comedy tone and so when the q & a portion began I stood up and expressed this opinion. Kaufman pushed back rather curtly, initially by calling me inarticulate.

The irony is that in early October of ‘82 Kaufman and Ted Kotcheff, who was then doing press interviews (or who had recently done them) for First Blood…I met Kaufman and Kotcheff at Joe Allen one night, and they were giving me a big rundown on the convoluted pre-production and production experience of Tootsie.

Kaufman had been one of the Tootsie writers (along with Don McGuire, Murray Schisgal, Elaine May, director Dick Richards) and the stories were fairly wild, or certainly seemed that way at the time. The anecdotes were hilarious…a window into a flavorful and frenzied development process.

In my subsequent, highly entertaining discussions with Kaufman about Tootsie I naturally never raised the eight-year-old topic of our mild little Freebie and the Bean contretemps…a mere blip on Kaufman’s mid ‘70s radar screen.

“It Wasn’t A Comedy,” posted on 4.21.20: In the late fall of ’82 I wrote a big, laborious piece for The Film Journal (which I was managing editor of) about the making of Tootsie and particularly the then-astounding notion that a present-day New York comedy about an actor who can’t get a job could cost $21 million, which at the time was way above the norm.

I talked to several creative participants about it, including cowriters Robert Kaufman, Murray Schisgal and director Sydney Pollack. At at the end of the writing process I was fairly sick of the whole saga.

But I never heard this particular story from Dustin Hoffman before today.

The one Tootsie element I didn’t care for (no offense) was Dave Grusin‘s music. Too peppy, too coy, too cute-sounding, And I wasn’t a huge fan of Teri Garr‘s performance. But I loved the supporting turns by Pollack (as Hoffman’s agent), Charles Durning, Jessica Lange, Doris Belack, Bill Murray and Dabney Coleman.