Sunday, March 6, 2022

Michael Jackson, Covid, and Universal Studios: A conversation with returning author JERRY GREEN!


You guys might recall that I've previously had the pleasure of interviewing Jerry Green here on Writing Belle before. Jerry has had an incredible career, and you can check out our previous interview, which centered on his experience working as the Entertainment Director at Universal Studios, right here

I was really excited to see that Jerry's memoir, Universal Studios: The Magical Years was sporting a new and updated cover - and there are lots of new pictures inside this book, too! I have been fascinated with Jerry's story and his background/career since we first crossed paths a few years ago, and I knew I had to get Jerry back on Writing Belle for a follow-up interview! 

Jerry brings a breath of fresh air into the publishing arena, and today we're talking about what writing projects he's been tackling lately, as well as how the Covid pandemic has affected the entertainment industry. 

You don't want to miss this! 

Without further's my interview with the man himself! 

Interview with Jerry Green


Thank you for visiting with us today, Jerry! We haven't had an interview since 2020, so I'm SO excited to have you back on Writing Belle. Tell us what you've been up to!

It’s always a joy to communicate with you, Summer.  You’re someone I respect and admire. Life has been pretty much as usual the past couple of years, except for dealing with Covid  this past month.  If given the option, I don’t recommend trying it. I’ve finished a few books since 2020, continuing to expand on the series I refer to as the  Stealing Series – “Stealing Dawn,” “Stealing Eagle Flats,” “Stealing Stone,” and now finishing the fourth one, “Stealing the Rapture.”

I’ve also started another series, more along the lines of a Hallmark Christmas story.  The first one is titled “Girl In The Cotton Castle,” and the second one, “Secrets Of Donovan Bay,” were released in October of 2020, and October 2021.

 The last time we talked I think I mentioned a book I was working on called “Show Biz for Christians,” then retitled “A Christian’s Journey.”  After completing it I decided not to publish it.  It just wasn’t written the way I intended, even after several edits.  So instead, I shelved it and am taking a few of the subjects addressed in the book and turning them into ten-minute devotionals that will be on YouTube.  The title of the channel is “Frankenstein Devotionals.”  A weird title, yes, but I explain why I chose the name in the first episode.  We’ll see how it goes.


Today we're talking about the updated version of your book. What's new?

The updated version of my book is titled “Universal Studios: The Magical Years.”  It’s a revisit on “25 Years Inside Universal Studios,” which was actually the second book I ever wrote but the first one published.  I was working on “Stealing Dawn” but the publisher wanted to rush the Universal book first.  So the Stealing book got set aside temporarily.  The revised version – The Magical Years expands on the first one by almost double the amount of pages, plus I added about 70 photos.  The story centers on what many of us remember as the golden years at the studio.  It was truly magical.  Disney doesn’t hold exclusive claim to that word – Universal had it also.  It was by all standards, the greatest job imaginable.  We were going where no man had gone before - a line that actually played out on stage in a live show we did for a few years based on Star Trek.


I'm going to mix it up a little here. The entertainment industry has been hit really hard lately thanks to all of the Covid shutdowns and lockdowns. You have a history in entertainment, so I thought I'd ask: How can entertainers keep their creative spirit alive during times like this?

Good question.  The answer is, it’s not easy.  Production was limited, but still happening, although the government and the industry put so many restrictions on the studios and private production companies that budgets had to be increased significantly to accommodate the added cost of complying with the Covid rules, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.  Actors had to scramble to find work.  Theme parks shut down for a year or more.  Universal continued to pay their employees for a while, but Disney and other parks laid off people until the restrictions were eased.

 As far as keeping the creative spirit alive I must say … if show biz is in your blood it NEVER goes away, literally.  It isn’t something you can turn off-and-on, you never get over it and are always chomping at the bit to get at it.  Anyone who can turn it off-and-on is doing it just because it’s a job, not because they have a passion for it.

 Do you find that the chaotic state of the world today inspires you to write more often than usual (I know it inspires me to both read and write - love to jump into another world!)?

 Hmmm, hardly noticed the world was chaotic.  He jests!  But I think you’re right, we folks who write can escape the chaos around us and find ourselves immersed in a world of fantasy, a world to our liking, one where we determine the outcome.  I think that’s why I enjoy writing in different genres.  The Stealing series is adventure, good guys overcoming bad guys, solving the world’s problems.  The Hallmark series, although I must admit, it has just a slight bit of good guy / bad guy heroism in it, are basically love stories, but, I must hasten to add, I’ve found that guys are liking the stories as much as the ladies.  Although I didn’t want to mess with the Hallmark formula, I did tweak it just a bit to include a hero.

 In 2018 you mentioned meeting both Ronald Reagan and Michael Jackson - two legends of Americana. Can you re-share a little about your encounters with celebrities for everyone who isn't familiar yet?

 Meeting President Reagan and Michael Jackson were special occasions.  I had just returned from working at Universal Orlando where I produce and train employees for several shows that were part of the Grand Opening.  President Reagan’s Museum and Library was about to open and Universal was a big part of the event.  Our CEO, Lew Wasserman, was a major player in the political circles, not only for Republicans but also the Dems.  That’s the way it works in the billionaire circles, they play both sides of the road.  Anyhow, opening day for the Museum and Library was a momentous event.  Universal volunteered to use our trams to transport guests from the parking areas, over a mile away, up the hill where the library is located.  I was asked to serve as coordinator for volunteers that day.  The event was one of the most spectacular occasions I was ever involved with.  The only time in history when 5 presidents have been together at the same time.


After the event the President invited the three of us who served as managers during the event to meet with him in his office.  He was most gracious and kind.  I’ve met countless celebs in my life, some who were obnoxious and rude, and others who were everything you would hope them to be.  Meeting President Reagan was more than could be expected.  He was truly a gentle spirit, overflowing with gratitude.  A week so after our meeting we each received a photo commemorating our time with him.

 A lot has been said about Michael Jackson and we can read into the news briefings whatever we want.  I will say though, meeting with Michael was a pleasure.  By that time I had been promoted to Director of Entertainment at Universal and was getting ready to leave the studio one evening when I got a call saying that Michael was coming.  They asked if I would stay and show him around the studio. I mean, really?  How would anyone respond to a question like that?  Sorry, I   know he’s the biggest music star in the world but I have to go home and darn some socks.  It was an easy decision, of course I’ll stay.  I met him at the gate, he and his entourage, but they strolled along behind while he and I walked casually around the studio and chatted.  There was no arrogance about him, no ego, just a couple of guys walking and talking, perhaps twenty or thirty minutes.  I was struck by an interesting dichotomy - on stage he was a dynamo with endless energy, but that evening he struck me as frail, almost fragile.  As a matter of fact at one point we walked down a dirt incline and he had to hold onto my arm to keep from falling.  As is true for most of us, I guess the adrenaline kicked in when he was on stage and the show began!

Michael may have had issues in his life, most of us do, but I can say that evening was most pleasant and enjoyable.  He was a gentleman, kind and caring.


Do you have any new projects in the works? Anything you'd like to work on this year?

 Actually I do.  As I mentioned above, I’m about 80% finished with my fourth in the Stealing series, one titled “Stealing The Rapture.”  I wanted to establish the characters in the first three books before shaking up their world in a cataclysmic event referred to in the Bible where tens-of-millions of people will suddenly disappear from earth.  Although the Bible doesn’t use the word “Rapture” we have adopted the word to sum up what will happen.  If you can imagine a time when everyone one you know and love will just suddenly vanish without a trace of what happened to them.  That’s what the two main characters in the new book have to grapple with.  The loss of  everyone they care about.  Plus the horrific events that follow The Rapture are like nothing ever experienced on earth, unimaginable things, unspeakable terror.  That’s what book number four, “Stealing The Rapture,” deals with.

 I’m also planning a third book in my Hallmark Christmas genre for this October.


Where can readers find your books to purchase, and where can they go to learn more about you?

The books are on Amazon.  I caution folks, be careful when looking for Jerry Green books.  There’s another author with the same name who writes a very different kind of story than I do, leaning toward the hard R or X rating.  I write stories that I call ‘reader-friendly’ without gross language or graphic sex.


Also, my website has all my rantings and writing –


The YouTube channel – Frankenstein Devotionals was supposed to air in February but Covid kinda kicked it back a month. My plan is to record the first and third episodes at Universal. Since that’s the home of Frankenstein I thought it would be the appropriate place to start.  My plan is to go there in the next week or two and get it done.  So hopefully they will begin airing in March.


Thank you SO much for joining us today, Jerry. It is a pleasure, as always. Blessings! 

 I just want to thank you Summer for your kind, sweet spirit, and professional attitude you  maintain.  I hold you in the highest regard.


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