Darrell Vickers – Ted Zeigler Part 8 – Lights, Camera, Radio!

Andrew and I had found our tiny acorn. A funny-dressed, putty-foreheaded, professional goof who living in a rundown bungalow he bought off Cher’s mother. Eventually, this eccentric acorn would grow to make us two of the most envied writers in Hollywood. But, as today’s story begins, our little seed was hosting a CBC Radio pilot for us for a lousy six hundred bucks.

You Don’t Know What Lonely Is ‘Til You Get to Herdin’ Cows:

That was one of a bushel of favorite phrases that Ted would spring forth at any given moment during the day or night. You also don’t know what loneliness is ‘til you are two friendless, unemployed Canadian comedy writers living in a cockroach-infested apartment on Burbank Blvd., forced to watch other employed writers’ shows on a ten dollar television.

Luckily, Theodore L. Zeigler was an easy man to get to know. He was affable as all get out and willing to do anything, short of anal sex with zoo bats, that we asked him to. The one thing he couldn’t do for us however, was to actually BE a Canadian. He was born in fucking Chicago for Christ sake, and never became a citizen whilst Jelly Beaning his brains out in Montreal. Brighter fellows than us would have double checked this vital information but luckily, we didn’t uncover that fairly factoid until we’d completed our pilot.

Apart from his total lack of Canuckian bone fides, Ted was the gift that kept on giving. Even though he was working for practically nothing, he landed us interviews with Harvey Korman, Janet Jackson and his old pal, Murray Langston. And he fed us. A lot! In fact, I would estimate that Zeigler spent over double what we paid him for the pilot on meals. We dined out regularly with the generous Mr. Z. and it was always on his nickel. Ted had two favorite haunts: Good Neighbors on Cahuenga Blvd. and the Beverly Hills Benihana. He was an absolute god at these fine eateries.

Tony Soprano didn’t get treated any better at Vesuvio than the fawning attention we experienced at Benihana. And Ted didn’t have to put anyone’s head in a bowling ball bag – well, that we know of. We were always seated right away, given his favorite chef and received complimentary desserts or plum wine at the end of the meal. Zeigler even bedded one of the waitresses. How’s that for service!? Apparently, preceding coitus, she brought out a bowl of warm water and a cloth and gave his manhood a good going over like the hot towel ceremony before they serve up the shrimp appetizer.   

On the downside, he would drive us all over town in his shitbox of a car. It was a mostly blue Oldsmobile with one white door. I’m not sure if all the windows were functioning. We were young and in need of a ride, but Granny Clampet would have shit hairy crawdads careening around the canyons in that rattling, squeaky deathtrap.

The Interviews:

Harvey Korman was residing in opulence just off Mulholland Drive, at the time of our inquisitive visit. Upon our rattling, squeaking arrival, we were greeted by the new wife – what man of sufficient success and means doesn’t have at least one or two of these tall, blonde decorations about the house? – and were invited to plop our disheveled selves down onto his swanky chesterfield. It was a pretty magical time watching these two variety legends chin-wag and chortle about the old days. Mr. Korman talked about his humble beginnings and how the fear of losing everything he’d attained constantly haunted him. Harvey told a story about a diner he used to frequent for lunch while he was on the Carol Burnett show. He said if the person next to him finished before he did and no one was watching, he would scoop up their tip money and pocket it. This was a man making thousands of dollars a week but still viewed himself as an escaped fugitive from a homeless shelter. Upon exiting Harve’s upscale abode, Ted requested that we not include that eye-opening strip of magnetic tape in the finished show, which of course we didn’t, but what a strange fact to admit to in front of a couple of Canadian nobodies.

The Janet Jackson interview was an amazing get. She was doing publicity for her second album “Dream Street” and wasn’t the JANET JACKSON yet but Michael had just been set on fire while filming a Pepsi commercial, so this was literally a hot interview. Zeigler dutifully talked about her new album and then got onto the subject of her surprisingly flammable brother. Ted had worked with the Jackson family in Vegas, so he could talk to her on a more familiar level than most. There was one section of the interview that struck me. Raised under the Witnessing eyes of Jehovah, Janet talked about never celebrating Christmas or having a birthday party. There was a real sadness about her at that moment. And sure enough, a couple of weeks after our little talk, she told dull-but-demanding Jehovah to go take a running jump and eloped with James DeBarge. Alas, it was a marriage that lasted about as long as one of her maxi-singles.

Seeing Murray and Ted together was like watching Mortimer Snerd and Clem Kadiddlehoppper having sex. The shear unbridled idiocy of these two slapstick knuckleheads giddily sodomizing all sense, reason and decency was a treat for the ages.

Our last interview was with the late Canadian comedian Rick Ducommun (“Die Hard,” “The Burbs,” “Last Action Hero,” “Groundhog Day”). Mr. Ducommun could be a bit of a rascal but he was one fucking funny dude. I was at a showcase one night with Glen Larson at the Comedy Store. Rick brought the house down in front of an audience packed with jaded showbiz execs.

Once on “Thicke of the Night,” he just tossed off a line (more enlightening than funny) that I will never forget. “There’s a very thin line between being the life of the party and an ignorant idiot.” As a gentleman who has crossed that seemingly invisible divide on many, many occasions, I salute you, sir. Your side-splitting perspicacity is truly missed.

In the end, we optimistically held back the Janet Jackson interview for another show (she wasn’t Canadian). Surely Harvey, Murray and Rick amounted to a pretty good celebrity haul for our premier episode. Word quickly bounced back from CBC Radio. “Who the fuck is Rick Ducommun?” We tried to explain to the geniuses on Jarvis Street that Rick had been a regular on “Thicke of the Night” and was hosting his own late-night syndicated show in the States. Plus, he was from Prince Albert! Alas, their tiny minds were made up.

They did not, in all their “Who the fuck is Rick Ducommun?” wisdom, pick up our pilot. Once again, Canada was not interested in anything we had to offer her, but as our continuing unbelievable luck would have it, Ted was.

During the weeks we toiled on “L.A. Calling,” Ted mentioned that he’d managed Murray Langston during the height of his Unknown fame. At some point, he brought up the possibility of managing us. Andrew was a tad reluctant at first but I didn’t see the harm. Unlike us, Ted actually knew people in town. Plus he was feeding us. Plus, we were running out of money and weren’t pretty enough to make a living as prostitutes.

So now we had a manager. Great!

But nothing “Great!” is ever 100% truly “Great!” with Nicholls & Vickers.

And sure enough, Ted quickly dropped the big bomb. He solemnly informed us that he had spent the last few years cultivating a sizeable brain tumor.


But there was hope. Medical science had just developed a new method to slice it off his pituitary gland and he was seriously considering going in for the surgery. We were stunned. And then he revealed to us that the tumor was pressing on his optic nerve and when he was driving us around town, his vision had been reduced to a tiny circle. Oh, fantastic! We had been whizzing through all those windy canyons in a car out of a demolition derby with a guy who was practically blind.

Needless to say, this was a most unexpected development. Things had just started to work out and now our manager was going to be hospitalized for who knows how long. Brain surgery! They were going to sever his septum, peel back his nose and then start snipping shit out of his skull. It might be months or longer before he was back in action… if ever!

Zeigler went in on a Thursday for his fateful date with the knife. Literally one week later, the following Thursday, we were sitting at the Four and Twenty Restaurant on Van Nuys Blvd. with him, having lunch. He looked exactly the same. The only thing different was he had three small black dots tattooed on each temple, forming a triangle. These were to lock in the beams for his radiation treatment. Miraculously – and dare I say “luckily?” -Nicholls & Vickers and Zeigler were back in business!

Next time, beware the savage whores, of 1984! Thanks to Ted, Andrew and I survive for an entire year taking every job that came out way… and there were quite a few of them.



Darrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.co

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