Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hard times for Eric Monte

This is truly sad, as this happens to so many, and many people who are assumed to be street people actually have important backgrounds.
Interestingly enough Alton Powers from one good times, who knew my family in New York, has had similar problems, as I dealt with him while working as an Advocate.

 Black-balled Creator of “Good Times” Last Seen Homeless, Fighting off Crack Addiction

The story is seven years old, and we don’t know how it ends.  But we thought that our readers might want to hear about it.  You may or may not know Eric Monte’s name, but you certainly know the names of the shows he’s created.

Monte is responsible for helping to create “Good Times,” “What’s Happening!” and the film “Cooley High,” all of which went on to become iconic in African American television culture.   He was among the most successful screenwriters in all of Hollywood and living on top of the world.

But Monte says that he found others were stealing his ideas and using them as their own.  He accused ABC, CBS, producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin of stealing the ideas from his shows and making money at his expense.  He won a small settlement out of the deal and receives occasional royalty checks to this day.

But that was just the beginning.  In Hollywood, it’s easy to be blackballed when you stand up to the powers that be.  Monte’s decision to sue led to him being frozen out of the industry, devoid of nearly all opportunity to create anything further with his extraordinary talent.

Decades later, Monte was living in a homeless shelter in Chicago.  According to a Los Angeles Times article, written in 2006, Monte’s last challenge consisted of an addiction to crack and several strokes.   Drugs  apparently took all the money he had and left him destitute.

Here is some of what the LA Times had to say:

    Monte, considered by some — even his friends — to be his own worst enemy, was prickly about script changes and refused to endorse plots he considered degrading to blacks. He wanted more control, but when it came to ownership, he says he was frozen out.

    Today, the 62-year-old Chicago native receives occasional residual checks, enough to cover the $300 a month the shelter charges for housing, three meals a day and counseling. Meanwhile, reruns of his shows continue to be broadcast daily on TV Land and other channels worldwide. When one of his episodes airs on the shelter’s wide screen, Monte doesn’t watch.

    “I’m not bitter; I’m angry,” he says. “Bitterness is something that stays with you. Anger comes and goes. When I see those old shows, they make me angry.”

According to the article, Monte spends much of his time writing scripts and television show ideas that he is still working to pitch.  It appears that he hasn’t given up just yet. You can read more here.

If you know anything about his whereabouts or what has happened to him since the LA Times article was published, please email us at  Monte may not be accepted in the circles of Hollywood, but we will always love and honor him for his contributions.


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