More than 200 guests packed the Nalanda Events Center for Boulder Jewish Family Service’s (JFS) third annual fundraiser, Reel Hope Boulder, on November 8. Attendees socialized while enjoying drinks and delicious hors d’oeuvres before taking their seats for the program featuring television writer Marc Sotkin. The event raised more than $57,000, which exceeded fundraising goals!
Karli Sherwinter and Summer Lenderman, two event committee members, welcomed guests and served as emcees. But, they weren’t your typical emcees—they brilliantly took on the personas of “Golden Girls” characters Dorothy and Blanche to set the tone for the interview with one of the lead writers of this hit show.
Cathy Summer, Boulder JFS manager, and Barbara Gould, Boulder JFS Advisory Committee cochair, shared a few stories of how Boulder JFS is helping hundreds of older adults and adults with disabilities in the Boulder area each year.
Guests then watched a touching video, “Hope for Hollis,” about how Boulder JFS has helped transform the life of Hollis, a former dancer who is living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Hollis’s mother, Doris, took the stage to share the positive impact of JFS’s involvement in her daughter’s life. She asked people to support JFS and announced a matching gift. Guests responded generously—we raised more than $10,000 in the room that night!
Followed by a brief video montage of some of writer Marc Sotkin’s TV shows, he and interviewer Ron Bostwick took the stage to discuss Marc’s life and his career. Marc admitted that as a young boy, he would often fake illnesses to stay home from school and watch sitcoms. He tried pursuing pre-law or pre-med (as many Jewish mothers ask of their sons), but kept gravitating toward writing. Marc started his career as an underwear salesman in Texas, but quickly decided that nothing could be worse, so he moved to Hollywood in 1975 to pursue his dream to be a television writer.
He started as a writer on Sirota’s Court, but the show lasted less than one season before it was canceled. Fortunately, he was hired shortly after for Laverne & Shirley and worked on the show for 78 episodes, mostly as head writer and supervising producer. Marc shared many interesting stories with the audience about working on this hit show that debuted at number one. “The set was contentious and the main stars didn’t get along,” he confessed. “They went through a lot of show runners and writers before I started, which was intimidating.”
Marc said he initially planned to leave after his first season because he didn’t like physical comedy (the style of that show) and really wanted to write for the Mary Tyler Moore Show. But, it turned out to be a great experience and he learned so much that it felt like going to graduate school. He went on to work for other hit shows including The Golden Girls and two Garry Shandling specials.
He also shared tidbits about actors and producers he had the pleasure of working with during his career, including Robin Williams, John Ritter, Danny Thomas, and Sheldon Leonard. He discussed how much the television business has changed today. “When Laverne & Shirley was number one, there were only three networks. Now there are 400 shows in production at any given time and people are watching on so many devices.”
After working in Hollywood for many years, he and his wife decided they didn’t want to raise their family in Los Angeles. He had some childhood friends in Boulder and visited in different seasons to make sure he liked it. The family moved to Boulder and Marc commuted back and forth to LA for a couple years before leaving Hollywood for good.
He never stopped writing, though. He has written two novels and is completing a graphic novel about super heroes who didn’t get the best powers living together. He got the idea from a video that reimagines superheroes as the characters from the Golden Girls and is working on the book with the video’s creator.
Marc says writing novels is more like a marathon than writing for TV. “Sometimes I miss being in the writing room and talking through rewrites with other writers,” he explains. “Now I’m just talking to myself in my house and congratulating myself on good ideas!”
He graciously answered questions from the audience and stayed after the conclusion of the program to talk with guests. Many attendees loved the nostalgia of hearing about TV shows and stars from the era in which they grew up.
Thank you to the event committee, sponsors, and attendees for making Reel Hope Boulder such a successful fundraiser!
About Jewish Family Service of Colorado
Founded in 1872, Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) is a nonsectarian, nonprofit human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder. JFS believes in strengthening our community by providing vital services to people in need. Every day, JFS helps people overcome difficult life’s challenges to live fuller, more meaningful lives.
Boulder JFS is a division of Jewish Family Service that provides older adults and adults with disabilities, their families, and individuals in crisis with services to enhance their quality of life and connect them to Jewish values, traditions, and community. Boulder JFS provides a wide array of services to help older adults and adults with disabilities live independently and maintain a high quality of life. We work to ensure that older adults in the Boulder community are well cared for—and not alone. For more information, call 303.415.1025 or visit www.jewishfamilyservice.org/boulder. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!