Bob Newhart  It was the middle of the dot-com revolution and everyone was spending a lot of money on stuff.  Wieden and Kennedy created a campaign featuring Bob Newhart.  The scripts were funny but too long.  I told the writer, Brant Mau, that the first spot was too long.  He read it.

‘Sixty seconds!’

‘You didn’t put any pauses in it. Newhart is about pauses.’

‘It’s a sixty.’

‘Cut something.’

He began to cut ellipses and ‘ands’ and ‘uhs.’ Perhaps a third of a second. I gave up.

Newhart comes in and does a readthru.  I ask the script girl how long?

‘Two thirty five.’

We finally get the first script down to time and Newhart breezes through the stuff, hysterically.  There is rarely a need for take two.  I think we shoot about thirty five commercials in two days because Brant can pound out the funny stuff and put it right into the teleprompter with Newhart nailing it each time.  While shooting, I thought this stuff would make a great television series, a manager of a completely dysfunctional company trying to keep afloat, sort of what the entire country is facing now.

Alas, the campaign didn’t run for very long.  I never knew why.  It got a Gold Lion at the Cannes Film Festival, though, and I sent it to Newhart.  He said, ‘At least somebody liked it.’