TV news honcho Licht was used to calling the shots as executive producer of MSNBC'sMorning Joe, but that changed one day when something popped inside his skull.
Instead of prepping for another episode of the successful morning show with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the author, not yet 40, landed in the emergency room. There, he learned that his brain was bleeding—and no one knew exactly why. Licht, who up until then was the picture of health, found that he was no longer in control. What followed was a harrowing ordeal that, even if it didn't ultimately kill him, was destined to change him in ways that he could never have dreamed of before. As a "stop and smell the roses" parable, Licht's tale of sudden life-threatening illness covers familiar ground. Still, hearing how this classic type-A personality was forced to confront some hard truths about himself in order to survive makes for a compelling exercise. Readers might not care much about how attentively Scarborough and Brzezinski buzzed around his bedside, or that Vice President Joe Biden personally got on the phone with the hospital in an effort to ensure his recovery. But other candid observations, like the impact the author's steady-as-a-rock father had on his son's healing, are right on the money.
Not exactly revelatory, but often moving.
Read an Excerpt
The Killer Producer
Lately, if I happen to be looking through my address book for a phone number, I’m apt to stop when I come across the name of someone I haven’t been in touch with for a while. A friend, maybe, or an acquaintance. When I do, I’m likely to fire off an e-mail with no more length or gravitas than this:
Hey, how you been?
The gesture is a small one, but I didn’t used to do this. Days that were filled with the pressure and crises of running a national cable television program had little room for casual nicety. If I wasn’t in the control room producing it, I was in my office thinking about how to produce it. If the talent was unhappy, I’d let it gnaw at my gut. If somebody screwed up, I could go off like a roadside bomb, in a finger snap. I knew this. But the show so consumed me that it couldn’t be merely acceptable. It had to be great. I had ambitions. I had to be the killer producer.
Then one day, with no warning whatsoever, I became scary sick in a random and hard-to-figure way, given that I was not even forty years old. Most people with the medical emergency I had do not emerge from the experience physically intact, if they emerge at all. Weeks later, my health restored, I went back to work, and was eager and happy to do so. Illness hadn’t scared me into some big life makeover. I had no urge to surrender my spot in the fast lane for ownership of a B&B in Vermont.
But serious illness had recalibrated me. It had brought a trove of knowledge, as if I had involuntarily paid a painful tuition for an elite education. It was about letting go of my fears. It was about what I could control and what I couldn’t, and how people felt about me, really felt about me. It was about how to use time. It was even about Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States.
It would be nice, I thought, if everyone could get the education I had gotten without having to nearly die.
So I decided to write a book.
© 2011 Chris Licht