‘You say!’ Boston media mainstay panelist Arnie Reisman dies at 79
With questions like this, “Do you say!” Was tailor-made for Mr. Reisman’s mind. âIt helps to have a photographic memory, which I inherited from my father,â he wrote. “The show was the perfect recycling center for all the trivia that turned my brain into a storage bin.”
An Emmy-winning television producer and a writer who has spoken extensively in the Boston media for decades, Mr. Reisman passed away in his sleep Monday morning at his Vineyard Haven home on Martha’s Vineyard. He was 79 years old and had previously lived in South Natick and Wellesley.
“He was a writer first and foremost, last and always,” said his wife, Paula Lyons, a longtime television reporter and “Says You!” panelist. âAnd he was a writer of everything – journalism, documentaries, poetry. “
At Martha’s Vineyard, where the couple became a full-time resident ten years ago, Mr. Reisman had been the island’s poet laureate, and his wit was evident in the titles of his poetry collections, which included “Sodom and Costello â.
Mr. Reisman began his writing career as the editor of his high school newspaper, the East High Spotlight in Denver, and has never stopped.
He also edited The Justice, the Brandeis University student newspaper, where he had a revelation about the profession to pursue.
“Since I never really thought about what I was going to be when I grew up, I reached my last year in college and I panicked,” he told Charles Giuliano at the event. ‘an interview with Berkshire Fine Arts in 2011.
âI mean, I was one of those people who thought about who he was, not who he was. Career? What is that? Even today, when someone asks me if I plan to retire soon, I have to answer, âFrom what? “
After earning a BA in English from Brandeis and an MA from Columbia University’s School of Journalism, Mr. Reisman worked as a freelance writer, then art journalist and editor at the Patriot Ledger in Quincy.
âIn the fall of 1968, I got a call from Stephen Mindich, the co-editor of Boston After Dark, a 16-page weekly giveaway to the art scene,â he told Giuliano.
At 26, he became editor of the alternative newspaper, and under his tenure the number of pages increased to 156.
Leaving in 1971, he moved on to television at WGBH and WCVB, Channel 5, where he worked on “Chronicle” and received regional Emmys.
Memorably, he wrote scripts at WCVB in the late 1970s for “Park Street Under,” a sitcom produced locally at a Boston bar.
âTwo years after our show ceased airing, ‘Cheers’ came in,â Mr. Reisman wrote in The Gazette’s âWhere Everybody Borrows Your Nameâ column.
“Have you ever seen the pilot of the hit NBC series?” If you haven’t seen it, but seen the ‘Park Street Under’ pilot, you haven’t missed much, âMr Reisman wrote. “They were like gnashing teeth.”
Mr. Reisman went on to write, direct and produce documentaries, often occupying more than one role. He was the co-director and co-writer of “The Powder & the Glory”, a documentary about cosmetic pioneers and competitors Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein.
He also co-wrote “The Other Side of the Moon,” a 1990 documentary about Apollo astronauts, and directed “Stolen Bases,” on the 2000 season of the Nashua Pride baseball team.
At the start of his career, he was married for ten years to photographer Nicole Symons. Their marriage, struggling under the weight of professional commitments such as Boston After Dark – âWas I married to her or to the newspaper,â he mused to Giuliano – ended in divorce.
Over 40 years ago, he was at a party when he met Lyons, who worked as Mayor Kevin White’s press secretary, mainstream television reporter and executive coach.
Their first date, at a Japanese restaurant in Back Bay, was disastrous.
âI took her to a place that almost killed the relationship,â he said in a 2008 Vineyard Gazette interview.
âAt work the next day he said, ‘Let’s try again’,â she recalls of the same feature film. âI had to go out and buy some major appliances and thought a sturdy pair of arms would help. He was himself that night and very funny. He cracked me up and I tried again.
They married in 1982 and, in addition to ultimately serving as “Says You!” co-panelists, have formed a lasting Boston media couple.
âWe never really fought for anything, ever. I think the secret is acceptance. Neither has tried to change the other, âhe told The Gazette, and added:â We rely on what we believe to be each other’s strengths. . “
Arnold Lawrence Reisman was born in Chicago on May 1, 1942 and lived there until the age of 10 and his family moved to Denver.
Her mother, Ida Lubliner Reisman, looked after the family while her father, Irwin Reisman, ran a shoe store in Chicago before working with a family-owned electronics parts business in Denver.
An only child, Mr. Reisman did well in school and kept in touch with other high performing students in his East High class at regular Zoom meetings.
âEveryone at his school he was friends with was planning their getaway because Denver was tiny back then and not that interesting to them,â Lyons said. âThey were eager to leave. “
Stanford University accepted Mr. Reisman, who chose to date Brandeis instead, and he remained in Greater Boston.
âIn a way, Arnie was to Boston what George S. Kaufman was to the Algonquin Roundtable, except the ‘vicious circle’ only lasted 10 years while Arnie facilitated his circle of friends for over 60 years, âsaid Nat Segaloff, a former Boston publicist and film critic, wrote in an appreciation for the artsfuse.org website.
âIt’s tempting to call someone irreplaceable when you wonder how it happened that they were created in the first place,â Segaloff wrote. “Not only do I mourn Arnie, I mourn the loss of what he brought to everyone who knew him, as well as the loss of those who never did.”
A funeral service was held at Martha’s Vineyard on Friday for Mr Reisman, whose wife is his only immediate survivor.
On the vineyard, he chaired the board of directors of Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, where he wrote, directed and acted in numerous productions. He hosted the organization’s poetry cafe and was a member of the Cleaveland House Poets – efforts that provided outlets for his wisdom, shrouded in spirit.
“As Arnie liked to say,” Lyons recalls, “I never met a line that I couldn’t shoot.” “
Bryan Marquard can be reached at [email protected]