By Mitchell Donian
I have been uprooted. After living in Greenwich Village for sixty years I am homeless. In an effort to regain a place in the community my good friend and publisher George Capsis of WestView News suggested I write my story with some biographical detail.
I had a rent controlled apartment, was being harassed and badly served by my landlord, and was offered what appeared to be lovely living quarters upstate with my niece and her husband. I took the jump, settled for a small buyout and made the move. Turns out the husband is a pot smoker 24/7 and a kleptomaniac. He rifled through my belongings, took everything of value that suited him, and a month later threw me out.
My name is Mitchell Donian. I moved to 204 West 10 St. in 1958 shortly after attending Columbia University. I attended on the GI Bill, having served in the Korean War. Most of my service was as a journalist for the military newspaper Stars & Stripes. I was a good student at Columbia and even lectured a class on Mary Shelley when my professor asked me to cover for him when he left early on summer sabbatical. I earned 184 credits but never graduated, having unfinished language requirements.
In my attempts at employment during the Eisenhower recession I proofread for the Village Voice and later for the Jewish Standard. I also built and ran a coffee shop restaurant, The Iron Cat, in Brooklyn Heights. I am an excellent cook…Armenian..Chinese…
One of my big accomplishments was to serve as Executive Producer for Last of the Blue Devils, a documentary about Kansas City jazz. In an effort to make it pay off to the backers I created a television series, writing the book and 13 episode outlines. Redd Fox signed on and Edgar Sherrick, a leading Hollywood producer, agreed to be the umbrella producer. This was in 1983. The only black presence on television at that time was a maid on one sitcom. All the networks turned it down, even start-up HBO. They didn’t like Foxx and turned down Flip Wilson and Bill Cosby, saying they were “has-beens.” Six months later—The Cosby Show. The way I laid out the series it would still be viable today. I gave up my producer credit for a time to Clint Eastwood at the request of Warner Brothers because Clint was promoting a Charlie Parker movie and needed a connection with jazz. I could use his help now in getting the Blue Devils project going.
One last biographical note. While on a visit to my mother in LA a few years back I was offered a try-out for the role of a Palestinian for an Aaron Spelling project. At the time I could not accept. I believe the project is still viable and am seeking agent representation to re-open the deal. Since then, I have written book and lyrics for two musicals, one of them complete with music from some very talented composers.
So much for biography. Right now, thanks to a friend, I am a guest. But being a guest has its limits. I am looking for a permanent place in Manhattan, preferably in the Village. Buy or rent, I can pay. If you can help please call George or email me, Mitchdonian@gmail.com. If there is a little studio in Westbeth, that would be ideal.