Anyone who is familiar with the entertainment industry is very familiar with the fact that one minute you can be the King of Hollywood and the next day you are the court’s jester. Having longevity in your entertainment career is a skill in itself. Most people are all too familiar with the unstable nature of the industry. However, Executive Producer, Peter Lassally, has had one of the longest continually working careers in Hollywood. Producing with on screen legends such as, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and currently Craig Ferguson, not only does Mr. Lassally know how to make a successful show, but he also knows how to have staying power. The following is a look into Lassally’s career and some pearls of wisdom from the late night legacy himself.
Did you always know you wanted to be in the entertainment industry?
Lassally: I always knew. When I was really young I was thinking about acting but I eliminated that very quickly.
Why did you eliminate acting?
Lassally: I didn’t want to learn lines. Once I eliminated that it left producing and directing.
And what happened to directing?
Lassally: I did direct some radio documentaries early on and one TV series for German TV. But again I felt that was not my strength.
What was your first job in Hollywood?
Lassally: I didn’t start in Hollywood. I started in NY as an NBC Page. In those days, they were looking for candidates who were from theater or radio. No one had TV experience, so you had a good chance even with very little background to get a job in TV. That changed once more people joined in and became experts.
What made you go into TV and not Film?
Lassally: I went into TV after Radio. Radio in those days was the most popular medium of all. And I loved radio. No matter whom you were listening to you had to build your own picture in your mind. There is nothing better than imagination, your imagination. Once TV started taking over, I went into TV and never went back to radio even though I loved it.
What advice would you give to someone looking for work?
Lassally: I always give the same advice to people who are looking for work; take a low level job even if it’s not your dream job. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and network. What doesn’t work is going to personnel department and saying, “I want to work.” You have to keep your eyes open, be helpful, aggressive, and make as many friends as you can. Because that is how word reaches you.
What do you think you have done correctly to remain so active and constantly working in the industry?
Lassally: I concentrated on late night talk. I did 23 years with Johnny- talk about security! Then from Johnny I went to Letterman, and now with Craig Ferguson. Try not to do the same thing that the other guy is doing. In late night, I play around with what each host does best. And try to get the ratings up! You just have to learn how to get out there and promote yourself as a show.
What advice would you give to others who want to have a career in the entertainment industry and are just starting out?
Lassally: Take any job at a low level job and get your feet in the door. That’s important. Then you learn from the people around you what jobs you wouldn’t want to have and you work by process of elimination. You’ll say “ehh that’s not for me”, or “this is what I want to do.” There’s always a lot of turnover in show business. So you have got to get your foot in the door. And as opposed to working at a bank, if you leave a job in 6 months or a little less that doesn’t look bad on your resume. No one will criticize you for that. If you are promoted from within that is a slow rise. But if you are good at one job in one place, and get a better job in another place, you can jump in steps. But it’s all risky and it’s all not secure. And, you never know where the next job will come from, but that just comes with the territory.
“There is nothing better than imagination, your imagination.”
– Peter Lassally
Enjoy our Facebook page. Click “Like” to become a fan.
(Photo Credit: 2005 CBS Broadcasting)