‘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. “It helps to have a photographic memory, which I inherited from my father,” 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 mainstream television reporter and “You say!” panelist. “And he was a writer of everything – journalism, documentaries, poetry.
On Martha’s Vineyard, where the couple became a full-time resident ten years ago, Mr Reisman had been the island’s representative. Poet laureate, and his spirit was evident in the titles of his books of poetry, which included “Sodom and Costello”.
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 during a 2011 Berkshire Fine Arts interview.
“I 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, “From 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.
“In the fall of 1968, I received a call from Stephen mindich, the co-editor of Boston After Dark, a 16-page weekly giveaway to the art scene, ”he told Giuliano.
At 26, he became editor of the alternative newspaper, and under his tenure the number of pages increased to 156.
Memorably, he wrote scripts at WCVB in the late 1970s for “Park Street Under,” a sitcom produced locally at a Boston bar.
“Two years after our show ceased to air, ‘Cheers’ made its appearance,” Mr. Reisman wrote in “Where Everybody Borrows Your Name,” a Gazette 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, ”Mr Reisman wrote. “They were like gnashing teeth.”
Mr. Reisman then wrote, directed and produce documentaries, often taking more than one role. He was co-director and co-writer of “The Powder & the Glory”, a documentary on the pioneers and competitors of cosmetics 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 – “Was I married to her or to the newspaper,” 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, consumer television reporter and executive coach.
Their first date, at a Japanese restaurant in Back Bay, was disastrous.
“I took her to a place that almost killed the relationship,” he said in a 2008 Interview with the Gazette du vignoble.
“At work the next day he said, ‘Let’s try again’,” she recalls of the same feature film. “I 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.
“We never really fought for anything, ever. I think the secret is acceptance. Neither has tried to change the other, ”he told The Gazette, and added:“ 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.
“Everyone at his school he was friends with was planning their getaway because Denver was tiny back then and not that interesting to them,” Lyons said. “They were eager to leave. “
Stanford University accepted Mr. Reisman, who chose to date Brandeis instead, and he remained in Greater Boston.
“In a way, Arnie was to Boston what George S. Kaufman was to the Algonquin Roundtable, except the ‘vicious circle’ only lasted 10 years as Arnie facilitated his circle of friends for over 60 years. Nat Segaloff, a former Boston publicist and film critic, wrote in an appreciation for the artsfuse.org site.
“It’s tempting to call someone irreplaceable when you wonder how it happened that they were created in the first place,” 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 from Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, where he wrote, directed and starred in numerous productions. He welcomed the organization poetry cafe and was a member of Cleaveland House Poets – efforts which provided outlets for his wisdom, enveloped 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]