The Great 5!


Teddy graduates from Willamette with an BA in Chinese and BS in Environmental Engineering

In Memory of Betty White



At her eightieth birthday celebration, in 2001, at KC’s Leawood-South Country Club, the entire family gathered to celebrate my mother’s endless good spirits and hospitality. Dancing and telling jokes and winking, she reigned over the event like the dowager empress she’d become, wearing her signature red dress. and looking for all the world like Betty White on a good day.

My mother was a force larger than life.  

Oddly enough, I met Betty White because of Mom.

An aspiring novelist and former Mormon bishop named James Michael Pratt sent me a copy of his self-published book, The Last Valentine. I read the description on the back cover and thought it was maybe too romantic even for “Mr. Romance,” as I’d been dubbed during my years in Montreal producing Shades of Love.

But the concept nagged at me, so I sent the book to Mom and asked her to read it.

She called me two days later.

“You must get involved in this book,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”

I asked her for details. Her response was sketchy—she was already becoming forgetful, especially of things she’d read, which is why I’d learned to return her call the minute she reached out to me after a read. But it was clear emotionally: Mom didn’t use must loosely. This was beyond should!

Long story short, I did get involved. My Writers Lifeline company helped Jim perfect the story and my management company sold it, at auction, for a bunch of money to St. Martin’s Press. It became a New York Times bestseller, and led to four or five further bestselling books for Jim.

At one point in his book tour, we converged in KC where Jim was being hosted by Barnes and Noble—and he insisted on meeting Mom. “She’s the one who got this book published,” he said. I certainly wasn’t going to argue with that.

You’d think a New York Times bestseller would have an easy route to the screen. But I knew one lesson by heart: nothing is easy in Hollywood. It took over ten years before Valentine was picked up by Hallmark Hall of Fame. Their president, meeting me over breakfast at the Alameda Plaza overlooking KC’s Country Club Plaza, brought up a ticklish subject. “You know this company will never call a movie ‘The Last Valentine,’” he told me—then tipped his orange juice in a toast.

I laughed, at what I thought was a joke. But it wasn’t. The movie was retitled, “The Lost Valentine,” and starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Betty.

It was one thing to meet the voluptuous Jennifer Love Hewitt—“Don’t avoid  these,” she scolded our Director of Photography, having checked the replay of a  wedding moment where the camera discreetly hovered above her cleavage line, “I  built my career on these beauties.”  Unleashing the camera, they did a more  revealing take.

But it was meeting Betty White on the set in Atlanta that truly thrilled me, for two reasons. In her red dress, white hair, and feisty countenance, she looked exactly like Mom. And I was given the chance to tell Betty the story of how my mother had gotten this book published and this movie made.

Alas, Mom was no longer around to glory in the moment, or in the Screen Actor's Guild's "Outstanding Performance by an Actor" Award Betty received for our film. 

Excerpt from My Obit: Vol 2: My Multi-Storied Mother, forthcoming 2022.

The Story of My Life! Ken Atchity's My Obit: Daddy Holding Me


“At the prompting of a marketing friend, I was advised to title this book, My Intensely Madcap, Lebanese/Cajun, Jesuit-Schizoid, Terminally Narcissistic, Food-Focused, East Coast/West Coast, Georgetown/Yale, Career-Changing, Cross-Dressing, Runaway Catholic Italophile, Paradoxically Dramatic, Linguistically Neurotic, Hollywood Academic, ADD-Overcompensating, Niche-Abhorring, Jocoserious Obit. But when my designer pointed out that title wouldn’t fit on the spine, much less on any public display list, I changed my mind. Again! The story of my life.

Which this is at least the first volume of. I hope it makes you laugh, spares you some of my grief, and leads you to insist on telling your story to anyone who will listen.”

In Memoriam Ed Asner


If you ran into Ed in his last four years wearing a bright purple polo shirt, chances are it was mine. He almost took it right off me at the first of our several lunches on Ventura Boulevard. I resisted, but went to the internet and ordered three identical ones for him. He called me to say thanks and to invite me to the next lunch. We had in common that we were from Kansas City, that we were both liberals (though he went closer to the wall on that score than I did, and that we both admired the longevity of his irascible humor. It was a pleasure getting to know him personally and I’m sorry to see him go before we could get him into one of our films. Ed, you rocked!


Rapid Mental Health Response for Colorado Youth


Rapid Mental Health Response for Colorado Youth

Good afternoon, Members of the Committee. I’m Vincent Atchity, President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado. Mental Health Colorado is a non-profit organization working to achieve healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans. Since 1953, we have represented consumer interests in our efforts to promote well-being, increase access to quality care and services, and end the shame and discrimination persistently associated with mental health and substance use conditions.

Mental Health Colorado fully supports HB21-1258 and a Rapid Mental Health Response for Colorado Youth. We know that early intervention is highly effective in promoting good health outcomes.

Many children are facing the steepest climb of their lives as we try as a state to come up out of this. They will not all be able to thrive with their peers who’ve experienced greater fortune if we do not act now, with all our intelligence and love, to bring every player on our team along.

Some children have done better than others during prolonged periods of remote education. Some children have had the support and encouragement of stably employed parents who were able to work from homes where a productive routine could be maintained. Some have benefited from teachers who excelled at adapting to remote learning.

But those who have managed to thrive through all of this are not enough. Just some of Colorado’s children…is not enough.

Right now is the time to focus our intelligent efforts and resources on identifying the young people who are facing the hardest challenges. We know who many of them are already. And we definitely know what they have experienced since March of 2020. While many of our children have mercifully been spared the worst of the pandemic,  there are brave and heroic Colorado children whose parents became unemployed due to the economic shutdown. There are heroic Colorado children who have lost the support of family financial stability, who have lost their homes. And there are heroic Colorado children who have lost the lives of their parents and grandparents, and their aunts and uncles. The brave and heroic children of Colorado need the support of their big team as they face the challenges of the months ahead.

We Coloradans pride ourselves on our wealth and resources, on our intelligence.Colorado should not have to rank in the bottom third of the nation for mental health needs versus access to care.

Most of us have children in our lives. As we implement this, we will be able to make it known to them that we are vigilant for their well-being, that we need them to be well, and that we, as a state, are investing in them with urgency.


We are grateful to the bipartisan bill sponsors,  Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D) and Kevin Van Winkle (R), and Senators Janet Buckner (D) and Rob Woodward (R) for recognizing that now is the time and for issuing this call to action. And we are grateful to the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health for expediting a plan for implementing this statewide crisis intervention for Colorado’s children. And we will celebrate the brigade of professional care providers who will step into this next breach in our pandemic defense effort for the sake of our children, and dedicate the extra hours in the day it may take to ensure that we are properly safeguarding the most valuable and essential assets we have as a community of humans.

Thank you for your support of this bill and of a strong recovery for all Colorado’s children.

World Class Performer: Short Life Lessons From Ken Atchity


Ken Atchity is a producer, author and columnist, book reviewer, brand consultant, and professor of comparative literature. He is the owner of Story Merchant, a strategic career consulting for writers and Hollywood liaison for out-of-Hollywood production companies. Atchity’s goal is to take our storyteller clients from ambition and vision to professional success in all media.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up between Louisiana and Kansas City, among joke-tellers and story-tellers; was educated by Jesuits in high school and college that taught me an insatiable love of learning, the discipline that provides a lifetime infrastructure for achievement, and ‘ad astra per aspera’, to the stars through obstacles—that taught me to set my aspirations high because you’ll never test your limits without exceeding them

My grandfather, an immigrant from Lebanon, always told me: “Honey, in this country there’s no penalty for failure!” I learned wisdom from him and cooking from my grandmothers, Cajun and Lebanese

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I’d always had more confidence in myself.

I wish I’d congratulated myself more. Only in the last ten years have I learned to say, “Nice shot, Ken.” I spent too many years beating myself up.

That change is good. Life is change.

That it was okay to be tired. I used to think being tired was the end of the world, and that I couldn’t function when I’m tired. I felt liberated when I realized, it’s okay to be tired. You can still move forward.

Once you’ve gotten through enough ‘dark nights of the soul,’ I finally came to realize you will get through this one too.

I also learned that, instead of tossing and turning with dark and disturbing thoughts, just get out of bed and do something to move the ball forward.

You don’t have time to agonize if you’re busy.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“You only get one shot.” Patently ridiculous. You get exactly as many shots as you’re willing to take. I once heard a guru answer a follower’s question, “But, master, how many times can I pick myself up?” with: “Sister, you how many times can you fall?

You’re only as good as you’re last project. Nonsense: You’re only as good as your next project.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

Time after time, especially in changing careers from being a tenured professor to being an entertainment entrepreneur (focusing on acquiring, developing, marketing, selling, publishing, and producing stories, including blockbuster movies like The Meg and nearly 20 New York Times Bestsellers like Meg, The Kennedy Detail, and Dracula: The Un-Dead), I’ve painted myself into corners from which continuing until you succeed is the only way out. Instead of dreading them, I’ve learned to love corners.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?


Doing more, and thinking less.

“Not minding what happens,” to quote Eckart Tolle.

Doing what I LOVE.

What is your morning routine?

I get up at 4 or 5, making sure I’m there to greet the sun.

I spent an hour reading and sipping coffee.

I make sure I write at least two hours every day, preferably in the a.m.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about what I can look forward to throughout the day or at least in the evening.

If there isn’t anything, I immediately plan something to look forward to: dinner out, a walk, a postponed errand.

Then I proceed into the day’s challenges, knowing I’ve got something to look forward to.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

Although I’ve written books about time-management (like A Writer’s Time and How to Quit Your Day Job and Live Out Your Dreams), the most important thing I’ve learned and teach is that the best way to “find more time” is to stealit. How? By using a stopwatch (or several of them) and promising yourself you won’t end the day without putting at least an hour, say, or more or less you’re your most important projects not on the wall clock, or your wristwatch, but on a stopwatch which you turn ON when you’re working on the project and turn OFF when you’re not.

No waiting! Waiting is my least favorite thing to do, so I make sure I’m NEVER waiting. When a particular project is in someone else’s court so I’m waiting for it, I simply turn to another project, or two, or three. So I’m always using my time to move things forward until the ball is back in my court.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Odyssey by Homer—my primary personal myth is that of a man who travels the world thriving on storytelling. I learned Homeric Greek to read it in the original in Jesuit high school and return to it in my thoughts nearly every day.

Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar—The profound observation that doing what you love is the key to happiness, and that money will come from your determination to stick to that.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville—“To write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme.” Get to the point in your life, as soon as you can, of making only big plans once you’ve proven to yourself you can accomplish smaller plans.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“The universe is made, not of atoms, but of stories.” — Muriel Ruksmeyer

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” — Zen koan

“I think the only immoral thing is for a being not to live every instant of its life with the utmost intensity.” — Jose Ortega y Gasset

“There’s nothing wrong with retirement as long as it does not interfere with a man’s work.” — Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year! Louis was baptized today!

The perfect way to ring in the New Year and family friend Ronny O’Dwyer SJ was able to do the ceremony. Another miracle of the New Year- Vincent’s family heirloom outfit survived FedEx next day shipping from California. Boys can handle a bit of ribbon and lace!


OPINION: Addressing Racism is a Mental Health Imperative

by Vincent Atchity

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

– James Baldwin

Vincent Atchity

In July, Americans celebrate the birth of independence ― it’s the month of the national holiday when we gather and celebrate our freedom from tyrannical government. But in a country where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are less likely to have access to mental health services and more likely to have lower quality care; in a country where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience discrimination and systematic alienation from Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; in a country where we have not all been treated equally — many do not experience the freedom that has been our country’s principle source of pride.

Addressing racism is a mental health priority. For far too long, we have ignored the mental health effects of violence and systemic racism on members of our society. The systemic inequities that permeate all our lives prevent any of us from achieving healthier minds. Ignoring these inequities is a disease that destroys lives, causes the privileged to remain under-developed as humans, and threatens the vitality of the nation.

When we say that we aspire to achieve healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans, we mean that we must achieve a state and a nation that isn’t like this anymore. If we’re going to have healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans, we need to build a state and a nation where Black people and all People of Color don’t have to fear the police, their armed white neighbors, or that they and their descendants will be trapped forever in a system of injustice.

If we’re going to have healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans, we all need to call out and correct the thinking, the manners of speech, and the behaviors that derail us from our mission. If we’re going to achieve healthier minds across the lifespan for all Coloradans, we all need to learn to be better, braver people than we have ever been before. We need a second American Revolution. We can choose to number ourselves among the revolutionaries who—with each utterance, decision, and action—join forces to free ourselves from the mind-stunting, strength-sapping twin tyrannies of proud, vaunting ignorance and smug satisfaction with the status quo. Or we can fail to rise to the challenge of this revolution and remain part of the problem, as enemies of freedom, science, and humanity. There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to the health of the mind.

Given our heartfelt understanding that Black Lives Matter, Mental Health Colorado supported a number of bills this legislative session to address or correct for disparities that have been disproportionately harmful to Colorado’s Black communities and other communities of color throughout the state’s history. There is so much more corrective work to do. We are weighted down with laws and failures in law-making that perpetuate the most disgraceful shortcomings in our still aspirational civilization.

Mental Health Colorado is following Bebe Moore Campbell’s* lead in honoring July as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Mental Health Month. When we have ensured that all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are free at last from systematic discrimination and oppression, when all receive the support and resources needed to truly thrive, then we will be strong and thriving and will truly have cause to celebrate.

Until then, we can celebrate that we have set our sights on the worthiest goal and that we are determined to achieve it before the sun sets on another generation.

Vincent Atchity is the president & CEO of Mental Health Colorado, the state’s leading advocate in promoting mental wellness, ending shame and discrimination, and ensuring equitable access to mental health and substance use care.

*Bebe Moore Campbell was a mental health advocate, journalist, best-selling author, and teacher. Read more about her here.

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