As a kid growing up in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward, Richard Keith had two impossible goals: making it in Hollywood or becoming a top ski racer.
“Two crazy dreams,” says Keith. “Hollywood was 50 percent less crazy.”
And he’s made it. At 32, Keith has a comedy series he’s co-written, “Significant Mother,” that debuts on the CW network at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 3.
Keith says he became fascinated with show business as a kid and was always nagging his mother to take him to the movies. His family moved to Beech Mountain when he was 14, in part to indulge his skiing.
His father took him to Appalachian State University in nearby Boone to hear Spike Lee, and he got a moment with the movie-maker afterward. Lee told Keith that if he were serious about the business, he should get onto a set as often as possible and spend as long as he could watching people work and learning from them.
Pretty soon Keith was on the set of CW’s “Dawson’s Creek,” filmed in Wilmington, in a bit role and absorbing the scene.
Keith graduated from Watauga High School at 16 and headed off to get into the business, first in New York and then Hollywood. He got into writing and landed small roles in network shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Veronica Mars” and “Boston Public.”
About 10 years ago, he met Erin Cardillo in an acting class and they became writing partners. They live in the same Los Angeles neighborhood, so he walks over to her place and they act out scenes in her dining room.
Producer Tripp Reed at Alloy Entertainment engaged them to develop an idea for a show about a guy who, despite a 20-year age difference, starts sleeping with his best friend’s single mother – and the personal dynamics that evolve.
After pilot episodes were made, the CW ordered them for its digital outlet, Seed, then decided instead to air them as half-hour comedies during the late summer.
Cast in the show are Josh Zuckerman, Nathaniel Buzolic (a frequent vampire on the CW), Krista Allen, Jonathan Silverman, Emma Fitzpatrick and Jay Ali. Keith and Cardillo hope to have Hitchcockian cameos.
Cardillo says one key to making it in show business is determination.
“A lot of people are deterred if it doesn’t work out right away. It’s a labor of love … And I think everyone I know who is successful found a way to have a happy and fulfilling life outside their career.”
Keith agrees. “Happier you are outside the industry, the happier you’ll be in the industry.”
And is success everything he thought it would be? “This is a really fulfilling, great job. And you get paid a lot if it works out.”
Estimated number of viewers for key weekday newscasts for 26 of 28 days of May sweeps and percentage change from last year as measured by Nielsen.
*Last year in the time period were reruns of “Two and a Half Men.”
WASHBURN’S ANALYSIS: Nielsen has added 100 households to its survey since last spring. … Overall seven-day prime-time viewers average in Charlotte: ABC 87,8000, +7%; CBS 77,700, -3%; NBC 48,400, -10%; Fox 31,400, -40%; CW 21,800, +20% WAXN (Ind.) 17,500, +13%. … At 10 p.m. in the 25-54 age demographic that advertisers covet, WAXN 9,500, -40%; WCCB 5,800, -43%; WJZY 5,700, +17%. At 11 p.m., WSOC 39,000, unchanged; WBTV 24,800, +5%; WCNC 12,400, -13%.