Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatever Happened to "Buck and Becky in Burbank?"

His high school nickname was "Video Vern," for the overgrown camcorder he often carried to school. By the time he graduated, in 1987, he'd written and directed the first television drama made by Loonfoot Falls High School students.

Vernon Pederson left Loonfoot Falls after graduating, headed for Los Angeles, and spent the next few years hopping from job to job. His parents weren't too happy about that: He'd been expected to go into the family construction business, like a sensible young man.

Then, in 1991, "Video Vern" ran an ad in this paper, announcing the premier of " ‘Buck and Becky in Burbank:' a series about a small town couple in the big city." He'd written the first episode.

"Buck and Becky" wasn't the most popular show on television that year, even in Loonfoot Falls. Remember: "Friends" and "ER" were running then. Still, it enjoyed good ratings.

Maybe too good. "Video Vern" was the show's director a few months later, when a reviewer called "Buck and Becky" "a 'Beverly Hillbillies' for the Nineties." That's when a senior studio vice presidents started taking a personal interest in the series. He had ideas that had never occurred to Vern.

Becky became a high-powered corporate lawyer on rollerblades, and Buck joined a tough-but-compassionate biker gang. Ratings for "Buck and Becky in Burbank" fell out of the sky and sank without a trace, somewhere off Santa Monica.

Vern's doing okay these days. He's back in Loonfoot Falls, managing Lakes Area Data Services' public-access programming.

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