AN HONORABLE MENTION
 
 

Excited to share that a screenplay that I co-wrote with Robert K. Benson, called Wheels Up, received an Honorable Mention from the 2017 Artists Alliance Short Screenplay Contest. Check out our website

Duane TollisonComment
THE PENTHOUSE

Something special happened the other night. We fell asleep looking at this view. 

In October we won an Uber giveaway for a "staycation" at a luxury hotel through MrandMrsSmith.com. Our staycation was booked at The New York Edition hotel. We expected to get the smallest room in this gorgeous hotel, but that's not what happened. 

We arrived Wednesday night. The attendant who checked us in told us the hotel was nearly sold out that night, and totally sold the next night. Then he excused himself. For a moment we thought the hotel may decline the free gift, or book us for another night. But the attendant returned with a smile and said "have I got a treat for you." He upgraded us to the penthouse suite. We were shocked -- and grateful!

We walked in just started laughing because the experience was so overwhelming. The suite had two entrances, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, dining room, and master bedroom big enough to have a seating area. We ran back and forth about five times astonished at the size of the hotel "room." We wondered, is his how Kim and Kanye live?

The hotel was stunning. It doesn't hurt that it's inside the landmark Metropolitan Life clock tower building at Madison Square Park.   

The view was equally incredible. The suite ran the entire west side of the building, and most of the south and north side. From the south we could see Union Square all the way to the Verraazzano Bridge. We saw the Flatiron Building and New Jersey to the west. And from our bed we fell asleep looking at the glowing spire of the Empire State Building.

We really have no idea why we were upgraded -- maybe because they needed more rooms for double night stays -- but maybe it was the Christmas spirit. That made me think, though, how a little generosity, or good will, or a chance taken on someone, can make a lasting impression, beloved memory, or priceless moment. Or it could give someone the boost needed to get them through a hard time or help turn a life around.

To be honest, it was relatively painless for the attendant to change the information into the system, but those few keystrokes had a huge impact. So it's just the willingness and energy to do something kind and heartfelt for someone. It's a memory I'll never forget, and I'll never forget the kindness of that stranger. So what's stopping the rest of us from having the same impact for others? To be honest I'm self-conscious, lazy, and selfish. 

Our attendant set a great example for us to follow. He offered us more than the incredible views from our penthouse window, he also made me see that I have the opportunity to change a person's life in small but significant ways. 

Duane TollisonComment
THE GLORY OF SNOW

The glory of snow!

I love when it’s falling. I love the romance of it. I imagine it’s swirling around me, tickling my senses. It makes me want to make hot chocolate.

I find mystery in the snow — and with that mystery comes chance and fantastic adventures.

Maybe I’ll get lost and wind up in a new neighborhood, or bump into a stranger and make a new friend, or maybe I will be transported to Narnia!

I like when people and cars emerge from the snow as if they materialized out of nowhere.

Snow can be frenetic! It can be charged, buzzing through the air, careening in every direction. In an instant it can change into a supple, pillowy wave.

It’s magic! It’s invigorating! It electrifies my senses and takes me floating on the air!

Duane TollisonComment
WOMAN ON THE TRAIN

A woman sits apart from the rest of the people on the train in a seat at the end of the car. It’s 1 AM. Her wiry grey hair escapes from a knitted hat. She wears pants that look more like capris, but outside it’s fall and getting colder. She tucks a bag under her seat and lays her head on a bag she holds to her lap. She is homeless. This is her shelter at least for tonight.

So many things must seem elusive to her: privacy, quiet, peace, and sleep. She lifts her head from her bag and stares into fluorescent light. The train squeals through a turn but her gaze doesn’t shift. Her eyes are red and her expression is heavy with resignation.

Her face is armoured. She braces herself on these nights when other people’s eyes upbraid her and violate her dignity. It is resolute against hunger, the desperate longings for rest, and disappointment.

In her stare she looks for something more than respite. Maybe it’s absolution, maybe grace. Peace of mind, or a spirit at peace. A home? Tonight a bed won’t be enough because sleep won’t come. 

Duane TollisonComment
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

Sitting in Bryant Park I see the sterling spire of the Empire State Building rise above the skyscrapers. She stands tall in form and spirit. She is a centurion guarding the skyline. Her blazing spear pierces the blue sky, cutting through the haze. The sun strikes the tip of her blade, igniting a small glint of light like a star guiding the city below.

Duane TollisonComment
CITY HARVEST DESERVES YOUR SUPPORT

I’ve volunteered at City Harvest for many years. It’s one of the few places where individuals, instead of groups, can sign up and work events. It’s also one of the most rewarding things I do. Volunteering last week reminded me of why I love City Harvest, and why you should, too!

 

City Harvest does many important things, and Mobile Markets are among the most important programs that City Harvest operates. The markets are set up in low income neighborhoods and in areas considered “food deserts.” And City Harvest delivers the food directly to people who need it most. I see it first hand when I volunteer at these events.

 

Last weekend I volunteered at a Mobile Market at the Astoria Houses in Queens. I’ve lived in Queens for 8 years and I never knew this place existed. It’s an area unknown to many people, but not City Harvest. They set up four huge tents, and piled tons of food beneath them. Literally, tons of food.

 

They had watermelons, tomatoes, onions, and corn. I worked the watermelon table, handing out large, heavy fruit to people. I got a pretty good workout. Each person got one portion of each item. In other mobile markets, people with more family members got bigger portions depending on the food and supply that day.

 

Dozens of people were already in line when I got there. And hundreds of people streamed through the line during the two hours we were there. It felt good to help. What struck me was the people, grateful, smiling, who depend on this food. They made me grateful that I am involved with an organization that meets people’s needs on the ground.

 

And City Harvest does more than hand out food. They teach people how to use the food they’re given. At this Mobile Market, nutrition volunteers made a salsa made from the onions, tomatoes, and corn given out that day. It was delicious!


If you’re looking for an organization to support, or want to volunteer, City Harvest is worthy of your time and money. I think it’s one of the few organizations where you can see the results for yourself.

Duane TollisonComment
EMMY NOMINATION

Our show, Today in New York, on WNBC-TV, was nominated for a New York Emmy Award for our work covering the snow storm in January of 2015. I remember that was a crazy day. Glad our work was recognized!

Duane Tollison
MAYBE NEXT YEAR...
PHOTO TAKEN BY EVAN BROWN AT THE WRITERS GUILD AWARDS, FEB '15

PHOTO TAKEN BY EVAN BROWN AT THE WRITERS GUILD AWARDS, FEB '15

I won't lie, I wanted to win. We didn't. We lost against the World News Tonight special, "Nelson Mandela: A Man Who Changed The World." It was a special, I'm sure, they had months to prepare. After all, the civil rights icon had been ill for a long time.

The CBS News Correspondent in Johannesburg had been feeding back information for weeks before he actually passed. By contrast, our team, at CBS This Morning, Saturday, had just five hours to put together a live broadcast. I call it "the grind."

The CBS Evening News' "50th Anniversary of JFK's Assassination" was also nominated in the "Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin, or Breaking News" category. We had a slim chance to win in a category I thought was right for us.

I moped. A bit. But truly, I am honored to be nominated and proud of our work. And, I'm grateful to work with such talented people. I'm also grateful to be in such impeccable company. Really, I was in the same room with Norman Lear, Paul Haggis, and writers from Frontline, The Daily Show, and countless others. And I got to wear a tux like George Clooney! 

It was still a seriously good night.

So, maybe next time. I'm already looking forward to the rest of this year; I resolve to think bigger, work harder, and do better work.

Thank you, and good-night.

Look What Came In The Mail

I'm incredibly grateful and excited to be nominated for a third time for a Writers Guild Award.

The Competition is stiff. Our entry is up against a report on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, and a 50th anniversary report on J.F.K.

More information about Writers Guild Awards can be found here

Duane Tollison
Third Nomination!

I'm very honored to be nominated for a third Writers Guild Award. It's my first time being recognized for my work on TV.

Chip Sorrentino, Bruce Meyer, Bill Crowley, and I were nominated for a two-hour broadcast of CBS This Morning, Saturday.

I'm humbled by the very impressive competition. Of course, I'm grateful to be nominated.

Duane Tollison