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Carson Valley man looking for a few good writers

by Nancy Hamlett

The Carson Valley and Hollywood don’t have a lot in common, but if Cory Eglash has his way, we’ll see more of Hollywood in the Valley and more of Nevada in Hollywood.

A native of Las Vegas, Eglash grew up surrounded by neon and fame. Since his father was the entertainment director of the Sahara Hotel, as a child, Eglash rubbed kneecaps with many of the headliners that made Las Vegas the showroom capital of the world.

“Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Carson, Jack Benny, they all came to our home, and Jerry Lewis is like a surrogate uncle to me,” said Eglash. “I was never in awe. These were just people we knew.”

Eglash parlayed the connections into contacts when he moved to Los Angeles in 1983 to work for the William Morris Agency as an assistant agent and later the APA (Agency for the Performing Arts) and William Carroll Agency, some of the big names representing the stars.

“My father dealt with the agencies, knew the personal appearance stars and actors, managers and public relations people,” said Eglash. “Sometimes it is knowing the right people to get a start, but you have to prove yourself somewhere along the line. I started in a low position and worked my way up. I’ve been in the business for 17 years. The only way you can do that is if you’re trusted and you have a reputation.”

When Sandra Watt was looking for an agent to head up the new film and TV division of her literary agency, she turned to Eglash.

“It wasn’t my niche. I worked with actors, not writers, but I took the challenge,” said Eglash. “I fell in love with literary I can’t get enough. This was clearly where I wanted to focus my energies.”

According to Eglash, for every 2,000 scripts submitted, maybe one will have the strength to make it become a movie.

“(Being) a literary agent is a tough job,” said Eglash. “Moving a script through the different levels to the top is like a game of chess. You have to know how to make the right moves at the right time.”

When Watt couldn’t attend a speaking engagement, she sent Eglash in her stead. While he flew into Dallas, a city he had never visited before, he prepared to speak to a class. He never expected an auditorium packed with thousands of people.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Eglash.

However, the presentation went well, until a question and answer period. One gentleman approached the mike and stumbled over his words.

Eglash thought he spoke to himself, saying, “I hope he writes better than he talks,” but the words carried over to the crowd.

“The audience laughed, and so did the man, and I realized I had a talent for talking to people. That was the start of my speaking career,” said Eglash.

Since then, Eglash has taught classes and given seminars at several major universities, including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, San Diego State University and University of California at Los Angeles. Course work at UCLA earned him a spot within the school’s writer’s program.

While still at the top of his career, Eglash returned to Las Vegas for a family crisis.

“My dad had a heart attack, and once I got there I realized that I was tired,” said Eglash. “I refocused my energies to speaking engagements and teaching classes.”

Eglash has taught in Spain and Hawaii, and for four years, taught his “Creative Round Table” course at UNLV. His credentials continued to build as a surrogate speaker and writer for the 1994 Bob Miller gubernatorial campaign and as a consultant to the Nevada Film Commission.

“Then, I had the opportunity to move up north when my girlfriend was hired as director of tourism,” said Eglash. “I’d never been in the northern part of the state, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I spent a week and fell in love.”

The move took place in September, and Eglash has spent the last few months reorganizing his business, Creative Entertainment Organization (CEO) in Minden.

“I work out of my house. In this business, if you have a phone and a fax, you are set,” said Eglash.

He has also contracted with Truckee Meadows Community College in Incline to teach a six-week course on “The Business of Creative Writing.” The class is due to start sometime in February, and Eglash said that further classes would follow, not only at TMCC, but at Western Nevada Community College as well.

“My fondest wish is to find five to 10 serious writers who know what they are doing in film or TV,” said Eglash. “I really think they are out there. This community is wonderful, very artsy in the theater and with culture. In Las Vegas, culture is a kind of yogurt.”

Between reading scripts and adjusting to life in the north, Eglash plays basketball, works out and reads for enjoyment. His best pal is his dog, Captain.

Eglash is also investigating other ways for a Hollywood presence in Northern Nevada.

“I was driving down from the Lake, the sun was setting and this wonderful view with reds and purples on the snow was magnificent,” said Eglash. “I thought how Hollywood was missing the picture. Production costs are less here and it would be an industry that would complement the natural beauty, not take away from it.”

Eglash invites movie and television scriptwriters to contact him or to attend his class for an opportunity to learn first-hand about the business of writing .

“It’s important that a writer knows how to work with an agent,” said Eglash. “Maybe I’m wrong, and there may not be anyone here that has the talent and drive, but I like what I see so far.”

For further information about the TMCC class, contact Jeff Richter at Truckee Meadows Community College, 883-1803, or e-mail jrichter@tmcc.edu. Eglash can be reached at 782-3209 or via e-mail at captainque@MSN.com

“My sister once told me that I shouldn’t call Steven Spielberg about a script, even though I had his phone number,” said Eglash. “Don’t let ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘couldn’t’ stop you. Step up and try. It’s the only way you’ll be a success.”