I didn't care about Gygax. It was unfathomable and sad, how quickly he lost control over his artistic creation. I didn't know all the bad things Gygax did to make D&D HIS game, and how incompetent's TSR's other BUSINESS members of the board of directors were. The profligacy of Gygax himself was amazing also. Especially, if you consider that he had a multi-million dollar company. As you read the articles, you will notice that he gave $500,000.00 USD to some author to develop the D&D movie screen-play. In a second article, dealing with Lorraine Williams, Bruce Heard expresses skepticism that TSR could have bought their own printer. The issue was that TSR paid premium prices for outside printers to print their hard-cover books. Well, I know someone in NYC, who spent 15 years working as a printer in an offset printing/binding shop, before raising $135,000.00 USD and starting his own offset lithographic print shop. This was I post 9/11 and in 1980's they couldn't have done it with half a million. Another glaring error I noticed was that TSR had a single distribution agreement with Random House and borrowed from, them against future sales. The Blume brothers packed the TSR's board of directors with three more people, two businessmen and a lawyer. I do not think that anybody took the TSR seriously and only used it as a cash cow to enrich themselves. Another interesting detail is that that Gygax hired Lorraine Williams (how can anybody with any brains trust that pit bull?) on the strength of her experience sitting on the board of directors of some hospitals and other non-profit. Wasn't he aware that rich people typically spend their time on the boards of directors of museums and hospitals? That was her qualification? Nobody thought to hire business strategy consultants? I read a 1980 or so interview with one of the Blume brothers, who were opening a company store for employees inside the TSR, and were talking about a "visionary" model, where TSR would have its own daycare and health care etc. I am not sure what he was doing - building socialism for TSR employees or building a company town, where the relatives of the board of directors members can recover some of the money paid to its employees.
What follows is the description of Gygax's time un Hollywood, and the two links to the probably thue best articles about the TSR and Gygax:
Gygax’s own position at TSR had become weak by 1982. In order to finance the publication of D&D in 1974, he and his partner Don Kaye had brought in a friend named Brian Blume, whose father, Melvin, was willing to invest money in the company. Kaye died in 1976, and Brian got his brother Kevin named to TSR’s board. Gygax was the president of TSR, but the Blumes effectively controlled the company; to keep Gygax further in check they brought in three outside directors, a lawyer and two businessmen who knew nothing about gaming but always voted with the Blumes. So Gygax moved to Los Angeles, and became president of Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment, which produced a successful D&D cartoon, and set out to produce a D&D movie. This was, to put it mildly, a strategic retreat. Gygax rented King Vidor’s mansion, high up in Beverly Hills, with a bar, a pool table, and a hot tub with a view of everything from Hollywood to Catalina. He had a Cadillac and a driver; he had lunch with Orson Welles, though he mentions with Gygaxian modesty that “I find no greatness through association.” Here a whiff of scandal enters the story. Gygax had separated from his first wife, the mother of five of his six children; he had not yet married his second wife, Gail. In the interim, well, it was Hollywood, and Gygax was in possession of a desirable hot tub. Gygax refers to the girlfriends who used to drive him around—he doesn’t drive; never has—and to a certain party attended by the contestants of the Miss Beverly Hills International Beauty Pageant. But he also mentions that he had a sand table set up in the barn, where he and the screenwriters for the D&D cartoon used to play Chainmail miniatures. This is perhaps why Gygax, unlike other men who leave their wives and run off to L.A., is not odious: his love of winning is tempered by an even greater love of playing, and of getting others to play along. He ends the story about the beauty pageant girls with the observation that Luke, who was living with him at the time, was in heaven, seated between Miss Germany and Miss Finland.
Gygax spent a lot of money in Hollywood. According to Brian Blume, he paid the screenwriter James Goldman, best known for A Lion in Winter, $500,000 for the script of the would-be D&D movie, but a movie deal remained elusive. Meanwhile, TSR had other problems: believing that it would continue to grow indefinitely, the Blumes had overstaffed the company; they invested in expensive computer equipment, office furniture, a fleet of company cars. But TSR’s growth spurt was over. By 1984, the company was $1.5 million in debt, and the bank was ready to perfect its liens on TSR’s trademarks: in effect, to repossess Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax got word that the Blumes were trying to sell TSR, and he returned to Lake Geneva, where he persuaded the board of directors to fire Kevin Blume and published a new D&D rulebook to raise cash. At the same time, Gygax looked for people to invest in the company. While he was living in Los Angeles, he’d become friends with a writer named Flint Dille, with whom he collaborated on a series of choose-your-own-adventure-type novels. Flint arranged for Gygax to meet his sister, Lorraine Dille Williams, who, in addition to the Buck Rogers fortune, had experience in hospital and not-for-profit administration. Gygax asked Williams to invest in TSR; Williams demurred, but agreed to advise Gygax on how to get the company back on its feet.