December 2003


The Magnum-Opus

Follow-up to the blogger’s first article sold to NBC Interactive, The Opus Interview

Thanks to the brilliant Gael “can’t-spell-OR-pronounce-your-middle-name” Cooper for the greatest writing assignment of my life.

I am especially proud that mine was the ‘banner’ article for the weekend on’s Entertainment front page, although I never referred to Mr. Breathed as “Berk”, myself.


After the article appeared, I sent “Opus” creator Berkeley Breathed the following message,using his website’s message-sending capability:

Dear Mr. Breathed:

Congratulations on the most triumphant return to the funny pages of both you and your beloved penguin (You do realize that the Los Angeles Times displaced BOTH Doonesbury and the Peanuts Reruns to put you on the front page!)

I wanted you to know that you are my all-time absolute favoritest comic stripper in the whole history of the known world (although, in your absence, I did briefly join a cult of Wiley Miller fans). specially since I am the hack nobody writer who committed the sacrilegious “Opus Interview” parody on the website. I hope you will understand my motivation for such a heinous act.

(1) It was the first time I had EVER been paid for something I wrote on the Web, and the first time I had been paid for writing anything in several years.

(2) If anybody is going to write a cheap knock-off of your beloved charater, it should be an obsessed fan like myself.

(3) It was an ultimate challenge for me to re-create Opus’ unique voice (even though many readers of my blog,, think I already sound too much like him).

(4) How many writing assignments for a “news” organization does one ever get requiring research by re-reading his favorite comic strip collections?

I hope you can forgive me for my highly presumptuous act; I know I barely deserve to clean the ground you’ve dribbled ink onto. But please be advised that, if you do NOT forgive me, MSNBC Interative Inc. has purchased all rights to the offending story and have much deeper pockets for your lawyers to reach into. But I will make myself available to testify at any court proceedings where CourtTV is present, being a total whore for publicity.

Again, thank you for the inspiration; I hope I haven’t done damage to your legend.

Wendell Wittler

alleged on his own time

P.S.: I know brevity is a virtue; I’ve already admitted being a whore once…

And, only a couple hours later, he responded:

Oh YOURE the guy! I’m laughing. I gave 25 interviews as Opus around the country’s papers… and the co-writer on the Opus movie complimented me on a line from YOUR piece! Almost strangled him. Very funny. Thanks for the apology for making a living out of writing.. none needed. It was fun. But do it again, and I’ll send your kids to Michael Jackson’s for a sleep-over.


Berkeley Breathed

Update (May 2006): The “co-writer on the Opus movie” is Craig Mazin, one of the dozens of co-writers of the “Scary Movie” series, and as of 9/04, it was being fast-tracked into production at Wild Brain Animation by Miramax… That Miramax connection may be why the project has since dropped off the face of the earth: even IMdb has deleted all mention of the film, and they have been known to keep productions in “in production” status well after their deaths in development. A pity.