It wasn't Shakespeare, but Lewis was diligent and professional, and people liked him, and he possessed the mysterious Hollywood gene—part drive, part
charm, part genius for packaging ideas—that made things happen. Still, it wasn't until a particularly hokey project fell in his lap in the late '80s
that he hit it big.
The film seemed destined for instant obscurity: a sarcastic baby whose thoughts the audience can somehow hear. It was one of many films then being shot
cheaply in Canada in the hopes of bringing in just enough for a small profit. The actors who agreed to star were hardly A-list. John Travolta was a
has-been from the '70s and Kirstie Alley a little-known TV actress. Lewis loved it immediately.
As co-producer he quickly began pushing Look Who's Talking to be far more ambitious than what the studio had in mind. It was as though a line
cook from Burger King had shown up in chef's whites and proceeded to set each table with the finest silver. Lewis was sweet and politic, but he could
play hardball. At one point, about to fly to Canada to begin filming, he simply refused to take a call from executives, sensing that they might cancel
the trip—and maybe the project. He got on his plane and made sure the shoot happened.
The real trouble began when filming was finished and TriStar received the final cut. One must mind-warp back to the late '80s to accept the following
truth: The film was too good.
Having planned for a modest release, TriStar suddenly found itself sitting on a potential hit. The studio's first impulse was skepticism. When Lewis
and his fellow producers market-tested an early cut, the assembled viewers responded so enthusiastically that TriStar seemed to think they were plants.
The studio decided to conduct its own test at an undisclosed location. The scores were even higher.
Following a last-minute scramble, Look Who's Talking was released in October 1989 at 1,200 theaters across the country. It was an instant smash,
a record breaker. Afterward, Lewis was never busier. He executive produced an Emmy-winning TV movie called Age-Old Friends and some variety
specials starring Howie Mandel. He brought Universal Studios an idea for a don't-mess-with-nature sci-fi/horror film about a biosphere gone awry.
Universal liked it and paid Lewis and other writers to develop the script, though ultimately the project foundered. No matter; Lewis had other irons in
the fire. He'd been invited to teach film to grad students at USC, and he had a meeting scheduled with a director and producer at Sony Classics
regarding a soon-to-be Nick Nolte film.
But that's tomorrow. On this night, March 2, 1994, Lewis has an entirely different sphere of his life to celebrate.
He met Marcy by chance—a shared drive to a ski cabin on a vacation with mutual friends—less than two years earlier. By the time they reached Fresno,
there had been no question; in a year, they were married. She was talkative and vivacious to his pale British bookishness. On a trip to Hawaii, she
sunned on the sand while Simon scrunched into the narrow shadow of a palm tree, bent over scripts. Someone had once predicted Marcy would marry a
left-handed Englishman. Simon was ambidextrous. Close enough, they decided. They adored each other.