TAKE ONE OF ONE
Andrew Bergman knows that writing convincingly about a man of his own age and background who is an incest victim is to invite nosy questions. “It’s absolutely inevitable,” he says. “But I’m not that guy—that’s what fiction is.” Sleepless, he explains, uses incest as a metaphor for another tragedy—the Holocaust, and how it spawned “a whole generation of kids who grew up thinking their feelings were second level, and that they couldn’t compete with what had happened.”
Bergman’s maternal grandparents perished in the Holocaust, and their deaths cast a long, dark shadow over his childhood in Queens, N.Y. The son of a radio-and-TV columnist for the New York Daily News and a home-maker mother, Bergman managed to put that behind him. After earning a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Wisconsin, he wrote a film treatment in 1971 that three years later would become Blazing Saddles. In addition to writing Fletch and Soap Dish, Bergman also directs; his latest movie, It Could Happen to You, opens this summer.
Bergman, 49, is grateful his life has unfolded like a Hollywood fable. “I married a terrific woman,” he says, referring to Louise, 48, a psychotherapist, “and I have two great kids. My life has had an enormously happy ending.”