Just added to the RerunIt.com collection is our 1992 interview with “Diff’rent Strokes” star Gary Coleman. Tragic life, interesting chat and profound perspective on success in the business of acting.

As I wrote when news of Gary’s death was first announced last May, I was so sad, like many of his fans, to ponder how and why his post-”Diff’rent Strokes” life played itself out the way that it did.

I liked Gary, personally. We first got to know each other through our work at Embassy Television, Norman Lear’s TV production company. He, of course, was in the studio rehearsing and taping episodes of the series. I was in a building elsewhere on the lot tending to publicity matters. But when our paths crossed, it was always like hooking up with an old friend — and we had another old friend in common in A. Dudley Johnson, Jr.

Dudley and I were best pals from our days at Emerson College, in Boston. After graduation, Dudley moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of writing and producing television — and he got his break “in” pretty quickly when he was hired by Norman Lear’s company (then Tandem/TAT Communications) first as a receptionist for the production office for “All in the Family.” His talent, his passion and his tenacity got him noticed and, before long, he moved on up (although not to “The Jeffersons”) to “Diff’rent Strokes,” where he and his writing partner, Robbie Jayson, were added to the series’ production staff as writers/producers. If you recall the two characters in the show named “Dudley” and “Robbie” (friends of Arnold), you now know the real roots of how those parts were created.

It was Dudley who was responsible for my getting a foot in the door at the Norman Lear empire. A few years later when I joined the Lear team as a publicity executive, it was Dudley who first introduced me to Gary.

What does all of of this have to do with the Gary Coleman interview we just added to the RerunIt collection? Only everything.

Several year later after we had all moved on to work and careers in other arenas, Dudley, who had in college, produced a little television chat show we did at Emerson (and also came on board with my talk show at WBZ, in Boston, adding some professional notches to both our belts) had an idea.

His idea was for us to return to talk television for a limited run chat show set in a coffee shop in Beverly Hills. He would produce, I would host and together we would test the waters of a new series idea. Some 100 episodes later (most broadcast live), we a had an astounding collection of conversations with some of the most iconic pop culture figures in the history of modern television, including our interview with Gary Coleman.

Gary had taken his share of hits from the media over the years, and he wasn’t seeking publicity when we sat down and chatted in 1992. But he knew he would be safe — and he knew that he would be treated as the friend he was.

That’s how this interview happened. It’s a bit of a tale on how it came to be, but sometimes it’s the details that inform the bigger picture.

Years later watching this interview makes me think that I should have cut my hair shorter much sooner and, more importantly, reminds me of how wise Gary was at such a young age.

Although we put segments from this interview up on YouTube immediately after hearing of his death, Gary is now a permanent part of the RerunIt collection and we’re thrilled to be able to share his perspective, his reflections and his passions with you, always available on demand.

With special thanks to Dudley …