Archive for October 16th, 2008

fewer than six degrees due to personal awesomeness

Note: fewer than six degrees due to personal awesomeness

I’m sure there are plenty of writers and video guys who often bump into celebrities in the course of their work.  Typically, I’m not one of those people.  I have met a few, and I can do a pretty compelling Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. But I am lucky if I see anyone in the course of my work…let alone a celebrity.

One exception would be Ray Charles. In 1989 or 90, he “played” a worldwide franchisee meeting for Kentucky Fried Chicken.  He got $100,000 or so to go onstage and rape his own “Hit the Road, Jack” into something called “Cross the Road, Jack,” which was KFC‘s slogan at the time.  Anyway, my task was to get him from the green room to the stage area.  So there I am, completely star-struck, crammed into an elevator with Ray and his entourage. All I could do was stare at his clothes…shirt, vest and jacket…each with different shaped buttons. I didn’t understand until I saw the movie 15 years later that this was how he differentiated his outfits.  (Coincidentally, this is the trip where I partied in the hotel bar with the Yakuza! Who knew they owned KFC franchises?)

Also at that approximate time, I was producing concerts on local cable TV. In this capacity I got to meet Glen Campbell, the Bourbon Soaked Rhinestone Cowboy, as well as Latin big band superstar Tito Puente. Then there was about a 20-year dry spell, until yesterday.

A new client, the largest grocery chain in the US, is doing an internal NASCAR promotional video.  And, since I live in one of the NASCAR hotspots, South Carolina, they assumed I would be perfect for the job.

Umm, not quite. I have never watched a NASCAR race in my life. However, I had one thing going for me…I had actually heard of one of the stars of the video, Dale Jarrett.  The other guy, a hot up-and-comer named Kasey Kahne, was unknown to me.

But, as we say, a copywriter never says No! So I dug into the NASCAR site, the drivers’ sites and Wikipedia to immerse myself into the subject matter. The result was a “high-octane” script that will motivate our “pit crew” on the grocery floor to help “drive” incremental sales and “take the checkered flag!”  Yes, it was that good!

But no, I still didn’t get to meet Dale Jarrett! I hear he liked the script, though!

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Okay, for all you obsessives out there, here are my Six Degrees…

I met Fred Grandy on a Hertz bus in Kansas City. He was, of course, in Love Boat with Gavin McLeod, who was in the great anti-war film Kelly’s Heroes with Donald Sutherland, who was in Animal House with Kevin (“Thank you, sir. May I have another?”) Bacon. So there.

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