Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Characters- Good Fellas

One of the best parts of this job is getting to travel and meet people. I have already reported about some of our encounters with celebrities, but today I want to talk about a few of our favorite regular people from our journeys.

Jim Richter is a long time client of ours. He is one of these people who is too smart for his own good. He is an inventor and tinkerer and a great person to hang out with. In a long car ride in a rainstorm from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia he told us about how he recently met Walter Cronkite. When asked how he met him, Richter (we always refer to him as Richter, probably because we already have a Jim) said he met Cronkite at the Broadway premier of The Producers. When asked why he was at the premier, he very modestly admitted he was an investor in the show. (There was a pretty good R.O.I. with The Producers.)

Jerry Weiss is a carwash operator in a major southwestern U.S. city. Jim and I made a film for the 50th Anniversary of the International Carwash Association and in the process met a lot of "old timers," in the carwash business. To a person they are just hardworking average guys- who happen to be millionaires. We were sitting around Jerry's office in a featureless strip mall. We hear a garage door open and Jerry ushers us into his money room. There a van pulled up and two men unloaded five-gallon buckets filled with quarters. This was their haul from a three-day weekend. They had so many quarters I asked how they counted them. Jerry said they don't, they weigh them. That day he brought in about $10,000 in quarters. (Note to self, start a carwash.)

Jack Janney was the president and founder of Wiss ,Janney Elstner and Associates an engineering and architecture firm. Jack was voted one of the 100 greatest engineers in history. He shares this honor with among others Leonardo Da Vinci and Gustave Eiffel. Jack died last October at the age of 80. We were interviewing him at his house outside of Denver a few years ago and were in a real hurry, but Jack made us sit, have a donut and coffee and take our time. When we were shooting we used a grip clip to raise a light in his living room. In our rush to get out of there and make our flight, we left the clip and the light raised. Jack and his wife Peg both had poor eyesight and Jim and I have always imagined that the light and clip are just where we left them and poor Jack and Peg couldn't figure out why their living room light is two feet higher than it used to be.

Tomorrow some of the not so good fellas.


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