Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hollywood

So I moved to Hollywood. It was me, my good friend Dan from high school and for the summer, his sister Katy (Katy has since become an actress.)

I'm sure people who didn't know me well thought I was crazy. I had just given up the chance to start off as a reporter in a big market, my hometown no less, for a two month internship with the promise of nothing more (it actually worked out for the best as one of my best friends, Nikki, ended up with the job and she was a better reporter than me anyway). But here's what I figured. I had never lived anywhere but Milwaukee. If I didn't leave now, I probably never would.

Some guy in "Pretty Woman" ended the movie asking "what's your dream?" One of mine was to make millions of people happy. Kind of Kermit the Frog-esque, I know, but I wanted to tell stories that would entertain. For two years, I had paved the way for a move out there (just in case) by taking a workshop and spending significant time networking.

I met with as many alums of my high school and college that were in the business that would take the time. In sharing my dream over lunch with Peter Bonerz (remember Jerry the dentist from the old Bob Newhart show?), the key thing he expressed to me was you can make people happy anywhere. If you're going to come out here, you have to have a plan. Having the Academy internship made my start much easier. I had two months where I knew I was getting paid.

Dan had a tougher going of it intially working late night edit sessions taking care of clients at a post house. Eventually he got a job at Miramax and helped me get my foot in the door there. We worked on the company's highly successful 1995 Academy Awards campaign.

After eight months out west, I decided to see what my options were for getting back into news and getting back to the midwest. I loved telling stories and I loved the immediacy of the medium. Start your day with an idea, end it with a finished story. Anyway, I was home for Christmas and brought a tape to someone I had worked with previously at WISN. Margaret was now an assistant news director at WDJT. She liked the tape and suggested I look at stations in Madison and Green Bay, as all the people we knew had connections to stations there.

Then she mentioned that she got her first job in Peoria and refered me to Duane, the news director at the time at WMBD. I had plans to see a friend in Chicago the next day so I called the guy up and told him I'd like to "swing by." Like Peoria was a suburb or something. 4 hours later in a car with no radio, I arrived. He liked the tape, didn't have an opening, but said he'd hold on to it.

I was off to Chicago and a few days later, back to Los Angeles. A couple of weeks later, I was out with some friends in Santa Monica. Had a great time. I think I finally felt at home in Hollywood. When I got home that night, there was a message from Duane. He now had approval for a new reporter.