Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Rocky Screening

I loved working in Television. It wasn't until 1976 that the thought of working in the movie business even crossed my mind.

But it did one night at a special screening for a new movie called Rocky.

Rogers and Cowan was the #1 PR firm in Hollywood and was led by the founders Henry Rogers and Warren Cowan. Henry brought clients like Ford to Hollywood, while Warren and his team represented every major Hollywood star. Tom Wilhite worked in their TV department and we had worked on a couple of projects together. They always had stars to book, and we always needed stars to appear on shows.

I called Tom on a regular basis to book KidsWorld, which was a kid's version of 60 minutes. Each week, a star was interviewed by a 12-15 year old kid. The show ran for almost 7 years, and it was great fun.

One day Tom called me to pitch a new young actor named Sylvester Stallone. And he pitched hard...but he was unknown and we needed recognized names. He told me about this new movie, and the next day I got an envelope with the name ROCKY emblazoned across the back.

I had never been to an 'Academy Screening' before. It was at the new theatre on Wilshire. Tom was at the door and the theatre was packed. I took my seat and waited for the film to start.

120 minutes later, over 1,000 people were standing up, yelling and applauding wildly. I had never seen a reaction to a movie like that before...and haven't seen one since. It was amazing. They didn't want it to stop.

The audience made their way down to the lobby of the theatre and that's when I started to notice the people around me. They were movie folks. And unlike the TV people I was used to, these men and women were different. But in a good way. There was this subtle elegance and self assurance that just filled the air while they were waiting for the movie makers to come down the grand staircase.

And then the lobby erupted even louder than before. It was a movie coronation, and Sylvester Stallone was the new king. That night he had become a movie star in front of my eyes.

I knew I was witnessing something special, and I stood there watching the spectacle and celebration around me. That was the moment that I knew that this was where I wanted to be.

A footnote. I never booked Sylvester Stallone for Kids World, and years later worked at MGM on Rocky V...but to this day I have never met Sylvester Stallone.

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