No. 1s

number ones


Heavyweight Boxing Champion

My NUMBER ONE NUMBER ONE is Muhammad Ali. Not only do I think he’s the greatest athlete, I feel he is the most important single person of the twentieth century.  What he did in resisting Vietnam and his personal loss brought on by the United States Government is unparalleled. Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War, finally admitted that the war was a mistake, and wrong, something most of the public, and Ali, knew all the time. As for popularity, several of his fights were watched by HALF the population of the world. My favorite fights of his, though, were his debates with the arrogant racist, William Buckley, where Ali kicked ass.

I worked with Ali twice, both for IBM and both times he broke my heart because of his declining health. He was still physically powerful and almost young, but the evidence of his afflictions was there. He controlled them during his performance but had to be helped on and off stage. While he waited, he did a drawing of his great fight, THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE for me, perhaps the nicest gesture ever from anyone.


NBA Champion

My NUMBER TWO NUMBER ONE is Moses Malone. I was filming my first Nike spot and Moses and Barkley and a few other Nike athletes were there. Moses busted Charles’ chops a bit and was very cooperative during the shoot, but what he did one day touched me. We were playing on a high school court in New York, I think Brooklyn, and the set was roped off so the kids going to summer school wouldn’t intrude. On a lunch break Moses dragged the other NBA players off to sign autographs and hang with the kids a bit. Nobody argued with Moses. I would go to Laker games when the Sixers were playing at the Forum and Moses always seemed to kick Kareem’s ass. Moses died too young, and Charles gave credit to him being a father figure, something I had witnessed.


NBA Champion

Larry Bird is my NUMBER THREE NUMBER ONE, but he could easily be number one or number two. The only reason I put him at number three is that Moses did his wonderful thing on his own and Larry Bird did the wonderful thing after I asked.  We’re splitting hairs, but here’s the story.

We all know what a fabulous basketball player Bird was and his team play elevated the others.  He and Michael did the SHOWDOWN commercial for McDonald’s and the Super Bowl and it’s probably the most famous commercial of all time, although Magic was more identifiable as Bird’s most famous opponent. 

Where Bird gets to the top of the list is a favor he did.  A friend asked me if I had any ‘NBA pull.’  His son, a gifted basketball player, had missed the deadline for an NBA tryout and was there a way I could help?  I sent notes to Michael and Larry.  Larry was on the phone in five minutes and the kid had his tryout.  A few years went by, and I ran into the kid, and he said that he didn’t make the team, but he would never forget that Larry Bird went to bat for him.


NBA Champion

I know, you think that Michael should be number one overall. Think what you must, but from now on the list is egalitarian with each person on it being number one at his or her or ?’s chosen profession.

Michael is considered to be the best basketball player (athlete) of all time. I always questioned that. Magic won a championship his first year by playing all positions in the championship game when Kareem couldn’t play.  Wilt set huge statistics in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocked shots, that will never be equaled and had the NBA change the rulebooks. Bill Russell won many more championships as a player and as a player/ coach. Still, Michael made more money than anyone (2 bil and counting at this ‘writing’).

I had more fun working with him than anyone, but not just because of him. We respected each other. He liked me because I was quick. One or two takes, let’s move on. He once complained about another director because he had to do the same dunk over and over because the director as only using one camera. He had a good palate and I would bribe him with Cheval Blanc and Cohiba cigars. He wouldn’t smoke the Cohibas in public because they were contraband, but he loved them. Everything that can be said about him has been said and said and said, but his most important accomplishment is the increase in the GDP of China and Oregon.


Stanley Cup Champion

Gretsky should be at the top of any normal list. There is no argument that he is the best hockey player of all time, THE GREAT ONE. I worked with him a bunch of times and it was always a delight. My only regret was that when we did BO KNOWS, we did one take, and it took about three minutes and the poor guy had to drive back home in LA rush hour, think an hour and a half.


World Number One Men’s Golf

I did many, many, many commercials with the guy before his famous meltdown. He was always a delight.  In the early days he was easier to work with but later, management took over a bit and his time was limited.  No matter, it always worked. Besides his personal issues, his health issues took a great toll, and now his horrific car crash has put doubts about his future. Sad.


NCAA College Football, Heisman Trophy

Bo was magnificent. He’s the only athlete to be named as an All Star in two professional sports, Football and Baseball. We did a bunch of stuff together for Nike and Pepsi, and BO KNOWS is one of the all-time great popular and effective commercials. It’s been given credit for saving Nike by moving them into cross training shoes. I had fifteen minutes of fame when Bo knocked me on my ass while we were filming part of the BO KNOWS spot. 

A videographer captured the moment and Nike played it in their stores as part of the ‘making of’ series. I was near the Nike store in Beverly Hills and several Black kids were staring at me one saying, ‘That’s the guy.’ I asked them what they meant. The kid said. ‘You’re the guy Bo knocked on your ass. I saw it in the Nike store.” I go into the store, and sure enough, there’s the video on the big screen.


World Number One Women’s Tennis

I worked with Serena twice. The first time I commented on her stroke looking a little strange and her handler told me she was hitting left handed. We had to get a male pro to hit with her because the female pro we had hired couldn’t get the ball back properly. She is the most impressive athlete I have worked with, male or female. Magic.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Being a homer (from Pittsburgh), I always regarded Terry Bradshaw as the best all time because he was the quarterback on four Super Bowl winning teams without a loss. The statistics for the game have been skewed since the rules of football have changed to favor the passing game. There are several ways to justify my choice. 

First, he is undefeated in Super Bowl wins. So is Joe Montana, but Bradshaw was involved in the Immaculate Reception, considered the most famous single play in Pro Football history. To me, that’s a tie-breaker (against Montana). Brady’s name always comes up because he’s won more, but he’s lost more as well. He and Bradshaw have an almost identical winning percentage in the playoffs but Bradshaw’s Super Bowl percentage tips the scales.  

Don’t argue.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Gatorade.  Jamaica. Usain Bolt. The filming was easy. Bolt offered me a ride back to basecamp.  Okay.  Bolt had a Nissan GTR, at that time this car set lap records humiliating Porsche at the Nürburgring Time Trials. Bolt set lap records getting back. Chicken feathers flew in the back roads of Jamaica as Bolt drove like he ran, full throttle. I asked whether he was concerned about the police. He said, I am Bolt and this is my home. 


Olympic Gold Medalist

I was filming a CANON CAMERA commercial with Killy. He was my hero and I had modeled my ski technique after his skiing and that taught to him by Georges Joubert. I had taught skiing for a time, but I was always in some controversy because the accepted techniques were based on the Austrian system and I preferred the French. I mention this because Killy was the most successful proponent of that style and I studied his free skiing techniques. I’ve never been so excited to work with anyone (this was before Michael Jackson).

Killy turned out to be a bigger ball-buster than Jordan. I turned up on the prep day to go over the course with him. I made a huge mistake. Killy skied his friend, Leo Lacroix’ skis. I should have gotten a pair since a friend of mine repped them but I wore my THE SKI, a freestyle, bump ski made by Bobby Burns in Sun Valley. Killy saw them and laughed making a joke about the bindings. We used Saloman bindings that attached the bottom of the boot to the ski without a toepiece. Killy told me ‘your toe piece is missing.’ There was nothing I could say, after all, it was Killy.

It got worse.

I led him down the course we had planned, to show him the various photo ops that we liked and when we got to the bottom, Killy said to me, “Joe, nevair ski in front of le Champion.’  I didn’t know if he was ‘keeding’ or not.

The shoot went well. Killy was Killy.


NBA Most Valuable Player

I’ve worked with Charles for four decades, ever since Moses busted his chops during a Nike shoot. I’m six five and Moses asked Charles how tall he was, and Charles said six five. Moses said, ‘Joe’s taller than you, Charles.’  Barkley’s face got red.  Charles considered Moses a sort of godfather. I got a call from Nike saying Charles wouldn’t work with me. I asked why and they said that I tried to post him up playing ball one day and he said, ‘No one tries to post me up.’ My bad. He also said that I was the worst basketball player ever. Bird said that too. 

Jordan asked me who I was rooting for when he played for the NBA Championship against Charles, a good friend.  I said Charles, and Michael was pissed. I told him that it was Barkley’s last chance and that Michael would win many more but MJ still was upset.

Tiger made the duo a troika. The trips to Las Vegas were legendary but everything fell apart after Tiger’s misadventures. Michael and Charles’ friendship went south as well when Barkley criticized Jordan’s executive abilities running his team.



World Number One Women’s Tennis

I did several Canon Camera commercials with Sharapova. She is best described as aloof, much like Britney was when I worked with her. It was impossible to connect on any personal level, not that I tried. The Japanese client thought I was a genius, though, because I made her smile.


World Champion Beach Volleyball

I was driving up the PCH and a guy driving a new Range Rover pulled along-side and motioned me to pull over. I couldn’t tell what was happening, so I pulled over. The Range Rover pulled in front and Randy Stoklos jumped out of the car. I got out and shook his hand, and I wondered why he was so excited. 

We had worked together a while ago and ran into each other from time to time.  I think we got along because we were two Polacks, although I knew (or cared) nothing about beach volleyball. We didn’t have sand in Braddock, PA where I grew up. Randy was excited and thanked me because he bought the Range Rover with residual money he got from the last commercial we did.


American League MVP

I worked with Griffey a bunch of times, most notably during the baseball strike. I was prepared to shoot a lot of greenscreen stuff with him, but he volunteered to do the stuff for real and volunteered to go to New York for shots at Yankee stadium. First time that ever happened as most want to get out asap. 

Another time, he got in a bit of trouble filming a section of a Jordan Super Bowl spot. His wife was pregnant, and he left telling her that he was filming the spot. The agency didn’t use his section for the final, but Griffey didn’t know that until he and his wife watched the Super Bowl and she was chagrined when he wasn’t in the spot. Later, though, they recut the commercial and he appeared, so I guess all was right again (I hope).


NFL Super Bowl Champion

YAC. Yards after catch. This is a silly football statistic that speaks of the amount of ground a receiver makes after catching the ball. I used to tease Tim that he NEVER gained a yard after catching the ball. Tim and I worked together quite a bit after we first met. He was dynamic, forceful, and handsome, perfect for things I wanted to do. He had an intimidating look in his eye and a magnificent physique, 6’ 3” two forty. 

I used him in a GE commercial as a factory worker and Tim told me he lived for ten years on the residuals since he signed a contract for world-wide use. I used him as an evil basketball player in the HARE JORDAN commercial with Bugs and Michael, and as a boxer in a famous McDonald’s commercial. He gets knocked out perfectly. We lost touch when he moved to a ranch in Utah or Wyoming, but he’ll always be a Super Bowl Bear.


World Championship Ski Gold Medal

I taught skiing back in the day. We Americans were frustrated because American ski racers didn’t do much in competition. Then, Billy Kidd won a silver medal in the Innsbruck Olympic. We all celebrated since it was the first medal ever won by a male skier. He later won a gold medal in World Championships at Val Gardena and later won the pro ski racing championship.

I worked with him on a Bud Light commercial (or was it Busch) while he was a director of skiing at Steamboat Springs. The shoot was uneventful, and I don’t have a copy of the spot. I ran into him at a mountain event at Vail where a friend was being inducted into a ski hall of fame.  He remembered every detail of the shoot, me, the clients, everything, even an argument (polite) we had about ski technique. I remarked that he resembles Dennis Hopper and he said that the ski team painted their helmets with red and white stripes after seeing EASY RIDER.

Two legends.


National League MVP

I worked with Sosa once and that was enough. It was for a Pepsi All Star Baseball commercial and the idea was that Sosa was trying to steal Griffey’s Pepsi, and Griffey saw that and batted balls to dissuade him. Sosa’s part was tiny. A couple of shots. The only action was that Sosa had to duck a ball that Griffey hit at him. Of course there wouldn’t be a ball (digital) so we placed fall pads in the dugout we had built on stage and all Sosa had to do was dive onto the fall pad (hidden from camera) that was placed all around him.

I had scheduled different times for the two athletes so their efforts wouldn’t conflict but there would be a little overlap so they could meet, PR, etc. That all went awry when Griffey showed up very early and Sosa was quite late. The first words from Sosa were, ‘What’s Griffey doing here?’ He had no idea what the spot was about. I never saw the two of them speaking to each other, but I may have missed that.

When I discussed the ‘stunt’ with Sosa, he said he couldn’t do that, too dangerous. The ‘stunt’ was ducking off a bench onto a fall pad. Even I could do it and I showed him. I couldn’t convince him. I went to the agency and said that we’ll have to use a double. They said just tell him to do it.

‘You tell hm. You made the contract.’

I don’t remember what we did, probably a double, but the ‘fall’ was so quick you couldn’t tell anyway. The agency was probably pissed because they had another residual payment. Sosa is probably number three on the worst people to work with list. The other names have been changed to protect the innocent.


NCAA Basketball Champion

I was lucky to first work with John Wooden. There was an old-time basketball sequence in the film I was doing, SPACE JAM, and I wanted the stuff to be authentic. I didn’t trust my coordinators to understand basketball from the thirties, so I pressed Joe Blake to get me John Wooden (as a joke). Joe got him the next day and when I asked him how difficult it was, Joe said that Wooden said he didn’t have much to do anyway and would be glad. I was astonished and when the basketball coordinator, Nigel Miguel found out, he was ecstatic since he had played for UCLA and knew Wooden.

I was astonished watching Nigel and John Wooden working together. Wooden was peaceful and philosophical, working with the basketball extras and had them being back in the thirties in a very few minutes. When I spoke to Nigel, he told me that Wooden was very, very, close to UCLA basketball and kept in touch with many of the former players. I ran into Wooden again at Kareem’s 50th birthday party and Wooden sat at the edge of the gathering watched over by Bill Walton. It was the King and his Court.

For some reason, Walton glowered at me, probably because he had no idea who I was, and he knew everyone else in the room. Meeting him reminded me of a great story about Bill and Wooden. Bill had grown a beard and let his hair grow long during the summer and he vowed to keep them despite the fact that Coach Wooden had strict appearance rules. When he met with Coach, Wooden told him that he respected Walton’s beliefs and wished him great success wherever he chose to play basketball that year, but it wouldn’t be UCLA. Walton shaved.

I worked with Coach Wooden again on an IBM commercial where he (among others) gave advice to a little boy. Both events took too little time, about an hour for SPACE JAM, and a half hour for the IBM scene, but both times (and the party) were vivid and memorable. 


NCAA Basketball Champion

I worked with Carmelo on a Brand Jordan commercial even before he played a pro game. He had won an NCAA Championship his freshman year and then left. Nike and Jordan signed him. 

High hopes.

The conceit of the campaign was Michael Jordan melding (literally) into different athletes. It was a brilliant idea and the creative director of the agency had designed a fabulous technique to literally put the two disparate images together. We had a tech on site to be sure we got it right as we were filming with major people. Carmelo was not yet major, but he was what we had.

What he had to do was relatively simple, a spin move dribble and a Jumpman dunk. A couple hours work at most.  The spin and dialogue stuff was easy, but the dunk was a mess. We always moved the hoop down at least six inches to make the dunks easier. Carmelo’s dunks were lackluster, and he had a ‘I hate whitey’ attitude. I finally showed him a picture of Jumpman and he got it. 


NBA Champion

Jimmy asked me to do a spot with Steph Curry. We had half a day with him. The spot was for JBL bluetooth speakers. A bunch of young guys are playing a dull pickup game in a gym and a mysterious figure enters and brings life into the place placing speakers at various places around the gym. He then joins the game and ‘life begins.’

At some point, Jimmy said he wanted some cops to enter as a threat, but they turn out to want to play. Jimmy always wanted to put subtle social conscious moments in his work to take it to another place. I thought the police thing was a little forced but I would find a way to make it work. This was around the time of the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown controversies and I suggested that we take it a step further and have Steph arrested or stopped by the police on his way from the gym. Steph’s people, especially, didn’t like the idea. All they agreed to (and grudgingly) was the hoody. Where was Charles Barkley when you needed him? We shot the stuff with the police car and Steph’s double on the street the day before the shoot anyway. We shot in the backstreets of Oakland and our security police told us to be careful as we were in a dangerous neighborhood. As an adjunct, I saw a beautiful prostitute on a corner at ten in the morning. She looked about fifteen. The shoot itself went smoothly except for a moment when a client asked for a shot of Curry dunking. We explained that it wasn’t part of Curry’s game and that would be a distraction, especially the knowledgeable. I’m not sure he understood. We cut the spot with the police and the hoody but Curry’s people rejected it completely and refused to discuss it in any way. Where was Phil Knight? The spot ran in truncated form.

The commercial was ahead of its time. The recent issues between the police and the Black Community and the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement make the idea far more relevant. It’s a shame that Curry never agreed, but then, I’m not sure he ever knew. I still love his game, though.


World Series Champion

Maz had the most famous hit in baseball history, the ninth inning home run that won the World Series against the New York Yankees.  Bill James sabermetrics designated Mazeroski the best fielder in any position in the history of baseball. Despite those disparate achievements it took him too long to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I worked with him once, in his bar in West Virginia, or maybe it was Ohio, an Iron City Beer commercial.  The famous Pirate reliever, Roy Face was in it as well. The spot has disappeared, but the memories haven’t.


Freestyle Ski Champion

I was filming a Right Guard commercial with George in Park City, Utah. It was in the early days of Steadicam and I strapped on a Steadicam to film him skiing downhill. That didn’t last long. He was too quick, and the rig was too cumbersome, so I abandoned the contraption and finished with some hand- held. After the shoot we hung out for a while. 

I mentioned that a great friend of mine was a freestyle skier as well, Brian McClary. George said that Brian was the most beautiful skier on the mountain but there was always some sort of glitch when he competed. Shame. I lost touch with Brian when he moved back to Canada from Vail, where I was then living, but was saddened when I heard that he had passed suddenly. 

George told me another story about moving to a small village in new England with his dog, a Lab. He had breakfast in this particular diner every morning and asked for scrambled eggs and hash browns. The waitress said they didn’t have hash browns, although saw other locals eating them. A year went by and one morning he got his scrambled eggs with hash browns. You had to earn your citizenship there.


NBA Champion

I worked with Jackson on a Michael Jordan Super Bowl commercial. He was extremely unpleasant but that worked for the scene because the scene was about him being unpleasant.  


NFL Player of the Year

I worked with Meredith so long ago that I filmed in 16mm black and white. I have no memory of for who or what the commercial was, but it was tied into the early Super Bowl advertising. 


UPI National Coach of the Year

I first ‘ran into’ Coach Winter while shooting a Michael Jordan commercial at the Chicago Bulls training facility.  I was walking down a hallway and he was sitting in a dark room looking at game tapes. I stopped for a moment and he saw me and reached over and closed the door.

Chris had played for Winter at Northwestern University and loved him. Winter had become famous (as an assistant coach) for developing the Triangle Offense, a system that Phil Jackson used to great effect coaching in Chicago and Los Angeles. The system is extremely formal and was resisted by Kobe Bryant on the Lakers despite the fact that they won three consecutive championships using it. With the advent of the three point shot that offense has all but disappeared. Phil Jackson, who used the triangle to great effect said the offense was outdated for many reasons, mostly modern players’ reluctance to learn its disciplines.

Chris wrote a bunch of IBM spots using basketball and Tex Winter as a business allegory. It was nice to see the two of them together after all those years and I let Chriss do all the talking to his coach.


NCAA College Football, Heisman Trophy

Flutie was famous for throwing an amazing touchdown pass to win a game against a superior team. It’s considered one of the greatest plays in college football history and has many names, including HAIL FLUTIE and THE PASS. Flutie was an unlikely quarterback, football player, being less than six feet tall and weighing maybe a hundred and eighty pounds.  I met him and he looked slight and slim. That doesn’t matter as he threw the ball over sixty yards in the air against thirty mile an hour winds to score the winning touchdown.

Flutie had a very interesting and long lived professional career in the CFL and in the NFL. He is in several Canadian Football Halls of Fame and in the College Hall of Fame.

We worked together on a campaign for CDW, and he was terrific, thorough and professional. He looked like a kid, twenty years younger than he was, intelligent, too. Remember, he went to Boston College.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

People tend to forget how famous ‘Broadway Joe’ Namath was. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and would read about Namath’s Friday night exploits in the Saturday papers on the way to my Saturday (and Sunday) job. Later, Namath won a national championship for the University of Alabama and the famous coach, Bear Bryant. He even adopted a fake southern accent while he was there. Bryant said that Namath was the best athlete he ever coached.

Namath signed the most lucrative deal in the history of football (at that time) with the New York Jets of the American Football League. I met with his agent Jimmy Walsh, a few years later, to explore the idea of a documentary about him. Nothing really came of it and then Namath won the Super Bowl and changed pro-football history. 

ESPN signed Namath to do part of a commercial with many other sports celebrities. His part was easy, a line of dialogue sitting in a chair. I think we made a mistake by scheduling him first thing in the morning. We greeted and I mentioned that I was from the Pittsburgh area as well. Those of us from the ‘burgh always bonded, but Namath remained aloof even surly. I mentioned Jimmy Walsh, his old friend and that didn’t get a rise either, so I just spent the ten minutes filming and that was that.


Formula 1 World Champion

I was filming Mario Andretti for an ESPN commercial written by Stacy Wall. Andretti was in the back of a cab and we had a line or two of written dialogue and Stacy would throw an improv at him. We filmed the stuff quickly and we were driving back to base and I chatted with him. One of the greatest races I ever saw was Andretti beating John Watson on the last lap of the ’77 French Formula 1 Grand Prix. Andretti had been stalking Watson the entire race and Watson’s car was slightly faster. Andretti passed him at a point that Watson couldn’t repass and Andretti won the race. There was a little controversy as Watson claimed that Andretti passed him because Watson was low on fuel and his car suffered from fuel starvation on the corner and faltered. Andretti said that Watson was ‘full of shit’ and that Andretti had passed through ‘superior driving skills.’

Another story was about the 1970 Sebring Twelve Hour Sports Car Race. Andretti was driving for Ferrari and Steve McQueen (the actor, not the director) was a codriver for Porsche together with Peter Revson, who was doing most of the driving. McQueen’s presence was something of a publicity stunt.

Stacy was irritated and prodded me to get going as there were others to film that day, but here was another story that interested me.

Andretti’s Ferrari broke while he was leading the race. When he pulled into the pits, he asked who was leading. He heard the announcer shout, ‘McQueen is leading!’ and that pissed him off.  He got into the second Ferrari that was considerably behind the Revson/ McQueen car and drove furiously to win. Andretti told me that he wasn’t going to let some fucking actor win this race.

By this time steam was coming out of Stacy’s ears, but I asked Andretti about Parabolica…


Marathon Winner

I was doing a sports commercial for GE women and Leland found Nancy, a marathon runner. She looked waspy and healthy and was still active and ideal for what we wanted. Nancy didn’t start running until she was a bit older, mid-twenties and she scoffed at her abilities, saying running wasn’t athletic, merely training effect. Nancy had been a college level athlete before, a diver, so it was a curious but successful choice for her to begin running at a late age and get success.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Lawrence Taylor, or L. T. as he’s referred to by aficionados, is considered by many to be the greatest defensive football player of all time and some consider him the greatest player.

I’m a Mean Joe Greene fan. 

I worked with Taylor a few times. The most significant was a LAY’S Super Bowl halftime series with a number of notable players, Long, Elway, Ditka…On a break I was shooting hoops with Boomer Esiason when the agency art director came over and said that Taylor wanted to kick my ass. He was pissed that I was playing ball while he was waiting around. I told agency guy that we were redressing the set for the next setup and that Taylor should know that but if he wants to kick my ass I’ll be here and then shortly on set, full access.

Taylor didn’t show up for the second day’s shoot.

The account guy, in a state of panic, came up to me asking what we are going to do.  I said we’d take away one chair.


NBA Champion

Allen was a tremendous three- point shooter and won an NBA Championship at Boston and then at Miami. I worked with him on a commercial for Brand Jordan. His role was a slightly demanding, subtle, piece of acting and he nailed it immediately. I complimented him and asked how he did that? He said that he had done a movie- with Spike Lee and Denzel. I was flustered.

‘What movie?’

I didn’t understand the answer, so I asked again.




NBA Champion

I worked with Scottie a few times, for Nike, Lay’s, and CDW. He always seemed a bit shy, being out of his normal element. He was an incredibly attractive person, looking like an ancient Egyptian king. I worked with him twenty years after he retired, and he still looked like he could play. On the first Nike shoot, he was aloof staying away from several other players. Of course, Tim Hardaway had taken over the shoot with his vivid personality and Pippen wasn’t that kind of a guy. I don’t remember when or where we spoke of this, but the subject of Pippen’s talent vs Michael’s did come up and Scottie said that they were equal but his left-handed dunk was better.


NBA Champion

Rodman was one of the Nike athletes in the Barbershop Campaign, a completely improvised work. He did good. Pleasant, but this was before his behavior got extreme. I always admired his teamwork. He did what had to be done, the dirty work, and wasn’t given enough credit for that. In the middle of the filming of SPACE JAM, Rodman became available as his then team, the Spurs, wanted to trade him after he had insulted the coach, the manager, the ownership for being inept. The Bulls didn’t show any interest. I was speaking with Michael on set and asked why the Bulls weren’t after Rodman as Rodman was a terrific defender and rebounder. MJ said he didn’t like him, probably because Rodman had been part of the Detroit bad boys that had kicked the Bulls ass before the Bulls got better and won their first three championships. He said that he would rather have dinner with me than Rodman, that’s how much he disliked him. I said you don’t have to eat with him. All he does is the hard work, defense and rebounding and never shoots. That leaves more for you. 

Rodman was at the Beverly Hills Hotel that evening meeting with Michael, and he was on the Bulls team on Monday, three more championships. MJ always called Rodman ‘your boy’ when we spoke of him.

Don’t I get a ring?


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Sapp was part of the Brand Jordan series where the player (Sapp) would morph into Michael (or Michael would morph into him). The agency had designed a terrific and unique style of morphing.  All I had to do was be sure the actions matched and the players ‘did the right thing’ (sorry Spike).

Sapp had a reputation of being a very tough guy and there had been a few controversial incidents on the playing field. 

He turned out to be delightful, doing what had to be done perfectly and intensely. Afterwards, he gave me what I think may have been a compliment.  He said that I reminded him of his high school football coach and that the coach was the only person that ever frightened him.


PGA Player of the Year

The Riz had written a spot with Strange where the golfer walked on water. It was the year after Strange had won consecutive U. S. Opens. Strange refused to do it for religious reasons. I forget how we solved that problem, but we had a shot of Strange driving the ball. We did four takes then moved on. As we passed the driven golf balls, I noticed that you could cover the four of them with a blanket.


Pro Football Hall of Fame

David Lamb called and said they were pitching a new account, Bud Light Beer. The pitch was to be sports themed and Dave said he wanted everything to be as authentic as possible. I scoffed and Dave reiterated what he had said. Okay, I’ll do my best. One of the spots had a football theme and it was important to use authentic players and that was tough because active players were not allowed to do beer commercials. We cast and cast and cast some more then out of the woods came Dave Wilcox a former all-pro linebacker. He looked terrific and in playing shape.  When we discussed the spot, he asked, ‘you want us to hit?’ I said yes and he looked skeptical, but on the days, he hit, and the spot was a hit.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Chuck played at Army against Staubach and we always argued about Roger’s abilities vs the Steelers. Chuck loved Roger. Of course, my position is that the Steelers beat him and that’s that. I did a commercial with Staubach before all that and I can’t remember when, where, or for whom. I do remember that we had to hide his broken arm and his young son didn’t want to be there but was an important part of the spot. We were running into a time problem and Staubach started to bust my chops asking if I was going to meet the deadline. I busted his back saying that it was all up to his son stepping up to the plate. Wrong sport?


Tennis World Number One

I don’t remember or have a record of what I worked with John Newcombe, but he was a delight, fun.  When we chatted, he said that guys like me didn’t have much respect for tennis players as athletes, because we were football and basketball types. I told him I had tried tennis but it was too difficult, so I stuck to the ‘prole’ sports. One thing that blew me away was his hitting lobs sky high and each hitting the baseline precisely.

My producer charmed him to hit with her and he slyly told me to watch what he would do. She was a decent player and could get the ball back.  Of course, he hit it so she could get it back, but he hit to her forehand and each return the ball would get closer so that the fourth return hit her midsection. He had moved the ball in, in, in, and in. That’s how much control he had. He was very handsome as well. I have no idea what happened after their little match.


Snowboard Champion

I never liked snowboarders because I felt they were destroying the sport I loved, skiing. Snowboarders were a vulgar disruptive lot and the ski areas, eager for profit, allowed them to intrude on the elegance of skiing. They also were rule breakers and caused carnage on the mountain. I had never had a collision while skiing and I had been blindsided by boarders several times as have my friends. They also were a bad influence on skiing style as kid skiers copied the aggressive style of the boarders and just went fast without regard for technique (and safety).

I was filming a Winter Olympics spot for McD and they wanted a snowboard section with a snowboarder, Louie Vito. I did a little homework and found that he was a top competitor with many, many, many gold medals and other victories and had competed in past Olympics. 

The sequence needed was Louie competing in the superpipe.  We were filming at Copper Mountain in Colorado and the dynamic shot I wanted was Louie breaking a clear frame with a stunt. We discussed it and we marked the point to hit on the edge of the superpipe and we set up the camera at the edge and I looked down and was shocked to see how steep the ‘pipe was, It seemed like ten stories down. I started to get acrophobia, so I slid back a bit.

Louie did his astonishing, twisting, maneuver and I was happy with the first take.

‘I can do better.’

He did it multiple times, ignoring the risks. I was upset because they were all beautiful and I knew that we could only use fragments of the twisting, turning, spinning moments, but I had witnessed the courage, grace, and skills of a great athlete (but I still don’t like snowboarders).


NBA All Star MVP

‘One thing I could do, was FINGER ROLL.’

Tim Hardaway made ICEMAN famous in the Nike Barbershop commercial when he brought up Gervin’s FINGER ROLL. It was a shot, a layup, that George (Iceman) could do from the free-throw line.

I worked with Iceman a few more times for Nike and IBM and he was always a delight. The commercials gave him a few more minutes of fame that he deserved. He was as good  a person as I ever met.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

We were doing the forty seventh rip-off of the McDonald’s SHOWDOWN commercial with Flacco and Colin Kaepernick. 

Two stiffs.

To make things worse, we had to split our limited time with a behind the scenes crew. Flacco was very tall, six seven. First take, he busts my balls, slyly implying that what I asked for was ‘old school.’  I replied that it’s in the script. He brought his wife to the set. She was very short and very pregnant and I wondered why he brought her. It reminded me of Elway…but that’s another story.

The behind the scenes crew destroyed any momentum that we had and the shoot was  a struggle. I had convinced the agency to do a scene that hadn’t been scripted and was about to get on with it when Flacco came to me and said that his wife wanted them to leave. They had been there long enough. I looked around for help, a lawyer, an agent, an account executive, but there were none in sight. I had to go it alone. 

So I begged.

He gave me fifteen minutes.


World Record Stone Put

Brian was a discus and shotputter. His many records have been expunged because of various issues, professionalism, steroids, what else you got?

I worked with him on an Olympics based spot for Kodak. He was quick and witty. We only worked together for a part of a day but there are three great stories.

Brian was on the concrete throwing circle and was dropping the shot on the concrete. The track coach from the facility asked me to tell Brian not to drop the shot as it would damage the concrete. I went up to Brian and told him what the coach had asked. Brian immediately dropped the shot and dust flew up from the concrete.  He said, ‘Like this?’ I turned and the coach had walked away.

Then two track girls from the school came up to him, asked him what all those muscles were for. He said, ‘So I can fuck the both of you at the same time standing up.’ The girls fled.

The third moment came a day later. Edwin Moses refused to run and I was trying to think of something else or a way to get him to run.  The dailies from the previous days shoot came and I began to screen them on a moviola in the back of a van. I was watching Brian’s previous day’s work. A voice came from behind.  ‘That’s Brian.’

Moses was looking over my shoulder at Brian putting the shot in slow motion. Moses watched for a moment or two, then said, ‘I’ll run.’


Middle Distance Running World Record

When Mary showed up for the shoot, she said she wouldn’t/couldn’t run because of training issues. What I later found was that she had run earlier for a print shoot session for the same campaign I was doing.

What to do?

I decided to just film her at the start awaiting the starter’s pistol surrounded by the athletes we had booked for the shoot. I had the starter call the athletes to the start and I told him to fire off the pistol at the appropriate time and let’s see what would happen. He did and Mary ran. 


She floated across the landscape while the other girls labored, fighting gravity.

This was before the heartbreak of her fall in the Olympics, but I’ll never forget watching her run so beautifully.


American League Most Valuable Player

Pepsi. Vlad. A-Rod. We’re doing a Pepsi version of the McD SHOWDOWN spot. Don comes up to me and says that Vlad is very rude, just staring at him while Don speaks. 

‘Don, Vlad doesn’t speak English.’


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I worked with Strahan several times, but the one I remember was his participating in the NEW YORK MIRACLE campaign after 9/11.  We had done the first batch but there were some comments that there were no Black people in the campaign, so we redressed that. The spot Strahan volunteered to do was one that Vanessa Williams kicked a field goal with her high heels, while Strahan and Jason Sehorn watched.

Strahan was really late, maybe an hour, and even though it was a freebee, it showed a lack of respect for the other performers (and the crew). I commented on his lateness when he got there, and he gave me one of those ‘looks.’ I didn’t care because Vanessa was the star of the show.  I did wonder why he didn’t get his tooth-gap fixed.


3000 Meter Steeplechase World Champion

Kenya. Pepsi. White Rhino.

I’m in Kenya, one of my favorite places on earth and filming a Pepsi commercial with Moses and another great African runner. I ask Moses why Kenyans are the greatest long-distance runners on earth. He says that everyone in Kenya lives far away from each other and if you have a girlfriend and don’t run, you won’t see her that often and that’s not good. In other words, the best runner has the best girlfriend.


NCAA Basketball Champion

Knight was cast cleverly as a good guy coach for a Minute Maid Orange Juice commercial.  The idea was that he was a sweetheart, a contradiction to his reputation.  At first, he refused to wear the red sweater that he had worn before his firing at Indiana, but the client mentioned that it was in his contract, so I didn’t have to finesse him. Knight embraced all the various scenes and was a delight. There were several game scenes and I had hired a bunch of real coaches as assistants in the shots and after each take, they gathered around Coach Knight to pick his brain, something he did gladly.

There were a bunch of extras as players and I had Coach design plays for the foreground action. There was one kid that kept messing up the play, but it wasn’t important because the players were out of focus in the foreground, but coach would leap from his seat and admonish the player (who really was clueless). I told coach it wasn’t really that important and he told me it was to him, so I shut up and deferred.

I can’t lie. We were on pins and needles the whole time because of Coach’s reputation.  At one point he disappeared, and I asked Austin where he had gone.  We both felt he had gotten irritated with our processes and left, but he had just gone to the john.

The spot was terrific but there were complaints when it ran, and they took it off the air.

Cowards, all.


NFL Champion

Bobby Layne was terrific quarterback for the Detroit Lions and won three NFL Championships with them in the 50’s. After his third championship he was mysteriously traded to the Steelers and made them a respectable team. One of his regrets was that he never won a championship for the Steelers and their owner Art Rooney.

When Lite Beer was doing their famous retired athletes commercials, Iron City Beer, in Pittsburgh, wanted to do a copycat spot with the by then retired Bobby Layne, still a local hero.  The spot was simple enough, Layne sitting at a bar doing clever dialogue.

We get there early, lit the place and waited. Layne shows up, red eyed. It turns out that the Iron City people, and some Steelers people, had a party for him the night before, but with guys like Layne, night turns into day quickly, and there was a lot of party residue left.  In the spot, Layne is holding a glass of beer, and before the prop-master could take it from him after each take, Layne would pound it down. Did you ever try to take a bone from a Tibetan Mastiff?

It didn’t take long for Layne to become shitfaced and that was that. I don’t think we got anything coherent and the Iron City Beer Miller rip-off never ran.


Olympic Gold Medalist

It was the OPERA series of commercials for Nike.  Watts was supposed to leap offstage to avoid a planned marriage with a portly diva. We had built the ‘stage’ on stage. Watts was to leap over the orchestra pit and we had designed it to be about a three or four foot leap.  Easy.

His agent wouldn’t let him do it.

His father wouldn’t let him do it.

He wouldn’t do it.

I did it myself several times to show how easy it was. We had left the leap as one of the last things so there was no way to find a double in time. 

Another day, another dollar.

I did kick his sorry ass on the basketball court at lunch that day, though.

The spot won a gold lion at Cannes.

The double we used was the same double I used for MJ in commercials and SPACE JAM.


Olympic Gold Medalist

I did the Lil’ Penny Nike advertising campaign.  I never questioned why Stacy had so little confidence in Penny that he used a puppet for an anti-hero, but Hardaway never complained, I guess that it took a lot of pressure away from him.

One of the perks was that we used Tyra Banks a few times.

My favorite was the spot, FROZEN PENNY, that was a satire on the Michael Jordan spot, FROZEN MOMENT. Michael busted my chops when he saw it, but…


NCAA, NBA Champion.

First name basis. Everybody knows Kareem.

I was doing an APPLE commercial where he is in a cramped seat in an airplane. Coach. Why would Kareem fly coach? He’s using a laptop computer when laptop computers were just being introduced. Paul Ben-Victor, the actor, was sitting near him. Paul asked me to call a break.


‘I’m getting a contact high.’

Kareem was noted for his pot smoking. He claimed he used it to relieve headache pain. Tommy Chong said that weed added eight years to Kareem’s career.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

The commercial was interesting.  It was a Disney Super Bowl commercial with various competing players rehearsing ‘I’m going to Disney World,’ the phrase that the chosen winning player says at game’s end.

The two teams were the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  We were filming in the extra week before the game so there was a bit of leeway, but we needed the extra time for editing (and approvals). 

Big Ben was one of the chosen ones that we were to film in Pittsburgh.  When we discussed what each player should do, I came up with the suggestion that Big Ben be rehearsing in the shower.  I thought that the sound of the shower and the echoes would be interesting. Big Ben didn’t.

We met at the practice facility and Big Ben had two HUGE bodyguards with him, three- hunnert pounders. They responded to everything with Soviet style stoicism. None of the other players we worked with had bodyguards. He disliked the shower scene. He didn’t have the best body so working out wasn’t an option, so I suggested using his bodyguards and him in a diner. That way he couldn’t really refuse since it gave his guys some work. We checked with the local location scout and he showed pictures of a decent place and we got a few locals as extras and shot the scene. Big Ben’s bodyguards turned out to be decent performers and helped save the day. I shot some shower stuff and we voiced it with him, so everything turned out okay, but his reluctance to do the shower scene was irritating, a disappointment.

That makes two, Big Ben and Broadway Joe.


NBA Champion

I only worked with Garnett once, in a L’il Penny commercial. In the spot he expressed disappointment at not being cast for one of Penny’s bigger productions. I think it was his first year in the league as he was but a teenager, but he did a terrific job playing hurt by the snub.

He had a great NBA career even though I never worked with him again (whatever that means).


NCAA Basketball Champion

I met him on an ESPN shoot, and he looked like a young college kid, not a major college coach. He was dressed impeccably, and we did what we had to do quickly.  A few years go by and we’re together again. He has won NCAA Basketball Championships back to back and he has aged not at all.

I’ll have what he’s having.

He asks if I want to shoot and play H.O.R.S.E. and I say I want to play one on one. He says, forget it, you’ll just post me up. Not fair. 

Are you listening Charles?


World Series Champion

The BIG UNIT was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  We worked together on a Pepsi Max baseball campaign that had a number of other great players.  One of the ‘stunts’ that Johnson had to do was to throw a plastic Pepsi Max bottle at the camera from roughly the distance of the pitcher’s mound to home plate, sixty feet, six inches. 

He threw it and he hit dead center. 


Tennis World Number One

Everyone knows about McEnroe’s temper (and tantrums). He was booked by Nike for the BO KNOWS commercial. The Nike and Wieden folk were concerned that we wouldn’t get along. What Mac had to do was simple, hit the ball (a winner) turn and ask, ‘Bo knows tennis?’ I had a good friend, a tennis pro, there to hit with him. McEnroe and I met, he understood, and did a take or two. We went to video playback and he made a comment that perhaps the camera didn’t follow properly. The agency guys looked at me expecting a tirade (I guess). I just acquiesced and filmed another take.

McEnroe did one of the kindest gestures ever. He was questioned by the LA Times about the shoot and he mentioned that my friend was a human backboard and they published that quote. My friend has that framed and hanging on his wall, still.


Tennis World Number One

I have no memory of the details of working with Courier. I do know it was an early Nike spot and all the early Nike spots were good.


World Series Champion

I worked with A- Rod several times with Nike and Pepsi.  The first Nike spot was right after his rookie year and he was in a scene with Fedorov, the hockey player, and both were astonishing handsome. They were only a fragment in the spot, overwhelmed by other celebrity athletes and performers, Tiger Woods, Stevie Wonder, Tyra Banks. 

The second time we were doing a Pepsi rip-off of the McD SHOWDOWN spot with MJ and Bird.  Barry Bonds was on his way to breaking the all- time home run record and A-Rod and I were chatting about it.  A- Rod said that he and Barry agreed that eventually A- Rod would break Bonds’ record but that Bonds said that he would be grateful that he held it for a time.  We finished the spot and it was okay, but not up to SHOWDOWN.

The wheels came off A-Rod’s quest when he ran into some steroid issues that confused the last few years of his career.  He may have surpassed Bonds, but…


Stanley Cup Champion

Gordie and I worked together on a series of IBM commercials. Howe held every hockey record until Wayne Gretzky came along and broke most of them. Until then, Howe could be considered the Babe Ruth of Hockey, now he’s the Lou Gehrig. The filming was uneventful, and Howe and Stan Mikita were fine. Chris wrote simple and witty dialogue that the guys could do well. I got a couple of signed hockey sticks and I have no idea what to do with them.


NCAA Football All American

Al is best known for driving the White Bronco with O. J.  It holds the Guinness World Record for the slowest car chase in history. The fact is, that it wasn’t a chase at all, just an O. J. mental breakdown. Al, being O. J.’s best friend at the time, tried to help him, as Simpson was suicidal. The press for some reason called it a chase even though it was more of a procession. I won’t get into the absurdity of O. J.’s ‘guilt.’ There was not one piece of evidence against him, and all the police perjured themselves, but racist white America thinks he’s guilty. 

Anyway, Al and I met in the early eighties. I had cast him in a Bud Light football commercial and he coordinated other stuff for me. He gave me the nickname, Jomama. He was dynamic and handsome and charismatic. 

I’ve lost touch since the ‘Chase.’


World Series Champion

Yogi was the most unlikely great baseball player ever. He was short, stout, and looked nothing like an athlete. His manager, Casey Stengel, said ‘He was a strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.’ Being from Pittsburgh, my favorite Yogi moment was watching him see Bill Mazeroski’s home run go over the wall to beat the Yankees in the 1960 World Series. Berra was playing left field, not catching and he turned quickly as the ball went over the fence (high over the fence) and trotted back to his dugout before the ball hit the ground. The ball was said to have traveled 430 feet.

I worked with him twice, once for PEPSI, and once for THE NEW YORK MIRACLE. He was a delight both times. His tag line or THE NEW YORK MIRACLE was ‘What’s this Phil-Harmonic, thing?’  It went over everyone’s head, including yours.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Elway did the Super Bowl Lay’s spots and some MVP dot com stuff. The Super bowl stuff was for halftime and was the campaign where LT left early. The funny thing about Elway was that he brought his wife to the set, and she was never more than a few feet away from him the whole time. 

The MVP shoot was more about Jordan than the others. MJ was pissed  because we got into a game of two on two and he told me he vowed not to play with me ever, but…


Stanley Cup Champion

Patrick is an astonishingly handsome man, unmarked by the vicious game he plays. We did a few McDonald’s commercials, for the Winter Olympics and for a Monopoly promotion. He was beyond pleasant and workable, but looked like a teenager, a huge contrast to Howe and Mikita. Kane’s fame began when he scored the winning goal for Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup, Chicago’s first in almost fifty years.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I was ‘commissioned’ to film a NFL Super Bowl commercial that was an idea competition prizewinner. The spot was about fans who were sad that their team wasn’t in the Super Bowl. The idea needed an ending and at that time Brett Favre was undecided about whether he would return. I thought his dilemma would tie in with the other notes and the NFL agreed. I wanted him to be practicing golf, but the NFL thought that he should still have a football. I shot it both ways, but the football won. 

Sadly (for the spot) Favre announced his decision before the Super Bowl and destroyed the ending.


World Series Champion

Pepsi Max had cast a bunch of major league players for a baseball season campaign and Schmidt was one of them. The idea was loosely based on the movie FIELD OF DREAMS where old and new players gathered around a Pepsi Machine in the cornfields. The idea worked better than it sounds.

Schmidt had the reputation of being a badass. He sat alone at the edge of the stage.  I went over and asked why he was sitting there.  He was non-committal. I dragged him over to where the other players were sitting and he blended right in…and had a good time. 


NCAA Basketball Champion

Al McGuire was probably more famous as an announcer than player or coach.  He played in the black and white days of basketball, then coached until he won an unlikely championship with the Marquette University basketball team, then he retired. We worked together on a NIKE campaign that involved a number of coaches, including Coach K, Rick Patino, and a few others. There were so many that I wasn’t able to spend any quality time with coach. I would have loved to have him describe the changes from the early fifties when he played pro ball, to the present. 



Heavyweight Boxing Champion

We worked together a few times for Doritos. George had a terrific personality, and I couldn’t imagine him being a fighter. He had named each of his four sons, George, and that was the ‘joke’ of one of the commercials. His sons were fabulous as well, and George loved them all and they loved him, and it showed in the spot. It was impossible to relate him to THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE.


Baseball Hall of Fame

The baseball Pepsi Max shoot was a treasure trove of great baseball players and Thome was one of them. His achievements as a power hitter during the notorious and controversial ‘steroid era’ are remarkable and have never been questioned, maybe because Thome was a ‘good guy.’ The thing that stood out was being part of a discussion about batting that Thome was having and listening to his talk of studying Babe Ruth’s batting style. Babe Ruth revolutionized batting. Thome said that Babe Ruth was the first batter that used hip rotation and added the power of the lower body to batting technique and that is why his early home run output was so astonishing.

I was amazed that Thome was such a student and went so far back in his homework. When he retired, Thome was one of the greatest home run hitters of all time and he is a great guy as well.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

THE BUS (his nickname) was a delight to work with. Painless. We first worked on an ESPN spot with the Poker Dogs, but the best was for Disney and the Super Bowl that the Steelers won. Bettis retired soon after. The Steelers got Bettis from the Los Angeles Rams in a strange trade, and Bettis was a stellar running back and the Rams got little for him. Bettis became an all-time great on the Steelers and the trade remains a mystery to this day.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I have two instances where I worked with Rice, both fragments. The first was an adjunct to the Bo Jackson campaign, THE BO SHOW. Rice and Darryl Strawberry had their moment at the end. That day I had to film a bunch of other athletes, so I wasn’t able to spend any downtime with any of them. The second time was the infamous GEORGE PLIMPTON campaign for Nike that never ran. He was also a fragment with Plimpton and Steve Young.

The thing I had hoped to get was the difference that he felt between Steve Young and my hometown favorite, Joe Montana. It never happened.


Stanley Cup Champion

Worked with him twice, both near disasters. Not my fault.

The first time as on a L’il Penny Super Bowl spot when he was paired with a young A-Rod in a brief scene. The scene was so short in the final cut that it was almost invisible. When I filmed it I felt that the two of them were the most handsome men in history.

The second time was for a Fed Ex spot with the Detroit Red Wings. He seemed upset with me when we met, and I asked why. He said that he didn’t like being almost edited out of the Nike spot.  I told him to blame Phil Knight, not me. I also tried to save the moment by telling him he had a great girlfriend, Kournikova. He said, ‘If she only be my girlfriend.’ I found out later that she was cheating on him with another hockey player, Pavel Bure, another Russian cutie.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Bubka was a great pole vaulter, and we did a spot together for the Nike Opera Campaign. The spot was called THE MAGIC SHOE and Bubka was kind enough and courageous enough to reference his (in)famous Olympic failures. Although Bubka had set every pole-vaulting record known to man, he only won Olympic gold once in several different Olympic attempts. He suffered through a Russian boycott, a foot injury, and other circumstances that foiled him in Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney. The commercial was great, though. Gold.


FIFA World Cup Champion

It was Nike’s first attempt at soccer and Warren had come up with an idea of ‘Dueling Billboards.’ Nike signed a bunch of soccer stars. I didn’t know anything about soccer and was filming some of the players in Barcelona. What they had to do was simple, taking one or two takes in front of a green screen. I had nothing in common, so we just did the deed and shook hands.

I didn’t realize that I was working with the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of soccer.


NBA Champion

LeBron has been compared to MJ. Not!

I worked with LeBron twice, both pleasant experiences. The first was the umpteenth rip-off of MJ and Bird’s NOTHING BUT NET. We shot in Indianapolis where hos co- star, Dwight Howard was playing. We had a few hours, maybe four and LeBron was a delight, charming, understanding, helpful, all the things that MJ never was. He was a more secure performer as well, having done tons of commercials by then.

We had no real connection. He did what he had to and left, with his entourage.

The other time was another McDonald’s commercial a few years later promoting a Monopoly Game promo.  It had to do with his return to Cleveland. The Cleveland police were uncooperative, so we shot the establishing shots in Akron, his real hometown. He did a good job turning on his charm (and great smile) when he had to. This time he had a larger entourage, and handlers. He was pleasant, but I felt a little resentment. He may have felt that because of the many times I had worked with MJ (and SPACE JAM).


FIFA World Cup Champion

I remarked that Bebeto and Romario were like the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of Soccer. They teamed to win a record four World Cup titles for Brazil. I said earlier that I had no idea who they were since I had no idea about anything pertaining to soccer. I think that Bebeto can be called the Babe Ruth model since his name has Babe in it (sort of).


Olympic Gold Medalist

I worked with Moses on a Kodak commercial for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, but it was in the transition period about the definition of amateur, and expenses were liberalized, so much so that Moses arrived in a Mercedes Sedan. He wouldn’t run for some reason and that was a dilemma because we weren’t prepared for him to do anything else. He referred to an old script that had him getting flowers from a little girl at the finish line in front of a cheering crowd. We didn’t have a little girl and we didn’t have a cheering crowd and we didn’t have flowers, so…

The agency people scrambled for an answer. We had similar issues earlier in the day with Mary Decker. Disgusted, I went to the back of the production van to screen the previous days dailies on a moviola. We watched Brian Oldfield putting the shot in slow motion, muscles rippling, grimacing.  I hear a voice…

‘That’s Brian.’

Moses behind me, had been watching.


‘Looks good.’


‘I… can run.


NCAA, NBA, Olympic Champion

I worked with Magic a bunch of times, for Pepsi. The best was a Pepsi spot supporting him after his infamous HIV announcement, courageous for him and for Pepsi. In the day, I always taunted Michael that Magic was better since he won an NBA title as a rookie without Kareem, playing every position.


American League MVP

We were doing a Nike commercial with Ken Griffey Jr. running across country to catch a fly ball. The guy that hits the ball is Don Mattingly, with the Yankees. Griffey was then playing for Seattle. We got a bunch of minor league players for the shots in Yankee Stadium, including the pitcher that serves up the ball. All the guy had to do was get the ball over the middle of the plate so Mattingly could hit it properly. It was important that the pitcher ‘put something on it’ so Mattingly would look good.

The guy’s first pitch hits Mattingly.

I explode! ‘What in the fuck are you fucking doing? Jesus, Fucking, Christ!’

Mattingly interrupted.

“Joe, don’t worry.  It didn’t hurt.’

Perfect insult.


Premier League Champion

Cantona had the reputation (deserved) as being a bad boy of soccer, a history of fighting with teammates, referees, spectators, judges, you name it. It got so bad that his agents had him play in England rather than his native France. We were filming him for the Nike Billboard spot and he was loath to do anything special, so I just had him stand against the green screen and turned the camera on and had someone kick the ball to him. He just captured the ball and dribbled it a bit in place.

Warren panicked.

‘Relax.  We still got guys to shoot and we can do some stuff to make this work.’

We did and it worked but then Warren came up with another idea to take advantage of Cantona’s bad boy image. Nike was courageous then.  The idea was to have Cantona tell the story of calling someone, a referee, a judge, a coach, a ‘piece of sheet (shit).’ It was based on fact and we knew that the spot would never run but…

Warren had asked me if he could direct as he was trying to move on. ‘Of course.’ I shot, Warrne directed.  He did, the spot never ran but it made the papers, especially in England.

Time goes by and Warren is cold to me. Eventually it turns out that he’s pissed because the spot had been entered in award shows with my name attached as director.

‘Gee, Warren, your people entered the spot. Didn’t you tell them that you directed?’


Women’s Basketball Olympic Gold Medal

Kay was a great woman’s coach and coached the Olympic Champions while suffering from the cancer that eventually took her life. Back in the day, when Nike had a heart, they put her in a commercial about coaches with some of the male greats. I didn’t have much time to chat or bond but that tiny experience was special. Thanks Nike. When are you coming back?


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Being a Pittsburgher I probably love Harris more than I should, but I feel he’s the best running back of all time and seriously underrated. He was a Super Bowl MVP and his ‘Immaculate Reception’ is considered the greatest football play of all time.

We worked together on an IBM spot and later that evening had dinner. There were many, many, many celebrities that came to our table ‘just to say, hi.’ They didn’t come to see me.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I worked with Long several times for Pepsi and for Fox Sports. He was affable enough but there was a dark side. During the Pepsi shoot, Tom Landry was having trouble with his lines and Long taunted him from behind. I let it slide because Landry didn’t hear him, but I thought that Mike Ditka, a great friend of Landry, would go at Long but nothing happened.

On one of the Fox shoots, I upgraded an extra and gave him a line but the guy turned out to be a dud and a faker. SAG was letting anyone with a Taft Hartley note in but since the guy has a card I assumed (bad choice) that the guy could act, since the union represented him as an actor. The guy kept messing up a simple moment and was destroying the timing of the scene. I found that he could barely speak English. I became furious because the guy was a fraud. Long took him aside and tried to console him, something Long would have never done on a football field. I just cut the thing to stop wasting production time. Later, Long disparaged me on his blog for not being kinder to the guy.

Gee, Howie, remember Landry?


NFL Super Bowl Champion

We were doing a Super Bowl spot in Pittsburgh and the client asked to have some Disney stuff around. Ward already had a Mickey Mouse tattoo. Go figure.


NFL Hall Of Fame

T. O. was always a controversial figure with his excessive flamboyant celebrations after scoring a touchdown and he scored many. Chiat Day was given a McDonald’s assignment and they wrote a spot using Owens at the height of one of his controversies. I expected the worst on the day of the shoot, but he was a delight. We shot some hoops between setups and gossiped a bit and filmed several versions of the script without a problem. McDonald’s didn’t run the spots because of T. O’s various controversies, the original reason to do the work. 

Shame (and stupid).


PGA Player of the Year

IBM. Watson. Watson. 

Watson is an IBM developed system that answers questions voiced by the user. I’m sure that it has other capabilities but I have no idea about that despite designing what Watson looks like and doing a mess of commercials for Watson and IBM.  I don’t know whether using Tom Watson was a clever idea from someone, but by that time Ogilvy and IBM were short on clever.

Watson was a great guy, but he humiliated me when he asked me to hold a club. I had mentioned that I had tried golf for a short while way, way back and when I grabbed the club, he said that it was obvious that I had never taken a lesson (to the crew’s delight).  He adjusted my grip, and a shock went through me as I felt power surge from the earth, through me, and into the club.  I didn’t want to let go. That had never happened in all the times I had worked with Tiger. 

Watson was famous for playing well in bad weather and I had suggested filming the spot in the rain. Of course, the agency demurred, but I made sure that we had rain ability on set and during our conversations, I mentioned the rain idea to Watson, and he agreed. I had a little time left and we filmed a rain version (that ran).


Baseball Hall of Fame

It was for an ESPN spot, and we were filming in Dodger Stadium. The scene was simple, a one-liner while sitting in the dugout in street clothes. Piazza asked if he should wear a Dodger cap.  I thought for a second and said, no, since all the others in the spot were in normal garb. After the shot we were traveling to the next location when we heard that Piazza had been traded to the Mets.


Volleyball Offensive Player of the Year

I worked with Reece on the L’il Penny Super Bowl Party commercial and then filmed her for a part in the Beatles video, FREE AS A BIRD. She played Polythene Pam but we had to cut her for some reason, probably McCartney’s notion. She was a sunning six three and had a mix of beauty, feminism, and athleticism. Special.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

A lot of nonsense came out of the LAY’S Super Bowl commercials shoot. Landry was the star, but Howie Long messed with him when Tom lost some of his lines. Inappropriate. I asked Landry about Mike Ditka, and Landry was very kind to say that he always saw something unique and special in Mike. At one point during the two day filming, I stumbled across the two of them sitting away from everyone, talking quietly. 

I felt I had violated something sacred.


World Champion Motocross

I loved dirt racing on motorcycles and wanted to do a documentary on the sport, a sport that didn’t really exist in the United States being almost purely European. I rode a Husqvarna motorcycle and contacted Edison Dye, the American importer to get an entrée into the sport. My dealer and his top mechanic were great racers, having won gold at the International Six Day Trials in Europe, a major motorcycle challenge. I met Edison at the trials in Austria to see what was happening and he set me up to see some races in Belgium. 

I was astonished at what they were doing.

Edison sponsored a series of races in the States to promote the sport and we (I had a partner at the time) got Champion Spark Plugs to finance a doc. I shot a race at mid-Ohio and then went to California to film a race at Westlake Village, north of Los Angeles. Joel Robert and Roger De Coster were the Husky riders and they stomped the yard, not an American in sight.

I ran into Steve McQueen there and introduced him to Edison Dye. A few months later Steve McQueen was on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine riding a Husky.


PGA Masters Tournament Champion

I only worked with Phil once and that was a delight. He was always a nemesis because he seemed to be Tiger’s main threat in the many years I worked with Woods. They were fierce competitors. I didn’t know what to think when we first met. I remember that Shaq had a resentment about MJ when I met him, but Phil was charming, cooperative, and engaging. The spot was simple (for him) but was a bit of a production nightmare but everything went well and it was funny, as it was supposed to be (but not at his expense).

I resented all the time I felt he was the enemy, but this ‘redemption’ was rewarding.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I resented Steve Young because he replaced my home town boy Joe Montana before Montana was finished. We first met on the great Nike campaign based on George Plimpton’s book, PAPER LION. The campaign was brilliant but never ran, because a newby at Nike didn’t think it was relevant. 

Plimpton and Young got along well, and a lot of their improvisations made the cut (so what?).  I think there was a moment when I told Young to go fuck himself because when we later worked on an ESPN campaign, he mentioned it to the others in the spots. I don’t remember saying it, but I probably did because I’ve probably said that to just about everyone at some point.


NFL Defensive Player of the Year

It was a commercial featuring Nike athletes and announcers to run on the Super Bowl. Butkus was one of the many announcers cast. Even though I was from Pittsburgh, I felt that he was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, linebacker ever. It was sad to see him hobbling around on his worn- out knees. 

He came to me after meeting the others and said that he couldn’t do the spot.


‘Curt Gowdy is here and I don’t deserve to be onstage with him.’

I was shocked at his reverence and respect but somehow talked him into doing his part.  It all worked out and the commercial was the most popular on the Super Bowl that year.


Baseball World Series Champion

Worked with him twice, both for Brand Jordan.  He was swell.  Of course, he was a New York hero. I was waiting for a table at the New York restaurant, Balthazar. I saw Jeter waiting against the wall. I went over and we shook hands and I said that if he had to wait for a table, I had no chance.


World Champion Rodeo Cowboy Team Roper

Ben Johnson did the voiceover for a western short I did. He was one of my favorites because of my love of western movies when I was young, especially his performance in SHANE. I was heartened when he screened the short and remarked that ‘you had some real cowboys there.’

The best story, though, was about advice he got when he worked on a western movie in Oklahoma, his home state. I remember the advice coming from John Ford, but other stories credit Howard Hawks. Ben was offered a job in Hollywood. The way Johnson told it was ‘I’m an ignorant cowboy, but even at that, I realized that two hundred dollars a week in Hollywood was a better deal that fifty dollars a month in Oklahoma.’

The short won a prestigious Wrangler Award in the Oklahoma City, Cowboy Hall of Fame festival and Johnson was there to accept with us.


NFL Walter Payton Award

Fox Sports. Tony Romo. Terry Bradshaw. Howie Long. Jimmy Jordan.

Romo was a basic unknown when we did this stuff but he more than held his own with those guys. In his later career, he never really got ‘there’ but he was funny and personable. Now he’s a great football announcer.


WBCA Player of the Year

Nike. Cheryl Miller. Women’s Revolution commercial.

Filmed her playing ball for the spot.  Played her one on one. She had no chance. Women are better now. I ran into her again when I was filming SPACE JAM at The Garden in New York.  She had no idea who I was.


Champion Big Wave Surfer

I’m in San Onofre filming a bunch of old guy surfers to melancholy John Coltrane music. A really good- looking guy shows up, Laird Hamilton. I’m told that Nike wants him in the commercial.  Where? The story is a fragile one, a bunch of over sixty guys that get together to surf, like in the old days. One has written a poem about them, the sea, the surf. I guess Nike has started to lose it. I shoot Laird surfing in bad light. I’m saving the good light for the old guys.  Laird does a handstand on the board. Terrific. But where? Nike does a mishmash edit to some funky music that has nothing to do with the original idea. I enter the Coltrane original in Cannes and it gets a Lion. The other ‘thing’ doesn’t. This is in no way a criticism of Laird.  I never saw anyone do a handstand on a surfboard before.


NCAA Basketball Champion

I’m from a Polish background and my last name has five letters and four are consonants. Coach K is the same background, and his last name is longer with more consonants and it’s impossible to spell and more impossible to pronounce without serious help.

I worked with him several times and it was a hoot. The first time was for Nike and the spot reprised a revisit to the great championship game where his Duke team beat Rick Patino’s Kentucky team. That was a quickie. The second time was for a hip replacement commercial. We filmed at Duke and the basketball facility was astonishing. The thing that got me was his powerful demeanor on the court that reminded me of Bobby Knight, but then I realized that Knight was Coach K’s mentor and we spoke of that a bit.

He also told me that he raised most of the money for the facility himself, through donor basketball events. They would be on court and he would sidle up to a fat cat and suggest that the team needed something and soon, ‘the check was in the mail.’


NFL Hall of Fame

Moss and Michael. Randy was doing a spot for MJ’s new line of shoes and clothing.  He had a reputation of being a bad ass. The shoot was uneventful, and we shook hands and he thanked me and that was that. We later worked on a spot for ESPN with the Poker Dogs, again, uneventful.


Primera División de México Golden Glove

Nike was still a growth company, and they were growing into soccer. Warren had a great idea to have players kick the ball from one billboard to another across the world, so Nike booked a group of the greatest players in the world. The goalie was Campos.

He had a colorful reputation, literally. He was famous for the various colorful outfits he wore. Because of athlete’s availabilities, we traveled to where they were, but some would travel to where we were.  The two main locations were Barcelona and London. Campos was supposed to meet us at both places but he was a no show. Warren asked what to do and I said recast. Not an option. Then let’s go to Mexico City. We can also shoot some backgrounds there, plus he lives there so there should be  no excuses. We travel to Mexico City, and we set up our green screen in a practice field at Campos’ facility. 

We wait.…and we wait some more.

Finally a group shows and our emissary goes to greet them. They huddle for a bit and Campos’ agent comes over to us and asks who I’ve worked with.  Is that a question of my credibility? Campos is over with his crowd checking things out.

I answer: ‘Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan…’

The emissary leaves in mid-sentence and goes back to the group.  We get the shot.


Olympic Gold Medalist

I did a NIKE spot with Flo- Jo and Jackie-Joyner, two of the all-time greats. I can’t find the spot and I can only remember working with them.


NBA Champion

I did a bunch of spots with Shaq. The first won a Gold Lion at Cannes. He was always a delight, great smile, big heart, great sense of humor. He held his own with Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Cindy Crawford, Woody Woodpecker, Michael J. Fox, Rob Reiner, lots.  We had a great run with Pepsi, other stars, dancers, you got it.  Now we see  him in about fifty unmemorable commercials an evening.

He was the most memorable physical human being ever and I worked with Bo, MJ, Kareem…  On one shoot, he arrived on set and swept me up to his shoulders with one arm. I weighed two forty. I told him he’d better put me down. He asked ‘why.’  I said,’ If I get hurt they’ll have to get another director and you’ll never get out of here.’ He set me down gently.

I’ve cursed the Lakers ever since they traded him. 


American League Most Valuable Player

Pepsi booked a bunch of all-time great baseball players for a series of commercials for Pepsi Max.  Rickie was one of the entourage. There were maybe two or three scenes that feature him but mostly in incidental roles, so I didn’t have any real involvement with him, but just being there was enough.


Tennis World Number One

I worked with Connors a long, long time ago. I don’t remember if it was for Nike or for Pepsi as a lot of the work intertwined. It was just a small bit, taking little time, part of a bigger theme. I have a great friend who is a tennis teacher and we once discussed how the game has improved but that we like to watch women’s tennis more than men’s. He told me that Serena’s serve is faster than Connor’s was in his prime. 

Technology or talent?


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Like Bo, Deion was a two sport pro. I worked with him a bunch of times for Nike, Pepsi, and the NFL Network.

When we worked with Denis Leary, Deion had no idea who Leary was or what he was doing there.  I forget who worked out that bit of miscommunication. One day we were shooting during baseball season and he was playing against the New York Mets. The Riz had missed a shot he needed and we asked Deion whether he could do it the next morning before his game. I promised that it would be quick. He consented and we got the shot in time for him to get to Shea and the game without incident. That afternoon I was on my way to Kennedy and I asked the driver to put the game on. I was concerned about our shoot that morning affecting Deion’s performance.

Deion had four hits and two stolen bases.

Years go by and we meet again doing some NFL Network stuff.  Deion tells me that the Pepsi spot we did together with The Roadrunner made him a hero to his kids.

Some say he’s the greatest football player ever. It’s hard to argue with that.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Manning was/ is a treasure. We worked together once, for a Gatorade commercial in Miami, soon after his Super Bowl loss there. One of the agency guys asked him how it felt filming in the same place that you lost the Super Bowl. Manning didn’t walk off the set as he should have.

He was hurting from recent neck surgery so I was careful to film everything so that he didn’t have to dress and redress, shoulder pads, jerseys, etc. The still photographers on the set weren’t so careful.

Time goes by and I’m filming in New Orleans. Some guys walk by the production center that we have at the hotel. They come back. It’s Peyton, his brother, and his Dad. I stupidly ask what he’s doing in New Orleans. He tells me he lives there. My bad.

The visit is fabulous and the production people are blown away.


NBA Champion

Hakeem was a part of a Frito Lay spot that included Scottie Pippen and David Robinson, so I didn’t give him much attention. It was a silly idea about three extra tall guys that wander into a failing men’s clothing store. We shot out in the desert for some reason. Hakeem won two NBA Championships, but I don’t give him credit since MJ was ‘retired’ then.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Joe was one of the athletes that worked on the (in)famous POKER DOGS commercials for ESPN. He was a good sport because the spot was a satire on his horrible accident.


NFL Most Valuable Player

We worked together twice. The L’il Penny Super Bowl commercial, and a part of the infamous Plimpton, Paper Lion campaign. Barry was a sweetheart, insanely pleasant, joyous. The saddest thing is what a great running back he was and the fact that his career wasn’t as fulfilled as it should have been.

Whose is?


Stanley Cup Champion

Steve wrote a Hockey campaign for IBM that referenced some new option that IBM offered. For some reason we didn’t use the blue letterbox that I had designed. Geoffrey designed and built a set that resembles a remote bar/ restaurant at the edge of the arctic (do you pronounce the first ‘c’).  Gordie Howe and Stan Mikita were cast. They did well although I don’t remember what they had to do.

Stan was infamous for using a curved hockey stick that was eventually banned. I know nothing about hockey except that the guys are all badasses. I was told that Stan was one of the baddest asses of all, so I was extremely careful.


World Series Champion

I remembered Lasorda most for the tirade against a pitcher that was recorded. It confirmed a truth I had always suspected. The pitcher was Doug Rau and Lasorda blasphemed a great deal while he took him away. Loved it.

Lasorda had a part in a public service ad that Steve wrote after 9/11.       

Lasorda busted my chops before the shoot. I kinda felt like Doug Rau.


AFL Player of the Year

Boomer was part of the infamous Lay’s Super Bowl shoot. He and I were shooting hoops when I was told that LT wanted to kick my ass.

Bring it on.

Anyway, we were talking and Boomer told me how tough it was to play Monday Night Football. He was having a bad night once, being sacked consistently and imagining what the announcers were saying. He also was hysterically  funny about a not so hysterically funny story. Almost his entire team had been charged with rape in a hotel room and most had identified themselves.  Boomer asked me what it would feel like in the huddle if you looked at your teammates and they were all rapists?  He made that horrible moment funny.


NBA Champion

David was one of the most intelligent, engaging athletes ever. We worked together in several Nike spots, including BARBERSHOP, DORITOS, and an IBM spot where he played against and won by dunking, something the computer couldn’t do.

David had a magnificent physique and a disposition to match. One thing I noticed was that when I first met him, he was extremely articulate, but through the years he acquired some ghetto-slang in his speech patterns. I don’t know whether that was a conscious effort or just an acquired taste.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Disney made a deal with a bunch of Pittsburgh Steelers for a Super Bowl commercial. The athletes were to rehearse the speech (if they won), ‘I’m goin’ to Disney World.’  Joey Porter, an outside linebacker, was one of the selects. His scene was rehearsing while in the whirlpool bath and while filling his car (truck) with gas. The scene with the gas filling went fine, especially since it had started to snow. The pool scene was more important since he would be effectively naked and the performance would be more critical

He took off his robe to get into the pool and his physique was insane. Porter is in the whirlpool, I shout action and he starts, ‘I’m going to Disney World.’ He shook his head criticizing his performance and it was better than anything I could have thought of. I held my finger to my lips and turned to the clients so they wouldn’t mess up the scene.  They didn’t. 

The Steelers won the Super Bowl.


Olympic Champion

We did a few Nike spots together. The first was the SKIDMARK campaign where we filmed  bunch of Nike athletes just hanging out. Tim hit on my attractive niece that was working during the summer. She had no idea who he was and when he said, ‘I’m Tim Hardaway,’ She replied, ‘I don’t know anything about football.’

He was at his best during the BARBERSHOP shoot. All the spots were improvised, and I cast a few comic actors to move things along, but with Tim there, I didn’t need them. He set up the famous ‘finger roll’ line for the Iceman.

His big mouth got him in trouble, though. He went on a homophobic rant on a radio show and, of course, paid the price, being banned from the shows he was then on. He’s tried to redeem himself, but…

His son is a good NBA player and that may take away some of the pain.


Premier League Champion

It was Nike’s first soccer commercial starring a bunch of international players. Wright was the English one. We were filming in his practice area at Arsenal, in London. His part was a bicycle kick and we set up the greenscreen.  I chatted with him and then went to the camera to film. 


Wright did the kick perfectly and his agent came screaming, ‘That’s too dangerous.  He can’t do that!’

‘We got it. We’re done.’

The agent just fumed and stammered. The agency came up to me and asked about the shot. I showed them on the playback and then told them the agent won’t let him do it again. We had suffered through Cantona’s BS and said, ‘Let’s just get out if here. We’ve just gotten lucky,’

We were lucky.


Olympic Gold Medalist

We were filming Shani Davis, the speed skater, for a McDonald’s commercial promo. Others in the spot included LeBron. We were in Chicago to film Patrick Kane and drove up to Milwaukee, where he was training. Milwaukee is probably my least favorite city in the world. I’ve filmed there a few times and they were all disappointing for different reasons, mostly beer. You’d think that a town known for its breweries would have a decent bar, but we never found one. Things may have changed.

I was curious why Shani was training there since Wisconsin is not a Black friendly state. My brother was filming a commercial there and couldn’t find any American black actors that would go there. He cast a few African students (who didn’t know any better). Twice as many Black men are in prison in Wisconsin than any other state. The state has a reputation for (forgive the cliché) systemic racism.

Shani wasn’t very pleasant to work with. He wasn’t antagonistic in any way, but my takeaway was that he wasn’t up to anything. Later, an incident at the Olympics was a little unnerving.  Shani refused to partake in the opening ceremonies, perhaps because he was passed over as a flag bearer. He didn’t do well in the Olympics, and he retired soon after.


World Series Champion

I think I suggested using Strawberry and his buddy Eric Davis at the end of one of the BO SHOW commercials that celebrated Bo Jackson’s return to baseball after his hip issues. The two were high school buddies although they didn’t go to the same high school. They dreamt of making the big leagues together and they did, in a big way.

Phil Dusenberry used one of Strawberry’s famous home runs to inspire the sparkling home run at the end of the film, THE NATURAL. I tried to research the breaking of the lights but I couldn’t find it.  So what.  It was a great moment that I tried to duplicate at the end of SPACE JAM (unsuccessfully).  Thanks studio.

Nike didn’t pair them.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Al had the idea to do a mammography commercial using Sarah to skate and create a breast cancer awareness symbol in the ice. Sarah’s mother is a survivor.

My only issue with the spot was that Al had Sarah’s mother sitting and watching. A gratuitous gesture. Sarah is on record saying that. ‘If I can get one person to get a mammogram, I’ve accomplished something.’


NCAA Basketball Championships

I was surprised to hear that Pitino agreed to be in a Nike commercial that revisited his heartbreaking loss to Duke, with Christian Laetner’s last second shot. Coach K, the victor, was also in the spot but I think I was smart enough to film them on different days, but I’m not sure. Coach Pitino was very open and charming. We gossiped a lot but I ain’t repeating anything.

Coach’s famous speech LARRY BIRD AIN’T COMING THROUGH THAT DOOR should be read by everybody.


Iron Man Triathlon Champion

Joanne did the first JUST DO IT commercial for Nike wayback in the day. It was a test to see if the line worked. It did because they still use it a million miles later. Her last line in the original spot was her advice, ‘Stop eatin’ like a pig.’ Nike cut it because of public complaint. Since the commercial ran, American obesity statistics have increased alarmingly (insanely), somewhere north of forty percent. Been to Chicago lately?


Champion Stock Car Driver

We filmed a McD spot promoting a Monopoly Game promo that featured LeBron as well as a bunch of other athletes including McMurray (is driving athletic?). There was an extensive amount of digital work to be done and it included the interaction of life size Monopoly tokens, including the race car. I studied the miniature car and felt that it couldn’t be sampled properly digitally, so I decided to have one made life size so we could see what was happening while we shot. There were too many celebrities and too little time to mess around. My biggest concern was the patina of the car. The real token had mold marks and stuff that I hoped could be duplicated.  No worries. They created the car with 3 D modeling and it was perfect.

…and McMurray looked good sitting in the car.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Sad story. 

We did a spot for Fox Sports where Reggie shows his Heisman Award to a banker (Terry Bradshaw) as collateral. The NCAA later determined that Bush and his family had received lavish gifts and his school, USC, received serious sanctions because ‘they didn’t monitor properly.’

Who says college athletes should be paid?


NCAA Football, Heisman Trophy

Worked with Matt once.  It was early in his NFL career and was an NFL promo spot. We were doing some humorous commercials to show another side of athletes. One of the spots was the most popular in the USA that year (not Matt’s).

He was very attractive and cooperative. We only shot a part of a day with him.  Some time goes by and we’re filming a commercial in West Hollywood. I’m shooting hoops with the crew at lunch and Leinart walks by on his way to his agent and askes for the ball. He shoots from twenty and misses everything. I shout for him to move closer and he gives me a dirty look and walks away.


US Open Champion

I have no idea what we did together. I think it was a Pepsi cameo. All I can remember is she was astonishingly gorgeous, and we shot somewhere in Malibu. It was just a few seconds of screen time and I’m embarrassed that that is all I have to say.


Sports Illustrated NBA Player of the Year

The Riz wrote a spot that was called the First Harold Miner, or something. Miner’s skillset was compared to Jordan’s, and he suffered from the comparison. His college coach, the noted George Raveling, said that the worst thing that happened to Miner was the ‘Baby Jordan’ tag. He was a remarkable athlete, but his pro career only lasted a few years.

He saved his money.


NBA Defensive Player of the Year

My first Nike spot was MEN AT WORK. Wieden was just finding its way and The Riz had written it (actually come up with an idea since there was no ‘script). The players were Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Maurice Lucas, and Sidney Moncrief. The idea was to see a bunch of players leaving home and going somewhere just to play ball. We cast other competent players to round out ‘teams.’

I hadn’t worked with any of them before but I was excited to work with Moncrief because of the fabulous Sports Illustrated Cover of his tomahawk dunk. The guys gave us two days but Moncrief would only give one for some reason. We had to organize time for the shots of them getting to the gym. Moncrief wasn’t cooperative about that so I just grabbed a shot of him coming through the gym door.

I had hope to get one of his slams into the spot but he wasn’t having any. We shot around him the first day but on the day he was there he was almost invisible anyway, sullen and uncooperative.

The Riz had written some voiceover stuff and we had the guys do some of that. I didn’t think the piece needed that but ya gotta do what ya gotta do and this was my first time with these guys.  I gave Moncrief a line reading because his take was desultory, and he got pissed.

Oh well.

The spot turned out well. Moses messed with Charles’ head and even reshot an opening shot when the light got better. I met Larry Bridges and he opened my eyes to a great editing style, equal or surpassing the French New Wave. Moncrief was the onliest disappointment.


Women’s World Cup Champion

Since I know nothing of Soccer and less of female soccer, I had no idea who Alex Morgan was and have no memory of working with her on the McD Monopoly promo. Worse, she doesn’t look like her picture in the commercial I shot. Of course, I worked with LeBron the same day so I may have been distracted but I never was with MJ, so why would I be distracted?


WAC Player of the Year

Colin and Joe Flacco did the umpteenth version of the MJ/ Bird, Nothing But Net commercial (called Showdown by McD). They were both pretty dull. K got (in)famous for his kneeling down police protest act. I was okay with it until he wore Piggy socks, a really unimaginative idea.  Nike got into the act by making him a poster child, forgetting their own human right violations in China, Indonesia, and American ghettos. There are far more sneaker deaths than unarmed Black men killed by the police.


PGA Masters Tournament Champion

We did a Nike Golf spot together. We didn’t shoot hoops. Why? Take a look at Craig. If anyone thinks golf is a sport (not just a game), Stadler proves it.  He was fine to work with.  I think the spot started with Craig in bed. It might have been Craig in bed all the time. We filmed on a sound stage, so I don’t imagine actual golf was involved. The Riz wrote the spot so that won’t be a surprise.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

We worked together on the Plimpton fiasco. Drew was engaging and charming. I hated him because he had beaten my Steelers in the playoffs when Tom Brady got hurt. He threw a few passes that Brady was incapable of. I was upset when he didn’t get his QB job back after he had recovered from injury.

I didn’t really hate him.


NFC Player of the Year

Cunningham was one of the ‘but I do’ guys at the end of the BO SHOW commercials. We probably just shook hands because we jammed all those endings together one day. He was a fantastic athlete that never did what he was capable of doing. One of his few accomplishments was that he was the first Black starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl. An amazing and important feat as he was selected by fellow players. His abilities were fabulous but an injury took away a lot of those special abilities.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Al wrote some NFL spots, and one was with Vinatieri. I don’t specifically remember the spot, but he was a good guy, and the commercial was well liked. The New England Patriots have had a great decade or two but without Vinatieri kicking a couple of field goals in a blizzard, their successes may never have happened. 

Some credit, please.


The Open Championship Tournament Champion

I worked with David on a Tiger Woods Nike spot where he swung Tiger’s club and broke a car window in Tiger’s garage and fled. The spot is better than it sounds. We filmed the thing when David had returned to try to jumpstart his career.

There is an irony. When I first started working with Tiger, David was the top golfer. Then, suddenly, everything changed and David’s career fell off a cliff. No one knows the reason. It’s been blamed on mental, physical, injuries, all kinds of problems. All we know is that a great golfer became a suddenly not great golfer.


Cy Young Award

Riney developed an ice cream campaign about cheaters and liars. I won’t get into the details of the campaign, but it was fun working with these reprobates as spokespersons. Perry was one. He had the reputation of throwing an illegal ‘spitball,’ kind of the ultimate cheat for a pitcher. He pitched for over twenty years so I couldn’t figure why he wasn’t caught. Perry was perfect for the campaign, but I often wondered why Riney didn’t use his buddy Reagan.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Ditka was one of the members of the cast of the infamous Lay’s Super Bowl commercials. We played basketball together at Pitt and people used to get our names mixed up, but that’s another story. It was nice seeing him again and he claims to have remembered me, but a lot of water over the bridge, or under the dam, or…

The best memory of that shoot was watching Ditka and Landry in a corner, alone, reminiscing about their past together.

It was like being in Church.


Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist

Michael wrote a Pepsi spot about two Kenyan runners who are running to a village to get a Pepsi. They have to avoid a herd of cows, giraffes, elephants, and white rhinos. The punch line when they finally get to market was, ‘Traffic was terrible.’ It was a great experience, especially the white rhinos that were a protected species on a preserve. Sadly, I read recently that one of the pair had died. The news is sketchy, but he was the last male. There are only two left. I’m glad I have a picture with him (the rhino).


Boxing World Champion

We were doing a commercial for MJ’s line using Stevie Wonder’s ‘Overjoyed.’ Michael’s rep was ecstatic, saying that they were spending some serious money at last. They had signed a bunch of athletes and Roy Jones, Jr. was one. He was attractive and physical, even though he didn’t have to do much. I didn’t really know that much about him, but then I played catchup and found his accomplishments astonishing.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Go figure. I didn’t know that Nike made any ski equipment. But there was Picabo Street at the L’il Penny Super Bowl party. I didn’t spend much time with her but like in the soccer days, Nike was covering bases.


Iditarod No. 1 Musher

What’s a musher? A person that drives a dogsled, usually a human. Herbie was a legendary musher, participating in the Iditarod Dog Sled Race many times. Although he never won, he was given the honorary title of Number one.

I was scouting for the perfect Alaskan village for a location for another Riney fable for Henry’s Beer. Shishmaref was it. It was great place because no alcohol was allowed, so it was ironic that we were allowed to film there. I had scouted Kotzebue and it was easily the most horrid place I’ve ever been, poor natives staggering around the streets, drunk. It’s said that the natives drink only to get drunk and 85% of crimes are alcohol related.

Herbie was a picture of great health. Although an older man at the time he had great teeth. He said it was from chewing blubber, legal in the native community. The younger men had bad teeth because of the sugary drinks available in the markets.

Filming the spot was one of my all-time favorites. Herbie and his friends were perfect and being in this special village was…special. Ironically, the village is slowly sinking into the sea. It will be gone soon. Is there some kind of biblical punishment at work?


World Series Champion

I think I suggested teaming Eric Davis with Darryl Strawberry for one of the endings for the BO SHOW commercials. They were great friends when they were in high school and dreamed to eventually play together. They did late in their careers play for the Dodgers. Both, at their best, were the best. Nike didn’t listen, and Davis was paired with Randall Cunningham.


NCAA Basketball Champion

Geno has won more championships than John Wooden and more to come. We worked on a Nike spot with a myriad of coaches and I wasn’t able to hang with him at all. When I worked with John Wooden, he said that watching the women’s game was more enjoyable than the men’s as they were better ‘team’ players. Watching Geno’s UCONN women proves that.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I worked with Johnson for Fox Sports, not when he was coaching. He was a little nervous when filming for some reason. The situations weren’t difficult and took advantage of the strengths of the various guys, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and the comedian, Frank Caliendo. I didn’t think Frank was that funny. The stuff was pretty good, but could have been better. It needed a Riz attitude. Coach did hold his own.


FIFA World Cup Champion

Maldini was one of the greats Nike signed for the Billboard Commercial. I think we filmed him in Milan but I don’t remember. I don’t remember since I knew nothing of soccer and didn’t care that I knew nothing of soccer. It wasn’t until much later that I was told I had worked with the contemporary greats of soccer.

I still know nothing and care less, especially since everyone waits for shootouts (or so I’m told).


Number One Super Bowl Commercial

The NFL spot we did featuring Chester and Ephraim Salaam was not only the favorite Super Bowl commercial. It was the most popular in the United States that year.


Number One Commercial of the Year

We filmed Salaam’s story of finding Chester Pitts bagging groceries in a Ralph’s Supermarket and convincing him to play football. It was an NFL television commercial that was the most popular commercial that year, according to Neilson Ratings.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

We did a few ESPN commercials with the normal ESPN crew. ESPN let him go afterwards, not because of the commercials, but because of his hectic personal life and his penchant for controversy, including comments about Tony Romo’s ‘blackness’ that explained his football talents, some drug busts, and his stabbing a guy in the neck (Scissorgate). Jerry Jones bribed the stabee to keep everything quiet. He called the event, ‘horseplay.’ I wasn’t aware of a lot of that stuff, but he does look somewhat demented on the NFL show he now does.


Olympic Basketball Champion

SPACE JAM. Good sport.

Patrick worked well as a MONSTAR. Decent acting chops. I first saw him at the High School McDonald’s Game that was held in Pittsburgh back in the day. He was huge and dominant. He had an almost great pro career with the Knicks, but playing at the same time as David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon took away some of the luster.


NBA Champion

We did the Nike Announcers commercial together. Heinsohn was a great player/coach during the Celtics championship runs.  He had the reputation as a ‘gunner,’ someone who took excessive shots.  The best story was his calling to Bill Russell as Russell was about to dunk.

‘Russ! Russ! I’m open!’


FIBA World Champion

Muggsy showed up for SPACE JAM after having knee surgery. He couldn’t play or walk. One of the key scenes was him walking down a hospital hallway with the other players who then hit a doorjamb and fall over. Muggsy, being short, survives. It was an important joke and we had Muggsy towed on a low dolly while he mimics walking motions. It worked. For a later scene where he got his powers back, he just stood in place dribbling the ball madly. He was a good sport, but I kept calling him ‘Spud’ as in Webb, the other short player. Austin kept punching me in the ribs


LPGA Player of the Year

I shot some LPGA spots and Annika, of course, was one of the players. The spots were clever and well written because Linne wrote them, but I’m not sure they were effective. Annika is sort of the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. Her wins, trophies, whatever, far exceed any other woman’s by far, but the mystery is that she’s Swedish and how did she learn to play golf in the snow?


NASCAR Cup Champion

We worked together a bunch of times, for Pepsi, Fox Sports, and GM Onstar. Jeff was always kind, charming, helpful, whatever. We spoke a lot about racing, cars, and stuff. He was a good guy. The only issue I remember, and it may not be accurate, is that he didn’t get along with Earnhardt and Jimmy Johnson when we did the Fox stuff. I had to shoot them separately and then combine them in post. I’m not completely certain of the facts but that’s what we were advised by the Fox people.

When we were filming the GM stuff, we were discussing great cars and Jeff said he really liked the new Aston Martin (not a GM brand). I whispered that he was mic’d and he said he didn’t care.


NBA Champion

We worked together once, on a Lincoln Car spot. The idea was D Wade returning to the neighborhood to help and old coach and a dilapidated playground. Easy, no? No! The  client wanted a white coach. Seriously, and that wasn’t that long ago. I wanted to use a James Brown track, The Payback, but it frightened them. They also didn’t think the public knew Wade enough, so we had to put a line of explanation.

Wade was showing up later, so I shot the white coach doing shit with Wade’s double, and then dismissed him. When Wade showed up, I reshot the coach with Randy Fletcher, my assistant director, who was Black. The client saw the error of his ways and Randy made the final cut. 

Wade was a delight.  The Lakers should have traded Kobe for Wade instead of sending Shaq away. They would have had three or four more championships.


Stanley Cup Champion

Mark and Wayne Gretsky are considered the greatest one-two punch in NHL history. Mark is a big imposing player and Gretsky looks normal, even slight, but Wayne is ‘The Great One.’ Mark and I did a Ruffles Chip spot together and he was terrific to work with as the spot depended on his reactions and physicality.  I was surprised when I didn’t see him in more stuff.


World Series Champion

We filmed Billy for the Dreyer’s Liars campaign for Riney. I mentioned that he was pleasant to work with to Yogi Berra. Yogi said, ‘You must have worked with him before lunch.’


NCAA Basketball Champion

We worked with Smith on the Nike BRACKETVILLE campaign. He was on a porch hanging with John Thompson while the basketball world went by.  I think they had both retired by then.  They were fine, maybe because they had little to do, but the best story about Smith was that he was the only person that could hold Michael Jordan to less than twenty points a game. Jordan averaged around seventeen playing for Smith at NC.


ICC Cricket Hall of Fame

I have no idea what Shane was number one in, crickets, wickets, bowls, stumpings…all I know is that if The Riz flew him in from Australia, Warne had to be number one in something. Later there were a whole lotta stories about Shane messin’ around, sending text messages to the wrong ladies, etc. What was the spot? I don’t remember. I do know that the ball is hard and tough to hit. Al and I were in Wales, shooting and Al scoffed at the game. Our crew guys would play on breaks. Al got in there once with a bat and after one pitch he bailed.


LPGA Champion

We worked on LPGA commercial with Helen and her fellow Swede, Annika Sorenstam. Two famous Swede golfers? I don’t know if Linne knew that when he wrote the stuff because it certainly wasn’t an issue or idea in the spots.


NCAA Basketball Champion

We worked together on an ESPN campaign. I don’t remember what the precise bits were since I can’t locate the spots. Stacey created a soap opera and various coaches and players came and went throughout the series.’ Izzo was one, but that’s about all I remember. The hardest thing to do was figure out how to light the set so it looked crummy without having the athletes (and coaches) look crummy.


World Series Champion

BO KNOWS. Kirk Gibson. Worked together the spring after Kirk’s so very famous World Series home run. He was to do his line in the batting cage. The shot was a medium shot where you didn’t have any reference points. The whole thing would take about fifteen minutes. Gibson comes out and sees that the batting cage isn’t in the right spot and mentions it to me (with attitude). I bit my tongue and lash out at the prop guys. They move the cage to its proper position, Gibson does his ‘Bo Knows’ line and that’s that.


Olympic Downhill Skier, First Female AB Beer Commercial Female Principle

Anheuser-Busch was trying to break some rules in their introduction of their light beer. Women were anathema to beer advertising. It was a toxic white male culture. Because the campaign was sports based, we made some inroads into Blacks but none for women. The idea of a woman downhill racer came about and since I lived mostly in Vail, I thought the production would be a slam dunk. 

I had a few people in mind, some freestylers that I skied with in Vail, but Suzy Patterson became available. She had just retired from the American Olympic Team. 


There are a lot of great stories from the shoot, but AB kept the commercial under wraps for quite a while. I wondered why. A trigger was a comment at a convention press conference. A female journalist asked Mike Roarty, AB’s Marketing Chief, why there weren’t any women in key roles in AB’s advertising. Mike pulled out Suzy’s cassette and played it, saving the day.

I was watching the Winter Olympics and the phone rang. It was Suzy. I said, ‘I know why you’re calling. They just ran your commercial for the first time, on the Olympics. You and your family are watching. Proud, much?’


Olympic Gold Medalist

Michael is an extraordinary athlete with many Olympic and Track medals and victories that may not be equaled. I worked with him twice and he was extremely modest and even shy.  The two times were Nike and IBM. He had a small bit in the L’il Penny Super Bowl Party spot and the IBM spot was a little contrived and dull. Johnson deserved better.


NASCAR Hall of Fame

Junior has won many races but is most noted for the Daytona 500. We did the Fox Sports NASCAR Campaign. It involved Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Gordon as well. One didn’t get along with the others, so we had to film them separately on green screens, in Atlanta. I guess Atlanta is a center for these guys as they seem to be good old boys. The shoot of the guys themselves was uneventful, but the background plates, falling through space, atop a train, and racing powerboats had a few chills.


NASCAR Driver of the Year

The guy is so handsome, but so were the other two, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. I was told that one of the three didn’t get along. That made filming a bit difficult but not that difficult, since we were filming against a green screen. The best part was filming the backgrounds, a runaway train, speeding boats, and falling from a building. The wonders of digital technology.


NCAA Basketball Champion

We filmed Coach with Dean Smith on a porch enjoying retirement while current basketball passed them by. Nike. I felt badly for Coach Thompson because he only won one national championship with Patrick Ewing. Coach Thompson was bigger than basketball. Alan Iverson gave Coach credit for ‘saving my life.’ At the risk of his life, Coach confronted a drug dealer that he felt could wreck his team. Coach also protested at propositions that he felt unjustly targeted Black athletes and jeopardized their collegiate careers. A great man.


Motocross World Champion

Roger was part of the documentary I did on Motocross Racing in the 60’s, a long time ago. He is referred to by dirt riders as ‘The Man.’


College Football BCS National Champion

We filmed Young for an NFL spot. The campaign was meant to humanize the players, show aspects of their lives that no one knew. Young’s spot was about his tattoos that were tributes to the women that shaped his life. The key tattoo was a five petal rose, a petal for his mother, grandmother, two older sisters, and a niece that he claimed kept his life from sliding. His run into the end zone in the Rose Bowl to secure a national championship for his Texas team may be the greatest single play in the history of college football in the greatest single game. That can be debated but the run can’t be.


NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Dennis Hopper.  Junior Seau. Nike. Junior tramples a sculpture that Dennis Hopper is modeling in the sand on the beach. That’s all he had to do.  Dennis treasures the destruction. Simple to shoot.  I think Seau missed the trample mark the first time. We had some others. He was in two Super Bowls but lost in both, despite the fact that he was a part of New England’s undefeated season.  His death was an inexplicable mystery.


Mr. Gold Coast, Bodybuilding

Rick was an astonishing bodybuilder.  I cast him in the BO KNOWS spot at the famous MUSCLE BEACH in Venice California. I was told that vignette made the commercial immensely popular in Japan. I have no idea why or how anyone could obtain that information. There was an interesting competition after we got our shot. Rick and I were friends and as we chatted, I asked him if he could bench four hundred pounds. Bodybuilders usually used lighter weights and high reps for more muscle definition. Rick said he hadn’t done it for a while but would try. He nailed it. Another bodybuilder was there, much bigger than Rick. He tried and failed badly, the weights falling off the end. Thank god for spotters.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Joan was in the BO KNOWS spot. ‘Bo knows running.’ She was/is an extraordinary runner. She competed in the Olympic Trials about two weeks after having arthroscopic surgery. Fast healer. Our shoot was uneventful.


NBA Champion

Mourning was part of the Steve Martin Nike Super Bowl spots, a small part, but an important part. The two commercials are completely underrated. Stacy and Jelly did a terrific job, but the spots were probably too sophisticated for a Super Bowl audience.


FIBA Basketball World Champion

We did a Nike spot with Dan. He was famous for playing hard and he had to hit the floor in the spot. I had fall pads to make it as safe as possible, but he scoffed at them and just hit the floor.


NBA Blocks Leader

We cast Shawn Bradley as one of the Monstars in SPACE JAM when we couldn’t locate Gheorghe Muresan who had disappeared in Romania. We really liked Muresan because we wouldn’t have had to use much spfx makeup to make him into a Monstar. Bradley was a sweetheart to work with. We just had to watch our language because he was a Mormon and might have walked off the set.  Sadly, he was hurt badly in a biking accident in Utah.


USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year

Larry was one of the Monstars in SPACE JAM. He had one real ‘acting’ scene in front of a psychiatrist that was mostly improvised and he nailed it. I never worked with him on a commercial. Johnson was a multi-talented pro but plagued with injuries that made him continually adjust his game. On set, we had a beautiful sports massage therapist. Larry was always first in line.


ABC Superstars Competition Winner

We worked together on one of the New York Miracle commercials and he was with THE POKER DOGS as well. Jason was a rarity, a white pro cornerback. He was also very handsome. He wasn’t the best- looking person in the commercial, though, because Vanessa Williams was there. He was the best looking in THE POKER DOGS, though.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

We did a spot for NFL with Osi and Strahan and my friend Chuck Hoyas that was damn funny. The guys are loading a truck full of NFL merch while dressed in their football gear.  The spot was better than it sounds.


All-NBA First Team

Jimmy wanted to film Damian rapping for some kind of promotion. Jimmy was always pushing the envelope. Damian had the reputation of being the best rapper in the NBA (whatever that means). He actually was quite good.  We shot him performing in some sort of street fair in an Oakland Park. Security said if we heard gunshots, hit the ground.


NBA Champion

We’ve worked with Dwight a bunch of times, McDonald’s, Gatorade. He was terrific with LeBron in a Nothing But Net rip-off, but the spot fell flat on the Super Bowl. He also dunked through the Naismith Peach Basket for Gatorade but the Pepsi CEO didn’t get the joke, so the spot never ran. She’s from India and was one of the world’s most powerful women. We had no chance. Randy Fletcher, my AD, has a strange walk, sort of a pigeon toed shuffle. On another shoot, Dwight came on set, saw Randy, and started to walk across the court mimicking the shuffle. We died.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

Simms was but a fragment in the LAY’S SUER BOWL spots.  I think he’s in for a total screen time of one and three quarter seconds, but he made the Number Ones cut (Barely).


NFL Rushing Yards Season Record

Dickerson was in the LAY’S SUPER BOWL CAMPAIGN for a brief moment.  Just about everyone was in for just a brief moment, but it was fun working with the bunch (mostly).


World Series Champion

Ozzie was one of the fabulous cast of the Pepsi Max baseball campaign. We used his famous backflip in the spot. It’s up to you to see how he did it at his age.


World Series Champion

Piniella had success as a player and as a manager. I don’t remember if we used the base tossing incident from his managerial days in the Pepsi Max spot.


World Series Champion

Gooden was in the Pepsi Max Campaign that ran for several seasons. He was a great pitcher for the Mets but ran into many problems, drug and alcohol related, late in his career and life. He was neglected on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot early despite his terrific career. Those are the same guys that won’t let Pete Rose in, the guy that has the most hits in the history of the game.


World Series Champion

Pepsi Max again. If there was a star of the commercials it was CC. He was still playing and had won just about every award a pitcher could. He was bright and articulate. Later we found that he had some issues that he dealt with, but he is a future Hall of Famer.


American League MVP

We used Fingers famous moustache in the spots as a reward to Pepsi Max guy. The moustache had been voted the best in baseball history and was a throwback to those in the 19th century. Thank goodness he had kept it.


PGA Player of the Year

I never filmed with Nicklaus, but here’s a moment worth repeating. We were filming some IBM commercials at Augusta a few weeks before the Masters Tournament. We were filming stuff at Amen Corner and had to hide in the bushes when golfers would play through. At Augusta the tee times are set so you won’t be impeded by a golfer in front of you, so there was time to get a shot or two between groups.

Here comes some golfers so we get into the bushes along the thirteenth fairway. The picture is strange because they are walking up the fairway separated, a group on the far side and a lonely golfer and his caddy on the near side. I wondered why they weren’t all together. The nearside golfer passed, and it was Jack Nicklaus with an intense scowl. They passed and we began to set up for our shot and I casually asked the supervisor that was assigned to us why Nicklaus would be scowling. It’s a beautiful day. They’re at Augusta just playing a round of golf, so?

The supervisor said, ‘He’s playing with his son.’


NFL Super Bowl Champion

I’ve always maintained that my hometown of Pittsburgh produced the best football players, especially quarterbacks.  Think of Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and, of course, Joe Montana. There are scores of others but these are my top picks. I worked with Montana a couple of times for Pepsi, both in Ray Charles spots. The second time was almost immediately before the Super Bowl, and Montana and the 49ers were in the playoffs.  I suggested him for a quick vignette and Pepsi agreed and the coach would give us a few minutes after practice, but it was that day. We chartered a jet to get up there but when we got to the airport, we found there was a weather delay, so it looked impossible. The pilot was brilliant, though. He filed a different flight plan then said he could change it to get in there once we were airborne.

It worked. We got in and got the shot.

Montana and his wife had just bought a new house and Montana and I spent time after the shoot talking about French antiques.

The crew busted my chops.


World Series Champion

Norm was a technical adviser on commercials we were filming in Dodger Stadium with the Bartles & Jaymes guys. We were chatting and were both from Pennsylvania and ‘bonded’ a bit. He had finished second in batting to Dick Groat, a Pirate in the 1960 season when the Pirates beat the Yankees for the World Series Championship. Larker had won the year before when he played for the Dodgers.

Somehow, we got into batting stances and grips, and he showed me the Charlie Lau stance and the ‘door knocker’ grip that Yogi Berra reaffirmed, a grip that lets you ‘turnover’ the bat more easily. I used both to great effect against Michael Jordan when we were filming SPACE JAM.

Thanks, Norm.


Sporting News Coach of the Year

We worked together when Kelly was coaching at Oregon. As I waited in the spectacular sports facility, I asked a receptionist what the huge construction was across the way.  She answered that is the NEW sports facility, Phil Knight’s money at work  Chip was funny and witty and cooperative although he didn’t have much to do. I asked him to design a play or two on a whiteboard and he said he’d do it but that they do everything electronically now and have for years.


Olympic Gold Medalist

Jackie was just a fragment in the L’il Penny Superbowl spot, but it was wonderful to meet her, a great, great athlete. She was a terrific track and field athlete and a great basketball plyer as well. I would have liked to go one on one with her (basketball).


National High School Player of the Year

We worked a bunch of times for Nike: Barbershop, Skidmark. He was always a treat and a good sport especially when we messed with him about his infamous ‘time out’ call in the NCAA Championships. It’s a shame he fell so short in the NCAA’s and the NBA.


NFL Leading Scorer

We did a football rip-off of the McD NOTHING BUT NET called ANOTHER SHOWDOWN. It was cute. He was cute.


NFL Super Bowl Champion

McD placekicker rip-off of SHOWDOWN. Lohmiller had the curious statistic of scoring more kicking points than the total of the entire Indianapolis team that year.


Tallest Player in NBA History

Gheorghe was part of L’il Penny Super Bowl.  He had to duck a lot since he was seven foot seven. I wanted to use him in SPACE JAM but no one could find him in Romania. We finally  used Shawn Bradley, who was an inch shorter.


NFL Most Valuable Player

Shaun was part of the Seattle team that played the 2005 Super Bowl against the Steelers. We used him in the Disney spot that ran on the Bowl. When I filmed the Seahawks in Seattle, they were all nice guys. After I shot the Steelers, I knew the Seahawks had no chance.


NBA Champion

Lil Penny, Iceman, Chuck Daly playing Scrabble.  Fun. I remember we were discussing the Spurs drafting Tim Duncan.  Iceman asked what I thought and I said he was a classic player, but I said he might be a little soft for the NBA. Iceman nodded slightly. Were we wrong. Daly didn’t say anything.


NBA Champion

Worked together on a CDW spot with Scottie and Charles. Rick is a big boy, more football than hoops. He was on the hated Pistons teams that beat up on MJ back in the day.


NBA Champion

IBM. Moses was one of the guys as was Muggsy (nee Spud) and Detlef Shrempf and Xavier McDaniel, Bill Laimbeer. Laimbeer was the baddest of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys that kicked Laker and Bulls ass during their reign.


World Series Champion

Iron City Beer.  A bar in Ohio. Bill Mazeroski. Roy Face. A long time ago. ICB was doing stuff inspired by a famous Lite Beer Campaign featuring retired athletes. I shot a spot that never ran with the retired QB, Bobby Layne. Now I was in a bar in Ohio waiting for Maz and Face to show. It was early in the morning, and the place was full of steelworkers from the night shift getting shitfaced. Maz and Face show up and they are barely recognizable having changed a lot since their retirement, maybe fifty pounds. ‘We’ll put supers with their names, so the people know who they are.’ Face and Maz played the greatest game in baseball history, with Maz hitting the game winning World Series home run in the last of the ninth. Face was one of the best relief pitchers of the time but was ineffective in that game setting the stage for Maz’s heroics. The commercial was pretty decent, straightforward and honest.


Most Influential Skateboarder All Time

Stacey wrote some funny Miller Lite commercials when Wieden had the account. They were goofs on the original Miller Lite campaign using semi-famous athletes. The campaign was an experiment of sorts, strangely funny because of the unusual people involved. The Miller people didn’t get it and the campaign never ran.


World Series Champion

Stacy Wall wrote a series of parody commercials with strange athletes for Miller Lite. Wieden had the account for a little while but their, and Stacy’s thinking was too progressive for that brand. Sabo’s spot never saw the Lite of day. One of the jokes in the spot refers to the funny glasses. An enigma.


NBA Champion

Rambis was part of the Lakers ‘Showtime’ team, usually being played so others could catch their breath. He was a crowd favorite because he would make any sacrifice for the team. The best part is that he wore horn rimmed glasses and a mustache. Stacy cast him in the Miller Lite campaign that never ran. I think it’s the only spot Rambis ever did.


NBA All Star

Free was part of Stacy’s all too progressive Miller Lite campaign that featured barely recognizable athletes. Free had a run for a while and was an early ‘palm the ball’ expert. Bird said that relaxing that rule changed Basketball forever.


College Football All American

Jefferson starred in the controversial Stacy Wall Miller Lite campaign that went over the Miller people’s heads.  

I have never worked with…


He could have been may have been the best basketball player of all time. He won more championships than any other. The cybermetrics on him weren’t very good but I watched him dominate the game defensively and inspirationally both as a player and coach, but I never had the opportunity to work with him.


A lot of my affection for Palmer was that he was from an area near where I grew up, but actually light years away.  He brought a charisma to golf that Hogan had started. I disliked Jack Nicklaus because he took from Arnold’s luster when he came upon the scene.


Again, a Pittsburgher although he played for Baltimore. He was a living legend in his time and the best footballer. He may still be the best quarterback to ever play the game.


Musial is a very distant cousin on my father’s side of the family. In Polish his name is pronounced MU-SHAW. He is completely underrated when the best baseball players are named. The Riz got me an autographed baseball from him when he did a spot that Spike directed.


People hate it when I say that Bonds is the best of all time. They speak of his enlarged head and increased musculature but what do they know? The government spent a hundred million dollars trying to convict him of the accusations and he beat them on all counts. When did anyone ever beat the Federal Government?


Brown was a great running back, and many feel he was the best football player of all time. I was shocked when he retired while still in his prime.


People who know will know what that means.


I would have liked to work with the BIG O at some time. Some consider him the greatest ever, but the game was different then. You couldn’t ‘carry’ the ball.


West played at WVU when I played at Pitt (short time). He was a great player but fell short too many times. I would have loved to hear his comments about Wilt vs Kareem.


When I was in high school there was a picture of Wilt Chamberlain in Scholastic Magazine with the title Wilt the Wonder. It was a shot of him all legs and arms and I had never seen anything like it. He became a hero of sorts and I rooted for him forever. I used to tell Michael that he would have never gotten inside against Wilt, so he had better work on his jumper.


The very, very, very best baseball play I ever saw was a fielding play by Willy Mays at Forbes Field against the Pirates (not the one pictured). The wonder of the play was Mays’ fielding grace. Remember, the great Roberto Clemente played for the Bucs then and was considered a great fielder but Mays was it. 


He was a genius running back, the best I ever saw in college. I remember filming in Denmark and reading headlines about him in the International Herald Tribune. I don’t ever remember seeing him in a commercial, though. I guess that’s why I never had the opportunity.