The Riz

I was astonished when I saw a Honda Scooter commercial with Lou Reed using the tranny song A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, first, the idea, then the ability to sell it to a client.  Later, I worked with the guy in a Nike spot. It was Jim Riswold, from appearances, a mild mannered guy, somewhat self-effacing.


In reality, he was a fierce beast fighting tenaciously for his ideas and prone to throwing large objects through windows without regard to those beneath. I also heard rumors about his sexual prowess but never thought to question that. I do know that he’s been with a measure of beautiful women on and off the court.

I never called him Riz, always Jim. He was one of the few that was able to transcend advertising and enter popular culture with his work, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Bo, Spike Lee, Tiger Woods, MJ (Jordan not Jackson) all benefited from his brilliance. He always knew precisely what he needed. A case in point was a moment in the BO KNOWS commercial when Wayne Gretsky just said, ‘No’ as opposed to ‘Bo knows hockey.’ I asked Jim if he wanted to cover that line as well and he said, ‘No.’  This was rare (and courageous for him). Riney always knew precisely what he wanted but he owned the place. Jim was just the help.

Jim has been fighting health monsters for a number of years. First leukemia, then the drugs that beat leukemia, then a number of other maladies.

He’s probably the bravest person I know.