Garrett’s Optician Has An ERA???

SeeingDuring a routine check-up, Garrett’s pediatrician suggested that we get his eyes more closely examined by an ophthalmologist. Garrett had no problem reading the eye chart with his right eye, but gave up when asked to do it again with his left eye. The doctor wasn’t sure if he was just being fussy or if he really had a problem. While this was cause for concern, GWE was thrilled to know that Garrett knew all of his letters and numbers!

A few weeks later, GWE took Garrett to the eye doctor and confirmed that he really was having an issue with his left eye. While he had no issue reading the chart with his right eye, his left eye could only read the top line. There were almost 10 lines of difference between each eye! The doctor concluded that due to Garrett’s age, this could be self-correcting over time as long as we got Garrett prescription glasses – and he wore them.

GWE took Garrett and his prescription to a place called “Michael C’s Optical.” He was fitted with a few different types of glasses. GWE sent me a text of what he looked like and asked if I approved. I told that not only did I approve, but I loved it! Now Garrett looked like “Doctor Who!”

Who-1Who 2 About a week later, all of us went back to “Michael C’s” to get Garrett’s glasses. We were greeted by Michael and he had Garrett’s glasses ready to go. Garrett tried them on and they looked great. Michael took the glasses back for a final adjustment and I spent a few minutes walking around his store.



In the corner, there was some sports memorabilia (which I assumed was from athletes Michael had fitted with lenses.) However, the more I looked at the clippings and pictures from the early 80’s, the more I began to realize that it was all just one athlete – a professional baseball player named Mike Chris.

Now, I’m not the smartest guy in the room, so it took a few minutes for me to make the connection. Michael C was actually Mike Chris! My son was getting his first pair of glasses from a professional baseball player who played for both the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants!! And, he played at a time when I collected baseball cards…so, Mike’s cards have to be somewhere in my collection!

Mike ChrisGWE is a true baseball fan, especially when it comes to the Atlanta Braves. As we got back into the car, I excitedly asked GWE if she had seen the “Wall of Fame.” She replied, “No. Why?” And so I told her. She was in shock! I looked up Mike’s stats and read them to GWE as we drove to lunch.

So – Garrett’s first pair of glasses were put on his head by a left-handed pitcher who struck out 46 people in the Major Leagues! Not bad!

America’s Funniest Home Videos – The Birthday Gift

Ever since Justin began watching television, one of his favorite shows has been “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on ABC. Justin laughs hysterically at each show and likes to narrate each episode for us at home (like Tom Bergeron.) He even talks about trying to create a video that he can send into the show. All of this is great, but to Justin – it is still just “TV” and not real life. He knows the difference.

Several months ago, GWE took Justin to a Television Academy event for “AFV” and Tom Bergeron was one of the panelists talking about the show. Bravely, Justin approached the microphone when it was time to ask questions and he actually began a dialog with Tom. He not only spoke with Tom (and his wife) at the event, but they spoke again in the lobby, then they took a picture together, and then talked again all the way to the parking garage. Meeting Tom made Justin a “Super-Fan.”


For Justin’s eighth birthday, we were stumped as to what to get him. What do you get the kid who has everything? I thought about it a lot and finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to get him just another toy, but rather – an experience. While driving into work one morning and speaking with a friend who was an attorney for Vin Di Bona Productions, it dawned on me what that experience should be. I wanted Justin to attend a taping of his favorite show – “AFV!”

Up to this point, I have been reluctant to take Justin with me to a television taping. Working in Hollywood has given me a tremendous amount of access to great television and film sets. There have been plenty of opportunities to take him to tapings of shows that I know he watches. But, I’ve chosen not to because I don’t want to “pull back the curtain” yet. (It’s one thing to enjoy a steak; it’s another to see how it’s made!) However, in this case, I didn’t think this set visit would be too revealing. After a few quick calls and emails (and the excited approval of GWE,) I had our VIP confirmation.

We chose to tell Justin about the taping on his birthday because it was weeks before he would be there and it would give him enough time to digest the information, tell his friends, and it wouldn’t be such a shock when we got there. When we told him, he looked at us very quizzically. We told him again. And again, it looked like his brain got the information, but didn’t know what to do with it. Finally, it hit him and he was beyond excited! The countdown to tape night had begun!!

On the day of the taping, Justin was prepared. We picked him up from school, changed him into appropriate “on air” clothing, and drove down to the set in Manhattan Beach. We arrived a few hours early and had a nice dinner. When the time came, we jumped back into the car and drove over to the studio. Justin had never been on a studio lot before, so we took our time getting to the stage. We pointed out everything that we thought would be of interest to him, but he was very focused on getting to the show.


Finally, we approached the stage door. GWE took one final picture of him (a picture I like to call, “The End of The Innocence”) and then together we walked through the door. Justin was amazed. There, he saw the stage, the audience, video village, the cameras, the lights, and people running around getting ready for the show. He could tell that there was an excitement in the air. We stood still for a moment just to let Justin soak it all in. However, Justin kept moving forward towards the stage whether he realized it or not. It was like a tractor beam had him!

We were quickly escorted to our seats. As we got situated, we asked where the voting machines were. To our surprise, we were informed that there would be no voting in this episode….because it was the $100,000 finale! GWE and I were in a little bit of shock!

As the warm-up guy began entertaining the crowd, music started playing on the overhead speakers. Once “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars began, GWE yelled, “Yeah!!” The warm-up guy heard her, dragged her down to the stage, and together they began dancing. (Another item checked off “The Bucket List.”) In exchange for her dancing skills, GWE earned Justin an official “AFV” shirt.

And then Tom Bergeron appeared…

As real as this was to Justin up to this point, it didn’t become REAL until he saw Tom.

Once a few technical details were worked out quickly, the show began….and it really was a fantastic show! What you see on TV is pretty much what you see at the taping. It wasn’t until the show began that GWE and I quickly realized that there were some “TV Rules” we hadn’t explained to Justin. The fast rules I whispered into Justin’s ear were:

  1. Don’t laugh louder or longer than anyone else in the room.
  2. Don’t try to get Tom’s attention.
  3. Don’t fidget.
  4. And finally, (the hardest rule) don’t look directly into the camera.

#4 was the hardest rule for Justin to follow, but for good reason! It’s not that Justin wanted to look into the camera, but the teleprompter was in front of the lens! Justin wanted to see what Tom was going to say…and Justin kept mouthing the words that he was reading at the same time Tom was saying them. If you look at it on camera, I’m sure it looks like a very strange ventriloquist act! Justin’s lips are moving, but the words are coming out of Tom Bergeron’s mouth!

When the winners were announced, glitter was shot out of cannons all around the stage. We grabbed some and jammed it on our pockets as a reminder of the evening. And with that…the show was over. On the way back to the car, Justin was almost giddy from the experience. We climbed back into the car to head home and I asked Justin what his favorite part of the show was. I was met with silence. I thought he was thinking about it. Turned out, he had passed out from all of the excitement.

From beginning to end, the experience was amazing. It was something that Justin will never forget. The excitement of the evening lasted until one small thought crossed my mind: “How the hell are we going to beat this on his 9th birthday!?!?!?!”

afv 2


When My Client Becomes My Son’s Homework

AssignmentAbout a week ago, Justin brought home an assignment from school. He was given a piece of construction paper that was 18×12 and told to create a collage of his “hero” and then add three reasons as to why that person is a hero. In an attempt to get this assignment over with as quickly as possible, Justin simply drew a picture of someone playing basketball. Justin is good at drawing. But, when I saw his stick figure holding a weird looking ball, I knew he had only given this task minimal effort. (Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what he had drawn. It looked more like a hairy spoon with a tumor.)

Frustrated, GWE told him that this was unacceptable and that “we” would need to start over. “We” had a week to complete the assignment. I knew that if “we” weren’t proactive about this, “we” wouldn’t get to it until the Sunday night before it was due.

Once again, the assignment was to identify a hero and three reason why that person is your hero. Justin could choose anyone he wanted, as long it wasn’t a fictional character like “Superman” or “Batman.” Justin gave it a great deal of thought (about 15 seconds, while trying not to be eaten by Minecraft zombies) and then decided that he wanted to do a collage about firemen. A light went off in my head! I knew how to get really great pictures for his assignment, but it meant doing something I normally wouldn’t have done.

I’ve tried to keep my business and my family separate. There will come a time when the curtain is pulled back for Justin and Garrett and they will understand how daddy represents “that person on TV or in that movie.” For now, I’d like to keep the illusion of TV as entertainment for them. One of my clients happens to be one of Justin’s favorite characters on a kid’s show. If Justin knew how often I spoke with this person, his head would explode!

There have been a few times when the two paths have crossed. I represent two young actors names Edwin and Aldis Hodge. You’ve seen them – a lot! (Aldis was on “Leverage” at TNT and “Turn” at AMC. Edwin has had lead roles in features like “Red Dawn” and “The Purge.”) My son has gotten to know Edwin and Aldis fairly well over the years. He has no idea who they are or what they do.

Edwin is currently in Chicago shooting “Chicago Fire.” He is playing a fireman!! On the Friday before the assignment was due, I asked Edwin to send me a few pictures from set. I didn’t tell him what it was for. He sent me about 10 pictures and I had GWE print them out. When it was time to put together the assignment, we handed Justin the photos. He immediately recognized “his friend” Edwin and also noticed that he was wearing fireman’s gear. Happily, he and I used the pictures to put together the project.



The following morning, Justin delivered his assignment to his teacher. As he proudly handed her the project, he told her all about how he had done it. And then, he said, “That fireman’s name is Edwin.” The teacher looked at him and responded,” Oh, is that what you’ve named him?” Perplexed, Justin looked at her and answers, “No. That’s really his name. Edwin Hodge.” And with that, he turned and walked away. The teacher had no idea that she was looking at pictures of an actor on set (and not a real fireman) and Justin didn’t really understand that either.

After the project was turned in, I sent Edwin a picture of the final project with this note: “You know you’ve made it when you’ve become someone else’s homework!”

He thought it was hilarious.

Justin Meets Tom Bergeron

Justin and Tom

Justin finally got to meet Tom Bergeron last night at an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” event. Apparently, they had a long conversation about Tom’s wife and two daughters. He also told Tom about his 3DS, Legos, and his love of The Muppets!

I’m going to laugh when one day Justin actually becomes the new host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and we have this picture to prove that the baton was passed at an early age!

You Need A Real Job!!

I found this in Justin's backpack. Clearly, he's put some thought into this!

I found this in Justin’s backpack. Clearly, he’s put some thought into this!

While driving to school three weeks ago, Justin asked me a question: “Daddy? Does mommy have a boss?” I replied, “Yes, she has a boss.” After a few moments, he asked a follow-up question: “Daddy, do you have a boss?” I replied, “No, buddy. I don’t have a boss. I am the boss.” His eyes got very wide as he repeated, “You’re the boss?!?!?!” (I wasn’t sure if I should have been offended or not, but I just accepted it for what it was.)

As I looked in the rearview mirror, I could see him processing the information. I could also hear him mumble to himself, “Daddy is the boss” a few times – as if saying it out loud would make the concept more acceptable. And then, that was the end of the conversation. Or so I thought…

Last week (once again on the way to school), Justin stated, “Daddy, I need to talk to you.” I lowered the radio and gave him my full attention. “Ok buddy, what’s up?”

“Daddy, I think you need to get a real job.” I smiled and replied, “But I have a real job.”

“No, daddy. You need a REAL job.”

I was curious to see where he was going with this, so I asked. “What’s a real job?”

Clearly, he had given this a great amount of thought since our last conversation. “Daddy, I think you need to work in a restaurant or a coffee shop.”

I’m assuming that my new guidance counselor came to this conclusion because I make him a tasty breakfast every morning while complaining that I can’t get my morning coffee hot enough.

It also quickly dawned on me that this line of questioning was coming from somewhere. I couldn’t figure out if this had become a topic in the classroom or if during recess the kids were asking each other “What does your mommy and daddy do?”  I know many of the parents from Justin’s school. One is a dentist, another is a writer for a television show, one is a coach and a teacher, and another sells houses. I think these were easier concepts for Justin to understand than “Daddy is a Talent Manager.”

I tried to give Justin the simplest explanation I could think of. “Well Justin, my job is to help other people get jobs.” After a few moments of silence, Justin decided that my answer was not acceptable. “No daddy. You need a REAL job.”

I mockingly gave up. “Ok buddy. I’ll go get a real job.”

I hope he remembers this exact conversation when he’s 16 and it’s time for him to get his first job. I’m sure he’ll enjoy his REAL job of asking people, “Do you want fries with that?”

Sophie Flips the Bird

Sixteen years ago, I moved to Hollywood in the hopes of having a long (and hopefully successful) career in the entertainment business. At the time, my friend Rachel was living in a one-bedroom apartment at the corner of Tamarind Ave. and Franklin Ave. – across from the Scientology Center. She knew of another open unit in her building and suggested I take it. I rented the apartment sight unseen, planted my roots in Hollywood, and began “living the dream.”

Down the street was restaurant/bar called, “Birds.” It was a funky place with a locals-only kind of atmosphere. The staff was friendly, the beer was cold, and the chicken was tasty. The first time I ever stepped into this restaurant, I was greeted by the picture you see below. It made me laugh.

I’ve been going to this restaurant for 16 years and every time I see this picture – I still laugh. However, until I ate there last night….I didn’t know that there was a story behind the picture!


This is what I discovered after reading the menu for the first time……

“Credit goes to our friend Sandy Simpson, photographer and father of the postcard girls. The photo entitled, “Sophie Flips the Bird” was taken by Sandy in 1994 and presented to us as a “housewarming” gift upon the grand opening of Birds. The photo has since been “borrowed” (or should we say pirated?) many times over and spotted as far away as Denmark, Russia, and Thailand. The ‘one-gun salute’ is not representative of our approach to customer service!”

Next time you’re in Hollywood, stop by Birds and get a free “Sophie Flips the Bird” postcard while grabbing some chicken and a beer. (And ask for the artichoke dipping sauce! Yum.)

(On a side note, the entire neighborhood had the same cable provider during the ‘90s. So, we all had the same cable boxes. There were more than a few occasions when I would walk down to the bar for a drink with my television remote in my pocket. When the bartender wasn’t watching, I’d quickly change the channel and then watch them scramble to try and figure out what was happening. Sorry Birds. I was young, dumb, and a little drunk.)