The Life of Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr.? Sheeee-it.



Interested in acting? Isiah Whitlock Jr. practically gives a mini Master Class when he talks about preparing for one of his more challenging roles.

Fan of The Wire? You know Isiah as the corrupt Senator Clay Davis. In Epi 5 of It’s Quite a Living hear where his famous phrasing of “sheeeeeeeee-it” originated (think Spike Lee!) and how it came to be in that HBO show AND in a bobblehead that you too can actually own!

Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Clay Davis, in The Wire

Hear how Spike Lee first met Isiah and cast him in The 25th Hour… (AND films like BlacKkKlansman AND the current Da Five Bloods and others And watch those films for his trademark saying!) Hear how I first met Isiah in the 80s why he scared the heck out of me…but ultimately taught me about trust.

E.B./Isiah in NLN video and over the years…

Are you a wine lover? Hear what Isiah would pair with latkes. Latkes? YES. Because he’s may be an oenophile, but I’m the potato pancake queen, and that’s what I serve at the Hanukah parties he’s come to at my house over our three decades of friendship.

I had a great time reminiscing and laughing in this podcast episode, while learning more about the life of this prolific film, theater and television actor — and MY first acting teacher at American Conservatory Theater. Isiah has continued to teach me life lessons of staying calm, of staying focused, of having empathy and self-awareness…

But it’s that voice. That stare. That throughline of intellect laced with humor that shine through it all. And usually crack me up even when he’s trying to be serious. (I encourage you to listen to every of the 39 minutes for a good blooper or two that help you really hear the personality behind the persona.)

Oh, and if you want your own bobblehead or to learn more about Isiah visit: http://isiahwhitlockjr.com/  But as you’ll hear in the beginning, he hasn’t updated that site in a while. But you’ll know him when you hear him. 

Love this man. You will too.


The Life of a Composer – Marc Blatte



When he was 10 years old, Marc Blatte’s grandfather took him to see his first Broadway show, The Music Man. Some 50 years later Marc was a Grammy-nominated music man himself, and had convinced many people, in song, to upgrade from “Your Father’s Oldsmobile” …and to go “Goldfishin'” for Goldfish snacks.

Marc is the Clio-winning composer of, literally, scores of some of the best known jingles

Bobby, Brad, Marc, at work at Look
Jeanne Neary Look with session singer Lani Groves

(with the creative and production direction of Jeanne Neary Look) and top 10 hits of the 80s and 90s…and beyond, often with writing partner Larry Gottlieb.

Do you remember holding hands across America as an inspirational movement to raise money and awareness for homelessness and poverty? You were holding hands to Marc’s song. Did you sing along with Kenny Rogers when he described the Pride of America…or lipsync to Marie Osmond’s top country hit, Read My Lips, or dance to the Four Tops’ When She Was My Girl?

A young composer - Marc BlatteAs the recipient of an ASCAP Award for Most Performed Country Music Song and The Ralph Peer Music Lifetime Achievement Award and now even a successful novelist, Marc is definitely one of my friends in high places…but he’s also family: my step-brother. So, I got my “bro” to share the inside track on the evolution of some of these tunes, some pretty funny stories, and some of the life-changing advice he got along the way.

You’ll hear how:

  • How he pounded the pavement and the doors of publishers for years… and went from janitor to jingle writer…and his suggestions for young artists today;
  • Helping out fellow musicians like Marc Cohn, and getting advice from heads of labels;
  • How he lost hundreds of thousands in a hip-hop label, but gained enough chops to write a hip-hop detective novel, Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed from the experience!;
  • Why he resisted writing a song Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie requested of him…;
  • How he finally came up with Healing Hand, a song that is not only one of the best anthems of today, but one that fulfilled him after all these years…
  • A synchronistic final tale that spanned Sherry Lansing to Joseph Heller….

Please share and review!

And Thanks for listening. Thanks ALSO to Euro-Pacific Digital Media for tackling this challenging edit, since I had some issues with the audio recording.


The Life of Actress Amy Hill – Epi 3



Amy Hill has been a mom for twenty years in real life, and even longer in her acting life: from Grandma Kim (All American Girl), Mama Tohru (Jackie Chan Adventures),  Ah-Mah Jasmine Lee (The Life and Times of Juniper Lee), Mah Mah (American Dad!) to even being ON the hit comedy, “Mom“. But she’s also had another 150+ acting credits not tied to that title both in live-action and animated films – like Lourdes Chan on Crazy Ex-Girfriend (and its 1.5 million views on its hit promo video), and Sue in 50 First Dates. And it all started, sort of, when she burst on to the scene by winning The Gong Show

But that’s another story. And, yes, it’s one Amy tells in this episode of It’s Quite a Living.

I met Amy in the ’80s when she was already established in the San Francisco acting and voiceover scene I was just breaking into. And some four decades later, on a visit to her home in Hawaii, where she is co-staring as Kumu on the hit reboot of Magnum, P.I., we talked about how she got into acting, her film roles, and what emerged for her in the process of writing her hit one-woman show, Tokyo Bound. Aside from reminiscing about acrylic nails and trying to get an agent, she shares more serious experiences as a Finnish/Japanese American and her experience as a multi-racial actress. We also talk about commitment and making the right choice, like her adoption of her daughter, Penelope.

You’ll love Amy as much as I do when you hear about:

  • Amy’s experience of going to Japan, understanding its culture, her origin, and her mom’s roots
  • Why the name “Tokyo Bound”
  • A love letter from her mom
  • Meditation and commitment 
  • Her big break in Scrooged
  • Coming up with her daughter’s name, Penelope
  • Amy’s “I knew it moments.” 

All the masks are off in this transparent and candid conversation with Amy Hill.

You can find and follow her career here:


It’s Quite a Living, Deborah Burns



Deborah Burns and I basically reenacted that line from “Pretty Woman” when we met over hors d’oeuvres at an industry event: “What happens when (s)he rescues the princess? (S)he rescues him right back!”  We bonded over boredom and brie and traded business cards. The kind of exchange that means well, but ends up in the card pile of good intentions.

But fate stepped in and just several days later we each showed up at a totally unrelated cocktail party! And that was the beginning of another relationship with a friend in high places. Deborah, after all, is what I aspire to: the former Chief Innovation Officer of major magazines, such as Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home…turned memoirist and corporate consultant!

Her book, Saturday’s Child, revolves around her evolution from dancing around her emotionally distanced mother with surrogate mothers in the form of two spinster aunts.

My story is one of an emotionally present mother who departed this earth too soon, followed by attempted mothering from two back to back step-mothers.

Let the bonding continue. But some 25 years after her own mother’s passing, Deborah’s epiphanies took the form of beautifully crafted a-ha moments interspersed with humor and insights we can all relate to. Learn how she also learned about “Skirting the Rules” which she’s encouraging others to do, too! I recorded this episode in my home just before we were all staying in our own homes. And, pre-pandemic there was Hollywood buzz for its movie-worthiness, which can hopefully get resurrected.

Either way, expect to hear more from Deborah; as mentioned there’s more in the making from the mind of this marketer-turned-author.  And enjoy the conversation. I sure did.


The Life of a Marketer-Turned-Author: Joseph Jaffe



Joe Jaffe might have been a chemist if he hadn’t fallen off a wall and broken his arm. The world, or at least the media world, is probably grateful to that wall. Hear how the strategist / keynoter / marketer / author turned happenstance into happy existence.

The author of Built to Suck and four other non-fiction books on the state of media, marketing and advertising, tells me about his path from Big Agency life to his consultancy, HMS Beagle…and why it’s even named that! (Think: Darwin…evolution…learning to pivot…).

NOTE: This episode was recorded late 2019, when we were all still going to physical events and recording studios… But this thoughts are, as always, still informative, especially since his current book is about the need to adapt. Coincidentally, he said, “We’ve developed a new kind of strategic planning called survival planning. So what is survival planning? It’s strategic planning in an age of short-termism, risk aversion and constant disruption.” Great for the business minded. For the personal mindset, you’ll appreciate that in this episode, Joe also discusses:
  • His first influencer – a Unilever executive he disagreed with who said, “You’re either a marketer or you’re not.” Turns out Joe might agree now…
  • How his first job at a chicken restaurant led to Madison Avenue…
  • And how his experiences at major agencies led instead to consulting and writing; in fact his blog, JaffeJuice was an early influencer on me!
  • What’s the role of “fate” in your life and how do you recognize your correct path?

You’ll want to listen because as Joe himself says, “The amount of people that have come up to me and have said things like ‘I’ve changed my career path because of you,’ that is an awesome responsibility. It’s almost too much for me to handle, but to inspire people to just make the most of their time, I mean, that’s my calling.”


Introducing “It’s Quite A Living”



 

Ready for conversations with friends in high places

Personally and professionally, I’ve somehow crossed paths or become friends with an incredible array of people who have made it to the top of their game. Though some people may describe their jobs by saying, “eh, it’s a living…” THESE are the people who can say, “It’s QUITE a living!” I don’t take it for granted, but it’s just always been that way. From growing up next to Jon Stewart to high school with future Tony winners, a career that spanned newspaper, radio and television…and now a few podcasts to my credit. So, thought I could share the words of wisdom my friends in high places have shared with me.

These conversations – some spontaneous, and some a little more formal – are just us chatting around how they balance their lives… What do they think about fate versus determination…Or even why they gave their dog a weird name. They’re real fly-on-the-wall opportunities that share little bit of the personal side of this eclectic group of friends and acquaintances – and some tips and insights based on their professional side, too. We’ll be starting with two marketers turned authors who have lots of great anecdotes.

I’ll be sharing a list of some upcoming friends I’ll be speaking with, so if you have burning questions send them along!

Please send me your thoughts and comments…and please subscribe and share widely! Thank you for being a friend as well!