If you're lucky, I mean, really,really lucky, once a life time you be part of something so big, so great, so amazing, it's almost indescribable: I am one of the lucky ones!
The journey that lead me to the greatest reunion in television history started very simply in 2007. I had been able to help a disabled athlete raise some money for an incredible race called, "Challenged Alaska ". This is a yearly undertaking by some very noble and some would say "insane" disabled athletes, who push their wheel chairs between Fairbanks and Anchorage,267 miles in 6 days.
This would be where my film career started. I was able to produce a full feature documentary called, Unbeaten, (www.unbeatenthemovie.com) which really exploded world wide. The film made the Oscar Short List, and was listed in Time Magazine as one of the top 10 summer Olympic documentaries of all time. Included on that list was Chariots of Fire and Steven Spielberg's, "Munich". Certainly not bad company, and moreover, completely unexpected.
Some six years would pass, and three more movies produced, (www.vanillafire.com) so I decided to go to the summer Olympics and Paralympics, London 2012. I had been part of Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010, and it just seemed that I needed to be there...and my intuition would not fail me.
While in the stadium ,walking through the crowds of 100,000 plus, I was somehow spotted by someone who knew me from the states. I found that to be remarkable and this human told me about an amazing story. He said, "You must interview Blake Leeper". Little did I know at that time, that there was more than luck involved; it was divine intervention...this I know 100 percent.
In the following days, I watched Mr. Leeper win the silver and bronze medals in the Paralympic Games, directly behind the now disgraced, Oscar Pistorious. His beauty and his grace was a sight to be seen, and we would catch up to each other several weeks later at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista, California.
The second I met this phenom, his billion dollar mega white smile was like nothing I had ever seen. Blake's personally and energy was truly that of a man on a special path, and from that meeting, I became Blake's agent, manager and close friend. I went there to interview him that day, and it turned into a partnership that is blossoming like all great partnerships should. Some call me "The Real Jerry Maguire"
2013 would end up being a exciting and off the charts year for Blake. I would follow him to Florida, Texas and Lyon France, where he won 3 silver medals and a gold. I would be able to secure him sponsorship deals with, Paul Mitchell,SMS Audio and the wall decal company known as Fathead. But, ALL of that would pail in comparison to Nov 25th on the Arsineo Hall show. That particular evening was divine providence and the resurrection of a legend.
Blake had informed me several months ago that he had met Bo Jackson when he was 5 years old, back in early 1995. He had a photo that corroborated ..this event and my mind saw an opportunity to reunite these two...so I went to work.
My original thought was just have Bo and Blake get together on camera for a PSA, but as that was proving to be impossible because of Bo's schedule. I had to rethink my strategy.
I began calling all of the late night TV shows with a concept, that I thought to be genius (but I am often thinking I have genius) Much to my chagrin, I am often not at that level of genius I aspire to, but in this particular case.. I was more than there.
After being ignored and being turned down by Leno,Kimmel,Letterman and Fallon, I was simply exasperated...and in one second, at 70 mph, all of that would change. A billboard...but not just any billboard..a billboard stating that Arsineo was BACK..and back was beautiful!!!!! This is where divine intervention took me away from the corner of nepotism and greed.
I was able to contact the show with in minutes of seeing this life changing billboard and it was GAME ON!!! They got it it in spades ,and then it was a matter of getting the greatest athlete of all time to get on a plane and come to LA and do the Arsineo Hall Show...piece of cake....but, not really.
There was interest, but Mr Jackson schedule is slammed packed, and I was told it would have to be in 2014. This was was unacceptable, and I would have to work harder. The email campaign began with fervor and with passion and it would prevail. Bo agreed to surprise Blake Leeper, known as The American Blade Runner, on the set of the Arsenio Hall Show, and the 120 day wait for this historic reunion was brutal. The Booker let me know that a booking like this was "fraught" with land mines, and that was the last thing I needed to hear.
The 120 days slowly ticked by, and Nov 25th finally came. A Limo from the show greeted 7 of us, and Mr Leeper, myself and my production team began rolling down Wilshire blvd. I had convinced Blake that he would only be getting two minutes to say happy thanks giving to America, and I able to keep that story intact.
We arrived to the set in style, and were greeted and treated like royalty at every turn for the next 3 hours. What happened next is beyond remarkable, and this is how a legend is born.
I was back stage giving Blake completely bogus bullet points to keep the "two minute Segment lie" alive, and it worked to the tee. At the last second, another genius idea generated from the Arsenio staff to have Bo Jackson bring out Blake's running blades, and the rest is history.
Mr Leeper and Mr. Jackson reunited on world wide TV. I sat back and watched in in a surreal slow motion as this iconic legend and this soon to be legend embraced, as if they had known each other for 100 years. To say it was the most gratifying moment of my life would be an understatement "Bo knows Blake"
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3 - Musical Putnam is an Uplifting Hit - Dionysus Theatre in Houston tries to mainstream actors with disabilities with non-disabled actors.
4 - Films Involving or Featuring Disabilities - Films Involving Disabilities presents listings of feature films and documentaries which involve persons with disabilities.
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