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The 10th Annual American Spirit Awards of the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors (not to be confused with the Film Independent Spirit Awards) honored Chuck Fries, whose autobiography is titled Godfather of the Television Movie, Congressman Brad Sherman, who has chaired the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus since 2011, and LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich in a Beverly Hills Hotel ceremony Apr. 13. Jerry Isenberg, former CEO of Hearst Entertainment Productions, won the Caucus Legend Award, and Columbia College Hollywood dean Alan Gansberg,was honored for special achievement in educating new filmmakers.
Isenberg got the biggest chuckle of the evening for his nostalgic story of his entry to the business in 1964. “My business school dormmate said, ‘You’re out of your mind going into your father’s shoe business, I saw this job at Columbia Pictures, come to New York!’ I said, ‘Not show business, shoe business!'” But Isenberg took the showbiz job, and on Jan. 3, 1967, he discovered Los Angeles. “It was four degrees in New York, I was flown out here by Columbia, they gave me a convertible and put me up here [at the Beverly Hills Hotel], I put on my sunglasses, it’s 85 degrees, I’m driving down Sunset, and I’m thinking, ‘There’s New York, and there’s here.'” Though he’d never seen a daily or rough cut and knew only one creative soul — respected TV writer/novelist Diana Gould — Isenberg got a job at ABC, which led to scores of producing credits, from the Emmy-nominated Fame to Clan of the Cave Bear.
Isenberg offered a lesson to young people who want to pursue Spirit Awards of their own one day. “My old partner Jerry Abrams [father of director J.J. Abrams] said, ‘If you can’t do the business with job get out.’ This was tough for me, but he was right.”
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