career

AMERICAN MASTERS
James Beard

 

Experience a century of food through the life of iconic chef James Beard (1903-1985). A cookbook author, journalist and teacher, Beard helped to pioneer and expand the food media industry into the billion-dollar business it is today. He hosted the first cooking show on television in 1946, was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement and introduced Julia Child to New York.

 

Roland Cazimero, Almost 3 Years After Onstage Illness

Robert Cazimero, musician and entertainer.

 

Roland Cazimero, who was hospitalized after falling ill in 2014 during The Brothers Cazimero’s Maui May Day concert, and who has since performed only rarely, speaks with me about his health challenges, personal life and career in a Long Story Short episode debuting Tuesday, April 25 at 7:30 pm on PBS Hawai‘i.

 

Roland, whose nickname is Bozo or Boz, still hadn’t discussed the state of his health with his older brother and longtime music partner, Robert Cazimero: “We just don’t.” But he believes Robert knows that the sun has set on their iconic performances.

 

A virtuoso of the 12-string guitar, Roland would let Robert, on bass, handle the artful and upbeat onstage oratory and the smooth segues between songs. Roland injected teasing; he also was a master of short, flippant remarks. Together, the Brothers drew crowds and created enduring fans with their beautiful, soaring music and their entertaining banter.

 

In our conversation, Roland speaks comfortably and at length about picking up music easily as a kid in a musical family, but never getting formal piano lessons like his brother Robert and his twin sister Tootsie, because he was “kolohe” (a rascal). Also as a keiki, he met the legendary singer/guitarist Gabby Pahinui, and was entrusted with buffing up Pahinui’s guitar. He laughs that Gabby never got his name right; Roland was always Ronald.

 

As an adult, he was a “rebel” and a “player,” or womanizer. He said Robert and their hula dancer, the late Leina‘ala Heine, would take care of devoted fans and “high makamakas,” and Roland would “hang with the hoodlums.” They were his friends, and he says almost all of them have died, some in prison.

 

Appearing at PBS Hawai‘i with his loyal wife and caregiver Lauwa‘e, Roland explains matter-of-factly that his partying lifestyle was bad for his health, which is still touch-and-go. The couple reveals that he’s been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Now more of a homebody, Roland still writes songs and plays guitar, adjusting for his carpal tunnel condition. Lauwa‘e, who holds down an admin job when she’s not taking care of him, is his “best friend in the world,” he says – next to God, who’s “the best, period.”

 

One doctor told him plainly that he should make peace with his maker. “Done,” says Roland. While he’s still not always compliant with what the doctor says, he’s become a follower of Christ. When people ask about his health, Lauwa‘e likes to keep the answer short and sweet: “He’s alive.”

 

For any of us, that’s a gift.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Paul and Grace Atkins

 

Filmmakers Paul and Grace Atkins have never shied away from adventure. Partners in both life and career, their acclaimed natural history documentaries have told the stories of our planet in breathtaking, never-before-seen ways. They have worked with National Geographic, BBC and Discovery Channel, as well as some of the most well-known directors in the film industry. This special Valentine’s Day episode spotlights a couple that has boldly embarked on a life full of adventure and purpose, supporting each other every step of the way.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Feb. 19 at 4:00 pm.

 

Paul and Grace Atkins Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

PAUL: Many times, I’ve been filming something, and especially if you’ve got a wide angle lens, ‘cause that something, if it’s a shark or if it’s wave, it’s usually very close to the camera, and you’re inside this movie, and suddenly you take your eye away, and you go, Whoa!

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: I’m doing that? You know. Suddenly, reality hits you. There’s a desire to get images that no one’s ever seen, there’s a desire to tell a story.

 

You’re very goal-oriented.

 

PAUL: Which is very goal-oriented.

 

Outcome-oriented; right?

 

PAUL: I’m not an adrenalin junkie. I wouldn’t be climbing mountains or diving deep, without a camera in my hands. I wouldn’t do it, normally.

 

GRACE:    I would think also, too, it’s not that you also, too want to tell a story that’s gonna have an effect on the planet. Because, I mean, both of us really have a science background, so we want to tell these stories that we think will do good. We both grew up on Geographic, we grew up on all these wonderful natural history documentaries that really had a mission of trying to better our world and better the planet.

 

Paul and Grace Atkins blaze their own trail as filmmakers with their natural history documentaries. The duo has delighted a global audience with rare footage of exotic and often dangerous environments, and the forces of nature. Paul and Grace Atkins, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. For over three decades, filmmakers Paul and Grace Atkins of Honolulu have traversed the globe, documenting breathtaking natural events, little-know rituals of wildlife, and spectacular imagery for National Geographic, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, and PBS. Paul and Grace, affectionately known as Gracie, are not only a team in filmmaking, but in life as well. This married couple discovered they had a common passion for natural history documentaries, and set out together to follow their passion.

 

Paul Atkins was just five years old when he first got interested in nature while watching fishermen pull up stingrays, crabs, and eels from the muddy waters of his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He pursued his interest in zoology, which took him to the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the 1970s.

 

PAUL: I was determined to be a marine biologist, and I was working on my doctorate. I just started to feel that even as much as I loved the ocean, and I loved the people I was working with, I loved scuba diving, and I loved being out in the field, the idea that I was going to eventually end up getting a job and being, you know, on a faculty somewhere was not really my dream of the sort of life that I wanted to lead. And then, I picked up, you know, the department’s movie camera, because we used to use the camera to film fish underwater for the research that we were doing, coral reef fish. We were like, doing research on what happens on the coral reef when it changes from the day to the night shift. ‘Cause there’s a whole switchover underwater that happens with the fish. So, we were using lowlight cameras and a lot of cool technology to study that, and I started taking some of these cameras and just training in on grad student friends of mine and getting them to act, and making little home movies, and then, I got an editing table. And it wasn’t long before I started to realize that this is what I really want to do. And actually, I remember the moment when I decided, because … I cut together a film that I’d shot with the department’s Super 8 camera, and we had done some shark fishing off Waikiki as a part of a research project. This was back in the 70s. And I was intending just to document it. And then, I recreated some scenes, and recreated some dream sequences and turned this thing into a movie. And I took the sound track to Jaws, the movie which had just come out, and I took that music, and I cut it up into this dramatic music, and I made something else out of it. And I showed it to faculty and grad student friends of mine at a party we had. And I showed this, and I got this amazing, you know, enthusiastic response from my grad student buddies, and faculty. They were like, Wow, can we watch that again? [CHUCKLE]

 

That’s what creates a career. [CHUCKLE]

 

PAUL: Until that moment, I had no idea that something I’d created was gonna have that effect on an audience, and I was just hooked. I was hooked.

 

Filmmaker Grace Akins grew up in Oregon, California, Virginia, Austria, and Hawai‘i. Much like her husband Paul, she was fascinated with anything outdoors, the ocean, and animals.

 

Your father was a fisheries biologist.

 

GRACE:           Yes, he was.

 

And your stepfather knew the ocean, and he was an expert diver.

 

GRACE:           Yes, he was. He was a Navy SEAL. And my real father was a fisheries biologist who actually worked here in Hawaii for a number of years. I’d been mostly a university student. I’d been seven years at San Francisco State University studying, was a pre-med biology major. And then I got very interested in broadcasting, and so, I went through the whole broadcasting undergraduate program as well as the master’s program there. I knew I wanted to do natural history, or I wanted to do science documentaries. And at the time I went to school, there was really no definitive program that taught you how to do natural history films. I think it was Stanford that had one graduate course that I took in science communications, but other than that, it was a field that was wide open.

 

Before they met, Paul and Grace Atkins both dreamed of creating natural history films. Their chance encounter at Hanauma Bay, Oahu in the 1970s would launch them into their field of dreams.

 

PAUL: I was actually at Hanauma Bay scuba diving with a woman. I wasn’t dating her. I’d just met her, and we decided to go scuba diving together. And I had come out of the water, and so, we had our scuba gear, and we were starting to trudge up that hill. And then, the woman I was with saw the lifeguard and said, Oh, there’s—what was the lifeguard’s name?

 

GRACE:           John.

 

PAUL: John; John. She said, Oh, there’s John, I want to go say hello to John. And I thought, Oh, no; come on, really? And so, I followed her back over, you know, to the lifeguard stand, and then, I saw this beautiful blond in a yellow bikini there at the lifeguard stand. And … that was Gracie. And so, we put our scuba tanks down, and the woman I was with started talking to John the lifeguard, and I struck up a conversation with Gracie.

 

GRACE:           M-hm.

 

PAUL: And I was startled, because we had a lot of the same interests. So, we started talking about making films together.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: You know, from the get-go, we just started talking about how this is kinda what we wanted to do. And the conversation just kept going on, and it went on so long, you know, that the woman I was with wanted to leave, and she was getting sort of irritated. And so, we traded uh, phone numbers. And then, the funny thing was, is after that, after we traded phone numbers, I’d give Gracie a call, and we’d have like a forty-five-minute conversation on the phone. And I would go, Well, this is going really well. And then, at the end, I would ask her out. She would always be busy. She’d say, Well, no, I’m sorry, I can’t, I’m busy. And then [CHUCKLE] …

 

What’s the story there?

 

GRACE:           That’s true, actually. [CHUCKLE]

 

Because you were busy?

 

GRACE:           I was busy. Yes. I really enjoyed talking to him, too. We had some of the greatest conversations, and then all of a sudden, he stopped calling. And I just thought, Wait a second, Paul hasn’t called. And I went to look for his number to call him to say, Let’s go out. And I couldn’t find his number. And the next day, he called. And I was so thankful he called, because I would never have been able to reach him, ‘cause I didn’t know where he lived. I just knew his name and his phone number, and that he lived in town. So, we went out, and that was it. We went out on a date, and we actually haven’t separated since, except for when you’ve gone on shoots. [CHUCKLE]

 

And you did exactly what you talked about doing.

 

GRACE:           Oh, yeah; we did.

 

You started a wildlife film company.

 

GRACE:           We did.

 

And did documentaries.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

The relationship of Paul and Grace Atkins blossomed, and they pursued their passion for each other, and their dream of producing natural history documentaries. They began their filmmaking partnership with Paul as the cinematographer and director, and Grace as the producer and sound recordist.

 

GRACE:           At that time, there just was nothing that really would define how one made these kind of films and went about creating a career in that. So, when we started, we were really kind of like forging our way into a newer … world, a new way of making films, and basically had to do it all on our own.

 

PAUL: And I think it was the combination of, you know, just having the courage, really, to try it. Because now, you were a team. Now, you were two people.

 

GRACE:           M-hm.

 

PAUL: And Gracie brought in a sense that I didn’t really have, which was a business sense, about finances, how to use a credit card. I didn’t even have a credit card, or just know how to use one, you know.

 

GRACE:           [CHUCKLE]

 

PAUL: And I brought in this desire, you know, and vision about shooting and making films, and I was sure I could do it, even though I barely knew what I was doing.

 

GRACE:           Our first shoots were in Palau. And that’s when we were starting to evolve our career. We figured that the only way we were gonna get our career started was to make a film and present it to somebody to see.

 

Find a client later; right?

 

GRACE:           Yeah; find a client later. And so, we raised money to be able to go to these places that we wanted to do films.

 

PAUL: M-hm, m-hm.

 

GRACE:           And basically started—

 

PAUL: But a lot of things during this period kind of came together and happened.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: You know. I was dreaming about doing this, I met Gracie, and we talked about being a team. And about the same time, I was introduced to Arthur Jones, who was a billionaire inventor of Nautilus exercise machines. And he was spending a lot of his money that he was making on Nautilus exercise machines on a television studio in Lake Helen, Florida. He was going all over the world just filming things. And he showed up in Hawaii, and Bruce Carlson at the Waikiki Aquarium introduced me to him. And so, Arthur hired me for a couple of days to be a grip.

 

GRACE:           M-hm.

 

PAUL: And I started to learn a little bit more about video cameras, working for him. And so, Arthur … the name of his company was Nautilus, because it was based on the cam of his exercise machines, which was based on the spiral design of a nautilus shell. Arthur decided he wanted to mount an expedition to go to Palau to bring chambered nautilus back to be at his studio in Lake Helen, Florida so he could have them in a big aquarium there. And expense didn’t matter. He would pay whatever. And so, I got to know him, and I talked him into—I said, Well, why don’t you do a documentary about this trip, about the expedition to catch live nautilus. And he said, Fine. And I said, I want to shoot it. And he said, Sure. [CHUCKLE] We barely knew what we were doing, but over the course of a couple of trips down there, we managed to get enough footage to put together, you know, a semblance of a documentary.

 

Wasn’t that an award-winning documentary?

 

GRACE:           Yes.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

GRACE:           Actually.

 

PAUL: But not until we showed it to Jim Young, who was, you know, the executive director of Hawaii Public Television at that time. And Jim became a big supporter. And he became, you know, a believer before we had a lot of footage, when he saw the first footage. And he basically said, you know, I will donate editing facility and services to you to edit this show, and we’ll make sure we get it on Public Television and broadcast it. So, that was a great deal.

 

Because you had a billionaire in your pocket.

 

PAUL: Yeah. Well—

 

GRACE:           Actually, at that point in time, no.

 

PAUL: He abandoned us.

 

GRACE:           He abandoned us.

 

Oh, did he?

 

PAUL: He abandoned.

 

GRACE:           He gave us the footage [INDISTINCT].

 

PAUL: After the first expedition, he said … You’ll never make anything out of this footage. That’s what he told us. He said, Nobody wants this kind of documentary. He said, But, he said, I’ll give you the rights to this footage. He said, I’ll have the rights, you have the rights to see what you can make out of it. And so, we took that, and then got KHET’s support.

 

GRACE:           And some more grants.

 

PAUL: And then, we wrote some more grants and went back to Palau, and embellished it and shot more of the expedition, and actually did a better job. You know, that film was like our film school. We were learning along the way.

 

Learn by redoing.

 

GRACE:           Yes.

 

PAUL: Learn by redoing. Oh, that didn’t work, let’s reshoot that. You know. And then, a good friend, Mike deGruy, who’s also a resident of HawaiiH, you know, he several years ago was killed in a helicopter crash. But he did a lot of films for KHET as well during that period.

 

GRACE:           M-hm.

 

PAUL:             And he was our partner, and we were—you know, some people called us the Three Musketeers. We did a lot of work together.

 

And you were just feeling it out as you went.

 

PAUL: Oh, we totally were.

 

GRACE:           Yes.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah.

 

GRACE:           Completely. [CHUCKLE]

 

PAUL: There was no …

 

GRACE:           That’s an understatement, to say the least. [CHUCKLE]

 

PAUL: There was no model—

GRACE:           There was nothing.

 

PAUL: –having to do this at all.

 

GRACE:           Yeah. There was no YouTube, there was no internet, there was no online courses. And very few productions that were going on, too. Yeah.

 

PAUL: And there weren’t that many natural history films being produced. This was the very beginning. You know, cable had not exploded yet.

 

Through the success of their award-winning nautilus documentary, filmmakers Paul and Grace Atkins of Honolulu continued their journey into documentary filmmaking. They traveled to little-known locations across the world, capturing forces of nature never seen before on film, such as the feeding rituals of great white sharks and killer whales.

 

PAUL: Killer whales feeding on seal pups, actually. Yeah; and yes, we shot this. Mike deGruy was involved in this, too. We shot it in Patagonia, Argentina for a BBC series, a David Attenborough series called Trials of Life. Which back in the 90s, that was, you know, the Planet Earth. You know, that Planet Earth is still well-known today, but that’s how well known Trials of Life was in the 90s. Anyway, we were there for five weeks in Patagonia, Argentina on a beach, and the killer whales would slide up the beach and grab sea lion pups off the beach, and then wiggle, and back into the water.

 

What are some of the other adventures you’ve had together?

 

GRACE:           I think one of our most difficult and challenging films, and yet one of the most satisfying in a long time, because it turned out so well, was the one we did on dolphins for Geographic. When we started that film, we wanted to take a film that looked at the opposite of what the public perception of an animal was. For example, like dolphins. Dolphins are always thought to be sweetness and light, and everybody loves a dolphin. So, we wanted to look at the darker side of dolphins, which meant we were not only just looking at tursiops, but we were looking all the dolphin family. And killer whales are a part of them, and certain kind of whales and things. So, this allowed us to expand our stories that we wanted to tell. And so, we started making this film. So, we went out to a location called—what was that place?

 

PAUL: Cape Peron.

 

GRACE:           Cape Peron.

 

PAUL: We camped out.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: Camped out for weeks with the flies.

 

GRACE:           And that was …

 

Waiting for a scene.

 

GRACE:           For the scene of the dolphins.

 

PAUL: M-hm.

 

And that’s really part of a documentarian’s life, isn’t it?

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

Waiting.

 

GRACE:           Waiting; waiting.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

Just waiting.

 

GRACE:           So, we went out to this location, and we built a camp there, and the scientist was with us and said, This is the best time of year for you to be able to see dolphins herding fish. And we had never heard of dolphins actually coming and herding fish onto shore, just like the killer whales had done in Patagonia. So, we set up our camp and our tents and everything. And for weeks, we were trying to, you know, see this action happen. And it wasn’t happening, so the scientist said, Well, something must not be right, we’re not at the right time of season. I can’t tell you what it takes to get an expedition all the way out to a remote location like that. The weeks and the months of planning, and then also, the physical actual moving out there and setting up your camps, and getting all your gear ready, and then doing the shooting.

 

PAUL: ‘Cause there’s not power.

 

GRACE:           M-hm; yeah.

 

PAUL: You need to bring all your food, your water, you know, solar showers, generators, all of that out there, charging batteries, all of that.

 

GRACE:           ‘Cause there’s nothing out there. So okay, so we’re there for two weeks and decide, oh, well, this is not gonna happen this time, so we’re gonna have to come back at another time. We lived out on this location for like, two months. And you become connected with an environment like you never would, because there’s nobody out there; just us. And the dolphins sure enough came in, a family of dolphins. And they would come in, and they would herd the fish. And we were on this huge, long beach, maybe three hundred feet of beach. And those dolphins would come in and herd the fish, and Paul would be out there with his camera. Ann Marie, our assistant, who was working with us, she and I would be up on the hills spotting and telling him where the dolphins were coming, and where they were going. And he would run up and down this beach trying to film them, because as soon as he would get up to film, the dolphins would see him and would go to another section of the beach. [CHUCKLE] And so, there would be Paul with his camera gear, humping it all the way to the other side of the beach. And finally, you know, we got the footage.

 

PAUL: After two trips.

 

GRACE:           After two trips.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

Had anyone ever gotten these photos?

 

GRACE:           No; no.

 

This film before?

 

PAUL: No.

 

GRACE:           No.

 

In 2003, Paul Atkins used the skills he honed shooting documentaries to work on a Hollywood feature film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starring Russell Crowe. The film’s director, Peter Weir, wanted authentic footage of stormy seas. So, Paul Atkins boarded a ship for a forty-two-day expedition around the treacherous waters of Cape Horn to capture storm footage.

 

PAUL: We were on a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, which was built in Australia. It had been sailing around the world in various places, but it’d never sailed around Cape Horn before. It’d never been to these kind of conditions. We were with an Australian captain; his name was Chris Blake. Great guy. But he had never sailed around Cape Horn either. So, we’re sailing around the most dangerous waters of the world, and we’re approaching them, and no one on the ship has done this before. So, it was really scary.

 

I mean, they were huge waves; right? I mean, what about keeling over?

 

PAUL: We were in the open ocean, and the swells were about fifty-foot swells. And some of them were breaking. And there’s no land out there, there’s no rocks, but they were breaking on the open ocean. And the winds got up to about seventy-five knots. And the ocean, I’ve never seen anything like it; it looks like just sculptures, it’s foam-swept, it’s just foam everywhere.

 

Okay; what is there about you—and you too, ‘cause you were ready to go on this trip, that would submit to that risk?

 

GRACE:           Yeah. Well, you think of it as a risk, you think of the adventure, you think of what you’re getting to film, what you’re gonna be, you know, making.

 

But then, nature; I mean, there’s some factors you can’t plan for or control against.

 

GRACE:           Well, that’s true, too. But you try to plan for everything that you can, and over-plan. You know, so far, we’ve been always pretty successful, ‘cause no one’s really ever gotten hurt.

 

PAUL: Ooh, wow; that is hot. It’s like hot water to my hand. Let’s get suited up.

 

GRACE:          For our science documentary, it hasn’t been this been this thrill-seeking thing, it’s been more about telling a story that will do something better for the world. And it just so happens that some of the things involve a little bit more risky, you know, endeavors.

 

And I think you’re curious, too.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: You’re curious.

 

GRACE:           Yes.

 

So, you want to follow that thread.

 

PAUL: You’re definitely curious. And then, there’s one other aspect to it that I realized as well, is the exhilaration of knowing that you were afraid, and you did it anyway.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: And you came through the other end, and everything’s okay. There is an exhilaration to that. It might be dangerous exhilaration, but there’s a feeling of, you know, like for example, I used to have a fear of heights. And even today, if I stand on a vertical cliff and look straight down … it’s a mild case of vertigo. And so, to film on cliffs, which I’ve done a lot of, and to film from a helicopter, I had to get over that. I had to really get over it.

 

Master and Commander won an Academy Award for cinematography in 2004. At the same time, Paul and Grace Atkins began to expand their work beyond documentaries to commercials and narrative films. The pair struck up a relationship with acclaimed film director Terrence Malick, and Paul worked with him as a cinematographer on films such as The Tree of Life and the IMAX film, Voyage of Time.

 

PAUL: I’m in love with camerawork and visual storytelling, no matter what it involves. And I did at one point in my career, you know, get a little … I don’t know if tired is the word, but I needed to expand beyond just doing wildlife and sitting and waiting, and that kind of thing. But now, I enjoy flipping back and forth. I think it’s good. You take lessons from one discipline, and apply them to the other. It’s great; I love it. You know, I love working with actors, and I work with a lot of directors like Terrence Malick, who give their actors a lot of freedom both in dialog and in movement. So, as a cameraman, it’s not like you have marks on the floor.

 

Then your background is great for that.

 

PAUL: My background is like, I know how to do this, ‘cause I’ve filmed animals before.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

Paul Atkins says that film director Terrence Malick shared one of the most important lessons in his life, telling Paul not to play it safe, and to give yourself permission to fail. Otherwise, you’ll never rise above mediocrity. As for overall wisdom, Paul credits Gracie as the most influential person in his life.

 

PAUL: In our personal relationship, you know, Gracie, I always say, taught me how to argue. I’m born and raised in the Deep South.

 

GRACE:           Very non-confrontational.

 

PAUL: And very congenial sort of social structure there. People don’t argue, in public at least. They want to put on a good impression.

 

They refer to the war as the Great Unpleasantness.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

PAUL: Right; yeah. Yeah; exactly.

 

GRACE:           Exactly. That was your mother.

 

PAUL: Yeah. M-hm; yeah. And I didn’t know how to argue, and also, if somebody got angry with me, I kept it bottled up.

 

GRACE:           M-hm.

 

PAUL: And I retained it, and I resented it for a long time. Even the next day, I’d still be like, angry or hurt about it. And Gracie, you know, I don’t know how, just beat that out of me.

 

GRACE:           [MIMICS WHIPPING SOUND]

 

PAUL: ‘Cause we would get into an argument, and Gracie would be very direct about the way she was feeling at that moment. And then, it could be over for Gracie, ‘cause she’s finished with it. And then, she’d try to move on to something else, and I’m still like, Wait a minute.

 

And you haven’t really spoken about it yet.

 

PAUL: Yeah; exactly.

 

GRACE:           But maybe that’s the artist in you, where you actually are still thinking about it, while I’m more the action person. I get in there, and I figure out what has to be done, do it, and move on to the next.

 

PAUL: M-hm; m-hm.

 

GRACE:           And that’s just the way of a producer, I think. You’re the creative type, and you sit and you think about things. The years that we worked together doing the kind of films that we did and how we did it; everything he was really good at, I was not good at.   And everything I was really good at, he was not good at. So, we were actually really a perfect team.

 

Do you ever think about how lucky you are?

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: M-hm.

 

GRACE:           I think about it all the time.

 

PAUL: Oh, yeah.

 

GRACE:           Yeah.

 

PAUL: Definitely. Yeah. You know, I definitely feel that way, and then again, you know, as we all like to talk about a lot, it was meant to be. So, is it luck, or is there something guiding us?

 

GRACE:           Was this something that was meant to happen? Were we meant to meet, or was it just happenstance? I like to kind of think that we were somehow meant to meet, and that we created this life because it was meant to be together.

 

As of this conversation in December of 2016, Hawaii-based filmmakers Paul and Grace Atkins were gearing up to work with an environmental foundation called Global Mana to educate people about the effects of global climate change. Paul and Grace feel this is likely to be one of the most important stories of their careers. Mahalo to Paul and Grace Atkins of East Honolulu for sharing their story with us. And mahalo to you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

PAUL: I hear so many couples say, We never argue. And I just think …

 

GRACE:           Ah.

 

How well do you know each other?

 

PAUL: Sorry, I do not believe that. [CHUCKLE] Or, you should.

 

Or you suffer in silence.

 

PAUL: Or you’re suffering in silence. What’s going on there, you know.

 

GRACE:           No, but I think also, too, however you communicate, if you communicate through love and quietness, or through more emotional, passionate and argumentative ways, each has their own purpose in how a relationship goes.

 

[END]

 


President Obama’s Farewell Address

 

President Barack Obama is scheduled to give his farewell address to the nation on Monday, January 9 at 4:00 pm. The President will deliver his speech from his hometown of Chicago, marking the first time that a President has returned to his hometown to deliver such a speech.

 

Through his address, the President will thank his supporters, celebrate the ways we have changed this country for the better these past eight years, and offer his vision on where we all go from here.

 

In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people. Over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead.

 

(Source: whitehouse.gov)

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Glenn Medeiros

 

Glenn Medeiros’ humble childhood on Kauai did not prepare him for the international fame he would achieve after winning a Hawaii-based singing competition as a teen.

 

After years in the music industry, Medeiros grew disenchanted with the life of a pop sensation and turned his attention toward Hawaii’s education system, leading him to his current position as President of Saint Louis School in Honolulu.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Dec. 25 at 4:00 pm.

 

Glenn Medeiros Audio

 

Download the Transcript


Transcript

 

When my mother was carrying me, before I was born, she slipped and fell, and the doctors had said that I wasn’t gonna make it. And a few days later, my mother went back to the hospital; the doctor said, unbelievable, it’s a miracle, he hadn’t seen it in all of his years; I made a complete recovery. And my mother would always tell me that story, and I always felt that I kind of owed God something. Like if I have these talents and I have this desire to want to help, that I should do my best to make the most of the talents that He has given me.

 

In the 1980s, Glenn Medeiros became an international pop star, with chart-topping hits like “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”. These days, a different kind of spotlight shines on Glenn Medeiros as he leads Honolulu’s St. Louis School as its president. Glenn Medeiros, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Long before there was the TV show American Idol, Hawai‘i had its own big breakout pop star. If you tuned in to any Top 40 radio station during the 80s and early 90s, you’d hear Glenn Medeiros and his hit songs like “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” and “She Ain’t Worth It”. In 1987, Glenn Medeiros, just sixteen years old at the time, shot to international fame after winning Brown Bags to Stardom, a Hawaii-based singing competition. How did this soft-spoken boy from the Garden Island become a global singing sensation?

 

Well, I was born in Lihue on Kauai. I grew up in the small town of Lawai. And grew up with one brother, two sisters in Lawai, and very humble beginnings; we had very little in terms of materials and money, but we had lots of love. Lots of love; two great parents. My dad was a tour guide, a former Marine, fought in the Korean War. And my mother stayed at home; she did a great job of taking care of all of and being there for us, which really made a huge impact on every one of us. And I grew up having just a wonderful experience on Kauai, like living in the country, really, just fishing, going to the beach, playing sports, going to church. Very simple life, but a very, very enjoyable one.

 

Did you ever get bored?

 

Yes, I did.

 

[CHUCKLE]

 

I did. But it was good, because I think it helped me to cultivate my imagination. I would spend a lot of time just thinking about things; thinking about, What do you want do with your life, are you gonna leave Kauai, are you gonna stay here? What do I want to do? And I think it helped me later on in life.

 

To have that time to reflect?

 

Yeah; yeah.

 

Well, what did you decide you wanted to do when you were that little kid on Kauai thinking about it?

 

Well, I love music, and I sang and listened to music all day. But I knew that the chances of me leaving Kauai and ever doing something with it would be very slim. And so, I was looking at other things. And I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I could help people, so I thought about fireman, police officer. But then, when I was in about the third, fourth grade, I was in class, and I met a teacher who really made a huge difference in my life, and helped me to believe in myself. And once he was able to do that, it kind of spread out into a lot of different things. I found myself getting involved in student government, and doing a lot of different things. And I said, Hey, I want to be like that person, like I want to make a difference.

 

What do you think he saw in you?

 

What he did is what I take pride in as an educator, is being able to find whatever that person’s talent is, bring it out there, and let the person know, Hey, you’ve got something special and you need to do something with this. I was very quiet in school, and he was our music teacher. He heard me singing in the corner there, and he said, Hey, can you come over here a little bit? Can you sing for me? And I remember when I first started singing, he was just in complete shock. He didn’t realize that this kid who would never say a word all of a sudden started singing. But he was more than that. He provided me my first piano, first guitar. That particular teacher, his name is Arnold Meister, and he’s a wonderful person on Kauai, and does a lot of work on Kauai, and he continues to nurture so many talented people there. And then in high school, I had a teacher named Larry McIntosh, who was a fantastic band teacher. And he also just helped me to build my confidence. And he would use every opportunity he could to have me perform with the band and sing. And again, it’s all about building confidence in people to believe in themselves.

 

Growing up on Kauai, Glenn Medeiros would continue to develop his singing talent. He’d perform in school, church, and even on his father’s tour bus. And at age sixteen, he would perform a song that would propel him to stardom, far beyond his island home.

 

Did everyone know on Kauai that you were a really good singer, and you performed a lot in different places? You were a known commodity as a teenager for your singing on Kauai; right?

 

You know, I think Kauai is a small community, and you always have those contests going on. And so, you see kids, and for about a good three, four-year span, you’ll see a kid that’s all over the place. I don’t think most people thought that me being everywhere singing would eventually lead to, you know, a top-ten hit in the United States.

 

How did it happen? You were competing in Brown Bags to Stardom.

 

M-hm.

 

From your high school.

 

M-hm. Yeah; I entered a talent contest at the age of sixteen, Brown Bags to Stardom. Actually, no; I entered at fifteen years old, in my freshman year. And I won the island championship, came to Oahu, and I did not place in the top three. So, second year, came back, won the Island of Kauai, came back, and then won the state championship. And then, the winner was entitled at the time to go into the recording studio, record a song, and I recorded the song that I sang at the contest.

 

Nothing’s gonna change my love for you. You ought to know by now how much I love you. One thing you can be sure of, I’ll never ask for more than your love. Nothing’s gonna change my love for you …

 

When you chose to sing George Benson’s song at Brown Bags to Stardom, what made you choose that song?

 

Well, I didn’t choose the song. I chose the song for the contest because I loved it, and I love George Benson. But when it was time for the winner of the contest to record a song, those at KIKI Radio at the time said, Glenn, we need to record this. At the time, Whitney Houston had recorded a George Benson song called “Greatest Love of All” and made it into a big hit. So, they said, Oh, I think you can do the same thing with “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You”. And George Benson, in my opinion, is probably my favorite artist. One of my favorite artists, for sure, one of the top five. But he was also known as a jazz artist, so a lot of radio stations, I don’t think, played his stuff, thinking that he was more of a jazz artist. I like his version much better than mine, but basically, I was talked into recording the song, and luckily for me they did, because it’s a really great song. And I feel like almost anyone could sing the song, and it’d be successful. It’s just a wonderful positive love story.

 

And it was on the Billboard top one hundred songs.

 

Yeah; it was a top-ten song; it went up to number eight. And it probably would have been number one if it had been released on a major recording label all at the same time. What ended up happening is, it was on a small record label, released on the West Coast first, and then on the East Coast. And so, it never had that full punch. But in the other countries that it was released in, it went to number one in almost every country.

 

How many countries did it go to number one in?

 

Mm … it’s gotta be at least twenty.

 

Wow!

 

Yeah.

 

So, what happened to your life at age—this is sixteen now, that you won the contest?

 

Yes. It was interesting, because I never wanted to leave Kauai. And so, when I look back now, I think to myself that maybe, if I had wanted my career to move on and reach the highest heights possible, I would have moved. But I never wanted to leave Kauai. I’m a real family man, and I wanted to be around my friends, and I didn’t want to leave Kauai. And so, I would go to places for a couple months at a time, and I started traveling, and it was wonderful. And in about five years, I had gone through two passports and about forty countries.

 

Were you traveling alone as a teenager? Did you have a chaperone? How does that work?

 

At first, I traveled with my dad; he would come with me. And then, after about the first year, then I started traveling on my own. And sometimes, my manager from New York would come with me. But no, I had to learn to grow up real quickly, and it was a very good experience for me.

 

Did you get a little bit too much of the adult nightlife in the beginning?

 

You almost get thrown in; right?

 

Right. You know, for me, I would say that my mother, you know, all of her messages she gave me growing up just had all stayed with me the whole time. I was not one to go to clubs, and to enjoy the nightlife. I would go, and I’d perform at clubs, and then I’d leave and I’d do my thing. I didn’t enjoy being on the road; I didn’t like it. I enjoyed visiting museums and visiting historical places, and I loved the people that I would meet along the way. But the life of a singer was just very … it’s not a good life. It’s a lot of highs, a lot of lows. And in the back of my mind, I always knew that at some point, I would settle down and try to find myself something a little more stable.

 

You did it for five years.

 

Well, very busy for about five years. But all together, it was from about sixteen through twenty-four, so about eight years altogether.

 

Now, tell me; you gotta tell me the truth, okay?

 

Did you have groupies?

 

Oh, yeah. Yeah; there were, there were.

 

They followed you around, came to your hotel room door, that kinda stuff?

 

Yeah; yeah. Those kind of people always kinda scared me, actually, to be honest. Because they weren’t really interested in me; they were interested in, you know, the singer. And I kinda shied away from that.

 

During the 80s and 90s, Glenn Medeiros achieved more popularity in Europe than in America. While “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” climbed as high as Number 12 on the American Billboard Hot 100, listeners in the U.K. took the song to Number 1 in their country for four weeks. In 1989, Glenn Medeiros recorded the song “Un Roman d’Amitie” with Elsa Lunghini, and it went to Number 1 in France. And then, in 1990 came a collaboration that would bring Glenn Medeiros a Number 1 on the U.S. charts.

 

I did have some other hits; in 1990, a number one song in the United States with Bobby Brown that I did.

 

How did that happen?

 

I was working on my third album at MCA Records. And up until that point, I had been singing a lot of love songs, which is what I love doing. But the record company had come up to me and they said, Hey, Bobby is on the same label as you are, he’s on a little bit of a break, and we want you both to sing together. And we were conceptualizing what the new record would be like, and I had told them that I wanted to continue on the same path of singing love songs. And they had told me at the time there was a real shift towards grunge and hip-hop, and they said, You know, Glenn, if you want to continue in that direction, we can’t continue working with you. And that was a tough thing for me, because at the time, I had just bought a house on Kauai, and I wasn’t in the situation where I could really dictate what I wanted.

 

How old were you when you bought the house?

 

I think I was eighteen; seventeen, eighteen. Yeah.

 

But then, you had a mortgage to pay.

 

Yes; yes. And wasn’t in the position to be able to call the shots, per se. So, I kinda caved in. I said, Okay, I’ll do some hip-hop, even though I can’t dance. I love listening to the music, but I’ll do it. And so, we recorded an album of hip-hop music, and I eventually did meet Bobby, who I was a big fan of, and he recorded that song with me, and a couple other songs.

 

It was “She Ain’t Worth It”?

 

Yes, yes.

 

Grammatical.

 

I know. I didn’t write it, though, so it’s okay.

 

And did you strike up a lasting relationship with Bobby Brown, whose life did become somewhat of a train wreck?

 

Yeah. I mean, I did create a relationship with him, but I could kinda see where things were going. And so, I kind of kept a distance a little bit. You know, Bobby, it’s unfortunate, but in general, you see what drugs does to people, And it destroys lives. And if someone were to meet Bobby, he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. But unfortunately, when those same people are doing drugs, they turn completely different. And I was able to see a lot of people, lot of artists who were on drugs, and then not on drugs; and just completely different people.

 

At age twenty-four, Glenn Medeiros came to a crossroads in his life. He could either continue to press his career as a musical artist, or pursue another childhood dream: becoming a schoolteacher.

 

There came a time in 1994 where I looked at things, and I said, Okay, I’m twenty-four years old. Do I move to LA and give it a real try, or do I start going to college and become a teacher? Which is what I wanted to be. And I thought long and hard about it, and then I got a call from Frank DeLima. And so, Frank says, Glenn, Loyal Garner’s looking for somebody to perform with her. Would you mind coming up and performing with her and doing a show with her? And I said, Okay, well, let me talk to her. And Loyal and I hit it off; she was amazing. And next thing you know, I said, You know what? This is for me a sign from God that I can perform at night, about five nights a week, and go to school during the day. And it was wonderful. And I made my decision at that point that I would move to teaching. And there were a lot of people that were disappointed. My managers and so forth, they said, You know, you’re only twenty-four years old. But I really didn’t enjoy the life of a performer.

 

You have to tour; right?

 

Yeah. Being on stage is wonderful, but just being on tour, going to one city a day, not knowing most of the people around you, how it’s very taxing, how money is great but it doesn’t come in a constant stream. And putting all of those things together, I knew it was time for me to settle down in Hawaii. I mean, it was hard for me to move, actually, from Kauai to here, because I love Kauai so much. But I moved here and started performing and going to college.

 

Of course, that was a pretty good job to get you through school, performing as the headliner with Loyal Garner.

 

She was amazing. She treated me like a son. She would always say, I’m gonna take care of you, Glenn, don’t worry about anything. She bought me all of my clothes that I would wear in the show. She’d tell me exactly what to do. Glenn, you know, singing in a stadium is different from singing in a club, you gotta do it this way. And she really taught me what it takes to be a professional singer in that type of environment. So, I learned a lot from her. And we performed together for a little while, and then the opportunity came for Frank DeLima and I to perform together. And so, we did a show for about three years together, and it was so much fun.

 

So, Frank is another one of those people that made a huge impact in my life.

 

And he’s essentially an educator, too, in what he does with middle school kids.

 

Oh, yes.

 

All over the state, or has done.

 

Yes. I mean, Frank and I are very similar in many ways, because we have the Portuguese background, for one thing, but we both love music, and he loves singing. And um, I was a huge fan of his, growing up. And so, he still helps me to this day; he’s a wonderful, wonderful man.

 

You’ve also sung at the Hale Koa. I mean, it wasn’t a hard stop; right?

 

Right.

 

You continued to sing.

 

Yeah. You know, I always tell people that as funny as it seems, I sold seven million records, but I didn’t make a whole lot of money, believe it or not, as a singer. In the recording industry, you make money when you write music, not so much when you sing it. It’s the way the laws are set up, and the singers have never really fought for their rights, but writers have. And so, I didn’t start writing ‘til my early twenties. By that time, things started slowing down in my career. But being able to be in the educational field, I was able to actually, believe it or not, make more money than I did when I sang. Because what I would do is, I’d teach, and I’d have something solid that I could depend on, but I’d perform at night. And so, it’s really ironic. I would tell other people, You don’t have to give up your life completely to do what you love. You can work in whatever capacity you want during the day, and still perform at night, and live very comfortably.

 

One’s a salary job, and one’s a self-employment job.

 

Yeah.

 

So, it’s two different kinds of taxes, too.

 

And some people would say it’s too much. I mean, I’m a hard worker, I don’t mind working during the day and working at night. But you know, just like everyone else in Hawaii, it’s not easy. The cost of living is high here, and so it’s good to have both at the same time.

 

While still performing part-time with Frank DeLima at the Polynesian Palace on Oahu, Glenn Medeiros graduated from the University of Hawaii at West Oahu and fulfilled his dream of becoming a teacher.

 

So, at this point, you’re a teacher, and you’re on your way to increasingly advanced degrees which would earn you a doctorate eventually.

 

M-hm.

 

But a family came along. How did that happen?

 

Well, I met my wife in 1996, I believe. And she’s from here on Oahu, and we immediately hit it off, and were married about a year later. And she’s been extremely supportive of me. So, we talk about how it’s about timing and it’s about the people in your life. But in my life, my wife has been extremely supportive of whatever it is that I wanted to do. For me, my most important job is to be a good father and husband. And so, I have that driving force that pushes me to work really hard so that I can provide them whatever it is that they need. But between my wife and my two kids, I’ve always had this constant stream of support and of love, and so I feel very blessed. My son is a sophomore at St. Louis School, and so, we drive together every day to work, and we have a great relationship. And my daughter is a freshman at Punahou, and she’s wonderful. She likes to sing, and so, she’s kinda carving her own path right now. My son plays the bass in a band, and so, it’s nice to see how life becomes cyclical at times.

 

Is your wife musical, too?

 

No, she’s not. But it would be fun, though, because I think we could kinda put a band together.

 

I tell her, Come on, you want to play the drums or something? But, no; no. She’s more the athlete, which is good for my kids, because I’m not one, although I’ve tried. So my kids like to play sports, and they like to play music.

 

And your children’s names?

 

So, my son’s name is Chord, and my daughter’s name is Lyric. And it wasn’t my idea; it was my wife. I came up with these very common names, but I’m glad that we chose those names, though, because a lot of people like them.

 

Glenn Medeiros continued his career as an educator in both public and private schools on Oahu, and in 2014, he earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California.

 

I remember being in elementary school and seeing these kids who would struggle in school. But outside of the classroom, they were really bright. I mean, they were really smart kids, but in the classroom, really struggling. And I thought, Well, that doesn’t make sense here. And I remember just being a kid, thinking about it. Like, wow; now, if I were teaching, how would I do things differently? And I would look at the teacher, and the teachers probably had no idea I was doing that. But I’ve always been fascinated with what does it take for people to learn. So, when I became a teacher, for me, it was more than just getting in front of the kids and teaching. It was this challenge of, you know, what will it take for everyone in my classroom to really excel and do well? What will it take on my part? So, a lot of reflection after every day, sitting back thinking, What can I do differently? I gotta look at the research, what do I need to do to help these kids? Because I believe that every person is intelligent in their own way, every person has their own gifts. But maybe they didn’t grow up in a household where parents were reading to them every night. Maybe they’re in a situation where they have so much emotional baggage that they can’t even think about trying to learn how to multiply these fractions. And so, I’m really fascinated by what it takes for people to learn. So, when I became a teacher, it was, Ah, I just love it; I was very passionate about it.

 

And yet, you decided, I would like to be an administrator.

 

Most teachers don’t say, I’d like to take care of the bureaucracy and the paperwork and the structure. But you saw a way to make a difference, in a different way.

 

You know, I got to a point where I was teaching, and I felt that I should probably consider administration, because I’ve been able to teach from K all the way through about twelfth grade, and I’ve experienced the different levels of teaching.

 

And different types of schools, too; right?

 

And different types of schools.

 

Public, private.

 

Public and private, Catholic. And I thought to myself, I think I could even make a larger impact by becoming an administrator. And so, I tried out for it at Maryknoll School, and then became a vice principal for about four years, and learned a great deal from them. And so, I’ve been very blessed. I love being an administrator. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of work, but you’re in a position where you can make a lot of difference in people’s lives. And I like that.

 

At the time this conversation was recorded in the Spring of 2016, Glenn Medeiros, PhD was in his first year on the job as the president of St. Louis School, a rare all-boys Catholic school in Hawaii. He’s Dr. Medeiros to the student body, and he has not left the stage. He continues to perform twice a week at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. Mahalo to Glenn Medeiros of Honolulu for sharing your story with us. And thank you for joining us.   For PBS Hawaii, and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

So, did people who met you do double-takes? Hey!

 

Yeah.

 

Aren’t you Glenn Medeiros?

 

Yes.

 

Is that Glenn Medeiros?

 

When I first started teaching, it was the students and the sisters. Oh, my gosh, I know your records. Then later, it was the parents of the kids that I taught would say, Hey, Glenn, are you still singing? And most people see it as a positive. Most people see it as …

 

It’s not a distraction to you or them?

 

It’s not a distraction or anything. No, no; not to me, not to me.

 

[END]

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Phil Arnone

 

Phil Arnone has built a career on telling Hawaii’s stories as a television director and producer. Revered for his passion and professionalism, he has directed Hawaii’s number-one local newscast, produced a popular kids’ show and now produces documentaries that explore some of Hawaii’s most important places and people.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Oct. 23 at 4:00 pm.

 

Phil Arnone Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

He’s been paid to direct and produce Hawaii’s number one local newscast, a groundbreaking kids’ show, and practically everything in between. Television producer director Phil Arnone, coming up next on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. When you think of a television director, especially one who’s made his mark working on live broadcasts, you may picture someone who’s confident, diligent, dedicated to perfection, and perhaps wound a little tight. Producer director Phil Arnone was all that during his time with KGMB, by far Hawaii’s number one television station in the 1970s and 1980s. Arnone’s love for Hawaii is evident in the work he did then, and the work he’s involved with now, telling the stories of the people and places of Hawaii. This producer, who has so carefully archived the lives of people such as Israel Kamakawiwoole, Eddie Aikau, and Rap Reiplinger, began life an ocean away from Hawaii.

 

You’ve spent a lot of time in the Bay Area growing up.

 

Born and raised in San Francisco. My father was a second generation Italian, and my mother was second generation Norwegian. And as a result, of course, I speak no Italian or Norwegian, and never have any food that isn’t American.

 

That was in the era where people that were born elsewhere and moved to America were such patriots immediately, and they didn’t really want to talk about their history in the old country, if you will. My father was more outgoing and more Italian. I mean, he was, so he was out there and friendly, and reaching, and approachable. And my mother was a more conservative, quiet person. But it was a good family life. We didn’t stay in San Francisco too long. In the end of the sixth grade, we moved to Marin County at the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Marin County; what was your life like as a child after sixth grade?

 

It was good. I mean, very normal. The town that we lived in, Corte Madera, probably had, I don’t know, eighteen hundred people living there. It was quite small. And we walked to school. We’d walk down the railroad track, and then … grammar school. So, it was pretty normal for me.

 

Phil Arnone led this normal life through high school, then on to college. In his search for what to do in his life, Arnone looked to the military, which in turn, brought him to Hawaii.

 

I started off at a junior college at College of Marin in Kentfield, and mostly looking for things to see if I … something I wanted to do. And I didn’t find any. Then, I tried forestry and civil engineering, and took a class in all about religions, and took a business class. I did okay, but it never turned me on, it never excited me.

 

Did you think, I’ll have to get a job and not be especially excited, but I’ll do it?

 

Well, here’s what I did. At the end of the two years, I joined the Army. Actually, I volunteered for the draft. There was a draft then. So, they just took your name and put it up on top, and boom, you’re in the Army.

 

Why’d you do that? Because …

 

Well, it was between wars, for one.

 

It was safe?

 

It was pretty safe; yeah. So, I did that, because I needed a little experience living away from home, and growing up, and seeing how I failed the growing up part, but I did get some experience just living away from home.

 

Where’d you go?

 

Well, after all the basic training and then the six-week training or whatever, they said, Well, Phil, it’s time for you to go somewhere. You have a choice; you can go to Alaska, or Hawaii. And I said, after waiting a good two or three seconds, I’ll go to Hawaii. I’m one of those guys that listened to Hawaii Calls on the radio in California when I was growing up. And they painted a wonderful picture, and I painted another one in my head, so, I thought, well, this is wonderful. So, I was at Schofield Barracks for about a year and a half. We’re talking about the late 50s. So …

 

Soon after statehood.

 

When I got off the plane for my first time here, it was on the other side of the airport, Lagoon Drive. You walked down the stairs, there was no ramp coming up to you, and they give you the fresh pineapple juice. I mean it lived up to what I’d heard, certainly, and I loved it a lot.

 

Did you get to know local people very much when you were at Schofield?

 

No. I really didn’t, because I was at Schofield, or I was at Waikiki. I might have met a few people locally at the beach, but not out at Schofield Barracks.

 

So, thanks to the U.S. Army, Phil Arnone was able to get that experience of living away from home, in the place that he would later call home, Hawaii. But he still needed to find a career. He left the military and went back to San Francisco, where he continued his college education.

 

When it was time to get out …

 

After one hitch?

 

Yeah; one hitch, which was really only a year and a half. They let you out early if you were going to school. So, I was going to go to San Francisco State, so they have a new student orientation that you have to go to, regardless of whether you’re going as a freshman or a junior, as I was going to do. And at the end of that, they said, Well, now, if you’ll all stand up, it’s time for you to go to your major advisor. I said, Oh, major advisor. Hm; wonder what that’s gonna be.   So, I walked out of the auditorium, and I looked up, and the first sign on the left said, Radio-TV. And I went, Uh, let’s try that.

 

Really?

 

Yeah.

 

Randomly?

 

And I did; I walked in, and I loved the people, I loved the work. And I went, God, this is fun, I really like this. I thought, well, maybe I’ll be on radio. I could do that. And then, at one point, there was a fieldtrip to a television station, where they were doing a local Dick Clark dance party kind of show. So, I went in the control room, and I watched the director standing up, listening to the music, calling the shots. I said, Now I know what I want to do.

 

Do you remember how many cameras the director had?

 

He had two.

 

Only two? Okay.

 

Yeah; black and white. And the turrets on the end. I mean, this is in the, what was it, the late 50s, early 60s. Yeah; it was early 60s. Well, that was in San Francisco, the CBS affiliate. And then, I got a job there.

 

But they don’t just let you be a director all at once; right?

 

No; I wasn’t directing. I started in the film department as an editor. But in those days, what that meant was, all the movies were on film, and you had to cut them to fit the commercials in without destroying the storyline. So, did that for a while, and then, I got the job I wanted, which was to be a stage manager. So, I was stage manager for the rest of my stay there.

 

You were bringing people in and out to appear on programs?

 

Well, yeah, you’re calling, you’re cueing people. You know, it’s like doing a newscast, and you’re on the floor, and you’re telling them when they’re on, and counting back from commercial.

 

You were doing a lot of live television, then.

 

It was almost all live. I don’t remember hardly ever taping anything. Dance party show that I saw earlier, I did direct some of those episodes.

 

Despite directing a few episodes of the dance party show at KPIX in San Francisco, Phil Arnone was still considered a stage manager. Being a director was really what he wanted to do, so he moved back to Hawaii, where he had no job lined up, no connections, and no knowledge of what the television industry was like here, and where he teamed up with a man who would become Hawaii’s dominant television anchor of the 1970s.

 

I came to Hawaii, because I’d been here in the Army, and thought, Hey … maybe they’ll have a job for me.

 

So, I would have thought your best job prospects would be in San Francisco.

 

Well, they weren’t.

 

They weren’t; okay.

 

And Hawaii seemed nice. I mean, you know, when you’re young, you do things that may not make a lot of sense sometimes. And maybe that was one of them. But when I got here, at least I had like three years of experience at the television station in San Francisco, so it looked like, hey, this kid knows something, he knows something about television.

 

Did you know anything about the television industry here?

 

No; not really.

 

So, what did you go about doing as soon as you arrived?

 

I went to all the stations and left resumes, and almost immediately, I started working at Channel 2, which was KONA then, I think, KONA-TV. And I was doing a little switching, audio, camera stuff, editing film things. Things that I wasn’t actually terribly skilled at.   And then, when a directing job opened up at Channel 4, I went over there, and I was there for three years. That’s when I met Bob Sevey. He was the PanAm News anchor. Bob was one of the guys that I certainly learned a lot from, just watching him work on camera, how he handled himself. And Bob was the same guy on camera, or off camera; a wonderful man.

 

He had this great gravitas that didn’t get thrown off by untoward events that happened during newscasts, like a tripod falling down, or somebody walking into the studio not aware that you’re on live television.

 

Yeah; he could handle the worst situation.

 

What did a director at that time do?

 

Ah. The main thing that I did was, directed all of Bob Sevey’s Pan American Newscasts. Directing meaning, I had a script in the control room, and give the commands to roll in tape, and when to go to it, and when to go to this, or that, or whatever the graphic might be, and go to commercial.

 

So, on your end, it wasn’t just following a list of commands in your head or on the script. Sometimes tape comes in late, or things happen, and you’re always on the fly as far as adjusting. And when Bob Sevey is gonna drop things, you make that happen; right?

 

There’s an energy that is created when you’re delivering the news, when you know it’s live, and you know it’s just happening, and everybody’s breathing hard and excited.

 

And you’re waiting for the last information, or the last film clip to come in.

 

And people to come out and hand you a page of script, or a new bulletin has come in, or somebody has just died that we need to talk about. All of that happens, so it can be very exciting, and it can be very stressful. We try not to make it too stressful.

 

The career that Phil Arnone had been working towards, that of a television director, had finally been realized. Arnone soon earned a reputation as a producer and director who accepted no less than perfection from himself, and from the people with whom he worked. Bob Sevey picked you when he switched stations, I take it.

 

Well, he was hired by Cec to run the news department. And within what seemed like a couple of weeks, the director that Cec had hired had a heart attack in the control room, passed away.

 

At Channel 9.

 

At Channel 9. So, Bob had suggested to Cec that I could come over and do that job.

 

You and I worked in the same television station, in the Bob Sevey days.

 

Yes.

 

And you could be one of two things. You could be steely, and scary.

Or you could be staccato sharp, and scary.

 

Ah …

 

But scary was pretty much the defining approach.

 

Yeah.

 

I mean, you were a no-tolerance, perfection director. There are others who go, That’s okay, no problem, you know, we’ll make it back on this next show. You; no prisoners, take no prisoners. What do you mean by that?

 

Well, but you’re right. I mean, I tried to have the perfect show. But I think every director wants that. It’s not like they don’t want it. And what you have to do is, if there’s a mistake made that’s on the air already, nothing you can do about it, you need to talk to that person after the show about what happened.

 

Yes. Your conversations with people about this are very memorable. To them.

 

Well, sometimes, I would open up the microphone from the control room that went into the newsroom on a PA system kinda thing, and tell somebody right after they made a boo-boo that it wasn’t nice, don’t do that again, please. In a different choice of words, perhaps.

 

Were you looking for something that would work, because you wanted that perfect newscast?

 

Oh, yeah. I mean, that was the job. We didn’t want to see a lot of blank screen or … lot of things catching people unawares. We can’t do that.

 

Were you as hard on yourself when you made a mistake?

 

I’d like to think so. I’ve changed, I’ve grown up a little bit. I realize that perhaps … saying certain things doesn’t really help you in the long run.

 

Phil Arnone was in the right place, at the right time. Under owner Cec Heftel, KGMB was the market powerhouse in local news and entertainment in the 1970s. In addition to directing the top-rated Channel 9 News, Arnone also produced and directed live coverage of local sporting events, he created the Hawaiian Moving Company, he produced music specials that featured, amongst others, Cecilio and Kapono, the Peter Moon Band, and Emma Veary. He directed 50th State Wrestling, working with Lord Tally Ho Blears, Gentleman Ed Francis, and Handsome Johnny Berand. And there was also a kids’ show, one that even today is still very fondly remembered by many Hawaii residents.

 

When I started, the infamous Checkers and Pogo Show was either just starting or about to start. And the show was successful almost from the very beginning, ‘cause Cec was looking for something that kids would want to watch, but also advertisers would want to be in with kids’ products.

 

Did you direct the Checkers and Pogo Show?

 

I may have directed an episode or two along the way, but I was more the producer. I do remember one of the infamous episodes where—you know, there was a lot of pie-throwing on that show. When they were desperate for someone to hit with a pie, I would put on a coat and tie, because it was much more fun to hit a guy with a pie if he was dressed up. And they called me management, if you will. So, I would walk out there, and demand that they give me that pie. I don’t want say it, of course. And the kids are screaming, Yeah, give him a pie! Okay.

 

This is good. Watch this.

 

You had a huge local audience. I still run into adults who are now maybe collecting social security, and they just can’t believe how much fun it was being on that live television show as a kid.

 

There was the penny jar that they could stick their hand into. There were funny-faces. I don’t know if you remember that, but that was a chance for kids to make a face, and it was okay to do that.

 

Different vibe. It was a station that kind of did what it wanted, and was very successful at reading what the audience was willing and happy to watch at the time.

 

You know, free-for-all was a big part of what Cec did, on radio and television at the same time, which was giving away money. And he always said, If you’re giving away money, people will watch or listen to the radio. I mean, he went right to the base core of, this will work.

 

We’re talking about the fun and the games, and the money giveaway, but the newscasts were sacrosanct. Bob Sevey didn’t tolerate any funny business.

 

No, he didn’t. But Cec totally kept his hands off the news department. He hired Bob, and Bob made the decisions about hiring people, and what the newscast was gonna look like, and be like. And so, Cec was certainly smart enough to realize that he can’t be commanding every inch of the station, and Bob knows what he’s doing. So … yeah.

 

And you did both. You could go crazy, and you could go very serious.

 

I was … yeah.

 

Were you as intolerant of mistakes on the Checkers and Pogo Show, as you were on the news?

 

Yeah.   Well, no, probably not to the same degree. I mean, the news is a serious show that needed to be handled in a certain way, and look professional. You could look goofy and make a mistake on Checkers and Pogo, and no one would know it was a mistake. You know, we’d just go, That’s fine, get another pie ready.

 

While Phil Arnone’s passion for television brought him professional success, he acknowledges that the same passion can consume so that you sometimes forget the more important things. And he considers that a factor in the in the end of his first marriage. But sometimes, work can also create social opportunities. Arnone met his current wife while he was producing a show at KGMB.

 

That’s an interesting story. We were doing a Bingo show. It was a short-lived … or is it lived? Short-lived show. It was an experiment, and Karen Keawehawaii and …

 

Kirk Matthews.

 

Kirk Matthews were the two hosts. And Michelle came down with a friend, a girlfriend, to watch the show. And I was looking at people on the camera in the control room, and … and there she was. And I went … I need to go out and talk to her.

I think it’s important. You know, she’s new in the studio, needs …

 

Needs help.

 

–a friendly face, and … that kinda stuff. So, that was pretty much it. You know, at the moment, we kinda left it that way, and then I saw her at some other gathering, and I think I got her phone number. But we did go out on a date. I think we went to Hy’s, where Michelle says I interviewed her.   I think she actually said, third degree, as opposed to interview. But that was interesting. But anyway, that was the first date, and then we went on from there. So, I mean, Michelle is my best friend. I can talk to her about anything, and vice versa. And she’s a joy. I’m so lucky to have her in my life. I really am.

 

And you have a blended family, although the kids didn’t grow up together; right?

 

No; because yeah, the age difference is considerable. But yeah, Michelle’s daughters and my daughters, obviously, we’re all happy. We don’t spend a lot of time all together, because people are living all over the country. But yeah, her daughters, as I think I’ve mentioned, they’re really very bright kids, and have done well for themselves. And Tony, my son, is a professor at University of Iowa, a cellist and has a couple of CDs out, actually.

 

In 1989, after working in Hawaii for twenty-six years, Phil Arnone returned to the Bay Area. As director of local programming at KTVU, he was working in a major market, with major budgets. He was in charge of shows for San Francisco 49ers football and Giants baseball, as well as live coverage of local cultural events such as San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade. He produced the Orange Bowl Parade for CBS Television. Arnone’s career was soaring. But in 2002, it was time to come home, to Hawaii.

 

How’d you know it was time?

 

Well, let’s see. I was turning sixty-five, and I promised my wife that we would come back at that point. And it was fine. I had no idea what I was gonna do when I got back.

 

Did you consider retiring?

 

Well, I thought I was retiring. I thought that’s what was happening to me on the plane back. And I go, Well, but you know, I love this, I don’t know anything else. Was that a good move? Mm. But it turned out to be a great move.

 

Rather than retiring, Phil Arnone continued to combine his talents as a producer and director with his love for Hawaii, producing specials about the people and places of our islands.

 

That is what you found to do in, quote, retirement. How did that happen? You’re doing film, after film, after film for Hawaii News Now; local programming.

 

Well, when I came back, I went around and visited all the stations to see what was going on. And as I got into KGMB, realized that this was in fact their fiftieth anniversary being on the air. So, in talking to … I can’t remember the general manager. It was a woman that was there … nice lady.

 

Lynn.

 

Lynn Mueller?

 

Yes.

 

Yeah. And she said, Well, why don’t you do this fiftieth anniversary show for us? You know, so that’s how it started. And then we went from there to another show, and another show, and another show. The truth is that I’ve learned so much about Hawaii and about these people, and about the culture, that I never learned when I was here working at KGMB. I mean, we never did shows like this, and I never left that station. I was always in the station doing things. I feel almost like Lou Gehrig when he said, I’m the luckiest man alive, because I’m still doing something that I enjoy at this age, and in this time.

 

Don Ho, Tom Moffatt, Duke Kahanamoku, Dave Shoji, Jim Nabors, Kapiolani Park, Romance in Hawaii. These are just a few of Hawaii’s stories that have been told by Phil Arnone and his team, writer Robert Pennybacker and editor Lawrence Pacheco. At the time of our conversation in the spring of 2016, the seventy-nine-year-old Arnone and his team were working on their twentieth film about the life of local jazz legend, Jimmy Borges. Mahalo to Phil Arnone of Portlock in East Honolulu, for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

I did commercials for a while in the 70s. It was on-camera kind of stuff.

 

Were you the earnest pitchman?

 

I was. Well, I wasn’t pitching it, but I was very serious. Except the McDonald’s spot.

 

Grand prize, Datsun 280z in either the two or four-seat model, thirty all-expense-paid trips via United Airlines to Boston and Philadelphia, other prizes; a console piano, a sailboat, an outrigger canoe, a refrigerator freezer, six color TVs, two electric typewriters, four stereo music systems, twenty calculators, four tape recorders. Not so bad so far, huh, folks? Twenty solid state radios, six pop-up toasters, ten hairdryers. We’re rolling now. One hundred trail bikes, three ten-speed bikes, two surfboards, two cassette tape recorders, hundred record albums, and two all-beef patties, special sauce, cheese, onions …

 

[END]

 

POV
Ping Pong

 

Eight players whose cumulative age totals over 700 years compete in the Over 80 World Table Tennis Championships in China’s Inner Mongolia. British players Terry, 81, who has been given a week to live, and Les, 91, a weightlifter and poet, are going for the gold. Inge, 89, from Germany, has used table tennis to paddle her way out of dementia. And Texan Lisa, 85, is playing for the first time. This film is an inspiring and unusual story of hope, regret, friendship, ambition, love and sheer human tenacity in the face of aging and mortality.

 

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