It’s a few days after my graduation from the University of Michigan, and I’m squeezing the remainder of my life possessions into my blue Honda station wagon, preparing for the cross-country drive to Los Angeles. I have accepted a job in the heart of the Hollywood Entertainment business at Richard Perry’s Planet Records and the legendary Studio 55, a stone’s throw from Paramount Studios front gate.
I load the last box through the back window, and take pause and say my last goodbyes. I look my father, a pediatrician in my hometown Detroit, square in the eyes and say, “Dad, there is a part of me that feels I should be dedicating my life to something more meaningful, like you have as a doctor – to healing people.”
Doc Fitz, as the community called him, quickly reassures me with his blue-eyed Irish smile, “What you are doing is important. One of the things people need most is the joy and laughter that come from good music and entertainment. Those can be powerful medicines; you are healing people.”
I recalled this story today – almost 35 years later, when I received notice of the Festival Premier of our upcoming film, Love Jacked. Directed and written by long time friends and collaborators, Alfons and Rob Adetuyi, Love Jacked is a sentimental, romantic comedy in the spirit of Father of the Bride meets Coming to America.
Beyond providing an escape from the daily grind, comedies with deep moving stories, like Love Jacked give us an opportunity to delve into important issues and relationships in our own lives. They help us look at ourselves and at others with more lightness, compassion and acceptance.
Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented filmmakers and comedians – from Ivan Reitman & Danny DeVito (Twins); to Garry Shandling & Judd Apatow (The Larry Sanders Show); to Eric Idle and Jonathan Lynn (Nuns On the Run); to David Zucker (The Scary Movie franchise), Chris Tucker (Friday), and Bernie Mac (Soul Men). From the raw & raucous to romantic & sentimental, I have witnessed the joy they brought to the audiences around the globe through their brilliant alchemy of humor.
I’m not sure I always appreciated the deeper value of humor, or of making comedies, while I was in the midst of it. As a Hollywood Creative meets Social Entrepreneur, I was always longing to work on those Oscar-worthy dramas – the ones with serious storylines and deep moral lessons. But Dad was right. Next to love, what the world can always use more of is a healing dose of Joy and Laughter.
Love Jacked makes it’s world premier on February 8, for the opening of the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. To find more information or purchase the ticket click here
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