ShowEast’s Hall of Fame: Honorees look back on their storied careers

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Cinemas Features

Each year, ShowEast selects a group of distinguished cinema industry executives for induction into the convention’s Hall of Fame. Here, the seven honorees share their influences and memories.

 

Nick Carpou

President, Domestic Distribution

Universal Pictures

What was your first job in the movie business?

Data entry for United Artists in San Francisco.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you? 

My dad, who taught me the value in people. My wife, for teaching me humility. Joanie, Lynne and Eugene, who have shown me the worth of love through the pain of loss.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

I’ve gotten older, and I’ve been enriched by people I’ve met along the way.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

No one dies from what we do, and at the end of every day, everyone can find a reason to laugh.

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

The birth of our first child during the release of Parenthood…proof of the circularity of life.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Parenthood, Field of Dreams, What Dreams May Come, Love Actually, Godfather I & II, Apollo 13, To Kill a Mockingbird, Day for Night, Nights of Cabiria.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

It’s about the company I keep. Since it’s organized as a class, I’m honored to be in their company. So many years…

 

John Lundin

Former VP of Film

Carmike Cinemas

What was your first job in the movie business?

My first job in the business was as a salesman for Buena Vista in Cleveland.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you?

I was fortunate to have many mentors during my career. In distribution there was Pat Halloran, the man who hired me into the film business, and Tony Lomanaco, who kind of put me under his wing and taught me everything he could. For the exhibition side of the business, three stand out: Alan Locke at Litchfield, where I first became a film buyer; Kip Smiley, who was instrumental in my film buyer education, and Lee Roy Mitchell, who taught me how the "film business" should be conducted.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

Two things. When I entered the business, there were 35 to 45 branch offices in the U.S. and Canada and hundreds of theatre circuits. Today, companies might have two offices in the U.S. and one in Canada. Theatre circuits have consolidated to where the majority of the business comes from four circuits. The other is the digital changes, in all areas of the business.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

There are many things about our business that are rewarding and special. It's a special group of people the public has no idea even exists. People may change sides, but they remain the same people. Job titles are not important. These people become your friends, a special family type of association.

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

I might have had some help on this one. My best memory is meeting my current wife. And she was right!!

What are some of your favorite movies?

My favorite movies are Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

 

Elaine Purdy

Former VP, Studio Relations

National Amusements

What was your first job in the movie business?


Working as a summer intern in Boston for the Warner Bros. release of Robert Redford’s film The Candidate. I managed a one-person (me) mock presidential campaign headquarters on Boylston Street.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you?

John Peckos (Fox and MGM): “Never let them ‘get to you,’ dear...it's all an act.”


Jim Tharp (GCC); How to get results with calmness, composure, competence and quietness.

Kyle Davies (GCC): How to recognize the best in others and how to help them recognize it in themselves.


Shari Redstone (National Amusements): To be passionate, take risks, and love what you do.


Blanche and Gasper Urban (mom and dad): All of the above and more.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

In 43 years, there are too many ‘biggest’ to name just one. Other than the elimination of pink ‘While You Were Out’’ memo pads, electric typewriters and carbon paper, I guess I'd narrow it down to the dissolution of co-op advertising and the conversion from 35mm to digital.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

The incredible, steadfast friendships that the past four decades has blessed me with.

What’s the best memory from your years in the industry?

More than a few, but top of the charts:

Working at Twentieth Century-Fox (Boston) during the release of the first three Star Wars films.


Being part of the marketing efforts to open Shari Redstone’s first movie theatre in Moscow, Russia.


Getting an urgent request to cover a “green room” at the Circle Theatre, Brookline, and in a heart-be-still moment, realizing I was one-on-one, in a room, with Stephen King (prior to a book reading). It was my first day of employment at National Amusements (’98) and I still can't stop smiling about it.

What are some of your favorite movies?

To Kill a Mockingbird, The King and I, The Imitation Game, The Departed, The Heat and any Hitchcock film.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

There really aren't adequate words to convey how honored I am with this induction. When I see the names before me, and those I am with this year, I am beyond humbled. I only wish my parents were here today to see it.

 

Darryl Schaffer

Exec. VP, Operations & Exhibitor Relations

Screenvision Media

What was your first job in the movie business?

My first job in the business was with Screenvision, but I have always loved going to the movies, so it is great to work in the industry and be connected to the movies.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you?

There have been a few CEOs at Screenvision who have been my mentors, including Dennis Fogarty, Matthew Kearney, Travis Reid and John Partilla. I’ve certainly taken something away from each of them over the years in terms of managing and growing relationships, analyzing deals, negotiating, best practices and managing people. I have also learned a tremendous amount from exhibitors over the years, and am thankful for many of their insights, which have helped me grow professionally.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

Well, we’ve grown our revenue during my tenure from $2 million to over $200 million, so there has been a lot of positive change. The different ways that we have been innovative and flexible, along with the help of our exhibitor partners, has been fun to be a part of. In the industry, it has been interesting and exciting to see the recent trend of upgraded amenities in the theatre with regard to seating, presentation and concessions, which is also beneficial to us and our advertisers, of course. Moviegoing is a staple of our society, and the ways the industry has evolved and innovated over the years have enabled it to continue to thrive, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

There are so many rewarding parts about my job. First of all, I truly love working with our 170 exhibitor partners. The relationships that we have with our exhibitor partners are extremely meaningful to us. It is fun working with them and helping to grow their businesses. I also have loved working with my teams over the years, especially the current exhibitor-relations team. Additionally, it is incredibly rewarding to be part of this amazingly charitable industry. 

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

I have so many great memories from my time at Screenvision Media. Honestly, every time we sign a new long-term contract with one of our partners, whether a renewal or a new relationship, I look back on the process and feel really good about it. Sometimes the difficult conversations build stronger relationships! Also, we were recently awarded Vendor of the Year at the 2017 Geneva Convention, which was a great honor. Additionally, I have to say that recently distributing the capture of the Broadway show Falsettos was really great, as it is one of my favorite shows, and I was honored to be part of bringing it to over 40,000 people around the country.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Manhattan and The Sound of Music are two of my favorites.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

Being a Hall of Fame honoree is a huge honor, and I am filled with gratitude to be recognized in this way. It is also very special to be part of such a great group of inductees.

 

Paul Springer

Former Senior VP

Paramount Pictures

What was your first job in the movie business?

In 1967, I worked as a young lawyer for the law firm of Johnson & Tannenbaum that represented most of the Hollywood studios and television networks. This firm rendered title and copyright reports so that the studios and networks could be aware of any potential legal problems when they released their films to theatres or broadcast programs over their networks. I spent virtually my entire legal career in the entertainment area. I briefly worked for Columbia Pictures in 1970, and worked for Paramount for 43 years from 1970 until my retirement in July 2014

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you?

As a lawyer working for a major Hollywood studio, I have had numerous mentors on both the business and the legal sides of the business.

On the business side, Frank Mancuso was my main mentor. He showed me that one person in a large corporation can make a difference. He set an example of excellence and treated his employees as part of his extended family. He had an unmatched sense of decency. He taught me that it was important to let others know that if a deal was consummated by Paramount, that agreement should be honored and there should not be an attempt to get out of a deal by looking for loopholes. He always looked out for others and never forgot his humble beginnings.

Other business mentors are Wayne Lewellen, Clark Woods, Gino Campagnola and Jim Orr, who taught that the business was constantly changing and evolving and that it was necessary to adapt to reflect conditions in a rapidly changing marketplace.

On the legal side, Walter Josiah was my main mentor. Walter was an excellent lawyer who taught that just because something was written down on paper does not necessarily mean that it should be taken as correct or accurate, but that it is necessary to go back to verify the source for its accuracy. His motto was research, research, research and I learned to do just that!

Other legal mentors include Bob Pisano, Jay Rakow and Rebecca Prentice, who taught me how important it is to keep the business executives fully informed and to advise them about good and bad news as promptly as possible. I learned how important it was to always be available to the business executives, because legal difficulties could arise on a moment's notice.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

Clearly, the biggest change that I have seen was the change from 35mm projection to digital distribution. For about a century, expensive 35mm prints were shipped to theatres in heavy metal canisters by airplanes, trains, buses, etc. It was a great pleasure for me to work with Mark Christiansen, a leader who was most influential in crafting the ultimate deals between distribution and exhibition, to help document the digital agreements.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

The opportunity it afforded me to meet the bright professional people who took pride in their work and showed true compassion to their fellow peers in need through industry organizations such as Variety, the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and the Motion Picture and Television Fund. They are very tough competitors, but as tough as they are, that’s how compassionate they are to take care of their fellow co-workers in need. Truly no one in the industry is left behind.

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

In 1987, Paramount celebrated its 75th anniversary. The company invited dozens of stars that were featured in its films and television programs to participate in the festivities. I was in awe as Hollywood and television legends were announced and walked individually through the historic Paramount gate and, thereafter, posed for an incredible picture with the gate as a backdrop. This picture is located in a prominent place in our home, so that our visitors can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime photograph.

Some of the incredible talent that participated are Elizabeth Taylor, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Glenn Ford, Martha Raye, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Fred MacMurray, Don Ameche, James Caan, Gene Hackman, Charles Bronson, Harrison Ford, Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern, Marlee Matlin, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito, Penny Marshall, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Rhea Perlman, Ted Danson, and many more.

What are some of your favorite movies?

The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, My Cousin Vinny, Fargo, The Graduate, When Harry Met Sally, GoodFellas, Annie Hall, Forrest Gump.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

Normally, my legal colleagues at the other studios and I stay well in the background. With the exception of my good friend, the late Seymour Smith, general counsel of Loew's Theatres, I did not see any other lawyer Hall of Fame honoree. A listing of previous honorees is like a Who’s Who in exhibition and distribution. I am humbled and thrilled beyond words to be selected to be part of this group. It is a wonderful honor and I am so grateful.

 

Don Tannenbaum

President, The Inter-Society

Former Senior VP, Systems

& Sales Operations, Warner Bros.

What was your first job in the movie business?

Warner Bros. sales trainee in the New York office.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you? 

Dan Fellman was and still is one of my greatest mentors; I learned a lot about distribution and sales and deal-making from Dan, but I also learned a lot about being a father. Dan is an incredible family man and I always looked for guidance while raising my own kids.

Jeff Goldstein really helped me learn how to set up business processes and to keep moving projects to completion, leaving no stone unturned. Scott Forman taught me to always strive to do the best job possible. I also learned a great deal from many other people that I have had the opportunity to work with. 

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

The biggest change that I have seen is digital cinema; it was revolutionary and has been significant in providing new sources of revenue as well as streamlining the industry.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

Working with an incredible group of people throughout the industry. It is also a very charitable industry, which is very important to me, supporting some wonderful nonprofits such as Variety The Children’s Charity, and the Will Rogers Motion Pictures Pioneers Foundation.

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

A number of years ago, I had a serious medical issue and almost didn’t make it. The outpouring of support from my colleagues at WB and from other studios and exhibitors was overwhelming and I truly believe it helped me recover.
What are some of your favorite movies?

That is a tough one, since I love going to the movies. I would have to say the classics Casablanca, the original Miracle on 34th Street and Singin’ in the Rain. I also love the James Bond films, especially the ones that starred Sean Connery. Of the more recent movies, I really liked The Dark Knight, The Hangover, Hidden Figures and this year’s Beauty and the Beast.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

I was completely shocked when they told me that I was being inducted. It really means so much to me to be among a group of incredible individuals that have made such a big impact on our business. I am really humbled by it.

 

Doug Whitford

Head Buyer

Southern Theatres

What was your first job in the movie business?

An usher at the Cinema 46 theatre in Totowa, New Jersey.

Who were some of your mentors and what did they teach you?

Salah Hassanein had the most influence on me in my early years in the business. He taught me to work hard and appreciate a job well done. I also learned a lot about film buying from Arnie Lewis. Arnie was smart and savvy and kept things close to his vest.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen over the course of your career?

The biggest changes involve film terms and eliminating clearances. Frank Patterson was asked how he could clear a theatre that was ten miles away and he said, “Because I can.” I used to spend hours settling film, always trying to get the best terms.

What’s the most rewarding part of being in this business?

I really enjoy the excitement of each week’s anticipation of the next blockbuster or sleeper hit.

What’s your best memory from your years in the industry?

My best memory stems from looking back on all the pioneers in our business and recounting my experiences with them over the years.

What are some of your favorite movies?

They would be the ones that I can watch over and over: GoodFellas, Shawshank, The Godfather I and II and Titanic.

What does it mean to you to be a Hall of Fame honoree?

It means that what I have done for the last thirty years means something and just maybe I have made a difference in our wonderful industry.