Personal salutes: Friends and colleagues pay tribute to Jack Kline


Betsy Kline on her husband Jack:

What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?
Jack never gives up on anything important. He is so focused and does so well even under a great amount of stress, whether it be at work or at home. This ability to stay on track has enabled him to accomplish so many different things during these past ten years of the digital conversion. I think his parents both being in the military and he himself having achieved the rank of Captain USMC, had something to do with it. He has strived to make Christie’s the very best products on the market and has always upheld that family's reputation in the industry for honesty and integrity.

What do you feel are his greatest accomplishments?
Certainly his vision and relentless efforts toward making digital cinema a reality is the greatest accomplishment. He was responsible for expanding the company by making wise purchases of companies he knew would blend well together and make a more dynamic theatre experience. As a psychology major in college, he had to learn about doing business pretty much on his own. He has always been very good at that.

Tell us a bit about Jack the family man.
Jack is very much involved with our family even if he is on the other side of the world. For 18 years, we lived alone after our daughter left California. Then, a year ago August, our now 17-year-old granddaughter came to live with us and attend school. She is now a junior at Waldorf School of Orange County. He drives her to school each morning on his way to work and she is the DJ playing her music from her iPad on his car radio!

Tell us about his dedication to charities.
Jack belongs to a number of charities in the industry and otherwise. Most recently he was appointed to the board of directors of the Lollipop Theater Network, which delivers newly released films to terminally ill children in hospitals. Last year he became involved in supporting the organization Stop Hunger Now, which provides food and life-saving aid to the world's most vulnerable. He organized food-packing events at Christie and at our granddaughter's school where he worked alongside the high-school students. The kids there now feel compelled to make this an annual event.

Can you share any special anecdotes about your husband?
Jack was once busted by our granddaughter when she discovered his stash of Hostess chocolate cupcakes hidden in his car trunk during their “Healthy Eating Contest.”

Are there any aspects of Jack that may surprise people?

Some people might be surprised to know that in order to help out with my family's business in Florida, Jack almost became a deep-sea fishing boat captain. Also, he can now sometimes be spotted on United Airline flights to Tampa with our Lhasa Apso, Roxy. Once there, he spends a precious few days on the beach or most importantly captaining his own Formula boat, Solaria.

Kenji Hamashima, Chairman, President & CEO of the Christie Group:

What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?
The award recognizes those in the motion picture industry who have improved the overall customer experience, and Jack has certainly done so by leading the digital-cinema conversion success around the world, through his work at Christie.

But Jack’s contributions, impressive though they are in the cinema world, are not limited to it. He has impacted all entertainment industries, by ensuring that Christie designs, sells and services only top-of-the-line visual displays of all sorts, from our projectors to our award-winning Christie MicroTiles®, to a variety of life-enriching projects, including museums, theme parks, shows and expositions, as well as businesses.

How would you characterize his leadership style?
Jack’s style is the embodiment of Christie’s culture and management philosophy—that is, you strive for total customer satisfaction in everything you do, and that this is achieved by having fulfilled, happy employees who lead an enriched life, which forms the basis for the teamwork that results in customer satisfaction, and may I even suggest, customer “delight.”

What are some of Jack’s greatest accomplishments at Christie?
He has been a true internationalist, while bringing the best of American entrepreneurship and drive to our management table, which empowers Christie as a global company, while adapting to and learning from many different cultures and market conditions around the world.

During his time, and I am sure for many years to come, Jack’s expression of a high level of interest and concern for customers, business partners and employees has built a company that takes a back seat to no one in innovation, and a company where change is realized to be a virtue, and to be embraced.

By any measure of success, Christie, aided and nurtured by Jack Kline, has been a success—witness our growth in sales, profitability, employee numbers, people who want to do business with us, etc., and of course, the two Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievement that sit on our mantel.

Tell us a bit about Jack’s life outside of Christie…and any personal experiences with Jack.
Well, Jack has a passion for international travel—a good thing to have at a global multinational like Christie!—and perhaps alongside that is his extensive knowledge of good wines. As well, he’s also committed to many philanthropic works, for children’s charities and, not surprisingly, the artistic community in its many manifestations.

Regarding personal experiences, Jack made me most welcome when I came from Japan and fully supported me as I grew accustomed to a new challenge, and a new way of life, when I began as the head of Christie’s operating units. I appreciated this and thank him for it.

Kathryn Cress, VP, Global & Corporate Marketing, Christie Digital Systems:

What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?

The award recognizes “outstanding long-term contributions leading to the overall improvement of the motion picture experience.” Jack’s not only guided Christie and its customers through the digital-cinema revolution, he’s worked with various industry associations on issues around standards-setting, financing, distribution and ratings. All of this work led to a better cinema experience.

And of course, he has directed our engineers and product managers to solve the problem of disappointing 3D movie presentations, with the result that we’ll be demonstrating our laser projector with Dolby 3D glasses at CinemaCon and NAB to show what the imminent future of 3D should look like.

How would you characterize his leadership style?
Jack’s style is a combination of inspirational and enabling—he shares his vision with his team and then enables everyone to deliver. Jack is very results-oriented, so he understands that the best way to get results is to provide a vision and then let his leadership team deliver.

What are some of Jack’s greatest accomplishments at Christie?
Well, and I’m sure he would agree, negotiating a friendly acquisition of Electrohome in Canada—what Jack has called “a great technology company”—stands right up there as one of his greatest accomplishments, as it set the stage for years of incredible growth, not just as a building block in the rollout of digital cinema, but also for advanced visualization, simulation and business applications that Christie has broadened into.

Having said that, our roots are in cinema and two more great accomplishments would be Jack’s work in developing the first Virtual Print Fee (VPF) program years ago, and most recently adding Christie’s donations to the Honda “Project Drive-In” initiative, to assist those iconic but often shoestring cinema operations across the United States.

And of course, guiding Christie to two Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical achievement have to be right up there.

Tell us a bit about Jack’s life outside of Christie.
Jack spends many hours outside of Christie but within the industry, through his work with industry associations. But perhaps more telling is his time and energy devoted to charities, of which children’s charities are the most visible. The list is in the Inter-Society press release, but what stands out for me is his heartfelt belief in children being our future, so investing in their health, safety and development is, in Jack’s words, “the most important investment one can make.”

Whenever we have a team golf event, Jack typically beats us all by a wide margin…and I also hear that he is a very good downhill skier, and really enjoys his downtime at his Florida home.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from Jack?
I heard it when I first started working for him, 14 years ago, and occasionally get a refresher in his favorite mantra. That is, be straightforward, don’t overcomplicate situations, and just move forward.

Craig Sholder, VP, Entertainment Solutions, Christie Digital Systems:

What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?
Jack’s commitment and contributions have played an important role in helping exhibitors improve the motion picture viewing experience all over the world. His understanding of the industry, ability to bring new technology to market and a keen sense for business resulted in many industry “firsts” like the 35mm platter system, a digital sound head, video projection for preshow entertainment, the digital-cinema business model, digital-cinema projection, and the use of a network operation center to monitor the performance and maintenance of the digital projection. 

How would you characterize his leadership style?
Jack’s leadership style is best characterized as visionary for his ability to focus people on a new goal and direction, as democratic because he encourages participation from many, pacesetting for the challenging goals he sets, and affiliative because he emphasizes the importance of teamwork and connecting people to each other. These characteristics, combined with an open-door policy, continually show his leadership capabilities.

What are some of Jack’s greatest accomplishments as COO and president of Christie?
There are many, but the one that stands out to me was his vision to transform and lead Christie from a supplier of 35mm film projection to the preeminent global leader of digital-cinema projection. To realize this vision, Jack negotiated a technology license with Texas Instruments resulting with Christie being named the first licensee of DLP Cinema technology, identified and negotiated the asset purchase of the projection division of Electrohome Canada for its experience in engineering/manufacturing projectors with DLP technology, and led the negotiation of the first digital-cinema business model to be adopted and implemented by the industry.

Tell us a bit about Jack’s life outside of Christie.

Providing for his family is very important. He is a good golfer, an avid skier, boater, traveler, “foodie” and is always up for an adventure.

Can you share any personal anecdotes about your relationship with Jack?

Over the past 17 years, Jack and I have shared many enjoyable times. As a mentor and friend, I will always remember negotiating the VPF deals with the studios, celebrating the sale of 6,500 Christie LCD projectors in Shirahama, Japan, receiving the Sandbagger award two consecutive years since its inception, golfing at Riviera Country Club, and learning how to be a better leader.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from Jack?
As one of my most important business mentors, his strong moral and ethical character and honest communication with customers and business associates have served as excellent advice and helped guide my personal and professional conduct.

David Passman, President & CEO, Carmike Cinemas:

What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?
He spearheaded his company’s leadership position in projection equipment as a pioneer in the exciting new world of digital. His and Christie’s reputation were on the line as Carmike and Christie and Cinedigm led the industry rollout in digital. Our partners didn’t let us down, with near-flawless execution as we installed well over 2,000 projectors. Jack, Christie and Cinedigm sustained and grew that terrific partnership with many more exhibitors over the past near-decade.

Can you share some personal anecdotes about your relationship with Jack?

He’s a fun and engaging individual with which to share food, drink and golf. What happens on the golf course stays on the golf course…

What are some of Jack’s greatest accomplishments as COO and president of Christie?

The rollout of digital across the U.S. was led by Christie on Jack’s watch. Enough said.

Tell us about the role Jack played in that transition.

The transition to digital was complex in virtually every aspect. It took enormous energy, patience, tenacity and compromise to arrange agreements for VPFs, financing and equipment manufacture and installation. I’m pleased that Carmike, Christie and Cinedigm partnered as first movers in the rollout of digital, and were joined quickly by RealD in using the new digital platform to introduce (some might say reintroduce) 3D as one of the immediate and impactful benefits of digital technology.

Dave Duncan, Business Manager for DLP Cinema® & DLP Professional Display & Front Projection Products:
What qualities make Jack a good choice for the Ken Mason Award?

In 1999, when Christie Inc. purchased Electrohome, Jack clearly envisioned the global opportunity for digital-cinema projectors to significantly enhance the overall image quality of the motion picture experience. Beyond his work with DLP Cinema and others to complete the core technology, worldwide standards and business models, Jack has always been readily available to help the industry.

Can you share some personal anecdotes about your relationship with Jack?
From the beginning, we would get together with Jack and his team at ShoWest to predict how many digital-cinema projectors we would ship that year. Although we were always overly optimistic, it was an amazing experience to be privy to Jack’s insight into the theatrical industry. He taught me a lot in those early days of digital cinema and I have always valued our partnership over the years.

What are some of Jack’s greatest accomplishments as COO and president of Christie?
I will forever be in awe of how Jack built a global team of talented people from both companies (Christie and Electrohome). His leadership formed one team that has achieved one of the largest transformations of any industry in an incredibly short period of time (given that this industry has existed for over 100 years).

Tell us about the role Jack played in the transition to digital.

Jack’s experience gained at Electrohome, his familiarity with Christie’s mechanical projectors, and his long-term relationships in exhibition paved the way for the early deployment of pre-DCI digital-cinema projectors. The lessons learned from those early deployments ultimately led to the formation of DCI. Although Jack is humble about his involvement with the digital-cinema specifications and business models that have successfully worked for distribution and exhibition, the industry certainly couldn’t have done it without him. We congratulate Jack for his dedication to this industry and for his contributions to improving the experience for moviegoers worldwide.

Evelyn Iocolano, Executive Director, Lollipop Theater Network:

The Lollipop Theater Network brings newly released films to terminally ill children in hospitals.

How did Jack Kline become involved with the Lollipop Network?
Someone on Jack’s team at Christie Digital reached out to us to learn more about Lollipop. That person then made sure we were on Jack’s radar. As soon as we were, Jack was part of our team.

What does he do for the Lollipop Network and other charities?

Jack sits on the board of Lollipop Theater Network. He offers his insight into matters related to industry content and security concerns and introduces other influential industry executives to our organization. He’s been carrying the Lollipop banner loud and proud, and for that I’m grateful.

What are your personal impressions of Jack?
One of the first things that struck me about Jack is his sincerity and genuine interest in helping people. Whether it’s on a big scale via Christie Digital or on a more personal level of picking up the phone to make a movie screening happen for a young patient, he’s got both feet in the effort and he sees it through to the end. He’s one of those rare people who actually does what he says he’s going to do. He’s a problem-solver and uses all of his experience and connections to solve the issue at hand.

We recently had a time-sensitive request for a movie screening for a young patient. As soon as Jack received my e-mail asking for help securing the film, he was on the phone with me trying to make it happen and figuring out a way to make sure Lollipop never again had to struggle to get a film for a dying child.

How have Christie's technical innovations impacted what the Lollipop Network does?
Jack and Christie are about to completely change how Lollipop operates by allowing us to offer studios a more secure environment in which to screen their films, via in-hospital digital projection systems. This will directly impact Lollipop’s reach and enable more hospitalized children to do what any normal kid wants to do—see movies that are currently in theatres.