Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Meeting The Man

It's been a difficult few weeks in terms of moving "Mister Rogers & Me" forward. After four successful shoots, I felt strongly that we needed a clearer agreement from from Family Communications' CEO, Bill Isler (above right from Fred Rogers Center ground breaking in May), prior to booking Yo-Yo Ma, Katie Couric, Tim Russert, Bill Moyers, et all.

As you know, Mrs. Rogers has granted her blessing, and Mr. Isler has said, "We're going to do this." Still, I've been calling FCI twice a week since April. I've emailed Mr. Isler a dozen times, and sent as many letters. And, as you know, he's a super-busy man who is difficult to a) get on the phone and b) difficult to get a specific with.

For me, the absence of information creates the presence of anxiety. 'What if I misunderstood him when he said, 'We're going to do this?'' I wondered. 'What if he says no? What if all of this is for naught? What if I fail Mister Rogers?'

See, though I don't write about this project every day, I think about it every day, and work towards it in a thousand little ways: emails, phone calls, cover letters, ideas... and lots of worry.

So when I got a message last Monday night from Bill's assistant, Elaine Lynch, reporting that Bill was going to be in New York on Tuesday and wanted to meet, well, I was beside myself with excitement. I cleared my entire schedule, and kept my cell phone in my front pocket. Tuesday passed without a call.

I've been flirting with flying to Pittsburgh and waiting outside Bill's office, and wanted to get Elaine's temperature on the idea. So I left two more messages on Wednesday and Thursday, and one more Monday morning.

Typically, I call Bill's extension first, and then Elaine's. Usually, I leave a message for Bill, and speak with Elaine for a few minutes, making small talk but generally making very little progress.

This morning, though, a surprise.

"Bill Isler."

"Well, miracle of miracles! Hello Bill Isler, this is Benjamin Wagner."

"I think I know this guy," he joked. "Benjamin Wagner of MTV."

"Yessir. Sorry we missed one another last week."

"Me too. Listen. I'll be in town for just a few hours on Saturday. We can grab a cup of coffee. Do you live in Manhattan or outside?"

"I live on the Upper West Side, though I'd be happy to meet you at LaGuardia if you like."

"Oh perfect. I'll be in Columbus Circle. Let me work out my schedule, and I'll call you."

"Excellent. I'll cross my fingers and look forward."

And that was that.

Now, we'll see what happens.

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