Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Call

Family Communications CEO Bill Isler just called.

We talked for about ten minutes. He was patient, warm, and candid.

In short (because we agreed to keep the conversation off the record, and I don't want to do anything to jeapordize the possibility of this documentary actually happening), he said neither yes nor no.

We hung up about five minutes ago. I'm still a little bit shaken. I have a ton of my heart invested in this project, so I'm worried about how well (or poorly) I represented our best intentions.

I called Chris right away, and re-capped the conversation.

"I'm not sure we moved much at all," I said. "I think he just has a better sense of the color of things."

Chris could tell I was rattled.

"Think about those guys who made 'Hoop Dreams,'" he said. "They spent eight years with those kids, and didn't even shoot any film until the third year. So don't worry about it, dude. You spoke your truth. That's all you can do."

So Chris and I are going to finish the second trailer early next week, and send it off to Bill and FCI along with a more fleshed-out "pitch." We'll go meet Davy Rothbart. And we'll continue to seek interviews. Next up: Katie Couric, Yo Yo Ma, and Michael Keaton.

The journey continues...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lost & Found, Vol. II

Sometime after my mother's first summer as Fred and Joanne Rogers' neighbor, I sent him a copy of my debut CD, "Bloom." (Very) shortly thereafter, he sent me the following note (which I found as I prepare for this week's move).The note (which you can click to enlarge) reads:

Dear Benjamin Wagner,

What a treat you've given me! Thank you for your thoughtful letter and "Bloom." You describe the music well: "earnest," "sincere." Bravo Benjamin.

We loved our visits with your Mom in Nantucket. As you know, she is a mighty special lady. It's good to be her Real neighbor some of the year! Looking forward to meeting you in ACK some day soon!

Again my thanks.

Kindest personal regards.

Fred Rogers

Well, that pretty much sealed the deal. The following summer, I spent the weekend of my 30th birthday in Madaket, met Mister Rogers, and...

And here we are.

Lost & Found, Vol. I

Spring has broken outside. My windows are flung wide for the first time in months. The sun is streaming through the dust, unsettled by having hauled all of my belongings out in the open. In just a few days, I'll leave this apartment on the Upper West Side, and move in with Abbi at 56th and Tenth.

Today, then, I am sifting through old notebooks, tapes, and photos. Which is how I came across this one. I am sitting in Westwind, the small cottage my mother rented on Madaket, just a few minutes before walking across the dune to meet Mister Rogers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Actual Email, Vol. 2


The current issue of Vanity Fair features pictorials of past
presidential staffs...

"Several current-day TV-news personalities sent us their regrets: Bill
Moyers (Johnson's press secretary) and Diane Sawyer and Roger Ailes
(both of whom had worked for Nixon). ABC's George Stephanopoulos, a
senior adviser to Bill Clinton, agreed to pose but had a last-minute
travel glitch. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, a White House fellow and
aide to Johnson, withdrew from two planned photo sessions."

If Moyers is turning down VF, I certainly wouldn't be offended by his
reticence regarding your project.

Keep plowing ahead!

All the best,


Editor's note: Thanks Magnus!