My first job out of college was at my hometown television station. I worked my way in to the Promotion Department, which is where I had interned and first met Rob. The Promotion Department served as the in-house advertising agency and my colleagues were young, wise-cracking creative people that were just plain fun to be around. Rob's quick wit made our days productive but full of laughter, and the nights were usually spent hanging out at the local pub with others from the station.
Rob taught me how to edit video tape when I was an intern and coached me on the finer nuances of delivering a concise and (hopefully) entertaining 30 second promotional spot. This was back in the days when you needed an entire crew of maybe five to seven people to articulate what was in your head as a writer/producer. These spots were designed to get more people to watch our station and programs, which would result in better ratings that would convince advertisers to spend their money with our station.
Just a year older than me, Rob was tall, smart, nice, and armed with a journalism degree from the University of Georgia. He was a romantic who wore his heart on his sleeve. Rob’s close friends and I would sit back while Rob evaluated the romantic potential in many of the pretty new hires that graced the doors of the old mansion in which the station was located. Sometimes, he would land himself a date, and he always remained hopeful that it would turn into something more. And that something more was akin to a classic movie script from yesteryear. Rob's soul lived in the wholesomeness of decades past.
Rob had professional dreams that were bigger than our station and he moved on to a bigger market. He met one of his celebrity crushes (SJP) at a booked appearance and she convinced him to go after his real dream of being a screenwriter. He took her up on that and moved to California. He soon published a few short stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and published a few other books and stories, too.
I clearly remember the day when I opened my mailbox and there was a promotional postcard promoting a holiday movie called Secret Santa. Rob was the screenwriter for the movie. No surprise here. He was still on his quest and had moved his heart from his sleeve to the screen. I live in a rural area, and at that time we had terrible tv reception, no cable, and did not have satellite. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t watch. But I was proud of my friend. He was making his dream come true.
We eventually lost touch, but when Facebook became a thing, we reconnected, albeit only with a few "likes" here and there. At some point, one of us finally reached out for a more personal connection and we caught up on each other’s lives. Rob had enjoyed some success and had found his niche continuing to write wholesome, romantic, holiday movies. I realize that some holiday movies get a bad rap for being formulaic, but who doesn’t like a movie with a happy ending? My daughter and I have a tradition of cozying up by the fire and watching these movies during the holiday season. I didn’t realize how many of them had been written by Rob.
I last spoke with Rob this past summer, and he had just left California to start a new job outside of the industry. I wondered if it would fulfill his need for creativity, but was hopeful the move was the new start he needed.
The last few years have brought quite a few losses to many of us including our family. Because of this, I’ve been on a mission to tell my family, and friends both current and from my past, how grateful I am that our paths crossed. Believe me, it is rather awkward to stumble through those words, but I did that with Rob on that phone call. I had no idea that it would be our last. I learned that Rob died suddenly mere weeks after that call, soon after settling into his new locale. I am heartbroken.
This holiday season, please gather up your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you. Just celebrate the magic of the holidays, schtick and all, and enjoy the innocence of my friend’s movies. I’ll be toasting with my cup of hot chocolate. Thank you, Rob.
Here is a list of his movies:
Secret Santa 2003 (There has been a remake)
Farewell, Mr. Kringle
Marry Go Round
When Christmas Was Young
A Summer Romance
Love Struck Café
Hope at Christmas
Here is his professional bio:
And his obituary:
And an interview I found:
Thanks for stopping by,
You’ve landed upon an occasional update about my latest project, an occasional rant about my life, or an occasional sarcastic snippet about whatever. It’ll be mostly positive vibes. I promise.