Part XXXII – How About an Academy Reward Party?
You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.
~ Dr. Frank Crane
It was 1997 and it appeared that I was quite tuned into my intuitive promptings and certainly used to attracting the finest clients and events for my business. I had no reason to doubt the flow of synchronicity and ‘out of the blue’ opportunities that came my way. But following is an account that I’m sure will make you pause, as it did me. Was my radar on vacation, leaving me to rely solely on appearances and outer circumstances? Or was this occurrence actually a part of a greater picture and Universal guidance and destiny? I will let you decide…
Lyndia, the woman I mentioned previously who was working for me part time on a contract basis, was also working for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. She called to tell me that she had received a call from a company, Harbour Marketing Services, Inc. in Maryland. They were looking for a venue and someone to coordinate a promotion in Los Angeles relating to the Academy Awards that year. She knew I would be the perfect vendor for them and referred them to me.
I then heard from a representative of the company, Neil Zaslavsky, who flew to Los Angeles to meet with me. He showed me the brochures and advertisements for a Super Bowl event the company had done previously in Florida. I assured him I would be able to provide them with all of the elements for a perfect "Academy Award" promotion. Indeed I could – and did. I was contracted by Joe Perichak, the president of the company to coordinate the Los Angeles events relating to Harbour’s promotion, the Academy Awards Gala Weekend in March, 1997.
The promotion was to be held for the customers of various movie theatres and shopping malls throughout North America. These entities contracted Harbour Marketing to coordinate and present a patron-pleasing, glitzy marketing promotion, in which their customers could enter a drawing to win a trip to Los Angeles and attend an “Academy Award” party. It wouldn’t be an official Academy party – it would be a simulated one but very appealing to the average American or Canadian who would enter the drawing.
Enter Marilyn, the make-anything-happen event gal.
I created a top-notch promotion for Harbour. The events included a day at Universal Studios Hollywood and a private “Academy Awards” party the following night hosted by television stars Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso of Days of Our Lives (they were the two hottest soap stars on television at that time) and Pilar (Mrs. John) Wayne.
An indescribable amount of time, energy and negotiation were involved over a four-month period in planning the details, contacting the vendors and venues, and in securing the celebrity talent for this promotion. There were numerous phone calls to Harbour Marketing in Maryland and Vermont, negotiations with Universal Studios, Universal Studio Restaurant, agents for the celebrity hosts, overnight couriers, faxes, etc.
Peter Reckell, the soap star, did national American and Canadian radio spots directly from NBC Studios. NBC, agents and management allowed both stars’ photos to be incorporated into Harbour Marketing’s graphics and promotional material for the movie theatres and shopping malls. I was able to secure the soap stars in the first place as a result of my longtime association with an entertainment contractor who provided music and entertainment for my corporate events.
I spoke with Neil and Joe on the telephone several times and they sent to me by courier, samples of the promotional material – full-sized posters with photos of the stars, t-shirts that were to be given to the public and various other items that were to be distributed to the theatres and shopping malls. Everything look great.
In one of our conversations, Joe Perichak asked me to start getting ideas for their next promotion, this time relating to the film release of Batman and Robin that year. I was thinking what great ideas this marketing expert came up with. But for some reason, I decided to wait to see how everything went with this first event before focusing on another.
Are you sensing a “but” making its way into this story? If so, then your own radar is in working order…
At the beginning, I had drawn up my contracts for the event and they were signed by the client and returned to me. A deposit of $25,000 was due on February 10th from Harbour, but Joe Perichak called and asked if I would instead accept payment in full on Wednesday, March 6th, to be wired into my business account upon his receipt of monies from his clients, the national threatre chains and shopping malls participating in this promotion. The total amount due to be paid to my company for the Los Angeles events was $71,916.25. I agreed in good faith because of our signed contracts, Perichak’s assurances and his submission of the promotional graphics to me.
In case you are curious about the costs of the components making up an event such as this, here is the actual breakdown (I will later reveal why I happen to still have these records):
The monies would have been distributed as follows:
Marilyn Jenett Locations
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studio Restaurant
Grand Total Invoiced:
Harbour had agreed to pay directly for hotel and transportation costs.
As you can see, my profit on the event was substantial enough for me to accommodate my client’s wishes regarding payment. This was an unusual situation, because I always received deposits from my clients upon the signing of contracts, but my vendors were willing to trust me for payment because of my reputation and history with them. However, it was not only my vendors involved. There were the two television stars and their agents, whom I did not know, and the stars had already had their photos distributed and done radio spots for the promotion without having been paid. But Sal, my entertainment contractor, trusted me implicitly and his contacts for the stars trusted him. The important thing was that payment be made in full to everyone prior to the event. Joe’s assurance of payment in full several weeks before would give us plenty of time.
Wednesday, March 6th. Bank of America - Marilyn Jenett Locations business account. No wired funds. The bank reminds me that wire transfers are not instant as is commonly assumed. They can take up to several days.
Thursday. No wire transfer.
I think it was that day that the phone rang and the switchboard put Neil Zaslavsky through. Neil was here in Los Angeles. I said, “Neil, I haven’t received the deposit.”
“Are you sitting?” (Long silence) “We’ve been conned.”
Part Two of “How About an Academy Reward Party” coming up…
To be continued…
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