Randy Thomas Shares Stories About Her friend Don LaFontaineSeptember 8, 2008 by: Tracy Pattin
Last week was a sad one indeed. I didn’t post a podcast and didn’t blog much. It seemed appropriate to take a break to remember Don LaFontaine. Stewart Wilson-Turner wrote a wonderful piece about him in the blog Wednesday, Sept. 3rd. It’s so strange that we won’t hear that famous iconic voice pick us up and sweep us off our feet with his powerful, thrilling, delivery about the latest upcoming blockbuster movie. Don LaFontaine was voice over. When you try to explain what voice over is all you have to say is, “In a world…” and the masses outside of the industry immediately get it.
So I am a DJ on 94.7-The WAVE, in Los Angeles. At that time The WAVE was located on the FOX lot on Sunset Blvd. It’s 1992, and my friend Dave Jacobson is the booth director at FOX TV. I get a call from Dave, just as I am finishing my morning show. Dave says Don LaFontaine is coming into his booth in five minutes if I want to see him work and meet him come right now.
I hung up and ran to his room in one of the audio sweetening bays at FOX. It was there that I first heard Don read a promo. He was the consummate pro. Of course he nailed it in one take. I noticed a young man with him. He seemed too young to be his assistant, so I had to ask, “How do you know Don?” He said he had simply asked Steve Tisherman if he could spend the day with Don and that was why he was there. It was classic, the moment he finished recording he picked up the telephone and dialed Clinton (his friend and driver), told him he was ready to move on to his next booking, and away he went.
The moment Don left the room I was on the phone with Tisherman asking if I too could spend the day with Don. Later that day I received the call with directions on how to get to Don’s house. Next morning I was there, knocking on his door ready for the best day ever! We made so many stops that day – trailer houses, networks, production houses, and recording studios. At the end of the day, Don handed me all the copy he had read during the course of the day. I counted the pieces and tried to do the math. Cha-ching! Over $25,000 IN ONE DAY! However, it was during the course of that day, watching Don work, that I knew this was the work I was going to do for the rest of my life. I love it!
I will forever love and honor Don for the words of encouragement he shared with me that day. Some of his rules to live and work by:
1. Be kind. The folks you are working with are stretched beyond belief, make them feel like you are happy to be there and give them your best read.
2. Be gracious. Be ready to work the moment they bring you into the room. Then take a moment to ask people how they are and how their day is going.
3. Give back. There is more than enough work for all of us. He reminded me that we have a blessed life to be able to do this work. and most importantly, Don encouraged me to always reach back to someone that needs a hand.
4. And finally…never go out for drinks at lunch. Arriving at an afternoon session with alcohol on your breath (which apparently happened back in the day.. never Don though) is about the rudest thing you can do. For those of us that work from home that means no celebrating until the work day is done.