Saturday, July 12, 2008

Forever Young

It was an inspiring evening. A very close friend and colleague invited a few intimate buddies to his 80th birthday at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. More than 300 people packed the main banquet room. He has been a great mentor to me, a pioneer in the art of television lighting.

Literally a pioneer

That term is bandied about, but when Immie started there was no such thing as TV lighting. He was trained in theater, so when he was hired on at ABC in 1950 he told his new boss that he knew nothing about TV lighting. His boss told him not to worry, nobody does.

"How will I know if what I do is right," he asked.

"If it looks good, remember how you did it."

Good advice all around.

When I started in TV as a technician (1974) Immie was already a legendary figure. The first time I encountered him in the studio I was too awestruck to approach. Then, years later after I became a writer, I got a call to work on a corporate documentary:

"This is Imero Fiorentino Associates, would you please hold for Mr. Fiorentino?"

My heart stopped.

Over the years I have been very blessed. At every turn there have been bright, creative and caring people who were more than willing to put a hand on my shoulder and guide me through the rough spots. None more creative and caring than Immie. Following his example I've also tried to return the favor to those young people entering our industry.

At the end of the evening he jumped up to the podium to thank everyone for being part of his life and to invite us all to be a part of the rest of his life.

Never a thought of retiring.

Never a thought of slowing down.

At 80 he's looking forward to more challenges and more victories.

The renowned glass artist, Josh Simpson, once said that an artist must find his comfort zone and then spend the rest of his life staying out of it.

Through the quiet eloquence of his sterling example Immie has shown all who have been blessed to know him that staying out of our comfort zone is more than a slogan, it's a way of life.