I’ve been making TV specials, mostly documentaries, for the past three decades. Here you’ll find installments from one recent series called “World Class Detroiters.” Hosted by my great friend and colleague Emery King, a former White House correspondent for NBC News, these are profiles of extraordinary achievers who have chosen, perhaps to the surprise of many, to live in, or close to, the troubled, oft-maligned city of Detroit. We’ll start with my friend, the incomparable Elmore Leonard, and each month we’ll add a new profile. Coming up: the author of one of the biggest selling memoirs of all time, Mitch Albom; the star of HBO’s new series The Newsroom, actor Jeff Daniels; R&B/Soul star Kem; classical composer Jim Hartway and several others.
Some of these are from a few years back and will contain a few dated references, but bear with, and I promise there will be rewards.
In Memoriam: On August 20, 2013, we lost one of the world’s great crime novelists when Dutch passed away at the age of 87. Less than a year earlier, he had taken time from work on his 46th novel to accept the National Book Award’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In accepting the award, Dutch confided that his favorite review came in a magazine called New Musical Express, which described him as “the poet laureate of wild assholes with revolvers.” He was also famous for his 10 Rules for Writing, several of which he elaborated on here.
More than 4 decades ago Dave Bing came to Detroit on a losing coin toss, but he stayed to thrill Detroiters on his way to the NBA’s Hall of Fame and later to face down tough times as a successful businessman in the city. Meet Bing just before he took on America’s most thankless job as mayor of the Motor City.
With a voice that ranges over 4 octaves, a silky delivery and meaningful lyrics, this World Class Detroiter emerged from the depths of addiction and despair to become a bright new star.
A master violinmaker, he crafts original, world-class instruments that are played by some of the world’s greatest artists. He weds acoustic science to the art of violinmaking and merges time-honored techniques with new materials and design.
He has sold 30 million books world-wide, but that’s just for openers. Named the nation’s best sports columnist a record 13 times, he is also a successful screenwriter, playwrite, TV commentator and radio talk show host. Watch him describe the improbable beginnings of his writing career and perform as Elvis with the Rock Bottom Remainders.
This star of stage and screen has multiple talents–as actor, writer, producer, mimic, impresario, raconteur, singer-songwriter and guitar player. His charm and unusual life choices are all on full display here.