November 26, 2001
Ford Forum brings stars to Glenn
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
The three couches, arranged in a semicircle around a low coffee tableideal
for entertainingcould be in the living room of anyones den
The intimacy on stage was something Jay Mohr noticed right off. Its
just like were hanging out in someones living room except
were all facing one way.
Indeed, the Glenn Auditorium atmosphere was cozy, but the people hanging
out were of a caliber much more impressive than a normal coffee klatch:
it included an NFL linebacker, an Olympic gold medalist, the lead singer
of a multi-platinum recording act, a national cable sports anchor and
several others, all at Emory for the Ford Whats Your Focus Festival,
The idea behind the event was to bring together a panel of very successful,
often very familiar people to discuss how they got that way. The fast-moving,
two-hour panel served as not only a career workshop, but also a rap session
on pop culture, sports, movies and personal
At the center was the affable and accomplished actor and comedian Mohr,
who deftly kept all the panelists involved, lobbing questions at those
who may have drifted outside the discussions and firing off so many one-liners
(several of the PG-13-rated variety, and many of them hilarious) that
the tone of the event had no choice but to remain light.
And the panel was certainly high wattage. It included Atlanta Falcons
linebacker Henri Crockett, two-time Olympic medalist and member of the
World Cup champion womens soccer team Julie Foudy, MTV VJ Dave Holmes,
singer/songwriter Ed Kowalczyk (whose band Live played a sold-out show
at The Tabernacle later that night), CNN/SI sports anchor Bob Lorenz,
actress Marisol Nichols (Showtimes Resurrection Blvd.) and
fashion designer Pixie Yates.
While Mohr went to great lengths not to take himself too seriously (using
a spot-on imitation of actor Christopher Walken to introduce himself was
a nice touch), some of his comments proved to be among of the most heartfelt
of the afternoon. When discussing his career, which has ranged from stand-up
comedy to featured-player status on Saturday Night Live to supporting
roles in several critically acclaimed films to his current job hosting
a cable sports show, Mohr defined success as it applied to him.
Im 31, and Im doing what I love to do, he said,
although he admitted that hosting a cable sports show might be viewed
as a step down from the a role as Tom Cruises antagonizer in the
Oscar-nominated film Jerry Maguire. Ive made it because
I am so overwhelmed with joy with what I do.
That was a theme Holmes touched on as well. To be able to do what
we love to doand not have to do anything else to pay the billsthats
a great place to start.
Kowalczyk proved to be the most popular participant, and he fielded questions
about an artists community responsibilities, the practice songwriting
and his experiences in the music business. As were all the panelists,
he was unflinchingly honest.
The music business is evil. Its a nightmare, said Kowalczyk,
whose band has produced five albums in the last 10 years, the most recent
released earlier this fall. But its something Ive suffered
because it is the means to get the music to the people. The older Ive
gotten, Ive seen how corrupt it is.
Holmes was another popular panelist with the overwhelmingly undergraduate
crowd. Asked whether he felt he has sold out because he must
excitedly interview teen-pop stars of questionable talent, he played it
I sold out a long, long time ago. Ive got bills to pay,
said Holmes, who worked as a stand-up comic and a self-described starving
actor before earning first runner-up in an MTV I Wanna Be
a Veejay contest. That eventually earned him a spot on the network.
But while I might not love all the things Im presenting,
its a great job, Holmes continued. And somebody out
there is eating it up.
Yates, too, pulled no punches in her answers. For me, its
not about artits about business, she said, dressed in
a casual, pale blue robe of her own design. In 1995, she debuted her first
collection outside a small salon in New York, and six years later her
clothing and bags have been featured in major fashion magazines. When
Mohr revealed Yates had given his wife a pair of undergarments of her
own design, it became a running joke through the afternoon.
Each panelist was able to bring a unique perspective to the event. Nichols,
a young actress whose career is gaining momentum, began her career on
stage, moved into feature films and has recently gotten steady work on
the Showtime cable network.
But Im not anywhere near where I want to be, she said.
[Although] I couldnt do anything else but this.
Foudy, who played on the womens national team as a teenager, graduated
from Stanford and has Olympic and World Cup titles to her credit, also
spoke of love of her sportand careeras being a driving force
in her success. The reason weve been so good for so long isnt
just a coincidencewe love to play soccer. That has always been the
And that passion for the game shown by its players is also something that has fueled its growth.
Hopefully you can create a relationship with communities and [the game] will spread.
Lorenz fielded questions about how to break into the business, how much
creative freedom he enjoys and if he felt a job at another network might
be seen as a promotion.
There is a time when you say, I want to be the next Bob Costas,
he said. But as you get older, priorities change. His goal
now? I want to do every show to the best of my ability.
Crockett, who played his college ball at Florida State University and
has been with the Falcons since 1997, spoke not only of his approach to
football and some of his on-field experiences, but also discussed the
importance of community involvement and hard work.
If you never feel like quitting, youre not working hard enough,
he said. If something was easy, everyone would do it. Crockett
was talking about football, but as everyone in Glenn Auditorium understood,
his words could be applied to most anything.
The festival was cosponsored by the Office of Student Activities, the
Student Programming Council and the L.E.A.D Team. According to Lee Kramer,
assistant director of student activities, Ford representatives told the
Emory organizers that they were some of the best to work with.
The festivals date at Emory was the seventh of an eight-stop tour that wrapped up at the University of Miami, Nov. 16. The format at each panel was the sameonly the guests were different. Mohr and Kowalczyk (Ford is a sponsor of Lives current tour) were the only panelists to appear at every event.