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The Man from Nantucket: The Japecake Interview

February 23, 2011

[The interview was conducted next to a roaring fire in the spacious yet cozy Great Room of the 1763 Wentworth Inn, Nantucket, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2011.]

Thanks for sitting down with us. I know this is a busy time for you.
No problem. Happy to be here.

So: Nantucket. Why?
[Reflects, stares off into the distance] You know, it’s a combination of things. I come from a long line of whalers and fishermen on both sides, so my roots here are very deep. The weather is pretty dicey from December through February, but when you’re sitting out on the deck or on the beach on a lazy July afternoon, watching the ospreys coast on the updrafts as the sunlight glistens on the waves, there’s nothing quite like it. [Pauses] The tourists can be a hassle, but the folks who live here year-round are just terrific. And the history is so thick you can cut it with a knife. It’s my home, is all. A little slice of heaven.

But you also have a place in L.A.
Yes. Well, I’m bicoastal, but not really by choice. It’s just the demands of business, and the price of success. You’re on the road a lot, you spend a good part of your life in airport lounges, and you just want a place of your own. Don’t get me wrong. I love California. It’s always great to drive up to Monterey with the top down for a lobster dinner, but my heart will always be here in New England. The lobster out there is all right, but you can’t beat the real thing!

Tell me about growing up.
Well, I know it’s a cliché, but it really was a Norman Rockwell kind of thing. Little League, ham and bean suppers at the church, movies for a quarter. My first job was a paper route, at fourteen. People were very decent back then. No one locked their doors. I was the fourth of five children, and every single one of us decided to stay here to raise our own families.

And you have three kids of your own?
Four; three boys with my first wife, Donna, and a girl with Tina. Tina and I will be celebrating our seventh anniversary in April. Dave, my oldest, just got accepted to UCLA. It was a hard road for him, he kind of hit a rough patch there for a while, but I’m so proud of him. The twins, Chet and Mac, want to follow in their granddad’s footsteps, so they work on a fishing boat in the summer and are saving up to start a charter business of their own. Allie, my six year old, is a real pistol. Last week she wanted to be a ballerina. This week it’s a veterinarian. So now I’m on the hook to buy her a pony. [Laughs]

It sounds like you have the ideal home life. But what motivates you at work?
I don’t know. I was always just a self-starter, never happy unless I was elbows-deep in some kind of project. Work makes me happy, makes me feel useful. I used to be kind of a workaholic, but after a health scare a few years back, I realized the old saying really is true: You gotta take time to stop and smell the roses. So, I still keep my nose to the grindstone, but now I make a point of coming up for air. I might even play hooky now and then, when the weather’s perfect for sailing. Clears my head, helps me to focus. But then I’m ready to hit the ground running again, and it’s right back into the thick of things. I gotta make enough to take care of that pony! [Laughs]

Well, your career path has been nothing short of amazing, and I’d like to get deeper into that, and I also want to talk about some of the innovative projects you’ve been developing. But first, I wanted to ask you … this thing … and the thing with your ear. Is that true?
[Angrily] That was a long time ago. My publicist made it very clear that we weren’t going to be discussing that. Interview over. [Wipes off his chin, gets up, storms off]

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. sonnypi67 permalink
    February 23, 2011 7:59 am

    Prima donnas!

    • February 23, 2011 11:50 am

      No kidding. And he stuck me with the bill.

      • sonnypi67 permalink
        February 23, 2011 12:16 pm

        Did he walk funny?

  2. February 23, 2011 1:22 pm

    He had this little cart thing that he wheeled in front of him.

  3. February 24, 2011 2:20 pm

    fantastic

    • February 24, 2011 2:50 pm

      Thank you. I’m quite proud that we scooped Oprah on this.

      • infinite monkey theorem permalink
        June 15, 2011 3:33 pm

        …and the shame has FORCED her to retire. But NOT before I got her Moscow Mule recipe!

  4. June 15, 2011 3:49 pm

    “Moscow Mule” … now, is that a cocktail, or an appetizer?

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