ROB Wilson

Profile Updated: August 30, 2019
Residing In: Studio City, CA USA
Spouse/Partner: Julian Siminski
Homepage: View Website
Occupation: Writer / Director / Producer
Children: 100+ monkeys
Comments:

AN UPDATE FROM ROB'S PARTNER JULIAN:

August 30. 2019

I am posting this on behalf of Rob. He needs help.

Rob and I have been putting together a podcast called “talkin’ ‘bout Our Generation.” We managed to get our first episode up on August 16. It is the first of three we’re calling “The Woodstock Episodes.” You can listen at https://www.talkinboutourgeration.com/podcast. There are links to all the major podcast directories, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and many others. We’re really proud of that first episode.

As we jammed to get that first episode done, we had run into a barrage of technical obstacles, and Rob was bogged down trying to resolve the problem between Adobe and Apple. He solved it -- something about Adobe not liking the Cloud, but we were way behind schedule, and he had to really work fast to edit our really great interviews and make our deadlines.

Rob has done this kind of work for 40 years, and he’s very good at it, so I was leaving him alone, as he prefers. But he seemed to be having a lot of problems, went 36 hours straight more than once without sleep, barely leaving his chair.

As some of you know, Rob had spinal surgery last year, and was on opioids and steroids for months, gained a lot of weight. After surgery, he developed idiopathic lymphedema in his legs, ankles, and feet. He is not supposed to sit for any length of time, but this work demands it, and he gets obsessed.

As our deadline approached, he seemed to be getting confused, refusing to let me even listen, which is not like Rob at all. I noticed he seemed very frustrated and struggling with the editing, which has never been a problem for him.

When I finally insisted that Rob let me listen to what he had put together, I was really dismayed. There were some great sequences, but no order to the episode. It was a mess. We managed to piece together some segments and got Episode One up, but Rob was totally flummoxed about where to go from there.

Diving into a mass of material like this and coming up with just the gems has always been second nature to Rob. But now he seemed to be scattering bits all over the multitrack timeline, overlapping and merging every track he laid down. I tried to get him to take a break, but as always, he kept on like a bulldog, refusing to let it go.

Reluctantly, he let me sit in to try to get it all back in order. I watched as he edited a great sequence, then tried to drag it into place, and it fell into pieces. He was getting flustered and unsure about how to make simple edits, losing track of his audio files, and going adrift from the storyline. It wasn’t working. We blew off our next two deadlines.

He was totally exhausted. His legs and feet were very swollen, and he had even developed pressure sores on his butt, like bedsores, from sitting for 36 hours at a stretch in that hot, humid room. He is too old to do that like he used to at work when deadlines were looming. I do believe a lot of it had to do with the pressure we put on ourselves to produce three episodes of the podcast in rapid succession, which in hindsight was a mistake.

But I also feared that he may be having some memory issues, too. That could be from simply be from overworking and living in a state of constant stress for months and months, as we have been. For more than a year we have been trying to lift ourselves out of the financial abyss we fell into after he injured his spine back in 2016. We had drained our savings and then any credit we had. The stress has been relentless. We’ve been spending most of our energy scrambling to raise money, applying for grants, trying to stay afloat, but never getting a break to get ahead.

I am worried about Rob.

There have been episodes, like on a recent trip to a doctor, he became lost in the Cedars Sinai garage for over an hour, wandering from floor to floor, losing his ticket, then was told he was in the wrong garage. The parking staff was great and helped him find the car, but it freaked both of us out.

One thing that I have learned from the experience of these last few years is that stress can really fry your brain circuits. Stress can disrupt our normal thinking patterns in shocking ways that mimic cognitive impairment, making it seem like dementia.

I got Rob to his dermatologist to treat the sores, which he typically ignored until the pain was unbearable. He now has to work standing up; he can't sit. I was relieved when Rob agreed with me about the memory loss. We agreed that he needed to get that checked out.

There is good news coming out of this: Sharyl Smith, who was responsible for creating the GoFundMe campaign to which many of you have donated, is also is friends with one of the leading medical experts in the field of memory and aging at the UCLA Neurology Department. Although he is not taking on new patients, we got an appointment with him to talk about how he might be able to help Rob.

We also proposed that he and Rob might be the players in an episode on memory loss — a topic many baby boomers can relate to.

The Podcast promises to be a perfect focus for Rob and me. I do audiobooks and voice acting and I’m a great conversationalist. Rob works and functions brilliantly as a producer and writer, as long as he is allowed to take his time and doesn’t have extreme deadline pressure on him, like our recent deadlines for the Woodstock Episodes. He’s always been that way, ever since Stanford and Journalism Grad School at Columbia. So we’re slowing the pace of the podcast down to one episode every two or three weeks, not daily like we tried to do with Woodstock.

The next two Woodstock episodes are going to be engaging, informative, funny and poignant, tapping into the “Woodstock Spirit” and relating it to today. Once we get the podcast going, we can then take our completed episodes and see about getting some funding. If we’re successful, we can hire an editor who can work along with Rob, which is how he’s worked for 45 years.

So all is not gloom and doom, but we do still need financial help from good and kind souls like all of you.

For those of you who don’t know what Rob has done since his days at Paly: He worked at KQED, where he won an Emmy for Investigative Reporting. He then moved to Los Angeles and began writing and directing for Paramount, Disney, NBC, CBS, Turner, MTV, Discovery and many others. Recently Rob worked for The Annenberg Space for Photography as Story Producer on 15 documentary films. They are some really extraordinary, fascinating productions. In 2015 we decided to try something on our own and formed UnAuthorized Films, Inc. We started writing screenplays, including a brilliant political thriller Rob wrote based on a visit we had with Scott and Jan Kilner when Scott was the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul. I wrote a pilot for a miniseries called “ProvinceLands.” We found an investor and did a major ten-day shoot on Cape Cod and Los Angeles (where your classmate Harry McNeil played a Boston Police Chief). We edited a short “sizzle reel” to try and entice producers. Though we got some great responses, we could not sell any of our work. We just never seemed to fit into the Hollywood scene. Our one link to the big time was Rob’s friend Steve Golin, a schoolmate from the American Film Institute, who had risen to become one of the top producers in town with Propaganda Films and Anonymous Content, winning a number of Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. He used to have lunch with Rob and urged us to keep coming up with projects for Anonymous. We were still developing ideas for Steve when he suddenly died this past April. Rob was stunned and heartbroken; Steve was a rare, good man.

We’ve carried on, but it has gotten harder and harder as the stress has risen to the boiling point. We are both in our mid-sixties, we have no retirement funds, we used up our pensions already, and we are too old to get hired to do what we are good at. The GoFundMe Campaign kept us afloat, but our lives have dwindled to a tiny world with a few friends, scrimping on everything, no extras, and no sense of how we are going to survive, except to keep coming up with possibilities like the podcast that might lift us up out of this financial hole. I have looked for work in professions where I have experience such as public relations and marketing, where I was very successful for 25 years and had my own company. But no one seems interested in hiring someone old enough to be their grandfather. Rob has found the same result applying for jobs in television. It seems up to us to create something on our own that will help us survive.

The podcast is the perfect vehicle for us. It can be done completely at home. We used a new recording service for remote interviews that makes it sound like I am in the same room with people 3,000 miles away. We can edit on our computer with programs we already have. It capitalizes on skills we both have developed for our entire professional lives. The bottom line is we are not — we cannot — give up on “talking’ ‘bout Our Generation.” Once Rob gets some rest, and the edema in his legs and feet subsides and the painful pressure sores on his butt heal (he can’t even sit down right now), we will get the next two episodes done, and we have some great ideas for future episodes that are already in the works.

We need help to get back on our feet again and have something to show potential investors. We need to prove that “talking’ ‘bout Our Generation” can catch on and attract a big chunk of the 76 million baby boomers out there. I worked diligently to get the show to as many ears as I could using all my old PR skills, email contacts, and social media. I’ve learned a ton about the podcasting business and can envision us doing very very well in this new market. It is perfectly suited for our generation. We have started to attract attention, we’ve been approved by the big podcasters like Apple, Google, and Audible, and we are offering a unique mix of nostalgia, humor, fascinating new knowledge, and something more: we are inspiring our listeners by defining our lives in ways that engender pride and relevance in today’s troubled world. But we can’t do any of this without some funds, at least enough to live on.

The bottom line is we need your help urgently if we are to get past this hurdle and get Rob back on a solid road to good health and his old smart, creative self. So, as one who has stood by him for 33 years, “arm around shoulder, climbing that hill together,” I am asking, on behalf of your decent, hard-working and big-hearted classmate Rob Wilson, to please help us out.

You can donate directly through the “talkin’ bout Our Generation” website, or through the GoFundMe site at these links:

https://www.talkinboutourgeneration.com/donate
https://www.gofundme.com/f/julian-and-rob-emergency-fund

I’m sorry to have to ask you for help yet again, but right now, there is nowhere else to go. I can honestly say without your help, we will not survive this.

Thank you for all your support. It has kept us going not only financially, but spiritually as well. And please don’t give up on Rob. I haven’t.

Julian Siminski

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Personal: After a long and valiant struggle to lead a "normal" heterosexual life, I stepped over that hissing threshold into who I really am, and have been more or less "out" for 30 years. I have been with the same partner for 26 years, Julian, and only regret that I had not taken that step many years earlier. We now reside in Studio City where we have raised three cats and countless flowers, been through three earthquakes, had the gay equivalent of a wedding in 1994. I no longer aspire to "normalcy," am prone to fits of political apoplexy, cherish old friendships renewed, and believe there is indeed a bridge over troubled waters, although it wobbles.

Education: After Paly, I went to Stanford, then Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, then American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies.

Work: After Graduate School, my first job was as Contributing Editor for Criminal Justice Publications at the Ford Foundation, investigating prisons and police. I traveled to some scary places - - Death Row San Quentin chief among them -- and Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution. I covered that for Rolling Stone, then went into television. I was an on-air investigative reporter for KQED and KGO, won an Emmy for uncovering the use of Agent Orange over Northern California forests (with Sean Sweezy as deep throat), then defected to Southern California. It was supposed to only be five years, but I have yet to make the return trip....still on the agenda. I did a PBS documentary called "The Probable Passing of Elk Creek," about the loss of community in America. I went to AFI, and became a producer/writer for KABC, Paramount, Turner, NBC, Discovery, and Disney, worked on a couple of films. I started a few independent production companies, pitched about a dozen projects, got some options....directed for Disney, then settled into a steadily undulating life of freelancing, a precarious journey that has left me periodically destitute. Do not wear dark glasses at night. Rejoiced at Obama's election. Started a new venture with my partner Julian in 2004 creating original HD art installations, which took a big hit in the Crash of '08. Back on the job market in 2009, currently working as Story Producer for the new Annenberg Space for Photography -- a great job that I am very lucky to have had for a year and a half now. I cultivate gratitude these days, but grind my teeth at night.

School Story:

Dozens of memories. High School was a strange time for me, as for a lot of us -- a time when I was carrying a sort of Rose Bowl parade float of a life on my back while doing a lot of fumbling in the humid interior.

I remember football practice and that smell of cut grass and adolescent sweat, clicking of cleats on asphalt under the oaks, terror as we emerged from the tunnel into the endless expanse of Kezar (a game we lost 56-13 to Serra, and which marked the end of my bid for football stardom. I was double-teamed into semi-consciousness as Lynn Swann ran over my face again and again, and I rode home with cleat marks down both sides of my stomach); bouncing back to "reckless abandon" against Sequoia, beating Barr Curry.

I remember the futility of playing behind Mike Costello in soccer, but still loving the muddy freedom of that unpadded game.

I remember the joys of teen spirit, the bonfire lit to Arthur Brown's "Fire," roving bands of middle class white boys with eggs in their Pacific Trail pockets taking back the streets on Halloween, and the Bahrn.

The Bahrn grew out of an informal gathering on weekends at Nelligan's, where Colt 45 flowed unchecked -- then that summer of '69 when purloined building supplies and the construction of sort of a teenage speakeasy in the garage led to the twin themes of a Barn and a Construction company. It became, for about a year, a rather sophisticated operation, replete with a front organization (The Graphic Arts Club), through which we operated like mini-mafiosi, running a rigged booth at the Carnival to channel beer money into the Bahrn. I remember how Spencer Jewel and John Preston and I were the bartenders, and we sold beers at one party for 25 cents each, making more than $300. That was shortly before the PAPD starting coming around, and despite our intricate advance warning and cover-up procedures (in which the house called the bar and alerted us to the cops, we cut the lights and everyone went silent) -- finally, I remember Officer Box breaking through our resistance and finally, the padlock on the door. But it was fun while it lasted. It allowed many of us to get our heavy drinking out of the way before college, and provided an outlet for a lot of fraternal hooliganism before such activities could truly have been considered criminal.

I remember the anti-War rallies and the Applied Electronics Laboratory sit-in especially, and the speakers we invited to the high schools to spread the anti-war gospel. George Millar was the only principal who allowed ours to speak openly in the amphitheater, and he caught hell for it; Mr. Parker in his pink coat trying to grab the microphone out of the speaker's hand.

I remember the Campanile, with Doug Letter and Scott Kilner and Eleanor Burian, Suzanne Bollock and I covering the only black KKK member when he spoke in the Little Theater, and how she wore a sexy silk scarf and called me "Robaire," which seemed so erotic.

I remember the feisty rebel energy of those days, stopping the war and challenging authority -- Dave Alford and Tom Schellenberg's antiestablishmentarian zeal.

I remember dimly, now in retrospect, conflicted attractions, subterranean crushes, unconscious attractions that wreaked havoc on my equilibrium.

I recall confusion, a short burst of embarrassingly evangelical Christianity, equally embarrassing attempts at girlfriends, terrifying encounters with the love that dare not speak its name, quickly denied....and finally resorting to my aloof collegiate persona with sport jacket and sandals, collie in tow....whatever worked.

Elementary Schools Attended:

Walter Hays

Junior High School

Jordan

Colleges Attended

Stanford
Columbia (Graduate School of Journalism)
American Film Institute

ROB's Recent Comments

May
08
May 08, 2019 at 7:53 AM

I am humbled by the overwhelming response to the GoFundMe campaign, recently launched by a friend and posted here. We are filled with gratitude. Many of us who chose Journalism and documentaries have fallen far from our aspirations as we age. A few risky ventures and a spinal injury did a number on me. But with a little help from our friends, Julian and I paid the May rent today and blocked eviction by our slavering landlord. I don’t know where the future will take us, but we know we’re not alone. Thank you all.

Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
I still have my letter jacket. It does NOT fit.

Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
The Bahrn, c. 1969
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Badass Ball Players
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Bonfire down at the Dump November, 1969 Lit to the sounds of Arthur Brown's "Fire."
Posted: Dec 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Back of the Bus gang, PAUSD Bus Tour, 1968. Little did they know....