Category Archives: Success

Best Overnight Success stories from modern pop culture. Success stories from TV, Movies, Books and Music.

Anthony Zuiker: what drives him

 

CSI. CSI: New York. CSI: Miami.  CSI:Cyber.  Even CSI: The Experience.   All of these are the brainchild of one Anthony Zuiker.

Anthony wants to be the best. He wants to have it all.  Known to have an infectious whit, full of energy, Anthony is a “take-no-prisoners” type.  He sees greatness ahead.  Why wouldn’t he?  He’s single-handedly built an empire for CBS: The CSI Empire.  He’s now worth over $100 million.

That’s a far cry from where he was at the beginning of his career.

Anthony moved to Vegas when he was 3. His parents were both in the hospitality business (fitting, being they lived in Vegas).  As an only child, he had to keep himself entertained so he created board games: over 500 of them.  After college, he worked at the Mirage Casino as an $8 per hour tram driver. He made the most of that opportunity.  He took that time to learn from his international passengers how to say hello and how are you in their native tongues.  He was able to nail 20 languages during that time.

Holding down an inauspicious day job, he immersed himself in his writing. He caught a lucky break, selling his first script for $35,000.  A princely sum for an $8 an hour worker.  The film itself was forgettable, but being a Vegas guy, he parlayed that success to an opportunistic pitch session with Leonardo DiCaprio.

He got the gig – writing a script for DiCaprio, beating out Oscar nominated writers. Unfortunately, that film never saw the light of day.  Not dissuaded, he doubled down and turned that opportunity into another one.  He got a call from Jerry Bruckheimer.

He liked Anthony’s writing style. He asked what Anthony might like to do for television.  Inspired by a show he just watched with his wife on TV, The New Detectives, he said, what about a show about a forensic crime team.

The rest, as they say, is history….

Sylvester Stallone: The Ultimate Underdog

 

Sylvester Stallone, American icon, one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood’s history, was once unknown and broke.  He was so broke, that he sold his beloved bull mastiff, Butkus, for $50.  That same dog appeared in Rocky, the movie that launched his career.  How?

Stallone did what all wannabe actors/writers wanted to do and still want to do today; he was able to negotiate the deal of a lifetime and got to star in the first movie he wrote.  He was able to beat out stars the likes of Burt Reynolds (coming off a box-office hit in The Longest Yard) and Ryan O’Neal (coming off an Academy Award nomination for What’s Up, Doc?).  He received $35,000 for writing Rocky, then went back to the guy he sold Butkus to, and bought him back for $3,000!

Oh, about that little-known film, Rocky, there are many accounts of the underdog actor making it big.  Here’s another.  Stallone was working odd-jobs, attempting to keep his dream alive, even with a pregnant wife at home.  He was determined.  He was able to land a highly-coveted meeting with a producing duo that were at the top of their respective games, Irwin Winkler (not Fonzie) and Robert Chartoff.    If you’re scoring at home, their movies have combined to win 12 Oscars and 40 nominations.

He pitched them the story about a Philadelphia club fighter vying for the heavyweight championship of the world.  They loved the ending.  Even when United Artists (one of the hit-making studios of the time) offered him over $250,000 just for the script, he stood his ground.  Nope, “Bob Chartoff and Irwin Winkler promised me I could star in it, and I believe in them.”

Good choice.  Score one for the underdog.