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Saying Goodbye to a Dear Friend: A Tribute to PR Veteran Eddie Michaels

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Eddie Michaels was a devoted husband, father, friend to many, a veteran publicist, and a class act -- he respected everyone.

He was a true callback to the old school days of doing things -- with respect and professionalism. This is why no one had any beef with him -- ever.

Our good friend passed away on Thursday, August 8th at 49 after a long battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife Lorin, their daughter Dylan, nine, and son Matthew, seven.

Eddie was revered in the business of show; he knew how to build relationships with people that were deeply rooted in mutual admiration. He had a phenomenal way of making each person feel that they were the only one that was getting the benefit of his help which he always offered.

In the public relations world, his clients included Angelica Huston, Noah Wylie, Lou Diamond Phillips, Marc Guggenheim, and the home to Despicable Me; Illumination Entertainment as well as dozens of others.

This is more than just another in a long series of tributes to a highly loved and respected man, Eddie was my friend and my mentor. This is very personal for me.

It was late October of 2011, I had been contributing to Technorati for nearly six months -- I was the guy who was trying to untech us a bit by attracting star power to our entertainment channel.

I was approaching 100 articles; at the time it was a really big deal to me so I wanted to get a name. I'm a huge fan of The Simpsons so I started looking up the names of publicists who handled the voice cast.

Since Technorati is no Huffington Post or Entertainment Weekly, but a great publication with phenomenal stories and a strong team of editors and contributors -- that said, I was shot down by everyone.

The last person to try was Yeardley Smith, and she was at Eddie's shop Insignia PR. When I called, I talked to Melanie Wong who worked for Eddie and I was told that Yeardley was no longer there.

Well, there went that idea. I thought that was it. Bear in mind, I was new to this world of writing. I had only written and directed a couple of plays and wrote some short stories -- I had no idea who anyone was, including Eddie.

I was lost, I had no idea who I was going to get and I really wanted someone big for my 100th article.

Less than a week later, I get a call from a 310 number and it looks familiar but I can't place it.

It was Insignia PR!

Melanie called and asked if I had a few minutes to talk, of course.

"Guess what, Bryan!"

"What?"

"Eddie Michaels is holding on the line and wants to speak with you."

"How awesome! Cool! I definitely have time to talk with Eddie!!"

I didn't have the foggiest idea who Eddie Michaels was, but hell, he's in Los Angeles, he's in PR, and his name just sounded powerful.

Melanie connected the call, and there Eddie was -- as large as life... On the phone that is.

I was instantly touched by his warmth and generosity; he started off by introducing himself to me and telling me why he reached out to me.

Eddie told me how much he loved my work and elaborated on why. He told me that I knew how to find the center of a story, how to talk to people, how to get them to relax and just trust me. He continued and told me that I conversed with people rather than talking at them or just asking questions.

It was the first time anyone had ever referred to me as a journalist and not just an inexperienced blogger.

Mind you, Eddie said this all to me one minute and thirty seconds into our first ever conversation. I was speechless.

He told me that he thinks that he might have someone for my 100th article, naturally I was all ears.

Less than one week later, I was on my lunch hour from day job at the bank frantically trying to find a digital recorder that I could afford because on that evening I would be having dinner and my first ever face-to-face interview with Peter Yarrow of the legendary folk music trio Peter, Paul, and Mary.

From that time forward, Eddie entrusted his clients and friends to me -- he always told me that he wanted his new clients to talk to me because he wanted to make a good impression with them. That was extremely flattering coming from someone of his immense knowledge, experience, and worldliness.

I came to him with almost everything, Eddie became my friend, mentor, and as shocking as it was and still is to me -- a fan of me and my work.

I became good friends with Peter as a result of Eddie; he introduced me to one of my now dearest friends and collaborators Ken Goldstein. He also introduced me to my friend Judy Proffer.

Eddie had a phenomenal way of bringing people together who seemed destined to connect. He was at the center of it all.

Every time we talked, he would tell me how much he wanted me to talk with Noah [Wylie] and Lou [Diamond Phillips]. He knew how much I loved La Bamba.

I credit so much of my success to Eddie, he wasn't even done yet -- since the beginning of this year, he worked very closely with me in developing what he very much wanted to be my first television series. He did so much for me, not because I was a client, but because I was his friend and he believed in me right from the start.

Here are some words from some of our mutual friends:

"I first met Eddie thirteen years ago, when my husband Spencer and I started dating. Eddie was Spencer's publicist and his friend and he later would become my publicist (and friend) as well. A congenial, enthusiastic, engaging and passionate professional and a man who dearly loved his family, I worked closely with Eddie the past two years on "The Oprah Effect" -- while he didn't co-author the book with pen, he co-authored in spirit and wanted to be a significant part of the difference he hoped the book would make. His kindness was legendary, his smile infectious and his energy a bottomless trove of grace and conviction. He will be missed, always." - Judith A. Proffer, writer/editor, co-author of The Oprah Effect

"I met Eddie a few years ago after we were both hired to work on the Snake & Mongoose feature film, Eddie's first film as a producer; and got to know him through the various projects we took on together after that. We seemed to have an instant connection, though as I learned at his funeral this past weekend, everyone he met felt they had an instant connection to him. He was like that - totally disarming and completely engaged in everything you had to say to him. Once you met him, it was hard not to think of him as a confidant and a dear friend."

"We spent the bulk of our relationship pushing each other over each hill and mountain we created/encountered and loved every minute of our time together. The moments I will cherish the most with him were the breakfast meetings we had that lasted for hours and were filled with inspiring ideas and lots of love and laughter. We had inside jokes and after a while we could lead each other's conversation in the direction we needed it to go with just a subtle glance.

"The one regret I do have is I was never able to get to a meeting before him. We had this competition going and even though there were times I was sure I had him; I'd pull up to an office building or restaurant and there he was outside of his car waiting for me." - Ken Goldstein, author of The Way of the Nerd series

"Eddie was one of the good ones - not just in Hollywood, but in life. It took me seconds after our first meeting to trust him and the sagely quality of his advice; and through his words I found the confidence to get back on the stage and record my first full album - for which he helped me pick out all of the final songs that I ended up recording."

"Eddie told me that I was born to make and share my music; and that I'd be missing the whole point of this lifetime if I kept my songs inside of me." - Jack Dempsey, recording artist

Eddie, what can I say besides I miss you my friend.