Early last week, Hawaii and the entertainment world lost a dear friend when television executive producer and creator Al Masini died at age 80. Masini’s was truly a rags-to-riches, Horatio Alger-type story, growing up in New Jersey and working in a Tootsie Roll factory at the age of 10 to help support his family after his father died.
Masini was a tenacious worker, and his resilience catapulted him to impressive achievements. “Al never stopped working, even after reaching the pinnacle of his profession,” says former MidWeek columnist Eddie Sherman.
Masini started in the CBS news station before developing many sophisticated television sales systems. In 1968, he founded TeleRep, a television sales team that gained remarkable success helping to develop hundreds of stations and thousands of jobs. Masini’s formula for success was simple: “Analyze the market, find a need, fill the need and make it happen.” Masini’s mark in the entertainment world was his creation of ground-breaking, original shows. He created many long-running, syndicated programs including Entertainment Tonight, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Star Search and the landmark music show Solid Gold.
It was his character and spirit that made him so well-loved and respected in his professional and personal life. “Al was an innovator,” says promoter and MidWeek columnist Tom Moffatt. “He created programs that were precursors to shows like American Idol, but more than that, in this tough business, he was truly a gentlemen. I respected him not only for his business sense, but more importantly as a genuine human being.”
Masini moved to Hawaii in 1994, donating his time and knowledge to assist in garnering a higher-capacity entertainment market in the Islands. He was instrumental in bringing the Miss Universe Pageant here, as well as Baywatch Hawaii.
MidWeek editor Don Chapman, who wrote Masini’s April 1999 cover story, recalls: “We did the interview at his home high on Hawaii Loa Ridge, and other than Hearst Castle it’s the biggest house I’ve ever been in. Yet Al was as friendly and neighborly as anyone I’ve ever known. He really was one of the world’s good guys ... Al had a huge, professional-quality gym at home and worked out regularly. The guy was solid to the end.”
Masini found his true life reward here, his soul mate and wife Charlyn Honda. The two were married in 2001. “Al and Charlyn were so in love, you could just see it in the way they looked at each other,” says singer Jimmy Borges. In these challenging times, thinking of Masini as the consummate nice guy and gracious gentlemen can help us all live more successfully.
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