Interview: Joe Roth on celebrity and success from Charlie Sheen to the Sounderson July 19, 2012 @ 6:38 am (Updated: 10:39 am - 7/19/12 )
Sounders majority owner Joe Roth celebrates following Wednesday night's match between the Sounders and European champion Chelsea at Century Link Field (Sounders FC image)
As the producer of some of the biggest blockbuster movies and majority owner of Seattle's beloved Sounders, Joe Roth spends a lot of time in the best seat in the house. And he offered some unique perspectives on fame, fortune and success when he stopped by the Ron & Don Show before Wednesday's big Sounders game against English powerhouse Chelsea.
"The idea is to put the best people that you can both in front and behind the camera, in this case on the field and off," Roth said.
Easier said than done. Sometimes, Roth says the biggest challenge is dealing with the issues that come with such complex people. He points to his work with Charlie Sheen, who stars in the new Roth-produced TV series Anger Management.
"He's a great guy, he's a guy who has had substance abuse problems and when he has substance abuse problems he goes off the reservation. But in terms of work, he shows up on time, does his job, and brings people in. He's a terrific guy," Roth said.
Although his focus is on making movies, Roth remains extremely hands on when it comes to the Sounders. He tells Ron and Don he talks with GM Adrian Hanauer twice a day, and watches every game on his iPad from wherever he is in the world, always with an eye on what can be better.
"Unfortunately for the coach and the general manager I'm watching them at 3 in the morning London time so by 5 in the morning they can expect an email," Roth laughs, adding at least he doesn't call to wake them up even if he's seen something he's not happy with.
Even when the team doesn't live up to expectations on the field, he couldn't be happier with the support off the field from the fans who regularly pack CenturyLink Field. The team continues to draw double the attendance of any other Major League Soccer team in America, rivaling some of the biggest teams in the world. Over 50,000 packed the place for Wednesday night's game.
"It's easy for me to say it because I'm the owner but it turns out to be true. There can't be better fans in any sport anywhere in the country."
So what's the secret to the Sounders success? "The critical thing about it is what we did, which is nothing," Roth laughs.
But he's also serious. He says the key was tapping into the fan community and letting them help drive everything from the naming of the team to the signature marches and chants to create a culture and experience unique to American sports.
"It was really important for us to kind of obey that and not kind of put in some silly histrionics. People just feel like it's their team and they're right."
While Roth has plenty of high praise for the social networking and community building that have sprung up around the Sounders, the producer detests how similar forces have turned on celebrities. Whether it's dealing with Sheen's drug problems or piranha paparazzi, he says that's the biggest drawback to working in his world.
"It's new and it's repulsive. I really think that the whole society has gone mad. I think the Internet has made an access and Twitter has made an access that nobody has any privacy any more."
Roth shared his recent experiences shooting a movie in England with Angelina Jolie, where they erected 12-foot high barriers to keep the paparazzi away. It hasn't worked.
"We'll have security every 100 yards, you'll need seven passes to get in. There's no house within viewing distance and an hour later you'll see the shots all over the world on the Internet because somebody's paid $10,000 to rent someone's house and brought a camera with a million millimeter lens."
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