Jon Macht: From Hagerstown to Hollywood
Hagerstown native Jon Macht started his career in newspapers before going to TV, radio and eventually film. (Submitted photo / January 25, 2013)
Moxie is defined by Webster's New World dictionary as "courage, pluck, perseverance; guts."
And if there's one thing Hagerstown native Jon Macht, 52, has, it's moxie.
Moxie was what lead Macht as a teenager to have the nerve to send a note to The Washington Post saying he'd like to write for them one day — and having that pay off.
It's also something that has given him the fortitude and passion to carve a career starting in print, which led to TV, to radio and eventually to where he wanted to be — film.
Over the last 30-plus years that Macht has spent building his career, his resume includes working in all aspects behind the camera on films are that are instantly recognizable — "Rambo III," "Bruce Almighty," "Meet Joe Black," "Stand By Me" and "An American Tale."
Today, Macht is busy rewriting a feature film for a longtime Lucasfilm producer, and is finishing writing a TV pilot of a one-hour drama series for a former network executive who developed "The Sopranos."
In between projects, Macht chatted during a telephone interview from his home just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Macht, who splits his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles, talked about growing up in Hagerstown, his career path and his life as an example can teach others that "anything is possible in this world, if you believe in it."
"It seems like an impossible dream, but I believe it's not just confined to Hollywood — anything you set you mind to, that you go off and follow: your passion, the thing you really love doing that you want to do — is possible," he said. "You have to just get on the road and stay on the road long enough."
The Washington Post
Macht said he loved playing sports and found an interest in his journalism when his teacher, Barbara Taylor, at North Hagerstown High School made him assistant co-editor of the yearbook in his junior year, and then co-editor-in-chief during his senior year.
"I really found that I loved overseeing publications and writing stories and taking photographs," Macht said. "... and all that lead me going off to college and immediately going to work for the school newspaper at the University of Virginia."
At college he started as a sports writer for the school newspaper, and became associate sports editor his freshman year.
But Macht knew he needed more professional experience outside of his college paper.
"I took about 25 of my best sportswriting stories and sent them off to the editor at The Washington Post, saying 'I want to be a writer for you one day,'" Macht said.
He received a response — from then Sports editor George Solomon.
"He sent me a letter saying 'OK, Mr. Hot Shot 19-year-old, send us a 500-word story about anyone other than the quarterback on the University of Virginia football team. If we like the story, we'll use it. If not, best of luck in other endeavors. Sincerely, George Solomon, Washington Post sports editor. P.S. I expect to see the story by Tuesday,'" Macht recalled.
It was Thursday when Macht got the letter.
He found a story in the name of wide receiver Ted Marchibroda Jr., who was having one of his best seasons ever that year — and happened to be the son of Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda.
The sports information office at the college, couldn't set Macht up an interview with Marchibroda for three weeks — but Macht was on a deadline. He finally was able to interview Marchibroda Sunday night, after which Macht pulled an all-nighter writing the Marchibroda story. But it was 1979, before fax machines, email or even the Internet.