The only problem with dogs is … that they don’t live forever!
And spelled either frontwards or backwards … Dog is still man’s best friend.
The Shadeaux, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal dogs, came to the Airlift Productions Studios and became our official mascot and ‘talent herder’ over Christmas 2006.
Near as we can tell, he’s twelve years old today and, truth be known, he picked us out at the SPCA that day. Kind of like the Ziants boyz – a mutt; part German Shepherd, part Chow, part Border Collie … and all Love.
No, this is not his obituary (and even he’d appreciate the humor that the word ‘bitch’ is in that word), it’s more like a mid-life opus and testament to his otherworldly powers.
After all, the recording process can be somewhat intimidating to some, and capturing a stellar on-mic performance can feel a bit daunting at times – even to the pro!
And the Shadeaux has an uncanny way of throwing a ‘chill-out’ factor into the entire equation.
Little Quvenzhane Wallis (of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ fame) wanted to take him home with her (no chance), and James Carville’s ‘missus’ – Mary Matalin – could hardly tear herself away to get back to work on her audio book.
With a woof, a lick, and an appreciative tail wag – coupled with more fur than Liz Taylor at a pre-PETA-days holiday bash – the Shadeaux has an amazing talent for making anyone feel comfortable, relaxed and right at home.
And when trying to record a stunning on-mic, on-point performance … what more could you ask for?
Except maybe that he’d live forever.
Airlift Productions … where EVERY day is ‘Take Your Doggie to Work Day’… Airlift Mike with his fave, furry four-footed friend – and uncharacteristically shy, The Shadeaux
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers
“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog & cat are not the better for it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” ~ Andy Rooney
“Airlift Mike was a saint, and ridiculously patient and supportive (and helpful!!) for this audio book virgin. In another environment, without the support, and with pressure to perform “right”, I probably would have completely fallen apart. So the MVP for this getting done goes 100% to Mike and the chilled outenvironment he’s cultivated…personally and within his studio.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to get this audio book out to you guys!! As challenging as it all was, the end result, I think, is amazing!
Once again, a big heartfelt thanks to Mike and the years of expertise he brought to this project to ensure I sounded my very best. If you’re ever in Nola and need the best audio dude, and the best dude dude, holler at my man Mike withwww.airliftproductions.com
Thanks for the great week my friend! :)”
— SEAN O’SHEA, Los Angeles-based Dog Trainer & AudioBook Producer
The email came into the Airlift Studios, innocently enough, just a couple weeks back.
It was a referral (my favorite kind of email) from the Studio Director at Blackstone Audio, the largestindependent audio book publisher in America.
Bryan had been referred to Airlift Productions & me by the same audio book producer who’d hired me to record James Carville for the first time. And the second time. And the third time.
Taking the words of America’s preeminent ‘dog whisperer’ and making them leap off the page in a new audio book treatment, in an effort to help dog lovers across the world wake up to a more ethical and nurturing approach to raising their little canine cuties.
Zak & I first met and went to work (?) on Thursday, October 6th, recording the audio book treatment of his destined-to-be bestseller for Blackstone, along with hot-shot producer Jared Garcia on the Airlift Studio’s phone-patch setup.
Together, we plowed through the introduction and chapter after chapter, while bonding and laughing, and creating the doggie lover’s ultimate tome – “Dog Training rEvolution”.
Sample just a taste of Zak’s genuine love & compassion for our favorite four footed furry friends in his most recent You Tube blast here ….
Monday and Tuesday we’ll be back at it – giving LIFE to words on paper… making Audio Book Magic!
Recording and mastering wave files into computers, and at the same time delivering sincere, honest emotion into headphones and speakers.
Don’t you just love people who’ve found a way to make life work?
I mean, a job is one thing … but when one has found a way to live life at the intersection of passion/compassion and opportunity/luck … well, that’s quite another.
“Micheal Ziants & I have worked on a number of celebrity productions together. He’s a cool head in tight spots, keeping the talent moving ahead happily. He has a wealth of experience at the controls and behind the mic, and knows what he can and can’t get — a valuable and rare sense of proportion. Working at Airlift Productions remotely via Skype or phone patch is seamless. It’s like being in the next room.”
— JOHN F. McELROY, New York based Grammy Award Winning Audio Book Producer
In my thirty-plus years of recording voice overs & musicians at Airlift Productions in America’s most fascinating and interesting city, you could say that I’ve encountered quite a few characters.
Doctor John (aka Mac Rebennack) has spent hours with me, recording voice-over tracks for awards shows, and even cartoon voice tracks for Quincy Jones’ Take it Back Foundation.
I still can’t get over that, not even asking if he could smoke, at the Airlift Productions Iberville location, he pulled out a cheroot at the mic and lit it up! (We rushed an ash tray in to his rescue.)
For several years in the 90s, Peyton & Eli’s dad Archie Manning had the Gold’s Gym franchise here just outside NOLA in Metairie, and I served as a one-man ad agency, writing, voicing & producing all the radio ads for the gym, which brought Archie & his partners regularly into the Airlift Productions Studios.
** Archie Manning’s Golds Gym Christmas Radio :60 Classic – with Airlift Mike as Santa, along with Archie, at the Airlift mics **
The cast of characters – from the mayors (both Morial & Landrieu), to all the city council members, Morgus the Magnificent, stand-up/fall-down comics, radio rebels, misfits, in-laws and outlaws – has become the stuff of legend.
But I would have to say the most memorable and colorful of them all is none other than James Carville!
We’ve spent dozens of hours together one-on-one – with only a producer, long distance on a phone-patch Skype connection – recording two separate audio books, ‘It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!’ and, along with wife Mary, ‘Love & War’.
Now, by his own admission, James has untreated ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He’s tried the drugs but didn’t like how they made him feel, so he and Mary just ‘deal with it’. Add (ADHD) me to the list.
Imagine working through hour-after-hour with someone in this situation and condition. Add to that, someone very highly opinionated (ya think?), outspoken, given to tantrums … and ‘caged’ for an extended length of time! Yowza & Yikes!
“I’ve been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike that there is no better place than Airlift Productions. The quality of the production, the studio, and quite frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future” ~ James Carville
And, needless to say, but I will anyway, the out-takes are simply priceless! Perhaps a tale for a blog for yet another day.
A candid shot – through the studio door into the Airlift ‘green room’ – of Carville on the cell, taking a needed break, talking to George Stephanopolous in DC, with his feet ON my ping-pong table! Really, James?
Perhaps it’s because it’s what brought us all here to the planet – the “horizontal hokey-pokey”, the “old in/out, in/out”, the “mattress mambo” – that SEX hangs us all up the most.
And intrigues us the most. And sells … everything from beer to burgers, cars to movies. Just ask E. L. James.
Yes, 2015 has been very good to old E. L. and her 50 Shades Phenomenon. And to the gang at Airlift Productions as well.
So, as we wrap-up the old and prepare to unwrap the new (year), here at the Airlift Studios we’re, ah… well, unwrapping a few things too. Metaphorically speaking of course.
I’ve had quite the reaction from this audio file through the past months from both women and men, and after many requests to re-post it, I figured what the heck – let’s exit 2015 with a “bang”!
Or at least the prelude.
Unlike so many ofAirlift’s Productions, this one is raw. Naked. No music. No sound effects. No reverberation. Nothing. Except the human voice. Softly cooing into the human ear.
While the reaction from the movie version was mixed at best, this audio book sample has been rather warmly received. OMG. Plug in the ear buds and send the kids out of the room.
Its Airlift Mike’s rendition of a couple sassy & seductive pages from E. L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
So, as we exit the old year with a bang tonight, so to speak, and with tongue firmly in cheek, allow the Airlift krewe and me to wish you & yours a most fulfilling, scintillating, and titillating 2016!
“Micheal is an amazing talent. We were faced with several issues on a recent project and he was incredibly proactive in finding the perfect solution. He worked tirelessly and at lightning speed to create music that not only made our client happy but also garnered industry recognition.” ~ Charlyne Fabi, Creative Director, Right Hat LLC, Chicago, Illinois
Hard to believe, but this past Thanksgiving weekend 2015 marks one year since my pal David Menasche dropped his body … and moved on.
Oh, not that it was any surprise – diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2006, he/we often joked as he would come for recording sessions at the Airlift Productions Studios, that here came a “Dead Man Walking”. He knew he was on borrowed time for some time. We all did.
But it was the things, the issues, the subjects we talked of endlessly that continue to reverberate and resonate still today through all of my waking, and yes even sleeping, hours.
Emerson, Thoreau, Shakespeare, Gandhi, Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, even Scot William Wallace from Mel’s “Braveheart” and the concept that “Everyone has to die … but not everyone truly LIVES.”
Case in point, pictured above, David even had his body tattooed with the words “I Decide”, so even while unconscious on an operating table, he was letting the attending doctors know who, indeed, was in charge of the flesh he carried around.
Cajones? Guts? Tenacity? Courage? I don’t think the average man walking around today in America even has a concept or a clue.
And to think that he dragged his body across America – SOLO – from south Florida … all the way to the Golden Gate bridge & Hollywood, then back east & north to New York City, before coming to crash in New Orleans for awhile – all in a quest to figure out if his life, his very existence, even ever mattered.
Rest in Peace and rest assured, brother David, it certainly did.
Or, alternately, you can grab the AUDIO download for your ipod or digital device here – “The Priority List” Audiobook – in David’s own resilient words captured in November 2013 at the Airlift Studios.
A teaser from the Airlift-produced prologue is here ….
David’s take on working with Airlift and me? While I’m certainly gratified and humble regarding my contributions, the testimonial he gave me after days spent recording his audio book is a tad embarrassing, but very heartfelt and sincere —
“I would like to thank Micheal Ziants and Airlift Productions for making the recording of the audio version of my book such a pleasure. Not only is Micheal an incredible audio engineer, he is my new best friend. This guy is one of the coolest cats I have ever had the honor of meeting. He made me comfortable, he made me feel talented, and he actually made my book into a product I can actually imagine people enjoying listening to. So far, the opportunity to work with Michael on a future project is my best incentive to write another book.” ~ David Menasche
Meanwhile, Hollywood and Steve Carell are laying plans for their adaptation for a cinematic treatment. Having worked intimately with David, and being a fan of Steve’s work through the years, I feel he is the perfect choice for this heroic, poignant drama-dey in-progress.
Norma, if you’re reading this – stay strong and keep your faith. Paula, if you’re reading this – David understands. Jennifer, if you’re reading this – call me, let’s compare notes and catch-up.
In closing, just one of David’s and my favorite thoughts that we spoke of, meditated on, and laughed often about continues to reverberate and resonate – “You’re a ghost driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust. What do you have to be afraid of?”
In “Love & War: 20 Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters & One Louisiana Home”, James Carville and Mary Matalin detail a life few could imagine, let alone live!
A life lived at the intersection of Power, Politics and a Changing America … and while in the middle of it all, trying to keep a relationship together and raise two daughters – all at the same time.
And, boy, does politics ever make for strange bedfellows! James steered the Clinton presidential campaign both times (even steered him through the Lewinsky scandal), and Mary, who served under both Bush presidencies, was IN the White House the fateful morning of the 9-11 attack in the skies over Manhattan. Bush wasn’t. Mary was.
Their stories, their first-hand accounts, their front-row seats to some of America’s most fascinating recent history are palpable, riveting, and most remarkable.
And capturing it all through the Airlift Productions microphones for posterity in the audio book version of “Love & War” simply has to be one of my most remarkable gigs so far this century.
The sentiment, the candor, the forthright honesty, the raw emotion. Admittedly, I felt alternately like a coach, a cheerleader, a psychiatrist … and even a priest in a confessional!
One of my fave stories from James was of his trip to Miami for the Saints SuperBowl win, wherein he details being on the field with Drew Brees, then off to the shuttle bus for transport back to the hotel. On the bus, he re-connects with the legendary Archbishop of Orleans Phillip Hannan. Then, who steps on the bus but Kim Kardashian, who’s “seeing” Saint running back Reggie Bush at the time. Imagine, if you can, James – now sitting in between these two and facilitating the introductions! Oh my. Comedy ensues…
** Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants reflects on his first-of-many recording sessions with James Carville, along with some classic James quips and thoughts … oh my! **
The very first day I recorded with Mary Matalin, she showed-up dressed to thrill! All dolled-up and made-up, decked-out for a night on the town – ah, to record with me in a dimly lit studio all afternoon? H-m-m…, I said, whaddup with dat? Well, after four arduous hours at the mic (a quite impressive feat, I might add), she stands up and says, “Well, gotta’ go, Bill’s in town!” And just like that, she & hubby James were off to dinner in the French Quarter – with Bill Clinton!
I could go on and on about our collective twenty-some hours of recording and working together, but you get the idea. One of the – if not THE – most fascinating sets of recording sessions I’ve ever logged at the Airlift studio and witnessed. Let alone orchestrated!
The News, it has been said, is History – the First Draft. And two ‘Wrongs’ don’t make a ‘Right’. But three ‘lefts’ will! As a profound political atheist, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. But in the case of these two, I was certainly thrilled to be saddled-up and along for the ride.
And the next time you hear that old line, “Politics sure makes for strange bedfellows!” – now you know the rest of the story.
“I have been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway, and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike, that there is no better place than Airlift Productions. The quality of the production, the studio, and frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future.” ~ James Carville, Tulane professor and Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation.
Contracted by Penguin Audio out of Manhattan & Listen Up Audio Books in Atlanta to help work with David in the recording of this remarkable story, little did I then realize what I’d signed up for.
David Menasche, a gifted English teacher from Miami, Florida at Coral Reef Senior High was diagnosed in 2006 with gliablastoma multiforme cancer – he had a lemon-sized brain tumor in the right temporal lobe … and was given only months to live.
But blessed with a wicked sense of humor and the fearless courage of Hercules, David thumbed his nose defiantly at the grim reaper and proceeded to live nearly another EIGHT YEARS, defy all the odds, travel to hang with former students, write a best-selling book about his travels – and come to the Airlift Studios to record it with me.
We quickly became fast and close pals. Together with his confidant and ride Jen Brewer, we drank scotch & Wild Turkey together, had dinners together, laughed and joked… talking life, philosophy, world religions, great literature and the hemorrhaging of the American Dream.
A lover. And a fighter. David’s amazing story is without a doubt the 21st century’s answer to Robin’s “Dead Poets Society”.
LISTEN to just a taste of our sessions together in this piece of audio I produced from his intro to “The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons” here ….
~ Excerpted Intro to “The Priority List” with introduction by Micheal Ziants, courtesy Amazon.com, Audible.com & Listen Up Audio Books
Pause to consider what this dude pulled off – with only half a brain, half a body, and nearly zero vision (legally blind) he traveled via trains, buses, even hitching rides, across America to visit former students and landed a book deal based on his journal & writings.
Now, today in 2014, Warner Brothers out of Hollywood has bought and secured the movie rights … and cast none other than box office charmer Steve Carell to play him in the upcoming movie version of David’s “The Priority List”! Really.
After our last meal together, as I saw him out the studio doors and to the car, his final words as Jen drove him off were only to quote Maximus from “Gladiator” as he shouted to me “Strength & Honor, my friend. Strength & Honor!”
And his final text message to me – just last month – was “Hello friend, I hope this finds you ridiculously well and happy.”
I am indeed, brother David. To have known you. Now it’s eternal.
Truth be known, across America today there might very well be busier VoiceOver dudes and recording studios than Airlift & me, but I seriously doubt that any are doing a wider variety of work!
In the past week alone … I’ve recorded incendiary tracks for the controversial audio book “Murder In Coweta County” (coming soon to a Pelican Publishing download/CD near you), in-your-face TV audio for Baton Rouge, banging the drum for a Laser Tag outlet …. and canned stage announcements for a N’awlins-based Bollywood dance team! I mean, really.
~ Audio Excerpt of Micheal Ziants, interpreting the pain of dealing with a dead body, in Chapter 7 of ‘Murder in Coweta County” – courtesy Pelican Publishing ~
~ Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants invades the flat screens of Baton Rouge – along with ad ace Nathan Ales – with this :30 TV spot (written, voiced & produced in the Airlift engine room by Micheal) to promote ‘Laser Tag of Baton Rouge’~
Meanwhile, as the Laser Tag dudes are going at it in the dark of the arena …. on a brightly lit, spot-lighted stage in an auditorium somewhere around Louisiana and the Gulf South tonight – jubilant and righteously proud moms & dads are cheering on their daughters to these stage announcements ….
~ Airlift Mike – at it again – with pre-recorded (canned) stage announcements for Indian export Ruby Pal and her New Orleans-based Ruby Creative Dance team ~
Whew! Honestly, in my thirty years owning and operating Airlift Productions here in America’s most fascinating city, I’ve had busier, more versatile and challenging weeks … but I’d be hard-pressed to name one.
And, yes, the beat goes on …
~ Airlift’s Micheal Ziants – bustin’ out all over! ~