Tag Archives: Warner Brothers Motion Pictures

Menasche, Ziants & Carell – Take #2

Educator-Author-Brain Cancer Activist-Major Mensch David Menasche before doctors and Life had their way with him… proud, defiant and topless – displaying his “I Decide” tattoo

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.

David Menasche in the Airlift Productions Studios, November 2013, recording “The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons”

Rest in Peace and rest assured, brother David, it certainly did.

As you scramble across the holidays to find that perfect stocking stuffer, and you’re looking for something to make a difference, consider “The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons”  from that wacky Amazon crowd.

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.

Warner Brothers selects Steve Carell to portray David Menasche in the movie version of “The Priority List”

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.


Actor Steve Carell’s Tribute Tweet to  David Menasche


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?”


Airlift’s Micheal Ziants & Author/Bud/Educator/Major Mensch David Menasche sharing recording studio stories and after-dinner laughs in the Airlift commissary, November 2013


Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984

David Menasche (1973~2014) Requiem For A Hero

David Menasche Gives Up ‘The Fight’ at age 41, but not before recording his remarkable story at Airlift Productions

I first met David Menasche (pronounced ‘Men-AH-shay’) on November 7th, 2013 when he showed-up at the Airlift Productions Studios to begin recording his audio book version of “The Priority List:  A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons“.

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.

David Menasche in the Airlift Studios with Micheal Ziants recording “The Priority LIst”, November 2013

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”.

Airlift’s Micheal Ziants & Author/Bud/Educator/Major Mensch David Menasche sharing after-dinner laughs in the Airlift commissary

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.

Actor Steve Carell’s Tribute Tweet to Major Mensch David Menasche

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.

Menasche post-op. He would  later joke to frightened kids in airports & train stations that he’d been ‘kicked by a horse’. David finally gave up ‘the fight’ and dropped his body, surrounded by family & friends on November 20th, 2014 – one week before Thanksgiving.

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.

David Menasche (1973-2014)


Airlift Productions ~ Telling America’s Great Stories from New Orleans since 1984