Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz

Hawk Koch (Veteran Producer and Former AMPAS & PGA President) On His Extraordinary Hollywood Career And Working With Icons

January 17, 2024 Kevin Goetz / Hawk Koch Season 2024 Episode 35
Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
Hawk Koch (Veteran Producer and Former AMPAS & PGA President) On His Extraordinary Hollywood Career And Working With Icons
Show Notes Transcript

Kevin Goetz is joined by veteran Hollywood producer Hawk Koch.

With over 50 years in the movie business, Koch has countless stories to share from his prolific career working on classic films like Chinatown, Marathon Man, Heaven Can Wait, and Wayne's World. He offers a rare insider's perspective on working with icons like Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, Jimmy Stewart, Jackie Gleason, and Barbra Streisand. Koch also provides wisdom on key lessons he's learned about the importance of telling the truth, taking care of people in the industry, and establishing your own identity.

What’s in a Name? (6:49)
Koch talks about changing his name at age 50 when he was bar mitzvahed, taking on the nickname "Hawk" to establish his own identity apart from his famous father, producer Howard W. Koch.

Riding Horses with Clark Gable (17:28)
Koch reminisces about getting his first horseback ride from Clark Gable as a young boy on a movie set. He describes feeling Gable's warmth and humanity in that brief interaction.

Working with Legends (20:25)
Koch shares his experience working with and being intimidated by classic actors like Jimmy Stewart and Ingrid Bergman early in his career.

Icon Lightning Round (24:01)
Kevin asks Hawk to give his quick impressions of industry figures he's worked with like Roman Polanski, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Barbara Streisand.

Getting His Start in Music (28:11)
Hawk discusses how he got his start working in music, touring with The Dave Clark Five and getting to watch recording sessions with Frank Sinatra.

Taking Care of “Family” (33:43)
Koch talks about his dedication to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, taking care of people in the entertainment industry. He shares why it is important to him.

Taming Faye Dunaway’s Hair (35:33)
Koch tells a funny story about shooting Chinatown and director Roman Polanski pulling Faye Dunaway's hair out when it kept sticking up in a shot.

Best Advice Ever Received (38:05)
Koch stresses the importance of telling the truth in the movie business and not trying to mislead people.

Tune in as Hawk Koch shares stories that capture the golden era of Hollywood history through his interactions with legends on set and off. But beyond the celebrity anecdotes, his emphasis on truth, care for others, and finding one's path contain valuable lessons for those both inside and outside the entertainment world. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review or connect on social media. We look forward to bringing you more revelations from behind the scenes next time on Don't Kill the Messenger!

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Hawk Koch
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano

For more information about Hawk Koch:
Magic Time:

For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Audienceology Book:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Website:



Podcast: Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz 
Guest:  Veteran Producer, Hawk Koch
Interview Transcript:

Announcer (00:02):

There's a little-known part of Hollywood that most people are not aware of known as the audience test preview. The recently released book, Audienceology, reveals this for the first time. Our podcast series, Don't Kill the Messenger, brings this book to life, taking a peek behind the curtain. And now, join author and entertainment research expert, Kevin Goetz.

Kevin Goetz (00:24):

I just want to say right off the bat that my guest today has led a most interesting life. He was born into the business. He even rode a horse with Clark Gable. Gotta hear about that. He started as a production assistant in the sixties. He worked his way up to be an assistant director and then a producer. He's worked on over 60 movies in his career. Legendary fare like The Way We Were, Marathon Man, Chinatown, Heaven Can Wait, all the way up to contemporary stuff like Collateral Damage, Wayne's World, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Primal Fear. I guess it was around the age of 50 he started his journey within himself and redefined life on his own terms, I guess you might say. He was determined to become awake and aware in every moment. He's not only a successful author and podcast host, he's a keynote speaker, but he reached the top of his game clearly as a producer by becoming president of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Producers Guild of America. I'm talking of course about Hawk Koch. Hawk, welcome. So glad you're here today.

Hawk Koch (01:43):

Well, thank you Kevin. It's nice to talk to you. And I don't know who you're talking about, but <laugh> <laugh>.

Kevin Goetz (01:49):

I love it. You know, when we hear these accolades, don't we often think, oh, imposter syndrome, what? That can't possibly be me, <laugh>. You just did the work.

Hawk Koch (01:58):

It wasn't work. And somebody says, how long have you been working? I said, I haven't started yet. I just love what I do, and I feel bad for people who, oh, it's nine to five, or they've gotta go to work. I can't wait. And they said, you know, well, I get off at six and you know, at 10 o'clock at night, I'm still thinking about what's next or what, what are we going to do with this scene? Or, you know, whatever.

Kevin Goetz (02:22):

Absolutely. <laugh> You know, I met your father some 35, 36 years ago. Howard Koch, a legend in our business, a titan really? 

Hawk Koch (02:35):

Howard W. Koch.

Kevin Goetz (02:36):

Howard W. Koch. Well, that kind of leads into my question about the name change for you.

Hawk Koch (02:42):

What happened is, in 1952, my dad was an assistant director working at MGM, and a phone call came to our house and they weren't home. And I was six, and I answered the phone and they said, uh, in a very mean voice, is your father there? And I said, uh, no, uh, no. May I take a message? Because I had heard that before, you know? And they said, yeah, tell him that your, your father's a…and I won't swear on the air here, but really horrible words about my dad. And when my dad came home a little later, as any 6-year-old who can remember everything as opposed to me today, <laugh>, I repeated verbatim this horrible thing they said about my dad. And what I realized as I learned, there was another Howard Koch, that Howard Koch actually wrote and won an Oscar for Casablanca.

Hawk Koch (03:36):

And my dad being an assistant director, was scared stiff that he was going to be blacklisted and wouldn't have a job with a mortgage and two little kids. So he added his middle initial. And from 1952 on, he was known as Howard W. Koch. And then weird as it may seem, in 1964, I was living in London and I was invited to a Yom Kippur break fast at the Schneer's House. You might remember Charles Schneer was the great producer of all the Ray Harryhausen movies. And when I walked in, Mrs. Schneer said to me, oh, guess who's here? I'd love you to meet your namesake, Howard Koch. Well, the Howard Koch who had written Casablanca, I met that night. And of course, I was like, Ooh, <laugh>. But then I spoke with him and hung out with him all night long. He turned out to be the most wonderful man. So, and it, that's a long story just to get to how my name was Howard W. Koch.

Kevin Goetz (04:37):

Well, wait a minute. You're Jewish though, and Jews typically don't name their kids after the living. So how did that even happen?

Hawk Koch (04:45):

I always ask that question. They said we wanted to name you Billy after my grandfather, but he was still alive. And I went, yeah, then why did you…

Kevin Goetz (04:53):

<laugh> <laugh>

Hawk Koch (04:55):

I couldn't figure that one out. So, at any rate my whole life, and you knew my dad. And just yesterday I was somewhere where, again, my father's been gone for 22 years. Somebody came up to me and said, gee, you know, I remember your dad. He was such a wonderful man. You know, what he did for me, what he did for my family, he gave me my first whatever. This didn't happen once a year or once a month, or once a week. This happened daily. And I'm not exaggerating from the time I like was four years old even when I was 49. And so I had been in a relationship and it, it broke up. And I was with a good friend of yours and mine, Gary Lucchesi, at a restaurant. And I was saying, Gary, I gotta do something spiritual for my 50th birthday. And he said, well, you know, I've been to all your children's bar and bat mitzvahs and I know you weren't Bar Mitzvah. Can you get Bar Mitzvah at 50? And I went, Gary coming from a good Catholic boy like Gary.

Kevin Goetz (05:54):


Hawk Koch (05:55):

And I said, Gary, that's a great idea. I don't know if I can get Bar Mitzvahed at 50. Let me find out. Sure. So I went around, I called a bunch of people that I knew and I reached a rabbi and I met with him. His name was Rabbi Jonathan Omerrman. And he was an older man who had gotten polio at a kibbutz, funny enough, speaking of today, many, many years ago. But we sat for about a half hour, and I tried to tell him as quickly as I could, something about my life. And he said to me at the end of that half hour, well, who are you? And I said very quickly, oh, I'm a movie producer, <laugh>. And then he said, no, who are you? And I said, uh, oh, well, I'm a father and I'm a son. He said, who are you?

Hawk Koch (06:49):

And I kind of stopped for a moment and I, I didn't know what to say and I don't know where it came from from me, but I, I looked at him and I said, oh, I'm a Jewish man. And he said, that's a start. He said, what's your Hebrew name? And I said, well, my parents were non-religious, and I was never given a Hebrew name. And then he said to me, well, for your 50th birthday for your Bar Mitzvah, you'll be given your own name. Well, when he said that, I broke down. And he looked at me and, and said, what's wrong? And I said, I just realized for 49 years I've had my father's name. I want my own name. And then he said to me, the words that changed my life, this amazing rabbi said to me, you can have your own name.

Hawk Koch (07:42):

What? I could have my own name. And what do you want to be called? Do you want to be called Mark or Gary or Kevin or Sally? What, you know, what do you want to be? I said, I have no idea that he said, did you ever have ever have a nickname? And I said, my initials were HWK. Remember, I had to keep the W always in as a kid. And it, you know, a few people called me Hawk, but it never really stuck. And he said, do you anything about hawks? And I went, yeah, bird of prey. And he said, well, <laugh>, he said, hawks mate for life. And I said, that's something I've been trying to do <laugh> for a long time…didn't work. And he said, they also can see from horizon to horizon and they can see like a squirrel a half a mile away.

Hawk Koch (08:27):

Wouldn't it be great if you could see the panoramic of your life and the detail always at the same time? And I thought, wow, this guy, I'm in trouble with this guy. He is really smart, really good. And then I said, but isn't Hawk a pretentious name? And then he said, only if you allow it to be. So I thought, wow, 49 years old. I've got three children, been through several marriages. I've got a career, everybody in Hollywood, you know, that I've interacted with, could I change my name? And I went up to Telluride, Colorado just for a week just to try and get my head together and say, could I actually do this? And there was a Native American selling trinkets. It was a little rectangular faux silver thing you'd wear around your neck. And it had a, it had a lightning bolt, a cloud, and the word listen.

Hawk Koch (09:21):

And I asked the gentleman, I said, what does that mean? And he said, do you know the way we listen with our eyes, with our nose, with our mouth, with our ears, between the lightning and the thunder? We see it. We hear it, we feel it, we taste it. Wouldn't it be great if you could be that awake and aware like you are between the lightning and the thunder always in your life? And I thought, oh, that was my, that was my clue to add the A awake and aware to HAWK. And I decided that I could do it. And my thoughts for all these years since then is to try and be awake and aware all the time. Not just between the lightning and the thunder.

Kevin Goetz (10:13):

Well, you got me 'cause I'm, I'm all verklempt right now. You weren't Bar Mitzvahed at 13.

Hawk Koch (10:19):

No, I was Bar Mitzvahed at 50. This was it. What's interesting, and you know Molly, is 10 months later I met Molly and as Hawks are mate for life, we've been together for 27 years.

Kevin Goetz (10:35):

Which is longer than every single relationship added up in all the previous relationships. Yes. No, seriously. And that is worth. Yes, that's true. But she's an extraordinary woman. But you are an extraordinary man, and you were going through a transformation that allowed you at that time to accept that kind of mate for life. It's a beautiful story. What did that guy say about the first Hawk Koch that rattled your dad so much. At six, what were the things you heard?

Hawk Koch (10:59):

Can I swear?

Kevin Goetz (11:00):

Oh yes.

Hawk Koch (11:02):

Oh, he said tell your father he's a mother <inaudible> communist pig.

Kevin Goetz (11:08):

Wow. At six years old. Yeah. I was wondering, 'cause you said being blacklisted and that period, whoa, I could only imagine that. You're so liked by so many folks, and not only is that just he's looking around like, who are you talking about? You've been voted as president of two major bodies in our industry. What was your biggest influence as a kid that informed the fact that you were such a good leader? That you were such a good galvanizer of talented folks, that you were in fact, a producer?

Hawk Koch (11:46):

Boy, I wish I could, I wish I could answer that. I think that from the time I was a little kid, I, I didn't take, I didn't take vacations. I went on locations. And so every summer, every holiday I was on a movie set and I watched, and for some reason, I was drawn to the organization of it.

Kevin Goetz (12:13):

Hmm. Tell me about that.

Hawk Koch (12:14):

Well, as a kid, when I'd come home, I'd yell, we're rolling. You know, or cut.

Kevin Goetz (12:20):

And your mother would say, cut, get your in the seat. We're eating dinner now. <laugh>. 

Hawk Koch (12:25):

Yeah. But, uh, it was, I really enjoyed the, I was always a leader. I was student body president of my junior high.

Kevin Goetz (12:33):

Ah, we're getting now deeper. Yes.

Hawk Koch (12:36):

You know, I really enjoyed keeping and putting people together.

Kevin Goetz (12:41):

You're so frigging good at it, but also making people feel good and empowering the people below you, which is, I know you only had, I think a year term because of the amount of time you had spent on the executive board of our academy. Our beloved academy. But that year you did a lot of significant things. I was very proud to be a member of the academy under your watch. I'm still a proud member, by the way, but I was particularly proud both you and Tom Sherak, and Cheryl Boone Isaacs. I have great reverence for you guys 'cause I knew you personally. And so I knew the earnestness of wanting to make our business better than it could ever be.

Hawk Koch (13:19):

Yeah. Well, I love the theatrical experience. <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Hawk Koch (13:23):

And my book Magic Time, the three things are the magic of being on a movie set, the magic of being in a movie theater, and absconding with Jack Lemon's mantra magic time. Every time he would do a scene, he'd say, “magic time,” and he'd get into character. And I kind of used that when I was behind the camera watching on a movie set, I'd always go “magic time,” you know? So I would focus totally on what was happening in front of the camera and not let anything else distract me. And that was kind of 'cause of Jack.

Kevin Goetz (14:01):

You know, when I do a focus group and I've done a couple in my career, the last thing I say to myself is, I have a little buzzword, which I won't share because it's personal to me. But it is a reminder that your objective in this scene, if I were an actor, would be, you need to get everything you can mined from this focus group, or you have not done your job. So it's getting you clear about what your agenda is. It's not about me, it's not about you, it's not, it's about really honing in on the audience and getting every ounce of information that I can in that 30 minutes.

Hawk Koch (14:44):

And you do it wonderfully, I must say. Thank you. I've watched you on many of the movies that I was lucky enough to be part of.

Kevin Goetz (14:52):

Did you test many of the early movies? Like some of the classics, like The Way We Were, did that go through a testing process?

Hawk Koch (14:58):

No, no. I mean, we had some friends and family come in, but there were cards. It wasn't the way you did it. I'm going to go back and tell a funny story. In the 1950s, my dad made B movies. For those of you who are too young to remember, there was a main feature and then there was a second feature in a movie house. And so my dad made those kind of B movies. A lot of them were westerns. And he was partners with a man named Aubrey Schenck. And there was a preview down in, I think Riverside of a movie they made called Fort Yuma. It was really awful <laugh>. But Aubrey's son, George was a couple years older than me. And the two of us went down with our fathers to go to the preview. And in the middle of this, of the movie, I swear to you, I can't believe we did this to our fathers, the actor who is playing the Indian chief holds up a gun over his head, looks down at the fort and yells, I want Fort Yuma. And the two of us yelled out, you can have it <laugh>.

Kevin Goetz (16:05):

Oh man, you know what, I read that in your book. 'cause I'm like, wait, I heard the story. So usually I wait till the end to promote something. But I have to tell everyone, Koch's already mentioned it, Magic Time. I'll say it three times. Magic Time and Magic Time. Get the book. Any young filmmaker, anyone who's interested in movies, and I know this entire audience who listens to this podcast, Don't Kill the Messenger, would love this book. It's a book you don't ever want to put down, but it really is entertaining as hell. But it's educational also, like you learn a ton. And so thank you for writing that. First of all, it really is a great read and I have recommended it on my social media. I've recommended to many others and have bought many copies of it. So please do that, folks. Hawk, before we take a break, I want to ask you, I mean, these things go so goddamn fast. I want to ask you about Clark Gable. RJ Wagner is one of our very, very close friends. He and his beautiful wife, Jill St. John, have been guests at my home for the last two weeks, from Aspen. He's 93, bless his soul. He's doing great. Jill is doing great. And his first job was as a caddy for Mr. Gable. What was that like for you?

Hawk Koch (17:28):

I didn't know it was Clark Gable. I was in Durango, Colorado on a movie set. My dad was the assistant director to Wild Bill Wellman who won the Oscar for the first Wings, who directed Wings.

Kevin Goetz (17:41):

1928, but presented in 29, I think. Right? Something like that. 

Hawk Koch (17:45):

Yes. First Oscar. And, but this move, this was 1950 I think, and it was called Across the Wide Missouri. And I was literally on this set as a scared little kid. And it was early in the morning and somebody looked down from a horse and said, have you ever been on a horse before? And I said, no. And they said, do you want to go for a ride? Well, what 4-year-old kid wouldn’t? I said, yes. So they picked me up and put me in front of him and just rode around probably for, I don't know, 30 seconds. Who knows how long it was. And you know, he, he was a big guy and I could feel his arms around me as I sat in front of him on the saddle. When I got home that night, my dad said to my mom, guess who gave Little Howie, that's what I was known. <laugh> Little Howie, his first horseback ride. Who? And it was Clark Gable. So I mean, you know, I didn't really know him, but the friendliness of, and the warmth that he showed me in that one moment, a lot of times we can tell the humanity of somebody very quickly. You don't have to spend hours and days with somebody to figure out what their humanity is. And I felt it right there.

Kevin Goetz (18:53):

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I have so many questions. So little time. You've worked with every big person in our business. So many major directors, so many major movie stars. Which one intimidated you? When you came on set, you were like, oh my God, I'm in the presence of?

Hawk Koch (19:14):

Jimmy Stewart.

Kevin Goetz (19:17):

Tell us.

Hawk Koch (19:18):

Jimmy Stewart.

Kevin Goetz (19:19):

And I bet you he didn't disappoint.

Hawk Koch (19:23):

Oh my God. My dad was again, assistant director in 1952, again in Durango, Colorado on a movie called The Naked Spur. Jimmy Stewart, Ralph Meeker, Janet Lee, and Tony Curtis actually was up there just hanging out because of Janet. But years later, I was the assistant director for a director named Andrew McLaglen. Yes. Victor McLaglen's son, on a movie called Fools Parade starring George Kennedy, Strother Martin, a young actor named Kurt Russell, just fresh outta Disney and Jimmy Stewart. And I was doing the same job on Fool's Parade that my father had done 18 years before being the first assistant director. And I had this, are you kidding me? The Philadelphia Story, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I mean, I just mentioned two, I can’t, I can’t.

Kevin Goetz (20:25):

I know you're almost stumbling over your words because it's like, oh my lord,

Hawk Koch (20:30):

In a Jackie Gleason kind of honeymooners kind of way. I was like, hum.

Kevin Goetz (20:37):

Hummada, hummada <laugh>. Right.

Hawk Koch (20:39):

I couldn't get it out that I was working with Jimmy Stewart.

Kevin Goetz (20:43):

Wow. That was a pinch-me moment.

Hawk Koch (20:45):

Yes. And we were shooting out in a place called Moundsville, West Virginia near a penitentiary. And the schools had let out and the kids started running up towards where we all were. And I moved Jimmy Stewart and George Kennedy off to the side to protect them. And what I didn't realize is they knew it was Kurt Russell who was in all these Disney things. And Kurt to this day always says, you left me out there to dry.

Kevin Goetz (21:12):

<laugh>. Well, that's great, man.

Hawk Koch (21:14):

The other person who intimidated me, I got to work with Ingrid Bergman.

Kevin Goetz (21:19):

Ingrid who?

Hawk Koch (21:21):

<laugh>. Yeah.

Kevin Goetz (21:22):

You are kidding me. In what, what picture was that?

Hawk Koch (21:25):

Well, it was called Cactus Flower. It was with Ingrid, Walter Matthau and Goldie.

Kevin Goetz (21:31):

Goldie Hawn. Goldie won an Oscar for that. Do you all know that Goldie Hawn won an Academy Award for Cactus Flower.

Hawk Koch (21:37):

And it was the third movie I did with Gene Sachs, the director. Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple. And now Cactus Flower.

Kevin Goetz (21:43):

Which she did on Broadway as well, correct?

Hawk Koch (21:45):

Yes. But oh my God. The same kind of feeling I had for Jimmy Stewart. I'm working with, with Ingrid Bergman.

Kevin Goetz (21:54):

Where did you first see her?

Hawk Koch (21:56):

I walked into wardrobe tests and she came out from behind a place there to try on an outfit. And I'm standing there looking at her and just, oh my God, Ingrid Bergman.

Kevin Goetz (22:11):

I've got chicken skin just by. When I have worked with certain folks, there's almost an otherworldly aura. Like I remember working with Streisand for the first time and when Barbara walked into the studio, I literally could feel her energy, didn't even turn around. You could see everyone else's energy change. And it was just a light that came in. It was just something that was magical. I remember seeing Meryl Streep for the first time. I felt that. I can only imagine you felt that with Ms. Bergman.

Hawk Koch (22:44):

With Bergman, with Barbara, with Frank Sinatra.

Kevin Goetz (22:49):

Wow. Okay. So you're, you're killing me here. Listen, we're going to take a break. When we come back, I'm going to ask you to answer a little bit of a speed round of some people you've worked with. We'll be back in a moment.

Announcer (23:05):

Get a glimpse into a secret part of Hollywood that few are aware of and that filmmakers rarely talk about in the new book Audienceology by Kevin Goetz. Each chapter is filled with never-before-revealed inside stories and interviews from famous studio chiefs, directors, producers, and movie stars, bringing the art and science of audienceology into focus. Audienceology, How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, from Tiller Press at Simon and Schuster. Available now.

Kevin Goetz (23:37):

We're back with Hawk Koch. Hawk, so many great stories already and I could probably fill a three-hour episode, so we'll definitely have to have you back at some point. But I wanted to get into, alright, I'm going to start with a few names. I don't want you to think too much. I just want to know initial impressions about the names I give you. Roman Polanski?

Hawk Koch (24:01):

Best technical director I ever worked with.

Kevin Goetz (24:05):

John Schlesinger?

Hawk Koch (24:07):

Phenomenal human being who loved what he did.

Kevin Goetz (24:12):

Warren Beatty?

Hawk Koch (24:14):

A procrastinator, <laugh>, and a perfectionist. He'll pull everything that you know out of you and he won't tell you a thing that he knows.

Kevin Goetz (24:25):

And very gifted.

Hawk Koch (24:27):


Kevin Goetz (24:28):

Faye Dunaway?

Hawk Koch (24:30):

Toughest actress I ever had to work with.

Kevin Goetz (24:33):

Why do you suppose?

Hawk Koch (24:34):

Insecurity, I'm sure.

Kevin Goetz (24:35):

Yeah. Barbara Streisand?

Hawk Koch (24:38):

Most talented I've ever been around. And a quick story, we’re in Africa in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This was Up the Sandbox.

Kevin Goetz (24:48):

Who was that? 

Hawk Koch (24:49):

Irv Kirschner.

Kevin Goetz (24:50):


Hawk Koch (24:51):

Yeah, Gordon Willis. But we are in a Samburu village. The Samburu live in cow dung mud and stick huts. And the little kids of the village were singing and Barbara got on the ground with them and hummed and did voices with, and sang with these kids in this Native African. And all of us that were prepping the scene just stopped and were in awe.

Kevin Goetz (25:22):

So you can imagine as a child who was in musicals growing up, and my Barbara Streisand album collection, which was every single album she ever recorded, was severely scratched. Cut to my first year working in the area I'm working in, and I'm at a screening and I'm on the Columbia lot. It wasn't Sony, it wasn't even Columbia. That was the TBS. So it would've been Lorimar at that time. And I hear, oh my god, oh my god, Barbara Streisand's here, she's coming down the stairs. I'm like, what? What, what? What do I do? I run away from her to a pylon, to hide behind the pylon. And you know, there's space in the steps, you know, you can see. So I see these legs come down and I don't know how I knew, but I knew they were Barbara’s and I turned away because they said, never meet your heroes 'cause they will disappoint you. Which is why I asked you about Ingrid Bergman. And you gave me a great response to that. And Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gabel, by the way. So I never got to meet her. I was too nervous. Cut to when I did work with her on Prince of Tides, and when I actually met Barbara, she was the most beautiful, warm, loving, fragile, and strong woman. And I hugged her and she says, wonderful Kevin, or something like that. It was the greatest ever.

Hawk Koch (26:50):

While we were doing Up the Sandbox there was a concert at the Forum was called Three for McGovern, Carol King, James Taylor. It’s 1972, and Barbara. And James Taylor and Carol King performed the opening act. Then there was intermission and then Barbara came out. And the difference, James Taylor and Carol King were at the top of their game still. I listened to them all the time. Phenomenal recording artists. But when Barbara got on the stage, you could feel the 19,000 people in the forum. All of the energy went because she was a performer, an entertainer. And it just, it just went, all of that 19,000 air went into Barbara as she performed. That's where I saw the difference. You know what I mean? Wow.

Kevin Goetz (27:43):

Oh, do I know what you mean? I know exactly. People leaned in.

Hawk Koch (27:46):

Yeah, yeah.

Kevin Goetz (27:48):

And to have that en mass is something so special. Listen, I felt that when I saw her tour, when she did that tour the first time around, I couldn't believe I was in a room with her. And she sounded phenomenally well, and anyway, we could talk about that forever. I want to ask you about your interest in music, because you started in the music business, didn't you?

Hawk Koch (28:11):

Yeah, well, after JFK was assassinated, I couldn't go to college. I was lost. And my parents had a dinner party and there was a British man there. And again, I, things just happened. I believe there's three things that you have to have. You gotta have luck, you have to have timing, you have to have luck, <laugh>, and you have to have some talent.

Kevin Goetz (28:36):

And a little luck.

Hawk Koch (28:38):

Yes, mainly luck. And I asked him if there's any chance I could get a job in England. I wanted to leave the United States. I was so upset with Kennedy being killed. And he said, yes, he was a booking agent. He booked Judy Garland or Sinatra into Royal Albert Hall or whatever. And when I got there, he actually owned with Dave Clark, the Dave Clark Five, who were as big as the Beatles in 1964. And he booked American rock acts into England. So within a couple of weeks he saw that I, again, I was an organizer, so he said, I want you to go pick up Leslie Gore and her music producer, his name, he's a young guy, very smart, his name's Quincy Jones. <laugh>

Kevin Goetz (29:23):

1960. He is kind of a wonder kin there.

Hawk Koch (29:25):

Right? Get him to their hotel, get him to the television show they were going to be on, blah blah. Then it was the Ronettes, then it was The Supremes. And then it was people from George Wayne's Newport Jazz Festival, Coleman Hawkins, Philly Joe Jones, Bill Evans. And I was having a ball with all these people 'cause I love music. They're doing it a lot now in commercials. Do you know the Leslie Gore song, You Don't Own Me?

Kevin Goetz (29:50):

You Don't Own Me.

Hawk Koch (29:53):

It's all of a sudden being played a lot. And I'll never forget Leslie, during the time she was there, asked me up to her hotel suite and she had a little tape recorder and she said, I just taped this and you know, I don't care about all these people. You're, you're my age. Will you listen to this and tell me whether or not you like this? Because you know, she had done, It's Judy's Turn to Cry and It's My Party I'll Cry if I Want To. And then she's sang this, you know, You Don't Own Me.

Kevin Goetz (30:21):

Oh, and that must've been like, whoa. Right.

Hawk Koch (30:24):

And I got the chills and I went, oh Leslie, this is great. You know? And so, I mean, I was fortunate enough to do all that stuff. Anyway, Harold Davison said, you know, you know what you're doing. I'd like you to go on the tour with the Dave Clark Five. We're going to do 48 cities in 52 days in the US and Canada, and I want you part of the crew.

Kevin Goetz (30:45):

That was your college.

Hawk Koch (30:46):

Yes. It was an amazing time. I got to work with amazing people. And I got to see in Birmingham, Alabama, it was with Roy Orison. In Kansas City, it was with Chuck Berry. At the New York Paramount, it was with The Shirelles and Little Anthony in the Imperial, you know, on and on and on. You name it. We were there with them. And we were the big mockers, the Dave Clark Five 'cause they had sold 7 million albums in 1964 summer.

Kevin Goetz (31:13):

Now, while we're on the music subject, Sinatra is someone you worked with?

Hawk Koch (31:17):

I didn't work with him. My father ran his company in the early 1960s. So I got to be around him, and in fact, between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, Mr. Sinatra had just opened a new record company called Reprise Records. And the great Mo Austin was the head of it. And I got a job as kind of a gopher runner. And so I worked at Reprise. So I got to go to some of the recording sessions. Whoa. So I got to be there when Frank was recording with Nelson Riddle or Don Costa or whoever. I feel sometimes I'm like Zelig.

Kevin Goetz (31:59):

I've gotten to be very close with Tina Sinatra. She and my husband and I have formed a very warm and deep relationship. And I know Bob Finkelstein and Tina now sort of run the estate and legacy and all of that. And they're doing a splendid job. There's so much stuff that he owned and kept the rights to.

Hawk Koch (32:21):

Well yeah, Tina's been trying for years to get a Sinatra movie. And I read somewhere that it was actually now moving ahead.

Kevin Goetz (32:28):

No, it's a show that just opened in Birmingham, England that will, they're looking for a theater in the West End. It got extraordinary reviews. So that is the format.

Hawk Koch (32:40):

You know the name of it?

Kevin Goetz (32:41):

It's called Sinatra.

Hawk Koch (32:43):

Well, you know, there were so many scripts.

Kevin Goetz (32:47):

Oh, but Tina just wrote us and, and told us. And then a friend of ours who's also an investor out of London, sent us the reviews and they're glowing. So, I have a feeling we're going to hear a lot about this as a hit in London and then on Broadway. Right. So I call out to you, Tina, way to go, seeing this through and getting this done. Before we move towards the end of our session. Oh my God, there's a million questions again that I'm not asking. Tell me about your deep relationship to The Motion Picture and Television Fund, because I know that there's many ways that many of us put our attention and energy into so many causes. I happen to have a great affinity for that particular organization. A portion of the proceeds in my book go to the organization in perpetuity. And you were so gracious to host one of my book parties. Tell me about your personal experience with that organization.

Hawk Koch (33:43):

As you've heard, my family was in the business and I was in the business and still am. And I always believed that every movie I ever worked on, the people on that movie were my family. I had my family family, my wife, my children, grandchildren. But the other family was the crew, the cinematographer, the production designer, the grip, the electrician, the prop man. And what I love about The Motion Picture and Television Fund is the mantra of we take care of our own. And it's the only charity that I know of that is specifically to our industry. So, if you've worked in our industry, your whole life, or a good portion of your life, we want to take care of you if things aren't going as well as you'd planned, or in some cases you really love the home out there. And it's not just the home where we have about 250 residents, but it's, it's financial help if you're in trouble. It’s palliative care if you need it. You know, the way people kind of make their home safe where they, they've got a little 2-year-old? We go out with volunteers and make a home safe for an older person so that they don't fall. So that it's easy for them in their own home, on and on and on. We do so many things and all the people are our people. So I have a vocabulary with them. There's a great story, which we, I won't tell now about Roman pulling Faye Dunaway's hair out of her head on Chinatown, and the hairdresser was at the home. And so I got to, you know.

Kevin Goetz (35:27):

Wait a minute. Yeah. Wait, we're not getting away with that. Tell us the quick story very quickly please 'cause I have to hear this. 

Hawk Koch (35:33):

Well, we're just, we're just, we're shooting this two-shot of Jack and Faye in a booth at a restaurant called the Windsor in those days. And as we're about to roll one hair on Faye's head stuck up and hit the light, and it looked like something sticking in her head. <laugh>. So Roman said, Faye, can you just put the hair down a little bit? And she did. And I, I'm the A.D. and I go, okay, ready? And I'm about to say roll, it popped up again. So we said, Susie, Susie Germaine, Susie, come in with some spray and spray it down. Right? Okay, roll the camera. And, and the hair popped up again. Oh. And Roman said, Faye can, what can we do about, can we cut that hair? You're not cutting a hair on my head. And I remember Roman saying, Faye, you have 492,000 follicles in your head. One hair isn't going to make. You're not touching my hair, Roman. Okay. So Susie comes in, sprays again. Again, it goes down. I say, roll. Roman says action. Jack has a line. Faye has a line. I swear to you, the hair popped up. <laugh> Roman, instead of saying anything, walks around and pulls the hair out of Faye's head.

Kevin Goetz (36:55):


Hawk Koch (36:56):

Okay. I've never heard words like Faye said to Roman.

Kevin Goetz (37:00):

Worse than what they said about Howard Koch? The other Howard Koch? <laugh>. Oh no.

Hawk Koch (37:07):

Yes. You want to know how I learned to be a producer from an assistant director? Please. Faye went to her trailer, screamed, blah, blah, blah. I called Bob Evans, who was the producer and he was also the head of the studio. I told Bob what happened and Bob said, as only Bob could say, uh, take care of it. <laugh>

Kevin Goetz (37:24):


Hawk Koch (37:25):

And I had to take care of it. And eventually, we got it all done.

Kevin Goetz (37:29):

How did you persuade her to come out?

Hawk Koch (37:31):

I had to call her agent Joel Dean. I had to calm Roman down. I had to go and talk to Faye. But it settled down and we got the movie made. And we got a great movie.

Kevin Goetz (37:40):

Oh boy, did you get the movie made. Let me just say that. You certainly did. What was the best piece of advice someone ever gave you? And I ask that question because a lot of young people want to know, what would you say to me? But I'd like to turn it on its ear a little and ask what someone said to you that you kind of kept that knowledge, that wisdom throughout your career.

Hawk Koch (38:05):

For me, it was always tell the truth. If you try to get around something on a movie set or with an actor or with anybody, you get in trouble because they can smell it. People know when you're lying or when you're telling a half truth. And I found that communication on a movie, whether it's in prep or in shooting or in post, communication's everything. And as the leader, as a producer, if you're not telling the truth to everybody, it gets found out. And so I would say, just as a quick one, I would say, somebody said, don't screw around, let everybody know the truth.

Kevin Goetz (38:50):

You know, my girl, Judge Judy, who I love, says, if you tell the truth, you don't need a good memory. And I think that is so true. It is so true. Good for her. So, before we break, I'm asking you two questions that you asked me when I was in your position as a guest on your podcast. What's the name of your podcast, by the way?

Hawk Koch (39:16):

It's called Inside Hollywood. If you go to YouTube, Hawk Koch Inside Hollywood.

Kevin Goetz (39:21):

And I know Carol Baum was a recent guest. I love the interview. I listened to every one of the interviews.

Hawk Koch (39:26):

Ed Begley was great.

Kevin Goetz (39:27):

Ed Begley was great. Ed Norton was terrific. Yeah. We had

Hawk Koch (39:31):

Jerry Zucker a few weeks ago.

Kevin Goetz (39:33):

Jerry Zucker was great. Elliot Gould and so many others. And I've gotten some really nice…

Hawk Koch (39:38):

I got to interview Bert Fields before he passed away.

Kevin Goetz (39:40):

Oh man, how great is that? A great lawyer. I've gotten some great feedback from our episode that people have heard, but you end every broadcast with asking people. Well, it's one of your colleagues. What is your favorite movie and what is your favorite television show?

Hawk Koch (39:58):

Even though my father had nothing to do with it, Casablanca written by the Epsteins and Howard Koch <laugh> and the TV show, I just forgot it, the name of it. Uh, 10-parter about this woman who hid Anne Frank and her family.

Kevin Goetz (40:19):

Oh, the one with Mape?

Hawk Koch (40:21):


Kevin Goetz (40:22):


Hawk Koch (40:22):

I don't remember being moved and on the edge of my seat.

Kevin Goetz (40:26):

Oh, that actress who played Mape was so good. Right?

Hawk Koch (40:30):

She was brilliant.

Kevin Goetz (40:31):

How about a, how about a classic show?

Hawk Koch (40:34):

A classic show? Honeymooners.

Kevin Goetz (40:36):

Ah, <laugh>. You know.

Hawk Koch (40:38):

One of these days, Alice,

Kevin Goetz (40:39):

One of these days, Alice wham boom to the moon.

Hawk Koch (40:43):

Hey, I got to work with Jackie Gleason. Are you kidding?

Kevin Goetz (40:45):

What'd you work with Jackie on?

Hawk Koch (40:47):

On Nothing in Common. I was head of Rastar. 

Kevin Goetz (40:50):

Oh, who directed that?

Hawk Koch (40:51):

Gary Marshall.

Kevin Goetz (40:52):

Oh my God, my favorite. I loved Gary so much. Oh, what a sweetie. So my roommate, Joe Brunetti and I in college would order a pizza, we'd cut the pie in half, dozen donuts, and we'd sit every night and watch back-to-back episodes of The Honeymooners. Now, of course, there weren't that many episodes, so we had so many repeats so we could literally recite the dialogue. By the way, do you remember my answer to the questions about my favorite movie or television show? No. And he's shaking his head no. My favorite movie is The Sound of Music for so many reasons. But I find it movie perfection from script to settings to acting to the actors being the perfect representations of the characters to the…

Hawk Koch (41:35):

And I got to work with Robert Wise.

Kevin Goetz (41:37):

That man is full of knowledge, was amazing and a wonderful filmmaker.

Hawk Koch (41:41):

What was the TV show you said?

Kevin Goetz (41:43):

I love Lucy. The Iconic? 

Hawk Koch (41:46):

Well, it's either The Honeymooners or Lucy. I mean, I understand.

Kevin Goetz (41:48):

Well, I mean the iconic nature of it, the fact that you can watch it now and it still holds up in every way is archetypal, and Honeymooners, the same thing. Many of the great shows have that ability because they talk about just human relationships, emotions, et cetera, and they transcend the years. Hawk Koch, thank you so much for being my guest today. Thanks so much for being such a supporter and a friend over the years. I love you very much, and you're a terrific man, a mensch in the truest sense.

Hawk Koch (42:20):

Thank you, Kevin. And our business wouldn't be our business if you hadn't come in and done what you do because you transformed our business and taught a lot of people how to make great movies. So, thank you.

Kevin Goetz (42:36):

To our listeners, I hope you enjoyed our interview, and I encourage you to read Hawk's memoir, Magic Time. Also, check out his website at for more information about his work. For other stories like this one, please check out my book, Audienceology, at Amazon or through my website at You can also follow me on my social media @KevinGoetz360. Next time on Don't Kill the Messenger, I'll welcome the host of the Turner Classics Movie Channel and a part of the legendary Hollywood dynasty, Ben Mankiewicz. Until then, I'm Kevin Goetz, and to you, our listeners, I appreciate you being part of the movie-making process. Your opinions matter.


Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Hawk Koch
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano