PIX11 Digital Documentary: The Big Idea! The Twin Towers, WPIX and the ad campaign that brought them together

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WPIX-TV presents a PIX11 Digital Documentary: The Big Idea! The Twin Towers, WPIX and the ad campaign that brought them together.

On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, PIX11 wanted to remember the Twin Towers in a unique way. We took an in-depth look at the Henry Tillman ad campaign to explore the special place it had in our station's history, as part of the city's identity and in the memories of people from the tri-state area.

PIX11 sat down with some of its key contributors and creative minds to share what it took to make something like Henry Tillman happen, what the Twin Towers meant to them and how they view the campaign 30 years later.


Paul Bissonette, VP of Creative Services/GM

Paul Bissonette (Then & Now)

Paul Bissonette (Then & Now)

Paul Bissonette left WPIX at the end of 2000 after a wonderful 16 years, having risen from vice president of creative services to station manager to general manager.  He spent the next two years as a full-time caregiver for his wife, Larissa, who passed away in December 2002.  His children will forever be touched by the thoughtfulness of the folks at the station who rented a bus and made the trek up to his hometown for her memorial service. In early 2004, Paul was asked to be president of the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), a consortium of all the New York City stations, with the mission of finding a new broadcast facility to replace the one lost when the North Tower came down on 9/11 and to prepare for the transition to digital broadcasting.  It was the ultimate cat-herding job, as each station had its own priorities and proposed solutions, but he enjoyed the experience immensely.  Paul left at the end of 2008 after it became clear that delays in construction of the One World Trade Center meant it was still many years from completion.

Along the way, he was incredibly fortunate to find love a second time and married Barbara in October 2006. In recent years, he has written a novel (nearly finished) and has resumed his musical “career,” after a brief 40-year pause, playing guitar and singing with his group, Joyful Noyz, every Saturday at St. Paul’s Chapel in South Salem and at various local events.  He's having the time of his life living!

Christopher Chisholm, Actor "Henry Tillman"

Christopher Chisholm (Then & Now)

Christopher Chisholm (Then & Now)

Christopher "Chiz" Chisholm has stayed very busy since his gig as Henry Tillman. He's become a creative force in the entertainment industry and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from traditional media, as President & CEO of Two Lights Entertainment, Inc. and original launch team member of E! Entertainment Television, formerly the MovieTime Channel. Chisholm has a long history and deep experience in high technology expertise as a branding, marketing and convergence experience as an executive consultant for over 10 years with Microsoft Corporation. Christopher  then went on to create numerous television and film projects as well as new media ventures. Always involved in the theater, his favorite roles include Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Psuedolus in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," Nick Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Dogberry in "Much Ado About Nothing," Tony Lumpkin in "She Stoops to Conquer."

Film roles include "Wraith," "Fever Pitch," "Corrina, Corrina," "Welcome Stranger," "The Perfect Nanny," "The Landlady," and "Girth of a Nation."

Television credits include "Ned and Stacey," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Matlock," "Unsolved Mysteries," and "Strange Universe." Christopher was a host for E! Entertainment Television, covering Hollywood news, events and hosting E!'s live coverage of the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Golden Globes.

Chiz has produced hundreds of hours of television, films and numerous advertising campaigns. He also brings to any venture his numerous relationships with many studios, networks, corporations, advertisers and associations. Chiz has helped launch National Cable Networks, Broadcast and Cable Television Shows, as well as vertically integrated companies delivering programming over a broad spectrum of traditional and digital platforms.

Presently Chiz is the president and CEO of The Chisholm Group whose companies included: Two Lights Entertainment, Inc., Chisholm Productions, and Loco Motion Pictures. He is currently starring in the play Alabama Story  showing at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on Cape Cod.

Michael Grasso, Director, Grasso Productions

Michael Grasso (Then & Now(

Michael Grasso (Then & Now)

Michael Grasso has worked consistently since the 1980s. His work on the national level took him around the world. In addition to the U.S., Michael has produced and directed in China, Italy, France, Germany, England, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. He's currently promoting, "The Umbrella Man," an original motion picture co-written and co-produced with his brother, Joseph Grasso, and directed by Michael, is his first feature film.

Set in Pittsburgh in 1983, The Umbrella Man charts the downward spiral of Peter and Annie Brennan after the death of their young son. The boy's death and the subsequent acquittal of his killer kindles a conspiratorial paranoia in Peter that threatens his sanity and their marriage. As an escape, Brennan becomes fixated on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and his decent into the underworld of conspiracy sub-culture ends up providing a place of emotional refuge for him.

His client list includes: Nestle, Ibm, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Usps, Oscar Meyer, Pillsbury, Jc Penney, Chupachups, Advil, Mazda, Walt Disney, Mcdonald’s, National City Bank, Anheuser Busch, Coor’s, Miller Brewing, Pontiac, Dr. Pepper, American Express, Visa, Discover Card, U.s. Army, National Car Rental, Home Depot, Kellogg’s, Bank Of America, Fannie Mae, Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Lexus, Toyota, Hbo, Cinemax, WPIX-TV New York, WABC-TV New York, Honda, Sears, Publix Food Stores, Ohio Lottery, Pizza Hut, Merrill Lynch, Dean Witter, Chase Bank, Sprint, MCI, AT&T, Merck, Council For Biotechnology. Blue Cross, Blue Shield. John Deere.

His work with celebrity talent is also notable. They include: Willy Nelson and Waylon Jennings, Diana Ross, Bernadette Peters, Billy Crystal, Rachel Ward, Arnold Palmer, Howie Mandel, Sugar Ray Leonard, Alex Trebek, Delta Burke, Ellen DeGeneres, Aretha Franklin, Liberace, Ronald Reagan, George Carlin. Dolly Parton. Kenny Rogers. Christopher Reeve, Blair Underwood, Andre Agassi, Wilford Brimley and Don Ameche..

Michael Grasso has returned to his roots and currently resides with his wife, Maureen Hanley Grasso, in Rocklin, Ca. just outside Sacramento.

Marty Appel, VP of Public Relations

Marty Appel (Then & Now)

Marty Appel (Then & Now)

Marty Appel, who had been the New York Yankees public relations director before joining WPIX in 1980, served as vice president, public relations and sports at Channel 11 and was the Emmy-award winning executive producer of Yankees baseball.  In 1992 he was recruited to serve as vice president, public relations for the  Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.  Upon his return to New York, he directed PR for The Topps Company and then for his own company, Marty Appel Public Relations.

He is also the author of 24 books, including the New York Times best-seller, "Munson," and "Pinstripe Empire," which is considered the definitive history of the Yankees.  His new book, a biography of former Yankees and Mets manager Casey Stengel, will be released by Doubleday in March.  Looking back on a career which will be 50 years old next year, he considers his years at WPIX to have been his most personally satisfying and enjoyable.  "Great people; amazing industry," he noted.

Rolando Pujol, Director of Digital Strategy

Rolando Pujol (Then & Now)

Rolando Pujol (Then & Now)

Rolando Pujol, who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s watching his favorite channel, WPIX,  was long intrigued with the Henry Tillman campaign. He found the original master tapes of the campaign in PIX's archives, as well as extensive files documenting its creation, and championed the production of a documentary about it.

As the founder of PIX's popular WPIX Archives Facebook page, he has received multiple requests to present clips from the campaign, and sensed a wider interest in the ads and the subjects they concerned — WPIX and the World Trade Center.

Currently, Rolando is the director of digital and social strategy at WPIX-TV Channel 11. He has a long history as a print, digital and television journalist in the New York market.

He co-hosted, wrote and co-produced a show, “Hidden City,” on WNBC-TV’s New York Nonstop, which focused on historic “secrets” in New York City. He also was a multimedia editor at the New York Daily News, a managing editor at amNewYork and an assistant city editor at Newsday.

A student of classic television, Rolando found a lost episode in the WPIX archives of the 1970s children’s show “The Magic Garden,” which the station aired for the first time in decades in 2013 and is now a part of the PIX’s annual holiday programming. (He has made a new vintage programming discovery that will not be revealed until later this year.) He has played a key role in promoting and preserving WPIX’s video and film library, which dates to 1948.

Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator of the 9/11 Memorial Museum [WATCH by clicking below]


She shares her memories of the World Trade Center, explains the importance of the Twin Towers in New York City's history and gives her reaction to the 1985-1987 Henry Tillman campaign.

Jan Ramirez is immersed in the Sept. 11  aftermath, the personal stories of courage, loss & resilience,  the intimate memories of 2,982 victims she never knew personally, and the countless artifacts, images and recorded sounds that define this transformative day and the  post-9/11 existence.

Ramirez came to her position at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in spring, 2006, with extensive experience working on 9/11-related projects. At the New York Historical Society, where she was vice president and director of the museum, she and her colleagues mounted an ambitious series of interpretive exhibits, public programs and collecting initiatives in the wake of the terrorist attacks known as “History Responds.”

In 2004, she was appointed to serve as a resource member of the WTC Memorial Center Advisory Committee convened by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or LMDC, which spearheaded the drafting of a educational and content mission for a museum interpretive center complementing the 9/11 Memorial at the WTC site. She also participated in the Professional Services Committee of the September’s Mission educational web site project - that matured into the Living Memorial archive overseen by the Voices of September 11th - and served as a curatorial consultant for the documentary film "Objects & Memory," which explores museums and their response to 9/11.



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