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Ray Dotch

Senior Associate Producer—started at Harpo in 1995.

In 2004 we asked John Travolta, the star of Ladder 49, to help us surprise two firemen who'd lived through a moment that was portrayed in the movie—they'd rescued someone trapped inside a burning building. The surprise was to take place at the firehouse, and I had planned for every contingency except one—a real fire. That didn't occur to me until the fire trucks came barreling out of the station as I walked up with John.

I panicked and said, "Try not to look like John Travolta." The "fire" was a false alarm, and the crew returned to the station after 10 (loooong!) minutes. I can still see the shock on the firemen's faces when John said that he was there to fly them to Chicago to appear on the show. Travolta and I standing around on a block in Detroit? I'd call that a moment that nearly spoiled a big surprise. Hearing his voice over the speaker on his private jet? I'd call that one of the coolest experiences of my life.


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