King's ransom: Denny's television vision


The problem with trying to dissect would-be TV station owner Denny King is that somehow he manages to maintain constant eye contact even as his animated personality whips around the room.

The first thing he says while trying to explain his love of cooking is, "I do it with the same intensity." As what, Denny? The beauty of it is that he doesn't have to specify– he's a bundle of lightning.

That's not too shabby for a 60 year old, less still for one who recently seemed to be nearing the end of the proverbial trail.

"June 18, 1999 was my epiphany; I saw the white lights, and I saw the tunnel," he says, recalling the heart attack that leveled him.

"I sit here a very grateful man," he says. "I wake up every morning grateful to look at my bedroom ceiling and realize, 'Hey, I don't smell pine, and I'm above the ground!'"

He's probably also grateful for his humor, which surely helps when he's rubbing shoulders with pop culture's most notorious personalities. King founded and still leads Location Lodging Worldwide Inc., a company that arranges housing for movie shoots.

His next project will be in Baton Rouge with it-girl Kirsten Dunst. Clint Eastwood is a favorite client; in fact, King always wears a watch given by the Dirty Harry star, who covered King's medical expenses following the cardiac arrest.

"I feel honored to work with people like that," King says. "It seems like the longer an actor or actress has been around, the more polite they are. Julia Roberts is a sweetheart, but some of the younger actors are completely out of control."

"I deal with egos the size of Texas," he says with a hint of exasperation. That's as close to telling tales as he'll get.

"I work in an industry of make-believe," says the man who tried to ground himself in the grit of local politics two years ago. King ran for the Scottsville seat on the Albemarle County school board, pushing particularly hard for school uniforms. He lost– but seems to take pride in the fact that it was narrow loss to a two-term incumbent.

"I rode every school bus in my district, something that no candidate had done before," says King, beaming. He's still recognized regularly by students and parents, probably because he attends football games at high schools that neither his children nor grandchildren attend.

"Who knows? Someday I may throw my hat back into the political ring, because I feel the need to be in public service," he says.

That may be a while. For now, King has a pretty full plate in trying to launch his "all Charlottesville all the time" television station. He even rescued the seemingly local handle, "WCVL," from an Indiana radio station.

"I think what we've accomplished in 11 months usually takes three years," he says. "Some days we take three steps forward, and some days we take four steps back, but I think that's true of any business or any challenge. For the first time in nearly two years, I took a Sunday off after church and went fishing."

Apparently he has no desire to slow down. "It's a great life, and I pack it full," he says. "I wish there were 32 hours in a day instead of 24."

With any luck, he'll manage to fit a little fishing in there somewhere.

Age: 60

Why here? The discovery of the best place in America to live

What's worst about living here? 29 North and 29 North

Favorite hangout? Judy b., Scottsville Emporium, the Kluge Vineyard Farm Shop

Most overrated virtue? Unquestionably, my patience level

People would be surprised to know? I'm deathly afraid of mice.

What would you change about yourself? Listen more and talk less

Proudest accomplishment? I'm proud of many accomplishments over 60 years, but I would probably say the success of my corporation.

People find most annoying about you? My tardiness in returning telephone calls

Whom do you admire? I admire everyone with a strong character and a good heart. As a start, Raymond Thacker, former mayor of Scottsville; Dan Jordan, president of the Monticello Foundation; and Dr. Jim Bergin, my cardiologist at UVA.

Favorite book? Profiles in Courage and Jan Karon's "The Mitford Series"

Subject that causes you to rant? People who don't vote and constantly complain about their legislators

Biggest 21st century thrill? The incredible discoveries taking place in modern medicine, improving the quality and extending the lives of so many people

Biggest 21st century creep-out? The fact that we are rapidly becoming a non-verbal society. E-mail is eliminating the hand-written note, and personal interaction seems to be fading away.

What do you drive? A 2004 Subaru high-performance WRX; I have a great love of cars that hasn't changed since I was a small boy.

In your car CD player right now? I think it's "ABBA GOLD: Greatest Hits," but I'm hooked on WINA 1070 every morning and Z95 throughout the day.

Next journey? To Los Angeles for business meetings and to visit my children and our two beautiful granddaughters

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? When I was 11 years old, I took my mother's Buick for a little spin when my mom and dad were out shopping. The next time she got in her car, it had 12 more miles on it than she remembered. I didn't know what an odometer was.

Regret? Not moving to Charlottesville 20 years earlier

Favorite comfort food? Macaroni and cheese, but don't mention it to Dr. Bergin

Always in your refrigerator? Nonfat milk, Skippy peanut butter, and that great strawberry jam from the Kluge Farm store– and always lots of fresh broccoli, really

Must-see TV? I'm a real news junkie. CNN, FOX news, CSPAN, Bloomburg, and all the local news I can get. Jeopardy's a must.

Favorite cartoon? They all make me laugh and feel good; I've always liked the Road Runner. He reminds me of myself.

Walter Mitty fantasy? Driving in the 24 hours at LeMans and winning Who'd play you in the movie? I would love it to be Billy Crystal, but it would probably be Woody Allen.

Most embarrassing moment? I've had many in my life, but I think the older I get the more they seem to be chalked up to my gray beard.

Best advice you ever got? From my mom and dad, "You can achieve anything in life if you work hard enough and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices."

Favorite bumper sticker? "Vote for Denny King for Albemarle County School Board."

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