Frank Pace has produced three movies and more than 700 hours of network television.
A Valhalla High alumnus, he has been involved with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment.
Yet when he decided to write a book — “If These Lips Could Talk” — it wasn’t about him, but the people he met along the way, including a stop as a public-relations man in San Diego.
Pace’s TV credits include producing the Emmy-nominated “Murphy Brown,” starring Candice Bergen, “Suddenly Susan,” starring Brooke Shields, “Head of the Class,” starring Howard Hesseman, “The George Lopez Show” and the Emmy Award-winning NBC movie “Babe Ruth,” starring Stephen Lang.
Shields wrote the foreword to the book. Lopez is featured on the back cover.
Pace, who lives now in Pasadena, is also the adviser to Hall of Fame baseball player Rod Carew, which led to meetings with some of the game’s top players.
Plus, for more than a decade he coached girls soccer at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Cañada Flintridge. A moribund program when he signed on, Pace helped build it to a state champion, beating Francis Parker for the title.
“I’d be a liar if I said luck doesn’t play a part in your life and career path,” Pace said. “It’s funny how things work out, one thing, one chance meeting flows into an opportunity.”
A graduate of Jacksonville University, Pace was friends with Basketball Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore and actor Jay Thomas in college, relationships that would pay dividends down the road.
“What are the chances my best friend in college — Jay Thomas — would become a TV star?” Pace said.
Pace’s first break came immediately after graduating from college when he was hired as public relations director for the Portland Storm of the long-defunct World Football League.
Pace’s experience with the Storm led to stints with the Chicago Fire and Southern California Sun and finally a position with a small public relations firm in San Diego — the Phillips Organisation, that specialized in sports and sporting goods products.
At the Phillips Organisation, Pace worked with former San Diego State baseball player Armen Keteyian.
Keteyian, who was working at the Escondido Times Advocate at the time, is an award-winning author and an 11-time Emmy Award winner with CBS, ABC, NBC and HBO.
It was at the Phillips Organisation that Pace met Bill Rasmussen, who was starting a TV network — ESPN.
Rasmussen needed programming and Pace was eager to provide it in the form of the Ektelon Natural Light Racquetball Series, which made stops in San Diego and Escondido.
There was also a Short Course Triathlon Series, which had its roots on Mission Bay and was championed by Scott Tinley, a San Diego State student and now teacher, who was the first winner.
Short Course Triathlon became an Olympic sport at the Sydney Games in 2000.
“San Diego was very formative to who I became,” Pace said. “I made a lot of great contacts in San Diego.
“The Ektelon deal led to a relationship with PONY (a sports and leisure company), that led to meeting Reggie Jackson, that led to Rod Carew.”
“If These Lips Could Talk” is equal parts sports and entertainment.
“I was running into a lot of unique figures, and a year ago May, I started writing while on a plane from L.A. to New York,” Pace said. “I didn’t stop until the book was finished.
“I wrote from the heart and a stream of consciousness.
“Working with Billy O’Connor, the first draft was done in three months. I had Armen Keteyian help with the second draft.
“It was a challenge to find the right balance between sports and TV.”
Pace doesn’t pull any punches in the book.
He loves some, others not so much.
“I couldn’t do just fluff or I’d have no credibility,” Pace said. “I rip some people, but there is also praise for many.”
As a TV producer, there were meetings with former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda as well as future President Donald Trump, former President Gerald Ford and Bob Hope.
There was a meeting with former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, basketball great Kobe Bryant and baseball Hall of Famers like Johnny Bench and Goose Gossage.
There are great stories with Bergen, Shields, Lopez, Lang and Thomas.
And there were encounters with Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Sandra Bullock, Gene Wilder, Jennifer Aniston, Mayim Bialik, Kathy Griffin, Sylvester Stallone, Zendaya and Andrew “Dice” Clay.
“I meet people, and I’m able to form relationships,” Pace said. “It’s important to learn everybody’s name, no matter how fast they learn yours.
“I’ve done more than 700 half-hour shows, and can say I loved every one. I’ve also been very lucky.”
The book is available at Barnes and Noble and online at aMickaMookandaMic.com. Amazon, Apple Books, Acclaimpress.com and Google Play, among others.
[email protected] by John Maffei San Diego Union Tribune