Eric Rhone is 47 and lives in Frontenac with his wife and three children. Eric graduated Normandy High School and is the business manager for Hollywood’s Cedric the Entertainer. Cedric is a Berkeley High graduate and the two met up as students at Southeast Missouri State University.
They both launched business careers; Cedric started playing all the local clubs including the Funny Bone. Finally one day they shipped all their clothes to Hollywood and the rest of history.
Patch conducted an extensive one on one interview with this fascinating figure from the world of entertainment. This is part one of a two-part series. The concluding interview is Tuesday on Patch:
Cedric the Entertainer's Soul Man bus toured the Fair St. Louis grounds last week. Eric Rhone explained why it was there.
Ladue-Frontenac Patch: How did you hook up at Cape.
Rhone: We met through a mutual friend. He is a year older so he was there when I arrived as a freshman. I was going to live with my friend and whoever this Cedric guy was, we were going to move him out, and I would take his place.
We waited for Cedric to come into the room. He said something like “welcome to college gentleman” and we fell out laughing and that was it.
Cedric would say something funny or do something crazy and it was just his personality. People just like that.
Both of us go further back in entertainment than that. The Funny Bone has produced a lot of local talent. Cedric was entertaining there, at a club called the Wiz over on the Eastside and I was beginning to promote local shows.
Patch: How has technology impacted what you do.
Rhone: A great deal. We are producing comedies on line. We call them Web-a-sodes. I could almost shoot an entire episode on line from my I-phone. If you have the right app, you can do that, put it up on You Tube, there you go.
People are producing videos from these little pocket cameras. The quality is getting better every year.
To produce these videos, I tell people you have to have a healthy P & A budget. You have to satisfy advertisers and that’s a big hurdle.
Patch: How long have you been with Cedric.
Rhone: Since day 1. That goes back to 1989-90, somewhere in there. We used to have a big office in Encino, California and we had a big staff. We did a deal at the time with MGM (studios). Actually, we did a first deal with MGM, they gave us cash for offices and overhead and we operated that way for five years.
MGM sold their business and bought everyone out of their deals. Again, with the impact of technology, you don’t need an office anymore. Your major operation is your cell phone today. If we need to meet with our staff, we just meet at a library or a hotel room and do what we have to do. Big buildings and brick and mortar aren’t needed any more. To do our jobs, we need to be out in the world every day.
We are doing a show called the Soul Man and you will see it on TVLand. I am the executive producer of the show but I’m also Cedric’s manager as well. Most of our movies, I am the executive producer. When we do commercials, I switch hats to my managers hat and I am in charge of negotiating all the deals whether its film, television, casting or other productions. Its a big adventure when you strike out for big deals like this.
Patch: What is the first big deal the two of you did.
Rhone: Rhone: It was right here in St. Louis with Anheuser Busch. Cedric became a spokesperson for the brewery in a five year deal. I negotiated that deal which included Super Bowl commercials in 2001 and 2001.
Patch: Does Cedric have a real name.
Rhone: Its Cedric the Entertainer. That’s what he goes by. That’s what you will find on all of our contracts. In the early days, Cedric was a comedian and a singer. He would do 20 minute routines. About eight of those minutes were comedy, but the rest was singing, dancing, and all those skills because he didn’t have the material to fill all of the time requirements. He kept building on his skills. He was just more an entertainer, so the name, Cedric the Entertainer.
Patch: What else do you do.
Rhone: Four years ago, we got into auto racing. We owned some racers and got involved in Long Beach. My wife just bought me a NASCAR experience for my birthday over at Gateway (Motor Sports Park) I am looking forward to going around Gateway at 200 miles an hour and see how that feels.
Patch: Is Cedric a motivational speaker.
Rhone: Yes he does them. He has a charitable foundation here in St. Louis where he gives out scholarships to his school and his church. He encourages young people to follow their dreams and get their education. The world is all about exploring, exposure and trying things. Its more about the education of life, not just education in the class room. Obviously, that is still important.
I speak to young people, probably more than Cedric.
Tomorrow, Eric addresses their accomplishments and their future plans.