Say you're a political candidate who's feeling down. Low in the polls. Strong negative ratings. Weak support.
What you need is a quick media fix. What you need is Tom Angell and his magic machines.
Take if from George Bush, Ted Kennedy, Howard Baker, John Anderson, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. All of them, at one time or another in the 1980 campaign, have used the services of Angell and Interface, his video laboratory near Dupont Circle. With computers and videotape equipment, Angell and his staff can film a political spot in the morning, edit it in the afternoon and have it on your television in the evening.
They did it with New York Mayor Ed Koch, whom the Carter forces rushed into the breech after the administration's "misvote" against Israel at the United Nations. (Koch assured New York Dems that Carter still deserved their primary vote because anyone can made mistakes.) And prior to the Pennsylvania primary, Angell's veteran editor, David Weiner, rushed together a series of man-on-the-street interview spots that highlighted Kennedy's weaknesses.
"Modern polling techniques and the ability to interpret the findings into spots that can affect your strengths and weaknesses has had a tremendous affect on politics," says the 37-year-old Angell. When Angell began carrying a camera to record Hubert Humphrey's campaign in 1968, it sometimes took days to produce a commercial. Now, with so-called "computer-managed tape editing," a slick, polished commercial can be fashioned within hours to respond to any issue or twist in a campaign.
When Angell went into business for himself in 1976, he was the right man with the right equipment at the right time. And through numerous congressional and two presidential campaigns, with clients of very different political persuasions editing commercials almost cheek-by-jowl at Interface, Angell says he's been "like Caesar's wife," never divulging the competition's strategy.
Why would anyone want to enter a business known for "envy, jealously and sabotage," as Interface's Weiner puts it? Angell says, "I've always had a love for the circus and its allied arts -- opera and political campaigns."