Lights, Camera, Action at A

Only a year ago, veteran film and video producer John Long and partner John Hynd would sit in A&G; Production offices and discuss their firm's future. The talks were quite private, but not by choice. Long and Hynd were the only ones left after a string of misfortunes and a soured cable TV deal forced A&G--once; the biggest video production firm in town--to lay off its seven-member crew.

Things were so grim that Long even issued a press release saying the firm would close its doors completely. He retracted his announcement a few hours later, however, after huddling with key clients, a banker and his friends.

Now, barely a year after he heard the death rattle, Long and A&G; are back, he says, "in the groove and doing better than ever."

A&G;'s staff now numbers six, and its dollar volume is back up to its peak of three years ago, about $1 million annually, Long said.

There's also growth in the works. A&G;, previously only a full-service producer, has entered the post-production world, opening a subsidiary called The Post Office. A&G; will invest at least $250,000 in the new operation, Long said.

In the next three months, Long predicted, A&G; will boast of five divisions. And this week, European producer-director Irne Markantonis joins the firm as executive producer.

If it all sounds very different from a year ago, that suits Long just fine. "We were dead meat," Long acknowledged last week, but "we decided to tough it out."

Air War Over Discount Coupon Sales

Eric Fuller, the 25-year-old airline coupon broker who has been sued by American Airlines and TWA for improperly selling discount certificates, is fighting back.

Last month, Fuller hired the Berkman & Daniels public relations firm to mount a campaign aimed at telling his side of the legal battle. On Monday, a slick press kit was distributed that includes a biography of Fuller (he graduated in May from the University of San Diego law school), three pages of questions and answers about the coupon controversy, a videotape of Fuller explaining his position and a news release saying that Fuller plans to file his own lawsuits against American and TWA later this week.

The airlines contend that Fuller's selling of the discount coupons they give to frequent fliers is fraudulent and improper. Fuller contends that consumers, not the airlines, own the discount coupons and that they can be transferred to anyone. Fuller says he's spending $100,000 per month defending his firm--The Coupon Bank--against the carriers.

"The airlines are fighting a dirty war, and the only resource we have is to get out the true story," Fuller said Monday, explaining why he hired a PR firm. "We seem to find ourselves in a battle with a monster that won't be satiated until we're dead and buried in a steel shell."

Big-League Figures for El Cajon Firm

Southern California allegiances be damned. Roby Chevance and her colleagues at Bigger Than Life Inc. in El Cajon were tickled red, as in Red Sox, when Boston beat the California Angels Sunday to force the American League baseball playoffs back to Bean Town.

This morning, a 100-foot-long, 40-foot-wide computer spread sheet showing the Rex Sox's 1986 individual statistics and made by Bigger Than Life will be unveiled and hung from the ninth story of the Lotus Development Corp. building in Cambridge, Mass. It's part of Lotus' celebration of the sale of its 2 millionth software disc.

Each number and letter is two feet high and six inches wide, Chevance said.

Cost to Lotus: $40,000.

Growth of Firm Brings a Prize

When John Ng started Applied Technology Associates in San Diego in 1977, the name was far more impressive than the operation. The work force at Ng's computer applications and systems engineering firm totaled one--Ng. And its capital was hardly substantial--$15,000 Ng had obtained by taking out a second mortgage on his home.

Things have changed. Sales last fiscal year reached $13 million and employees number 480, of whom 380 are minorities.

So it wasn't surprising last week when the Small Business Administration named Ng, a Chinese American, its National Minority Small Business Person of the Year.

Newsman Takes Over Coronado Bank

How small is Coronado? It's so small that San Diego's largest financial institution has just hired a branch manager who has not one deposit slip of banking experience.

But Larry Wade's attractiveness as manager at Great American First Savings Bank's Coronado branch transcends an ability to remember debits-by-the-window, credits-by-the-door. Wade is a longtime journalist and publisher, and he boasts of ties to the military--all important attributes for a bank vying for the island's trade.

"I have the business and community experience and some knowledge of the Navy," said Wade, who acknowledged that his banking background is "zilch."

But Great American's move isn't unusual. Many of the bank branches in Coronado have sought retired Navy personnel with business backgrounds to manage their facilities, said Wade. His journalism career includes stints as publisher of the Coronado Journal, several Navy and Marine Corps base newspapers, the San Marcos Outlook and several smaller papers in Northern California.

Why does a newspaperman go into banking? "We're following the money," Wade quipped.

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