O.C. resident brings ‘The Best of California’ to life for a national TV audience

Pat Pattison, right, films a segment  for "The Best of California"
Pat Pattison, right, films a segment Wednesday for “The Best of California” at the Placentia home of Stanford Freese, who worked decades as a bandleader and talent booker for Disney.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)

Having grown up in coastal Orange County in the ’50s and ’60s, Pat Pattison fostered an early love of all things California and is bringing that love to bear in a nationally syndicated TV show.

Since January 2021, the Seal Beach resident has been producing segments for the weekly show “The Best of California With Pat Pattison,” an on-air road trip through the Golden State.

Appearing in 40 markets, the 30-minute show airs Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on the NTD network, a digital tier 2 channel found in most television packages. Viewers can also see him on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.


“What America is to the world — a place where people come to make their dreams come true — California is to the country,” he says of its focus. “It’s the fifth-biggest economy in the world. And it’s an important story.”

Pat Pattison hosts an episode of "Best of California" on L.A.'s Red Cars.
Seal Beach’s Pat Pattison hosts an episode of “Best of California” on L.A.’s Red Cars, for which both of his grandfathers worked as conductors.
(Courtesy of Pat Pattison)

Pattison’s hosting style might easily be compared to that of Huell Howser, who brought his Tennessee charm to a West Coast audience in the long-running PBS shows “California’s Gold” and “Visiting With Huell Howser.”

The Seal Beach resident, however, brings a different perspective, as a native Californian whose family roots in the state date back to the 1800s, when his forebears arrived seeking work and lived a rough-hewn existence.

Both his grandfathers worked as conductors on the Pacific Electric Railway Co.’s “Red Cars,” which navigated the streets of Los Angeles in the 1920s. In a similar manner, through “Best of California,” Pattison takes viewers on a journey through little-known pockets of the state’s storied past.

“It has to mainly be things people can go see,” he says of the subject matter. “We’re really trying to gear it to people who already live here, who may not know about these things.”


The music man

Pat Pattison, right, interviews Stanford Freese at his home in Placentia
Pat Pattison, right, interviews Stanford Freese beneath a pepper tree at his home in Placentia for the weekly TV show “The Best of California with Pat Pattison.”
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)

Last week Pattison’s journey brought him to the Placentia home of Stanford “Stan” Freese, a longtime tuba player and musical director who worked for 45 years as the talent casting and booking director with Disney Entertainment Productions.

The original bandleader for the Walt Disney World Band, Freese led musicians during the Florida park’s 1971 grand opening. Now 78, Freese recounted his life and times in the book “Music, Mayhem and the Mouse: My ‘Tubazar’ Life.”

Freese is a fitting subject for an episode of Pattison’s show that will feature Walt Disney’s legacy in California beyond the Anaheim theme park.

Sitting inside a brightly colored kitchen packed with memorabilia, Pattison introduces his guest as his iPhone, set up on a tripod nearby, records the scene.

Pat Pattison, center, interviews Stanford Freese as Freese's wife, Tera, operates the camera.
Pat Pattison, center, interviews Stanford Freese in the music room of his Placentia home as Freese’s wife, Tera, operates the camera.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I’m excited to be here with Stan Freese,” Pattison says to the camera, speaking into a signature foam-topped microphone. “We’re at his home in Placentia — this place is wild.”

“It’s nuts, it’s totally nuts,” Freese agrees. “But that is our lifestyle.”

For the next hour, Pattison shoots scenes in various parts of the house Freese shares with wife Tera, including a music room done up in a “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, replete with skeletons. Freese explains his musical talents were inherited from his father and grandfather, who played in bands dating back a century.

Freese passed the gift to his sons, Josh, a studio drummer who’s played for Sting, Guns N’ Roses and Nine Inch Nails, and Jason, who performs with Green Day.

Next, Freese and Pattison head to the frontyard, where a pepper tree is festooned with full-sized tubas and sousaphones.

Pat Pattison breaks down his equipment following an interview with Stanford Freese at Freese's Placentia home.
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)

Under its canopy, Pattison records the end of what will be a five- to seven-minute segment in a Disney episode that will also highlight the original Disneyland Bandstand on display at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar and San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum.


“This is the legacy of Walt Disney in all aspects of California. Stan, thank you,” Pattison says to the camera, before adding, “We’re out.”

His low-key production team includes a freelance editor, daughter Liza Pattison, who sometimes operates the camera or appears alongside her dad in a boomer-millennial pairing, and older daughter Jessamyn Pattison, who helps with production.

“I suppose that’s child labor,” he jokes, “but we won’t get into that.”

A second act

Pat Pattison outside Sugar n' Spice Balboa Island, where he filmed a segment on the shop's famous frozen bananas.
Pat Pattison outside Sugar n’ Spice Balboa Island, where he filmed a segment on the shop’s famous frozen bananas.
(Courtesy of Pat Pattison)

The TV show is part of what Pattison calls his “second act” career — a passion he began pursuing after 30 years in marketing and advertising in the television industry and as vice president of Creative Services at Disneyland.

Using his experience in merchandising, honed in top positions at two toy companies, Pattison was instrumental in creating antenna ball toppers used by Jack in the Box and later Disney.

“That will be in my obituary,” he quipped of what he calls his 15 minutes of pop culture fame. “[And] I’ll take it. When you’re in marketing, you go where the market takes you.”

Pat Pattison promoted Kings Canyon National Park for an episode of "Best of California."
Pat Pattison promoted Kings Canyon National Park, near Sequoia National Park, for an episode of “Best of California.”
(Ruth Jacobson)

At 55, he took up acting and snagged some television roles but now considers “The Best of California” his full-time gig. He also works as a reinvention coach, helping others remake their own careers by rediscovering their creativity.

His methods were codified in the 2021 book — “Creative You Turn: 9 Steps to Your New Creative Life & Career” — which includes exercises and tips to help readers explore their own interests and aspirations.

“Create a lasting vision that will take you the distance. A vision that will cut through all the doubt and negative thinking,” Pattison advises at the end of the book. “Once you have your vision, hold onto it with your life. Keep it close and trust that it will guide you exactly where you were always meant to be.”

It’s a model the Seal Beach resident has followed to find his own success.

“I’m allowing myself to get back to the passions of my childhood, and part of that comes by being willing to take risks,” he says. “If not now, when?”

"Best of California with Pat Pattison" airs Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on the NTD channel.
(Courtesy of Pat Pattison)