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Sneak peek

Reynolds offers a closer look at his training videos

Posted: Wednesday June 8, 2005 4:26PM; Updated: Friday June 10, 2005 1:32PM
Reynolds Answers The Famed Pivot Questionnaire
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on spiritually, creatively or emotionally?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound do you hate?
The impatient honking of horns
What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
Creative writing
What profession would you not like to do?
If Heaven exists, what would like to hear St. Peter Say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
There's a big room with all your friends in it right around that corner waiting to have a beer with you.

-- A.L.

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Tonight I have the distinct pleasure of being joined Inside The Actors Studio by deposed San Francisco 49ers public relations director Kirk Reynolds. During his 11 years in the NFL, Reynolds was among the more highly regarded media men in the league. His sterling reputation was tarnished last week when the most recent of the four sensitivity-training films in which he would star, direct and produce for the team was leaked to management and, later, the media. Public outrage in the Bay Area has spread quicker than a California brush fire -- as have rumors of betrayal. Reynolds' work has been called lewd, racist and "cinematic trash" for its suggestive language and racial and gay stereotyping. Still, the film remains a hit on the Internet, attracting some 200,000 pageviews to the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site when it debuted on June 1. The embattled 40-year-old filmmaker takes us through his process and extends his deepest regrets.

SI.com: What compelled you to abandon a prosaic existence collating newspaper clippings and juggling interview requests to try your hand at filmmaking?
Reynolds: To be perfectly honest with you, I have a terrible fear of public speaking. The first time I got up in front of the team was before the start of training camp in Stockton, Calif., during the summer of 2000. I was terribly nervous. My throat and mouth were dry. I could barely get my words out. Afterward, [former Niners guard] Dave Fiore said to me, "Hey man, it looked like you were humping the podium out there." That was literally the day I realized I have to do something different because I made zero sense to them and got nothing across. The next year, [then Niners coach] Steve Mariucci was meeting with the rookie players, who had reported to camp three or four days before the veterans. Me and my PR staff were setting something up for a press conference later that day. Coach grabbed me -- he knows that I have a bad time speaking in front of groups -- and he said, "You got anything to say to these guys?" I said, "No." Right then, my heart started pounding a thousand miles a minute. "The next time I speak to these guys, I'll make sure I've got some liquor in me," I said.

All throughout camp, Mariucci kept pushing back the date that I was going to speak to the team. I finally decided it would be funny if I actually taped my address in an empty room, basically as if they were looking at me, in the exact same position that I would be if I were standing there doing it. Then when Coach asked me to get up and talk, I would literally get up, hit play and then -- bang! -- they could see what I said. I finished that tape by saying, "I told you guys that the next time I spoke in front of you, I'd make sure I had something to drink." Then I cracked open a beer and guzzled it on screen. Things kind of took off from there.

SI.com: This most recent sensitivity film, while by far your most popular, was not your first. Just how extensive is this franchise?
Reynolds: I've done one of these every year since 2000, so this one was my fourth.

SI.com: And would it be fair to characterize this effort as your most ambitious to date?
Reynolds: Definitely. The messages have always been similar. The second and third year were more of "A Day in the Life of a PR Director." I wanted to show these guys that I really don't do anything. One day, I'm on the golf course. The next day, I'm swimming and I get out of the pool and I'm in a Speedo. In the third video, they see me going to bathroom in one scene, on a roller coaster the next scene. At the zoo ... The second year, we actually did a scene from Japan [when the 49ers traveled to Osaka for an exhibition game against the Washington Redskins] where I sang karaoke.

SI.com: Many people who share your own aversion to public speaking might be loathe to bare their souls on camera, let alone their thighs in a Speedo. What about that red light turns you into such an extrovert?
Reynolds: For one, I knew I was going to get to drink beer in that first piece. And that always soothes me a little bit. The other is the only other guy involved is the guy behind the camera, who's a friend of mine. It's easy to talk to him. We've worked together for four years now. [Reynolds has asked SI.com to keep the name of his co-collaborator under wraps.]