Jeff Jardine: Group from Ukraine plans Modesto trip despite problems at home

jjardine@modbee.comMarch 3, 2014 

    alternate textJeff Jardine
    Title: Local columnist
    Coverage areas: People, issues, the community
    Bio: Jeff Jardine joined The Bee's staff in 1988 after a decade at the Stockton Record. He covered sports before moving into news in 1996 and became the Local Columnist in 2003. He graduated from University of the Pacific in 1979, majoring in communications and history.
    Recent stories written by Jeff
    On Twitter: @jeffjardine57

From the emails and voice mails:

A WORLD AWAY – The unrest in Ukraine, where the country’s president resigned two weeks ago and where Russian troops last week marched into Crimea, shouldn’t cancel or delay a visit from representatives of Khmelnitskiy, one of Modesto’s seven sister cities, later this month.

Adrian Harrell, president of the Modesto Sister Cities International board, said a group that will include six attorneys from that city is due to land March 21 in Washington, D.C., before arriving here for Open World Program meetings lasting through March 29.

Harrell said that while she talks regularly to officials from Khmelnitskiy, they’ve purposely steered clear of the political turmoil.

“We’ve talked very little about the politics,” she said. “We don’t want to be one side or the other. We just want to develop our relations with the people (of Khmelnitskiy) no matter which party is in power.”

Modesto has maintained a Sister City relationship with Khmelnitskiy since 1987, when Ukraine was a republic within the Soviet Union.

Thus far, the city 41/2 hours west of embattled Kiev hasn’t experienced the level of unrest felt in Kiev or, now, on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, according to those with whom she’s spoken.

“Fortunately, none of their family members have been affected,” Harrell said. “But friends and acquaintances have been affected in Kiev. They’re grieving for the loss of life.”

SAY PLEASE, PEPSI – Folks who listened to B93 from the late 1980s until the mid-1990s might have recognized a familiar voice during Sunday night’s Academy Awards broadcast on ABC.

Rob Kacey, who worked with on-air partner Carol Benson during that era, provided the voice-over at the end of Pepsi’s Oscar-tribute commercial for its new “mini” can. The commercial integrated several famous movie lines, among them Robert De Niro’s “You talkin’ to me?” from “Taxi Driver”; Dorothy’s “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” from “The Wizard of Oz”; “I’m king of the world” from “Titanic”; and “I’ll have what she’s having” from “When Harry Met Sally”; and ended with Cuba Gooding Jr. spinning off his famous line from “Jerry Maguire”: “Show me the mini!”

Now living in Stockton, Kacey does voice-overs and is represented by San Francisco’s Stars agency. It wasn’t until a week ago Monday that he received a call asking him to audition for the Pepsi ad. They told him they would email him a script and video. He would have to add his lines in at the end and return it within 15 minutes.

“I didn’t know it was going to be for a commercial the world would view during the Academy Awards,” he said.

He received the email and sent back several takes. They told him they’d let him know Tuesday morning whether he’d gotten the job. When he didn’t hear back that day, he figured they had chosen another voice. But at 6:19 p.m. Wednesday, he received a call telling him to be in San Francisco to record the five-second job Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m.

“Between the rain and the commuters and the crazies, left at 6 a.m. and got there at 10,” Kacey said. Even after he finished recording in the studio, he still wasn’t certain they’d use his voice because the ad would contain the very words he utters in bold type on the screen as the commercial concluded. But when the ad ran, it ended with Kacey booming, “Introducing Pepsi Mini-Cans/Little Cans, Epic Satisfaction.”

Who knows? Maybe Kacey’s Oscar ad will win a Clio (for advertising).

HISTORY REPEATED – Last week, a story detailed how six police officers in the Monterey County town of King City were arrested on suspicion of impounding vehicles and then either keeping them or selling them when the rightful owners couldn’t pay the impound fees. The case was very similar to what happened in Waterford in the late 1990s. Richard Michaelsen, the town’s police chief from 1993 until he resigned under pressure in 1997, was charged with felony counts including embezzlement, receiving stolen property, destroying public records and conflict of interest. He was accused of pocketing money made from auctioning impounded vehicles. Michaelsen died in 2001, shortly before he would have gone to trial in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

AUTHOR! AUTHOR! – Modesto’s Claudia Hagen has published “Hanford’s Secret Clouds of Despair.” The book is available at Yesterday’s Books on McHenry Avenue or online at

Michael Monson has published a new book, set in Modesto but titled “ What Happens in Reno.” It’s available through

Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at or (209) 578-2383. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJardine57.

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