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Modestan already feels like an Academy Award winner

Whether he takes home a gold statuette or not, Modesto resident Mike Glad will feel golden on Oscar night.

The producer and co-writer of the Academy Award-nominated documentary short film "Recycled Life" is getting ready for the big night. His 38-minute project, narrated by actor Edward James Olmos, follows the families who forage and live in the Guatemala City garbage dump.

"Whether you take home the trophy or not, you've already won," Glad said. "You're always Oscar nominated; even if I never did another thing, I would have that. That's pretty neat."

"Recycled Life" is up against three other short films in the category. They are "The Blood of Yingzhou District," about a Chinese AIDS orphan; "Rehearsing a Dream," about talented high school students who spend a week working with leading arts figures; and "Two Hands," about pianist Leon Fleisher, who lost the use of his right hand in 1965.

Glad plans to attend the ceremony with his wife, Jeanne, and creative partner Leslie Iwerks (the film's director, cinematographer, editor and co-writer), who will bring her father. Already, Glad and Iwerks have taken part in the annual Oscar Nominee Luncheon.

All this week, he has shuttled back and forth from Modesto to Los Angeles and Reno. Glad, who owns 22 Midas auto-repair shops throughout the Bay Area and Central Valley, was in Reno for Midas business and L.A. for Oscar and industry-related events.

To make the week leading up to his Oscar moment even bigger, Glad turned 60 Tuesday.

He will take more than 40 friends and family members down with him to L.A. to share in the experience. He has rented an Irish pub for the group to watch the telecast and party afterward.

But if Glad makes it up to the podium, don't expect a long-winded thank-you speech. Glad and Iwerks have decided to let her do the talking, because the academy has asked for only one speaker per winning group.

"That's fine with me," Glad said. "It was so important to her because of her father and grandfather, and (speaking) wasn't that important to me." Both Iwerks' grandfather and father have won Academy Awards for technical achievement.

The night's other big decision — when to arrive — is still up in the air. Nominees must arrive by 5 p.m. — 30 minutes before the start of the show. Glad said his group wants to arrive early, but not too early.

"You do want to go in with the celebrities," he joked. "You want to be close enough so they wonder who you are. I want to walk close to Tim Robbins and act like I know him. Or maybe people will think I'm Steven Spielberg's brother or something."

Glad said he also was keen to catch a glimpse of best-actress nominees Helen Mirren and Penélope Cruz.

The DVD of "Recycled Life," is for sale now on the film Web site (www.recycledlifedoc.com). It includes a 14-minute tribute to Hanley Denning, an educational advocate who was interviewed for the film and died in a car accident afterward.

Glad and Iwerks' film has been picked up by HBO for screening in the fall. Some 44 cities across the country will be screening all four Oscar-nominated short documentaries in theaters as well.

Glad has other documentary projects in the works. Already, he said, his Oscar credentials have opened doors.

"It gives you credibility, it's amazing," he said. "For me, it doesn't seem like anything has changed, but certainly my credibility as a filmmaker has gone up."

For past stories about Glad's Oscar odyssey, including a clip from his film, click on the links with this story at www.modbee.com/arts. For more on "Recycled Life," visit www.recycledlifedoc.com.

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