Not Just Sunglasses and Autographs is a captivating autobiography that follows the author's journey from bar bouncing in Boston to working on award-winning television shows and movies. This is an endearing story of overcoming the odds through dark humor, tenacity, authenticity, and happiness. Initially envisioned as a memoir about a man who had beaten Hodgkin's Lymphoma and lived to tell the tale, the author was then thrown a major curveball with a Parkinson's disease diagnosis. Equal parts pep-talk and gut-punch, this unvarnished and vulnerable memoir-meets-handbook shares lessons learned in life and work. These pages encourage readers to keep moving forward, embrace resilience, step out of their comfort zones, and take life head on.
A graduate of Boston College, Burke started out in television as a production Assistant while working other odd jobs, from bar bouncer, golf caddy to factory assemblyman, to sustain the meager TV industry income. His height and physical build came in handy, scoring him a gig loading grip trucks for Powerhouse Films, which further exposed him to commercials and films in and around the New England area. He soon became the ‘go to’ guy of Production Assistants in Boston, working every motion picture produced in Massachusetts.
After a move to Los Angeles in 1990, Burke quickly moved up the production ranks, working as First Assistant Director on an independent film with Johnny Depp. Nicknamed “the Irish Bull” by his west coast colleagues, Burke went on to secure Assistant Director credits including, Jerry Bruckheimer’s acclaimed TV series Skin, Close to Home, CSI Miami, and the pilot for Desperate Housewives. He spent his last five years on Chicago PD. In 2003, Burke was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Three years of doctor visits, nine operations and chemotherapy treatments were all included in part of his rigorous 14-hour shoot day routine. To no surprise, given his well known tenacity, Burke conquered the disease into remission mostly by himself. The experience empowered him to take inventory of his life, specifically his trade, leading him to approach his career from an alternative perspective that was better aligned with his personal values Best known in the industry for his talent, perseverance and respectful collaboration with colleagues on all levels.
Having been in the workforce for 40 years and entertainment 30 years, I'd like to give back to the community. I want to share my experience in the industry, ways to get what you need from people with a smile rather than negativity and my perseverance to keep moving forward, embrace resilience, and take life head on.
Also, I'd be happy to consult on a positive project if a donation is made to a mutual agreeable charity. Email me or fill out the contact form to get in touch.
Manhattan Beach, California, United States
Been working since I was 12 — Started with caddying — Worked in 13 bars and restaurants Including management of Nightstage: A major Blues and Jazz club in the 80’s and the showroom host at The Santa Monica Improv in the 90’s — Did 6 minutes of open mic at the Comedy Store — Was a DJ — Worked on 3 factory assembly lines — Worked in a chicken packing plant — Had guns pointed at me by robbers — Had guns pointed at me by cops — Chased a man for a year who had knocked me off my bicycle with his car door to get to small claims court — Had a Class “A” license — Went to three schools for truck driving and failed the first test — Have been a member of 2 unions and a still a member of a guild — Nominated for a DGA award — 30 years in film and TV — Over 75 Credits — Had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — Remission for 15 years — 12 surgeries — Did chemo during 80-hour work week on the first year of a TV series — NOW: I have the ultimate challenge