Tributes to and memories of Watt

Roger was one of the most passionate men I have ever met — passionate about life and its endless opportunities, passionate about new ideas, passionate about bringing people together and making a team work to its best potential. I knew of him by repute when at 8 a.m. one morning during the Cannes Festival of 1988, I received a call from him at my hotel. He was cordial, if mysterious, asking if I would have the time to meet him and Syd Silverman in the Carlton Bar that afternoon. There Syd offered to acquire my small publishing company and to bring me aboard to work at Variety. I was dubious, because I valued my independence, but Roger followed up by taking me for a cup of tea in a milk bar in Wardour Street. There he assured me that all would be for the best, and so it proved.

I could not have enjoyed the company of a better mentor. Roger was always even-handed, always calm during a debate, and never one to linger over recriminations. His ebullience, his enthusiasm, and his wonderful sense of humour helped him deal with rich and poor, fools and magnates, with the same candid friendliness that made him one of the great salesmen of his time. Nor should one forget his period as Editor of Variety, during which time he introduced colour printing to the paper.

Rest in peace, Roger. I shall never forget you and the perspectives you opened for me.


I am forever grateful to Roger for being my mentor, from my earliest days at Variety, through to re-hiring me for the London post after a short-lived interlude at Hoyts, and then Roger and Pat kindly allowing me to stay in their Shooters Hill abode when I landed in London.

He not only salvaged my career at that point, but the London job was the catalyst for me to propose to my then girl friend Jenny, as I could not imagine moving to the UK without her.

I learned much about the craft of journalism from Roger. And he had a sharp business brain, which I much admired as a tyro in the business..

I doubt there was a better known or more popular mugg. Walking along the Croisette in Cannes with Roger was always an experience, as he could barely go five or 10 yards before some friend, contact or client waylaid him for a chat.

Wat. was one of the kindest, most astute and charming guys I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure and an honour to have worked with and for him.

His legacy will live on with his family and all those whose lives he touched.


Roger was always a good man, a leader, and was always respectful to younger pups like myself who, obviously new everything and dared to try everything new – except, normally, it was done before, by Roger.

I spoke to Roger only a couple of months ago when he told me of his condition and I was inspired that he never lost his dynamic, innovative, persona. In short, it was a true honor to have worked with Roger for so many years.


I will forever remember Roger’s smile, his friendly manner and his masterful sense of humor… You could not walk the Croisette in Cannes with Roger without his encountering fewer than 20 very good friends, each of whom required a short visit. Result, with Roger you never ever got where you were heading. As I was new to Variety, Roger introduced me to the international business and its remarkable cast of characters… I exchanged e-mails with Roger over the last several years, and it was good to catch up. I will miss him.


Like most Silverman-era Variety muggs involved with the foreign market, I spent time with Roger in London, Cannes, Milan, New York and Hollywood. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more charming and witty companion, a remarkable whiz at whatever he did, and most important, an exceptional human being.