The Way We Were: Bryan Hickox

The Way We Were: Bryan Hickox
Bryan and Joanne Hickox wedding

When he was in seventh grade in Manhasset, Long Island, his teacher patiently informed Bryan Hickox that there were only a few avenues for inexhaustible blowhards.  Choosing one of those avenues, Hickox became a national debater and, later, after graduating from Occidental College, he ran radio and television stations in California and Arizona.

In the 1970s, Hickox became involved in film production and, in 1976, founded Hickox/Daniel Productions which, in its eight years of existence, saw Bryan Hickox and his partner Jay Daniel develop and produce 24 movies for television, five network series, and over a dozen pilots.

Lecturing in South Africa

Lecturing in South Africa

Hickox and Daniel also developed and produced over 90 episodes of a nationally syndicated talk show, and four network After School Specials. One of them received CBS-TV’s highest rating in the network’s history, another received two Emmy awards and a Writer’s Guild Award, and their last Children’s Special received the 1984 Emmy.

Today, after more than a half century in the entertainment business, Hickox’s 71 movies have been nominated for 16 and won seven Emmy awards, along with a George Foster Peabody Award and over 200 different awards in a multitude of national and international film and television festivals and competitions. In 1998, Hickox received the prestigious Florida Motion Picture and Television Association Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“Soldiers of Change,” a theatrical feature film starring Clifton Davis, Debbie Allen, Ben Vereen and Charles Shaughnessy, won the Heartland Film Festival’s Crystal Heart Award and was screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2011, he produced the 4-hour live television coverage of the “Global Day of Prayer” telecast broadcast in 212 countries, and his most recent theatrical feature film, “The Perfect Wave,” starring Scott Eastwood, Cheryl Ladd, Rachel Hendrix and Diana Vickers, shot in Cape Town, South Africa, Bali, New Zealand and the island of Mauritius, is in worldwide release and was just sold to network television.

In 2015, Hickox received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Logos University while being involved in an eight-part television mini-series on the Apostle Paul, entitled “The Prisoner.” He is presently consulting on a Canadian TV series, “Beyond the Four Walls,” and an inner-cities entrepreneurial program CHAMP (Communities Heroes and Mentors Program). His production company, Bryan Hickox Pictures, is located in Lakewood. 

As keynote speaker at the Israel Breakfast at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention

As keynote speaker at the Israel Breakfast at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention

An energetic, imaginative, prolific and highly respected motion picture and television executive, producer, director and writer, Bryan Hickox is, first and foremost, a man of God.

In Hickox’ words: “I spent most of my childhood and adult life running as fast as I could, without ever dealing in a meaningful way with my purpose on this earth. I wanted everything this world had to offer – wine, women, drugs, sex, fame, acceptance, praise and adulation. I went to school, made okay grades, made films, drove the big car, lived in the big house, had a great audio-visual system that drowned out the reality of the hunger and thirst I had for deep personal questions of who was I, why was I here and what was my purpose in this life. Along the way, I blew a marriage, for a number of years lost a relationship with my daughter and virtually ignored a grandson. I tried just about everything seeking to make an empty heart happy. Then, on June 22, 1974, on the balcony of the Bel Air Presbyterian Church in California, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.” 

Slowly his perceptions began to change, and Hickox realized that he needed to change the way he worked and what he worked on, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that he attended a religious retreat in California, sought forgiveness for much of his past and advice on how to start a personal relationship with Jesus.

It was soon after this retreat that he met and fell in love with Joanne, a young accountant in the film industry who hailed from Canada. “I was 48 and Joanne was 22 when we got married,” said Hickox. “When she took me home to meet the relatives, it was like the movie, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’”

Laughing, Hickox recalls that Joanne’s grandmother flirted with him and, he discovered to his chagrin, he was seven years older than Joanne’s father, but it was obviously a match made in heaven.

Bryan and Joanne Hickox, of Lakewood, have now been married for 30 years, have two grown sons, Chad and Michael, and are close to Bryan’s grown daughter, Heather Lynn Hickox.

Both Bryan and Joanne are dedicated to Christian ministry, Joanne with her nonprofit volunteer organization, Seniors on a Mission, and Bryan with Master Media, a Christian organization that takes Jesus Christ into the film industry’s decision-makers. Master Media is led by Larry Poland, formerly with Campus Crusade for Christ.

Bryan, Michael, Megan (Chad’s wife), Archer, (Chad and Megan’s son), Chad and Joanne Hickox

Bryan, Michael, Megan (Chad’s wife), Archer, (Chad and Megan’s son), Chad and Joanne Hickox

And what brought them to Jacksonville? Back in the 1990s, Hickox produced several made-for-TV movies in Jacksonville, including “Summer Switch” (1994), starring Richard Moll, Soliel Moon Frye, Jason Weaver, Rider Strong, Patrick Renna and Casey Sander; “Family Reunion: A Relative Nightmare” (1995), starring Norman Fell, Marsha Strassman, Jo Anne Worley, Joe Flaherty, Peter Billingsley, Alley Mills, Melissa Joan Hart and Dody Goodman; “Saved by the Light” (1995), starring Eric Roberts, K. Kallin, Lynete Walden, Don Harvey, and Don McManus; “Sudden Terror: The Hijacking of School Bus CX-17” (1996); “Summer of Fear” (1996), and “Stand for What is Right,” “Compromise” and “Somebody Told Me” (1997) starring Lauren Stalnecker, directed by Roger Flint. In 1999-2000, Hickox produced a pilot, “Safe Harbor,” starring Gregory Harrison and Rue McLanahan. These are just a small portion of the films he has done here and elsewhere. 

Hickox, at 79, is a man with such vast experience that it is a daunting task to squeeze his life into one story. Suffice it to say that he has filed for bankruptcy and recovered, suffered brokenness and gloried in physical and spiritual healing, experienced dramatic downturns and incredible miracles throughout his life. 

Noting that he has heard the voice of God only once, he said, “One night, while lying face down in our library-prayer room, I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, ‘I love you so much that I sent you Joanne.’ Wow! Thank you, Jesus! I am living proof that there are miracles at work in the world.”

By Susan D. Brandenburg
Resident Community News

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