How the Rocky Philosophy is Keeping Paul Wintner Positive With a Brain Tumor
If you’re a Stallone fan and the name Paul Wintner sounds familiar, it should. Paul is a long-time SZoner, a die-hard Sylvester Stallone fan and the CEO of Wintner Artists. Paul’s Stallone Movie Prop Collection is second to none and he’s shared new additions to his collection on the StalloneZone many times.
It was almost a year ago that I posted How Rocky Props Saved Paul Wintner’s Business. Paul, after nearly losing his business, rebuilt Winter Artist Management and had one of his best years ever. Cue the Rocky music and run the end credits, right?
“Life is not about how hard you hit. It is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa
Recently Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My conversations with him since learning of this have been nothing but uplifting. Paul truly believes that this is just another punch he has to take and he’s going to continue to move forward. Paul agreed to a short interview to update the many Stallone friends he’s made over the years.
Paul with his mom and wife Shira on the first day at Cedars for radiation.
Paul, how did you find out about the brain tumor? What did the doctor say?
I woke up one morning and noticed my right shoulder had atrophied and my speech was slurred. I immediately went for an MRI which said I had nothing wrong. It made no sense to me because my orthopedic doctor said that my tongue had atrophied as well. An emergency MRI with contrast was ordered for that night and it showed a tumor at the base of my skull sitting on many nerves. Two doctors at UCLA wanted to operate, two doctors at Cedars Medical Center in L.A. wanted to radiate it. We decided to get Dr. Keith Black’s (one of the best neurosurgeons) opinion. He said that there were too many risks trying to remove the tumor and he suggested we should radiate it. Radiation will not shrink or cure it,but can stop it from growing. I could live with that. I’ll need speech and swallow therapy since one of my vocal cords has also atrophied.
How did your family react?
My God, without my wife I’d be lost. She has kept a thick folder on all the notes and appointments. My mom calls three times a day as do my sisters and brother. My brother-in-law helped research for me as well. I didn’t think I could be any closer with my family but I was wrong. They’re my everything. My kids are nervous, but they understand it and know I’ll be ok.
Paul at the gym with the owner's dog -- what better way to sooth himself?
What has been the response from the talent at Wintner Artists?
Ah, you mean my other family? They tell me to relax, but I’m a workaholic. Perhaps another thing Sly and I have in common? I work from hospitals, in route to doctor appointments and in waiting rooms. I can’t stop doing what I love and the feeling of booking jobs and letting your artists know that we landed this movie or this promo tv spot is just the best feeling. Plus it keeps my mind off other things. I love sending gifts to clients and getting a very happy person on the phone thanking me. I couldn’t ask for better support from Ashton Smith, who recently posted on his Facebook to pray for me, or Matthew Rhode, Jamie Anderson and Rick Robles checking in with me not about work but if I need anything. I’m lucky to rep these guys and they are more than clients. They’re truly like family.
Paul wears his "Eye of the Tiger" t-shirt to radiation
How are you battling the tumor?
Well, I’m doing six days of thirty-minute radiation sessions. I’m still working out, eating healthy and staying positive. Nothing else I can do. I really think that all the positive energy from friends, family and even the posts on Facebook from people I’ve never met helps. Never underestimate the power of positivity! I’m a fighter. (Remind you of anyone else? 😊) If I have a problem, I fight it and that’s what I’m doing.
Paul has worked out every day since he started radiation!
You’ve always worked out and hit the weights. Have you had to alter your workouts? What about your diet?
I have meals delivered now that are super healthy. Yuck! I’ve cut out sugar and carbs and drink lots of vegetable juice, eat lots of berries and upped my protein intake. No chocolate, that’s been the hardest part. LOL. For snacks I eat a banana with coconut oil or apples with some honey whatever I can think of that’s kind of healthy.
Paul wears one of Sly's Expendables necklaces for inspiration!
As for working out, because of my shoulder, I’m doing lighter weight but more reps. Whatever I can do to get the blood flowing to the muscles. I’m trying lots of new things as well — more cardio — I think it’s giving me a better look. I’m seeing more vascularity and less bulk which is perfectly fine. Many have said not to do weights but i can’t give them up. I need my weights. I love the feeling of them and the rush when you do any movement with them.
Last year your business was in danger of going under. How has this year been?
The business has really grown. Matthew Rhode continues to land great campaigns. He just did Creed II, Green Book, Quincy for Netflix, Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and Infinity War Home Entertainment. Matthew has had a remarkable 2018 considering that he is still a very fresh voice that nobody knows.
Ashton Smith, my number one guy, is still one of the busiest voices in the business. He is on a Private War, Wreck It Ralph 2, The Possession of Hannah Grace, Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, Bad Times at the El Royale, Night School and Bird Box for Netflix to name a few.
Jamie Anderson landed, I think, 16 films this year. His voice can be heard on Mary Poppins Returns for Disney, Can You Forgive Me, Miss Bala, and Goosebumps 2. Christopher Robin was a fun campaign for us. I really liked that movie.
Rick Robles just aired on White Boy Rick and Searching. The Clio Awards are coming up. The Clios are like the Oscars for movie trailers. A lot of films nominated were voiced by my guys. I’m pretty happy about that (and more importantly so are they)!
Just some of the Rocky movie props in Paul's office!
When you last faced adversity, being surrounded by your Stallone / Rocky props provided inspiration. Do you still feel that?
The Rocky series is like my synagogue or church. It’s very spiritual to me. I have worn a Rocky t-shirt to every treatment of mine, and I go to bed watching clips from the Rocky films. Creed 2 couldn’t have better timing! I love all the inspirational tv spots airing now!
Every time I’ve talked to you and in all of your posts you are so positive. How do you keep yourself in this frame of mind?
I’m surrounded by a supportive family and friends. I spoke about them earlier and they are my everything, but to be totally honest, and it may sound corny, revisiting the Rocky films helps me keep my spirits up, but don’t get me wrong there are times I feel scared and sad, but then I hear Mickey’s voice saying, “Get up, you son of b — because Mickey loves ya!”
Do you have any new additions to your Stallone movie prop collection that you’d like to share with SZoners?
I’m always looking for new Stallone props. Here are a few…
Rocky's weightlifting belt from Rocky Balboa!
Rocky's motorcycle helmet that he throws at his statue in Rocky III!
Paul's tombstone, the vodka Rocky places there plus Rocky's chair and newspaper!
Rambo's headband from Rambo, First Blood: Part II.
Paul with fellow Stallone Prop collector Randy Rousseau & Randy's Dad
You’ve always had a lot in common with Rocky. Trouble in school at an early age, people around you who didn’t think you’d make it and so on. Isn’t is hitting way too close to home that in Creed Rocky fought cancer and now you’re fighting a tumor?
The similarities are almost eerie to me. I’m fighting the most important fight of my life. I want to be healthy and see my kids grow – be at all their events. So if I break (like Rocky said in Creed), I’m going to fix it. An interesting side effect is that my right side tongue being atrophed has caused my speech to sound very different. My mom said the other day when I was complaining, she said, “It’s okay, you sound more like your hero now.”
Paul, as you know, I and all StalloneZoners are sending you positive vibes, prayers and good wishes. Any thing you’d like to add before we close out?
First I want to encourage everyone to get a full body CT scan and MRI. I didn’t know I had a tumor until symptoms come up and once they do it’s usually a much harder road. My tumor was with me over 10 years before it hit my nerves which caused me to finally notice I had it. And always remember no matter what life throws at you, you are a lot stronger than you think, braver and loved a hell of a lot more than you probably think, so keep punching and move forward.
I had this made for my buddy's gym. It's a philosophy I believe in.