When producer-director Glenn Weiss won his 14th Emmy Award Monday and proposed to his girlfriend, marketing executive Jan Svendsen, live onstage, the moment became a viral sensation for the Massapequa Park native. He won for directing the 2018 Oscars ceremony.
"This is the ring that my dad put on my mom's finger 67 years ago," Weiss, 57, son of Robert and the late Helen Weiss, told his bride-to-be on the telecast, adding, "And to my brothers and sisters: I didn't swipe it. Dad knows I have it."
He told "Entertainment Tonight" backstage Monday, "I spent time with my dad two or three days ago, when we were still in New York, and I asked him, 'Do you still have — where's mom's things? Can I borrow this?' I told him what I was going to do, and he was supportive. My dad was the only one who knew what was coming."
In the press room following the ceremony, Weiss was asked what he would’ve done if he hadn’t won at the Emmys. He initially responded “waited until next year” before continuing, “No. I suppose the ball, or In-N-Out Burger, which is like our staple after award shows," People magazine reported.
Weiss has distinguished himself for decades, winning his first Emmy on his first nomination, as director of CBS' Tony Awards telecast in 2003. He has since earned 28 nods, winning for producing or directing 12 Tony shows and directing the last two Academy Awards ceremonies. His television directing ranges from reality-TV, concerts, pageants and parades to 80 episodes of Nickelodeon's kids competition "Legends of the Hidden Temple."
Among his copious credits, Weiss directed NBC's 2014 musical "Peter Pan Live!" from Stage 1 at Grumman Studios in Bethpage.
He attended the University of Maryland, graduating in 1983, and began his career in cable news, working in CNN's Washington, D.C., bureau. In 1999, he and fellow producer Ricky Kirshner formed the Manhattan-based White Cherry Entertainment.
His fiancee, Jan Friedlander Svendsen, is chief creative officer of the Charity Network, which assists celebrities and others in organizing philanthropic efforts. Previously a vice president at Ogilvy Advertising, where she managed the American Express and Kraft General Foods accounts, according to her LinkedIn page, she went on to head marketing efforts for The Broadway League and its Tony Awards for 17 years.
The couple met in 2001 while working on the Tonys, and began dating around 2008, Weiss told reporters backstage at the Emmys.
Weiss' mother died Aug. 31, at age 86. Following his birthday on Sept. 6, Weiss posted a Facebook image of his mother with him when he was a child, writing, "I will be the first to say it was a bittersweet day during which I didn't feel much like celebrating. But I share this pic from an earlier birthday with my mom that still makes me smile . . . so you can smile and keep her in your memory as well."
“I fell in love with his mother the first time I met her before Glenn and I even got involved,” Svendsen told People magazine after the Emmys.
Added Weiss, “When my mom used to come watch rehearsals at the Tony Awards . . . I would find Jan and my mom off in a corner just talking all the time . . . and my mom would always say, ‘She was my friend first.’”