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'Night at The Wire' fundraiser elicits mixed emotions

The Baltimore Sun

Excitement filled the air at the Columbia soundstage where much of HBO's The Wire is filmed.

Here fans had a chance to meet and mingle with the actors and crew of the Baltimore-based HBO series and take a tour of its sets.

But, at this "A Night at The Wire" fundraiser for the Ella Thompson Fund, there was also a tinge of heartache.

"I heard several [actors] comment about how sorry they are the show is going off the air. Not as sorry as we are," said Todd McCombs, the Rand Corp. IT manager, as he and wife Jennifer commiserated about their favorite show coming to an end.

One actor took a more philosophical approach.

"Nothing lasts forever. We're going out on a high. ... I don't think we could ask for anything more. I really don't," said Michael Kostroff, who describes his Wire character, Maury Levy, as "the sleazy gang attorney."

Meanwhile, what else was there to do but enjoy the moment?

Exactly what Antwerpen Motors Executive Vice President Stanford Hess was doing with wife, Deborah Stone, and boss, Jack Antwerpen.

"Oh, look! There's the guy who reads the porn magazines," Hess announced, pointing to actor Delaney Williams, whose Wire character, Sgt. Jay Landsman, claims that particular hobby.

And then there was the auction, something The Wire's creator David Simon was particularly excited about. There were all sorts of treasures from The Wire and other HBO shows up for bid.

"How can you not want that on your desk?" Simon queried, as he pointed to the prison shank prop standing upright, "stabbed" into a cork base.

"Pen, pencil, prison shank," he said with a chuckle.

A drink with Mark Caplan

Real estate investor keeps things balanced

Mark Caplan, 49, grew up in Baltimore. He attended Gilman School and got his undergraduate degree at the Johns Hopkins University, and his MBA at Columbia University. As for his line of work, Caplan says he invests in three things: real estate, real estate management services, and equipment and vehicle leasing. His companies own or manage some 40 apartment complexes in the greater Baltimore area. Caplan lives in Homeland with his wife, Linda, and their three daughters: Molly, 16; Eliza, 13; and Alice, 8.

Say you're at a cocktail party. When people ask you what you do, what do you say?

It's not so easy to answer. I invest. Predominantly in real estate.

What does your business card say?

I have three. [Laughs] I'm president of the Time Group. I'm chairman of WP&M; Management Company. You're killing me here. ... And I am president of Madison Capital. But, I have partners who are also part of management.

You're so uncomfortable with this. Why?

I have no idea. I'm a very low-key person in that sort of way. I'm much more part of a team. I don't like being singled out. I do my best work as part of a group.

Does your investment go beyond the financial? Are you emotionally invested in the city as well?

Absolutely. I'm involved in things where I hope I can make a difference. With our daughters' school, St. Ignatius Loyola. [They have a program in which] they take high risk, predominantly African-American middle school kids and provide them with a high-quality middle school education without [charging tuition]. They do a great job. They take these kids and give them a shot, and they make it work. ... Educational issues are important to me because I have benefited from them. I think that we live in an increasingly stratified society, and it's getting tougher and tougher for those who don't have the advantages. And that's not right.

You come across as pretty laid-back, yet you're financially successful. Is there a part of you that's intense?

I've actually made some choices about that. I really do strive for some balance between family and work. I think people have to make some decisions about how committed they want to be. Financial success is a nice thing. But, you need to be thoughtful about how assiduously you're going to pursue it and how important that is to you.

Did you used to be more driven?

Yeah. But, I'm less driven [now]. I lost a father young. I started very young in the business. I started buying real estate when I was 18. And you're not around forever. So, I keep it a little easier.

Do you have hobbies?

I do. I am mediocre at a vast number of sports, from skiing to surfing to tennis to squash. I like to be outside.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I am not racked with a whole lot of guilt.

OK, then what are your pleasures?

I'm a big reader of newspapers. We get three a day. ... I like to be in Bethany Beach, [Del.]. ... We spend a fair amount of time at our house there. I can usually be found on my surfboard there. ... I do like to cruise around New York City. I can't argue with sitting at the bar at a really nice restaurant. We travel a bit. ... I like the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

What are your pet peeves?

Lack of courtesy in various forms. And people not being nice to each other when there's no need to be that way. I'm a pretty happy guy. People who know me, they would actually say that. And I think it's true.

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