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Kenny Kerzner : Keys to the City

Kenny Kerzner has been renting cars to Hollywood’s main players since 1969.
He’s charming, fit and handsome, and at the tender age of 61, he looks more like a man in his early 40’s. Kenny and his team at Midway Car Rental rent their fleet of high-end luxury vehicles to some of Hollywood’s most famous characters. He provides discreet, personal services, and has been know to take calls and handle matters at 3 a.m. when “Jane Doe” is arriving by private plane and needs some wheels. We poked and prodded for details of any scandalous dirt but, being the consummate professional he is, Kenny would only divulge that when Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in 1997, just outside of the Peterson Automotive Museum, Kenny had provided the car.

Kenny got into the car business in 1969, and rose through the ranks with great speed. As a student at Cal State Northridge, Kenny was doing whatever he could to stay out of the Vietnam War. He ended up getting a job with Warren Axelrod just as Warren was starting Southwest Car Rental & Leasing. The original car lot was located right in the heart of Beverly Hills on Canon and Brighton. A peace-loving beatnik, Kenny was also still diligent — tirelessly working three jobs, seven days a week. He says that he “wanted to do something big” so Mr. Axelrod gave him a job washing cars in his fleet and within three years, he was running the show as the President of Southwest Car Rental. At the time, nobody was renting high-end, luxury automobiles to the Hollywood elite, and it was Kenny who got the idea up and running. In twenty years, Kenny had built the business from one location to over 14 locations in three states including California, Arizona and Colorado.

As he grew his business, Kenny had a couple of big breaks.He was standing in line to buy lunch at Food King, which was located across the street from SCR in Beverly Hills when he met David Puttnam, who is now Lord David Puttnam, the awardwinning producer of many notable films including Chariot’s of Fire and Midnight Express. Puttnam ran with the British entertainment crowd and introduced Kenny to his clique that included Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, George Harrison and Mick Jagger. Almost immediately, Kenny was providing cars to anyone involved in the British invasion of Hollywood.

Kenny also benefitted from his proximity to the studios. SCR stored their cars in Century City, and had so many makes and models that whenever the studios needed a car for a scene, they would call up Kenny.It was Kenny who provided pictures cars for hit movies such as Car Wash and T.V. shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, Tales from the Crypt, ChiPs and Miami Vice.

Kenny has also been successful in winning alliances with top hotels in the area. Back when the W in Westwood was the Westwood Marquis, a young Kenny spent every day for two weeks being kicked out of the General Manager’s office for being “a nobody” until one day he was given the opportunity to provide a Lincoln Town Car with an hour’s notice. Kenny rose to the challenge and was granted a long-standing business relationship.

These days, Kenny is as active as ever. He wakes most mornings before dawn, completes his multiple hour workout, and gets on to his Blackberry to connect with his East coast clients. Kenny and the team at Midway continue to provide transportation services for L.A.’s Hollywood and business elite, and he says that his success is based on “relationship marketing.” Recently, a music star was being hounded by the paparazzi and Kenny was required to purchase a new $100,000 car, have the windows tinted limousine black and then have the car delivered to the star within two hours, the next day he had to switch to a BMW 7 Series and the next day a Bentley. It’s all just another week in the life of Kenny Kerzner, the man with the keys to the city

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