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RIT’s credit card expert takes message to silver screen

Robert Manning
Robert Manning

Give him credit – Robert Manning was destined to play a major dramatic role in the film industry. Who else could convince Jimmy Smits (presidential candidate Matthew Santos of TV’s West Wing) to forgo accepting a role in a MasterCard commercial because “it would be condoning how we as a nation are being strangled by debt.”

During the past several months, Manning, RIT’s professor of consumer financial services in the E. Philip Saunders College of Business and leading critic of the nation’s financial services industry, has turned into a savvy jetsetter. He earned mileage in the Big Apple with his “Living With Debt Study” sponsored by Lending Tree.com; gained notoriety in a three-part-mini series on credit card debt on the CBS Nightly News with Bob Schieffer; played the voice of reason on marketing credit cards to students on spring break on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart; then earned kudos for talking about banking deregulation in a live broadcast of the Al Franken Show (Air America Radio Network) in Rochester.

Now his book, Credit Card Nation, has become the inspiration for a hard-hitting documentary, In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Burst, which made its debut at the Nantucket Film Festival in mid-June to rave reviews from notable critics and celebrities – including Jimmy Smits.

In Debt We Trust, produced by Danny Schecter (director of the acclaimed WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2004), made its world premiere at RIT on Oct. 3.

“Americans are maxing out on credit cards,” explains Manning. “The film gives great insight into the impact debt is having on young people and our society. But you won’t go home without some answers. We also offer ways to empower the public with information on how to avoid the traps of debt and dependency. We may be sounding the alarm but also giving you time to answer it.”

To view an interview with Robert Manning, visit the University News Web site at www.rit.edu/news.