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Sunday, January 31, 2010

What has the Internet, Smart Phones and the Digital World done to us?

How has our digital world changed who we are? Who we will evolve into? Feel free to read this link to a Salon commentary and to view the series referred to on PBS. 

Let us know what you think.

Are we pushed to the limit on doing things faster and faster?

Are we further apart from each other in terms of real contact?

Can texting, instant messaging, e-mail and other e-communications keep us from meeting and knowing people we should and could have known if we had opened out eyes and simply talked with people in person?

Is more expected from us then ever before?

Are we being used, abuses and discarded?

Are we losing our literacy?

Are we becoming sheep?

Your thoughts please....

History made in DGA best director prize



 "The Hurt Locker" is now the odds on favorite for the Best Picture Oscar. Never has a film awarded the top prize by the producers and directors guilds not taken best picture. Still "Avatar" and the 8 other nominees could still make history.

"Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bielow made history last night when the Directors Guild of America selected her as the first woman to earn the Best Directorial award in the 60 year history of the guild.  


A complete list follows, courtesy of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and the DGA.

Winners list:
OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FEATURE FILM

Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker
(Summit Entertainment)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES FOR TELEVISION/MINISERIES

Ross Katz
Taking Chance
(HBO)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DOCUMENTARY

Louie Psihoyos
The Cove
(Oceanic Preservation Society and Roadside Attractions)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMATIC SERIES NIGHT

Lesli Linka Glatter
Mad Men - "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"
(AMC)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY SERIES

Jason Winer
Modern Family - "Pilot"
(ABC)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSICAL VARIETY

Don Mischer
We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
(HBO)



OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN REALITY PROGRAMS

Craig Borders
Build It Bigger Season 3 - "Hong Kong Bridge"
(Discovery Science)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DAYTIME SERIALS

Christopher Goutman
As The World Turns - "Once Upon A Time"
(CBS)


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMMERCIALS

Tom Kuntz
MJZ
UK


OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS

Allison Liddi-Brown
Princess Protection Program
(Disney Channel)


2009 DGA SERVICE AND CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS

Director Norman Jewison - DGA Lifetime Achievement Award for distinguished achievement in Motion Picture Direction.


Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company - DGA Honorary Life Member Award, given in recognition of outstanding creative achievement, leadership in the industry, contribution to the DGA or to the profession of directing.



Barry M. Meyer, Chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. - DGA Honorary Life Member Award, given in recognition of outstanding creative achievement, leadership in the industry, contribution to the DGA or to the profession of directing.


Roger Goodman received the DGA's 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award in News Direction for distinguished achievement.


Cleve Landsberg received the 2010 Frank Capra Achievement Award, which is given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.


Maria Jimenez Henley received the 2010 Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the Directors Guild of America.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday Morning News and Views


January 31, 2010

News: Lighter Side

Only 40% of healthcare workers in this country wash their hands when they should. The truth is the protocol calls for washing hands before you see a patient and after you see them, far more often than in any other industry including food service. Some hospitals have wireless devices using badges to record if hands were washed when they should be, track time with each patient and potentially track movements.

Thorton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning play “Our Town” is the most produced play in America. There have been 4,000 professional productions in the last decade alone, with more licensed productions in schools and community theaters than any other play published. The small details of our lives, the subtle interactions and our love of small town and simple America keep brining audiences, actors and artist to Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Paul Newman, William Holden, Dustin Hoffman and just about every star, of both sexes, have done “Our Town” at least once in their career. The play celebrates the ordinary overlooked details of life, and how we do not even think about how we live our lives, about the moments of our lives we fail to think about or see that make up the wealth of our lives. The message is universal, transcending generation, media and even cultural experience.

Yes, I have been in “Our Town.” I played Joe Crowell the paperboy my freshman year of high school. The other paperboy my brother in the play, was Sean Grennan, who went on to a life long career as an actor and playwright. Sean is now living in New York City, with his wife who is currently on stage in “Wicked”.

Another crack in the glass ceiling as Kathryn Bigalow has won the Directors Guild of America’s top award for “The Hurt Locker”, reinforcing that pictures position as the favorite to earn the best picture Oscar. Bigalow is the first woman to take her professions top motion picture prize. It also makes the 58-year-old seasoned veteran the leader to earn the Oscar for “Best Director”. She edged out James Cameron and new all time box office champion “Avatar”, Jason Reitman and “Up in the Air”, Lee Daniels and “Precious”, and Quinton Tarantino and “Inglorious Bastards”.  The DGA winner has earned the directors Oscar all but six times in the Guild’s sixty-year history.

The Producers Guild also named “The Hurt Locker” Best Picture. When both Guilds select the same picture, that picture has never lost the Academy’s Oscar for Best Picture.

What is American music? The Great American songbook, filled with melodies that have haunted for years? Broadways storied history? Rock and Roll? Rap music? Hip hop? Blues and jazz? America has led the world in popular music trends, borrowing as cultures migrate to our shores, adapting their cultures and sounds. We also borrow form previous generations, with modern audiences refusing to believe that their artists are performing jazz, blues, or cultural standards in their own adapted way.

The Greatest Generation defied their parents with the music of a handful of big bands and crooners, using record players and radio. Baby boomers had the experiences of the Kennedy Administration, the Viet Nam War, hippies, Woodstock and disillusionment orchestrated through a limited number of radio stations and the evolution from 45’s to cassettes and 8 Tracks.

With downloads, the Internet and new ways of listening to music the popular standards may be dying forever.  There are fewer and fewer super bands, stadium filling acts and popular artists who appeal across a wide range of America’s diversity of age and culture. How will we define the soundtrack of our lives, and the commonalities now that we have less in common than generations before?

A journalism major from Virginia, Caressa Cameron, was crowed Miss America last night at Planet Hollywood here in Las Vegas. She performed Beonce’s “Listen” from “Dreamgirls” and advised children to get outside more often.

On February 17th a mystery of the ages will be revealed. The DNA and catscan results of a study of the mummy of King Tut (Tutankamun) will reveal his lineage. Also to be announced will be the results of what a robot finds as it travels into the Great Pyramid of Khufu exploring hidden passageways.

While the African cup of what we call soccer dominated the BBC, here in the US news that Roger Federer has won his 16th Grand Slam title, beating And Murray in the Australian Open leads the headline.

Health

Studies are showing that even minor exercise improves muscle health; the ability to think clearly, memory, reduced unneeded aggression, helps the heart and may reduce the dangers of diabetes or heart disease. Mild exercise increases the oxygen flow and with it nutrients and other elements your body needs to remain healthy. Rushing around and coffee do not help. It takes consistent and often simple exercise for twenty minutes to forty minutes a day, as few as four days a week.

As the muscles move they use Oxygen to liberate the energy, which is energy that is used instead of stored as sugar and fat. Walking up stairs, parking away from the stores, enjoying a park or beach, mild but consistent walking the dog…

The trick is to find out your target heart rate zone and stay in it for twenty minutes. It is not that hard, but knowing the zone, finding the time and motivation to exercise and then not blowing it by eating wrong are difficult and could require a larger life style change.

As you age you lose one to two percent of fitness a year, with greater loss if you gain weight.

13,000 women in there 50’s were studied in groups over periods of years. They were studied for twenty years. Moderately brisk walkers were 90% more likely to be free of major disease then those who did not exercise moderately for twenty minutes a day five days a week (cancer and arthritis were exempted).

When children are made to exercise moderately and non-competitively in school, aggression is reduced and study skills within three hours of the exercise improve. It is the old adage of “working out” your anger and aggression, or “taking the time to think things through.”

Exercise can be thought of as a drug. 30% of the billions of dollars spent on care for chronic diseases could be saved if Americas took simples steps.

I know it is not that easy. Schedule, mental blocks, physical limitations and simple attitude get in the way, and very easily.

iPad
The iPad was featured on NPR and on CBS news this morning. Mixed reviews for now, but much anticipation of the future Apple is only now launching. “Its’ nice”, with a good touch pad feature, color books, interactive books, textbooks with interactive features and easy to read. Live television is coming in the near future, but for now it is a video, audio, internet, e-mail, limited computer programs, books, text and, of course, aps.

Mac is expected to partner with educational publishers to make the iPad a must have for students, who could read their textbooks on any computer, but who will find it cleaner, easier and interactive if they do so on their Mac iPad. This is a return to Apple’s educational focus, which lost momentum when low-cost large computer companies such as Gateway and Dell aggressively moved in using the “save money” and free with “service contract” sales strategies.

On the downside, NPR pointed to the three “no’”.

“No camera, no phone, no flash” (flash web feature for animation on some sites).

There is also concern about potential encryption on books or television shows, eliminating sharing on multiple devices.

The verdict: So far the iPad is not revolutionary device. It will take a while for it to catch on and build.

Go to Weekend Edition Sunday or NPR.org/soapbox to view Steve Jobs 1984 presentation launching the original Mac.

Amazon.com has given in to publishers and will end its practice of selling best sellers as e-books for $9.00 each, a price that could lose publishers and authors billions of dollars. The surrender comes due to an agreement with Apple to sell books for its new iPad for prices set by the publisher. The price may go up one to as much as much as six dollars a bestseller title.

It remains to be seeing if Wal-Mart, which could care less if authors make money off their creative works, will stop its “war” with Amazon and increase its prices.



Finance

Toyota built its reputation on reliability. Now they face the largest recalls, cumulatively, in history, over two issues, both potentially fatal.

Honda faced its own problems with recalls and declining sales in 2009.

Japan is facing pressure from its Asian rivals. Sony may have to file bankruptcy. Japan Air suffered a major setback when many of its planes were grounded for safety issues. Korea and other Asian countries are undercutting production costs, causing layoffs and loss of “face” for many Japanese companies and workers.

I remember the time when Japan was the major exporter of low cost goods ten evolved into an engineering and manufacturer of quality products. There was a time when the perception was that Japan was buying up America, owning Universal Studios, major advertising agencies, Japanese cars “took over” the market (with several Japanese makes actually have more American parts and workers in their construction then their America counterparts) and popular media making it look as if we were all “turning Japanese.”

France has passed a law requiring four out of the, 40%, of the board members on any French company be women. The law was passed proposed by the conservative party with support from the communist, and is intended to help boost French productivity and jobs. France faces the highest unemployment for citizens under 35 in Europe.

Only 16% of the French legislature is women. Studies confirm the companies were the boards are at least one-third women are more productive and do stimulate employment.

The theory is that there will be changes at the strategic center of companies where hiring, compensation, career opportunities and work place conditions are decided. France has one of the lowest percentages of women on board in the Europe, at fewer than 8%, on a par with Turkey. In Norway a law has been in place for over a decade requiring gender equality, raising women on corporate board to over 40%.

The percentage of women on the boards of Fortune 500 companies is under fifteen percent.  

The World Economic Forum wraps up in Davos, Switzerland today, where international ecconomist are optimistic, but still uncertain of the short-term future. Investment of funds is being held back while waiting for new demand and the stability they are predicting but not acting upon. China and the emerging markets are looked upon as the hero at Davos, sought after and seen as the countries to lead the world out of the recession, not the traditional savior the United States. This represents a major shift in the position of the US in the world economy. Reporting on the Wall Street Journal Report were Harvard University’s Ken Rogoff and the former White House Economic Advisor University of California’s Laura Tyson.

Billionaire financier George Soros believes that if the US had not acted fast the way it did, with bailouts and stimulus funds, the world could have seen a depression. He credits the US, and to a lesser extent major European governments, with reversing the downward trend, which he now sees in a bumpy stability, not yet on the upswing.

Soros is behind a plan to help developing countries go green, with the help of the developed world. There is resistance in the United States because of a lack of congressional approval. He says in these days we only talk in trillions. So his over one billion dollars of his own money invested in green technology is just a start. We need to find a way to take carbon out of coal, build up solar energy, and harness the oceans and the wind. He is not a believer in the use of atomic energy.

Soros says the economy has begun to move forward, but it is only moving forward because of the stimulus. Again congress is the major obstacle to further positive growth, with concerns about the deficit, national debt and properly addressing spiraling health care costs. Constitutional limitations of various US states, keeping them from having a deficit legally, will prolong the recession in the US and could spill over into the international economy. He feels investment banking must be separated from commercial banking.  China is overheating, with cut backs needed due to inflation and a lack of capital reserves. Civil rights are an issue as well.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan believes massive humanitarian aid to earthquake ravaged Haiti is essential for the word economy, as well as the soul of the international community. It will drain or slow some of the world’s growth, but without helping Haiti we face long-term questions, issues and expenses that will be much worse.  Effective coordination is needed, with as many as one third of the countries population directly effected by the earthquake. Over two million residents need direct assistance. The infrastructure must be rebuilt. Annan says for the first time he is hearing leaders and investors talking about long term development, requiring over ten years of solid work and investment. In the past we have patched failed states up after an election then forget them. He says that modern day Somalia, the Taliban’s Afghanistan and the bases of world terrorism resulted from quick fixes instead of long term investment.

International News

Haitian officials are suspending all international adoptions following fears of child trafficking. There is precedence. During and after wars in El Salvador and elsewhere many children were adopted without the permission of their parents, one or both of whom were still alive. A US missionary and 33 children are being held in Haiti because the attempted to cross into the Dominican Republic without the proper papers.


On Africa, Kofi Annan says that the continent is growing economically at a rate of 5% a year, which is remarkable. There are blockages in infrastructure, built to serve colonial masters and geared to flow to the coasts. There are political blockages. There is the trend of decrease in investments due to the world economy, although China and India are increasing their investments there. He says increased cooperation between African nations has improved living conditions in large areas of the continent.

Britain has files suit against China for espionage, Internet fraud, unfair business practices and a long list of other alleged organized attacks against the British economy and British citizens.

The leader of the Taliban in Pakistan is dead of wounds suffered in an attack by the US. Hakimullah Mehsud dies of injuries suffered from a US Drone attack, launched in retaliation for the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees, an attack he allegedly ordered.

The price tag for creating jobs will exceed $100 billion dollars, according to Obama spokesperson Robert Gibbs, who told CNN part of the cost of the plan includes tax breaks for small businesses to increase their work force.

Relief workers in Haiti are now handing out food coupons to women only, to assure that the weakest are no longer left out in mobs of mostly men who grab the provisions.

Afghanistan’s president is inviting the Taliban to lay down its arms and work with the government. He is making it clear that his offer of reconciliation does not extend to terrorists.

Face the Nation
Guest this week on CBS’s “Face the Nation” are…
Republican Senator Haley Barbour of Mississippi
Democratic Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania
Demoratic Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan
And Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota

On the president’s call for a “tone of civility” instead of “slash and burn” is needed in Washington. Senator Barbour says it is the president and the Democrats that are being uncivil and refusing to listen to sound policy from the Republicans. Of course the Democratic governors feel the opposite.

On the president’s call for jobs to be the number one priority, Michigan Governor Granholm faces almost a 15% unemployment rate statewide, much higher in Detroit. The deficit and health care in important, but jobs are urgent. Republican Senator Thune says that the massive health care expansion needs to be put on the shelf while we work on small businesses and avoid the proposals that the president has put forward, which he calls “job killers.” He feels the president’s agenda is far to the left.

On Scott Brown’s election, the Republicans say he is a moderate Republican who will kept the Democrats from “ramming things down America’s throat.”

The Democrats said that thirty minutes after the president completed his olive branch with Republicans at their retreat, the party put our a war-like message on strong party-line requirements and attacked the president with both barrels.

Rendell says the tea party movement is fired up more by frustration and the loss of jobs, then deficit and health care. Their organizers may hand feed them lines and signs, but the anger is much deeper and not in the area being painted in the media.

Barbour says the tea party folks are good folks and should be welcomed into the Republican Party with open arms.

The Democrats say that those facing unemployment are more concerned about finding jobs and having health insurance than the deficit, national debt, taxes or any of the key Republican issues. They are angry at both parties for not taking actions quickly, for forgetting their needs and for being deadlocked at their expense.

Ann Kornburth of CBS and Jim  Vanderhei of Politico took a look at the jobs bill. Republican objections are general and not specific, which indicates a lack of commitment to alienating groups that may benefit from the bill.

Vanderei observed “there is no way the Republicans want to work with Obama on anything..they are looking at polls and the fall elections in drawing clear lines against Obama and the Democrats because they feel they can win back the house in the fall…we want to defeat him on each and every issue.”

Kornburth says the message is that 65% of the voters who voted for Scott Brown want Scott Brown to work with Democrats to make break a deadlock and make things happen, including on health care and jobs bills. The vote was, she says, more against the governor of the state and the way the Democratic Party has been unable to make things happen despite a clear majority in both houses of Congress.

Obama has to break the logjam, or his party will lose serious ground in the fall. Since Republicans know this, there seems to be no chance of compromise or anything but block voting in the Senate, and a divided by issue and geographic needs Democratic party in the house. Both reporters feel that due to Republican politics ad division within both parties, there is only slim hope for the Democrats and for any progress in American government, despite the desperate needs of the American people. Not good news for America.

Monitization of Music

 NPR reports that The band KISS has come a long way from selling t-shirts and albums. Now, when you go to one of their concerts, you can leave with a recording of the show on a thumb drive. This kind of marketing has become a necessity, not an option, for a lot of acts. With record sales on the decline, musicians are searching for more creative ways to peddle their tunes.

"Monitization" is the key word in the music industry. How to keep the industry paying for itself and profitable in age when the album and CD sales revenue is on the decline, and audiences are not paying for huge concert venue appearances at premium prices.

Thumb flash drives of a concert for concertgoers who stay for the entire concert. Discounts at on-line stores with the code on your ticket stub. Online streaming such as Spots5 and We7 in Europe. Incentives offered for spending money on a band and its music are growing in cost with little proven return for the artists.

Marketing data captured from scanned ticket data, data recovered from a fan's web use, "Unreleased" studio recordings offered as teasers for free, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, charity events and performances, media appearances, downloads, file sharing,  phone aps, Google ads, You Tube and other marketing techniques are necessary, time consuming and have yet to really prove their profitability.

As with the hotel casinos here in Las Vegas, making money in the music industry is more of a gamble than ever. You have to roll the dice but no one is sure where the money will come from or when.

The person who creates a system that will work now that the pay for play and record sales models of the recording industry are drying up, will become a very popular and potentially rich woman or man!

Who is that old lady at White House Press Coferences?

Helen Thomas is a bad-ass lady. She is still working 70 hours a week at the age of 89. Of course she has the reputation of being a.....when she was in her thirties.  Nothing changed.

The Washington Press Corps reporter still sits front and center at White House Press Conferences, after over 50 years covering the president, staring with President Eisenhower. She holds the honorary title of "Dean of the Press Corp"

Her depth of knowledge on world and domestic affairs is unequaled. He knowledge of the public and private lives of ten US presidents is unmatched. She is a champion of Freedom of the Press and the accountability of elected officials. This endeared her to many presidents and all but shut her out from other presidents.

She is respected by her fellow reporters, and often resented by some of the younger ones seeking career advancement or credit for breaking stories. Her insight is respected my other reporters and often feared by presidential press secretaries and presidents alike.

The media is getting tougher, more penetrating, and more critical than at any time in the past. They look for fault rather then truth, and the truth is far more interesting and revealing. She asks long and often combative questions, taking time from other journalist and sometimes keeping them from asking the questions they want to ask. Other reporters say she is "great with the one-two punch."

She became the first woman in the White House Press Corp, the first woman to head a wire service Washington Bureau, the first woman to enter the National Press Club, the Gridiron Club and other milestones. She does not take credit, pointing to other women who helped beat the doors down. She said she was "The Man Who Came to Dinner", she would just show up and say "this is my beat," and not move or leave.

Today these clubs are social, but "in that era if you were not in those rooms, you could not get a story."

She feels "everything belongs in the public domain, except for where the atomic arsenal is."

She is ashamed that the press had a "lack of guts" with President Bush said we were going to war "and nobody asked him why...we let the country down."

"President's don't like to have news conferences...they are presidents. How dare you question them and their motives."

If the president or press secretary is evading another questions valid question, she has their back, moving in and not accepting no for an answer.

She also has fun with her celebrity, as shown during a press corp charity baseball game, and in her frequent appearences in movies and on television.

"Listen Up Mr Pesident" is her latest book, her diatrab on teh role of the media "Watchdogs of Domocracy," was published in 2006.

A party was held in Washington last night to celebrate her 50 years covering Washington. NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday was there. 

.

Storied Pasadena Playhouse to Close

 Photo: The Pasadena Playhouse is a state historical landmark that has seen many future and current stars pass through its doors. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Named the official California state theater in 1937, The Pasadina Playhouse will shut its door February 7th.  The Los Angeles Times says the Pasadena Playhouse is almost $2 million in debt, and that a bankruptcy filing is possible. Founded in 1917, the theater has seen world premiers and American premiers of many of the most famous theater works of the century, and been the stage home for Hollywood stars from the silent era to today. While fund raising continues, decline in private endowments and the financial situation of the state mean that this world famous theater may become the latest victim of this great recession. America and Americans are among the lowest in support of the arts on a per person average. The potential closure was also reported in SAGWATCH, Variety, the Hollywood Reporter and other media.


A Facebook Group has been launched to try and save the playhouse.

Cheech And Chong Reunite, At Long Last 

 

The "Get it Legal" tour is underway, reuniting Cheech and Chong for the first time in 25 years for a series of concert stage appearances, and specials. They became comedy sensations in the early 1970's with strong refernces to drugs, sex, Chicano culture, hippies, music and politics. Their movies are classics. NPR's All Things Considered interviewed the two friends on Friday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Colts picked for Superbowl rings

Date:1/29/2010 9:14:24 PM
From:FOWLER, NICOLAS





I believe the Colts are going to win the Super Bowl for this reason.  I am a Falcons fan and I remember when they made their first Super Bowl against a veteran Bronco's team.  The Falcons talke trash the entire time before the game while the Broncos remained quiet and confident.  The Broncos subsequently took the Falcons out in the back yard and stomped their heads in the ground.  I get the same feeling watching the Saints talk trash while the Colts remain quite and confident.  That is all.  Thanks.

Fencing on Television

Obama went into the lions den, to the people he refers to as the "party of NO."

As president of the United States he met with Republicans from the hill at their Republican Retreat. Unlike previous retreats, this one was televised on cable news channels, each with its own take.

Obama went toe to toe with the Republicans this morning. He held his own. He pointed out that all the venom against the health care bill is against a bill that is almost identical to what Republicans proposed the last time the issues was presented by a US president. Republicans have won the information war, and are winning the internet war, but Obama still feels that common sense and honesty will win out.

Funny he is being painted as a liberal when his actual presidency has been on the conservative side, to the point of alienating the progressives in his own party. He is caught in the rage the country has against Washington, with Republicans as a minority being looked upon as the hope for change.

Disney gears down indy film former giant

 

Miramax closes its doors

"There will be Giants" but none of them will be Miramax.

Farewell Miramax, proud child of the Weinstein Brothers. Miramax has closed its doors in New York and Los Angeles this morning, finally shut down as a division or Disney in the death tolls of the independent film financing and distribution empires that grew in book of the 1990's. A creative production and distribution giant was named after their mother.

There are five films still in the pipeline that will be released under the Mirmax name over the next two years by Disney.

From Pulp Fiction to Sex, Lies and Video Tape, the legacy is now part of Hollywood history.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's how you pick 'm, "Best Picture" still a crap shoot



Yes, it's still a favorite - but even before its shocking loss at the Producers Guild Awards, 'Avatar' had a problem: the new system AMPAS uses for final best-pic voting isn't very hospitable to "love 'em or hate 'em" movies. [TheWrap] And here's the evidence: the PGA uses that system, too.  [TheWrap]

The "preferential" treatment, and expansion to ten nominees, could work against the box office and audience favorite Sci Fi epic.


The Producers Guild selected "The Hurt Locker" as best picture, the lowest budget but highest critically aclaimed of the ten nominees.  "Hurt Locker" is also a front runner for the Writers Guild of America awards to be held February 20th.

"Crazy Heart" also carries enormous emotional appeal to members of the Academy.
Of course Hollywood also respects box office above all else, and Avatar is now the highest grossing film of all time. In actual seats sold, 1938 holds the record with six films selling far more seats world wide than "Avatar" and "Batman Returns" combined. Tickets were much lower in price then and we were all coming out of a recession to beat all recessions....The Great Depression. "Gone with the Wind" holds the slot for most viewed in theaters.

Literary giant falls at 91



The intellectual community is mourning the death of JD Salinger at the age of 91.
I recall "Cather in the Rye" being mandatory reading in English class in high school.

To Pay or Not to Pay: for News

Thursday January 28, 2010


Within the past week the New York Times announced that in one year it will begin a pay per inquiry and subscription based on-line model. You will be able to sample a few stories each month, then after that you will need to subsrcibe or pay per inquiry to read New York Times content. A subscription based presence on the new iPad was announced yesterday. As the newspaper of record for the United States, and one of the key publications in setting the national news agenda, the move by the Times is a risky one as a good part of its appeal is the reach it has in readers and viewers. Also at risk may be the nature of our informed Democracy, When you require people pay, then there will be a large percentage who may be all the more uninformed or missinformed by their lack of access.

Publications such as the Hollywood Reporter and the Wall Street Journal already require paid subscriptions to access much more than headline feeds.

The need for new revenue means that needed fourth estate coverage of our society may go beyond the reach of our society and contribute to a decline of American democracy and society, as the elite who can afford to pay gain even more control of our lives and decision making.

If you are a student your school may (and CSN does) allow access through your student fees by searching through the college library or web site. If any links on this blog do not work, try copying the URL and pasteing it in your colege based search engines).

Posted Friday, August 7, 2009

In a Linked-In discussion a pro-business individual proposed that we need to find a way for the end user (reader, viewer) to pay for their access to news. To some extent that is already true, as we pay for internet service, we pay for the newspaper, and we pay for cable...but to have to pay for the news that should be a public service and is a key part to keeping our nation free...I have a real problem with that.
My students do not and will no pay for news.

It's a new generation out there, so pay models will only lead to an informed elite and uninformed malleable masses.

The fourth estate needs to be available and accessible for everyone for free or we could lose the core of our American Democracy, where every citizen has the right to an informed vote.

Interests in news in this iPod age are declining, at least among high school and college students. We see or are in contact with those who eat up news, as I do, but the reality is that most Americans are uninformed by choice.

Then too there is the recession. How can you ask people to pay for something they can live without? Those of us news junkies will pay, but only what we can afford and then we drop subscriptions more than we add.

The survey is very misleading as it limits choices to one (for example I seek our national and international news, particularly that which does not attract the masses in six minute increments).

I read the newspaper for its in depth coverage (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and finally our flimsy and very politically bias local paper the Review Journal).

I watch CNN and for a joke turn to see what Fox is covering.

I listen to public radio over the air and on line, the BBC, have my satellite radio on various international news channels (paid lifetime subscription when I had the funds). I also read journals, on-line news services and news magazines.

But I am a junkie.

Most Americans avoid news or simply watch the entertainment ratings based local newscast.

Again, if we charge for media access we could well lose the base of an informed electorate, of our very Democracy.

The elite will continue to have a lock on our nation.

Strengthen Our Union



I just finished delivering my first State of the Union address.

I set out an urgent plan for restoring economic security for struggling middle class families. This is my top priority, but I cannot do it alone -- and that's why I'm writing to you now.

Tonight, I called on Congress to enact reforms and new initiatives to defend the middle class -- to create millions of new jobs, support small businesses, and drive up wages; to invest in the education of our children and the clean energy technology that must power our future; and to protect the economy from reckless Wall Street abuses.

And I made my position on health reform clear: We must not walk away. We are too close, and the stakes are too high for too many. I called on legislators of both parties to find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.

I have no illusions -- there have been setbacks, and there will be more to come. The special interests who have shaped the status quo will keep fighting tooth and nail to preserve it.

So tonight, I'm asking you to join me in the work ahead. I need your voice. I need your passion. And I need your support.

We have just finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. Let's seize this moment -- to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.


President Barack Obama

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trumpka reactions to State of the Union Address

I have met Mr, Trumpka, both in his current position and in his previous positions with the union. I find him reflecting the future and at the same time a flash back to the union leadership I grew up with in Chicago, in his speech, demeanor and core union values. He is, for reason of accent, attitude and presence, an interesting speaker to critique. What do you notice about his style and his content?


The AFL-CIO union response to President Obama's State of the Union Address, with video: click here.


Last night, I was in the House gallery for President Obama’s State of the Union address. After our collective wake-up call in Massachusetts, I was eager to hear the president’s plans for 2010 and beyond.

I recorded a brief video message last night with my initial reactions to the speech.



Please take a moment to watch this video and pass it around. Click here if the video doe s no play. The president was absolutely right to make jobs a top priority, and we must act on a scale that is meaningful. I hope you can join us in this fight.

In solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
AFL-CIO President

State of the Unon Address

Over 48 million Americans viewed the State of the Union Address on Wednesday night, down from 52 million from his unofficial address a year ago, but above the averages for most presidents. The record is George W Bush, occuring only months after 9-11, at 72 million.

Overall reviews have been solid from pundits and citizens interviewed, however many feel that Congress is not listening and that nothing will change. The president has to live by Harry Truman's famous slogan of "the buck stops here" regardless of the obstacles he faces, the greatest obistacals and perhaps greater than Franklin D Roosevelt at the start of the Great Depression. Roosevelt faced different rules on filibuster than modern rules (which do not even require a single speaker to keep the floor, talking, making filibuster easier), but had far deeper divides within his own party than the rose colored glasses most of us who took history class in high school were handed.

Full video of the State of the union address, transcript and notes....

This years and previous presidential state of the union addresses on CSPAN
http://www.c-span.org/Executive/State-of-the-Union.aspx


President Obama is an orator. What public speaking techniques and tools can you identify in the speech? What audience was he talking to? Did it vary during the speech? Were they listening?

Did you notice how the Republican response sounded as if it was not responding, since it seemed to ignore what Obama said and instead used platform planks?


For my students, at the end of the term critiquing this speech would count as extra credit. See me for details.

Budget Town Hall this afternoon

A reminder that this afternoon CSN's president will hold a town hall to discuss the impact of budget cuts on CSN, it's faculty, students and the community.


All Politics is local: how Scott Brown won election

Polls of voters who said they voted for Obama in 2008 but voted for Republican Scott Brown for Senate show interesting results, quite contrary to "common" knowledge or the pundents.

82% said they are for, repeat for, a public option health care reform option. That's 8 out of ten in favor of the thing Republicans say they voted against.

The majority of votes for Brown had no college education, despite the election being in the state with the highest education level.

And over 85% of those who voted in the election, and were polled, say their vote represented disatifaction with the states governor, which has nothing to do in realitly with the job a US Senator.

In fact most Scott Brown voters had views more in common with the Democratic party than Republicans, but voted to put a Republican in Liberal Ted Kennedy's old seat.

So the election was not a mandate against health care reform or against President Obama, but more of the old adage that "all politics is local."

See also the union spin, and a week than changes everything.

Apple' s Big Day




10 inch, thin, light weight, touch screen, very high resolution screen that recognized your face as a user.

Close, but the facial recogntion is in the future for not just the iPad but all computers. For now it operates much like an oversized iPhone or iPod, but with higher resolution and a larger image size, fitting easily in a briefcase or oversized purse.

Existing applications for the iPhone or iPod will run on the iPad. Universal remote for electronics and home control are in development, along with video conferencing and other features (for future upgrades, not the model that goes on sale March first).

But there is a great deal of content available now, with Apple working on expansion of contracts with publishers, compatability with text reading systems already in the marketplace, and on a major expansion of Apple TV and iTunes.

It is significant enough that Variety reports that Hollywood cannot afford to ignore the iPad. Its interface and use is already familure to iPhone and iPod users and easy for those who do not use those devices to learn. The screen is clean, strong and the best high definition viewing of Hollywood's product for the price. The iTunes store, with changes in the works for delivery of television and film content could change the film industry the way iTunes revolutionized the music industry.

Books, print newspapers and magazines, videos, movies, full internet interface, e-mail and more...

Apple is launching iBooks to compete with online services such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Walmart.

The iPad, which is larger in size but similar in design to Apple's popular iPhone, was billed by CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday as "so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone."

PC News and others are following the announcement as it happens, along with specs and applications. It is not a full computer.

How will it impact the future of consumer electronics?
And more immediately, NPR asks will it ignite an e-book war?
Will we all be reading on-line, phones and electronic readers in the near future?

The iPad is not a full service computer and has its potential limitations including...

It relies on internet access and Apple phone aps.

No ability to play Adobe Flash animations, widely used on the Web.

No camera, still or video

No non-Internet phone function

Unclear whether you can bundle your AT&T iPhone plan with an iPad data plan

No removable battery for a device that can suck a lot of power

No removable storage

Minimal "wow" factor, but a great launch for a book-reader plus plus...

According to the New York Times:

"When we set out to develop the iPad, we not only had specific technical goals and user interface goals, but an aggressive price goal, because we want to put this in the hands of a lot of people,” Mr. Jobs says.

The iPad’s pricing starts at $499.

For $499, you get 16 GB of storage, with WiFi built-in.

For $599, you get 32 GB of storage.

For $699, you get 64 GB of storage.

The 3G models cost an extra $130 each.

So all told, there are six models of the new iPad.

The most expensive 64 GB model, with 3G, costs $829 plus the monthly charge."


ZD-Net has it's senior editor doing a live blog update on events at the Apple Convention.

Also a new iPhone, possibly through Verizon and not AT&T may be on the slate, if not today, then by summer.

Just for fun, and with little in common with the real product, MadTV has a parady (adult content) of the iPad..... 


Netflilx watching your rentals and reporting them on-line

Who is watching what by zip code

The New York Times reports that Netflix and Google have a feature to see which movies are popular rentals by zip code and city. The site does not include Las Vegas (of course) but is iteresting if you know of any of the cities. It was partially created to help film markers in targeting potenential audience. An iPhone ap lis planned.

While the data is available to marketers, individual names and addresses are said to be confidential.

Nevada has national pull thanks to Harry Reid


 

Nevadans hold key positions thanks to Reid

Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/26/2010 - Since becoming majority leader, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has used the power of his position to appoint, recommend or support 19 Nevadans to key positions on national boards or commissions.

Some of these bodies decide issues important to Nevada, including base closures, regulation of nuclear facilities, energy, public lands and now the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Reid appointed two Las Vegans for the 10-person commission -- Heather Murren and businessman and attorney Byron Georgiou.

Read more Thursday about Murren’s daunting task investigating the why behind the financial crisis of 2008 -- and how to prevent it in the future.

Meanwhile, here’s the full list provided by the senator’s office of the other 17 Nevadans serving on national commissions or boards with the helpful backing of Reid:

-- Greg Jazcko, chairman of Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which focuses on safety and security of nuclear facilities.
 
-- Jim Bilbray, former member Base Realignment and Closure Commission, who helped save all Nevada military installations, including Hawthorne Army Depot, which was slated for closure. Current member of Postal Board of Governors.

-- Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, and an advocate of renewable energy.

-- Bob Abbey, director of Bureau of Land Management.

-- Sarah Mersereau-Adler, Nevada State Director for Rural Development.

-- Clint Koble, Nevada State Director for USDA Farm Services Agency.

-- Vince Juarisiti, former member Corporation for National and Community Service Board. Recommended for the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies Board.

-- Jill Derby, recommended to the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies Board.

-- Steve Walther, chairman of Federal Election Commission.

-- Dana Bilyeu, now on Social Security Advisory Board and recommended to the Federal Thrift Retirement Board.

-- Dr. Javaid Anwar, the Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation Board.

-- Dr. Ikram Khan, U.S. Institute of Peace Board.

-- Carlos Ezeta, National Museum of the American Latino Commission.

-- Shawn Gerstenberger, Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxic Research Center Board.

-- Elaine Wynn, Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.

-- Emma Sepulveda, National Museum of the American Latino Commission.

-- Dan Klaich, National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.

Now the cynical among us will take that list and see how many donated to Reid’s campaign, but just a glance shows some were longtime supporters of the senator.

Meanwhile, there’s no disputing that the 19 Nevadans, with a few exceptions like Elaine Wynn, probably wouldn’t have been in those positions if Harry Reid hadn’t been the Democratic majority leader in the Senate.

Maybe voters don’t care about the perks of power and don’t think it’s significant, but a new junior senator isn’t going to be in that position. And if Reid loses and John Ensign becomes the senior senator under a Democratic administration, don’t count on Nevadans enjoying partisan perks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Audio and Video commercials in print publications?

A magazine inserts a video chip into one of its issues. The video chip, when activated, plays a commercial. The concept is the same as a birthday card that plays a song when you open it, except that instead of an embedded tune, there is an embedded commercial with moving footage.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10313064-93.html

First posted 8-20-09

Apple's next step is not what you think


 

Apple TV growing agressive

Financial Times and SAG Watch report that Apple has also floated the idea of creating a lower-cost video subscription service with News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney and CBS which would combine the “best of television” and would cost $30 per month.

According to the Financial Times, Apple is pressuring the networks to cut the already rock bottom price of off-network shows in the itunes store from $1.99 to 99 cents per episode. Supposedly the Apple execs think tv shows would sell better at a lower price.

Apple is building a facility to bring video and live television on board as they did the music industry with iTunes.

Seeing is Not Believing: changing our perceptions of history

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Seeing is believing.

This proves it must be true.

How often have you heard the phrases above, or similar words, to justify what people swear to be true or to defend their version of events?

We are what we collect as information over our lives, and believe what we choose to believe based on what we think we know.

But is it accurate?

Increasingly even "facts" you believe true need to be researched and viewed from multiple views, with an open mind and a willingness to be proven wrong. The Internet has accelerated this process, but the process of remaking history, cleaning up facts and selling the public is not new.

A professor of mine once brought in the book "The Disappearing Commissar" to class to show how nothing you see or read can be trusted. The book went through the phases of a famous Russian photograph of the founders of the red revolution taken in a railroad car. It also showed, in phases, how at Stalin's bequest people disappeared from the photo, new ones took their place and some stellar communist even moved closer to the founders of the revolution as they grew in favor. Stalin had books pulled and republished, the photo changed, and even a painting commemorating the event repainted to "paint over history".


View the photos at this site. They are only a portion of photos related to the history of  "disappearing commissar" historic photograph manipulation.

Each new generation, or those who are newly educated, learn to accept the version they are presented and not question its authenticity.

We perceive the world through our own prisms. We have our own "noise", screens, filters, interference that helps us make sense of and interpret the world and all of the now over abundant information and communication transmitted in our universe.

Not only can four witnesses to the same car accident see four different versions of the crash, they have many times that many interpretations of the events that led up to the event. The truth may be one of those stories, or none of them. It is in the nature of how we perceive what is around us and our world. We see it differently at the time, and remember things differently later.

In the captions to the Times article linked below the author writes "Perhaps the most famous image of World War II, Joe Rosenthal's shot of Marines on Iwo Jima, was dogged by accusations of being staged. A misunderstanding started the trouble." If you read the book or saw the movie "Flag of Our Father's" you may remember that that famous image was staged since the original flag raising was of a small battle flag and was not captured on professional film. The photographer felt that another authentic battle photo would be the one to remember if any were, and that the staged one was simply done to please the military brass at the time. Yet history remembers the larger staged flag raising and the men who hoisted up the second flag, one large enough to be seen by marines still engaged in the battle below.

Of course even un-doctored photographs can be misleading. The famous photo of a young girl, running toward the camera, her clothing burned off by Napalm, helped end the Viet Nam War, a symbol of  US attrocities. If you take a close look at that photo you will find that the soldiers in the photo are South Vietnamese and not American.

The New York Times story linked below covers a number of famous American examples, including how Abraham Lincoln was made to look more statesman-like. It does not cover recent changes made to our president's images on revised American currency or on social Internet sites.

Be sure to go through the entire slide show. The starting photo in the article does not appear in the slide show but represents the composite of the three photos of General and later President Ulysses S. Grant at a Civil War campsite.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/weekinreview/23marsh.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Bill%20Marsh&st=cse

The New York Times controls this content. If the link fails, you may search the Times for "Fake Photographs: Look and then Look Again" by Bill Marsh (Sunday, August 23, 2009).

First posted 8/23/2009

Half empty or half full

Home prices went down 35% since the peak, but have begin climbing back in ten of the thirty cites studied. San Francisco is up ten percent. That said, Las Vegas holds the record of the deepest fall in prices and while up slightly for three months in a row, national figures still show Las Vegas as on a downward price trend.

The good news is, if you have a job and your income has not gone down, your buying power is up by almost 30% on all products (averaged).

Consumer confidence is also reported to be trending up for the first time since 2008.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wise words for the Supreme Court

The first three words of 

the Consititution are 

"We the people" 

NOT 

"We the corporations".

 

 

 - Facebook

-That is the week that was.

- Selling America to the Robber Barrons

-New York Times Editorial

Trapper John, Adam Cartwright and Palmer Cortlandt

Two actors are reported to have passed away, both in their 80's and both influential on three generations of television and stage fans. James Mitchell, whose partriarch dominated 30 years of "All My Children" and Parnell Roberts, the older of the Cartwright sons on 'Bonanza' and the title character in "Mash" spin off "Trapper John, MD".  Blog reports and links by clicking on either name above.


facebook on courts decisions




There is a new Facebook group against the Supreme Court's Decision concerning corporate citizenship and the ability to give money directly to support political candidates, issues and groups.

The photo above was posted on a second Facebook Group titled "Our Corporate Congress". The illustration makes more sense when you consider it was court members, including the Chief Justice, appointed during the Bush administration and Republican congress that argued for tossing out 107 hyears of laws protecting out system from "Robber Barrons" and "Corporate Land Grabs".

See previous postings with links on a week that changes everything, Court gives back to Robber Barrons, and The New York Times Editorial on the decision,

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New leader for Best Picture Oscar: The Hurt Locker

Producers Guild awards 'Hurt locker" top award, not Cameron.

'The Hurt Locker' Wins Top PGA Honor



The Wrap , Variety, the Los Angeles Times and other sources report that quality low budget upset high box office and production budget in earning awards from the Producers Guild of America.


"The Hurt Locker" scored a crucial, and surprising, victory over "Avatar" at the Producers Guild of America Awards, often considered a reliable predictor of the Oscar for best picture.
While James Cameron's blockbuster was considered a heavy favorite to win the top award from a guild that often rewards commercial success, the voters instead went for the lowest-grossing of the 10 nominees, adding to an impressive array of "Hurt Locker" wins that already included the Critics Choice Movie Awards and the top honors from numerous regional and national critics groups.


Complete list of winners:
The Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television - Comedy
'30 Rock' (Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey, Marci Klein, David Miner, Robert Carlock ,Jeff Richmond, Don Scardino, Jerry Kupfer)

The Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television - Drama
'Mad Men' (Matthew Weiner, Scott Hornbacher, Lisa Albert, Andre & Maria Jacquemetton)

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Non - Fiction Television
'60 Minutes' (Jeff Fager)

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Live Entertainment and Competition Television
'The Colbert Report' (Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, Jon Stewart, Allison Silverman, Richard Dahm, Meredith Bennett, Tom Purcell)

The David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Long-Form Television
'Grey Gardens' (Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Rachael Horovitz, Michael Sucsy, David Coatsworth)

The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
'The Hurt Locker' (Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro)

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
'Up' (Jonas Rivera)

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
'The Cove' (Fisher Stevens, Paula DuPré Pesmen)

Milestone award: Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton

Norman Lear award: Mark Burnett

David O. Selznick award: John Lasseter

Stanley Kramer award: "Precious"

Vanguard award: Joss Whedon