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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

Advertising and politics (grain of salt on this one)

Inspired by NPR's "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me".

In view of this past week's Supreme Court decision...

If Nike were to sponsor Democrats does that mean they would actually "do it" and get things done?

Is the Republican party "the other white meat."

(the scone one is from "Wait Wait" and both are jokes, in case you take poltics too seriously)

Sunday Morning News and Views

Sunday, January 24, 2010

 The BBC spends most of its four AM hour on the American election in Massachusetts this past Tuesday. An idea I have from the coverage is the new senator may be weaned over time to the Democratic or Independent side, as his views are more like a conservative Democrat than the main party line Republican, and he was never party line in the state legislature. He is pro Gay right, but anti Gay marriage, is not against a woman’s choice but believes in the sanctity of life, voted for universal health care in his home state but ran against “the” health care plan currently in the Senate. His views are pro civil rights and in favor of government help for those in need, yet against taxing business, particularly small business. Scott Brown says he will be a part of the Republican caucus but has not committed to a caucus party line, saying both parties should avoid deadlock. He is a jock, a climber, and an opportunist and except for a larger corporate property law legal practice, most of his time has been spent donating to charities, including working with Catholic nuns.

The BBC looked at Afghanistan, which is too broke to finance an election in May. They are delaying parliamentary elections until September.

A bomb detection system used in Afghanistan is being called a divining rod and a hoax. The president of the company that makes them has been arrested in England for fraud. America rejected the devices, calling them useless, the Brits used them and Afghans swear by them. Afghanistan spent eighty five million dollars on their allotment. The device does find bombs, but critics say it is like divining rod finding water, pure chance. It swivels and points at everything from shampoo to shoes to underwear, and occasionally there is a bomb hidden where it points. Men with white gloves work in four-hour shifts of high concentration. Despite the feeling by Afghan military and police that it does work, their government is starting an investigation and has asked that the devices not be used.

Iraq has diaqualified 558 candiates from elections there on the grounds that they are former members of or affiliated with Sadam Husain’s Bathist party. The fear is that the purge will cause problems with the Suni’s, since the list includes several Suni’ who are incumbants running for reelection. In Iraq there remains strong support for keeping any of Sadam’s Bathist out of government. Iraq feels it is just applying the law. While on a trip t Bagdad, US Vice President Biden has put his foot in it by mentioning that the process was not transparent and could make mistakes. The reality is that Biden is right but that Iraq is under no obligation to provide the transparency we expect in our own government.

On this date, January 24 1950, 60 years ago today, Consumer Electronics got cooking, as Rathion’s Percy Pather won a pattern for what became the Microwave Oven. The first commercial oven was called a “radar range”. By the late 1960’s increased safety, smaller size lower costs and the space race helped launch microwaves. By 1975 they were outselling convention ovens. In the 1980s in film it became the way to get rid of Gremlins.

Thursday was the second straight day of triple didget losses, with downward continuing Friday. Google beat expectations on the maket, wihle other companies also did well, but overall the market showed some trepedition.

Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Investments was on Wall Street Week. On Obama’s proposal to put limitations on banks risk taking, he said that overall we need to increase people’s confidence in the financial system, that it works for the average American yet is safe, sound and building toward a future. The proposal gets at those problems and issues, so it makes sense.  We were way above sustainable trend in 2006 and 2007…so we crashed way down in 2008 and 2009. I feel we are pretty flat and will be for a long time, without the catalyst for economic growth, including job growth, until we work our way through the callasis left over from artificially high growth.

“I see volutility, with ups and down, including China, around a flat trend. Overall it will be flat.”

“ We are on the the cusp of the largest technology trend in our lifetime, with a burst of crativity. Apple, Facebook, Skype, Google are all just a start with a billion PC’s at use in the world, and in the infancy of the mobility trend there are four billion handsets.” Hutchins sees this as the most rapid and positive change in technology in the history of man. In time it will help us recover and begin a new age, perhaps more significant than the dawn of the industrial age over a century and a half ago.

The authors of “Game Change” were asked about how the crash impacted the election. “The fundimentals of the economy are strong” was a killer for McCain. Palin was looked on as a female Barack Obama, but she did not spend time talking with the top economist and leaders of industry before spewing her rhetoric. He saw it as a dangerous time for America and a volatile one where, the weekend Lemand Brothers was going under, the presidential race became anyone’s to lose not to win.

Obama very quickly saw the shift of the campaign to “all economy all the time” , while McCain literally saw the changes as “like management changes at Home Depot.”

Obama, with his hand on personal contact, impressed Bernake, Paulson and other leaders with his knowledge and his interests, while the McCain campaign was late to contact them and did so with underlings who were that campaigns financial experts.

Today Obama is having problems explaining complex issues and the needs of big business and the economy to the people, he is, according to the authors, coming across as an excuse maker and a supporter of overpaid fatcats. Nothing could be further from the truth, but in this mediated age, perception is everything. For some reason people distrust intellect, research, and those who tell the truth in saying it will take time and patience. People prefer to listen to the distractors who point to the lack of quick response and results, in areas like jobs, restoring credit and saving their homes.

Palin still knows how to hit those tones, but lacks the research, education and does not take the time to understand all sides of  the issue, say the authors of the same book that put Harry Reid’s foot in his mouth over the subject of race.

The authors admit that Palin knew how to appeal to women,

60% of higher degrees around the world are going to women, world wide. 70% of undergraduate students are women. In the US women make or drive 80 to 90% of US Consumer purchases, including an increased influence in automobiles and high tech. Yet women earn less. The president of NBC women’s networks says that value, stories or narrative, competitive shopping, a decrease in brand loyalty (a male trail), and an increase in education are driving the power of women’s consumer influence world wide. Women love good theater with great relatable characters, with comedy leading, tradgedy enjoyed and an escape possible. Women are the primary drivers of “reality television”.

Tiger Woods has entered the Pine Grove sex addiction clinic in Missippi. Studies estmate 3 to 5% of Americans are addicted to sex, or have the tendency to be addicted and are fighting it just as others fight alcaholism. But 14 years ago “sex addiction” was removed from the official list of psychological ailments due to a lack of evidence that it actually exists. CBS Sunday Mornings looked into sex as an addiction, and interesting topic for a morning after Sunday. No one has defined the proper amount of sex, society has its own view, religions have theirs and in all cases, most psychologist belive, the core is another psychological problem with excessives sex or an excessive drive as a symptom not an “ailment”.  Social scientist tend to look upon it more as a social trend than an addiction, with increases in online sexual images and opportunities, increases in implications on television and increasing depiction in films. Society is making it acceptable in one way while condemning it in another.

45 years ago today Winston Churchill passed away at the age of 90. He is best known as England’s wartime prime minister, but he was also a prolific author, historian, military strategist, arbitrator, amature painter, and much more. His passion for words not only served him in politics, but in literature and in framing his experieces the way he wanted them framed. He wrote 45 books plus an encyclopedia of British History. His life experience spanned six wars, with his open partipation in three that helped shape British history. He met most of the leaders of politics, statesmanship and the arts over what could be called over three generations. He was a Rennasance man in the right place at the right time to livem record and make history.

Republicans are pushing insurance reform that will allow insurance companies to offer insurance across state lines. This is interesting because they allege to be the state’s rights party, yet they would take away the ability to protect and regulate on behalf of their own state’s citizens. California and other states say that companies that meet their standards would be at a disadvantage to companies who can earn a larger profit by ignoring California regulations. Meanwhile the health insurance industry says that there would be greater services and coverage for more people by allowing cross state or interstate sales. They claim greater competition will lead to lower rates and greater options for all Americans. Meanwhile in the nation’s most populous states plus a few more progressive states, protection and coverage would decrease due to decreases in regulation and ease of resolution of any conflicts that arise.

Interesting that during the Clinton Administration the Republican plan, designed to derail the Clinton Health Initiative, was to mandate that Ameicans must buy insurance. Now that mandate is opposed by the same Republican party? How could this be? The answer is simple. The party is more about winning primaries and elections than compromise, helping the people and doing what it right.

While all studies have shown a zero cost for the health care plans now in Congress, the reality of a short term increase in cost and deficit has driven the propoganda machine so strongy that it now seems likely that congress will not, with what they believe is a groundswell or peoples opposition to the bills, pass them into law. Reality and the truth of how all change cost in the short run, seem to not matter to people, nor do the plight of those without insurance (most not out of their own choosing, contrary to what opponets of the bills claim) or who have preexisting conditions. What happened to our looking after the least of our brothers and sisters? What happened to the ethics America likes to tell itself it has, but which voters ignore when they think it will (even falsely) impact their own wallets?

The end of pre-existing condition and age discrimination, and the addition of portability of insurance could still come out of the congress, but the insurance industry says without the mandate of coverage for all or most Americas such a change would drive up the cost of insurance by tossing out the very risk based actuarial basis on which their operation is based.

Friday night’s telethon remains in the news, on the BBC, NPR and CBS. I find I interesting that younger viewers were critical because it was not “their artists” since many of them also were not “ours”, but those of a generation younger than I am. That there were complaints that the telethone was not for those out of work in the US or American poor. To that I have to ask, have you been paying any attention and do you have any heart? The poorest American is not living like these people are now, nor have they seen so many of their family and friends die in so recent a 24 hour period.
137 celebrities joined in the telethon performing, answering phones or behind the scense. It aired on 39 networks in the US, 30 international networks including China. Only FOX and the FOX networks did not carry the telethon in the US. More than $57 million dollars was raised in the US alone, during the 2 hours of the telethon. “itunes” sales of the shows musical performances intenationally exeede $10 million within 24 hours of the telecast, with 100% of the funds going to the 7 charities benifiting form the telecast.

But the reality is still bleak. Between the official 112,000 and as many as a quarter of a million are dead. The infastruture is almost non-existant (although temporary power, heat, limited transportation, fresh water and sanitary conditions have been improved with temporary systems set in place by international workers). All the help in the world will not bring recovery to Haiti any time soon.  Then consider that before the quake, Haiti was among the poorest nations in the world, right her in our Monroe Doctrine hemisphere.

The French parliament is considering a law that would ban the full body Berka worn by some Muslim women. The conservative party has 57% of the public supporting the ban, including on the extreme left, the Communist Party.

Guest on "Face the Nation" inlcuded John McCain, Dick Debin and Nancy Corbers

This was a week that could turn America on its’ ear, according to Face the Nation.

Osama bin laden’s audio tape claiming repsonsiblity for the Christmas bomber and promising more attacks. McCain says that events prove that there were significant errors here. The “obama” tape (a slip of the tong) “is a motivating tape for extreamist all over the world.” McCain says that the ability to prove the tie to Osama and pursue the leads vanished when the bomber was placed in civil court and lawered up, drying up our ablity to protect Americans.

“The American people expect us to hold people accountable.” He thinks there should be changes made, and we need to look at what we have done with government and perhaps reverse some of the large beurocties.

On opposition to Ben Bernake to be the chairman of the Federal Reserve McCAin says he is “very skeptical about his nomination,” but he is “worried that if he is trned down the effect that may have.” He does say Bernake should be held accountable for the melt down that occurred under his watch. He is “leaning against” Bernake’s confiration.

His own bill was overturned by th Supreme Court this past week. McCain says he plans to look at what can be done, but that there is not much that can be done. Justice Roberts and the other three who pushed to overturn the laws were “skeptical and even sarcastic” in their comments. None of them had ever run for public office, so they do not know how the impact will change politics and take power from the individuals.

Dick Debin says that health care should not be set back to star tover. “If we do nothing the Medicare Trust Fund will be exhausted in 7 years, there will be 57 millin Americans uninsured and the cost of the average American’s health insurance bill will more than double within ten years.” He says the plan as it is in the Senate addressed all these issues, is revenue neutral, and will not raise overall taxes in the long run.

Senator McCain says he is willing to sit down and talk about health care. Derbin says that President Obama and his fellow Democratic senators did sit down and Republicans did not offer solutions support or even changes that could more forward.

“If we walka way we face a crisis that will be much much worse.”

“I have misgivings about Fed Policy and economic policy, but I am going to vote for Mr. Benake…he led us through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

“Scott Brown won the race for a variety of issues…independent voters said focus on the conomy and focus on creating jobs…secondly they are frustrated by the fact that we have not passed health care reform..98% of the people in Massichuettes have health care reform and were concerned out plan would diminish their coverage int hei state..”

“I support John McCains campaign reform…I cant wait to see my Republican friends who preached against judicial activism stand up ad complain about Repubicans on the court allowing political extortion and manipulation by big business…Big business can send millions to reward their supporters and punish” those who would limit their profits, bonus’s and monopolies….

Reporters Nancy Cortes and Jan Crawford say the Supreme Court decision was a godsend to Republicans, who are now reversing themselves on acivism form the bench and applauding the court. The well opened will be, in the short term, massive money from conservative or right wing outside groups more than corporations. Their funds far outstrip unions and both moderate and progressive organizations.

Derbin found the court as “authorizing political extortion”.

Only 9% of Americans think Congress is doing an honest and ethical job.

Scott Brown may turn out to be a moderate and be the start of cooperation between the parties, if he is not brought into the party block voting mentality.

The voters have spoken that they are tired of things not working in governent, with both corresondents agreeing that the vote was more against the status quo within Massischuchettes as it was in Washington.  63% of Massachuchttes voters sayd the country has gone off course. 75% of those who say they voted for Scott Brown say they want him to work across the aisle for compromise. Of those Republcians said they wanted him to work on getting Repubican ideas appoved by Democrats. The independants tened to say theyw anted him to work to get Republicans to accept some Democratic ideas.