Donate Today! Help us help others.

Lynch Coaching


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jack Benny WWII How Radio Shows were done (Part 1)

Jack Benny Part 2

Joy to the World!

‎"If you are joyful, do not worry about lukewarmness. Joy will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance. You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows." 
~ Mother Teresa

New Year's Wish: Work Together instead of Attack

My wish for the New Year:

While people have strong, mutually exclusive ideas on how to get the economy and the country moving again, can we at least try to rise above zoning in on point making at the expense of truth? The recession didn't begin on January, 2009; Frannie and Freddie did not force banks to make bad loans -- greed did. These are not partisan truths, they are facts and there has been enough investigative journalism and books published on the subject that there is no excuse not to know the real causes for this man-made recession unless you choose to not know.

Any country that abandons truth for political gain cannot survive. Anyone who can't speak of the president or the opposing party without vitriol and rancor should be shunned. Our country is too important to destroy for the venal pleasure of sticking it to the other guy. If a marriage cannot survive on those terms, neither can a country. If you are part of the problem, read and learn from back issues of Can This Marriage Be Saved to see if you are building our Democracy or savaging it.

I appreciate that the Republican candidates are openly advocating for their true positions. The President and Democrats are letting the voters know their solutions. Let's have an honest discussion, vote and then support the politicians once in office. The antidote to corruption is participation. That happens one person at a time.

As Adam Smith said, the Wealth of a Nation lies not in its gold and silver, but in the labor of its people. It is time to work together.

What Are You Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-L...

Ghost Rider Creator loses all rights. Movie Theatres becoming relics of the past? China deal goes south?

From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.

Giving up the ghost: With a second "Ghost Rider" movie coming out in February, the writer of the original comic was looking to claim ownership of the Marvel Comics character (and all the royalties that come with it) in court. But a federal judge ruled that the writer gave up rights in 1972 when he cashed a check from Marvel, and that the creation of the character involved multiple people. Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter have the news.

Behind the box-office numbers: 2011 continued an ongoing trend of declining attendance at America's movie theaters. In a year-end box-office analysis, the Los Angeles Times notes that the cause is primarily that fewer and fewer people are going to movies after opening. If they're not excited enough to go immediately, they'll just wait for the DVD or video-on-demand. Also, a look at what the trend means for exhibition companies. The Hollywood Reporter looks at the stats as well.

Not quite Legendary yet: China may be the hottest movie market in the world, but raising money still isn't a piece of cake. Legendary East, the China venture of Thomas Tull's Legendary Entertainment, has had to delay plans to raise $220 million on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange because it couldn't find enough investors this year. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Mission to win again: With no new movies opening nation-wide, Tom Cruise is likely to top the box office over New Year's weekend just like he did over Christmas. Perhaps the bigger question is whether there's any kind of a comeback brewing for "Sherlock Holmes" or "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (both are sequels with long subtitles that I will spare you), and whether any of the middle-of-the-pack movies like "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "War Horse" and "We Bought a Zoo" will prove more resilient. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Summit Entertainment is still for sale, but a deal won't close this year. Betsy Sharkey reviews "The Iron Lady." Kenneth Turan reviews the Iranian film "A Separation."  Underappreciated films of 2011.

-- Ben Fritz

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Classical music deters teenagers from shopping center

Classical music was originally played to create a welcoming environment for shoppers
The sound of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven has reduced anti-social behaviour outside a Birmingham shopping centre, according to police.

In November, the PA system on the ramp leading to the Pallasades on New Street was upgraded.
The aim was to pipe soothing classical music to create a welcoming environment for shoppers and commuters.

Within days, police officers and shopkeepers noticed the number of teenagers hanging around had gone down.

"Clearly, they don't like our choice of tunes”
But many of the youths returned when the system was temporarily switched off to allow for additional tracks to be uploaded.

PC Dominic McGrath, who masterminded the scheme, said: "We've been surprised by the effect the music has had on young people.

"Since the scheme went live, fewer young people are gathering on the ramp and we've seen a dip in the number of people who are asking us to move them on.

"Clearly, they don't like our choice of tunes."

The music is broadcast between 9:00 and 21:30 GMT on weekdays, and from 12:00 to 21:30 at weekends.

SAG Awards Post Card in the mail...and watch for links for special offers and viewing opportunities

Important SAG Awards Voting Information

Dear Member,

Watch your mailbox for important SAG Awards voting information!

18th Annual SAG Awards Voting Postcard

The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards voting information postcard will be mailed out to eligible members tomorrow, December 30, 2011.  In order to be eligible to vote, your November 2011 dues must have been paid – and any address changes made – by December 16, 2011. 

In keeping with our commitment to green practices, the postcard you will receive next week includes details about how to vote online, which we encourage!  For those members who wish to request a paper ballot in lieu of voting online, please call (877) 610-8637 before January 16, 2012 and one will be mailed to you.  Have your SAG ID number ready when calling.
Please note, both the studios and the SAG Awards offices are closed December 30-January 2 and will re-open January 3, 2012. Next week, we will be finalizing any 'for your consideration' offers of SAG Award nominated films the studios will be providing.  We will post this information on our website as soon as possible at  

On January 9, we will email all eligible members details on DVD screeners, free iTunes downloads and Movie Cash coupons.  Please be patient as this information is being gathered. 

For up to the minute information on all things SAG Awards follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

The SAG Awards airs live on TNT and TBS Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT and a primetime encore presentation will follow at 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT!

Christians call for HBO Boycott

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest industry news.

Bill Maher has run afoul of religious conservatives yet again, after a Christmas Eve tweet the comedian sent about overtly religious Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Following a 40-14 Broncos' loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, Maher tweeted, "Wow, Jesus just... #TimTebow  bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler 'Hey, Buffalo's killing them'. (Adult language has been removed from the Tweet.)

Predictably, the dig from the atheist comedian didn't go over well with Christians. Fox Business' "Follow the Money" host Eric Bolling got things rolling with his Twitter response: "Bill Maher is disgusting vile trash. I can't even repeat what he just tweeted about Tebow..on Christmas Eve. #straighttohellBill."

Others have called for a boycott of HBO, which is the home of Maher's show, "Real Time." This wouldn't be the first time Maher's words have raised the ire of those on the opposite end of the political spectrum. There are regular calls for Maher's ouster from HBO. It happened in July, following a frank discussion of "hate sex" with Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. And in 2008, following comments about Pope Benedict XVI.

Will taking on Tebow be a bridge too far for Maher? Doubtful — but it is interesting to consider that the "Real Time" host wasn't just taking on an exceedingly popular quarterback; he was also mocking the best-selling religious author of 2011. According to Yahoo! Sports, Tebow's 2011 memoir "Through My Eyes" has 475,000 copies in print, with many more expected to be sold after the season.

Of course, considering Maher made a documentary critical of religion titled, "Religulous," he probably wouldn't have changed a thing.

"Real Time With Bill Maher" returns to HBO on January 13.

Emmys: Bill Maher expands his record losing streak
Why Bill Maher is convinced Donald Trump will run for president
On 'Tonight Show,' Bill Maher attacks NRA, Arizona and the audience

—Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Bill Maher. Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Obama: The conservative in 2012

E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne Jr.
Opinion Writer
Washington Post (click here)
President Obama's popularity ratings are at 47%, with almost 20% beyond that undecided. There is no mandate to toss him out of office, as being argued in Republican debates. Since Obama represents the majority views and practices of both parties going back to before Teddy Roosevelt, social programs crafted by both parties have been a core part of this country for over a century, and that progressives feel that the man conservatives label "liberal" does not go far enough...EJ Dionne argues that Obama is the only true conservative in 2012's  pack of presidential hopefuls...

At a moment when the nation wonders whether politicians can agree on anything, here is something that unites the Republican presidential candidates — and all of them with President Obama: Everyone agrees that the 2012 election will be a turning point involving one of the most momentous choices in U.S. history.

True, candidates (and columnists) regularly cast an impending election as the most important ever. Campaigning last week in Pella, Iowa, Republican Rick Santorum acknowledged as much. But he insisted that this time, the choice really was that fundamental. “The debate,” he said, “is about who we are.”

Speaking not far away, in Mount Pleasant, Newt Gingrich went even further, and was more specific. “This is the most important election since 1860,” he said, “because there’s such a dramatic difference between the best food-stamp president in history and the best paycheck candidate.” Thus did Gingrich combine historic sweep with a cheap and inaccurate attack. Nonetheless, it says a great deal that Gingrich chose to reach all the way back to the election that helped spark the Civil War.

Mitt Romney was on the same page in a speech in Bedford, N.H. “This is an election not to replace a president but to save a vision of America,” he declared. “It’s a choice between two destinies.” Sounding just like Santorum, he urged voters to ask: “Who are we as Americans, and what kind of America do we want for our children?”

Obama could not agree more. “This is not just another political debate,” the president said in his theme-setting speech in Osawatomie, Kan., earlier this month. “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

On this one, Santorum, Gingrich, Romney and Obama all have it right. For the first time since Barry Goldwater made the effort in 1964, the Republican Party is taking a run at overturning the consensus that has governed U.S. political life since the Progressive era.

Obama is defending a tradition that sees government as an essential actor in the nation’s economy, a guarantor of fair rules of competition, a countervailing force against excessive private power, a check on the inequalities that capitalism can produce, and an instrument that can open opportunity for those born without great advantages.

Today’s Republicans cast the federal government as an oppressive force, a drag on the economy and an enemy of private initiative. Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues to promise, as he did last week during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa, to be a president who would make “Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as he can make it.” That far-reaching word “inconsequential” implies a lot more than trims in budgets or taxes.

The GOP is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society. Consider Romney’s claim in his Bedford speech: “President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.”

Obama believes no such thing. If he did, why are so many continuing to make bundles on Wall Street? As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue. But Romney’s sleight of hand is revealing: Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.

Obama will thus be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went. And here’s the irony: By raising the stakes of 2012 so high, Republicans will be playing into Obama’s hands. The GOP might well win a referendum on the state of the economy. But if this is instead a larger-scale referendum on whether government should be “inconsequential,” Republicans will find the consequences to be very disappointing.
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Opinion Writer
Washington Post (click here)

The "necessary" use of racial and sexual stereotyping in war cartoons

Judge decisions and opinions by the times in which they were thought of, made or formed.

Three cartoons below are from YouTube and are banned from television for being racist. Two were made by the US Military as training films and one is a commercial "Popeye" made to aid recruitment. The time period is World War II, when the US became a part of two world altering wars, now labeled World War II. They reflect the images, fears and priorities of the time.

How would you justify the content?
What has changed in our society?
What would be their value today in education and as entertainment?

Private SNAFU - Spies (1943) - World War II Cartoon

WWII Training Video: Private SNAFU - Booby Traps (1944) - World War II Cartoon

Course Materials for Week One

CSN Communication 101: Oral Communication

Instructor:               Art Lynch                            Phone/Voicemail: (702) 714-0740
Email:                      CSN on-line campus Angel preferred (or  )                                   
Web:                        Angle link   ,
Coopman, S. J. & Lull, J. (2009).  Public speaking: The evolving art. With supplemental materials for the Department of Communication at CSN. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

OTHER REQUIRED MATERIALS: Scantron Forms 882e or 882es & # 2 Pencils (for exams)
Keep current on current affairs and on the subjects you choose to speak about.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Com 101, Oral Communication, satisfies the Communication requirement for related instruction for many certificates offered at CSN.  Please check the CSN Catalog or your degree sheet to determine if COM 101 fulfills that requirement.  The emphasis of this course is upon the principles of effective communication.  We will study various communication strategies from both a practitioner's perspective as well as from the viewpoint of a recipient. 


About Instructor:

COM 101 Sections Taught Spring 2012:

Readings for Week #1
Extra Credit:


Conservative establishment divided against itself

Those denouncing it don't seem to realize they're apart of it.

GOP debate
Mitt Romney is seen on screen during the Iowa GOP/Fox News debate in Ames. (Charlie Neibergall / AFP/Getty Images / August 11, 2011)

I've made a disturbing discovery: I am a member of the conservative "establishment." I felt like Michael Douglas at the end of "Falling Down": "I'm the bad guy?"

For the last few years, the rank and file of the GOP and the conservative movement have become deeply disenchanted with what they see as the rubber-spined, foot-dragging quislings drinking from a trough of chablis at some Georgetown party. The term "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) has become an epithet of ideological enforcement, spit out in much the same way Mao cursed "running dog capitalists."
In 2010, the tea parties and the conservative base (not always synonymous terms) tried to cull as many RINOs from the herd as they could in the primaries. They were extremely successful, with only a few stumbles.

Things are messier this time around. And to some extent this is to be expected. Presidential primaries rely on much larger pools of voters than primaries in midterms. Moreover, rather than a single tea party candidate challenging a worn-out incumbent, the field has had lots of candidates seeking the tea party or "true conservative" mantle.

Each of them has tried to play the populist card, not just against the liberal media establishment but also against the so-called conservative establishment. "I believe it is a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not, quote unquote, the establishment choice," explained Herman Cain when asked about his troubles.

Though he never intended any of this, Mitt Romney is largely to blame for the anti-establishment tumult. Somehow, he has managed to become the Arlen Specter of the 2012 field. (Specter is conservative-speak for "demon RINO from hell." You're supposed to spit on the ground after you say "Arlen Specter." Ptooey.)

In 2008, Romney was the conservative alternative to John McCain, earning endorsements not just from National Review magazine but from the titans of right-wing talk radio — Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Now Limbaugh insists that support for Romney proves that "the Republican establishment does not want a conservative getting the nomination." Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor and editor of the conservative site Red State, says that if Romney is the nominee, "Conservatism dies and Barack Obama wins."

After National Review issued a stinging anti-Newt Gingrich editorial, many of the same voices insisted that the magazine (where I work, though I didn't write the editorial) has, in the words of one right-wing blogger, lived long enough "to become the villain." Fox News, Karl Rove, Charles Krauthammer, George Will and even pro-Romney columnist Ann Coulter are routinely denounced as part of some RINO cabal.

It's difficult to catalog all of the oddities. Hugely successful, powerful and rich conservatives are lambasting the establishment as if they are in no way part of it. Gingrich has gone from being too establishment to too anti-establishment faster than you can say "Freddie Mac." And you can only wonder how befuddled Romney is given that he's moved even further rightward since 2008.

Frankly, I can't blame anyone for being underwhelmed by Romney, or begrudge anyone their frustration with the field. What's harder to understand is how nobody has noticed that the conservative establishment, which includes many of my friends denouncing it, has become vastly more conservative over the last two decades. It's more pro-life, more pro-2nd Amendment, more opposed to tax increases.

The political corpses of RINOs litter the roadside of this great migration. Rockefeller Republicans went out with 8-track tapes, leisure suits and Kevin Phillips. And yet, people talk about the conservative establishment like David Gergen is calling the shots.

The mere fact that there's something one can meaningfully describe as a conservative establishment today is a victory, never mind that it is more conservative than it has ever been. But a conservative establishment is useless if it doesn't bring the nation with it. The frustration on the right stems from the fact that none of the candidates seems up to that task.
LA Tims Op-Ed  

Tyler Cowen - The Great Stagnation - the death of innovation

Stories and how they form who we are

Ted Cowens talk on TED is worth listening to for both communication and critical thinking students. It tells how stories form our views, our perceptions, our reality. It also points out that stories reinforce our beliefs instead of solving problems and living life. I recommend sitting through the full lecture.

Stories, Reality, and The World: Economist Tyler Cowen

On life's failures

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Thomas Edison

Mitt Romney: I'll Put Ads On Big Bird

From the Huffington Post (click here to view video and read the full story).

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney pledged to cut spending for public television while campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, saying that Big Bird should be supported by advertisements and that the arts will need to get more private donations to stay afloat.

"We're not going to kill Big Bird," Romney said on Wednesday afternoon during a campaign stop in Clinton, Iowa. The former Massachusetts governor made the promise while touting his plans to drastically cut federal spending, under which he would slash $500 billion dollars a year from the budget by the end of his first term.

But while America's favorite seven-foot-tall bird would survive under Romney, he'll probably acquire some baggage. Romney stressed the need to cut even popular programs and singled out the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting Corporation as entities that would have to seek private funding in a Romney administration.

"Big Bird is going to have advertisements, all right?" said Romney. "And we're going to have endowments for the arts and humanities, but they're going to be paid for by private charity, not by taxpayers."

From the Huffington Post (click here to view video and read the full story). 

Music Industry Rebounds; NYT e-mail blast; Tops on Red Box; Get Ready for the Summer of Sequels

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest industry news.

Concert moolah: The top-grossing music act in concert in 2011 was U2, demonstrating that it's not teenagers driving what is fast becoming the record industry's most important source of revenue as album sales head south. The Irish rockers were the only group to sell more than $100 million worth of tickets and were followed on the list by Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga, and Bon Jovi. The Los Angeles Times has all the details.

Email oops: On Wednesday more than 8 million people who had given their email address for one reason or another to the New York Times got a note informing them they had canceled home delivery and offering a chance to renew at 50% off. First the paper said the note was spam from another company, but it soon changed the story and admitted that in fact it had sent the email in error. To me, a mistaken email is hardly a big deal, but not knowing you sent it is a little bizarre. Coverage from the New York Times and PaidContent.

Cruise's box-office boom: "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" has taken in $86 million at the domestic box office through Tuesday but about twice that overseas, demonstrating that Paramount has a worldwide hit on its hands with the fourth entry in its Tom Cruise action series. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" was the first movie to cross $100 million domestically, but that's only because it opened first. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," meanwhile, is making up a bit of ground after its weak opening. Box-office details during the critical Christmas-through-New-Year's week from the Hollywood Reporter.

Red-hot on Redbox: Redbox renters across the U.S. preferred comedies in 2011, making their top choices Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It" and Ashton Kutcher's "No Strings Attached." The same was true in Los Angeles, though our top 10 contained a few movies the rest of the country wasn't as excited about, such as "Bad Teacher" and "The Social Network." The full lists and some analysis from the Los Angeles Times.

A cure for sequelitis? Summer 2012 will bring some significant bets on non-sequels at the box office, giving moviegoers a chance to prove they like original ideas after the highest grossing movies of 2011 were all follow-ups, reports the New York Times. Of course, whether "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" based on the bestselling book, is really more "original" than "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" or "The Dark Knight Rises" is a debatable point in my book.

 Put off to next year. "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment is still deep in negotiations with two potential buyers, but won't reach an agreement with either before the end of 2011.

The Santa Monica firm remains in talks to sell itself to fellow studio Lions Gate Entertainment and private equity firm Colony Capital, a co-owner of Miramax, people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said.

Executives at Summit had hoped to close a deal by the end of the year because of certain tax and financial advantages, two of the people said, but that has virtually no chance of happening by Saturday.
Instead, talks with both parties have slowed down during the holiday season and are expected to pick back up next week. Summit is likely still looking to close a deal as soon as possible, as it is currently in a good position with one more "Twilight" sequel yet to be released and a significant pile of cash that, one knowledgeable person said, will be distributed to investors in the event of a sale.

Both Lions Gate and Colony are said to be offering about $350 million to $400 million to acquire Summit, along with the assumption of roughly $200 million in debt.

If Lions Gate were to take control, Summit chiefs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger are expected to run the merged studio's motion picture group, sources close to the negotiations said. If Colony, which is led by billionaire investor Tom Barrack, were to be the winning bidder, Summit would likely be merged with Miramax. In that scenario, it's likely that Friedman and Wachsberger would run the combined company, possibly alongside Miramax CEO Mike Lang.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Some recent handprint ceremonies at Grauman's Chinese Theatre were marketing stunts only and won't result in chipmunk handprints on Hollywood Boulevard. A profile of "Pariah" star Adepuro Odoye. Patrick Goldstein on "relationship movies." 

— Ben Fritz

Photo: U2's Bono in concert at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in July. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press.

Where has Music Gone? Daddi Gudbergsson - We should kill more of our artists

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheetah, RIP

Primate Actor from 'Tarzan' Films, Dies

Cheetah Tarzan Chimp 1934 - P 2011
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The chimpanzee, who was about 80 at his time of death, appeared in the early 1930s installments of the famous franchise.

One of the most famous animal actors in Hollywood history is gone.

Cheetah, the chimpanzee sidekick from Tarzan films, died of kidney failure over the weekend at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida. The Tampa Tribune reports that he was roughly 80 years old.

Hardly the only primate to take on the iconic role, Cheetah probably received the most exposure. He appeared in the 1932-1934 installments of the franchise, at the beginning of its heyday when Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller took over the title role.

In addition to having the distinction of being famous, Cheetah's longevity was one of his greatest accomplishments. Suncoast outreach director Debbie Cobb noted that chimpanzees generally live between 35 to 45 years in captivity, and only 25 to 35 years in the wild.

She also spoke highly of his character.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb told the Tampa Tribune. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."

Cheetah moved to the sanctuary around 1960, where he remained the most famous of its primate residents until his death. His interests included finger-painting, watching football and nondenominational Christian music.

Among Cheetah's Tarzan features were Tarzan and His Mate and Tarzan the Ape Man, where he starred alongside Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, who played "Jane."

O’Sullivan’s daughter, actress Mia Farrow, reacted to Cheetah's passing on her Twitter account, painting a less flattering portrait than Cobb.

"My mom, Tarzan's Jane, referred to Cheetah-the-chimp as 'that bastard,'" she wrote, "saying he bit her at every opportunity."

From The Hollywood Reporter (click here).

Tell the truth

Animation Roundtable; Gump and Bambi; Rockband bleeds money; Fast Five most pirated; Program trains disabled adults for film jobs

The Skinny: A free tip for those of you who want to impress your in-laws and keep them busy over the holidays: Get into the entertainment business so you can show them screeners of movies still in theaters. In more useful news, Rock Band keeps on costing Viacom money even though it sold the games off last year, "Fast Five" was the most frequently pirated movie of 2011 on BitTorrent, and customers are still peeved at Netflix.

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest entertainment news...
RockBand2Here's your check for losing money: Viacom's failed attempt to enter the video game business continues to haunt Sumner Redstone's conglomerate. Although it sold Rock Band maker Harmonix last year, Viacom was just ordered in an arbitration to pay Harmonix's original shareholders $383 million in bonuses on top of $150 million already paid (and the original $175-million purchase price). Viacom is suing to overturn the decision. That's a big bonus for a game that never made money, and probably a contract Viacom's top brass really regrets. Coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Gamasutra.

The clock is ticking: Shareholders in "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment are eager to agree on a transaction (aka selling the company) by the end of 2011, according to people familiar with the matter not authorized to discuss it publicly. But talks with potential buyers Lions Gate Entertainment and Miramax co-owner Colony Capital have yet to reach a conclusion. Perhaps the one hot media news story in an otherwise slow week is whether someone will buy Summit by Saturday.

Not the race you want to win: Auto racing action sequel "Fast Five" was the sixth most popular film at the domestic box office this year, but it was the No. 1 most illegally downloaded via BitTorrent. Other surprises on the list of 10 most-pirated films on BitTorrent were the appearance of "Source Code" and "Sucker Punch" and the absence of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Coverage in the LA Times and The Wrap.

Costly mistakes: Netflix's big missteps this year may cost it in customer loyalty for a long time to come. A survey of customer satisfaction with online retailers found that Netflix took the biggest tumble in 2011 as people were ticked off by an unexpected price hike of up to 60% and the Qwikster debacle. Amazon, which has a growing video-on-demand business, was the biggest gainer. AllThingsD and CNET News covered the data.

Picking the classics: It took "Forrest Gump" only 17 years to be added to the National Film Registry, compared with 69 years for "Bambi" and 77 for "Twentieth Century." Hey, I'm just reporting the news, not making a judgment. The LA Times and Hollywood Reporter a look at the 25 movies added to the collection by the Library of Congress. My personal favorite: Pixar president Ed Catmull's first digitally animated short: the self-explanatory "A Computer Animated Hand" from 1972.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: A program to train developmentally disabled adults for jobs in the film business. A profile of UFC "baldfather" Dana White. Adultery is hot on TV. Betsy Sharkey gives a good review to one of 2011's last releases, "Pariah."

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Guests try out Rock Band 2 at a 2008 event. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Hollywood Reporter Roundtable Video on Animation

A new film by my very good and talented friend, Michael Toole

Bill Cosby promotes Netflix over Hulu

With "The Cosby Show," Bill Cosby created one of the most important sitcoms in TV history. Running from 1984 to 1992, it spent five straight years as the number one Nielsen rated show on television, with upwards of 30 million people watching his Huxtable family each week on NBC.

It's a cultural treasure, but just about 20 years since it went off the air, it can be a bit hard to find. But Bill giveth, and he giveth some more, and thanks to that generous spirit, he's posted this new video on YouTube to help old fans and curious new viewers find "The Cosby Show" online.

Hint: it's on Netflix, not Hulu.

Click here to go to the Huffington Post and view the Cosby video...

I'm On Netflix

Obama signs Hoover Dam power allocation bill

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun 

The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge section of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project is seen just south of the Hoover Dam on Aug. 19, 2010.

President Barack Obama signed the Hoover Power Allocation Act into law, cementing an electric power-sharing agreement that will be in place until 2067.

Under the law, Nevada receives approximately a quarter of the electricity generated by the Hoover Dam, which through 2008, was producing an annual average of about 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours. Five percent of that — and 5 percent of all recipient states' allocations — will go to a pooled fund that can be tapped by tribes, irrigation districts, and rural cooperatives that before this law, couldn't access electricity generated at the dam.

The Hoover Dam is one of the most inexpensive sources of electrical energy in Nevada, a fact highlighted in Sen. Harry Reid's comments on the bill's passage.

"I commend President Obama for ensuring 50 more years of affordable, renewable energy for Nevada," Reid said. "This legislation is good for our economy and our environment and I look forward to seeing Nevada benefit from this agreement for decades to come."

Even with the shares in place, how much electricity Nevada will reap from the Hoover Dam over the 50-year contract that begins in 2017 has yet to be determined.

There is growing concern that the Hoover Dam's ability to continue to produce power — a fate that's closely tied to the health of Lake Mead — will decline. By some estimates, Lake Mead will drop too low to produce power well before 2017.

Still, the bill has received wide support from the Nevada delegation; Rep. Joe Heck sponsored it in the House, where Rep. Shelley Berkley was a cosponsor. In the Senate, Sen. Dean Heller and before him Sen. John Ensign had signed on as co-sponsors to Reid's bill.

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Las Vegas Housing Market Attracts Asian Investors

A vacant home in Las Vegas owned by Bank of America. Nevada continues to top the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Investors from Asia are taking advantage of housing prices that have plummeted in recent years, buying foreclosures and short sales at below what it would cost to build them.
Kevin Chu's Hong-Kong investment firm owns property in Las Vegas, but he's never seen any of it. So his first visit to the U.S. is to inspect the houses in Las Vegas.

In the past 18 months, the firm he works for, The Creations Group, bought up distressed homes all over the U.S. — including 13 Las Vegas houses at fire sale prices.
Tracy Bennett, the local property manager, is driving Chu to see one of his firm's houses that has just been renovated.
She points to a disaster of a house that's clearly vacant. Blue graffiti cover the garage. Trash is piled in the yard. Before anyone can say anything, Bennett laughs.

"I'm kidding," she says.

But it is a reminder of the bleak housing reality here, where foreclosure rates are more than three times the national average. Thousands of bank-owned properties that sit empty. Thankfully, for Chu, his real house down the block is in much better shape.

It's a modest one-story house. The firm bought it for $55,000. At the height of the market, it could have sold for more than $200,000. Inside it's clean, with fresh paint. It's ready for a tenant.
"It looks very good, much better than I expected," he says.

In fact, the U.S. housing market as a whole looks much better than expected to Chu's boss, Danny Lim.

"In some places the types of prices that we are getting, I think it's you know, once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime kind of opportunity," says Lim, who was in Miami looking for more property.

Andy Chu, a local real estate agent, says he is advertising in the Asian newspapers. He points out the strong rental market in Las Vegas means houses here can quickly become income-producing properties.
"We let them know, hey look, U.S. is a good place to invest," he says.

Andy Chu's clients from Asia are now a quarter of his business, and he wants more.

They're good customers. They often will buy several properties and pay in cash, which means he doesn't have to spend months waiting for financing to be approved.

"From a business perspective, you can get paid in four days or get paid in six months," he says.

The 2012 strategy for the Las Vegas chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America is to help local Realtors get even more international business through new Web tools and networking opportunities.

"If you are a homegrown product how do you network with someone in Canada? How do you work with someone in China, Vietnam or Taiwan? It is very hard. That's the reason why our association is trying to bridge that gap," explains Joseph Lai, the association's chapter president.

There aren't reliable data to know just how many properties in Las Vegas are selling to out-of-country buyers. Local Realtors say the bulk of their international business is coming from Asia and Canada. Lai says these buyers are helping the local housing market recover.

"International investors, we see them as absorbing a lot of the inventory," empty houses that otherwise might be left vacant, he says.

"They are going to come in, make them income-producing properties, and then they are going to fix them up, get them into livable shape, get them rented out," he says.

There is a backlog of tens of thousands more foreclosures expected to roll onto the Las Vegas market in the coming months. So that means soon there will be a lot more empty houses for eager investors to buy up.

Related NPR Stories

Keep Your Eye Peeled for "Matilda"

There's Something About 'Matilda'

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda the Musical, based on the beloved children's book about a five year old very special girl by Roald Dahl, is taking London by storm. Matilda is an unusual girl. She's a bookworm, her parents are abusive and her school headmistress is a battle-axe. That could make for a depressing story, but London audiences have been wowed by Matilda's determination not to be repressed. - Music and more at National Public Radio, by clicking here.

Photos: Kerry Ingram is one of four young actresses portraying the title role in Matilda the Musical.

Las Vegas Economy...

Rodrigo Gonsalez walks along the Las Vegas Strip as he finishes up a night of impersonating Elvis. Gonsalez, a welder by trade, turned to street performing in the absence of construction jobs in the city.

To Reignite Its Light, 

Las Vegas Needs To Diversify

Rodrigo Gonsalez walks along the Las Vegas Strip as he finishes up a night of impersonating Elvis. Gonsalez, a welder by trade, turned to street performing in the absence of construction jobs in the city.

One in every two Americans are now considered poor or one paycheck from poor, the worst since the Great Depression. Estimates are as high as two our of three Las Vegans fall in those categories.

Las Vegas' unemployment rate is down, but it's still over 13 percent. Not too long ago, it was around 15 percent.

The city of lights is also home to the country's highest foreclosure rates, for 37 months in a row.

But before Las Vegas epitomized the housing bust, it was the epitome of the housing boom. And that was all tied to the city's legendary gaming industry.

"People were building housing for other people building housing. We were building it for the hotel workers," says Rob Lang, who runs the Intermountain West - Brookings Institution at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Now those jobs — building houses — are gone.

"That's the biggest share of unemployment," Lang tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "It's 100,000 displaced workers in that industry across the state, the majority being in Las Vegas. And in gaming, by contrast, you know we bottomed in '09. There are 16,000 jobs added. And, of course, the gaming operations outside of Las Vegas — in China, in Singapore — are booming, and that wealth is accruing to the management of those firms."

So, the real hurt is in construction. Even so, there are silver linings to that cloud. You can see them in every cul-de-sac.

Affordable Housing
If you happen to be looking for a second home — or like Richard Smith, of Altus, Okla., you're about to retire and move — then real estate agents like Terri Monroe, in suburban Henderson, Nev., have no shortage of houses to show you.

Monroe shows off a 2,100-square-foot house with a modern kitchen and huge garage for $219,000.
"In 2005, it would have sold for $450,000 to $500,000," Monroe says. The house lost more than half of its value.

Monroe says the real estate market is looking up, slightly. But no one expects homebuilding to return to what it was: 12 percent of the state's economy, the second-biggest local industry.

Vegas Needs More Than Gaming
Of course, there's no question about what's No. 1: gaming.
And if people elsewhere praise the job-creating powers of small business, in Las Vegas, big business, big hotel owners, historically drive the economy.

Carolyn Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, cites a common rule of thumb — the ratio of population growth to increases in the number of hotel rooms is 6 to 1.

People up in the Silicon Valley need to be coming down here because the weather is perfect — it's the ease of everything here.
 - Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman

Click on "read more' below to continue.

Las Vegas worst in nation for foreclosures and loss of property value

'Slow, Plodding' Economy 

Stalled By Housing Market

According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, home prices were down 3.4 percent this year as of October — around a 35 percent drop from their peak.
Enlarge Scott Olson/Getty Images
  According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, home prices were down 3.4 percent this year as of October — around a 35 percent drop from their peak.

This month, consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since April, a sign that the U.S. economy is starting to mend. But the housing market isn't going along yet with this cheerier mood: Home prices were down 3.4 percent for the year as of October, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Housing has been at the center of the country's economic troubles since 2007, and heading into 2012, it still has a lot of problems.

In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray keeps waking up to live the same day over and over again. President Obama might feel the same way about the troubled U.S. housing market. In a 2009 speech in Arizona, he spoke about his plan to prevent foreclosures.

"The American dream is being tested by a home mortgage crisis that not only threatens the stability of our economy, but also the stability of families and neighborhoods," he said.

Click "read more" below to continue...