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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Communication and other tips for actors

From Dark Elf Film Blog (click here for access)

5 Questions with Brevard Talent Group’s President and Owner, Traci Danielle

1. Q: Your talent is notorious for being very satisfied, with the talent/agent relationship you have with them. What would you say are the components of a mutually beneficial and long-lasting talent/agent relationship?

A: Communication. I can not tell you how many times I have met with an actor and then I never hear from them. They do not let me know if they are in acting classes, in a play or at the very least, alive and well. Then I hear that they told another actor that I never call them. I have numerous actors I represent and it is the actor’s responsibility to communicate with their agent, to let them know what they are doing to further their career. Not the other way around. I expect a lot from the actors I represent. I am too old to represent lazy, unmotivated and needy actors. The agent cannot do the majority of the work. It is up to the actor to be responsible for their career.

2. Q: If you could wave a magic wand and endow all actors with one trait, what trait would you select?

A: Besides being an organic actor, which I believe is a gift you are born with, I would have to
say common sense. I swear if I could bottle and sell it I would not be an agent.

3. Q: Going off of the saying “the only person standing in your way is yourself” --In your
experience, what have you seen to be the most common self-imposed roadblocks actors
struggle with during their careers? Any tips for helping them get out of their own way?

A: See the answer to question 1 and 2 AND QUIT MAKING EXCUSES. I have heard everyone of
them and quite frankly I am fed up with actors making excuses. As they say in the South “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”. Don’t waste another minute if you are not 110% dedicated in what it takes to succeed. It has become incredibly difficult for anyone to book a job in film and TV. The odds are stacked against you from the very beginning. If you can not commit to waking up every morning and being productive with your career then do something else with your life and let the actors who are on the right path have the opportunity they need to be successful.

4. Q: After facing disappointments, actors can tend to feel powerless within the structure of the business; feeling that their ability to work is being determined solely by agents, casting directors, clients, etc. Can you share any words to the contrary to remedy this thinking? Can you help give actors a clear understanding of the variables in their careers that are completely under their control, to hopefully help empower them to take charge and maintain personal accountability even when times are difficult?

A: Actors can control everything they do, until they leave the audition. Then it is out of their
hands. They must forget about it and move on to the next opportunity. Actors can control being on
time, being prepared for the audition, callback and booking. They can be nice, respectful to everyone and be professional. Without actors agents and casting directors would not be in business. Agents want to represent professional actors who are serious about their career. If actors do everything possible then a good agent will stand behind them and have their back. I know that life can get in the way and actors might have to book out until they are mentally and physically available to be in this business. I have actors who can’t afford gas to go to auditions or be put on tape. While I feel sorry for them I also have to be honest and tell them that they need to take a break, get it together and decide if they can afford to be in the business.

5. Q: What is the most fulfilling aspect of what you do?

A: Finding an actor who is new and working with them to develop their career and then be
able to say “You booked the job”. I made a deal with myself many years ago that if the day
came that I did not get joy from telling an actor the “B” word then I would hang it up and wait

6. What do you wish all actors would do?

1. Read the entire information that is sent to you for each audition. I cannot
understand actors who have the ability to receive all of the information prior to
the audition and still make excuses as to why they weren’t prepared. Remember
pagers & pay phone booths? If the actors from that generation can deal with
having to find a pay phone and write down the details for the audition, go to an
office supply store and get the script on fax then at the very least today actors can
read their emails and be prepared.

2. Train. Actors need to work on their craft by going to an on going acting class and
supplement that with workshops taught by industry professionals. Acting is an
acquired skill. You are not going to get any better unless you work on your craft.

Closing Statement

There are very few agents in the market that have been in business as long as
I have. I think Melanie Hurt and I have more experience than all of the other
agents put together. Both of us were agents when Florida was the third busiest
state in film and TV and when union commercials far outnumbered non-union.
We have seen thousands of actors come and go and in my opinion the actors who
are successful and very talented, know that Show Business is two words. This
business is not for everyone. It is hard and you have to pay your dues. If you can
do anything else with your life then DO IT! But, if you were born with the acting
gene you know you don’t have a choice. To wake up and be happy in a career that
gives you joy and to make a living in this fun exciting business is a blessing. I am
grateful to the actors I represent and I look forward to many more years to being
an agent in Central Florida.

From Dark Elf Film Blog (click here for access)

Changes in how Millennials longer in depth or by the book,

by the numbers


How much average student recall improves when information is 
presented with graphics and audio instead of graphics and text.

How students learn


increase of information retention when the information 
was presented in multimedia form instead of simply 
a paragraph in a book.


How much average student recall improves when information is presented in words and graphics as opposed to just words.


of students agree or strongly agree that the use of interactive laptop activities during college classes increased their engagement.


How much student test scores improved when instructors reduced the word count in their visual aids by 40% and increased illustrations.

Millenials: The Next Greatest Generation?

"It's who they are, and it's where they want to take this country – I think that's what makes them so exciting and different." — Neil Howe

"It's who they are, and it's where they want to take this country – I think that's what makes them so exciting and different." — Neil Howe

The Next Greatest Generation?

Whether you call them Millennials, Generation Y or the Me Generation, one thing's for certain: These young people will change the world. But what will be its legacy? This hour, we hear TED speakers searching to define themselves and their generation.
Click here for audio links, and more from TED.

Natalie Warne: How Can Young People Make An Impact?

That's what is going to define our generation – when we start chasing and fighting after the things that we love, and that we want to fight for.

About Natalie Warne's TEDTalk
At 18, 's work with the movement made her a hero for young activists. She calls on young people not to let age stop them from changing the world.

About Natalie Warne
At 18, Natalie Warne worked with the Invisible Children Project — a campaign to rescue Ugandan children from Joseph Kony's child armies. She led a nationwide campaign for the project and successfully got the campaign featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Natalie now works as a film editor in Los Angeles.

Meg Jay: Is 30 The New 20?

Whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it.

About Meg Jay's TEDTalk
Psychologist has a message for twenty-somethings: just because marriage, work and kids happen later, doesn't mean you can't start planning now. She tells twenty-somethings how they can reclaim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.

About Meg Jay
is a clinical psychologists who specializes in adult development, particularly those in their 20s. In her practice and in her book , Jay suggests that many twenty-somethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation.

Jay says the rhetoric that "30 is the new 20" trivializes what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives. She draws from science and stories from 10 years of clinical work to show that far from being an irrelevant downtime, our twenties are a developmental sweet spot that comes only once.

She is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Va.

Charlie Hoehn: Is There A New Way To Work?

 I lay on the ground for an hour one night just pulling out my hair in frustration, like that advice I took for my whole life, it was a lie, it was a scam.

About Charlie Hoehn's TEDTalk
graduated college during a recession, constantly hearing the mantra, "You've got to take what you can get." But after months of rejection, he stopped following that advice. He describes how he built a career by working for free.
About Charlie Hoehn

is 27 years old and he's made a career out of overcoming his anxieties and landing dream jobs — all while entering the job market during the recession.
He has helped more than a dozen best-selling authors market and sometimes write and edit their books, including by Timothy Ferriss. He also wrote an e-book guide called .



Kevin Allocca: What Does YouTube Tell Us About Millennials?

Will we look back at this and be like, 'Oh, it's interesting that they were so open about everything, about their lives?'

About Kevin Allocca's TEDTalk
YouTube Trends Manager watches and thinks about popular videos for a living. He talks about how interactive participation has become a crucial part of entertainment — and that Millennials will only demand more.

About Kevin Allocca
Writer and analyst Kevin Allocca works with , a spot for tracking the latest viral videos — and connecting to the communities that make the parodies, tributes and reply videos that circle the giant viral planets of the YouTube-iverse.


Charlotte's On Fire Cocosuma

Tavi Gevinson: What Does It Mean To Be A Teenage Feminist Today?

Part of me is like, 'Wait, this is how I'm spending my youth, checking Twitter on my phone?' But part of me is also like, 'Well, you'd be doing it, too, if you were our age.'


About Tavi Gevinson's TEDTalk
had a hard time finding strong female, teenage role models, so she built a space where they can find each other. She talks about how her site and others are putting an unapologetically uncertain and complex face on feminism.

About Tavi Gevinson
Born in April 1996, Tavi Gevinson started blogging at age 11– then rapidly became a bona-fide fashion icon. In 2009 she was featured on the cover of Pop Magazine and was invited as a special guest to New York Fashion week.

Her site for teenage girls,, broke one-million page views within five days of launching in September 2011. She's currently the editor-in-chief of the site, writes and has written for several publications including Harper's Bazaar, Jezebel, Lula, Pop Magazine and GARAGE magazine.

AUDIO, VIDEO and the FULL STORY by clicking here.

The 'Big Data' Revolution: How Number Crunchers Can Predict Our Lives

by NPR STAFF, Morning EDition (click here)
Big Data
Big Data
A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
Hardcover, 242 pages purchase
When the streaming video service Netflix decided to begin producing its own TV content, it chose House of Cards as its first project. Based on a BBC series, the show stars Kevin Spacey and is directed by David Fincher, and it has quickly become the most watched series ever on Netflix.
The success of House of Cards is no accident. Netflix executives knew exactly what their millions of customers were watching; they knew precisely how popular the works of Fincher were, and how many of their customers were fans of Kevin Spacey, and how many people were streaming the British House of Cards. Sifting through that mountain of data, Netflix executives were able to predict that House of Cards would be just what Netflix viewers would want to watch.
That kind of decision-making is an example of Big Data: the decade-long explosion of digital information, much of it personal, that has become available to companies and governments. This trend in predictions and decisions is the topic of a new book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think.
One of the book's authors, Kenneth Cukier, joins NPR's Steve Inskeep to talk about how Big Data helps Target detect pregnancies, the police track potential criminals — and has even changed the way he talks to his kids.

Interview Highlights

On how Target identifies pregnant customers
"The example comes from Charles Duhigg, who's a reporter at The New York Times, and he's the one who uncovered the story. What Target was doing was they were trying to find out what customers were likely to be pregnant or not. So what they were able to do was to look at all the different things that couples were buying prior to the pregnancy — such as vitamins at one point, unscented lotion at another point, lots of hand towels at another point — and with that, make a prediction, score the likelihood that this person was pregnant, so that they could then send coupons to the people involved... there might be a coupon for a stroller or for diapers ...

"There was an example of a father coming in to a store and complaining that the teenage daughter was receiving fliers in the mail for coupons for baby products. And he said, 'What are you trying to do? Trying to get my teenage daughter pregnant?' And of course the way it ends is that he comes back later and apologizes, and says, 'It turns out there were things in my house that I wasn't aware of.' Now the story may be apocryphal. It may not be real. But the fact is, this is the sort of universe that we are now going to be in — we're all going to be in — because of Big Data. And all stores will be doing this, and all governments will be doing this. Your doctor will do this. Your employer will do this. This is the new norm."
On why Big Data doesn't care about causes, just correlation
"They crunched the numbers, and they found out that cars that were orange tended to not have breakdowns compared to other colors of cars ... So why might this be? Well, we can sort of concoct different scenarios. One is that orange tends to be a custom color, and if you order an orange car, perhaps the rest of the car was made in a custom way, a little bit more care was taken into it. We don't know why, and it's frankly, it's not that important. It might just bring us down a rabbit hole for us to try to find out why. But, again, if you just want to buy a car that's not going to break down, go with the correlation."
On how Google tracks the flu
"Google stores all of its searches. What they were able to do was go through the database of previous searches to identify what was the likely predictor that there was going to be a flu outbreak in certain regions of America. Now, keep in mind, we pay for the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to look at the United States and find out where flu outbreaks are taking place for the seasonal flu. But the difference is that it takes the CDC about two weeks to report the data. Google does it in real time simply on search queries."
On when Big Data crosses the line
"It goes too far when we start making predictions for things that we have not yet done but we have the propensity to do — for example, commit a crime. If Big Data correlations identify me as a 44-year-old male who's a journalist and who has grand eyes for things I can't afford, it may think that I'm going to be susceptible to embezzlement, and maybe I will get a knock on the door by the police, who say, 'We have reason to believe that you're about to commit a crime.' This is sort of like pre-crime in [the film] Minority Report.
"... Now, will that be the case, will we go down that route? Frankly, we already are. There's a whole branch of criminology called algorithmic criminology, and a dimension called predictive policing ... police forces in many cities in America are crunching the numbers and looking at where the likelihood of a crime is going to be, and when, based on the past patterns of crime. And now we can say not just that a crime is going to exist in an area, but that these people have a, say, 80 percent likelihood to be a felon.
"We have judicial systems that presume you have acted and therefore we are going to penalize. We've never had a system whereby we're making predictions about your likelihood, your propensity to do something, before you've actually acted, and therefore we're going to take remedial steps against you."
On how Big Data has changed how he talks to his kids ...
"I think about what it means to educate my children. I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, and I talk to them about ... thinking in terms of how to understand the world and act in the world with imperfect information. This is going to sound very strange, but I ask my child questions ... which I know she doesn't have enough information to answer. And I absolutely reward her when she takes an educated guess, when she makes a decision based on imperfect information. And I find ... a way of explaining to her that that's great. You're living in a world in which you're never going to have enough information, but you're going to have to come to answers and conclusions and make decisions based on it. So it's really important that you take in as much information and come up, using your judgment and wisdom ... come up with a decision based on that."
... and how his daughter responds
"She says that she's writing a book — it's called Big Data for Ponies."

Great Train Robery

May 5, 1865 was the date of the first recorded train robbery here in the United States. On a rail line west of Cincinnati what were assumed to be Rebels who continued to fight despite the end of the war, robbed passengers and the mail room and got away with it, never caught.

After that America saw a string of train robberies, mostly in the south and west. While they were no where near as common as the number found in dime novels, illustrated press reports, in movies and on television, there were hundreds of robberies over the next fifteen years, some by storied men like Jessee James or Butch Casidy and the Sundance Kid, but most robbers who have faded in time, and almost all the thieves were eventually brought to often frontier justice.

The glamour and drama of the train robbery is so strong that the first silent film with a complete story was in 1903:  "The Great Train Robbery.", where a robber in Tex-Mex clothing points a gun directly at the camera and the audience.

Less glamorous, but far more common and still around today, is the theft of cargo and even train cars. 

In 1995 thieves stopped trains near the Mexican boarder, blocking the tracks and taking television sets. There are ten or more of these armed robberies each year. Cargo freight taken off trains and trucks, in raid yards or truck stops, exceeds thirty billion dollars in merchandise a year. Disappearing box cars ride trains across the country, said to be transporting drugs and weapons, without a paper trail.

A tribute to actors Sean and Trish Grennan's father, a man we all knew and loved as the voice of WMAQ-TV, NBC, Chicago..

Ed Grennan


But from those first days, fumbling for words in a barren South Pacific outpost, Mr. Grennan quickly honed the sharp wit and melodic voice that made him a fixture of Chicago broadcasting for the next 50 years.

Ed Grennan, who passed away on 8/22/00, proved that the best sometimes comes last. Ed's greatest professional achievement came at the tail end of his life when he landed a supporting role in David Lynch's Buena Vista film The Straight Story(that's Ed with Richard Farnsworth in the photo to the right). Ed's appearance in a film loved by critics and audiences alike came the better part of a decade afterhis retirement from NBC.
Ed Grennan in Straight Story

Ed Grennan
Ed was probably best known to the Chicago television audience as the host of It's Academic, a weekly quiz show of the late 1960's where teams of students from Chicago area high schools were the competitors. (Roughly, the show was a secondary school version of the NBC network's College Bowl---or possibly a more grown-up version of Quiz Kids, one of the best-known NBC-Chicago network originations.

Those who did hard time in the NBC studios in the Merchandise Mart (and later the NBC Tower) remember Ed as a member of the last generation of staff announcers---the long-suffering breed now replaced by freelancers, daily hires and digital technology.
Ed came to NBC from WLS---where, in 1959-1960, he participated in the Prairie Farmer-to-rock-era transition. (The new format of WLS was not particularly to his liking).

Three decades of NBC-Chicago staffers knew Ed as one of the best people in a curious business.
Ed Grennan

Comments or suggestions? click here to send them to Rich Samuels
Created by Rich Samuels (e-mail to

Chicago Tribune obituary click here... click here...

From Wikipedia:

Ed Grennan (1922 – August 22, 2000) was a staff announcer with WNBQ and WMAQ-TV in Chicago, Illinois.
Grennan started his radio career in 1944 with the Armed Forces Radio Network while in Guam.  After some stints downstate and in Michigan, he returned to Chicago to work at several stations including WGNWAIT and WBBM-FM. Grennan worked for WLS radio from 1959-1960, and then WNBQ/WMAQ the NBC owned and operated station in Chicago.
Grennan was probably best known to the Chicago television audience as the host of It's Academic, a weekly quiz show of the late 1960s where three teams of students from Chicago area high schools competed to answer questions on academic subjects and general knowledge. He hosted the show for eleven years.[1] Grennan won an Emmy Award for football announcing and for It's Academic.
After Grennan's retirement in 1991, he had a supporting role in David Lynch's Buena Vista film The Straight Story.

My note. Sean, Ed, Trish and the family were good friends back in Oak Park. Their dad treated all of his kids friends as his own children. I remember an interview he did for one of my public affairs programs in which he said that his favorits words were "available at", because as an AFTRA announcer who worked directly for NBC network in Chicago he was paid handsomely for those precious tags. I also remember he advised his kids not to go into broadcasting because it had no two of them became actors instead!  All Chicago remembers his time hosting the high school quiz competition "It's Academic!". A treasure of Chicago television and radio history, his community and his family. Ed Grennan RIP. - Art Lynch

First published 8-22-2011