Donate Today! Help us help others.

Lynch Coaching


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In Internet age, ratings show TV news remains relevant

How did TV news programs and networks fare in the 2014 battle for viewers?

The television news business is trying hard to catch up with rapidly changing technology.

Americans are getting more of their news from their Twitter feeds, friends' Facebook posts and websites such as Reddit. There are live bloggers who chronicle events as they unfold — now they can even stream live video with their smartphones.

But TV news is still overwhelmingly watched on televisions. Although the landscape has become more challenging, TV news can still be a lucrative endeavor. The morning shows each generate hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue for their networks.

The evening newscasts remain vital to each network's image, and after years of fighting off irrelevancy, are now seeing a ratings renaissance. Cable news outlets are big profit centers for their corporate parents, and while their audience levels appear to have plateaued, they can still set the agenda for what the country will be talking about.

Every day and night, these programs and networks battle for viewers' attention. Here is how they fared, according to Nielsen, in 2014:
Morning shows
Unlike any other news program, the nation's morning shows have always hinged entirely on personalities. 
So the pressure was on ABC News when the contracts for the entire team of its No. 1 morning show "Good Morning America" were all up within a year of each other. By April, ABC secured new deals for lead anchors Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer.

But the network did not come to terms with newsreader Josh Elliott and longtime weather forecaster Sam Champion, leading to their departures and a potential disruption in the alchemy that helped "Good Morning America" topple NBC's "Today" in the ratings after 16 years of also-ran status.

Champion was replaced in December 2013 by his backup, Ginger Zee, and Amy Robach, a frequent substitute for Elliott, was promoted to his spot in March. GMA never missed a beat, finishing as the most-watched morning show for the second-consecutive full year with an average of 5.5 million viewers through Dec. 15, a 12% advantage over NBC's 4.8 million.
"When we had to make changes, we made very quick and bold decisions," said Tom Cibrowski, senior vice president for ABC News and former executive producer of "Good Morning America."
The folks at "Today" have to be a little envious over how seamlessly "Good Morning America" absorbed its cast changes.

The NBC show's inner maneuverings have been gossip column fodder since the fouled-up handling of Ann Curry's exit from the anchor chair in July 2012, which resulted in a ratings plunge.

This fall, NBC hired Jamie Horowitz, a production whiz from ESPN, to oversee a total revamp of the program. But after word leaked out that he wanted to do a clean sweep of the anchor desk — angering the talent and his bosses — he was shown the door.Even in second place, "Today" remains one of the most profitable shows in television and still pulls in a higher rate than "Good Morning America" for its commercial time, thanks to the legacy of its brand name. Matt Lauer, popular among viewers, extended his contract for two more years.

But competitors believe "Today" needs a new, consistent plan of attack if it wants to return to No. 1. "Good Morning America" has seen its ad revenues grow by 30% since it took over the top spot in 2012.

The third-place program, "CBS This Morning," actually had the highest percentage gain in viewers during 2014 — up 7% to 3.1 million. But it was down 4% among key 25-to-54-year-old viewers that advertisers want to reach, falling well behind "Good Morning America" and "Today."
Anchors Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King earn kudos from critics and viewers who prefer the program's newsier approach, and executive producer Chris Licht said he has no plans for drastic alterations.
"It's an absolute concern and it's something that we look at," Licht said of the lagging 25-54 demo rating, which he believes will grow over time. "We're still in a building phase. These things take time. The mission here is to do news."

Nightly news
Now that viewers can watch news as it happens throughout the day on a mobile device, the nightly evening newscast feels like it should be an outdated remnant from the era of Big Three TV network hegemony.

But in 2014, each of the programs saw audience gains.

"Not only are rumors of our death greatly exaggerated — we are a growth stock," NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams said in a recent interview. "And I have a secret theory that perhaps the best thing that happened to us is the rise of other media devices. The miniaturization of everything else has made us loom a little larger."Williams' program is up 5% to an average audience of 8.9 million viewers. "ABC World News Tonight With David Muir" is up 6% to 8.1 million, while "CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley" rose 4% to 6.8 million. Among 25- to 54-year-olds, Muir's broadcast is the biggest gainer, up 8%, pulling up even with Williams for the lead.
The ratings boost may be the result of having three programs — which once routinely summarized the same events in lockstep — that are more distinctive from each other than they have been in recent memory.

"ABC plays to its strengths with a faster pace and a higher story count," said Steve Capus, executive producer of the CBS Evening News.

"CBS has a smaller number of stories and we go deeper with our journalism. Brian is an immensely talented personality and NBC strikes a middle ground," he said. "Each of us is giving our audiences different options and that's not always been the case."

Cable news
While evening network newscasts are resilient, the maturing cable news business now finds itself coping with audience erosion. Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC all saw slippage in their average viewing levels for the total day.

The bright spot was for Fox News Channel, No. 1 in cable news for the 13th consecutive year. Fox grew its audience by 2% among 25- to 54-year-olds in prime time thanks to Megyn Kelly, who took over the channel's 9 p.m. slot in October 2013. Her show, "The Kelly File," improved the time period by 10% and ended three-straight years of prime-time declines in the demographic.

FNC towered over other cable news channels in prime with 1.76 million viewers, which includes 301,000 in the 25-54 demographic. CNN averaged 515,000 viewers — a 9% decrease; and 181,000 in the demographic, which is about even with 2013. MSNBC averaged 590,000 viewers, down 8% — and its demo audience declined 17% to 169,000.

CNN has made a tactical decision to supplement its news coverage with original series programming aimed at drawing younger viewers who are more appealing to advertisers.

The episode premieres of CNN series with Anthony Bourdain, Lisa Ling and John Walsh were time-period winners. As weekly entries launched in eight-episode batches, such shows can't be expected to move the ratings needle as much as a star personality who is on every weeknight. Nevertheless, CNN's new approach helped it surpass MSNBC for second place among the 25-to-54 demo in prime time.
The NBC-owned channel is most likely to see an overhaul in 2015, as its lineup of progressive-leaning political talk shows have faded."We're going to get out in America — and outside of dysfunctional Washington — and pursue the full range of stories that American families are interested in," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free Speech or Sanctioning Piracy?

Google Seizes on Sony Hacked Docs to Attack MPAA Conspiracy

The MPAA responds calling Google's position as a defender of free speech "shameful"

Google Logo NEW - H 2012
Google says it is "deeply concerned" about reports that the Motion Picture Association of America and six studios led a secret campaign to attack the search giant in its fight against online piracy. 

In an open letter posted to Google's public policy blog, general counsel Kent Walker wrote that he has "serious legal" concerns about the campaign, code-named "Project Goliath," in which he says the MPAA "conspired to achieve SOPA's goals through non-legislative means."

An MPAA spokeswoman responded late Thursday, calling Google “shameful” for positioning itself as a defender of free speech.
The movie studios have long considered Google the antagonist in their fight to remove pirated content from the Internet. 

They attempted to combat copyright infringement with SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, but the legislation was ultimately postponed in 2012 after protests from companies like Google.

Even so, emails revealed through the Sony hack, reported on by The Verge and The New York Times, have shown that lawyers from MPAA and the studios — Sony, Universal, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney — were looking for nonlegislative ways to revive the site-blocking measures that SOPA would have put into place. Their main target in the campaign was Google, which was referred to the the emails by the name "Goliath."

"One disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part 'to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists' right to free expression,' " wrote Walker. "Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?" 

Google also points to reports that after the MPAA pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, a SOPA supporter, he sent a 79-page subpoena to Google. Although not cited in Walker's post, the Times also reported that the MPAA and the studios contributed to the campaigns of politicians, including Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning

The MPAA's response called Google a facilitator of "illegal conduct" and said it would seek help from all government agencies to "protect the rights of all involved in creative activities." 
Here is the MPAA's full statement. 

"Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal. 

Google’s blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct — including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Babes in Toyland' opened on this date in 1934.

The popular, classic Laurel and Hardy holiday musicals, "Babes in Toyland," aka "March of the Wooden Soldiers," opened on this date 80 years ago. Is it one of your favorite Laurel and Hardy movies? Photo courtesy of the America Cinematheque.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Public Speaking Advice

Passion is the key point.

Act like your bored and your audience will zone out.

I gave a powerpoint in Orlando just recently.  Most of my slides were
images, and I was the most animated character in the room -- not what was
on the screen.  I jumped, ran up and down the stage, raised my voice,
lowered my voice, made jokes (mostly about myself), and acted like I

I am the actor. I am on stage. I am leading the troops, I am rallying
them, to DO SOMETHING.

A powerpoint presentation is secondary.  It is your notes as the
presenter.  It is not as interesting as you.

Get out from behind the podium, step out into the audience and stand in
front of people and ask them what they think.  Ask them to explain

Tell them what you think and personalize the information.

I was fortunate to have on the same agenda was the COL of the state police
who investigated Virginia Tech.

He was speaking of the investigation he headed up by order of the
governor.  He did not jump up and down, raise his voice, or make jokes.
The subject was too serious.  But the information he presented was
personalized from his point of view.  he gave his opinion, he explained
the why and the how.  No one questioned his opinion because of the
gravitas of the subject matter, but no one doubted that he cared.

One a clown...(me), one serious and to the point...but both caring about
the subject.  Both will be remembered.

Lt Col Robert F Cain
US Army Reserve

Reposted as areminder for the remainder of the term...

First posted January 11, 2010

Sunday, December 7, 2014

George Takei Takes Story Of Internment To The Stage

As part of remembering Pearl Harbor...
From 9/2/2012
George Takei rehearses a scene from Allegiance, a new musical inspired by Takei's childhood in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
EnlargeJeffrey Weiser/Courtesy of The Old Globe
George Takei rehearses a scene from Allegiance, a new musical inspired by Takei's childhood in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
text size A A A
Today, George Takei is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series and, more recently, his hugely popular Facebook and Twitter feeds.
But his latest project aims to bring a different kind of story to the stage, one with personal and historical resonance. The actor was born in Los Angeles to a Japanese-American family just a few years before Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that 1941 attack, he and his family were among the tens of thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were forced to move to internment camps.
Now, Takei's childhood experience living in camps in Arkansas and California has inspired a new musical called Allegiance. Previews of the show are set to begin Sept. 7 at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
Takei plays two characters in the show: Ojii-San, the grandfather of a family in an internment camp, and Sam Kimura, a 77-year-old former internee whose story is told from the present day. Takei joined NPR's Scott Simon to discuss his experience of internment and the importance of remembering the darker chapters of American history.

Interview Highlights

On his own family's story of internment
"We were first taken from our home ... in Los Angeles to a horse stable at a race track, San Anita Race Track, near Los Angeles. And we were there for a few months while the camps were being built. And from there we were taken to the swamps of southeastern Arkansas. So, all the Japanese-Americans that were incarcerated followed that pattern: first, what's called an 'assembly center,' a very innocuous-sounding name, and from there to a 'relocation center,' another innocuous word."
George Takei (left) stands with his mother and siblings during their internment at Camp Tule Lake in California. The inset image at top right shows Takei as a kindergartener at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas.
EnlargePhoto courtesy of George Takei
George Takei (left) stands with his mother and siblings during their internment at Camp Tule Lake in California. The inset image at top right shows Takei as a kindergartener at Camp Rohwer in Arkansas.
On Sam Kimura and why he's described in the script as being "made of granite" with "so much buried inside"
"He is one of the thousands of young men who went from barbed-wire incarceration to [putting] on the same uniform as that of the sentries that guarded over us, and served in the military. He was sent over to the battlefields of Europe with an all Japanese-American, segregated unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and faced the hell of war, the horrors of war. And the 442nd Regimental Combat Team returned from those bloody battlefields as the single most decorated unit of the entire war. And the character I play is 'hard as granite' because he went through that hell and came back."
On what drove Japanese-Americans to enlist when their families were in internment camps
"I was invited to the White House when members of the 442nd were finally given the Medal of Honor, the highest military recognition that the nation can grant. And after the ceremony, I asked one of them, 'How were you able to do what you did when this government treated you and your family so shabbily?' And he said, 'Well, George, when I was a kid, I began the school day every morning with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and I meant every word of it. But this government didn't think that I was American enough and so, by gum, I went out there to show them what kind of American I am.
"But there [was] another group of people who I admire equally. They're the ones that said, 'Yes, I'm an American and I will fight for this country, but I won't go as an internee from behind these barbed wire fences, leaving my family in imprisonment. I will go only on the condition that I go as an American; that I can report to my hometown draft board with my family in our home, and then I will serve.' And for that courageous and principled stand, they were tried and found guilty of draft evasion and put into federal penitentiaries. And that is the drama of this musical."
Takei rehearses a scene in which his character, Ojii-San, tries to cheer his granddaughter up by making her an origami flower out of a loyalty questionnaire.
EnlargeJeffrey Weiser/Courtesy of The Old Globe
Takei rehearses a scene in which his character, Ojii-San, tries to cheer his granddaughter up by making her an origami flower out of a loyalty questionnaire.
On the significance of the piece of paper that Ojii-San folds into an origami flower for his granddaughter
"It was the sheet of paper that was to ascertain the loyalty of people that the government had imprisoned on the suspicion — merely the suspicion, not the guilt — of being potential spies, fifth columnists, traitors. Everyone over the age of 17 had to respond to it whether you were male or female, citizen or noncitizen. ... Question 27 asked 'Will you bear arms to defend the United States of America?' — this being asked of an 87-year-old immigrant lady as well as a 17-year-old young man. Even more insidious was the next question, Question 28. It asked, and I'm paraphrasing, but essentially it said, 'Will you swear your loyalty to the United States of America and foreswear your loyalty to the emperor of Japan?' The government assumed that if you're born with this face — even if you're an American, never been to Japan — that we are born with an organic, inborn loyalty to the emperor. It was offensive and the amazing thing was that so many young people answered yes to those two offensive questions and went and served."
On why his family stayed on the West Coast after they got out of the camps
"We were from Los Angeles. We came back to Los Angeles because my parents didn't want to go to another unknown place that might be even more hostile in a different way. But indeed it was a different Los Angeles we came home to. Housing was next to impossible. Our first home was on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. And to us kids — I was the oldest, I was 8 years old when we came back — it was terrifying. All those scary, smelly, ugly [people] leaning on the walls or staggering around or falling right down in front of us on the sidewalk; the stench of urine on the street in the hallways everywhere. It was horrific. In fact, my baby sister said, 'Mama, let's go back home,' because we had adjusted to the routine of incarceration and it was home."
"I see Allegiance as my legacy project. The story is very important to me and it's been my mission in life to raise Americans' awareness of that shameful chapter of American history. I think we learn more from those times in our history where we stumbled as a democracy than we learn from the glorious chapters. We have the history of slavery or inequality to women, and now the civil rights movement of the 21st century is the struggle for equality for the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. And I think it's important for Americans to know about the times that we failed, and Allegiance tells that story."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Joining Lynch Consulting : Pentagon Lt. Col. Rob Cain (ret)

“Strategic Communications is not just a tweet, press release or sound bite.  It is what the organization delivers in action and change.”  

Robert Cain, MsEd., LTC (Retired, USA)

Rob Cain has operated in public affairs for government organizations for 28 years.  As a retired LTC in the Army he has traveled the world setting up and operating Joint Information Bureaus to facilitate the news gathering of national and international media on major military operations.  At the Pentagon he led teams to create and implement senior leader communication initiatives for medical, financial and perception -making campaigns to internal and external audiences.  Whether your company is preparing a new product or your organization is steeped in crisis, he can provide clear and precise communication plans to guide management and employees through the storm.  He has briefed the Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army and has intimate knowledge on what it takes to break through communication barriers using traditional and social media outlets.  He has witnessed media facilitation over-seas, and at the highest levels in the halls of the Pentagon and at the United States Naval Academy.  He has taught at the DoD’s Defense Information School (DINFOS) teaching DoD Officers to be media-ready in their assignments.  He can set the foundation for managers to be proficient in public speaking and media facilitation.  He can set your organizations public affairs policy and provide guidelines for your organization’s image to be seen at the highest standard.   He was invited back 3 times to the Army War College to coach senior level executives and senior officers in techniques to brief the media, and news conference operations.  Mr. Cain can reveal the secrets of the three ‘Bs’ of outstanding staff work that will enhance your organization’s public image by: being brief, being brilliant, and being gone.”   

Raise your organization’s media savvy by inviting Mr. Cain to address your group or organization. 

Holding a Master’s of Science in Education specializing in Instructional Technology Mr. Cain can bring to your organization the secret of effective training.  As a team member he assisted in the creation of an on-line courses to provide long-distance training in public affairs and has repeatedly taught Public Affairs Seminars. 

It was Magic Johnson that said, “When you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.”  However, any organization must know what to do to keep friends, and to change any perception that will distract from the company’s mission and loose those friends.  Planning is everything. 

Mr. Cain currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.  He is an avid history buff.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 10 Commandments of Presentations

The 10 Commandments of Presentations

1. Identify and then tell the story

When we give a presentation, we are doing it to tell a story that has one or two goals. We are trying to inform the audience about something we know that they don’t, we are trying to persuade the audience to adopt a view that we have, or a combination of the two. We need to identify the beginning, middle, and end of the story that accomplishes our goals and then use the presentation to tell the story. A presentation should not just be a data dump. If our goal is just to provide data, then we would be better off cancelling the presentation and just sending out the data. The presenter is providing a perspective that the data cannot provide, by itself.

2. Do not present too much information

Dating back to Aristotle, speakers have known that an audience will only walk away remembering a few ideas from a speech. Aristotle called this the “Rule of Three”. Pick three ideas you want to present and present those. Each of those might be broken into three parts to explain, but don’t bother adding a fourth main point, because they won’t remember it. For a modern example, look at the Apple presentations given by Steve Jobs – they were always structured around the “Rule of Three”.

3. Do not add content unless it supports your main points

The slide is a canvas used to paint your story. There should be nothing on the slide that is not working to tell the story. Extraneous details in templates, graphs, figures, and tables should be removed. The process of absorbing and using information is called cognitive loading. Extraneous details use up cognitive load and make it harder for the audience to follow along and learn.

4. Do not use PowerPoint as a teleprompter

Do not read your slides to the audience. Do not fill your slides with everything you need to say. Do not make the audience question what value you, the speaker, is adding to the presentation. The slides are for the audience, not the speaker. If something is on a slide, it is because it is needed to understand what the speaker is saying.

5. Use PowerPoint to clarify and amplify your message

The purpose of projecting an image on the wall, adjacent to the person speaking, is to provide a visual representation of the topics being spoken of. The visuals are to augment, not repeat, the words of the speaker. Slides should convey graphically what words cannot. If the words are so straightforward that they need no clarification or amplification, then don’t use slides.

6. Do not use PowerPoint for reasons it is not intended

A slide is intended to augment a speaker – it is not intended to stand alone and serve as a document. PowerPoint slides should be viewed as ephemeral – only existing while the speaker is talking. A PowerPoint presentation is not supposed to be a permanent documentation of a topic.

7. Never give out copies of the presentation

PowerPoint slides support the speaker – they are not supposed to stand alone. When we get in the habit of handing out copies of our presentation, we get in the habit of designing our presentations to be handouts. If they become effective at standing alone, they become less effective at supporting the speaker because they become crowded and repetitive.

8. Prepare a dedicated handout

Rather than giving out a copy of the presentation, prepare a dedicated handout that includes a combination of the most important visuals from the presentation with the most important words from the speech. Written in full sentence narrative, this handout would be able to stand alone and would still make sense to the audience, three months after the presentation. For some presentations, this handout might be a simple as a one page summary of the presentation. For other presentations, it might be a full white paper that includes the supporting data that led to the arguments made in the presentation.

9. Involve the audience in the presentation

Whether your goal is to inform or to persuade, the goal will be more likely met if the audience has a participative role in the presentation. People don’t like to be talked to – they like to be talked with. Include questions for the audience. Solicit opinions and experiences from the audience. Turn the presentation into a guided discussion with visual support.

10. Ensure that the presentation is legible from anywhere in the room

Do not use fonts or graphics that cannot be comfortably understood from the back of the room. Most experts recommend not using a font size smaller than 28 points. If you find yourself needing to go below 28, you have too much text on each slide.
Robert Frost, engineer/instructor at NASA

Monday, November 10, 2014

11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month: Veterans Day

Remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month…Armistice Day, the day World War One ended. Tuesday is Veterans Day, renamed that in 1954, to include the veterans of World War II and all other wars the US had fought.

In honor of all you who have served your nation, here is a brief history of Vetarans Day from the Veterans Administraton (VA):

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.
Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."

President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
President Eisenhower signing HR7786, changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day. From left: Alvin J. King, Wayne 
Richards, Arthur J. Connell, John T. Nation, Edward Rees, Richard L. Trombla, Howard W. Watts 

On that same day, President Eisenhower sent a letter to the Honorable Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs (VA), designating him as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee.

In 1958, the White House advised VA's General Counsel that the 1954 designation of the VA Administrator as Chairman of the Veterans Day National Committee applied to all subsequent VA Administrators. Since March 1989 when VA was elevated to a cabinet level department, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has served as the committee's chairman.
The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Kids Biz

Photo: Jackie Coogan, child actor whose economic fate led to the Coogan law.
Getting Started in the Biz
For minors working in the Los Angeles market
By Liz Briggs, Contributor to this blog site.

So you’ve got the cutest, most talented kid ever, eh?  Well welcome to Hollywood.  The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) authorizes around 50,000 work permits for children in the entertainment industry every six months.  That’s a lot of cute kids.  But don’t let me discourage you!  If you have the time and money to invest, having a kid working in Hollywood can be an exhilarating ride. 

My son got his start in the background biz, working as an extra on Desperate Housewives.  He was a teeny thing, only 2½ years old.  We were living in the LA area at the time, which makes it much easier, but it is doable for folks living within a drive-able distance (San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco), especially if you have friends or family to stay with in town. 

I recommend working background for kids just starting out, because it doesn’t require the same commitment as getting an agent.  Once you are signed with an agent, you will be expected to be at his beck and call, dropping everything to drive into LA and audition at a moment’s notice.  Background  is different.  There are rarely “fittings” (paid auditions), but for the most part, your child is booked directly off her picture, and you receive a call offering a day of work.  Background is also different in that you can say “no.”  If your kid has a spelling test, or a birthday party, or you just plain don’t feel like it, you can just pass up the opportunity, and it will go to someone else. 

My son was and is registered with Kids Background Talent.  They hold an effective monopoly on background work for kids in the LA market.  As with any business, they are looking to make money, and I encourage you to do due diligence before signing up.  That being said, my family has been very pleased with our results, and we do recommend them to our friends.

Whether you decide to go straight for an agent, or test out the waters in the background, two things that your child will need in order to work in the biz in California are a work permit and a Coogan (minor blocked trust) account.  The work permit is fairly simple to obtain, and currently free, although pending legislation may create a $50 fee for each permit.  The permit must be renewed every six months, and the renewals, as well as the original, may be obtained by mail.  The forms are available on the DLSE website, and must be signed by the school for school-aged children, and by a doctor for babies between 15 days and one month of age.  The minimum age for a child to work in the State of California is 15 days.  The Coogan account is also easy to obtain by mail, and several, though certainly not all, banks in California offer them.  Two good choices are the AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union, and First Entertainment Credit Union.  Unlike many banks, these two credit unions specialize in entertainment industry clients and are therefore more familiar with the financial needs of young performers. 

A final note about kids in the biz: Though fun and rewarding, being a kid in the biz is not all glamour and glitz.  It takes hard work and a significant financial investment to make it work.  A single day of background work pays around $130, less commissions, taxes, etc…certainly not enough to justify the gas and possible hotel costs on its own.  It is only by looking at the big picture that we as parents can understand and justify the expense required to get our kids going in this crazy business.

See also:
Young Performers Go On line: Check it Out

First posted 5/10/10