Archive for the ‘ Entertainment ’ Category

Dear Katherine Heigl

Dear Katherine Heigl,
We have such a minor connection that I almost hestitate to mention it, and I’m sure I’ll never get to say this to you in person.  Nevertheless, it does need to be said.  I trained hard for a career in film, and made it my life for a little while.  I still love "the industry" and the magic it creates, along with the positive uses for the medium by filmmakers everywhere to communicate and educate about important issues.
I have heard your complaints about 17 hour days on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that I do not enjoy but that has — I believe I can say this fairly — made your career, and that of a Mazda racing team owner named Patrick Dempsey.  Here is one link about your public complaining on Dave Letterman’s late night show, which has millions of viewers:
You wanted your displeasure to be quite public, because, and I quote: "I hope it embarrasses [the producers of Grey’s Anatomy]."  Specifically, you are upset that your character is being written off of this show, and that you have still had to put in at least one (and quite possibly plenty) days that are approaching 20 hours.
As I mentioned previously, I have a love for film.  Although I, and the other 98% of the world, will never make anything approaching what you make in a year of industry work, some of us have at one time or another tried our hand at a life in the art form.  For those behind the camera, and certainly for those in front as well, it does require 12-17 hour days on a routine basis.  This is even the case in commercials, music videos, and independent films.  For a very few, it provides a large payoff.  For the rest, it hopefully provides a balm to the soul, as it has been said that there’s no better job than doing what you love.  It is my impression that you are doing what you love.
But more importantly, Katherine, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the economy in the United States, and indeed in the world, is going through a very bad time.  I have always been a hard worker, but in the last year, 16-19 hour days have been routine for me.  That includes weekends.  And I have no union protection or benefits, which are common in the film industry.  But, I enjoy solving problems, making peace, and improving lives, and am happy about the mission of my company.
Sleep is a precious commodity for many, many people across this entire globe, as people work longer hours and multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.  For those not lucky enough, layoffs are common.  For example, I just experienced the closure of an entire office.  Some of those there worked similar hours to your Grey’s Anatomy day, and were given sudden notice that their jobs would be ended, like yours will be.  Just one example of the multitude of layoffs that are occuring.
As I alluded to earlier, you are a very fortunate woman, who has found fame on television and in mainstream movies (I believe you have one out as I write this).  Although I have not done the math, I am confident that your earnings are in the top 2% of the world economy, if not the top 1%.  Katherine, as many even less fortunate than me and far less fortunate than you are struggling to pay healthcare bills, trying to keep their houses, perhaps trying to follow through on promises to provide higher education for their children, they are putting in 17 or more hours a day trying to survive.  We must resolve societal problems that cause them to have to nearly kill themselves to meet basic needs, and based on your views of what’s right and wrong, I know that you are interested in that fight.
In the meantime, Katherine, it’s time to stop complaining in public about your long hours, for a wage that is probably six figures per episode, or more than the vast majority of United States citizens will make in two years.  I won’t even consider the majority of the third world, whose citizens could live on your single episode wage for a lifetime.  You made the choice to mention that your comments on your work schedule would embarrass your employer.  But honestly, in the end, I hope this doesn’t embarrass anyone except you.

Tony George – No confidence

I’m an open wheel racing nutcase and long-time supporter of CART/Champ Car/Atlantic Championship, Star Mazda, Formula 2000 Championship, etc….  As described on this blog previously, I am also a supporter of my wife’s racing career and the careers of a few others.  However, the news recently that the CEO of Indy Racing League, Tony George, was experiencing trouble with the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway came as a pleasant surprise.
Due to his long history of divisive actions and ineffective leadership of the Indy Racing League (IRL), Tony George doesn’t belong anywhere near a management position, much less THE management position of "big league" open wheel racing.  This is a fact well known by racers, team personnel, supporters of miscellaneous types, and thousands of fans, many of whom now boycott IRL events regularly and will not even follow the events on TV, as a direct result of Tony George’s lack of vision. 
Incredibly, both the set of IRL team owners and a large Internet community of fans have submitted statements in the past few days expressing their support of Mr. George’s "innovation" and leadership.  These traits couldn’t be further removed from Mr. George’s personality and lack of business acumen.  Therefore, I became part of a group who created a statement of NO CONFIDENCE in Tony George’s leadership of North American Open Wheel Racing.
You can read and sign the document here:

World’s largest film studio

After reading an article in BusinessWeek on "cloud computing" (unlimited storage and processing power) I began to form an idea.  Use this computing power towards a webspace that would become the world’s largest–and independent–film studio.  This is how it would work.
Shared Scenes
Aspiring and existing filmmakers would join for free and submit clips, short scenes or stock footage, to the site.  These scenes should be brief and desireably not part of any large concept.  As background, the majority of videos on YouTube or MSN Video are self-contained home movies or already complete short films.  The scenes on this film studio site would be a more general "piece of a puzzle," with no specific motives on the part of the submitter, as I will explain.  There would be three basic types of "scenes:"
  • STAND-ALONE: this type of scene would be between characters, or tell a small story, and would be shot in a location rather than against a blue screen
  • PIECE: this very important type of scene would be share the traits of a STAND-ALONE but would be required to be shot in front of a bluescreen or greenscreen
  • STOCK: this would be nature footage, city footage, car footage, crowd footage, background footage to use as mattes for the PIECES, etc.
When a user submits a scene involving people, he or she would be required to name the characters with a first and last name.  In every future scene s/he submitted with the same people, they would again reference these characters with the same first and last name.
Absolutely key to the webspace would be an editing component.  Any member could log in and work towards making their own feature or short film by searching or browsing for clips.  If she had a character driven PIECE or STAND-ALONE, she could also look up scenes with the same characters.  She could of course add her own scenes if they found something missing as part of the larger story they were trying to create.  The editing tool would allow the member to select PIECE scenes described above, and replace the blue/greenscreen with STOCK clips, which would be rendered into a complete scene that would appear to be in front of the stock background.
When any film is declared complete, it would be saved as such on a "Produced" section of the site.  A link to it could be e-mailed; however, the business model would allow any member to pay to receive a DVD of the film or to download the copy to their drive.
Perhaps most important, when a film is completed, every single member who had contributed a clip would be notified by e-mail that their clip had been used in a film, and provided a link to the product.  In essence, this is the point of the site, that users small provide clips/scenes and trust that their work will be used for a greater product; they are then rewarded with the ultimate payoff.
As for adult content, which seems to invariably become a part of any shared site, it would be allowed in a special section protected by age verification.  Any adult scenes accidentally or purposely added to the general pool would be reported by users using a link, and moved to the age verification portion.  Thus, adult users could also piece together sexual scenes to form a complete adult film, or include single mild sex scenes in their produced films.  These films would contain a rating calculated by the site based on a level of sexuality (say, 1-5) described by the submitter, and would be protected from the general public.  As before, a user could pay to receive a DVD of the film for their own personal enjoyment.
The most important ramification I have not addressed is legality.  For the site to charge for DVDs or downloads, I am sure a special contract would have to exist regarding the independent scenes that had been submitted.  But I’m sure such a thing could be done.
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