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Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Tis The Season ......'

Yes, it's that time of the year - for good cheer and best wishes.  For frenzy shopping, over-indulgence, and phony self-reflection. For happy get-togethers , excessive credit purchases, and merry times all rolled into one gigantic ball of crass consumerism. It's the Christmas holiday season, enjoy!

Now, I may sound cranky and a wee bit down on the whole Holiday scene but as you will see, there is humor in my thoughts as well.

Holiday Joke: What are the four stages of life?
 - You Believe in Santa
 - You Don't Believe in Santa
 - You Are Santa
 - You Look Like Santa 

The reason I am down on the holidays is that we are neglecting many very important issues that impact us on a daily basis but go merrily along our way. One of these issues is the environment. I hate to break you the news but the world's survival does not rest on the shoulders of global warming - in fact, the way we are going we will be long gone before we have to worry about warming trends.

The first and most pressing issue is population growth. With 7.3 billion souls currently and an undeniable upward trend that forecasts 9.5 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100 - the earth cannot sustain that many people. There are simply not enough resources - man-made or nature-made - that can support that many humans. What irks me is that the major issue of over population is essentially ignored while we concentrate on minor issues some of which are not even environmentally friendly.

For example - electric cars. From Tesla or Prius, electric cars have no positive impact on the environment. Purchasers of electric cars and certainly the auto manufacturers and certain environmental groups push the notion that electric cars are good for air quality as they have a small carbon footprint vs. gas consuming cars.  Think again. The dirty little secret is that the batteries in all of these autos (and there are hundreds of pounds of batteries in each) must be disposed of into  'toxic waste dumps' at the end of their use. Not to mention the fact that the electricity these cars use is derived principally from coal burning electric power plants.  This negates any environmental 'savings' made over the course of an electric car's life - and in fact, these autos have a larger carbon footprint then gas cars of the same size.

Holiday Joke: A wife asked her car-crazed, motor-head husband what he wanted for Christmas? "Something that goes from 0-to-220 in three seconds flat" he said. On Christmas Day he unwrapped a bathroom scale.

Beef  vs. Cars: Many of us like a good steak or juicy burger every so often, but cows (cattle) on a per pound basis use up much more energy and feed then any other source of animal protein - and it's not by a little, but a lot. In fact, instead of worrying about auto pollution we should move our attention to beef.  Recently researchers in the U.S. and Israel concluded that the environmental impact from cattle farming: including animal waste, emissions, feeding, watering, transporting, and processing gave beef a score of "about one order of magnitude" - approximately 10 times worse for the environment than other meats. Per calorie, it requires 28 times the land, 11 times the water, and generates 5 times the greenhouse gas (GHG) of pork, chicken, or lamb.

Not only is beef gassier than pork, it can generate more pollution than your car! We fixate on car pollution but one pound of beef generates and spews 32 pounds of GHG into the environment! A Camry spews less than a pound of carbon per mile. So, as long as you drive less than 16 miles round trip to lunch, your half-pounder accounts for more GHG than the drive to the fast-food outlet to get it!
So, it may be advisable to eat a little less beef.

Mega Energy Wasters: The biggest wasters of energy are buildings. Commercial and industrial structures, retail outlets, and finally homes.  Progress has been made to address the issue of building energy consumption through the efforts of groups like the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED Program. LEED is a rating system which ranks buildings based upon their energy consumption - the lower the consumption, the higher the rating.  As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, in 2010 I partnered with the folks at ScreenTrade Magazine, in developing a LEED inspired energy rating system for movie theaters - called Arboreel . No cinema operators, large or small, from Regal Entertainment, to Goodrich Cinemas, to independent owners would have anything to do with Arboreel. In fact, there was some contempt for the concept in some quarters of the cinema industry.  It wasn't about the cost of becoming more energy efficient (we offered several cinema operators the option to be used as a test case for free)  it was simply the fact that they felt they were doing all things right regarding energy efficiency and consumption and there was little room for improvement - Wow!

Cinema auditoriums are large spaces that are empty or near empty most of the time. The average utilization rate for cinemas is below 20% (meaning that 80% of the time a seat is not occupied while a movie is running).  Cinemas are big wasters of energy and are representative of underutilized space in structures such as shopping malls, office buildings, schools, and most commercial buildings that do not run on a 24 hour basis but need to be cooled, heated, and lit 24/7.

Holiday Joke: Santa Claus, has the right idea: visit people once a year.

I will finalize this rant by saying that the environment, like most complex issues, fosters rampant hypocrisy.  The press would have you believe that environmental conservation is a liberal, progressive cause - but the very word conservation comes from conserve (conservative - or those that do not want change). It's is not a progressive cause but on self-preservative cause. It has nothing to do with political terms, in fact, the farther right on the political scale the more conservative (environmentally) that person becomes until they go full-circle and meet the farthest left liberal - who thinks the same way they do.

Best and Happy Holidays

Monday, December 08, 2014

CineBUZZ - 8 December 2014

In this CineBUZZ Report

- Flashback For 007
- Rating The Holiday Season .... Family Style
- Boy Meets Girl - Cosby's Way
- Nichols - A Top Ten Director

New Bond Movie Gets Old Foe Title
Col. Klebb of Spectre

Flashing back to 'From Russia With Love' when Spectre was the dark foe that needed Bond's attention, the upcoming (24th Bond movie) will be titled 'Spectre'.  Spectre is the global terrorist organization, created by Ian Fleming, that is hell bent on destroying the existing world powers and replacing them with their own version of evil domination.

So, with this next episode, hopefully, we are going back to a move or less believable story line with neat gadgets and tricked-out super cars (an Aston Martin will appear in 'Spectre') - not unrealistic invisible BMWs and space station romps.  Ah, yes .... a good, old Klebb with her poison toed shoe would be a nice touch.

What's The Holiday's Without Family

Thought a little humor and soul searching about the family would be good for the upcoming holidays, answer these questions (be honest):

How Does Your Family Get On During The Holidays?
- Family is everything
- We all do our own thing
- We work well together
- There is always drama
- Not so great

Where Was Your Last Family Vacation?
- The Beach
- Camping/Hiking
- Large City
- Theme Park
- Cruise

If Your Family Won The Lottery, How Would The Money Be Spent?
- We lost the ticket
- On sports cars
- On safari
- Wait list for moon trip
- Other

What Type of Movie Would Your Family Star In?
- Comedy
- Drama
- Action/Adventure
- Fantasy
- SciFi

Describe Your Family in One Word
- Busy
- Hilarious
- Mysterious

What's On the Menu for Family Holiday Dinner?
- Chinese
- Sushi
- Meat
- Pizza
- Vegan

Cosby's Got Problems
Bill's Got Problems

When asked how many women have sought her counsel regarding sexual assaults by Bill Cosby, high-profile attorney, Gloria Allred stated, "I have literally lost count."

Cosby, 77, has not been charged with any crimes, but the jury of public opinion is not swinging in his direction. The statue of limitations on the allegations has run out - some of the accusations are over 30 years old and would be very difficult to prove. So, is Cosby a saint or sexual predator? Either way it isn't good for Bill - already NBC has scrapped a planned sitcom, Netflix shelved a comedy special, and Temple University, his alma mater, requested he step down from its Board of Trustees.

Nichols - A Man In Touch With His Culture
Nichols on set of 'Wolf' w/Taylor and Burton

Mike Nichols, recently died at the age of 83, and although not my favorite director he ranked in my top 10. Known for his iconic films, Nichols was best at defining the personal weaknesses in both men and women. His best films were:

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf' - his directing debut, and a classic film (one of my favorites) of marital bliss/1966. Both Liz Taylor and Sandy Dennis won Oscars for their performances.
'The Graduate' - another classic, only a year after Wolf/1967
'Catch 22'/1970
'The Day of the Dolphin' /1973
'Charlie Wilson's War'/2007

Nichols was always spot-on culturally and made great, memorable, and relevant movies.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

The 'SCENE" by Seymore Flix

In this 'SCENE'

- Uncle Vlad Goes To H'wood
- Burt Reynolds Goes Broke
- Dolby Takes It Home
- Chicago Parks Group Sues Over Star Wars Museum

Vlad Putin Rescues Hollywood

3 Cheers for Uncle Vlad
Uncle Vlad put the kibosh on the Russian Parliament's effort to curb the number of Hollywood movies allowed into Russian cinemas.   Putin asked government bigwigs (nicely) to cancel debate on a bill that would have introduced quotas on foreign films. He stated, "It would be wrong to deny our consumers those goods they would like to have. It is applicable to the motion picture industry too. It would be unwise to turn down what is profitable. The Americans are talented and successful people and there is a lot we can learn from them."

Uncle Vlad's comments were warmly received by the Motion Picture Association of America, the representative body of the studios, as a spokesperson for the MPAA noted, "We welcome the remarks by President Putin. We have long enjoyed close relations with Russian film makers and have a shared interest in a healthy local market in Russia."

Hollywood films are very popular in Russia. Only two of the top 20 grossing films exhibited in Russia this year have been non-Hollywood productions, and the proposed cap of 50% on foreign films would have cost the Hollywood studios hundreds of millions.

In contract, China currently has a quota of allowing only 34 foreign films to be exhibited each year. In addition, there are delays for debuts of blockbuster in order to favor locally produced features. So, we have to give credit where credit is due and Uncle Vlad deserves lots of credit.  Three cheers for Vlad.

Reynolds Goes Bust
Recent photo of Reynolds

Burt Reynolds, the once biggest star in Hollywood, is auctioning off over 600 personal items to raise money to stave off foreclosure on his home.  On December 11 and 12 Reynolds will be selling his life-long stash of personal memorabilia at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. Born in 1936, Reynolds had a very successful movie and TV career and was considered a very good actor who also did live performances.

The items to be auctioned include: two Golden Globes, cowboy boots he wore in the film Striptease, signed items from Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretsky, Jack Nicklaus, gifts from Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, James Cagney and hundreds of other movie related items.

Divorces, failed business ventures, and bad investment decisions have taken their toll on Reynolds' fortune, and the Bank of America is foreclosing on his Florida home for back mortgage payments - he hasn't made any payments since 2010.

Burt is putting a positive spin on the auction saying, "I've collected so many things that I truly adore but at this stage in my life I find it very difficult to manage them all.  The fact of the matter is that it truly is the time to downsize and for these items that I have loved over the years find new homes where they can be cared for and appreciated."

So, here's your chance to pick up a bit of real Hollywood.  A quick trip to Vegas and you never know what a couple of hundred bucks might bring you.  A Golden Globe, you say, hmmm. that empty spot on the mantle?

Dolby Takes Atmos Home
Atmos home speaker

The Atmos sound system, Dolby's latest fully immersive sound system for cinemas will now be available for home use.  Using Dolby Atmos endowed home AV receivers which will provide the 'height' effect without overhead-positioned speakers (as are used in cinemas), Dolby claims the effect will be near to the cinema sound experience.

5.1 channel home systems need only to have two additional speakers placed at front left and front right to gain the Atmos experience. AV product manufacturers which have already announced sign-on to Atmos include: Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, and Yamaha to name several.

To date there have been 150 films mixed in Dolby Atmos for cinemas and Atmos enhanced Blu-rays are appearing in stores for the holiday season.  Although the going is slow for cinemas to convert to Atmos given its cost, the home invasion by Dolby appears to be a wise move and gets Atmos exposure to the consumer - it's all a matter of educating the public.  

Lucas Star Wars Museum is Sued
Proposed Lucas Museum

A parks preservation group has sued the City of Chicago from moving ahead with the proposed construction of a Star War Museum stating that the site is on a lakefront spot that cannot be handed over to a private entity.  The Friends of the Park said, in a federal lawsuit, that the proposed, "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, violated the law". 

The Lucas Museum's proposed location is on the same lakefront area as the Chicago Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.  Answering the suit, city spokesperson Adam Collins stated that, "The museum will be treated like others on the lakefront museum campus and comply with all laws. This museum is a generous gift that will expand the rich cultural and educational opportunities for children and families in every neighborhood, and visitors from around the world."

The museum will feature George Lucas' collection of painting, illustrations, and digital art, including works by Norman Rockwell, John Tenniel, and Maxfield Parrish. Lucas first wanted the museum to be built in San Francisco, but then opted for Chicago where is wife, Mellody is from.

The museum site was selected to be near Chicago's Soldiers Field because of its accessibility to public transportation and its central location. A white, fluid, modernistic design is proposed for the building.

Best Seymore

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hasbro Goes H'wood ...... Godfather Mansion for $$$

It's All About The Kids
Several of Hasbro's Toy Lines

Hasbro, the second largest toy company in the U.S. after Mattel, is set to ink a deal with the Dreamworks.  The deal calls for a merger between Hasbro Studios (the toy company's entertainment division) with Dreamworks Animation - the folks that produced the Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon franchises.

Hasbro is no newcomer to the H'wood scene, having already collaborated on several movie projects including: GI Joe and The Transformers movies (the last Transformers film grossed over one billion dollars globally). Plus the company has licenses to produce toys based upon film superheroes, such as Spiderman, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games.  Hasbro has the perfect storm for making earnings from merchandising products that come from movies and from the movies themselves, and they have a huge repertorie of products (toys and games) to draw from.

Toy-inspired movies are going to take the same path that comic-inspired movies have - only this sub-genre of films has an already proven and highly profitable track record.  We spoke, last week of the My Little Pony movie, which is in the works. Other projects include a movie based on the game Candyland  with Sony Pictures and possibly a film based upon Monopoly. Toys and games into films - works better than one might think. The Lego Movie is a prime example of this strange, off-beat, but profitable concept.

Film makers will use up every toy, game, and comic character if need be until we are left with nothing to cherish but our youthful (and sadly) perhaps our best memories, and in the process, stripping future generations' of their imaginations and dreams.  But, than again - it's all about the kids - right?

It's Not Personal ... It's Only Business
Godfather House on the Block

Got a spare $3 million. If so the Staten Island, NY mansion, where the Godfather movies were shot, can be yours. The home of the Corleones, in Godfather I and II, has gone on the block. Described in the real estate ad as an "enchanting English tudor" on a 24,000 sq. ft. lot the interior of the house was never in the movies, but provided a backdrop to a number of great scenes, most notably the wedding of Connie Corleone to Carlo Rizzi (later killed by Michael) for his betrayal of Sonnie.

Built in 1930 the house was the home of the Norton family. Completely renovated in 2012 it has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, plus a gym, four car garage, two offices, saltwater pool, and a basement level pub and game room.

So, for those wanting a piece of movie history in their day-to-day life, this is it.  The Don would approve but don't go in with too low a bid or you may windup swimming with the fish.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

'CINEMA SCENE' by Seymore Flix

'The Force Awakens'

That's the new title to the 7th episode in the Star Wars movie franchise. So, we're back in business against the 'dark side'.  Do you feel a disturbance in the Force?

Disney quietly announced the title of the latest Star Wars saga on Twitter this week. Begs question: Why use Twitter to announce what is expected to be one of the most anticipated sequels of all time?
To me, it sounds like a Star Wars type movie name and Disney has stated that filming has wrapped - now it's off to post-production.  The movie is scheduled for release in mid-December of next year.

Episodes VII and IX are in the works (no titles on these yet) and it appears that 'The Force Awakens' will take off where the last episode ended.  The old cast is back and we're anxious to see how the trio makes out.

Google Must Reveal Pirated Trailer Source

Marvel Studios, a sub. of Disney, was granted a subpoena against Google which forces the search firm to reveal details about a YouTube user named 'John Gazelle'.  That user is believed to have uploaded a trailer of 'Age of Ultron', the blockbuster Avengers movie, one week before the carefully planned launch of the trailer - which was to appear during an ad break on the Marvel TV show Agents of SHIELD.

Marvel execs were livid about the leak and were determined to get the culprit.  To that end, they requested and were granted, by a U.S. Federal Judge, a subpoena instructing Google to devulge all of the information they have on a 'John Gazelle'.  Google must now bring "all identifying information for the user 'John Gazelle'" to a San Francisco court on November 18th, including, "the IP address from which the file named 'ap-tlr-1_int_360p.mp4' and containing content known as: Avengers:Age of Ultron and when that data was uploaded to the Google Drive Site".  The IP address will greatly assist in locating where the file was uploaded from.

In what is being viewed as 'an inside job', the video in question was illegally accessed from Marvel's data files and then posted to YouTube. In a similar law suit, Lionsgate successfully subpoenaed Google for information regarding sites hosting illegal downloads of The Expendables 3.

Harry Potter Folks: Pics - 1st vs. Last Episode

Yes, the Potter actors had big changes over the course of the 8 Potter films, see for yourself:
Daniel Radcliff

Emma Watson

Bonnie Wright
Rupert Grint

Friday, November 07, 2014

Welles' Infamous Lost Movie Gets To The Silver Screen

Orson Welles'  legendary final lost and unfinished movie is being resurrected from its grave and will hit movie theaters sometime next year if all goes according to plan.
Welles, with Huston and Bagdanovich

The movie will be completed by well-known and accomplished director Peter Bogdanovich and will be screened to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Welles' birthday next year.  Entitled the 'The Other Side of the Wind ', Welles shot the movie between 1969 and 1976 and stars the famous actor-director John Huston. The films centers around a veteran film-maker struggling to complete his final movie despite the collapse of the Hollywood studio system and the rise of a new wave of younger directors.

Welles, who died in 1985 at the age of 70, never completed the film but he did leave behind a 45 minute edited work print.  For over three decades, a reported 1,000 reels of film languished in a Paris warehouse as legal battles over the rights to the film ensued.  Welles' daughter, Beatrice, the sole heir to the estate, finally won control but then stashed the film in a warehouse.

Ironically, Bogdanovich was asked by Welles to complete the movie in the event of his death. "He just turned to me rather casually during lunch and said, "I want you to promise that you will finish the picture if anything happens to me". I was shocked", Bogdanovich says, "Nothing is going to happen to you, I told him".  Bogdanovich adds, "He did some very complicated editing before it was taken away from him. I don't even know if I can approximate that kind of cutting because it is very fragmented and idiosyncratic. All we can do is the best we can, using the script, his notes and what he has left."

'The Other Side of the Wind' is both the title of the movie and the film-within-a-film. The legend surrounding the movie is that it was shot using a variety of film stock, from 8 to 35mm, is in both color and black and white, as well as, having still photography shots.  Welles had hoped to use the varying styles of film-making to simulate video footage taken by students, critics, and lesser known directors who had brought cameras to the movie's character, played by Huston, 70th birthday party, and which forms the centerpiece of the movie.

"This is like finding the Land of Oz or some lost tomb", has Joe Karp, who wrote a book about  Welles' lost movie. "This film is art imitating life and life imitating art.  It's become so mythical because of what happened with all the failures to finish it and the players involved."

The negative reels were controlled by Beatrice Welles under French law protecting artists' rights, and she had previously refused to allow them to be removed from storage. The 45 minute work print, however, was at her home in Primosten,Croatia, where Welles had placed it in 1975.  Beatrice, last year finally give permission, and released the work print (which is now in California) and the negative reels so the movie could be completed. The catalyst was the hundred-year anniversary and Beatrice said she was inspired to release the rights because of that. "Until now, this movie has been under lock and key under French law. I had the good fortune to be able to protect it all these years", says Beatrice Welles.

'The Other Side of the Wind' will be released via Royal Road (with distribution by one of the large studios, as yet unannounced) to coincide with Welles' 100th birthday on May 6, 2015.

This is a must see movie, from the maker of what many say is the best film ever made, Citizen Kane.


Moviegoers in Superhero Fatigue

Enough is Enough. How many Superheros can Hollywood throw at us before we cry, "Uncle". It seems not enough as the studios are gaga over superhero inspired movies and there is no end in sight.

Superhero flix bring in the big bucks, provide franchise opportunities, and provide lucrative paydays for actors and directors.  Over the next five years, at minimum, 30 superheros movies are scheduled for release and that number could easily swell to 50. Disney, Warners, Fox and Sony are all poised to take full advantage of the superhero trend. For example, Marvel Studios (part of the Disney conglom)
has reported that it has a planning map of films out to 2028!

New heroes Black Panther and Captain Marvel are being added to the Marvel roster and would good reason. Since buying Marvel in 2008 for $4 billion, Disney has earned over $7 billion in return from movies and add-on products from the Marvel-based superheros.  Disney is not alone in the craze. Warners has Batman and Superman, Flash, the Fantastic Four and X-Men. Sony has Spiderman, and is adding Black Cat, Silver Sable, Spider-girl, and Silk to its super-line.

But can the trend be sustained.  Hollywood has a history of going overboard with movie concepts. Beating a trend until its dead and it could be (based on the dismal summer box office in the U.S.) that there may be an amount of superhero box office fatigue building.  But the studios are adamant, and don't see the reign of superhero movies ending any time soon, so long as they maintain their quality in special effects and character building.  Long live the superhero! And watch for the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, Glass Ceiling, Antman, and a host of other new supers joining the already bloated roster of supers at a cinema near you.
Black Panther

Oh, and least we forget. The other studios are betting on zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings. If you can't have superheros then go with the undead theme which hopefully comes with a series of novels each good for at least one movie in the hopes of building that most lucrative of movie trends - 'the franchise'.

All things come to an end and the superhero genre is no different.  It looks like its demise will be slow in coming but it will come none the less, hopefully in the meantime we'll be entertained with outstanding action-packed, high-impact movies.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE 'SCENE' by Seymore Flix

Toy Company Hasbro To Make Movies

Hasbro Studios, the film making arm of the toy manufacturer, gave the green light to produce an animated feature based upon the very successful 'My Little Pony' line of toys.  Hasbro will self-finance the project, and is in discussion with the Hollywood studios to release the film on the broadest possible number of screens.

The 'My Little Pony' series of toys has been extremely lucrative for Hasbro.  Introduced in 1983 the 'Pony' characters are very colorful, with manes and distinguishing marks which make each one unique. The 'My Little Pony' line of toys has had 4 revamps over its 30 year life.

"We are going to make big tentpole movies by ourselves and with our studio partners" says Steve Davis, President of Hasbro Studios, "like our partnership on the "Transformers" and "G.I.Joe" with Paramount and "Monopoly" and "Candy Land" with Sony.

With the 'My Little Pony' franchise, Hasbro has already produced direct-to-homevideo animated movies and is producing the 100th episode of the current, 'Pony' TV series that airs in over 100 countries on the Discovery Channel.

I am very familiar with 'My Little Pony' toys, as my daughter, Megan, was very much the Pony collector and played with these toys on a regular basis. I my go to see this pic just to reminisce.

A New BioPic on Jerry Lee Lewis?
Lewis (left) with Carl Perkins, Elvis, and Johnny Cash

The 'Would Be King' of Rock n' Roll - that is what many call Jerry Lee Lewis, and they are right. But for the scandals and self-inflicted career stoppers he may have taken the title away from Elvis.

People say a lot of things about me - "talk about me like a dog" he says "but they can't say I didn't put on the best rock n' roll shows ever." When people talk about Jerry Lee Lewis they usually smile, I know I do.  Just a kid, I first saw Lewis on American Bandstand, a popular TV show hosted by Dick Clark, and I was amazed.  He was playing 'Great Balls of Fire', one of his big hit songs, when all of a sudden he was on his feet banging away at the piano (no guitar for Jerry Lee, it was always the piano). Then he was ON the piano, banging away at the keys with his feet. You had to love it. I'd never seen anything like it and haven't since.  It is often told that at his live concerts Lewis would play, non-stop for three or four hours!  There was no doubt, there was Elvis, there was James Brown, but Jerry Lee was the best live - he was the first pure rock n' roll performer.  Sam Phillips, the head of Sun Records, where rock started, called Lewis, "The most talented man I ever worked with, black or white ... one of the most talented human being to walk God's earth."

In 1989, a biopic entitled, 'Great Balls of Fire' starring Dennis Quaid, Winona Rider, and Alex Baldwin was released but is widely regarded as not a real portrayal of Lewis's life.  Another biopic is called for.

Now 79, Lewis has been married seven times.  "I ain't no goody-goody", he says, "and I ain't no phony. I never pretended to be anything, and anything I ever did, I did it wide-open."  He was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him 24th on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

We need another movie about Jerry Lee Lewis, the 'almost' King of Rock, or maybe he was?

Must Have Toy This Christmas
Walter White action figure

Toy-of-the-year: the highly desirable action figures from the big hit TV series 'Breaking Bad'.  However, these toys are not without controversy. The Walter White doll, the main character in the Breaking Bad series, sports a tiny bag of crystal meth, while the Jesse Pinkman doll, Walter's partner in crime, comes with a gas mask.

A petition started by a Florida parent, Susan Schrivjer, to stop Toys R Us from selling the dolls got traction. The toy retailer issued a statement saying that "the items are intended for ages 15 and up, and are located in the adult action figure area of our stores." Nonetheless, the dolls have been removed from the shelves for the time being.

The more it's talked about the more demand there will be for the dolls as Toys R Us was finding it hard to keep the dolls in stock and they are being 'black marketed' on eBay and Craig's list.

S. Flix

Sunday, October 19, 2014

CINEMA BuZZ - 19 October 2014

Quidditch - The New Sport
A contact sport - Quidditch is rough to play

No the players do not fly on brooms, but they do run with them. The 'snitch' isn't a small round, golden ball with wings, but a ball hanging from a pole attached to a person clad in yellow who runs around with 'seekers' in pursuit.  This is no joke, but a new sport with over 150 teams in the U.S. alone, playing a human version of the Harry Potter movie game. And as many sports' movies have visited the silver screen so to has Quidditch in the new film called, 'Mudbloods'.

Started in 2005 at Middlebury College, VT the sport is now global and played mostly on university campuses.  The players swap flying brooms for plain ones which they grip in one hand and run with between their legs. The last Quidditch World Cup (number 'V') was held in New York City and won by the team from UCLA - a real under-dog. That, cinderella story, is the premise of the 'Mudbloods' documentary. "When I first saw it being played it was embarrassing to look at. Players running around on brooms, it was silly. But then I realized how athletic the game really was " Farzad Sangari, the movie's producer told me, "and that inspired me to make the film".

UCLA winners of Quidditch - World Cup V

With World Cup V, Quidditch may have gone from fledgling sport to mainstream, at least on college campuses. In World Cup V,  96 teams competed from around the world and since that event the sport's following has swelled - with over 150 teams in the U.S. alone and hundreds more worldwide. Spectators and fans now number in the tens of thousands, which is no small feat given the fact that the game's play book is over 200 pages long with 700 rules and regulations.

'Mudbloods' provides the first glimpse of the 'real' sport of Quidditch.  It may sound weird at first, but the sport is real, hard to play, and may be the next mainstream 'must watch' sport. All it takes is a few endorsements from the likes of Nike, Adidas, or a major auto or beer manufacturer and it just may be a refreshing diversion from all of the crap and big money that now drives virtually every major sport.

Who Gets The Job of Playing Jobs
Jobs at launch of the iPod

It appears that Christian Bale will get to play Steve Jobs in the upcoming biopic about Apple's co-founder and main mover.  Leo DiCaprio, who originally was to star in the role backed out in order to " take a break from acting".   The movie, based on the biography by Walter Isaacson entitled, 'Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography', will be divided into three long scenes taking place on the eve of an Apple product launch - those products being: The Mac in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1990 (which Jobs launched after leaving Apple), and the iPod, which launched in 2001 after Jobs returned to Apple.

The movie is set to start production next spring. From the sound of things, this film could be a great one or a real yawn'er. Almost everyone owns at least one Apple product (the average household in the U.S. owns three). No doubt Jobs was a technology wiz and his efforts and vision changed the entire way people work, play, and function on a daily basis. Lets hope the movie does him justice.

At right, current photo of Bale.

ILM Opens Studio in London

Industrial Light and Magic, the great movie special effects firm started by George Lucas has opened a new studio in London to take on the task of doing the effects for the Star Wars trilogy of films to be produced.  Disney, which purchased LucasFilms in 2012 for a reported $2.4 billion, is the current owner of ILM.  In a statement, Kathleen Kennedy, the President of LucasFilm said, "once again ILM will oversee all of the visual and special effects for the upcoming installments of Star Wars, most of which will be performed at the new London studio".  ILM currently has facilities in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Singapore.

As the films, of this lengthy franchise, are being shot in London it made sense for ILM to set up shop in London. The first film, in the three movie sequel, is scheduled to be released in December 2015.

ILM has performed the effects to over 300 movies - everything from 'Back to the Future' to 'Avatar'. On the finance side, it was revealed that Disney was given $350 million in tax relief from the Inland Revenue (the IRS of England) in return for agreeing to make the Stars Wars films in the UK.  The British government's tax breaks and other 'investments'  has made the movie industry in England very vibrant which has, in turn, brought a lot of talent and money into London.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Busted" - Could Hollywood Have the Same Fate?

China Bans Abusive Actors From Screen
China Bans Actors

The current Chinese government crackdown on corruption and moral abuse has targeted actors with a history of drug or other substance issues, as well as moral abuses, and has ban them from appearing in any film or TV production.

An edit issued by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) ordered cinemas and TV networks to halt all screenings of movies featuring stars with "morally dubious pasts".  These moral transgressions include: drug use, alcohol abuse, illegal acts (such as DWIs), sex with prostitutes, indecent exposure, and other moral offences.

It was reported that over 40 performing arts organizations have agreed with the government's new policy and will not employ actors with a history of drug or other substance abuses.  In its official statement, SARFT announced that the new regulations were introduced because actors "corrupted the social atmosphere through their behavior and create a detrimental influence on the development of many young people."

There has been both critical and pro support for the new law.  As of now, there is no indication that the new regulations will apply to actors outside of China, but it may come to that.  Currently China and Hollywood are having a love-affair, and given China's huge market H'wood may succumb to new moral standards of its own.  OH NO - if that were the case most of the 'A' listers would be in trouble.
Abuse, loose morals, domestic strife, these are worn by U.S. actors as badges to reflect their, 'I'm just a common person' guilt trip.

"Hollywood is a Whorehouse"

At least according to John Cusack, the 25 year vet actor who knows all about the dark-side of tinsel-town.

In his latest film, 'Maps to the Stars', Cusack does just that, exposes the dirty under-belly of H'wood and it is a film not to be missed.  In the movie, Cusack plays a millionaire self-help guru and his clients paradox current personalities in very thinly veiled terms.  It is a brutal expose' of how the studio system works and vilifies those obsessed with fame.

As Stafford Weiss, Cusack does a great job at playing a therapist who gets rich using a mixture of "Freudian psychoanalysis, deep-tissue massage, and generous amount of bull-shit".  The glitterati want a quick fix for their insecurities, and as Stafford tells his clients, "If we can name it, we can blame it."

According to Cusack, 'Maps' reflects the surroundings. "LA seems to be a place where a guy can say he's a "life-coach -  channeller - masseur" and be believed.  People are looking to turn pain into art, but they also want to be famous, and there is so much money to throw at their problems."

In H'wood, age is currency.  Says Cusack, "I got another 15, 20 years before they say I'm old.  For women its brutal.  If your 26, you're menopausal - it only a little absurd because it's a little bit further than the truth.  I have actress friends who are being put out to pasture at 29.  The studios just want to open up another can of hot 22.  It's becoming almost like kiddie porn. It's fucking weird."

Cusack made his film debut at 16 and has been in movies ever since. "Back then people looked after you.  There were good people in the business. I was mentored by Rob Reiner and Al Pacino.  Now it's different. The culture justs eats young actors up and spits them out."

'Maps to the Stars' shows us that H'wood is no longer a place, it's a nostalgic idea. Now it's a corporate culture of risk-aversion.  It's the era of the 50-producer movie. In modern H'wood the franchise is king - the actor just leverage. "You can't make it up", says Cusack.

'Maps to the Stars' is a must see film where everyone's too hungry for fame and riches to question motive.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Music Biopics: On A Roll

Hollywood and music fans love biopics of recording stars - living or dead.  Many of these musical artists have led interesting and sometimes violent lives (many shortened by drug, alcohol, or other excesses). Music biopics can be very lucrative, as they carry with them: music downloads, strong DVD and pay-per-view sales, and concert tours for the artists.  To those living it is a shot in the arm financially.

It seems Hollywood is currently on a musical stars biopic spree.  Starting with the Hank Williams based, 'I Saw The Light' which will star Tom Hiddleston.  Although British and not a great voice, Hiddleston does bear a striking resemblance to the C/W legend.  Williams died in 1953 at the age of 29, but made a great mark on the country music scene.

Freddie Mercury - a movie about the life of  Queen's vocal lead and frontman has been in development since 2010.  Originally, Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borak) was to play Mercury but there was a dispute with the surviving members of the band regarding Cohen portraying Mercury.  Ben Whishaw, has now replaced Cohen and a director is being decided. Heavy money and clout is behind the film, including Robert DeNiro who is one of its producers.

Brian Wilson - a movie was always in the future for this most famous of the Beach Boys. A release date for a film on Wilson's life, 'Love & Mercy' (named after a single from his 1988 solo album) stars Paul Dano playing a young and John Cusack an elder Wilson in the film.  Looks to be a good but not great depiction of Wilson.

Frank Sinatra - who can play the Chairman?  The rights to the biopic on the life of the legendary Sinatra are owned by Martin Scorsese who purchased them in 2009.  But the movie has yet to see any daylight.  Problem is, getting an A-lister to sign up to play the legend.  Reportedly Scorsese has been wooing Clooney, DiCaprio, Depp, and Pacino or several of them to play various stages in Frank's life.  The project is still very much a go and if directed and played right with a great script will no doubt be a box office smash.

Miles Davis- the great jazz (perhaps the greatest jazz trumpet player ever - at least in my book) artist. Davis's biopic has been a passion of Don Cheadle - who is directing, starring, co-writing, and producing - the film, titled 'Miles Ahead'. The movie began production in July, and co-stars Ewan McGregor, as a music journalist.  Cheadle is a much liked figure in Hollywood and everyone is rooting for his success with this project, including the Davis family which has given permission to use Davis's actual music.  The soundtrack should be particularly good. Hope there is a rendition of 'YesterNow'.

Janis Joplin - the great '60s blues singer who could belt-out a ballad better than anyone then or now. A bio on the short-live Joplin has been on the drawing boards for more than 10 years.  Pink, Zooey Deschanel, Renee Zellweger have all been whispered as possibilities.  Currently, it is Amy Adams who is the front runner to play Joplin, who died in 1970 after a heroin overdose.  The title of the film, for the moment, is 'Get It While You Can' and it would be a great (be it demanding) role for Adams.

Kurt Cobain - the moving force behind Nirvana, who committed suicide in 1994 a biopic has been in the works for awhile.  A documentary, 'Kurt and Courtney' , based on the life of Cobain and Courtney Love was released on 1998.  However, the problem in doing a bio on Cobain is Love.  Anyone trying to do a film must deal with Love.  It appears that the film will be shot in England but little progress has been made - we'll just have to wait and see.

As stated, a music biopic can be a great, if not, greatest role for any actor - Joaquin Phoenix in 'Walking Tall', Jeff Bridges in 'Crazy Heart', Sissy Spacek in 'Coal Miner's Daughter'.  Current musical biopics include a pic on soul man, James Brown, 'Get On Up' and a bio on the great rock guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, 'Jimi: All Is By My Side'.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The 'SCENE' by Seymore Flix

Make 'em Laugh ... Make 'em Laugh ... Make 'em Laugh

According to Greg Foster, Head honcho at IMAX  (the movie theatres with the XXL screens), audiences are now looking for 'happy films'.  Speaking at a recent conference, Foster stated, "Maybe people are getting a little sick of the post-apocalyptic, dark, angst-ridden, suicidal movies.  There's maybe a few to many of those (films). "

If true, Foster should be taking to the studios which have nothing but super-hero and darker mooded, vampire and undead movies planned for the foreseeable future.  Now, it may be that the average moviegoer is tiring of all of the high-impact, fantasy genre films, but they still reign supreme at the box office.  Perhaps lighter, funnier fare is to become the next big thing in movies, but I don't think so. The top ten grossing films so far this year included 8 high impact, fantasy movies: Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Transformers, Maleficent, X-Men, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Spider Man, and Godzilla, only The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street bucked the trend.

That trend will continue in 2015, as the big bruiser films are going to be more of the same: Avengers, Star Wars, a Bond film, Ant-Man, Terminator, Fast & Furious 7, Batman v. Superman, and on and on.  Yes, there will be funny moments and lines in each of these films by there overall purpose is shock. awe, escapism, and in-your-face special effects.

Sorry Greg, but I think what you term "dark and angst-ridden" films will be with us for some time to come - and the 'make 'em laugh' films will be second stringers.

Movies Loss Is TV's Gain

As I noted before in CMG, it's TV and not movies that hold the most promise for directors, writers, actors, and the multitude of highly skilled that are required to make good entertainment.

In the past decade, the studios have shifted their business models toward making fewer, bigger would-be blockbuster bruisers based on a comic, a toy, a video game, a sci-fi or fantasy novel.  The movies that make up the foundation of the American cinema (dramas with adult storylines are few and far between).

Veteran scriptwriters, like Scott Frank, who has been writing movies for over 30 years says, "It's gotten harder and harder to make movies about people. I could never get a movie like 'Get Shorty' green lit today. It took me more than a decade to get 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' - which opened this past weekend- to reach the big screen." 

In this environment most of the younger screenwriters are going right to TV where there is lots of work and they can be creative.  "There's been a big change in the time I've been doing this, and that's been the rise of marketing-based decision making," says Frank, "Everything comes from marketing. Marketing is now even part of the greenlight process. Once you believe you have a formula and you know what people are going to see, all the movies tend to become similar."  But the movies loss is TV gain - as most of the younger top talent is gravitating to TV and cable productions, particularly serial productions.

As we have reported, moviegoers may be getting a bit tired of the high-impact, action film and need more 'story' to fill their entertainment needs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the big tech firms, as well as, the content streamers get involved and set the tone and pace of what is viewed on the small and big screen.

S. Flix

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Most Valuable Product on the Web - YOU!

If you are using a free online service its sponsors are mining your data for information to sell to 'advertisers and other third parties' - it's that simple. The service providers primary product isn't what you are using - it's YOU!

All internet service providers are 'for profit entities'.  They need to make money. They make money by selling ad space and information about who is using their service.  Only last week, Google began a class action law suit whereby it plans on arguing that it's not a violation of privacy to scan your emails, build a profile about your interests and proclivities, and sell that information to third party clients - because to Google, using G-mail gives you "no legitimate expectation of privacy". To Google, G-mail isn't the product ... you're the product.

Now, in all fairness, the products being served up for free - search, email, social networking, phone access, etc. - are in exchange for your data and that business model works very well. In fact, these web service providers clearly state in their privacy policies (be it in the small print) that "this is what kind of information we collect and who we share it with".  Facebook doesn't even call their privacy policy a "Privacy Policy", they call it a "Data Use Policy".

The question then becomes, would you be willing to pay for your favorite free (and additive) service such as Facebook, YouTube, email, etc. or would you drop them?  And at what level of cost would you draw the line?  When you pay, you have more control because you can then demand an opt-out system be put in place so your data is not shared.  The main goal of the service providers is getting money for data collection and disbursement so you have to pay them for not dispersing your data.

Don't forget, anything you put on the web is not yours! You don't own it and have no legal right to it. Once posted - memo, letter, text, photo - it is the property of the service provider.  So, maybe it's time to break the 'free habit' and stop all of the superfluous personal data flow. Stop and take control of your vanity and not have your 'life' sold to others to manipulate and influence. Or maybe not because you don't mind having your personal information sold and you love the free services you are getting and using on a daily basis.


Friday, September 12, 2014

The "SCENE" by Seymore Flix

Film .... Movie - Is There a Difference?

To me the words, Film and Movie, are interchangeable, but I could be wrong (this once).  I think a 'film'  describes the art form. You never hear the term, "movie school' or 'movie festival'  or "movie studies'.  It's all about 'film school' and ''film studies. 'Film critics' not 'movie critics'.

The term 'movie' is more commercial. Referring to moving pictures. Studios make movies, directors make films.  The term  'movies' can refer to the media or a venue - "We're going to the movies".  You're never, "going to the films".

Film, refers to the medium, the art form. Like painting, photography, or glassblowing.  Film elevates the sense of what making movies is all about.  Critics could only be taken seriously as 'film critics', this title gives them juice and import. Yet, aren't the terms synonymous?  Great films are embedded in movies, it's that simple.  The term 'film', in the digital age, is a throw-back. When was the last time you bought a roll of film?  Even in movie production, film is used, but less and less. Very few cinemas have film projectors, and those that are remaining will soon be relics of  technology - as they should be.

'Film' vs. 'Movie' who cares. Just serve up some good ones.

Kate Moss, 40 - no cosmetic work - it's in the genes

Unfortunately, Joan Rivers decided to have one too many cosmetic procedures.  And as we all know, even the simplest of surgeries comes with a fair amount of risk.  Thus today's discussion: breasts, particularly celeb breasts. Viral on the web, last week, were the photos of famous women's breasts, as hackers had infiltrated their cell phones and posted their 'nipple selfies' online.  Why celebs feel the need to take selfies of their breasts begs a larger phychological question, we are only interested in the news of nipples.

For example, the actor Michelle Rodrequez, has championed a "free the nipple" cause. To the point where she has designed a T-shirt boasting boobs censored with duct tape over the nipples. Keira Knightly, who posed topless for 'Interview' magazine, says there is nothing wrong with female nudity.

Well, maybe not female, but in Japan it seems that the male breast is controversial. The Huntington Post Japan reported that over 84% of Japanese women think it unacceptable for men's nipples to be visible under their shirts.  Luckily, Japanese men have an option - 'the male nipple shield'. No joke, these high-tech pasties sell well and provide Japanese men the assurance of a smooth and uncluttered chest look.

And finally, as I depart this subject, thank God, and go full-circle to the Joan Rivers episode, it appears that some women are having a surgical procedure whereby they are having their nipples reshaped and tattooed to look like various objects: hearts, stars, seashells. Known as 'tittooing' the procedure runs about $2500 and was originally conceived to reconstruct breasts after cancer surgery, it is now becoming a fad to reshape nipples for fun and even more selfies.  Go figure.

Comic-to-Animated Superhero in San Fransokyo

Disney owns Pixar, Marvel Comics, and Lucas Films, in addition to Disney Animation studios, so you would think that animated superhero productions would be a mainstay.  Not so, but with the upcoming release of  'Big Hero 6'  the ice is now broken.  'Big Hero 6' will be Disney's first venture into the world of comic-based superhero animation and it may just prove that live-action movies with real actors and oodles of CGI may have to step aside.

'Big Hero 6', culled from a Marvel comic, is about a Japanese team of superheros and centers around the relationship between a schoolboy inventor, Hiro, and his machine pal, Baymax and is set in the make-believe city of San Fransokyo.

Why this merging of Disney animation and Marvel Comics hasn't already happened is any one's guess. It may be just due to Disney's internally absorbing and assimilation of its acquisitions - Pixar, Marvel, Lucas - each with a different corporate culture.   The huge box office grosses for Pixar's films suggest audiences aren't turned off by the absence of real actors on screen - in fact, one could argue that several, if not many, live active features might have been better and generated larger grosses had they been in animated form.

Comic book animated superhero movies, I believe, will be coming out on a regular basis from Disney in the future - and they will be great entertainment having wide audience appeal.

Where Are They Now?
Connery - Then/Now

We have all wondered where past big-screen actors are now. That wonderment is even more curious when thinking about past Oscar winners.  Here are 10 of them:

- Joe Pesci - Best Supporting Actor, 'Goodfellas'
- Adrien Brody - Best Actor, 'The Pianist'. Can be seen on TV mini-series 'Houdini'
- Cuba Gooding - Best Supportig Actor, 'Jerry Maquire'
- Geena Davis - Best Supporting Actor, 'The Accidental Tourist'
- Jennifer Connelly - Best Supporting Actor, 'A Beautiful Mind'
- Brenda Fricker - Best Supporting Actor, 'My Left Foot'
- Marlee Matlin - Best Actor, 'Children of a Lesser God'
- Joel Grey - Best Supporting Actor, 'Cabaret'
- Linda Hunt - Best Supporting Actor, 'The Year of Living Dangerously'
- Sean Connery - Best Supporting Actor, 'The Untouchables' 

Seymore Flix

Monday, September 08, 2014

The 'SCENE' by Seymore Flix

Odorama : I Can Smell It Coming

The cinema needs a boost (particularly after this summer's dismal box office) so why not bring back the 'scratch n; sniff' cards that accompanied many admissions during films of the '80s.

Let's bring back a real 'sense of community' to the local cinema with scents of realism. Mingled with the aroma of fresh popped corn the smell of a film and the use of scent technology that didn't exist in the '80s would be intoxicating.

Today's cinema audiences would be thrilled and in awe of a non-digital based goodie for 'real' moviegoing.  Perhaps a surcharge for the 'scratch n' sniff'. Why not.  There are up-charges for 3D, for larger seats, for viewing in bigger auditoriums, why not for smell!  Consumers are accustomed to up-charge fees - just look at the airlines and their cadre of 'extra' fees.  Hotels too, and let's not forget about your friendly Bank and credit card company.

Then again, hmmmm.... in some cinemas you may be tempted to forego the 'scratch n' sniff' and really get a whiff by rubbing the seats - oh well, I digress. But darn it, cinemas are always searching for the "immerse experience" - better sound, bigger picture, enhanced concession - why not smell - the fourth sense in the cinema experience. Let's go for it. I smell money in 'scratch n' sniff'.

Long Live the Lego

Greatly aided by the huge success of the 'Lego Movie', Danish toy maker Lego has seen it sales and operating profit dramatically increase this year and sees no reason why their good fortune will not continue.  Children from all over the world are forcing their parents to run to toy stores to buy up Lego toy kits, particularly those linked to the movie.

The 'Lego Movie', which was released in February, cost about $60 million to produce and has grossed over  $470 million globally; additionally, it is anticipated that DVD sales will be killer. Now, it can be argued that the 'Lego Movie' was the greatest use of product placement ever, and targeted at a specific demographic which was likely to go out and purchase the company's products.

Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego's CEO says, "The result of the first half of 2014 is an outcome of our ability to develop, launch and distribute Lego products, which children all over the world put at the top of their wishlists."  You're not kidding Jorgen.

Lego, which is headquartered in the small town of Billund, Denmark started producing the small plastic bricks in 1949.  By the 1970s , those miniature building blocks had become a staple in millions of toy boxes around the world.  Then things collapsed, and by early 2003, Lego was about to go bust. But new management coupled with massive layoffs and a refocused mission got the company back a solid footing.  Lego's sales will surpassed Mattel's this year.

'Lego Movie 2' is in the works and Warner Bros. says it will be released in 2017. Children across the world can't wait.

The BIG APPLE Gets Smashed Again - Why Not Oslo?
There Goes Lady Liberty

2014 was a good year for major city destruction at the movies. NYC was devastated in Spiderman, San Fran got clobbered in Godzilla. and Paris got wasted in Edge of Tomorrow.

NYC is the target most often but it's not the whole city, but Manhattan, in particular, as it houses all of the recognizable, iconic structures - Empire State, Grand Central, Central Park etc. Now, the new World Trade Towers and 9/11 Memorial are in the cross-hairs of mega-destruction directors and special effects people.  I've seen more NYPD cars demolished than any other vehicle on the big screen - its been going on since movies began, re: King Kong of the '30s.

NYC gets trashed on a consistent basis.  You would think that movie producers/directors could change the venue of destruction once in a while.  Cities with noted landmarks get attacked over and over again, but NYC wins the top honor.  Blow up Cairo, Rio, Moscow, Mexico City - and nothing. Lima, Cape Town, Sydney - no reaction.  Cities that have never been leveled by monster, bomb, or asteroid need (no deserve) to be turned to rubble.  I vote for Toronto, Shanghai, and Santiago and throw in Singapore - they all deserve some humility and devastation. And what about Rome and Athens?
Of Course the Brooklyn Bridge Must Go

Now, make no mistake, most of these cities would gladly pay a film crew to come in and destroy everything (in make-believe) just to get the monies spent by the film studio while shooting.  So, let's throw in Amsterdam and Istanbul, and don't forget Madrid.  All of these deserve a good thrashing and leave poor NYC to rebuild.  And, so yes Hollywood, just for me - don't forget The Hamptons.

Seymore Flix

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Fan Clubs - OUT / Digital Fanatics - IN

The relationship between idol/star and fan has seen recent and profound change. In the past, the relationship between idol and fan was well defined - there were 'Fan Clubs', where annual dues were required and a kit given with photos, a club card, etc.  The Club had a President and other officers and annual get-togethers held where T's, albums, and possibly the idol would make a quick and fleeting appearance.  Club members tried, but failed to keep tabs on their idol's comings and goings and usually only saw them at a distance at a concert or red carpet event.

This has all changed! Snail mail and pre-signed photos are so far out they are not even considered a remote possibly in today's Fan world.  Now, it's all about real-time access - fans know where and what their God had for lunch, were and when they will or can be seen and the selfie with idol has become the 'membership card' of today's fanatic.  Fan armies assemble on-line and insist on direct contact with their idol, and the stars must play this game, for the more traction they have on social media - the more fans they have and the more popular they get, the more endorsements, the more fame.

But there is downside. Stars complain that their fan base is too old or too young. Fans are too gay, or too female or too ugly. Sometimes they are seen as too intense or too annoying.  Would idols choose to spend and evening with their fans? NO. Do they want their fans to believe they would? YES.

Swift w/fans giving selfies
Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal last month, Taylor Swift said it best when she noted that autographs have become obsolete. "I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera.  The only memento fans want these days is a selfie.  It's part of the new currency, which seems to be 'how many followers you have in Instagram'."

Nowhere can the change in the relationship between idol and fan so seen more vivid then in the recent surge of meet-and-greets, usually held before a concert and bundled with a pricey VIP ticket. It is no longer necessary to wait with the masses for a glimpse as the 'star' quickly races by.  No, no. Today, you can book an appointment to meet your 'God', in the time it would take to make an appointment to have your car serviced - and would probably be cheaper and include a buffet.  Unthinkable just a few years ago, today's fan can rub elbows with their Gods.  Even Beyonce' offers these 'fan' rendezvous and they are only a three figure credit card charge away. Fan expectations and demands have grown enormously.

Stars today, must hire digital agencies to pretend to be them or to create a personality where there isn't one. Today, the illusion of intimacy is a must, but social media has replaced the 'signed' photo. Fans have more power today and more control over their idols - pushing them to act and adjust to the 'new' Fandom world.  Fan power has shifted from the artist to the fan. It is the fan that must be catered to. It's the fans that have the disposal income to buy inflated concert tickets, iTunes, and watch videos with embedded pre-sold ads (the higher the play count the more the idol can charge for the ads).

The idol/fan relationship is now completely intertwined. Fans can not be ignored. Idols must placate to their minions and fans can get ever closer to their God, but for a price.


Friday, August 22, 2014

CMG Cinema Buzz - 21 August 2014

Wrst Thing Eva for Cinemas?
On-screen texting - a good idea?

U have just settled in to watch a pic at the local cine that u have been dying to see. U have u'r corn. U'r 44oz. carton of soda, and some candy for u'r teeth.  The movie starts. Ah, those explosive teaser trailers - all 8 of them - luring u with upcoming scenes of spectacular big-screen entertainment.

Then it happens! On the screen u see - 'OMG, I looooooove this movie!!!'  and then another, 'Not sure hwat's happening but it just blew up!'  and another, 'Lose the airplane.'  Texting on the screen. Am I in hell!  Yes, texting on screen while the movie is running is the latest crazy in China.  China Youth Daily reported that cinemas in Beijing and Shanghai are experimenting with 'bullet screens', where the audience can send texts commenting on the film as the movie is presented - "to cater for the permanently distracted, phone-addicted younger generation".

I'm told precautions are made to screen the texts before they appear on screen. Oh really, and who does the screening?  Is this a good idea?  Would u be happy to pay to attend a movie where texting is going on during the presentation?  Turning movie going into an even more communal and sharing experience.
Would having a real-time discussion during the movie be even more akin to in-home movie viewing? Or would it result in a few idiots playing around with proprietary content at your expense. Is this even legal?  Maybe in China, but I doubt that Hollywood would take kindly to texting about 'their' movie while it was being exhibited - or would they?  Is this just another step on the ladder of social media.

Does the very idea leave u speechless. OMG cn't we all be friends. LOL.