Archive for October, 2010

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“The Social Network”: An Oscar Face-Off

October 31, 2010

I finally saw “The Social Network.” Hands down one of the best movies of the year and I think  it’ll be duking it out with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” when it comes to Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. The screenwriting for “The Social Network” is extraordinary. But Michael Douglas has the edge for Best Actor because the Academy loves it when a character evolves in the storyline…it’s the mark of an Oscar worthy performance…and his Gordon Gekko is changeable and emotionally all over the map…moreso than what people expected,  I think. Jesse Eisenberg is riveting playing Facebook inventor Mark Zuckerberg. He deserves an Oscar nomination for such a complicated performance, maybe he should even win…but in the end the character is status quo and that favors Douglas.

What do you think? Am I wrong? I’ve only singled out two actors, who else should be in the running?

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A Surprise At “The Soprano State” Premier

October 20, 2010

Monday night marked a first.  It was the first time I covered a movie premier when I was in the movie and didn’t know it.

“The Soprano State” documentary had its official opening at the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street and before the screening I interviewed the producer, Steve Kalafer (he recieved an Oscar nomination for one of my favorite short documentaries, “Curtain Call” and I was happy to finally meet him) and others involved in the project.  I could not stay to see the film, which chronicles political corruption in New Jersey, because we needed to finish our piece for the late newscast.

So I was surprised to hear the next morning from several people who did see it, that my voice from a televison report is used in the movie with my name titled on the screen.

“The Soprano State” is playing in the New York area starting Friday. If you see it, listen for me!

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

October 10, 2010

Every filmmaker could learn a lesson from Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” And that is, make every character count.

I saw the movie Saturday and the attention to character is extraordinary. Yes, the plot twists and turns are as slippery as Gordon “Greed Is Good” Gekko, and the timeliness of portraying Wall Street sharks during an economic meltdown is impeccably relevant.

But what strikes me most is that this is a film with one vivid character after another. Even the smallest part is memorable…Sylvia Miles as an eccentric realtor, Eli Wallach as the frail but feisty  Wall Street veteran battling onward. No part is a novelty or a filler, a throw away cameo to a star like we’ve seen in these big budget sequels a million times, now.

Susan Sarandon (who I interviewed earlier this year), Josh Brolin and the great Frank Langella have spun their screen time into gold in this picture, playing supporting parts that under Stone’s direction, are as memorable as the leads.

There’s no question in my mind that Michael Douglas will get an Oscar nomination. The Academy looks for characters that undergo a transformation within the film when doling out noms, which Douglas does so believably as Gekko.

Shia LaBeouf impressed me and I went in skeptical…even Douglas said when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that he had to get over initial doubts that LaBeouf had the chops for the role. He does.

What a difference the movie-going experience is when you can latch-on to each moment and feel the relationships between the characters and see what they’re thinking, and not simply watch the plot unfold.

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Reality In Washington Square Park

October 3, 2010

Just had a meeting downtown this Sunday morning (truly, the work never stops!) and then took a break from the rush and reality of my busy days by pulling up to a bench at Washington Square Park for a while, sipping my very essential coffee.

This is completely my season and the autumn air today is exhilarating. I love this combination of a crisp October breeze and brilliant sunshine warming my face.

Washington Square Park is interesting to say the least. There’s always a crowd…the NYU intellectuals, artists, of course the tourists from across the country and the world, really, who come to have their picture taken in front of, or standing in, the iconic fountain. But today I was noticing just how many homeless people are here. They’re always here. I just don’t always notice them as much as I have today.  Or maybe for some reason I allowed myself to notice today. Right now I’d say at least a quarter of the people here with blankets stuffed in a garbage bag, wearing clothes in desperate need of washing, some asking for money as the more well-off looking people pass by…seem to be souls whose life is lived in the street.

I also saw three guys with seemingly all of their possessions bagged at their feet, strumming guitars together. Softly, I could barely here. One hummed a few notes.  But they definitely knew how to play.  I could tell even if the instruments were worse for wear…probably guitars that someone had thrown in the trash. They didn’t speak to each other or to anyone else. They just strummed, looked down at the strings and played on.

Maybe this is their break  from reality in Washington Square Park.

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Passionistas At The Television Academy

October 2, 2010

Wednesday went great at the television academy (my short for National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences New York). I showed clips from ON THE SCENE and shared the story of how the show came to be and how I went from Passion To Program…turning my interest in arts and entertainment into this tv show that has defined my career.

Thanks to all who came to see me and who asked amazing questions and gave positive feedback. My special thanks to the moderator, actress Ellen Muir and executive director, Jacqueline Gonzalez.

The television academy has provided me the highest moments of my professional life through the Emmy Awards and nominations that I’ve been honored to receive, and to contribute to the programming at NATAS is an even higher honor.