Friday, December 21, 2007

The Whole Enchilada

Saw Sweeney Todd.

The sum of my expectations did not exceed the film's parts. The talents of Tim Burton, Stephen Sondheim, John Logan, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman come together in a delicate blend of the lyrical macabre, a cuisine as deliciously grotesque as Mrs. Lovett's meat pies.

My only disappointment is that Alan Rickman's character wasn't exploited more but that's just me and it might have upset the balance of things. As for Johnny Depp's voice, anything MORE than the adequate job he did singing would have been too much for a Tim Burton film.

The movie simply works. Oh so well.

If you're a real Sondheim fan, Netflix has Sweeney Todd in Concert with George Hearn as Sweeney Todd, Patti LuPone as Mrs. Lovett (she's brilliant, BRILLIANT, I tell you!), and Neil Patrick Harris, Davis Gaines and Lisa Vroman. Awesome stuff. And, of course, you can always ask somebody to put the Broadway musical or movie soundtrack in your Christmas stocking.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AMPTP "No Shows" City Council Meeting

So striking writers showed up at the City Council hearing this morning in droves. The Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee met to talk about the large-scale economic impact of the strike on local and area businesses and on individuals who depend on the entertainment industry directly and indirectly to survive.

WGA was there. AMPTP was not.

Curiously, AMPTP alleges on their website that it is the WGA demonstrating a lack of concern for increasingly devastating economic and personal losses and hardships resulting from the strike.

Hmm. I would challenge the AMPTP to "put your money where your mouth is" but if AMPTP had done that, there wouldn't be a strike in the first place.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Los Angeles City Council and the Strike

The Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee of the Los Angeles City Council is holding a hearing of some sort on Wednesday morning regarding the economic impact of the Writers Guild strike on the local and regional economy. The United Hollywood website is inviting striking writers "to pack the room".

No harm in doing that, certainly, but if I might lend my local government experience to this particular situation, the hearing clearly sounds like a fact finding meeting regarding what the City Council can do about the negative impact on the economy of the CITY, not necessarily what they can do to resolve the situation between the WGA and the AMPTP. Clearly, the two issues are married, but my concern is that Patric Verrone, David Young and John Bowman may walk away with unmet expectations.

I could be wrong.

This is city government. It's a whole 'nother world from the picket line. I believe there was a resolution encouraging a speedy end to the strike put before the Council back in early November and that may have come out of Councilman Eric Garcetti's office so clearly there's been concern from the onset that this strike has universal impact and that speaks well for these government officials. They've not been in denial.

The meeting is at 7:30 am at Los Angeles City Hall Main Chambers (3rd Floor) 200 N. Spring Street Los Angeles, CA 90012.

If you can't make it to the City Council meeting on Wednesday but want to hear what's going on:

(1) you can listen to it live here. Scroll down and click on Room 350. (It's listed under the Board of Public Works - they usually meet in that room) Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee usually meets in 1010 but the agenda says 350. You'll need Real Player to listen in. They offer live video feeds of certain meetings as well but I don't know if this one will be one of them since it's not a regular City Council meeting.

(2) a dial-up system allows the public to listen to live coverage of the Los Angeles city public meetings from any phone. The numbers below may be used from any location, not just in Los Angeles.

Use the numbers below:
Downtown (213) 621-CITY
San Pedro (310) 547-CITY
West Los Angeles (310) 471-CITY
Van Nuys (818) 904-9450

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Food Drive on the Picket Lines

People without jobs collecting food for the homeless. This is community service and volunteerism at its benevolent best. I'm not suggesting that the men and women on the picket lines will be visiting shelters themselves but no doubt, many of them will be will be struggling to pay their bills before long if the strike drags out -- and it likely will.

Now, the rest of us need to mimic them.

Even if we're one car payment away from hoofing it, there's a food bank somewhere nearby experiencing a record drain on its resources. Go to Second Harvest to find the one nearest you and if carrying cans to a building surrounded by people sleeping on the curb creeps you out, you can probably donate money online.

Hey, if as many people would donate $1 to a food bank as they have for a box of pencils, there would be an extra $38,606 in food pantries so far.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Counterfeit Documentary

Several months ago, I played with the idea of documenting my son's road to becoming a professional wrestler. The amateur shows were as high octane lunacy as anything I'd seen on television, the fans were equally absurd, and I knew I had something when one show was policed by Elvis Security. No kidding. Security was dressed up as Elvis.

But, I couldn't get the material I wanted because back-stage secrets are heavily guarded and nobody wants the rest of us to know moves are staged (duh) and the outcome is pre-determined. Not even at the amateur level were wrestlers willing to spill the beans and let me film them preparing, training, etc. Those wrestlers who know that fans know that it's all fake also know that talking about it is a career ender for them if I don't do the story their fairy tale way and from their enhanced angle.

I wouldn't do that. Hence, no story. No documentary.

Fast forward to last week. After doing the amateur thing for only a few shows, my son got an invitation to "try-out" with a big show. He was ecstatic. This show was one step away from being called up to the WWE. It's like playing on a farm team for the Yankees. He was deliriously happy to be chasing his dream.

Cue shoe drop. Or, flying drop kick.

The "try-out" was staged. The whole thing was a fake. They needed amateur wrestlers to create audition scenes for the wrestlers ALREADY in the professional federation since they had no footage of their existing wrestlers' ACTUAL auditions. So, they invited guys from small amateur federations under the guise of an audition to be part of something great -- this documentary.

I don't know what all the rules of integrity are in documentary making but this stunt smacks of the same phony baloney theatrics that makes this form of wrestling such an entertainment hyperbole. If that's the case, the fake auditions are probably to be expected as the kind of dramatic play-acting typical at wrestling events.

But if this documentary is passing off the auditions as factually accurate, well as Gomer Pyle would say, "shame, shame, shame."