Friday, May 16, 2008

We've Moved!!

Find recent posts here.

I just like wordpress better....

Sorry Blogspot!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Woman gets "forgotten" in holding cell for four days

Four days, no food, no water. Left alone because a bailiff "just flat forgot about her".

Why was she being held?

Because she got swept up in a raid at a flea market in Arkansas in connection with the sale of pirated CD's & DVD's.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bill C-10

Y' go away for a few months of vacation, but once you touch down, you realize that's it's as if you never left...

Even though my recent trip to Thailand was a wonderful reprieve from the "day-to-day", I will admit to checking my favorite industry-related blogs while my wife wasn't watching. So, suffice it to say, I wasn't completely shocked when I got home to find that the Canadian government is getting closer and closer everyday to finishing the infrastructure for a complete "hostile takeover" of our airwaves by those with access to private equity.

Given the perfect storm conditions that began over a year ago with the ACTRA strike and the constant bickering over the Canadian Television Fund, it's easier to get analysis from all areas of the media spectrum now that there have been so many places that the "twister" has touched down (i.e. - WGA strike, DGA ratification, upcoming SAG negotiations, Bill C-10, Canada Copyright Act).

As an ACTRA member and a SOCAN member, I'm quite interested in the developments of new media issues and regulations. This is because it helps me understand how the business infrastructure of my country (and continent) is planning to fund and distribute the media which I create personally.

However, I can't help but feel like a bit of a black sheep when it comes to an issue such as Bill C-10, which has Canadian film artists and their unions in a lather. To be clear, I'm opposed to Bill C-10 for the simple reason that it's unnecessary if you look at it from the perspective in which it's being "sold" to us. Supposedly, it's to prevent public funds from being used to create films that are contrary to public policy, or contains explicit sex or is excessively violent.

Yes, well...I would have to agree that it isn't the job of a government, on behalf of its citizens, to produce soft (or hardcore) porn or Quentin Tarantino-type flicks...but the reason that I'm opposed to the government on this one is: we haven't been producing these kinds of films through Telefilm!

Now, there is one other reason that I'm opposed to Bill C-10, and that's because I don't believe that Stephen Harper would allow his cabinet to be wasting their time on a budget item such as this if it didn't hold a significant place within his own policy objectives. I can't say conclusively what "that" may be exactly, but let me submit to you that a budget item such as this, coupled with the stacking of the CRTC, the constant draining of funds from the CTF and a general antagonistic approach from the Canadian government towards artists (yes...Liberals too! Sheila Copps was the architect of Bill C-10 after all...) belies an attitude of free market principles without giving Canadian artists access to free market tools (i.e. - money).

However, I can't join "in solidarity" with my unions or fellow artists in railing against the passage of this bill. It isn't so much that I'm opposed to ACTRA or the WGC or film creators fighting for access to more funding and opportunity to create more work - it has more to do with wanting to search for a solution *other* than bashing our collective heads against the bureaucratic brick wall that is the Canadian Heritage ministry.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until there seems to be a better option: if heading towards an integrated market, a free trade market, a free and open market - could we please start implementing tools for Canadian artists to actually compete with our competitors? How can a mixture of 10-30% tax credits help us compete with private equity from down south? They (Americans) come up here to exploit tax credits...not depend on them.

Andrew Coyne has a particularly good article on the subject in this week's issue of Maclean's. Considering the fact that his sister (Susan Coyne) is a well-respected and highly accomplished film actor/writer, I can't imagine that he's just spouting off because he's the editor.

Trust me, I'm *all* for having a vibrant and healthy film and television industry in this country. We certainly have the talent to provide it. I'm just not convinced that those at "the top" have fully come to grips with the realities of new media.

It seems to me that government, broadcasters and unions are only starting to catch on to what the music industry started to face over a decade ago. And don't let any of them fool you (if you're an artist that is...), their first priority is not to save the artist; it's to save their own job first.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The "real" crisis with striking Writers...

I haven't been posting much, due to a move and its inherent complications BUT -

the real crisis with this strike is the fact that the writer's issues are but a microcosm of what is *really* happening in the world today. The writer's are you and me for one reason only:


They are more than likely in the vast majority (meaning: how many of us are in the same boat?), and that's the real wake-up call.

Forget not being able to watch a favorite TV show. How shallow is that? TV? What about not being able to "get by" after only a mere two weeks of being on strike. Writer's are the middle-class of Hollywood. They make middle-class money. They're broke after two weeks off the job.

Holy crap we're in for a shit storm. And TV has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gemini's to "shine" with Hollywood Stars

Well, thank God! Finally! Some sexy talent arrives to a Canadian awards show at long last!

Gotta love our "crown" broadcasting corporation for reflecting national identity during prime time. Why ask for what the people want when you can just tell them what they want?

And Strombo has "edge"? Hmmmm.....I'm craving a Big Mac.....


Geminis to shine with Hollywood stars

The Gemini Awards gala, hosted by the CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos, will feature a clutch of Canadian stars from Hollywood including Sarah Chalke of Scrubs, Men In Trees lead James Tupper and Howie Mandel of Deal or No Deal.

A businessman has stepped in and chartered a private jet to bring a group of stars, including Andrea Roth of Rescue Me and Jason Priestley and Kathleen Robertson, who both starred in Beverly Hills 90210, directly from Los Angeles to Regina for the event on Sunday.

CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos will host Sunday's 22nd Annual Gemini Awards, which honours the best in English-language television.CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos will host Sunday's 22nd Annual Gemini Awards, which honours the best in English-language television.

The annual awards celebrate the best in Canadian English-language television.

Stroumboulopoulos, who hosts The Hour on CBC-TV, says this year's Geminis will be unique. The 34-year-old host has brought his Hour team on as producers of the one-hour show.

For the first time, viewers can vote online for their favourite Canadian on a TV series who is not eligible for a Gemini.

There are 22 actors up for the inaugural Viewers' Choice Award including Mandel, Keifer Sutherland of 24, Lost's Evangeline Lilly, Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy, Boston Legal's William Shatner and Kristine Kreuk from Smallville.

The 22nd Annual Gemini Awards will be the first live show open to a public audience. Previously, awards shows were only attended by industry insiders.

And, this will mark the second year in which the show will be held outside of Toronto. The show was held in Vancouver last year.

The audience can expect "tons of star power, great comedy and definitely a few surprises," said CBC producer Steve Sloan.

Many awards, in terms of costume, makeup, news and production, were already handed out prior to Sunday night.

The Regina gala will give out trophies for drama, comedy, acting, feature documentary and top news anchor.

The Gemini Awards will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on CBC Television on Sunday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Telefilm funding frozen


Figures from 2006 show a drop in a share of the box office for Canadian film, especially for French-language films, yet federal funding for film remains frozen.

Actors Patrick Huard, left, and Colm Feore in a scene from comedy Bon Cop, Bad Cop. Telefilm wants to devote more of its funding to comedies.

In a year that spawned box office successes Bon Cop, Bad Cop, Trailer Park Boys and Oscar-nominated Water, Canadian films took just 4.1 per cent of the box office in this country.

Canadian-made productions earned $34.7 million in 2006, down from $44 million in 2005, and market share fell, according to funding agency Telefilm's annual report.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the bilingual cop buddies comedy, set a new box office record of $12.1 million, most of it in Quebec.

But French-language box office suffered a steep slide overall and English-language box office, while on the rise, amounted to just 1.7 per cent of total film tickets sold.

"It's a humbling figure, absolutely," Wayne Clarkson, executive director of Telefilm, told CBC News. "But actually that's a huge increase. It used to be just .3 per cent."

The success of films such as Bon Cop and Trailer Park Boys has encouraged Telefilm to put more of its funding toward comedies, as the return seems to be so good, he said.

"What we've noticed is that we were doing too many conventional dramas and not enough comedy," Clarkson said. "There's a wealth of comedic writers in this country."

The decision to spend more Telefilm dollars on comedy in the English market could result in five or six comedy features produced annually, he said.

Wayne Clarkson, Telefilm executive director, is 'hopeful' of receiving more money.Wayne Clarkson, Telefilm executive director, is 'hopeful' of receiving more money.

English-language films made in Canada also get overshadowed by the huge marketing budgets for Hollywood films, so Telefilm is directing money toward supporting the release of new films.

One beneficiary was feature film Shake Hands With the Devil, which received financial incentives for marketing in both the English and francophone markets.

The steep decline in French-language box office — from 26.6 per cent in 2005 to 17.1 per cent in 2006 — was a result of fewer films on offer in 2006, according to Telefilm's annual report.

This supports the position of francophone filmmakers who put pressure on the federal government for more money last year, saying filmmakers with a great track record were being turned down for funding.

Number of films made declines

Just 32 films were made in 2006, down from 36 in 2005 and 47 in 2004. Francophone films had a record box office share in 2004, a year marked by strong productions such as C.R.A.Z.Y.

Although films such as Le secret de ma mère, Maurice Richard, Les Boys IV and Une dimanche a Kigali each earned more than $1 million in 2006, the smaller number of films made resulted in smaller overall box office.

The federal government has yet to commit more money to Telefilm, though Clarkson says he's "hopeful."

However, SODEC, the Quebec film funding agency, is devoting an extra $10 million to get some additional films made.

But as Quebec talent gets more ambitious, the cost of individual films is rising.

"Quebec producers will be looking to international partnerships," Clarkson said, pointing to Denis Arcand's L'Âge des ténèbres which had international financing.

"Ultimately there will be demand for new money, if we want to sustain the growth we've seen so far."

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