Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SAG Negotiations Update

Yesterday the membership was notified that Doug Allen, the chief negotiator for the Union has been replaced (i.e. fired). I'm thinking this means that a final contract is coming soon -- for better or worse. The likelihood of a strike is looking less and less which is great, but at what cost for the future? The in-fighting within SAG is really bringing down the whole town, and I'm sure making the big congloms very happy. Ugh...

The press release read in part:

Los Angeles (January 26, 2009) -- The Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors by written assent today terminated the employment of Doug Allen and appointed former Guild general counsel David White to replace him as interim national executive director. The board further appointed longtime Guild senior advisor John T. McGuire as chief negotiator.

The board also disbanded the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee and directed that it be replaced with a Taskforce directed to complete these negotiations on behalf of the board of directors.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter in LA

The past few days have brought "winter" weather to the City of Angels. I guess that's what it is called when it rains all day and temps drop into the upper 50's. (As you can see, my car is getting a bit of a wash.) I do miss the sun a little bit, but having some actual weather is actually kind of nice. Reminds me a bit of home. Without the wind chill...

Friday, January 23, 2009

SAG Awards

This is the first year that I've been a part of the Screen Actors Guild Awards process, and it's pretty cool. I was mailed the ballot and pertinent voting info at the end of December, and for the last month or so I've been getting things in the mail. Unfortunately, this year the only film that actually sent a DVD was The Dark Knight. I think the floundering economy had a lot to do with that. But, I was invited to a lot of screenings, and given "movie cash" for some of the nominees' films. My ballot was due today and the awards air on Sunday on TNT and TBS. We'll see how my picks turn out...

Here is the official SAG Awards website

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Disney Dollars

Looks like the recession hasn't affected everyone in the industry. Even though Disney's stock was down a good amount for the year, the head honcho still did well. A $13.9 million bonus?! Wonder what he would have gotten if the company actually did well...

From IMDb -

Iger Weathers Recession

20 January 2009 1:38 AM, PST

The Walt Disney Co. reported in its annual proxy statement that CEO Robert Iger received total compensation of more than $30.6 million last year, representing an 11 percent raise from the previous year. While his salary remained at $2 million, he also received $7.77 million in stock awards and a $13.9-million bonus.Iger's stock options were valued at $5.98 million, while other compensation came to $773,090.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Showing Some 'Character'

I recently started a 4-week acting workshop called 'Character' taught by actor/writer/director/friend David Dean Bottrell recently. (I actually met David about a year ago at this time walking the picket lines outside Disney during the writers strike.) Each student was paired up with a scene partner who we will work with -- on the same piece of material -- for the 4 classes. Each week we focus on different aspects of preparation and perform the scene. Our 'scene' is really a 10-minute one-act play which is really well-written and should be a lot of fun! I haven't had a class with this type of approach before, and the added bonus of hearing about David's industry experiences is invaluable.

TV fans may recognize David from Boston Legal where he played the memorable, Lincoln Meyer. He also writes a weekly blog/column, that as I've said before, is sometimes poignant, often hilarious and always insightful, about his experiences in the entertainment industry. That blog can be found HERE.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Seems that the phenomenon of Global Cooling has taken hold of the Midwest. My sister, who is a teacher in Wisconsin, told me this afternoon that classes had already been canceled for tomorrow due to cold with temps expected to be around -10 (-30 to -40 with the wind chill.) Somehow it didn't help when I told her at that very moment I was walking down the street in shorts and a T-shirt enjoying the sunny, warm southern California day...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Say You Want A Resolution

The New Year is the traditional time for us all to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. New Year's resolutions are made to in an attempt to ensure that we end the year in a better place than when we began. I read somewhere that specific, concrete, measurable resolutions tend to be the ones that people keep. Yeah, yeah...

As for me though, here are a couple of completely amorphous and unquantifiable goals for me this year:

1) Get in shape - this means the usual: eating better, working out more. For now, thanks to a lingering shoulder injury, "working out" means mostly running. Ugh. I've never really been a fan of running. I've always thought of running as a means to an end (i.e. getting to third base, running a fast break, heck, even playing tag), rather than an end in itself. But, at least for awhile, running will be helping me to keep this resolution. And, who know, maybe I'll end up liking it?

2) Stay positive - The entertainment industry is a tough nut to crack. And especially now, given all of the uncertainty with the SAG contract, there are a lot of things to frustrate one trying to break in and get established. Exacerbating this is that unlike many arenas I've been in (sports, school, most 'normal' businesses), working very hard does not necessarily correlate with a high level of success. There are so many variables that impact, or can impact, success in this town: who you know, how you look, where you're from, being in the right place at the right time... Some things you can control and some you can't. It seems to me that the only thing I can do is work hard to prepare myself so that if and when I do get that opportunity, I can make the most of it.

Sooooo, coming back to my resolution: I will try not to get too down during the bumps on this roller-coaster ride. I will try to surround myself with positive people. I will take new classes and workshops. And I will spend more time in the beautiful California outdoors -- wearing shorts outside in January certainly lifts the spirits!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank You, Abbott Labs

I get an e-mail from my former agent in Chicago today:

"Hey Jeff, I know that you no longer reside in Chicago, however I was contacting you regarding a shoot you did last year for Abbott Molecular. They are looking to extend usage—I year trade and internet (on their website). I wanted to get the “ok” from you before moving forward. Please let me know if you agree to the terms and let me know ASAP..."

Um, ok! I had already forgotten about that project, so of course they can keep using it. Between that and my recent Fantasy Football championship winnings... Thank goodness for unexpected income sources. Whoo-hoo!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back to the Sun

As you can see, the sun is out -- and it is pretty warm. Guess I can put away my scarf, gloves, and hat for the year. Miss all you guys back home, but I sure don't miss those wind chills! ;)

All Shook Up to Start '09

Last night I was sitting in class (in a little theatre) and the floor started shaking - kind of like when someone is shaking their leg and everything vibrates. But I didn't see anyone's leg moving and I look across the aisle and my friend Mike was looking back at me like "what the?" Then I noticed the whole room was moving. Not much, but just enough to feel strange. I later found out the quake epicenter was near San Bernardino. It was only a small earthquake -- a 4.5 -- but the fact that we could even feel it from 60 miles away shows just how powerful that ol' Mother Nature is. Welcome back to L.A.!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Favorite Movies of 2008

Now, this is highly unscientific, notice I don't say "best" movies of 2008. These just, for a variety of reasons, happened to be my favorite. A few of them were actually in limited release in 2007, but since I saw them in 2008, that's where I'll list them. Also, there are a ton of 2008 'awards season' movies I haven't seen yet that I am looking forward to - but hey, there's always next year's list, right?

So from 10 to 1, here goes:

10) My Kid Could Paint That - Gets us asking "what is art?" Do yourself a favor and rent this doc about a child art 'prodigy' on DVD, then make sure to watch the 25 minute follow-up. As much a story about the conflict in the filmmaker as it is about the subject.

9) Mamma Mia! - I don't typically like movie musicals, I wasn't a huge ABBA fan, and I'm not crazy about the cast, so that set my expectations pretty low. But, it was a lot of fun, and the beautiful Greek islands backdrop didn't hurt.

8) WALL-E - One of the more profound animated films I've ever seen. Pixar does it again!

7) The King of Kong - absurdly poignant documentary about 80's video games and the men that play them. NOTE: a brilliant (but not official) companion piece to this film called Chasing Ghosts is now playing on Showtime, but not yet on DVD.

6) The Bank Job - Jason Statham is great as the leader of a good old-fashioned bank heist. Based on a true story, it's set in London in 1971, and very cool.

5) Iron Man - For me, more satisfying than the higher profile Dark Knight. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect.

4) Young @ Heart - This doc about an elderly group of singers that covers rock and roll songs is entertaining, uplifting and guaranteed to tug at the heart strings.

3) Slumdog Millionaire - Fresh and full of spirit, action and stirring performances. This love story plays like a thriller.

2) The Diving Bell & The Butterfly - A powerfully moving, but not overly sentimental, look at what remains when it seems all is lost.

1) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Not a typical David Fincher movie (and I love typical David Fincher movies!) And for my money, not a typical movie at all. I thought the storytelling and acting were first-rate, and the CGI aging effects were amazing and seamless.

Others from 2008 I enjoyed a lot: In Bruges, Revolutionary Road, The Dark Knight, The Reader, The Strangers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Doubt, Valkyrie, and Rachel Getting Married

So, that's that. Like I said, not a "best of" list, I'll leave that to the pros. But, feel free to post your own favorites, or just question my sanity...