Friday, December 30, 2011

Ghost Rider Creator loses all rights. Movie Theatres becoming relics of the past? China deal goes south?

From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.

Giving up the ghost: With a second "Ghost Rider" movie coming out in February, the writer of the original comic was looking to claim ownership of the Marvel Comics character (and all the royalties that come with it) in court. But a federal judge ruled that the writer gave up rights in 1972 when he cashed a check from Marvel, and that the creation of the character involved multiple people. Reuters and the Hollywood Reporter have the news.

Behind the box-office numbers: 2011 continued an ongoing trend of declining attendance at America's movie theaters. In a year-end box-office analysis, the Los Angeles Times notes that the cause is primarily that fewer and fewer people are going to movies after opening. If they're not excited enough to go immediately, they'll just wait for the DVD or video-on-demand. Also, a look at what the trend means for exhibition companies. The Hollywood Reporter looks at the stats as well.

Not quite Legendary yet: China may be the hottest movie market in the world, but raising money still isn't a piece of cake. Legendary East, the China venture of Thomas Tull's Legendary Entertainment, has had to delay plans to raise $220 million on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange because it couldn't find enough investors this year. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Mission to win again: With no new movies opening nation-wide, Tom Cruise is likely to top the box office over New Year's weekend just like he did over Christmas. Perhaps the bigger question is whether there's any kind of a comeback brewing for "Sherlock Holmes" or "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (both are sequels with long subtitles that I will spare you), and whether any of the middle-of-the-pack movies like "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "War Horse" and "We Bought a Zoo" will prove more resilient. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Summit Entertainment is still for sale, but a deal won't close this year. Betsy Sharkey reviews "The Iron Lady." Kenneth Turan reviews the Iranian film "A Separation."  Underappreciated films of 2011.

-- Ben Fritz

Art Lynch Casting Call classes to return in January

Tonight Casting Call will present a seminar on how to be ready to compete in the business in 2014. It is free and open to the public.

There is class this Friday, December 27...

Next Friday, January 3 rd, I will return with my on-camera acting, auditioning and industry classes from 6 to 9 PM at Casting Call.

Audit once for free, after that a monthly cost allows you to particiapte in all of the classes offered at Casting Call entertainment (over 6 a week).

-Art Lynch 

Casting Call Entertainment 
(I work there and do not hold
any ownership of commission

Daddi Gudbergsson - We should kill more of our artists (wait for the English)

Hollywood Year in Review on KCRW's The Business

The Business

This week on "The Business," Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter, John Horn of the Los Angeles Times and Michael Schneider of TV Guide banter about the top entertainment news stories of 2011.

Events. Friday December 30, 2011

Dam Short Film Festival steps in to fill CineVegas Void

"Film festivals best filling the CineVegas void: Dam Short Film Festival, Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival, PollyGrind."

Josh Bell:

Las Vegas Weekly Year in Review: Film and TV

Dam Short Film Festival and Lee Lanier shared a link.
Our critics pick their favorite films and shows from 2011.

Ron Futrell and Nate Tannenbaum New Years 2003

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Theatre of 2011 - CityLife

David McKee
In the spirit of the Great Recession, this year brings not a Top 10 but a high five. Condolences to "The Drowsy Chaperone" (Super Summer Theatre) "Bedroom Farce" (LV Little Theatre), "Zoo Story" (RagTag Entertainment), "Noises Off" (NV Conservatory Theatre) and "Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium" (Onyx Theatre), all of which missed out by the narrowest of margins, as the mask of tragedy eclipsed that of comedy. "Zoo Story"'s omission was arguably the most capricious: With a pair of 'two-handers' topping the list, there wasn't room for a third. And there ought to be a special kudo for Erica Griffin's one-two punch of black comedy ... "Casa de Nada" (Fringe Festival), which uncannily foreshadowed Occupy Wall Street, and her pocket masterpiece on genital mutilation, "That Atrocious Tradition" (Theatre7). She's got another play brewing and I, for one, can scarcely wait. 

SAG National Executive Director Re-Ups Through 2014

David White - H 2011
David White

The guild’s board approved the move last spring, keeping David White in the fold as the merger process unfolds.

From the Hollywood Reporter, click here.

The Screen Actor Guild’s board has voted to extend National Executive Director David White’s contract, which was due to expire at the end of February 2012.
However, THR has learned that move to re-up White came in April or May, i.e., at least seven months ago, and the extension is through February 2014 – not 2015, as has been reported elsewhere.

February 2012 would have been an awkward time for the guild's executive director to leave, to put it mildly: if the SAG/AFTRA merger process proceeds according to the two unions’ plans, members will be receiving their merger ballots at the same time White would have been saying his goodbyes.

Indeed, the SAG board’s April 30 meeting is the same one during which the board approved formation of a Merger Taskforce – and announced January 2012 as the target date for receiving a merger plan. That timetable no doubt influenced the decision to extend the contract.

A SAG spokeswoman acknowledged that White’s contract had been extended, but had no other comment.

Twitter: @jhandel

From the Hollywood Reporter, click here.

Summerstock Auditions in NYC January 28


Cortland Repertory Theatre, The Hangar Theatre and Merry-Go-Round Playhouse/Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival will hold the first Central New York auditions weekend for their 2012 seasons on January 28th and 29th from 10:00am – 6:00pm, providing actors and actresses with the opportunity to audition for four theatres in two days. Over 200 paid acting roles will be available.

Merry-Go-Round Playhouse/Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival will hold their local auditions at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse located at 6877 East Lake Rd (Rt. 38A) in Emerson Park on Owasco Lake in Auburn, NY. The Hangar Theatre and Cortland Repertory Theatre will hold their local auditions at the Black Box Theatre of Ithaca High School located at 1401 North Cayuga Street in Ithaca, NY.

The Cortland Repertory Theatre 2012 Season includes: The Ladies Man, Grease!, An Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical TBA, Agatha Christie’s The Hollow, The Drawer Boy, and The Mystery of Irma Vep
The Hangar Theatre 2012 Season includes: Lend Me a Tenor, Titanic, Full Gallop, Next to Normal, and The Trip To Bountiful

The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse & Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival 2012 Season  includes: Kiss Me, Kate, Altar Boyz, 9 to 5: The Musical, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, My Fair Lady, Fingers & Toes, Cabaret, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Nunsense
Auditionees should bring a current picture and updated resume (multiple copies requested for The Hangar Theatre and Cortland Repertory Theatre auditions). Please prepare 16 measures of an up tempo song and 16 measures of a ballad.  An accompanist will be provided, so please provide sheet music. Auditionees may be asked to read from provided scripts and/or attend a dance call.  Dancers, please bring appropriate clothing and footwear, including taps.

For more information on Central New York auditions, please visit, or

The Business Seminar Friday at Casting Call

Sharry Flaherty of Sharry Flaherty Management from Beverly Hills, CA is having a 2 hour workshop on how to develop and market yourself for your film and television career. Learn the in's and out's of show business. Get yourself ready for pilot season!

Date: Friday, Dec 30th.
Time: 6:00pm
Where: Casting Call Entertainment
2790 E Flamingo Rd. Suite F
Las Vegas, NV 89121
Limited Seating
For more information, please call 702-369-0400.

Art Lynch's acting class will return in the New Year.

Free Professional Workshops at Insurgo Next Weekend!

More info on next weekends workshops!‎*2012 WINTER WORKSHOP* Professional Development for Actors and Performers through Physical Theater Training (appropriate for actors, teachers, directors, and interested movers)

SAG Awards Post Card in the mail...and watch for links for special offers and viewing opportunities

Important SAG Awards Voting Information

Dear Member,

Watch your mailbox for important SAG Awards voting information!

18th Annual SAG Awards Voting Postcard

The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards voting information postcard will be mailed out to eligible members tomorrow, December 30, 2011.  In order to be eligible to vote, your November 2011 dues must have been paid – and any address changes made – by December 16, 2011. 

In keeping with our commitment to green practices, the postcard you will receive next week includes details about how to vote online, which we encourage!  For those members who wish to request a paper ballot in lieu of voting online, please call (877) 610-8637 before January 16, 2012 and one will be mailed to you.  Have your SAG ID number ready when calling.
Please note, both the studios and the SAG Awards offices are closed December 30-January 2 and will re-open January 3, 2012. Next week, we will be finalizing any 'for your consideration' offers of SAG Award nominated films the studios will be providing.  We will post this information on our website as soon as possible at  

On January 9, we will email all eligible members details on DVD screeners, free iTunes downloads and Movie Cash coupons.  Please be patient as this information is being gathered. 

For up to the minute information on all things SAG Awards follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

The SAG Awards airs live on TNT and TBS Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT and a primetime encore presentation will follow at 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT!

Events, Saturday December 31, 2011



Booking Coach Mike Pointer of Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! has
developed "The Hie-zik" Method" - an outstanding method that has
doubled the amount of bookings for his clients since this time last
year.  It's the most straight forward, no-nonsense, practical, direct
approach to booking television commercials that has ever been created
for actors in Los Angeles.

Many of his actors are booking commercials after just one of his classes!

Coach Mike Pointer is offering again to the acting community another
round of highly informative, motivational, career energizing FREE


*  2 Powerful, breakthrough On-Camera Improv and Cold Reading cue Card

*  2 Very specific things Casting Directors expect an actor to execute
when reading copy from the cue card.

*  The #1 marketing tool actors can use to create more castings.

*  How to legally break a contract with an unproductive agent.

*  How to receive the extra "agent/manager fee" even if you don't have

*  2 questions you should never ask an agent in a meeting for representation.

*  The photo many actors have that may be blocking you from getting auditions.

*  4 Career ending mistakes actors make on their resume.

Continuing to spread the wealth, Coach Mike Pointer is once again
offering for four FREE classes only, for his 5 Strategic Keys To
Booking TV Commercials!

You won't want to miss this powerful, informative, career energizing,
On-Camera Workout and Business Technique "Booking" Class.

So RSVP Now!

4 Dates to choose from:
Monday, January 2nd, 2012 at 7pm or
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 7pm or
Sunday, January 8th, 2012 at 11am or
Monday, January 9th, 2012 at 7pm

Choose ONE class only!

Arrive 15 minutes early for awesome door prizes!

Be sure to mention you heard about this from Jeff Gund at, and RSVP to:
(323) 939-4612 (24-hour RSVP Line)
OR sign up online at:

THIS WILL BE A SOLD OUT EVENT - To guarantee your seat for this
one-time event and put your name in the drawing for the fabulous door
prizes mentioned above, you may deposit a REFUNDABLE seat holding fee
of $24.99 - Simply go to and send your payment of
$24.99, indicating as the send to
address - and be sure to write in the comments box: "AUDITION BOOKING
CLASS/INFOLIST priority seating".  Your payment will be refunded in
full when you show up to class (and only IF you show up to class).
Those who do not guarantee their seat may attend the class on a space
available basis - you must still RSVP in advance by calling the studio
line immediately at (323) 939-4612.

*The $24.99 seat holding fee is NOT MANDATORY - it only guarantees
that you will have a front row seat saved for you, even if the class
sells out.

Get ready for one of the most powerful, career transforming classes
you've ever taken.

Be sure to mention when you register, and get 15% OFF on
all of Mike's other classes!  Inquire at (323) 939-4612 for details!

Class to be held at:
Hey, I Saw Your Commercial! Studios
1017 South La Brea Avenue #B
(1 Blk. South of Olympic Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Zooey Deschanel on tonight's PBS "Independent Lens"

Can you actually have a single favorite film? Zooey Deschanel says no ... in this outtake from tonight's Independent Lens film, These Amazing Shadows! AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME - Outtakes from the documentary, "These Amazing Shadows." Golden Globe nominee Zooey Deschanel (TV series, New Girl)

Pedro Armendáriz Jr. RIP

Mexican Character Actor, Dies at 71

From the New York Times (click here).
Marco Ugarte/Associated Press
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. at the Mexican Oscars in 2009. 

Pedro Armendáriz Jr., a Mexican character actor best known for playing sly, sometimes cynical types, died on Monday in New York City. He was 71.
The cause was cancer, said the Mexican government news agency Notimex.

Mr. Armendáriz acted in more than 100 films, including “The Crime of Father Amaro,” which became the biggest box-office hit in the history of Mexican film when it was released in 2002. He played Pancho Villa in the 1989 film “Old Gringo” — a role that had earlier been played by his father, a Mexican movie star in the 1950s and ’60s — and was also in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” (2003) and the two most recent Zorro movies, “The Mask of Zorro” (1998) and “The Legend of Zorro” (2005).

His extensive television credits included roles on “Columbo,” “Remington Steele” and several Mexican series.

Mr. Armendáriz was born in 1940 and began his movie career in 1966.

He had been married and divorced twice and is survived by several children.

From the New York Times (click here).

Broadway in the Hood Needs Strong Actor

I really need a strong white male actor.. around 35-40 years old ... HELP!!

For more information, contact Torrey Russell at or 702.482.8777

Be blessed

B-Blessed & B-Safe
Torrey Russell - Founder
A Source Of Joy Theatricals / Broadway In The Hood
Please take a moment to donate!
News Story on Broadway In The Hood

Music Industry Rebounds; NYT e-mail blast; Tops on Red Box; Get Ready for the Summer of Sequels

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest industry news.

Concert moolah: The top-grossing music act in concert in 2011 was U2, demonstrating that it's not teenagers driving what is fast becoming the record industry's most important source of revenue as album sales head south. The Irish rockers were the only group to sell more than $100 million worth of tickets and were followed on the list by Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga, and Bon Jovi. The Los Angeles Times has all the details.

Email oops: On Wednesday more than 8 million people who had given their email address for one reason or another to the New York Times got a note informing them they had canceled home delivery and offering a chance to renew at 50% off. First the paper said the note was spam from another company, but it soon changed the story and admitted that in fact it had sent the email in error. To me, a mistaken email is hardly a big deal, but not knowing you sent it is a little bizarre. Coverage from the New York Times and PaidContent.

Cruise's box-office boom: "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" has taken in $86 million at the domestic box office through Tuesday but about twice that overseas, demonstrating that Paramount has a worldwide hit on its hands with the fourth entry in its Tom Cruise action series. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" was the first movie to cross $100 million domestically, but that's only because it opened first. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," meanwhile, is making up a bit of ground after its weak opening. Box-office details during the critical Christmas-through-New-Year's week from the Hollywood Reporter.

Red-hot on Redbox: Redbox renters across the U.S. preferred comedies in 2011, making their top choices Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It" and Ashton Kutcher's "No Strings Attached." The same was true in Los Angeles, though our top 10 contained a few movies the rest of the country wasn't as excited about, such as "Bad Teacher" and "The Social Network." The full lists and some analysis from the Los Angeles Times.

A cure for sequelitis? Summer 2012 will bring some significant bets on non-sequels at the box office, giving moviegoers a chance to prove they like original ideas after the highest grossing movies of 2011 were all follow-ups, reports the New York Times. Of course, whether "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" based on the bestselling book, is really more "original" than "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" or "The Dark Knight Rises" is a debatable point in my book.

 Put off to next year. "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment is still deep in negotiations with two potential buyers, but won't reach an agreement with either before the end of 2011.

The Santa Monica firm remains in talks to sell itself to fellow studio Lions Gate Entertainment and private equity firm Colony Capital, a co-owner of Miramax, people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said.

Executives at Summit had hoped to close a deal by the end of the year because of certain tax and financial advantages, two of the people said, but that has virtually no chance of happening by Saturday.
Instead, talks with both parties have slowed down during the holiday season and are expected to pick back up next week. Summit is likely still looking to close a deal as soon as possible, as it is currently in a good position with one more "Twilight" sequel yet to be released and a significant pile of cash that, one knowledgeable person said, will be distributed to investors in the event of a sale.

Both Lions Gate and Colony are said to be offering about $350 million to $400 million to acquire Summit, along with the assumption of roughly $200 million in debt.

If Lions Gate were to take control, Summit chiefs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger are expected to run the merged studio's motion picture group, sources close to the negotiations said. If Colony, which is led by billionaire investor Tom Barrack, were to be the winning bidder, Summit would likely be merged with Miramax. In that scenario, it's likely that Friedman and Wachsberger would run the combined company, possibly alongside Miramax CEO Mike Lang.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: Some recent handprint ceremonies at Grauman's Chinese Theatre were marketing stunts only and won't result in chipmunk handprints on Hollywood Boulevard. A profile of "Pariah" star Adepuro Odoye. Patrick Goldstein on "relationship movies." 

— Ben Fritz

Photo: U2's Bono in concert at the Meadowlands in New Jersey in July. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press.

On Line Acting Class Directory

The 2012 Pilot season is here!

Casting Directors are actively seeking and booking new talent to fill Thousands
of roles in new and ongoing film and TV productions. Now is the perfect
time to submit your headshot and resume from your profile.

To start your New Year right, and jump start your career, for a limited time, we're offering
select members of Explore Talent a free 7 day Pro Membership trial account.

With your free Pro Membership account you can enjoy these benefits and more:

- Auditions & Roles automatically matched to your profile
- Submit yourself to unlimited Auditions and Roles
- Submit directly to Casting Directors
- Gain greater site placement on
- Get contacted directly by Casting Directors
- Get the Exposure that you need!

We're helping people just like you land movie and commercial roles every day.
Read how we've helped a few members like you get discovered:
(Read more of our success stories here...)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SAG Members Discounts for Travel, Hotel, Car Rentals and More

Cheetah, RIP

Primate Actor from 'Tarzan' Films, Dies

Cheetah Tarzan Chimp 1934 - P 2011
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The chimpanzee, who was about 80 at his time of death, appeared in the early 1930s installments of the famous franchise.

One of the most famous animal actors in Hollywood history is gone.

Cheetah, the chimpanzee sidekick from Tarzan films, died of kidney failure over the weekend at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida. The Tampa Tribune reports that he was roughly 80 years old.

Hardly the only primate to take on the iconic role, Cheetah probably received the most exposure. He appeared in the 1932-1934 installments of the franchise, at the beginning of its heyday when Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller took over the title role.

In addition to having the distinction of being famous, Cheetah's longevity was one of his greatest accomplishments. Suncoast outreach director Debbie Cobb noted that chimpanzees generally live between 35 to 45 years in captivity, and only 25 to 35 years in the wild.

She also spoke highly of his character.

"He was very compassionate," Cobb told the Tampa Tribune. "He could tell if I was having a good day or a bad day. He was always trying to get me to laugh if he thought I was having a bad day. He was very in tune to human feelings."

Cheetah moved to the sanctuary around 1960, where he remained the most famous of its primate residents until his death. His interests included finger-painting, watching football and nondenominational Christian music.

Among Cheetah's Tarzan features were Tarzan and His Mate and Tarzan the Ape Man, where he starred alongside Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, who played "Jane."

O’Sullivan’s daughter, actress Mia Farrow, reacted to Cheetah's passing on her Twitter account, painting a less flattering portrait than Cobb.

"My mom, Tarzan's Jane, referred to Cheetah-the-chimp as 'that bastard,'" she wrote, "saying he bit her at every opportunity."

From The Hollywood Reporter (click here).

Successor Union Mission Statement

Marc Baron
Successor Union Mission Statement
AFTRA National Board

“The successor union (the successor union is used herein as a placeholder only) brings together two great American labor unions: Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Both were formed in the turmoil of the 1930s, with rich histories of fighting for and securing the strongest protections for media artists. Our members united to form the successor union in order to preserve those hard-won rights and to continue the struggle to extend and expand those protections into the 21st century and beyond.

We are actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, dj’s, news writers, news directors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. Our work is seen and heard in theaters, on television and radio, sound recordings, the internet, games, mobile devices, home video: you see us and hear us on all media distribution platforms. We are the faces and the voices that entertain and inform America and the world.

The successor union is committed to organizing all work done under our jurisdictions; negotiating the best wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits; preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities; vigorously enforcing our contracts; and protecting members against unauthorized use of their work.

A proud member of the AFL-CIO, the successor union partners with our fellow unions in the U.S. and internationally to seek the strongest protections for media artists throughout the world. We work with governments at the international, federal, state, and local levels to expand protections for American media professionals both at home and abroad.

It is a core value of the successor union that our strength is in our diversity. We are committed to the broadest employment and involvement of our members, regardless of gender, race, age, religious beliefs, disability, nationality, and sexual orientation or identification. The successor union strives to educate and engage members so that they may be full participants in the workings of their union. We are proud to be a model of inclusion, democratic organization and governance.“

Click on "read more" for the SAG resolution and press release.

We hear, but we don’t listen

"Most of us touch, but we don’t feel. We look, but we don’t see. We sniff, but we don’t smell. We eat, but we don’t taste. We hear, but we don’t listen. That’s fine for the steelworker or secretary, but it behooves the actor to develop those senses in the same way a blind man develops all his other remaining senses. He touches objects and “sees” them with his fingers. His hearing is sharpened as he focuses on the sounds as if he has touched the sound with his fingertips. The actor must use his eyeballs like fingertips to develop all of his senses and explore the world around him.

The actor should also be able to see beyond the features of a surface and into the fine details. A simple snapshot is not enough. The actor should familiarize herself with every nuance of her environment. She should allow the total environment to affect her, thereby freeing her imagination. Our five senses are how we take in the information of our world. In order to re-create a world on stage or before a camera, we must be able to simulate the information those senses receive while we're on a stage or a movie set."  -Allan Rich

From "The Soul of the American Actor" on line newspaper (see list to the right):

“Acting ought to be ranked amongst the learned professions; for the truth is, that in order to be a good actor, there is required a greater share of genius, knowledge and accomplishments, than for any other profession whatever; for this reason, that the profession of acting comprehends the whole system of human life.” James Boswell (1740-1795), "On the Profession of a Player," from “The London Magazine,” 1770)

Studying the history of acting must continue throughout your career. Again, much of our history is contained in one wonderful book, Actors on Acting. It captures the breadth of the history of acting. The knowledge and experience it contains is invaluable. Here's an example: Laurence Olivier wrote, “If somebody asked me to put in one sentence what acting was, I should say that acting is the art of persuasion. The actor persuades himself, first, and through himself, the audience.” •2007

To read more click here.

More excerpts from the article and Alla Rich's book "A Leap From the Method".

Allan Rich's Demo Reel click here. If you do not know who he is, you will after you see this reel.

Rich's career in motion pictures, television and on stage was interrupted in the middle when he was black listed by Senator McCarthy. He became a sucessful stock broker and art collector/dealer. He learned his craft and worked with the best, both before and after his period on the "Red List".

Follow the Screen Actors Guild on Facebook

Ballots in the mail next week or SAG Awards...

Screen Actors Guild Awards®
Ballots and Screenings Information

The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® nominations were announced on December 14. To be eligible to vote, your November 2011 dues must have been paid by December 16, 2011.

ONLINE final balloting will be available to all eligible members in January. Any member who would like to request a PAPER ballot, however, may do so by calling toll free, (877) 610-8637. Please have your SAG ID number ready when calling. Final ballot information — including requested paper ballots — will be mailed to all eligible members on December 30, 2011. For a complete calendar of dates and deadlines, click here.

The SAG Awards office is working with studios to finalize their plans for the final voting phase. We will notify members of any “for your consideration” offers via email on January 9, 2012.

Although most screenings are in Los Angeles and New York, please know that other screenings are taking place in major metropolitan areas. If you are interested in receiving email invitations to these film screenings, please go to and register.

If you have questions about member screenings, nominations or final voting, please contact the Awards Office at

Actor® Awards Ceremony will be Simulcast Live on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT).

Disabilities are not a reason not to work in Hollywood, thanks to Joey Travolta

Inclusion Films opens doors in Hollywood

Inclusion Films Joey Travolta
Greg Donoghue grew up around film sets. His father worked as a film publicist in Europe and his uncle is Pierre Spengler, a producer of the "Superman" movies.

But the 30-year-old had never seriously considered a career in the movie industry until he got a chance to direct his own short-film called "Sunshine Manor," a love story about relationship between a nursing home patient and her doctor.

"It takes a lot of patience, and time is your worst enemy," Donoghue said of his directorial debut. "I'd rather build sets than be a director, but the experience is going to benefit me when I try to get an interview."

Donoghue, who was diagnosed a few years ago with a form of high-functioning autism, was among nearly two dozen special-needs crew members who worked on "Sunshine Manor." The film was shot over three days in Burbank this summer as a class project for a 20-week-long course offered by Inclusion Films.

Founded by Joey Travolta, older brother of actor John Travolta, Inclusion Films trains adults with developmental disabilities in the nuts and bolts of filmmaking -- from writing the script to building sets and using film and editing equipment -- with the goal of finding them jobs in the entertainment industry or some other field.

Students with autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome are trained by working cinematographers, set designers, actors and other professionals who are active in the industry.

"The filmmaking process is a great teaching tool about life," said Travolta, 61. "A lot of our students aren't going to be filmmakers and may never work in the film business, but they are going to be able to go into the workplace and have a sense of what it's like to be on the job. This builds their self-confidence."

Click read more below, or go to the LA Times Company Town blog (click here) to continue.

Gump and Bambi; Rockband bleeds money; Fast Five most pirated; Program trains disabled adults for film jobs

The Skinny: A free tip for those of you who want to impress your in-laws and keep them busy over the holidays: Get into the entertainment business so you can show them screeners of movies still in theaters. In more useful news, Rock Band keeps on costing Viacom money even though it sold the games off last year, "Fast Five" was the most frequently pirated movie of 2011 on BitTorrent, and customers are still peeved at Netflix.

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest entertainment news...
RockBand2Here's your check for losing money: Viacom's failed attempt to enter the video game business continues to haunt Sumner Redstone's conglomerate. Although it sold Rock Band maker Harmonix last year, Viacom was just ordered in an arbitration to pay Harmonix's original shareholders $383 million in bonuses on top of $150 million already paid (and the original $175-million purchase price). Viacom is suing to overturn the decision. That's a big bonus for a game that never made money, and probably a contract Viacom's top brass really regrets. Coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Gamasutra.

The clock is ticking: Shareholders in "Twilight" studio Summit Entertainment are eager to agree on a transaction (aka selling the company) by the end of 2011, according to people familiar with the matter not authorized to discuss it publicly. But talks with potential buyers Lions Gate Entertainment and Miramax co-owner Colony Capital have yet to reach a conclusion. Perhaps the one hot media news story in an otherwise slow week is whether someone will buy Summit by Saturday.

Not the race you want to win: Auto racing action sequel "Fast Five" was the sixth most popular film at the domestic box office this year, but it was the No. 1 most illegally downloaded via BitTorrent. Other surprises on the list of 10 most-pirated films on BitTorrent were the appearance of "Source Code" and "Sucker Punch" and the absence of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Coverage in the LA Times and The Wrap.

Costly mistakes: Netflix's big missteps this year may cost it in customer loyalty for a long time to come. A survey of customer satisfaction with online retailers found that Netflix took the biggest tumble in 2011 as people were ticked off by an unexpected price hike of up to 60% and the Qwikster debacle. Amazon, which has a growing video-on-demand business, was the biggest gainer. AllThingsD and CNET News covered the data.

Picking the classics: It took "Forrest Gump" only 17 years to be added to the National Film Registry, compared with 69 years for "Bambi" and 77 for "Twentieth Century." Hey, I'm just reporting the news, not making a judgment. The LA Times and Hollywood Reporter a look at the 25 movies added to the collection by the Library of Congress. My personal favorite: Pixar president Ed Catmull's first digitally animated short: the self-explanatory "A Computer Animated Hand" from 1972.

Also in the Los Angeles Times: A program to train developmentally disabled adults for jobs in the film business. A profile of UFC "baldfather" Dana White. Adultery is hot on TV. Betsy Sharkey gives a good review to one of 2011's last releases, "Pariah."

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Guests try out Rock Band 2 at a 2008 event. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Hollywood Reporter Roundtable Video on Animation

I'm On Netflix

Bill Cosby promotes Netflix over Hulu

With "The Cosby Show," Bill Cosby created one of the most important sitcoms in TV history. Running from 1984 to 1992, it spent five straight years as the number one Nielsen rated show on television, with upwards of 30 million people watching his Huxtable family each week on NBC.

It's a cultural treasure, but just about 20 years since it went off the air, it can be a bit hard to find. But Bill giveth, and he giveth some more, and thanks to that generous spirit, he's posted this new video on YouTube to help old fans and curious new viewers find "The Cosby Show" online.

Hint: it's on Netflix, not Hulu.

Click here to go to the Huffington Post and view the Cosby video...

Gore Verbinski's 'Rango' Runs the Table in Best Animated Feature Oscar Race

In a year jam-packed with Oscar question-marks, one bit of near-certainty comes from an unlikely source: a 2D animated film based on an original screenplay.

Rango Still - H 2011
Paramount Pictures
One of the most noteworthy things about the 2011 awards race is how few "sure-things" there are this late in the season -- indeed, the best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actress, best adapted screenplay, and best original screenplay Oscars, to say nothing of the below-the-line categories', are all still up for grabs! The one race that appears to me to be locked and loaded, however, is best animated feature, in which Gore Verbinski's Rango is the clear frontrunner.

PHOTO and VIDEO: Award Season Animation Roundtable

American Cinimatographers Outstanding Achievement in Tele Television Nvision Nominations

Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)
'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Pan Am' 
Among ASC Nominated TV Programs

TV movie/miniseries noms include "Mildred Pierce" and"The Kennedys." 

From the Hollywood Reporter, subscription may be required (click here).

Abbot Genser/HBO
The cinematography on Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, Pan Am and Chase has been nominated for Amercian Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Awards in Television.
HBO's Boardwalk Empire actually earned two nominations in the one-hour episodic television series/pilot category. The nominees are David Franco for Boardwalk Empire (“To the Lost”), Jonathan Freeman for Boardwalk Empire (“21”), David Katznelson for PBS’ Downton Abbey (Pilot), John Lindley for ABC’s Pan Am (Pilot), and David Stockton for NBC’s Chase (“Narco Part 2”)

PHOTOS: Golden Globe Awards: The Nominees  

The finalists in the television movie/miniseries category are Ed Lachman for HBO’s Mildred Pierce, Kevin Moss for Showtime’s Chicago Overcoat, David Moxness for ReelzChannel’s The Kennedys (“Moral Issues and Inner Turmoil”), Martin Ruhe for PBS’ Page Eight, and Wojciech Szepel for PBS’ Any Human Heart (“Episode 2”).

The third television category, for a half-hour episodic series or pilot, was just added this year. The nominees are James Bagdonas for ABC’s Modern Family (“Bixby’s Back”), Michael Balfry for The Hub’s R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour (“Brush with Madness”), Vanja Cernjul for HBO’s Bored to Death (“Forget the Herring”), Levie Isaacks for ABC’s Man Up (“Acceptance”), and Michael Weaver for Showtime’s Californication (“Suicide Solution”).

ANALYSIS: How Golden Globe, SAG Film Noms Will Impact the Oscar Race

Freeman, Moxness and Stockton have won ASC Awards. Freeman earned awards for Boardwalk Empire (2011) and Homeland Security (2005). Moxness won for this work on Smallville in 2007, and Stockton earned his ASC Award for Eleventh Hour in 2009.

PHOTOS: 23 Awards Contenders Featuring Animals

HBO shows earned four nominations, followed by PBS and ABC with three, and Showtime with two. The Hub and ReelzChannel earned one each.

The 26th annual ASC Awards will be held February 12 at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom.

From the Hollywood Reporter, subscription may be required (click here).

2011 National Film Registry list is announced; ‘Gump,’ ‘Bambi’ deemed worthy

PHIL CARUSO, PARAMOUNT PICTURES/ABC - “Forrest Gump” is the most recent title being added to the 2011 National Film Registry list.

“Forrest Gump,” the multiple-Oscar winning 1994 film starring Tom Hanks as an American innocent navigating the social changes of the 1960s and 1970s, was named to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry on Wednesday, along with 24 other films deemed worthy of preservation at the library’s conservation facility in Culpeper, Va.

This year’s list spans more than 80 years, with “Forrest Gump” being the most recent title and “A Cure for Pokeritis,” a silent comedy made in 1912, being the oldest. A number of this year’s inductees have to do with social issues, from the documentaries “The Negro Soldier” and “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment” to the child-labor melodrama “The Cry of the Children” and “The Lost Weekend,” starring Ray Milland as a man battling alcoholism.

The story continues in The Washington Post (click here).


According to The Wrap, album sales in 2011 will close out the year actually up for the first time in a long time. OK, so 1% isn’t great – but compare it to years of double digit declines and the turnaround looks – if not wonderful – really welcome.
Content gets the credit, with big name artists putting out releases that did well. And the post suggests that next year’s sales may not do nearly as well.

Qualified officers needed or Nevada Film Fund

The NFA Board of Directors voted to launch the Nevada Film Fund (NFF) so, as corporate secretary, I am obligated to find qualified people to serve on the NFF Board of Directors. More about the NFF to come. Nominations and resumes welcome starting now to:

The Path to Merger?

Members have been asking me about the status of merger efforts and how I feel about it.

First off, how I feel. I see unity with AFTRA and other unions as essential for the financial and negotiating position of the Screen Actors Guild. I believe that the merging of technologies and the organized attack nation wide on unions by powerful politicians, with the support of many voters, means that for unions to survive, and make no mistake the Screen Actors Guild is a union, they must grow stronger and unified. With guidance from the AFL-CIO, SAG and AFTRA are moving toward a potential merger into an entirely new union. This process is being handled by the small G1 Committee and subcommittees.

Since the plan is not public, and even the board has not been told the details, I cannot commit one way or another on this merger plan.

We are still on track to vote on the plan in January and send it to you, the membership, in March or April.

The following is the latest press release on the process:

Los Angeles (October 19, 2011) – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild convened for the third formal face‐to‐face discussions of the Group for One Union.  Known as the G1, the group consists of members from the Screen Actors Guild Merger Task Force and the AFTRA New Union Committee.

G1 members including actors, performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals are working to facilitate the creation of a merged successor union to represent all the members of AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild.

The G1 received updates from the six workgroups established to formulate recommendations in key areas including Governance & Structure; Finance & Dues; Collective Bargaining; Pension, Health & Retirement; Operations & Staff; and Member Education & Outreach. Rank-and-file members of AFTRA and Screen Actors Guild who attended the nationwide meetings of the Presidents’ Forum for One Union Listening Tour identified these topics as necessary areas for study.

The workgroups gave detailed status reports on their achievements to date, providing G1 members the opportunity to evaluate any workgroup recommendations for inclusion in a comprehensive merger plan. Last spring, the AFTRA and SAG National Boards passed resolutions calling for creation of a Merger Agreement, National Constitution and uniform dues structure for a successor union to be presented for review in January 2012.

In a joint statement, Screen Actors Guild National President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon praised the G1 members and staff noting the achievements of the five-day meetings in a joint statement, saying:
“This was a remarkably productive meeting and we made solid progress across the full spectrum of issues we have to consider. The members and staff of both unions continue to work as a true team, and our efforts continue to prove that our shared interests are far greater than any differences we have.

The entertainment and media industries are evolving more quickly than ever, and the chance to bring our unions together is a golden opportunity – one we plan to take full advantage of. We’re committed to preserving the best aspects of SAG and AFTRA while we build a powerful new union that will be even better equipped to take on the emerging realities we’re facing. One thing is certain: we’re much stronger together than we are apart.”

The meetings were held in the Screen Actors Guild James Cagney Board Room at 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, and were again facilitated by Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations Professor Susan J. Schurman, and noted labor consultant Peter S. DiCicco.

Hollywood’s Henry Higgins RIP

Robert Easton Dies at 81

Robert Easton, a character actor turned accent coach to the stars, who transformed Drew Barrymore into Amy Fisher, Ben Kingsley into Meyer Lansky and Gregory Peck first into Josef Mengele and later into Abraham Lincoln, among other feats of articulatory alchemy, died on Dec. 16 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 81.
His daughter, Heather Woodruff Perry, confirmed the death. Just weeks before he died, she said, her father was happily turning John Travolta into a Bosnian.

For more than 40 years Mr. Easton reigned as the entertainment industry’s dean of dialects, sought after by actors needing to lose an accent, or gain one, sometimes in the few frantic hours before a critical audition. “The Henry Higgins of Hollywood,” he called himself, and the description was apt: Mr. Easton could get his own larynx around at least 200 different accents — ethnic, historical, regional, sociological — with little to no study.

His profession was not for the faint of heart. A few years ago he was awakened in the dead of night by a series of long-distance telephone calls; through the line came the menacing voice of Idi Amin. But the caller was merely Forest Whitaker, Mr. Easton’s pupil, who was phoning — in character — for some last-minute instruction while filming “The Last King of Scotland” in Uganda.

Besides Ms. Barrymore (who starred as the Long Island temptress in the TV movie “The Amy Fisher Story”), Mr. Kingsley (who played Lansky in “Bugsy”) and Mr. Peck (Mengele in “The Boys from Brazil,” Lincoln in the mini-series “The Blue and the Gray”), Mr. Easton’s clients included Al Pacino (Cuban, “Scarface”), Laurence Olivier (Michigander, “The Betsy”), Liam Neeson (Kentuckian, “Next of Kin”) and Natasha Richardson, whom he turned into the title character of “Patty Hearst.”
Without doubt, Mr. Easton’s greatest triumph came when a student, the Japanese actress Yoko Shimada, won a Golden Globe for her nuanced English-language performance in the 1980 mini-series “Shogun” — despite the fact that she did not actually know a word of English.

Robert Easton Burke was born in Milwaukee on Nov. 23, 1930. His parents divorced when he was about 7, and he moved with his mother to San Antonio, giving him his first awareness of regional dialect. (As a young man, he legally changed his surname from Burke to Easton to distinguish himself from his father.)

A childhood stutter also made him attuned to the minutiae of speech. “When you have a big problem like that you overcompensate,” Mr. Easton told The New York Times in 1998. “I found it easier to do voices other than my own.”

At 14, he appeared on the popular radio show “The Quiz Kids.” This led to dramatic roles on hundreds of other radio programs and from there to small parts in films, including “The Red Badge of Courage,” and bigger parts on television shows like “My Little Margie,” “Gunsmoke” and “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.”

But there was a problem. The accent Mr. Easton had absorbed in Texas was confining him, as he told Newsday in 1989, to roles of the “dopey deputy and halfwit hayseed” variety.

He soon mastered other dialects. After his marriage in 1961 to June Grimstead, an Englishwoman, he lived for several years in England, where he studied phonetics at University College London. He returned to Hollywood thoroughly linguistically armed and hung out his shingle.

Mrs. Easton died in 2005. Mr. Easton’s daughter and a granddaughter are his only immediate survivors.

His other acting credits include the TV shows “Father Knows Best,” “Get Smart” and “The Bionic Woman” and the films “Primary Colors,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” in which he played a Klingon judge.

Mr. Easton wrote the screenplay for “The Giant Spider Invasion,” a 1975 film in which he also appeared.

For all his skill at aural surgery, there was one actor, a master of dialect, for whom he could not take credit. As United Press International reported in 1986, nearly every time Meryl Streep made a movie, at least one of Mr. Easton’s friends would congratulate him on the fine job he had done with her accent.

And, Mr. Easton said, he would have to apologize and say: “No, it wasn’t me. But I wish it was.’ ”