Friday, September 08, 2006

Russell Postell, General Manager of KXTV-10, Responds

Here is Mr. Postell's reply to my E-Mail message:
The movie is a docu-drama based on findings from the 9/11 commission and is not meant to lay blame, but rather to outline events leading up to the tragedy.

Individuals at News10 from both sides of the political fence have watched the movie and did not feel that it was accusatory nor did they feel that it was defamatory to one particular political party. If indeed this ABC drama contains scenes that are simply not true, or gross distortions of actual events, it will be widely reported. Critics can then specifically point out which events were wrongly portrayed in the ABC docu-drama. We may all end up learning more about the actual events that lead up to September 11th.

Since the movie has not aired, opinions at this point are entirely based on premature assumptions. Below is ABC's statement concerning the film:

Statement from an ABC Spokesperson:

The Path to 9/11 is a dramatization, not a documentary, drawn from a variety of sources, including the 9/11 commission report, other published materials and from personal interviews. The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate, so it's not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate. The attacks were a pivotal moment in our history that should never be forgotten and it's fitting that the discussion continues.

The following disclaimer will air throughout the movie:

"The following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression."

Please be assured that we are logging all viewer comments and they will be shared with ABC.

If you wish to send your comments to ABC, you can do so through the following outlets

*E-mail: go to, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Contact ABC"
*Phone: 818-460-7477

Russell Postell
President & General Manager
News10 Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto
Here is my reply:
Mr. Postell:

Based on previews, critics are already pointing out which scenes are wrongly portrayed. There is no point in learning history by learning falsehoods first, thus feeding the flames of superstition.

Knowingly broadcasting false and defamatory information leads to a great debate all right, namely, which tree limb ABC/Disney (and KXTV) executives look best swinging from. I, for one, will not watch this travesty of recent history. I have more self-respect than that.

Monday morning, provided the show is not cancelled, I will gladly support efforts to boycott advertisers on KXTV and strip KXTV of its broadcast license.

Marc Valdez
Still A Chance To Stop It

Interesting analysis:
Given what I know about how big corporations think, I bet the political slant to the movie wasn't strictly intentional on Disney's part. I bet that Disney's ABC division used a set of PR firms and flacks that decided that 9/11 belonged to conservatives, and so hired conservative movement players to produce, market, and distribute this film. They got Tom Kean, so there was adult supervision. What a perfect event setup, to make ABC the place for the country to turn on 9/11. In this fragmented universe, wouldn't it be great to have a time when the country came together, on one place, to really understand this event through the medium of television. And how wonderful if this were on ABC. It would be AN EVENT.

Ha ha ha.

Of course, Mr. Iger was pitched a total fraud by his subordinates, who probably had it pitched to them in turn, with pitches upon pitches until you get to a nest of right-wing marketing people who think of themselves as internet savants, but are actually just kind of stupid and tied in to the dregs of the right-wing blogs. And now Iger probably feels tricked by his subordinates, who have allowed Disney to aid and abet a right-wing propaganda campaign. The higher-ups just didn't notice what was happening because their corporate controls are awful - ABC Entertainment made this piece of shit instead of ABC News.

The fallout from this is bad, but it's going to get worse. Disney has a full-on PR and political disaster on their hands, and they've handled it horribly. With real but oblique threats to their very broadcast licensing schema, ABC has clammed up and gone into full 'counterproductive big company clusterfuck mode', obviously lying to the public about the film still not being completed, and insulting its critics to boot.

That's not smart. Remember, the people doing the lying to the public on Disney/ABC's behalf are the same people who thought that this film would be AN EVENT, or at least ok'd it.

There is a window of time now for Mr. Iger to step up, an 'apologize for Tylenol tampering' moment. He needs to cancel this miniseries, and take personal responsibility for inadequate oversight. He should privately fire the people responsible for this total disaster of a project, and apologize. That's the only way to restore Disney's brand among a large group of very angry people. Be brave, be public, and be honorable. It'll work.
Call KXTV-10

Let General Manager Russell Postell know how you think:
Dear Mr. Postell:

On behalf of Sacramentans who do not want politically-inspired hit jobs to be given valuable air-time, please intercede to stop KXTV-10 from airing "Path to 9/11" on Sunday. The spectacle was designed specifically to distort history, by blaming everything on the Clinton Administration, facts be damned. The director is directly tied to evangelists with a mission to change Hollywood from the inside (presumably stooping to use whatever tactics necessary, including outright lies). All's fair in love and politics, as they might say!

We'll remember KXTV-10's decision, and whether or not it participated in such a disgusting smear job.
Maybe More Than They Bargained For?

A man with a plan:
The director of ABC's controversial "Path to 9/11" docudrama has ties to an evangelical Christian group whose goals include "transform[ing] Hollywood from the inside out," according to research by readers of prominent blogs.
Did Disney get hoodwinked by a director with a plan to blame everything on Clinton? Or was the director chosen specifically by Disney because he had such a plan already prepared? Chicken or egg, the Mouse is now in danger.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Horse's Head In The Bed

The Senate Democratic leadership sent a letter to Disney today threatening legal and legislative penalties if it goes ahead with its 9/11 show. The letter is so filled with menace that even the stupidest executive can't fail to see the danger.

Come on, Disney, proceed!
He Ran; He Lost

A battered-looking man, with his arm in a sling, sitting down at Subway Restaurant. His T-Shirt read: 'Run Against Pain.'
Rocket Man

William Shatner:
The Star Trek legend was offered a ticket by Richard Branson onboard Virgin Galactic's first passenger flight in 2008.

...The 75-year-old actor said: "I'm interested in man's march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me."

...He added: "I do want to go up but I need guarantees I'll definitely come back."
Introverts And Casinos

First impressions:
"I remember when [my husband and I] went to Las Vegas after we were first married," Laney says in her book. "I staggered through the casino, my brain numbed. Colors danced everywhere, and lights exploded in my eyes. The clanking of winners' coins tumbling into metal catchers pounded in my head ... I was pea green and felt like a trout I once saw lying on a bed of crushed ice in a fish market. At least the trout got to lie down."
Film Noir Style

Just a fun article about the style of film noir.
Dave Nachmanoff Concert At DMTC On Saturday!

Looking forward to this concert! Dave has a stellar reputation for excellent singing and guitar-playing.
A Time For Stripping; A Time For Not Stripping

Contrary to my standard view of the world, whereby stripping is always appropriate, there are apparently times when it isn't:
Some of Australia's leading scientists were still reeling from shock and disgust yesterday after a Federal Government-sponsored conference featured a sexy show by a group of burlesque dancers, ending in a mass walk-out.

Experts and academics attending Wednesday night's dinner at Old Parliament House in Canberra were flabbergasted when the evening's entertainment - a group of eight scantily clad women - wandered out.

Lead dancer and founder of Miss Kitka's House of Burlesque, Rebecca Gale, emerged clothed in red balloons, which she then encouraged male members of the audience to pop.

The dinner was supposed to be the highlight of the three-day Australia New Zealand Climate Forum, held at the Australian National University.

Instead event organisers were left red-faced when the few female scientists in the audience walked out. A disappointed, but not entirely surprised, group of dancers stopped their 45-minute routine after about 10 minutes.

Burlesque is a cabaret style of striptease, which combines crude humour and theatrical costumes with sexually suggestive poses and routines.

..."The intent was lighthearted entertainment," forum organisers Professor Michael Hutchinson and Dr Jenny Kesteven said in a statement.

"In retrospect the choice of entertainment was inappropriate for the occasion. We understand if the sponsors wish to withdraw. We trust that this will not reflect on the very productive contributions made by the Australia New Zealand Climate Forum."

Gale, who teaches women across Canberra the art of burlesque dancing, said she was disappointed her group was being referred to as "cheap strippers". "We're not that," she said.

Lisa Pavlinovic, one of Gale's students, said she was "not surprised" people had walked out on the show. "I was sceptical when we were asked to do the performance," she said. "But (the organisers) were armed with all the information on us. We definitely tailored the act to make sure we weren't too over the top. We chose carefully, but at the end of the day we were asked to do a job and we did what we do best."

Pavlinovic said the burlesque group was focused on raising women's self-esteem and confidence. "We never intended to go along and offend anybody," she said.
Time For Action

Time to boycott Disneyland and Disney World, and as many Disney products as we can think of.

Actually, Hollywood has long used various artifices to tell history, including made-up characters, time compression, and altogether-false retelling of stories, in order to to make the action more dramatic and compelling. Using these same artifices for 9/11 won't work, however, since the principals are all very much alive, and the stories fairly well-understood already.

Plus, it's all done with the intention of blaming the Clinton Administration for everything, and doing so with blatant falsehoods. This 9/11 TV show is being distributed free in schools as history too!

If historical inaccuracies and conservative outrage were enough to get CBS to offload its history of the Reagan's to Cable TV, liberal outrage should be enough to provoke a response here (unless, of course, the media's conservative bias hasn't already locked this smear into place).

What the corporate world won't do for the Bush Administration! Send an E-Mail with your complaints!
ABC's Revisionist History

This upcoming ABC/Disney mockumentary about 9/11 purports to be unbiased, but there are Bush Administration fingerprints all over the bald-faced lies it will present. Time to mobilize....
Here's Hoping!

Trouble in Labour land:
An all-out power struggle between the chancellor and the prime minister, culminating with allegations of blackmail by Tony Blair and a ferocious shouting match between the two men, appeared last night to have forced Mr Blair to publicly declare as early as today that he will not be prime minister this time next year.

That may not be enough for Gordon Brown, who is understood to have demanded that Mr Blair quit by Christmas, with an effective joint premiership until a new leader is anointed by the party.

...In probably the most astonishing day in the annals of New Labour, the use of the word blackmail to describe Mr Brown's actions over the past few days by Downing Street staff was authorised by Mr Blair, and reflected his view that Mr Brown is orchestrating a coup against him. Downing Street claimed the resignation yesterday of the junior defence minister Tom Watson and six parliamentary aides came with Mr Brown's agreement. The seven men quit the government demanding that Mr Blair stand down immediately. Later in the evening, another of the letter's signatories, Iain Wright, resigned as a parliamentary private secretary in the Department of Health.

Downing Street's allegations led to counter accusations from the Brown camp of intimidation of backbench MPs by No 10 aides desperate to cling to office. As a result, the chances of the much prized stable and orderly transition between the two men looked to have collapsed.

The recriminations came after meetings between the two men at Downing Street ended yesterday afternoon with Mr Blair rejecting Mr Brown's terms for allowing him to remain in office, including an accelerated timetable for Mr Blair's resignation by Christmas, and an effective joint premiership in the interim.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"I'm Ready For My Profile, Mr. DeMille"

Research confirming what we've all suspected anyway. I get a kick over the 'seven' components too:
Celebrities have more narcissistic personality traits than the general population, and people with narcissistic tendencies seem to be attracted to the entertainment industry rather than the industry creating narcissists, according to a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers Drew Pinsky of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and S. Mark Young of the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

..."Narcissists generally crave attention, are overconfident of their abilities, lack empathy, and can evince erratic behavior," said Pinsky, who is an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at USC. "However, they are also well-liked, especially on first meeting, are extroverted and perform well in public."

To conduct their research Pinsky and Young employed a well-validated personality research instrument, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), which has been used by researchers for more than two decades. The NPI test divides narcissism into seven components: superiority, exhibitionism, entitlement, vanity, authority, exploitiveness, and entitlement.

The authors found that the celebrities participating in the study had statistically significantly higher narcissism scores compared to aspiring business leaders (MBA students) and the general population. Reality TV personalities had the highest overall narcissism scores when compared with actors, musicians and comedians.

What's more, while men are more likely than women to evince narcissistic traits in the general population, the authors found that, among celebrities, females were more narcissistic than their male counterparts.

...The research data were collected anonymously and confidentially from celebrities selected at random during guest appearances on the nationally syndicated Westwood One radio show "Loveline," based at the KROQ-FM radio station in Los Angeles. The celebrities were administered the NPI test during breaks on the show, which Pinsky has hosted for the past 20 years.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Twigs And Berries - "The Full Monty" - Runaway Stage Productions

Left: Over the entrance of the 24th Street Theater. Does the illustration show a bit too much leg for general public consumption?

A very pleasant, libertine kind of Sunday afternoon, checking out Runaway Stage's "The Full Monty."

This is a fun comedy. According to the RSP folks, it sold very well on Friday and Saturday evenings, but because it was a holiday weekend, because events like the State Fair and the Rainbow Festival were sucking out the oxygen in the Sacramento air, and because the Sunday matinee audiences tend to be older (and presumably less interested in risque material), attendance was off. Well, there's just no excuse for that! Round up the girls (and the guys) - even if everyone is just out of church - and head on over!

Left: Final Bows - Actors acknowledge the orchestra, conducted by Christopher Cook (right).

Left to right: At edge of photo, Mary Young. Floyd Harden, Lauren Miller, Tristan Rumery, Craig Howard, Michael R.J. Campbell, Scott Fera, Stephen Russell, Kyle Young, Netty Carey, Sammy Duncan, Anahita Savarnejad, Andrew Skogkebo.

I was quite impressed with Scott Fera, who played an excellent Jerry Lukowski. It was pleasure listening to him sing 'Man,' as well as 'Breeze Off The River.' We'll have to see Scott in more shows! Michael R.J. Campbell was at his inimitable best as Dave Bukatinsky, Jerry's friend. Craig Howard was amusing as former human relations department supervisor, and dancing instructor, Harold Nichols. Stephen Russell was much too young to play 50-year-old Noah Simmons, but imaginative use of hair-white helped.

Every show featuring nekkid people still needs a clotheshorse. That role was played by Mary Young, who sported these amazing, colorful brocaded creations by Lillian Baxter.

The six Main Men of the show had one important advantage, compared to many competing community theater shows - they were all quite good looking. I mean, with or without clothes, they look JUST fabulous - nice pecs, smooth skin, muscular (why do I even choose words like these - perhaps I have ISSUES I'd care not to dwell on?)

One weakness of the show may be its script. Some of the language seemed sort of stilted to me. One example was the bathroom discussion between Georgie (Heather Sheridan) and Pam (Lauren Miller). There were two sentences, or so, that sounded as if an academic had written them. It wasn't an acting problem, it was that these two characters would not have made these particular word choices. Perhaps since the show had a working class English origin, and had to be reworked for an American setting, some difficulties crept into the rewrite.

The popularity of the show hinges on the universality of its message - finding dignity, and happiness, in a world that often denies it. Issues regarding body image are often involved, and the show is among the most direct you'll ever see regarding these issues. Employment, and happiness at work, are very important too. In fact, the principal message of the show is so inherently powerful that I wonder why other people didn't think of it before. Why didn't Rodgers and Hammerstein do "The Full Monty"?

There was a brief technical glitch at the top of the show - the taped music didn't start for a few seconds. Stripping without music can be made to work, if necessary, as long as the fantasy is maintained (need beach balls - big beach balls, and feathers). I remember a friend describing once having seen a bored stripper go through her routine while conversing with a friend about her day - shopping for groceries, cleaning the bathtub, mopping floors. My friend said the dissonant experience of the popped fantasy was quite painful.

In many societies, nakedness is used as a form of protest. For example, formal wear in Sunday church was carefully graduated amongst 17th-Century New England Puritans, with the richest, most gloriously-clothed people in the front, and simple, poorly-clad farmers way in the back. The Quakers, upon finding themselves in this (objectionable) society, would sometimes show up to church stark naked. Even as late as 1967, a village of Ukranian Baptists living in Canada protested their displacement by the construction of a dam by angrily going naked in the streets.

Hippies, yippies, and other countercultural folks sometimes used nakedness as a form of protest - indeed, latter-day flower children, like my friend Kashi, protested ordinances about public nudity in Humboldt as recently as - what? - eight years ago? - by going bare-breasted in the streets of that northern California coastal town. Got her picture in the local paper too (with a strategically-placed banner headline across the photo).

Nakedness is easier in California than in most places (like Buffalo, NY, the setting for "The Full Monty").

The protest urge of nakedness is greatly-sublimated in modern society, but when coupled to commerce (stripping), fame (streaking), or daring celebrity (Superbowl wardrobe malfunctions) sometimes squeaks out anyway. "The Full Monty" is a perfect expression of the impulse to go naked, in order to make a point, about the dignity of work, and the human body.

This is the only show I've heard of that has a gallows-humor musical number, 'Big-Ass Rock,' all about suicide. I found the humor quite disturbing, even upsetting - certainly more upsetting than 'Little Priest' from Sweeney Todd, since we are all more likely to be afflicted by suicide than by gamey 19th-Century meat pies. I thought about yanking down my pants and going naked in protest, standing motionless in grim stolidity in the aisle, but I was afraid that one of RSP's trademark dance routines would erupt, as they often do, in the aisles, and I wasn't going to endanger my Johnson amongst all the flying elbows and kicking feet, just to make Bob Baxter laugh and make all my friends cry.

You know, if you live long enough, you see many things. In a lifetime, you might see a dozen or more lunar eclipses. If you travel, or live in the right place, you might even see a total solar eclipse. But it wasn't until today that I saw Michael R.J. Campbell in a G-String. Big guy (plus little G-String) equals Big Visual Impact! Like I say, if you live long enough, you see many things (now I can die).
"Born To Boogie" - Marc Bolan and T Rex

Rummaging for a fun DVD to watch, I ended up spending a lot of time this weekend repeatedly watching Ringo Starr's remastered movie, "Born To Boogie," featuring Marc Bolan, and his trend-setting band, Tyrannosaurus Rex (later, T Rex). Ringo Starr himself, and Elton John, were also featured. In particular, the movie contains footage of two concerts that were filmed at Wembley Arena, in London, on March 18, 1972.

Although Marc Bolan had a talent for writing catchy rock-and-roll tunes, T Rex ended up pioneering a lot of what might properly be called glam rock, or even some varieties of heavy metal. Marc Bolan was an infectiously-fun and charismatic lead singer - many of the teenage girls shown in the movie were clearly in the thrall of latter-day Beatlemania. He was sort of a Goth - an atypical, happy Goth.

I remember when I first heard of T Rex. In January 1971, for a very, very brief period (less than a week), all-purpose rock-and-roll AM-radio station KQEO in Albuquerque played what had become the top single in Britain, Tyrannosaurus Rex's "Ride A White Swan." Although that song wasn't played in the movie, several others were, including T Rex's most famous song, "Bang A Gong."

I still haven't gotten enough of "Ride A White Swan":
Ride it on out like a bird in the sky ways
Ride it on out like if you were a bird
Fly it all out like an eagle in a sunbeam
Ride it on out like if you were a bird

Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a tatooed gown

Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane
Wear your hair long, babe you can't go wrong

Catch a bright star and a place it on your fore-head
Say a few spells and baby, there you go
Take a black cat and sit it on your shoulder
And in the morning you'll know all you know, oh

Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a tatooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane
Wear your hair long, babe you can't go wrong

Da-da-di-di-da, da-da-di-di-da ....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

DMTC-U in September

This was the first time we ever attempted anything like this: a dinner catered by Cracchiolo's of Woodland (pasta, chicken, & salad), plus a fundraising auction! Roughly 150 people showed up, including many DMTC Season Ticket holders. The evening brought in roughly $15,000, more than expected, in part, because the two Mercedes Benz automobiles donated to the theater (specifically for the auction), met their respective reserve amounts during bidding. The cars thus sold, yielding a cool $5,100 to the theater.

Since June, DMTC had been falling progressively into deeper trouble regarding money; in part, because of large gaps between income-raising shows during the summer, in part because of exorbitant July air-conditioning expenses - the worst heat wave in ten years - but mostly from the sheer, dead weight of so much debt incurred during the building of the theater. We needed an infusion of income beyond what the regular season could be expected to provide.

This fundraiser, then, was ultimately about helping pay for the building we now occupy, and the money we raised Saturday was sufficient to extricate ourselves from our current hole. That's not to say we won't slip into holes again: we'll have to continue to be creative regarding use of the facility to stay ahead of creditors. There are plans afoot (not yet fixed) to stabilize DMTC's debt in the future, so emergencies are fewer. Nevertheless, if Saturday's experience was any clue, we should be able to prevail, no matter what happens. We really do have lots of community support, and that, after all, is more precious than gold.

The committee in charge of the evening was primarily directed by YPT parents: Bonnie, Mary, Jeni, Michael, and Poppy, among others. I missed the organizational meeting on Wednesday, so when I showed up at the theater, I knew little of the plans underway, and focused instead on cleaning bathrooms, and some sweeping.

People started showing up early, though (apparently it is de rigeur for people to show up early at auctions in order to scan the merchandise - who knew?). I was hurriedly sent out to collect tickets. I didn't know where the tickets were, or how to do the job, and for a few minutes, I was very, very confused, but Arthur came over to help, and with more help by Wyatt Floerke and Rachel Fader, we were able to overcome the difficulties. Nevertheless, I never did get changed into my evening clothes, and so I felt a bit raggedy among all the nicely-dressed people.

I suspect I wasn't alone in feeling stressed, though. Since no one had ever done this sort of thing before, many people, YPT teenagers included, often had to improvise solutions to novel problems that arose during the evening (bussing tables, for example: who knew that we had to have a plan for that?)

I think this may have been the first time we ever served wine and beer at DMTC!

The buffet dinner was served (and everyone sat at tables) in front of the theater. Objects for auction were placed on tables in the DMTC lobby. The weather was breezy as the evening cooled off and people meandered among the merchandise. Michael Elfant did an excellent job of MC'ing during the early part of the show, when YPT performers sang snippets of songs. David Nachmanoff (who will be in concert at DMTC on September 9th) set aside his recent bronchitis to sing two rousing folk songs (it will be a great concert next Saturday!) DMTC Main Stage performers like Ryan Adame, Brad Bong, Marguerite Morris, Andy Hyun, and Lenore Sebastian all sung. Later, Steve Isaacson MC'ed during the live bidding.

The bidding posed a few amusing problems. For example, during live bidding, Sarah Rudy bid $400 for one of the Mercedes automobiles, then $2,200, and then Steve pretended to acknowledge a $2,600 bid from her (and she's not even close to being old enough to drive). Her dad felt obliged to warn her about participating!

I noticed that everyone was quite shrewd about their bids - there were no wild excesses, or runaway bidding (dang!) As a result, a lot of people got real steals at the auction.

A very pleasant time was had by all! We'll have to do this more often!
Hurricane John Update

Earlier today, there was a wide gap between forecasts for the fate of Hurricane John.

GFS was saying, "OK, Tropical Storm John is heading TOWARDS Arizona, but alas, the rain won't cross the border."

NOGAPS was saying "be sure to close your windows, and pick up some sand bags at Home Depot."

Now, NOGAPS is beginning to adopt the GFS viewpoint that John won't quite cross the border. Instead, John is forecast to indirectly affect AZ weather through the moisture it releases, but the system itself will stay out of the state. This view has some evidence to support it: John is nearly stalled over the Sea of Cortez.

I continue to hold a stubborn, minority opinion that John may yet have a large influence on AZ weather. I think the mid-latitude system currently over Nebraska will attempt, and fail, to capture John. The attempt will lower pressures over AZ, thereby permitting northward movement of the storm.

We'll see!
California State Fair 2006

Went to the State Fair Friday night with some of the DMTC folks. The place was reassuringly familiar - the same arteriosclerotic disasters on the fair food menu; the same pop star posters on the midway as last year (I thought about throwing a ball to knock milk bottles over, in order to get a Jessica Simpson poster, but decided against it), and the same merchants at work.

This year's emblematic moment was watching a little kid try repeatedly, and failing, to clamber atop a golden metallic statue of the California Bear. It might have been the same kid who tried the same thing last year, and failed then too.