Archive for January, 2010

Scene in Portland, So You Want to be a Thug?

So You Want to be a Thug?
Ever been told you look like a criminal? Well now’s your chance to take that to the bank. Casting Director Lana Veenker wants to train you up to become a Leverage thug. TNT’s Leverage employed over 120 local actors and more than 800 local background artists last season, and many of those people are not eligible to be featured again in Season 3. Veenker wants to make sure we have enough thugs to go around for the new episodes, which begin filming in Portland in March. If you are big and burly (you don’t have to be tall), and want to try your hand as a thug or a stunt person, check out Veenker’s Leverage Thug Boot Camp, taking place the weekend of February 6th and 7th. For more details and registration info, see the Leverage Boot Camp website and Veenker’s Casting Scoop blog.

OMM and Arthouse Agencies Branch Out
Two of Portland’s powerhouse talent agencies, OMM (Option Model Management) and Arthouse, recently announced they are both branching out to become full service agencies. The two agencies used to work as an unofficial team, with OMM booking talent for the print side of the house and Arthouse booking the film and commercial roles. Each agency is now booking talent for both the print and film jobs, which we hope is a win-win for the growing film industry in Portland.

Wake Before I Die
is first i-OPIF Production

In 2009, the Oregon legislature passed SB863, which created the “Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund” (i-OPIF). The fund provides rebates of  “20% of goods and services and 10% of Oregon labor for films produced by Oregon filmmakers who spend a minimum of $75,000 but not more than $750,000 on their project.”  The fund began taking applications the first week of January, and the Freeman Brothers (Todd and Jason) must have been first in line, because their production of the feature film Wake Before I Die is the first to utilize the fund.
The script for the film is an adaptation of Dale Freeman’s novel My Soul To Take. Oh, and did I mention Dale Freeman is Todd and Jason’s father? Truly a family affair. Wake Before I Die is currently in production, and is a collaboration of the Freeman brothers, produced by Robert Blanche.

CON-Con the Leverage Fanatic Convention
What started out as a relatively small fan gathering has turned into a full-fledged Leverage convention. The CON-con is on! Leverage fans from around the world are planning to converge on Portland the weekend of March 19-21, to meet and greet their fellow fans, and get a chance to rub elbows with the Leverage cast. The event kicks off on Friday, March 19th, with a TNT-hosted CON-con Cocktail Party at The Governor Hotel. Prices for events start at $25 (to attend the cocktail party) and go up to $300 for the complete Platinum package. Registration information available on the CON-con website.

The Casting Couch
Commercial spots recently booked: Bissel, RAID, Nike, Mellow Yellow. Casting happening now: Microsoft, Nike, Oil Can Henry’s, an indie film called Thumbdrive, a SAG short called Beat Red with Mike Farrell (M.A.S.H) and Doug Rowe. Jobs are up 35% from this time last year. We love that!

Job Board
TNT’s Leverage is seeking to fill the following crew positions: Location Sound Mixer, “B” Camera Operator, and Personal Assistant/Production Assistant. See the Oregon Film Board website for details.

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The Twang at The Woods with The Muse

I am a bit of a music snob. What I mean by that is when I see live music I like to be within a few feet of the band so I can get the full experience. I am not going to pay a lot of money for seats in the attic when I could get that experience listening to a CD at home. No, I want to see them sweat.

And I have no tolerance for bands who suck live. I don’t want you to sound all produced like you do on your CD, but you’d better have some stage presence and know how to play those things you call instruments.

As an actress, I know how it feels to be really good but never make it. No one will ever know you’re any good if they never get the chance to see you work your magic. It is the same in the music industry. Plenty of great bands never get heard.

There is a local DJ named Greg on 94.7 KNRK. On a recent trip to the UK he came across a band called The Twang, and somehow convinced  them they should come visit Portland. Take a vacation! Come see the beautiful Pacific Northwest! So they did. Not only did they come to Portland on vacation, but they played a FREE show at The Woods (a former funeral parlor) in Sellwood, and they used borrowed instruments. And this was their first real show in the U.S.

I got to The Woods at 6pm on Friday when the doors opened, and found a line had already formed. I showed my I.D. (yes, they carded everyone), got my wrist stamp, and immediately procured a cocktail from the makeshift bar: a card table adorned with a bottle of vodka, gin, tequila, mixers, and a metal cash box. I had had a very stressful afternoon at work, and had been looking forward to a vodka and soda with a lime since about 4pm. I took a long draw on the straw, took a look around and waited for my friends to arrive.

The stage area was at the far end of what must have been the room where services were originally held when the place was a funeral parlor. In fact, the stage was right where the casket would have been had we all been there for a viewing instead of a concert. Creepy in a cool way.

My friend Peter was the first of my friends to show up, and I dragged him straight to the front of the “stage” and set my purse down right next to one of the amps.

“You’re such a groupie,” he said.

“Hey, you’ll thank me later,” I said, somehow knowing this band was going to be good, really good. “Mark my words. This is the last time you’ll ever see them in a venue this size.”

You see The Twang play to stadium-size crowds in the UK. They play at festivals and open for bands like Oasis. And here we were, seeing them in the “living room” of a funeral parlor for free!

The room quickly started to fill up. Right around 7pm, Greg (from KNRK) came up and introduced the band. The crowd crushed up, the band started to play, and I knew from the first bar that this little concert was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

My friends Joe and Jeff showed up somewhere around the second or third song and said they were the last two people to get in. They had started to turn people away at the door. The place was packed.

I’m not sure who to compare The Twang to, but Elvis Costello and a few other bands come to mind.

At one point someone in the crowd yelled out, “Do a Beatles cover!” to which the lead singer Phil replied, “How about if I just cover you with my fucking beer?!”

I love these guys. They are The Twang from Birmingam, England. The CD I bought at the show was well worth the $10. Go see them if you get a chance. As they say in Birmingham, fucking brilliant!

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To the Point TV Show Topics for Jan. 6, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we last taped a To the Point TV show. I had been writing, co-producing and hosting this show for over three years when I decided to take a break last January. It was a lot of work for no pay. But it was always interesting and challenging.

Well, all good breaks must come to an end. We taped two back-to-back shows last night, and they will start airing in the Portland Metro area next week on channels 21 and 23 I think. They will be up on our website ToThePointTV.org in a week or two.

The panelists last night were:

State Representative Matt Wingard

Mike Riley, Riley Research

Richard Donin, Energy and Educational Consultant

and guest panelist Courtney Clarke, a local business owner.

International
The protests that began after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election in June have grown into what some say is the biggest challenge to the government since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Just this week the government banned all citizens from cooperating with foreign organizations such as the BBC, Voice of America, and various human rights groups, saying these groups were trying to destabilize the government.  Who will prevail, Ahmadinejad or the people of Iran, and what if anything can the world community do?

National
On December 25th a suspected al-Qaeda member, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, got on Northwest Airlines flight 253 in Amsterdam and attempted to detonate a bomb during the flight’s final descent into Detroit. British intelligence had been tracking Abdulmutallab for more than a year, and Abdulmutallab’s father had warned U.S. intelligence of his son’s radical behavior six weeks prior to the incident. The U.S. has already announced it will require additional screening for air passengers bound for the U.S. from any of 14 countries, including Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But will this work?

State
According to the Cascade Policy Institute (a free market think tank), Measures 66 and 67 could cost Oregon up to 70,000 jobs. Opponents of the measure say we shouldn’t be increasing taxes during a recession and the government hasn’t tightened its belt enough.  Proponents say the tax is only on the wealthiest Oregonians and corporations and that schools and health care services will have to be cut if the tax increases don’t pass. Let’s talk about the key points in these measures.

Local
He’s a former Portland Trailblazer, a financial adviser, and a sometimes basketball and lacrosse coach in Lake Oswego. He’s Chris Dudley and he’s running for Governor. Can he win the  Republican nomination with a lot of financial backing but no political experience?

International

The country of Yemen is being torn apart by a tribal rebellion, a secessionist movement, and the worst poverty and unemployment in the Arab world. And al-Qaeda has been quick to take advantage of the chaos, and create a presence in Yemen. How can the U.S. be most effective in fighting this terrorist organization?

National

Both the Senate and the House have put forth legislation to pass a behemoth healthcare bill. Some argue the bill violates constitutional rights. Others say it doesn’t go far enough. Assuming the bill passes, what will be the most significant impacts on the average U.S. citizen?

State

According to an investigative report published in The Oregonian newspaper, the administration of Governor Ted Kulongoski misrepresented the true cost of a tax credit created to subsidize renewable energy, in order to get it passed by the State Legislature. Is the Business Energy Tax Program still a good program even with the additional costs?

Local

Economists say the state has technically climbed out of recession. but tell that to the 11.1% of Oregonians who are still unemployed. Tom Potiowsky, Oregon government’s chief economist says it’s a jobless recovery and it’s going to be a long, slow road. What is it going to take for Oregon to dig itself out of the recession?

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Kiss the Last Decade Goodbye

As I was sitting around the table at Starbucks this morning with my running buddies of 15 years, there was a common theme in the conversation. We were all more than happy to kiss the last decade goodbye.

When I look back at the last 10 years I realize that I have been through every major life crisis imaginable. I went through a divorce. I lost my mom. I had cancer not once but twice (I’m five years clear now, knock wood).  I had to short sale a house I owned in L.A. I had to take a business partner to court. I was underemployed, and then unemployed. I ended the decade with a very destructive relationship.

We all watched our 401k plans shrink by half.

But even with all of that adversity I still saw the glass as half full. Every time I wanted to have a pity party I thought about the people who were worse off than me. I had a roof over my head. I wasn’t sleeping in my car or under a bridge. I survived cancer.  In 2008 I won my court battle. And in 2009 I sold that house in L.A. and landed an awesome job. And in the Spring of this year I vowed to never again accept anything less than integrity, honesty and mutual respect in a relationship.

We all change over time, but I feel like I had a major life makeover. I truly believe that if you never know adversity and sorrow you can’t really appreciate joy.

May this decade bring us all an abundance of friends, family, love and joy. Happy new year everyone.

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