Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NASCAR - Coca Cola 600 - An Insiders View

I arrived at the race track at 11 am. Gates opened at noon for the fans and the race start time is about 5 pm. Already getting to the track you sit in traffic where the last mile took me about 15 minutes even though I had VIP parking passes. I quickly parked my car and made my way up the express elevator to the Diamond Tower Suites. I met with the team of other "concierges", medical personal, security, cleaning, catering and corporate hosts already preparing the suites for the day.

The suites and companies I worked with this year were a little different from the fall race season. I worked with a suite from Deloitte, Speedways Children's Charities, Carolinas Medical Center, Anheuser Busch, CT Communications, The Charlotte Observer Newspaper, and a suite called "The Pit Crew". Most of these are sponsors or closely connected with Lowes Motor Speedway.

I had worked with some of the "hosts" for the fall Bank of America races, so it was easier this time to anticipate issues and things they needed. Most of the suites are given "Pit Passes" so that their guests can visit the pit area prior to the race. Some of these suites will hire a guide for an "official tour".

At 4:15, one of the most interesting things happened. The army was presenting a 30 minute program that included blackhawk helicopters flying around suite level inside the stadium, army rangers rappelling into the track, and they even fired explosives from a large cannon. This was memorial day, so it was really time to reflect and honor the troops. I had met an army ranger the previous day and had a long discussion about Iraq and our exit strategy. He had served 3 tours in Iraq and really provided a different perspective than what I had grasped from reading newspapers and magazines and watching tv and youtube.

Most of this race was mixed with crashes as the heat on the track was around 140 degrees at race time and the track would be cooling down on until darkness fell. Top racers such as Jeff Gordon were eliminated early from the race. With about 50 laps to go it looked as if Tony Stewart would be wrapping up the win.

Also, at lap 50, in one of my suites was a winner of the Food Lion/Coca Cola Sweepstakes. He had been entertained all week, got a ride in the pace car prior to the race and now was heading down with a photographer, his host from Coca Cola to ride a stretch hummer to Victory Lane. I was close to tagging along as things were quiet at that point and there was plenty of room. I settled for the photographer taking my picture in the suite. (I hope to get a copy to post here).

Also during the race, there is lots of food and drinks being served from fruit plates to chicken, to cheesecake. There is also a bar in each suite with two bartenders who make sure that the food and drinks are plentiful.

At the end of the race, I was able to pick up a gift basket from the Pit Crew Suite from Cabarrus County Visitor Bureau. I also was able to bring home a giant bag of popcorn for my kids.

At the end of the night, I did have a bit of an insiders view of the track. I had the opportunity to drive my car around from Turn 2 to the corporate area near Turn 4 as I had to report in. It was interesting weaving in and out of the sea of fans leaving the race. It was only my car and the official golf carts in that area.

I did get to meet some people this week from NASCAR, Lowes Motor Speedway, Speedway Children's Charities, and

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cannes - Headhunter debuts as "Riding with Elvis"

I received a note of a change of the films name as it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. G. Edward Stanley's autobiographical production with had the title "Headhunter" changed its name to "Riding with Elvis". I actually like that name better as it is a clearer description of the impact that Elvis Presley had on G. David Stanley's life.

Nextel All Star Challenge

The Nextel All Star Challenge is somewhat of a homecoming for many of the NASCAR drivers and it is a "permanent" all-star game "race" which is held every year of Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, just outside of Charlotte.

The top Nascar drivers in the world compete for a $1 million dollar prize. It is an exciting night usually filled with some tight racing and wrecks as there are three segments of 20 laps each, so it is more like a sprint to win.

The week here in Charlotte in the Spring that includes the Nextel Cup and the Coca Cola 600 is called Speed Week. We have a "Speed Street" in downtown Charlotte that includes most of the major sponsors of NASCAR and three stages of musci.

This year, I was working at the race handling the suites for NASCAR, Speed Channel/Fox Sports, Purina, CarQuest, and others. The suites were along turn 4 which is the last turn before the finish line. It is an exciting place to be sitting. The suites are glass enclosed with seating for about 50 people and come with their own bartenders and buffet.

Being a concierge is about a 10 hour day. This job is part host, part security, and part maintenance. In addition to playing host, things go on in the suites from fixing the air conditioning systems to painting and putting up logos and artwork, to setting up the televisions (and handling the remote controls) for each suite.

I had a chance to meet and mingle within most of these suites this week and got to meet some of the event planners and sports marketing people who are responsibile for making sure their company's clients are having a great experience.

Cannes - D. Edward Stanley and The Headhunter

While I was working on the film Leatherheads (George Clooney - December 2007 release) and working my way beck to contacts within the film industry, I received a call from a friend from San Francisco that I needed to talk to a business associate and mentor of hers, named D. Edward Stanley.

I was not really familiar with him or his name. She told me to go to his website, and to look at some of the projects he was working on and to give him a call to introduce myself. I was somewhat busy with filming "Leatherheads" and in the midst of working on working on this blog, so I did not get a chance to call right away. David was heading out on a long motorcycle ride. About 10 days later, as I was sitting in Starbucks, I called him and spoke to him for about thirty minutes about film production and business plans, building teams and executioin of those plans.

David turned out to be one of the sharpest people I have spoken too. He also turned out to be the step brother of Elvis Presley and had actually grown up in Graceland since the age of four and being one of Elvis's bodyguards at age 16. He had just completed ab autobiographical movie called "Headhunter" which he was promoting at the May 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It was a movie about his life as Elvis' bodyguard and the experiences he encountered on tour with Elvis. D. Edward Stanley was "The Headhunter".

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cannes - Michael Moore - Sicko is Socko!

I just received this letter from Michael Moore, director and creator of the movie Sicko, about our health care system in the United States. It debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past week to tears and a 15 minute standing ovation.

Here is the letter from Michael Moore:

A Letter from Michael Moore: 'Sicko' is Socko in Cannes!

May 23rd, 2007


Well, as you may have read by now, our premiere of "Sicko" at the Cannes Film Festival has been an overwhelming success. The 2,000 people inside the Lumiere Theater were alternately in tears and laughing during the two-hour film -- and when it was over, they gave it a standing ovation that seemed to go on for nearly 15 minutes! Many came up to me and said (and critics seem to agree) that this is my best film yet. I don't know about that, and it seems weird to compare any of these movies in the first place. But I do feel safe in saying that I am very, very happy with this film and I can't wait to show it to you when it opens on June 29th.

Cannes is a crazy place. There are film lovers here from nearly every country in the world. And then there are the people in "show business." These dark forces have virtually ruined this art form (invented by the French and nurtured to brilliance by the country I call home). There are so many bad, awful films now and less and less people are going to the movies. Many who run Hollywood believe that the American people are too stupid to enjoy a film that respects their intelligence.

At the press screening for "Sicko," the Wall Street Journal reported that hardened reporters and critics wept. Even those who have been harsh to me in the past, or who have not agreed with my politics, were moved. Aside from my stated desire that "Sicko" ignite a fire for free, universal health care (and a larger wish that we, as Americans, do a better job of treating each other with a true sense of solidarity and respect), I continue to hope that I can make a contribution to the art of cinema and give people a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours.

At my festival press conference, the only negative word came from the Canadians. Two critics didn't like all the nice things I said about their health care system. Yes, Canadian health care has its flaws, but when I asked the two critics if they would exchange their health care cards for mine, they said "No!" Of course they wouldn't. Canadians live longer than we do and their infant mortality is not as high as ours. Their system is underfunded because their leaders have been trying to push for more American-style health care.

The rest of the week has been good and I am now on my way back to the U.S. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration, in addition to going after me for filming scenes in or near Cuba, may now go after the 9/11 rescue workers I took with me to get the medical care they were denied by our own government. I couldn't make up irony like this if I wanted to, and I will do whatever is necessary to defend the human right of these true American heroes to receive the medical attention they deserve.

We've also received word that the HMO and pharmaceutical industries are gearing up to fight "Sicko." We received so many great whistleblower letters while we were making the movie from employees of these companies. We'd like to hear from you again! Send us the internal memos and any other plans you run across at the company copying machine or internet server. It will help to stay ahead of whatever they are up to, and it will also give us a chance for a bit of fun at the industry's expense.

I will soon have a special section of my website devoted to "Sicko." Until then, we'll move forward toward our June 29th release date. Hope to see you all there that weekend!

Michael Moore

Monday, May 21, 2007

Leatherheads - YouTube and an "Authentic" Leatherhead - Ernie Nevers

I was doing a search on YouTube this morning for Leatherheads to see if there were and video clips from the movie. There were a couple of them. However, I found this "vintage" (or is it?) footage of a real Leatherhead from the 1925 era who played on Duluth and Chicago. His name is Ernie Nevers. This Youtube video is footage of a workout with subtitles explaining about Nevers and the beginning of professional football. According to the video Ernie Nevers became the highest paid player of his era

and here is a Wikipedia entry:

Ernie Nevers
Date of birth June 11, 1902
Place of birth Willow River, Minnesota
Date of death May 3, 1976
Place of death San Rafael, California
Position(s) Fullback
Head Coach
College Stanford
Career Highlights
Awards 1925 Rose Bowl MVP
Honors NFL 1920s All-Decade Team
Career Record 12-26-2
Playing Stats DatabaseFootball
Coaching Stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
1929-1931 Duluth Eskimos
Chicago Cardinals
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1939 Duluth Eskimos
Chicago Cardinals
Chicago Cardinals
College Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1963
Ernest Alonzo Nevers (June 11, 1902 - May 3, 1976) was an American football fullback who played for the Duluth Eskimos and the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League.

Nevers attended Santa Rosa High School, in Santa Rosa, California, where he excelled in football. In 1920, as a senior, he led the team to the NCS Championships. In 1925 the football field at Santa Rosa High School was renamed Nevers Field in his honor. In 2004, just in time for the homecoming game, a $2 million dollar refurbishment of Nevers Field was completed. The improvements included an artificial turf, an all-weather 8-lane track, new bleachers, a snack bar and ticket booth, restrooms, and lights for night games.

Nevers went on to attend Stanford University, where he was an All-American, and played in the 1925 Rose Bowl. Former coach Pop Warner called Nevers "the football player without a fault", and he was often compared to Jim Thorpe. Although Nevers excelled in several sports, including basketball and baseball (as a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns, he gave up two home runs to Babe Ruth in his 60-homer season of 1927), he signed a contract with the Eskimos. The Eskimos were a unique team, as they had no actual home, and played all their games on the road. After two seasons for Duluth during which he played almost every minute on offense and defense, he did not play in the 1928 season. However, he returned to the NFL to play fullback and coach the Chicago Cardinals from 1929 to 1931. During one game in 1929, Nevers set a record that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon. Not only did Nevers score every touchdown (6), but he kicked four extra points, giving the Cardinals 40 points over the cross-town rival Chicago Bears. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lowes Motor Speedway - My first brush with NASCAR

Each year in Charlotte in May we have a two week period of racing with the Busch Truck Series race, the Nextel All Star Challenge and the Coca Cola 600.

Last year one of my clients became the Director of Group and Club sales for Lowes Motor Speedway. I have worked with many of the major sports teams in the group sales area helping them with database marketing, customer relationship management and web strategy.

Since I live in the midst of NASCAR, I decided to learn as much as I could about it and began to look for ways to learn about it customers and the marketing of the sport.

Last spring, I helped with Lowes Motor Speedways booth at a carnival like event called "Speed Street" and helped to manage their booth. Hundreds of thousands of fans come to downtown Charlotte to be entertained by companies (Kellogg's, GM, Ford, Tide, Cheerios, Home Depot,and any others you would find on the hood of a race car.

For the Fall 2006 race, the Bank of America 500, there was a new opportunity to work with the Corporate Sales area as a concierge for their corporate suites. This was the perfect fit as I really had a way to see how the corporate side of NASCAR entertains their clients. I was responsible for suites for Bank of America (who was the race sponsor), Budweiser (Dale Jr.), 3M, and The Wallace Family (Kenny and Rusty's family).

This week, year I will be working for the races on the suite level and also working to help with areas of the Speedway Club (the dining club and area for its members). The Speedway Club a beautiful dining facility overlooking the track with a large ballroom and meeting rooms as well.

Since I enjoyed looking at the inside of making a film with Leatherheads, I decided to do a simliar thing my experiences working with Lowes Motor Speedway and Race Week when over 200,000 fans descend upon the track.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Some ideas for our screens and logos for LinkedtoCharlotte. This is a new local social networking site which is in private Beta right now. We expect the official launch in June
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That's a Wrap --- Ginger (Costumer and fellow Charlottean) and Andy Kaplan on my last day in Leatherheads. Ginger had been working with me, helping with my costumes since my first day in Charlotte. Ginger worked tirelessly and with a smile helping extras to look authentic. This included such attention to detail as to how your scarf was set, whether your hat was being worn properly, etc. Ginger also was watching that our pants were pulled up, as back in the 1920's they were worn up a bit with the socks showing. When the movie comes out, take a look for those details. Thanks, Ginger
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Leatherheads - Greensboro Spectators watching filming

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Leatherheads - The Clooney Project and MediaMensch Link Up

One of the interesting things about writing a blog and being on this journey are some of the unexpected opportunities to meet people you would not ordinarily come in contact with.

One my blog and in my e-mail, I decided to experiment and create an automatic search for news on George Clooney or Leatherheads. Every few days, I would see an alert with a posting coming from a website called "The Clooney Project". The Clooney Project is a site which seems to do a great deal of research to blog or write about anything related to George Clooney.

After filming in Statesville, NC. I was quoted in an article regarding the film "Leatherheads". Also in the article were pictures from the film set from the newspaper of a police officer in the movie in authentic 1920's uniform.

When I went to The Clooney Project to read the article, it occurred to me that I have a great picture of George Clooney directing the film in Greensboro, NC. The shot has him looking through a camera to set up a shot where the fans are entering the stadium for a championship football game.

I contacted the editor/owner of "The Clooney Project" and told her it would be great if we could "cross-promote" each others blogs. One of my goals when I started blogging about six weeks ago, was to become a well known professional blogger. One of the secrets of doing this is gaining credibility from being linked to credible sites.

An article was posted on The Clooney Project with a link back...

Another step in the journey is complete.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Leatherheads - Blogging and NBC Universal PR/Marketing Strategy

My blogging life actually started with my company blog called At the beginning of 2007, I thought about raising my expertise and profile as a blogger. I set upon a journey to work hard to learn as much about blogging as possible.

At the beginning of the filming of Leatherheads, I decided to work hard to blog about my experience as a first time extra on the set of a major motion picture production. My inspiration came from a blogger and friend named Mindy Roberts who writes The Mommy Blog. Earlier this year, Mindy was invited to CBS for a blogger "press" visit to the set of the "New Adventures of Old Christine. They followed Mindy for the day and videotaped her visit and those of the other bloggers. Much of it was of all the bloggers, but some was specific interviews with Mindy. Soon after her visit, Mindy was presented with a video of her visit.

Wait hold the presses....I just visited her blog today and found this post -called "Scoff if you like, but we made the front page of the wall street journal". This idea was written up on the front page of the WSJ". about the bloggers trip.
Here is a link to the article itself on the WSJ website.

So with this strategy in mind, I am working to see if Universal Studios PR and Marketing folks may be interested in having us blog through the release date on December 7th. I would love to have permission to have the trailer and possibly some film of my experience in leatherheads on my blog. That's my vision.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Leatherheads - George Clooney Directing Outside Greensboro War Memorial Stadium May 3, 2007


Most of my blog has been about my experiences. However, I owe my experiences to the one and only George Clooney. George epitomizes leadership. He is focussed, surrounds himself with a talented world class production team and somehow keeps an even keel under what many would think would be extreme pressure.

This was one of the most positive experiences I have ever had in my life. For me, it was not just about filmmaking, it was really watching one of the most talented young directors early in his career. George Clooney has the ability to find humor and use humor not only within the film, but on the set as well. The people he hires are so positive and warm and make you feel like part of this professional team.

With my financial acumen, I was figuring on large shoots the 500+extra's alone must cost about $60,000 a day or about $5000 an hour. Camera's, cranes, special effects, costumes, rental of props and antique cars adds on to that. I don't really know anything about what the top actors and actresses are paid, but without those salaries, I am guessing we are talking about a budget of $300,000 to $500,000 a day. So having worked 9 days on the film, I probably saw between three to five million dollars spent.

George's directors whom I had a chance to meet were very accessible as well, Ian Calip and John Saunders were able to spend some time speaking with me as well on topics such as where they travel to next for their film to how to get a script or book made into a movie.

As I have written before, the casting director,the costomers, hairstylists, makeup, set designers, animal warngler, and sound engineers were accessible and provided such interesting insight about this film and other films they have been in.

Going back to George. In this shot, it was basically walking into the stadium...a few hundred extras, two dozen cars, about a houndred crew makes this happen. There is such an attention to detail to keep this authentic. I'll predict now there will be some academy award nominations for custumes for this movie.

Can't wait until we see the previews trailers in the movie theatres later this year.
Remember, I do believe just as you can taste or feel love in a home cooked meal, you will feel the energy of love and humor come from the screen.

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Leatherheads - Day 9 - The Athletic Club Scene

Today we arrived relatively late at 10 am to check in. Today, I am one of about 20 extras who are here to work on the scene in the athletic club. We drive about 50 minutes to Statesville to the Statesville Civic Center. Inside is a large room which is the extras holding area. On each side of the corridor outside the room are the men's changing rooms, women's changing rooms, and hair and makeup.

Today, I am for the first time a real constumed extra from head to toe. I arrive at at wardrobe and see my familiar faces including Ginger who I have worked with since Charlotte. She is an amazing costumer with a great style, sense of fashion and always a smile on her face...(tough to do with all these long days). In my wardrobe I have a "onesie" or scivvy which is a white t-shirt except it also has the pants in it.. You actually step into it to put it on and then bring the top over and button the left strap. I also was given very thin 1920's era vintage socks and a pair of white suede shoes with red rubber soles. I was also given a pair of golden brown sweatpants.

Then we were taken to hair and makeup. A bench was outside the room

Leatherheads - Statesville with Makeup Artist Kristen

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Andy Kaplan in 1920's athletic gear called a "onesie" with Kristen R. after completing hair and makeup. Haircuts and makeup are precise for all actors for the 1920's period.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Leatherheads - It ain't over till its over

Monday, May 14th, 2007 - Last week, the phone rang. It was Dan from the casting office. I had spoken to Dan a few weeks back to let him know of my cousin's Kosher Restaurant and Deli as some of the NY and LA types working on the movie may be missing some "ethnic" food like a good corned beef sandwich and a knish. (Most of these items come from companies in the heart of the Jewish community in Brooklyn).

We started talking about my blog and how it would be really great if I could get more work after the Charlotte filming. After I missed getting a part as a "fireman" in Statesville and finished Greensboro filming, I had called back to see if I could get any other role to just be a part of the Statesville, NC filming.

Well, a few days later (last Wednesday) my phone rang and he said there was a part as in a 1920's athletic club scene which called for some "larger" men. He said I would be working out and might be featured on camera including doing something like riding an exercise bike (I didn't know they had them back then). He also told me that George Clooney and Renee Zellweger would be in the scene. I had only scene Renee Z once back in Charlotte, so I am looking forward to this opportunity.

On Thursday, I went back up to the Casting HQ in Statesville, got my hair styled and trimmed even shorter since I won't have a hat on for this scene and the top which was kept longer needs now to be realistic. My eleven year old son took the trip up there with me as well. I met with Deborah B. again, one of the main costume designers who works in this expansive wardrobe warehouse. (She also comes on the set for part of the day also).

She took me back first to a box of "sneakers" from that period. Unfortunately, they ones in the box were Men's size 6 to 8. I wear a 10 to 11 size. I thought for a minute again. Well, I won't be in this scene now...however she said wait a minute and came back with a box of white shoes which look like golf shoes with rubber soles. She took out a pair and told me to try them on. My son was watching me try them on and saw the smile come back on my face when they fit.

I then was taken to a dressing room area where there was a table to the left and a rack with some clothes hangin on it. A white tee-shirt with thing arms that also had a bottom which looked a like the old bathing suits of that day. There was then a pair of tan pants (I guess we can call them sweat pants) to go over this.

The t-shirt which I asked Deborah about is called a scivvy or an all-in-one. The scivvy fit fine and again, I felt a sense of relief that I would be in the scene. Then Deborah took off the tan pants for me to try on...I noticed the tag that they were a lot smaller than my waist size. We tried two different styles. The length was perfect, the waist was about 4 inches too small.

Again, Deborah, took some measurements and then left for about 10 minutes. I thought she would be coming back with another pair of pants. Instead she came back with Maria V., the seamstress. I guess I had seen people sewing as I walked in earlier, but I thought they were repairing costumes or creating special costumes.

I put on the tan pants again, an Deborah took a scissor and cut the back of the pants about 8 inches down so they opened up in the back and then I could button them in the front. The seamstress, Maria, then looked at it took some measurements and then also looked and said we need to also drop the pants about 1 1/2 inches in the crotch too (phew I was glad about would have been a very uncomfortable day)..She took them away and I believe she did her magic. I will find out later today when I show up on set at the Statesville Civic Center.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Passover Story and the Charlotte Observer

For the past few years I have been hanging out at my cousin's store and deli called Gleiberman's Kosher Mart. Turned out when I moved to Charlotte over a dozen years ago, I had some relatives I had never met. My grandfather came over from Poland (near Bialystock) in the early part of the 1900's as a teenager. He made the voyage on the Aquitania (the same ship, JFK took to England just prior to WWII to see his father who was ambassador the England). He had a sister...but somehow there was a rift and the family grew apart.

Well, I took an interest in Kosher Mart. It was a unique business, getting foods shipped on trucks from Brookly twice a week. He was the only Kosher Market between Atlanta and Richmond, VA. My cousin Jeffrey is like an old Jewish man even though he is about 40 years old. He is brilliant about kosher foods and distribution and lvoes to talk to the customers.

After my first few years of visiting his store, when the internet/ecommerce time came I wanted to study and find out how one day this might be turned into an online store. Well this year after about $1 million dollar renovation of a new store near Shalom Park they opened up a beautiful deli and market with a full service restaurant. Passover is their busiest time of year as the kosher customers need to clear their homes of food that is not kosher for Passover and purchase food for the family dinners called Sedars which typically take place on the first and second nights. It is the celebration of the Jewish People's Exodus from Egypt.

Well, somewhere back in February I had told Robert (who manages the business), that I could help out if they needed it. Due to my flexible schedule I decided I could help from 10 am to about 2 pm each day. I basically ran the cashier and was Maitre d' for the restaurant on the days leading up to Passover.

I learned so much. Each day the orthodox rabbis would appear from the local synagogue to make sure every thing there was Glatt Kosher, the strictest dietary rules followed.

I learned things I never knew before. For example, when bagging groceries, dairy had to go into separate grocery bags from meat items, even though they were in their packaging. For some strict followers, food that was kosher (but NOT kosher for Passover) could not touch areas where the Kosher for Passover food was. I learned this when one customer held the grocery items over the counter and would not put them down..and asked me to scan them and put them in a bag.

I also learned I needed to wash my hands if I was stocking shelves in the area of regular kosher foods that were not Kosher for Paasover so again I didn't taint the Passover foods.

A few days before Passover, a reporter and photographer from the Charlotte Observer Newspaper came in and was following one of kosher marts customers for nearly a week to see how she prepared for Passover and what recipes they used. The reporter happened to be the food editor (I found out later). They snapped a few pictures and then there was one of the grocery cart overflowing with items ready for checkout at my cashier. They told us that the article would be in the newspaper on April 4th. I figured it would be a n article inside the paper somewhere tucked inside a lifestyle section.

On the morning of April 4th, I went outside to retrieve my newspaper and brought it in and put it on the kitchen table. I usually skim the front page, read the sports section and then look at the editorial pages and letters to the editor. I never saw the article. I started my work day and made some calls and did some writing. At lunchtime, I made a sandwich and sat at the kitchen table. I flipped open th newspaper to see what sections I hadn't read. To my surprise, their was a complete section called "Food" and the picture of the customer with me at the register was taking up about one third of the front page. This was publicity I never sought and never thought about...most of Charlotte must have seen the picture because friends from all over town told me for weeks thay saw me.

As I tell my children and most people I meet, Take a road less travelled and enjoy the journey. (Notes of interest: By the way, what cashier has a high definition television 6 feet from where they work...and that was approximately $450.00 worth of groceries.)

Is there "Space Available"?

I have been pursuing the idea of helping some friends and associates with producing their books, screenplays, treatments and other concepts into film, radio, internet tv, and anything else appropriate.

One of my fellow Lake Norman Toastmasters has had an interesting journey of his own. Sid Davis showed up at one of our meetings at the old Holiday Inn in Cornelius, NC one Wednesday night a few years ago. He was a USAirways airline mechanic during the day and a writer and former radio disc jockey. He also is a low handicap golfer, something that helps in the land of golf courses of North Carolina.

In Toastmasters, it in so many ways becomes the catalyst or foundation for a new life's journey. In Sid's case, he started to take on the role of JokeMaster to warm up our club at the meetings and then ended up giving some very funny and well written speeches while moving through the basic manual speeches of the ice breaker, organize your speech, using your voice, show what you mean, etc. Sid also worked hard and stepped up to the plate to help the club.

Over time he began to give "humor workshops" to our fellow Toastmasters both in our club and at other clubs in the region. He then due to some unforeseen situation with health issues and career issues of our current leaders, became the President of our club (after only being a member for less than a year).
He came in just after me which at the time were tough shoes to fill as I had just been awarded the Helen Yandle award for being the Top Club President in the state.

Over the next year, Sid started to take comedy classes at the Comedy Zone downtown. The combination of his training in Toastmasters and now in comedy made him the perfect candidate to emcee the comedy zone shows. (He started the weekday shows).

At the same time, he began to write a book about his experiences based upon his behind-the-scenes experiences as an airline employee and the concept of identity theft. The book he wrote was called "Space Available"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Leatherheads - Day 8 - How Filming is done out of order

May 3, 2007 - We are now in the parking lot filled with old cars. The stadium is adorned with the red white and blue banners you see hanging in stadiums during the world series. In front is a banner that says the name of the teams playing in this game.

Even though this is 5 days later in Greensboro, the filming is actually the beginning of the game we filmed in Charlotte. The scene we will film shows the fans walking into the stadium. The stadium looks so realistic with the 1920's cars in the parking lot and all the extras in costume.

We do shots from a few different angles walking into the stadium. I am walking with my buddy Rick and we learned from Charlotte that walking slower gives you more camera time and more time to react and create different gestures for the scene.

George Clooney in in his white t-shirt and pants as director this morning. He is not in this scene. As the directors tell the production assistants, you hear the familiar loud refrain "Pictures up, Rolling, Action, Background Action". When they say background action, that is when the extras start their movement. We then move to the edge of the road to walk in from the street. I am about 20 feet from George Clooney as he peers into the camera to make sure he has the right shot.

After this we go to break and head back to the Extras Holding area in the white tent.
Before we get in, Michelle, one of the production assistants says "I need nine men, for the next scene". Again, this is sort of a being in the right place at the right time. Christian K. and I volunteer for this and we are led back to the stadium.
Now we see a contraption of pipes that makes rain and we are told we will get umbrellas and walk under the water. However at the last moment a decision is made to hold off on that scene and we are told to hangout in the stadium There are the 9 men, the "vendors", and a family.

Now we walk into the stadium and are told to take a seat anywhere. Surprise!....this is a baseball stadium with a beautiful green manicured infield. We realize no football plays will be filmed here.

We wait around for about an hour or so and nothing is happening. We realize they are filming scenes outside the stadium There is a giant construction crane. We understand now that it has a hose and somehow is dumping water on the top of the stadium to make it look like its raining outside. I wonder if computer graphics are going to put people in the scene.

We then wait around even longer and then we see activity inside the "tunnel" leading into our section of the stadium. Cameras are being set up on te concourse area and also looking down our gate area where you enter to get to your seats. We now see George Clooney in a tuxedo and John Krasinski also. They are filming their entrance into the big game. They both are again about 20 feet away. This is really the first time I saw John Krasinski close up. The basic scene are the two stars of the football game signing autographs.

We watch as the production crew raises a white background. It is a giant sail inside a rectangular metal structure about 20 feet by 20 feet. It is held down and tied down by four technical workers. I ask what it is used for. They tell me it helps to cut down the wind so the wind does not get into the microphone. I thought it was a background for filming so you wouldn't see the baseball field. I just learned another new detail of production

Now finally after waiting for about 2 hours, we are told to come back down toward the front of the stadium. However, when we reach the end of our area, we are told to hang out by the concession stand. They line us up to buy the old peanuts, souvenirs and other paraphanalia. they give some of us replica One dollar bills from that era.
They put us in three lines to make our way to buy our conccessions. However, when they set up the shot, the assistant director and George Clooney realize they can't get a clear shot of the souvenirs and food and other replica items.

They then tell my line to move out of the scene and down out of camera range. So we then think again, we missed the shot or scene after sitting around for 2 hours. After about 5 minutes of the director and cameraman setting up the shot. Ian Calip, the Asst Director, is at my shoulder and then George Clooney walks up to the other side of me and turns and tells our group he wants us to cut through the line to make our way to other sections of the stadium. Well, to me it seems like what happens as you push your way onto a New York City Subway car. They adjust the people in line to put a little space between them and at that point when action is said, we push our way through the line and make it past them. We are about 5 to 10 ft from the camera. We are talking and saying "excuse me", "coming through", "trying to get to my seats", etc. some are pushing back or blocking us to make it look realistic. When we finally make it through they are still rolling so some of us are sent back into the scene and told to get in line and try to buy some concessions. We do about 5 takes of this scene. On the last take, I get in line and still have the dollar bills in my coat pocket, so I then get back in line and wave my bill in the air as I try to get the vendor to sell me some peanuts. I grap my bag of peanuts. The conccession vendor takes my dollar an they yell "Cut". (By the way George Clooney was directing from behind us to the left of the concession stand. He was about an inch from me on about 5 different occasions)...He even jokingly said to Ian "Your fired" and was also joking with a young boy who is a main part of the scene.

As we walk out of the stadium to go back to Extras Holding George Clooney is walking past us. A women who has been shooting since Charlotte says to George "You are so much better looking in person", George turns and smiles, I then say to her within earshot of George "What about me?", he smiles again.

Time for the lunch tables. They are setup outside the tent...chicken, macaroni and cheese, lasagna and vegetables. We grab our stuff and walk into the tent to take our seats.

At the end of lunch, the casting director's production assistant Michelle starts to yell that we are "wrapping" for the day for many of the extras. She calls out different groups, woman and children "Get dressed , time to go home, thank you for coming today", all self dressed actors "Get dressed, time to go". Press people "stay". Well, I consider myself "press" from the other scenes in Charlotte so I wait around. It is now about 3 pm. I am torn about leaving and staying...hundreds of extras make it through the lines outside back in their regular close...the transistion for the woman are the most drastic as they go from bobbed hair hat and elegant clothes to jeans and a t-shirt.

Well, we think we are going to get one last scene as press for the day. However they finaly say "Press, time to go home, thanks." Well, this means a lean payday today since every hour past 8 hours we get paid overtime (time and a half)...I figure with gas and my two hour drive time, I probably have made about twenty bucks net for 12 hours of work and drive time..."Great work if you can get it" (lol).

Well I guess this is the end of the road for my leatherheads career. I was not able to fit into the fireman's outfit they wanted for the night time filming in Statesville, NC. This day turned out to be fun and interesting. Almost like a reunion since I didn't think I was coming back after Charlotte. I was able to get some great pictures with the costumers, hair and makeup and the "concession vendors".

Well that's a wrap!! It was a great ride. I guess George Clooney is getting ready for the Cannes Film fesitval. He also just signed on to do a comedy with the Coen Brothers.

It is now about 2 pm and we head back to the extras tent to eat lunch

Monday, May 07, 2007

Leatherheads - Day 8 - New location Greensboro, NC (May 3, 2007)

Wow, this is early, especially for someone who is a nightowl....I wake up at 4 am and get on the road by 4:45. I drive 90 miles to Greensboro using mapquest directions to find the parking lot in front of a church. Ah, this is not such a nice part of town and the directions send me in the complete opposite direction. Luckily, one of my strong points is that I have an amazing sense of direction (and I never stop to ask directions either) after driving about 4 miles in the wrong direction I turned around and drove back about 6 miles.

Wow, the shuttle bus driver was the same guy who was in Charlotte blaring Jimi Hendrix on the radio..I think its just some sixties music now. He drives us to the War Memorial Stadium. This time there is no permanent building. Just a very large tent for extras holding and two tents for wardrobe and a makeup/haircut tent.

I grab some breakfast and they keep us in the tent for a long time. There are dozens of first timers here today getting fited. Finally, they allow our table to go and get dressed. I go to the table to check in and they had been flipping out a bit because there were no clothes under my 3532 number ((brown coat, flat hat that I wore in Charlotte)...I was now #5001 and had a completed different look including a fedora. The amazing thing was that within three weeks time the costumers had dressed almost 1500 additional people (5001 minus 3532).

I made sure I had my camera phone with me and took pictures along the way today in wardrobe, makeup and hairstyling. It is now about 8 am and time to start the day.

I have the same expectation as day 1 in Charlotte of just being a fan in the stands. I show up in front of the stadium and find over 20 vehicles cars, trucks and even and ice cream truck from that era.

Time to for shooting. I walk up to the set and find one of my "buddies" from Charlotte and stand next to him. I think we are just haning out waiting for the directors to give us instruction of where to stand. Ginger, the costumer, who I got to know well in Charlotte, smiles at me as she straightens my hat and scarf and says "You always find a way to get into the shot". I smiled as I realized at that point again, we would have some camera time.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ian Calip - Assistant Director and Andrew Kaplan, Chicago Photographer


During lunch in Charlotte, Andy Kaplan and Ian Calip has a chance to discuss film making and directing.
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Andy Kaplan with Leatherheads Concession Vendors in Greensboro War Memorial Stadium (5/4/07)

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Leatherheads Costumers Julia Rusthoven (r) and Rachel Goodman (l) with Andy Kaplan

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Andy Kaplan in Makeup Chair Outside War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro (5/4/07)

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Leatherheads - The day before Day 8 - New Costume, New Haircut, New Location

The phone rang again. It was Wednesday,May 2nd. The casting director called to see if I could come up to their offices in Statesville, NC to be cast in a different scene in Greensboro, NC to be filmed the next day. They also called back to ask if I could play a fireman in a scene being filmed a week later.

I told them I could be up at their offices to meet them and get fitted for my new wardrobe. I was given an appointment time of 2:20. I drove up to their offices in an manufacturing complex. I followed the signs into a warehouse door and up the stairs to a casting office. There were 3 casting people working the phones. DJ who had called me earlier the day introduced herself. I had expected to go to wardrobe to get my clothes. To my surprise, at the end of the hall was an office with 5 chairs outside and 4 chairs for hair. Three hairstylists were inside. After waiting outside for about 5 minutes, I was signalled into the third chair. The woman who I believe was named Mary, looked at my hair. I thought I might get a small cleanup, however 15 minutes later she completed my styling...(a complete new haircut -short all around)...We talked about where she was from (Tennessee) and that the 3 of them travel all around doing movie productions..she called herself vagabonds.

After my hair was cut I proceed down the stairs to the wardrobe area. I passed by the wardrobe including a box of muddy football cletes from the Charlotte filming. I walked up to the table and checked in. I was given a new number 5001. I asked if that meant you had 5,000 people in the film and she said they had 5,000 different outfits so far since they begain filming. I told her that I was here to be a fireman for next week. She looked at me and said, I am sorry I don't think you can be a fireman...( mind wandered back to Kindergarten when most boys wanted to be firemen or policemen)..I gave a fake cry. she smiled. I was too big for the firemen outfits they had. We did however get a new wardrobe for being a fan. It was a light brown twill coat and a tain Fedora and a mulitcolored brown, tan and maoon scarf. That was to be my outfit in Greensboro the next day.

After that I drove back home with my new haircut...ready to get ready to start my day at about 4:30 am.

Leilani Munter - From Nascar to Indy

Leilani Munter and I met up at the Corkscrew last summer after we connected on LinkedIn. (I had been searching on LinkedIn for NASCAR contacts in my geographic area). Leilani intrigued me after I read and saw her professional blog as she her background, interests, political leanings matched up with mine.

She was an up and coming driver in Nascar, but still under the radar screen compared to Danika Patrick. Leilani has a diverse background being a biology major in college, then she was a model and stunt double (she was the stunt double for Catherine Zeta-Jones) in the movie Traffic. In addition, she was starting to get noticed by fashion magazines and even secured her position with Hostess (the twinkie) company to be on a poster called the "Hostess Diva". I also found out when we met that her brother in law is Bob Weir from the Greatful Dead who now plays in a band called RatDog.

Over the next few months Leilani raced but was looking for a sponsor to help her race full time. There is a catch 22. In order to be on tv more, you need sponsor money to race more frequently and at higher levels.

We both decided that our paths and interests (NASCAR, blogging, media, internet tv,and branding) coincided and that we should keep in touch to see how we can help each other. I wanted to help find a sponsor or other media outlets for her with some of my old connections in cable tv.

Well, last week I called Leilani to see if she wanted to meet and she told me she now was an "Indy" driver and had just signed on with a major race team. I also found out she was in the April 15th edition of Sports Illustrated as one of the top 10 female drivers in the world.

Congratulations, Leilani!!! Your hard work and determination are paying off!!! I know how much you love to race!

Elvis and me - 1st time - NBC Radio Summer of 77

Elvis was is an iconic figure who seems to somehow enter each person's life throught the sheer magnitude of his impact on our culture. My brush with Elvis up until this point happened on two different days.

I was working at WYNY FM (NBC - 30 Rock) as a summer intern. It was August 16th, 1977. The summer was about to end for me and a new team of people let by a young 23 year old Bob Pittman from WMAQ (Chicago) which was transformed into a country music station were hired to run WNBC Am working to being a long term transformation of WNBC AM which had some of the top disc jockeys in the world such as Cousin Brucie (a legend in NY in the 1960's and 70's) and Imus. Down the hall I heard shreeks and screems from down the hall near the studio "Elvis Died, Elvis is Dead". I remember a young disc jockey named Ellie sobbing and crying.

I ran outside my office and toward the studio and people were embracing each other, consoling each other.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Leatherheads - A Dog's Life

On the set of Leatherheads, there was a team mascot. After filming one day, I had the opportunity for a picture as they were putting him into the van after a day's work. The people were the owners. I also met the person who's credit I always saw on movies with animals called an animal wrangler.

I just think of the old west movies with horses, cattle,etc. I think of a wrangler with a rope trying to lasso a steer.

Well, I went to High School in NJ with the mascot of a bulldog. I know Univerity of Georgia has a bulldog mascot named UGA....This bulldog was name Rocky.