Monday, December 15, 2008

MediaMensch Client - EVPowersystems Video

MediaMensch Client EVPowersystems has create an electric hybrid plugin for trucks. If you are curious about this, watch this segment. This company will create jobs and convert existing trucks into hybrid vehicles with their innovative plugin.

In April, 2008 EvPowersystems received the Charlotte Business Journals "2008 Green Idea of the Year"
In November 2008 EvPowersystems received $200,000 in funding from the State of South Carolina.
Founder John Dabels was featured in the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

MediaMensch helped EVPowersystems client with marketing, pr and startup strategies including:
1. TV/Print/Film Media Strategy
2 .Social Media Strategy
3. Political/Governmental Strategy

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama through the Teleprompter

How scripted are Obama's speeches? An interesting photo from the campaign rally at UNCC, Charlotte, NC on election eve showing Obama through his teleprompter.

(photo property of MediaMensch Networks, all rights reserved)

My journey for the election season

This campaign season was a fun ride as a political blogger. Here are some articles from my mediamensch blog. The first article about the primary very accurately makes some predictions about the candidates, their strategies and tactics and choice of Vice President. This journey took me from a chance personal encounter with John McCain in January to being recognized on the cover page of Salon Magazines, website on election day.

"Editor's Pick" of my articles on Salon Magazine's

Blog post from May 8, 2008

Andrew Kaplan Viewpoint - Presidential Primary and Social Media - Who is Engaging Best Wins!!

Here is a post about my encounter with Howard Dean and my discussion about a lack of a facebook strategy..Less than one hundred people turned out for this rally and only a about 10 were under the age of 30.
Blog Post from July 2008

Politics - Howard Dean "Register for Change"

Blog Post from January 19, 2008 (two days before the SC primary). This is my story of a personal encounter with John McCain and how I ended up asking him a question about technology and competitiveness among the members of the "crowd of supporters" at a town hall meeting.

Politics, John McCain and Me

March 28, 2008 On the trail listening to Bill Clinton campaign for Hillary, early in the NC primary. At that point NC was heating up as a battleground state for the democratic nomination. This was also the first time I actually was in the "press" area as a blogger. There is also a reference to George Clooney in this piece. I had worked on his film Leatherheads as a featured extra and was able to be part of his press conference prior to the movie release. It was my first time as a blogger being in an official press conference.

My first Press Coverage Bill Clinton Campaigning in NC

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama on Election Eve - A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall

My political journey started in January with a call from my friend and now blog photographer Maurice as we decided to go see John McCain. Although, traditionally, I was voted democratic for presidential elections, I thought McCain might be different and wanted to see him unfiltered, first hand. I somehow walked into a town hall meeting and ended up two feet from his stage asking him one of the 8 questions posed to him that evening.

The end of the election 2008 journey for the is today. On election eve, in the pouring rain at times, I saw Barack Obama as he is on the threshold of the US presidency. The crowd of 10,000 plus waited for up to 3 hours to see him. He was scheduled to speak at 5:30 pm..and the crowd endured an hour of rain and some early political speeches. You could feel history being made. It was an incredible opportunity to not only be there, but feel like you did some how contribute to making a difference.

Tonight was also an interection of some of my personal media journey in politics.. Politics has been a passion of mine for most of my life. I had grown up in suburban NJ with a rabbi who marched and was jailed with Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement and who railed against the Vietnam war each week. This past 10 months, I had the opportunity to listen to, shake hands with and speak with politicians such as Obama, Biden, Bill Clinton and Howard Dean. I worked for a day at the Obama campaign headquarters in April and could see and feel how special his organization was both by the people and its technology it used.

Late in August, a friend had told me about Salon Magazines's website and community. As a social media expert, I found this to be a fascinating place where passionate writers could blog and post articles on subjects from politics to family. I started to write some articles about my political observations in North Carolina. To my suprise a few of them made the home page and were "Editor's pick". The editor, Joan Walsh, I found out later is a regular on Chris Matthew's Hardball show and in the last month has debated with people on the far right such as Pat Buchanan and most recently Tom DeLay.

This has been a great journey for Obama, McCain and MediaMensch and for all of America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bank of America 500 - Jeff Burton - a Racing "mensch"

The Bank of America 500 was won by a 41 year old racing "mensch" named Jeff Burton. Jeff held off some of the top drivers in the field like Kasey Kahne and Jimmy Johnson and battled for the lead of this race. At the press conference following the race, Jeff was the epitome of professionalism and the goal of pursuing your life's goals and passions. He said he loved racing since he was 7 years old. He battled not only on the track, but was "the next star" about a decade prior. He told us he had to fight through some of the ups and downs of career to be in the position this year to win the Sprint Cup this year.

His wife was there at his side. She monitored his progress from the pits, and sat on the side of the press conference room as well. He discussed focus and life balance. When you are preparing for a race at this level, the driver and crew need to have total team focus for success. When the race is over, it is time to celebrate. He wants his teammates to also have other interests and balance in their lives. He had a healthy perspective of being at the top of your game, but realizing that this is just one part of your life.

His team owner, Richard Childress, battling a cold or flu, sat to Burton's left at the press conference and showed his pride in Jeff's accomplishments. Early in his career, Jeff Burton, was mentored by Mark Martin. Mark had instilled in him the idea that the next race you win might be your last, so enjoy it. It also allowed perspective of winning and losing as well.

Burton also showed that physically he works hard to keep his body in the shape of an athlete ten years younger. This is another factor in keeping himself as role model of integrity to others in the sport. At the time when the sport is moving to more branding and commercialization and away from the old legends in NASCAR, Jeff Burton is the bridge between the past and the future of the sport. He has the drive, desire and determination to bring home the Cup. NASCAR and its fans should be proud to have such a role model at the pinnacle of its sport.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

NASCAR - Bank of America Week - Dollar General 300

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the Nationwide Series - Dollar General 300 at Lowes Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch took the checkered flag. He has won twenty races this year NASCAR's , Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks. Busch has won 8 Sprint Cup series races this year. He has another chance tonight at the Bank of America 500 to increase this total.

It was a night of rain, caution flags and a few wrecks with the race ending a little after midnight. The fans were enthusiastic and the drivers all seemed to be having a great time even with the delays.

Even with the gas crisis the infield at Lowes was full of spectators in their RV's and modified buses. This race gave me the opportunity to see the sport close up from the pit areas. The pits are a lot like going to war, you prepare and plan, you wait around and then their are about 20 seconds of adrenaline rush as the pit crews jump from the wall holding tires, large gas cans, and electric wrenches/drills.

During the race, there were some wrecks on the track in front of the pit area/near the start finish line. They towed the cars off the tracks into the garages. You could smell the fumes from the gas as they drove past.

Looking forward to tonight's race and learning more about being first person in the pits.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A time to Volunteer - Race Playce -

Yesterday was spent around motorsports working on Race Playce, attending a press conference for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and then over to zMax Dragway for evening festivities.

Race Playce is an a heartfelt volunteer effort to build a state of the art playground that is accessible for children in wheelchairs. According to the Parks and Rec website. Race Playce "will be a play area without barriers, accessible for all children regardless of their abilities, a place where all children can play together. The playground was designed by children who worked with a professional designer. It has a NASCAR racing theme with play areas distributed around an oval track."

It is one of the first of its kind in North Carolina. Imagine you are a child in a wheelchair, your friends can go to a playground and go down slides etc. in order to do this you would have to have someone carry you. Well in this playground there is a ramp up to the top of the slide. This playground is being built by approximate 4,000 volunteers from around the community including a large contingent from Bank of America. I arrived on the site and was assigned to a team of six people. Our job was to measure, cut, and install rails along the ramps. We were guided by skilled experts from the community and the parks department.

Perhaps you can use Charlotte, NC as a "role model" for building this type of park in your community.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day at the Races - zMax Dragway Grand Opening

Burning rubber, white smoke, nitro fumes and 30,000 plus fans and smiles were at the grand opening of the zMax Dragway in Concord, NC. This exquisite state of the art facility has set a new standard for drag racing. Owner and developer Bruton Smith nicknamed this raceway, "The Bellagio of Drag Racing." One could only feel that this new track and its innovations are going to lead this sport into the major leagues of racing as far as television exposure and media coverage.

The track has state of the art communications for track officials and press, an innovative 4 lanes instead of two, to be able to run preliminaries in a lot less time. This small innovation goes against the history of drag racing, so it was no small feat for the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) to approve this change.

I have spoken to drivers, NHRA fans, team executives, vendors and other experienced pros and they concur that this track now sets the standard.

The main difference between NHRA drag racing and NASCAR is pit access and access to the drivers. I was able to just walk down an area of the pits and had an opportunity to meet Melanie Troxell, one of the top women drivers of the sport and one of the few names I had known before today. In a day when sports stars are kept away from fans this is a luxury.

In spite of the gas prices and economy, 30,000 fans showed up, many driving more than a few hundred miles in their RV's and campers to stay right on the grounds. Again, one of the fun things to do with your group of friends.

There are many classes of racing from funny cars to motor cycles the the Nitro injected dragsters raced by pros Tony Schumacher, Doug Herbert and Hillary Will (some of the drivers, I had a chance to personally meet before race day).

There is an adrenaline rush which is equivalent to watching a rocketship take off, part fascination combined with a powerful rush of sound and fury. No matter who you are, the sensory experience is nothing you can imagine unless you are there on the track.

After a few hours at zMax, NHRA has found a new fan!. Great job! SMI! and NHRA! You set a new standard with your vision.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kyle Busch, #1 NASCAR Driver (left) and Tony Schumacher #1 Drag Racer (Right) at the starting Line at zMax Dragway. Kyle Busch upset Tony Schumacher winning 3 of 3 heats.

After this race, I had the opportunity to drive the red Toyota accelerating to 90+ MPH in less a quarter mile.

(Photo credit: Lowes Motor Speedway).

Showdown at the zMax Dragstrip

Well, PT Barnum would have been proud of the folks over at the new zMax Dragway. They arranged what easily could have been a pay per view event, the top NASCAR driver, Kyle Busch vs. the top Drag racer, Tony Schumacher in a best of 3 drag race.

At the press conference promoting the zMax Nationals and the Bank of America 500. The race, the two drivers, were both reflecting on their remarkable seasons and the focus and determination of their teams. Tony Schumacher, who has not lost a race since June, was not only thankful for his season but being able to share it with his family. He realized success can be fleeting and is thoroughly enjoying the journey.

They also realized in their sport the playoffs are about to start and what they have done in the regular season is the prelude to the real part of the season Chase for the Cup (NASCAR) and Countdown to One (NHRA).

When Kyle Busch was asked about what he knew about drag racing.."Start when the light turns yellow". That was the coaching tip that Tony Schumacher gave to him.

Tony Schumacher had set the Top Fuel records for wins having won 6 races in a row and 11 of 18 races. You would think he had a distinct advantage in this race.

As Kyle and Tony lined up their red and white Toyotas, you would have bet that Tony would have won the first race. As they headed down the quarter mile track and over the finish line the lights came up and Kyle had won. They lined up for heat number two, again a new rivalry seemed to be forming...down the strip they went with the engines so loud on the modified Camrys. Again, Busch won. So he gave Tony a 3rd try. You would think the new all time NHRA winner would be steaming for a win. So the lights went from Red to Yellow to Green....Kyle Busch smoked him. With good humor, they both seemed to enjoy this.

Busch discussed how the adrenaline must flow going down a track at 300 plus miles an hour in less than 5 seconds. He was used to driving for a few hours an 5oo miles for a win.

After they raced, I had a chance to hop in the red Camry and race my photographer, Maurice. He got off to a great start and about halfway down the track I caught up and won with my speedometer showing about 90 mph. I am ready for you Kyle.

The zMax Nationals will be held from Sept 11 to Sept 14th. The Bank of America 500 is in October at Lowes Motor Speedway.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Coinjars - Send me a penny

I am working on a new project called Coinjars which is social media currency for Facebook. You can sign up for free under applications in Facebook. If you add an account, I will send you some a penny so you can see it really works.

The facebook is just one application. We are working with a few non-profits and other organizations to teach them how they might use this. We will be creating marketing around this area.

You can also read about how this system works at

Back to Blogging

I took the month of August off from blogging for the 2nd year in a row. Now time to catch up. Over the past few months, my ventures in social media continue to grow. In July, I launched LinktoMotorsports which is now the #2 Motorsports group on LinkedIn and has some of the leading drivers, marketing execs and league owners.

I also created the group called LinktoCharlotte in June 2007. This group has now grown to over 750 members and it is now time to create some events around this group.

It was my privelege to work with Singer/Songwriter Nicola to help promote her quest as the top subway/underground performer on the MSG (Madison Square Garden) network's soundtrack show. She made it all the way to the semi-finals. What a journey it was for her. I was glad to be part of that.

The zMax dragway was built about 10 minutes from my office and I had the opportunity to attend press events and drive a fast Toyota Camry down the track.

One of my favorite projects was coinjars, which is a new payment system via iCoins (social media Currency). We are promoting this within the facebook community. This has the opportunity to turn into a great product for non-profits, students, musicians and writers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scrabulous Innocence - A 2007 Interview with Rajat Agarwalla

In a historical perspective of the Scrabble and Scrabulous controversy..Here is my interview with Rajat Agarwalla in the summer of 2007. As you can see he was passionate about the scrabble community having a better experience than what existed online at the time. I know he spent countless days and nights setting up servers and dealing with crashes..

One interesting part of the article is the copyright disclaimer...You can see clearly, they respected the owners of the Scrabble trademark.

Scrabulous was capturing Lightning in a won't happen twice!

Scrabulous was capturing Lightning in a won't happen twice!

There is energy in the world that came from the passion of the creators of Scrabulous that you will never duplicate. They poured their passion and personal time into a game THEY grew up playing. They allowed millions to have hours of fun at NO Charge and NO ONE paid them a salary to create the game....Scrabulous was NOT a GAME, it was like capturing lightning in a ignite friendships worldwide via games.

I know the story as I contacted them in July 2007.(see scrabulous is fabulous article on my Facebook Enthusiast Blog.)..Why Hasbro did not contact the brothers when their identities were known to all on Facebook. still mystifies....I can only think someone in a corner office is about to lose their job!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Politics - Howard Dean "Register for Change"

Photos of Howard Dean (DNC Chair), Andrew Kaplan (MediaMensch) and Hillary Protestor

July 25, 2008 (Charlotte, NC)

The democratic national party chair, Howard Dean, is out visiting 50 states in his "Register for Change" bus.
He arrived yesterday in Charlotte, NC after starting the day in Raleigh and Greensboro. My impressions of him were just as positive in person as they were from his presidential election bid. He is down to earth, accessible, smart, and a good listener. He really seems to be genuine.. Why would he decide to spend the summer riding a bus and talking to small crowds if he wasn't passionate about uniting this country and closing the wealth gap.

Some takeaways from the tour:
1. During this registration drive in NC, volunteers should knock on your neighbors doors 3 times between now and the election to make sure not only are they registered, but can and will get to the polling place on election day. He joked that the Oregon democrats were going to it 4 times.

2. He said the US already has government run healthcare. it is called Medicare and senior citizens don't seem to want that to go away.

3. He mentioned that the democrats had not competed in the South and ceded it to the Republican party. With the mass change of demographics, it was time the democrats got their message to all americans. He essentially says that the Blue and Red state is made up. and he believes that we all are Americans.

4. There were Hillary supporters protesting the allocation of Delegates. At first, they were interrupting his speech. It was hard to believe the disrespect they had for the chair of the party. He spoke to them to ask them for their opinion and he would listen. It did quiet them down. It continues to show how fractured and fragile the democratic party is and may be a preview of what might happen at the convention.

My firm belief is that Howard Dean, Obama and the democrats are correct in the assumption that North Carolina could vote democratic in the 2008 presidential election. I get that impression from the amount of newcomers to Charlotte from places like Buffalo, PA, Ohio, NY, NJ, MA, and FL, plus the growing international population as well.

My Personal Experience with Howard Dean
After the speech, I approached him to discuss the use of Facebook and the internet as I noticed they bus tour was not on Facebook. He said "Do you think we should be on facebook?" My response was an emphatic "Yes" and he then told me to provide my business card to his "traveling assistant"..maybe they will see it says on the front "Voted #1 branding expert for Facebook" (Note: voted an article "11 Ways to Brand Yourself on Facebook". where I was ifeatured as #1 in its great minds series for 2007). .

Perhaps that might be the next chapter of MediaMensch and politics.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

MediaMensch Radio - Marta Tracy - Starring You! and Starmaker TV

Today, is the revival of the MediaMensch radio show on blogtalk radio, after a hiatus, I took to work on the film Blood Done Sign My Name (2009) starring Nate Parker and Ricky Schroeder.

The quality of guests that we have had will continue to provide you with insight into media while providing a look at the journey that brought them there. For many outside the media/entertainment industry, there seems to be a mystery or that question "How did you get started". It is important for those of us that have succeeded to help others achieve their dreams and goals.

I will also be working on my other radio show with a series about Facebook 2.0 (the new interface) and strategies that my clients, colleagues and friends utilize to brand themselves and connect. Using products such as facebook and LinkedIn in a strategic professional fashion can connect you with individuals at the highest levels of success whether measured by money, mental and physical fitness, or spirituality.

Within the last month, I have seen communities which I created an adminster grow tremendously. These include Linkto Motorsports, LinktoCharlotte, and the official Dickinson College alumni group on LinkedIn. Two other cities are launched as well including LinktoSanDiego and LinktoPhoenix. I am looking for partners or individuals in those cities to partner with me on their development.

Find our radio show at or and

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

10 Tips for Belonging to an Alumni Group on LinkedIn

Over the past few years, my college alumni department of Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) has utilized my expertise as a social media and networking expert to build a local club in Charlotte, NC and to begin to bring strategies to connect our alumni via the web using social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. In 2006, we went through approval with the college to set up an alumni group for LinkedIn (The leading social networks for professionals). The challenge was that at the time was that social media was new including LinkedIn, so that many or our alums where not aware of it or its power to connect. Within the last few months LinkedIn has made changes to its environment including newsfeeds and a searchable directory of groups. These two changes have now made it easy for colleges and universities to create groups on LinkedIn and grow them quickly.

Here are a few tips on how and why creating and/or joining an alumni group on LinkedIn is powerful.

1. Connect with Classmates

2. Connect with Alums in your geographic area

3. Connect with Alums in your industry

4. Collective intelligence of your alums

5. Recruit alums to work on your venture/business

6. Daily Newsfeed allows them to see what you are doing

7. Connect to their netwoks

8. Resource for College Career Center and Recent Grads

9. Public relations as an expert for articles for alumni magazine or other media'

10 Promotes recognition of the college or university

We will be expanding upon these topics in future articles, podcasts and teleclasses. If you are interested in participating please contact ..If you have examples of how LinkedIn or other social networks have helped you we would love to have your success stories.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

MediaMensch Networks Launches LinktoMotorsports

On July 10, 2008, MediaMensch Networks began its launch of its new brand called LinktoMotorsports. This purpose of this brand is to allow members who are on networks such as facebook and LinkedIn to easily find each other and network. Since MediaMensch Networks is located in Charlotte, NC, our location in the heart of NASCAR and racing will allow us to hold live events also. We are currently putting together and advisory board and expect to have our first events starting in the 2nd half of 2008.

We have an 18 month plan to grow this business and would welcome any ideas or resources. If you are looking to sponsor our website or any other part of this business, please contact, Andrew Kaplan at ewarriorbizdev at

Monday, July 07, 2008

Social Media - Facebook and Alums

A new group was recently started on Facebook to connect Time Warner Alumni. This is an interesting exercise since many who are active in the offline Time Life Alumni club are some of the original people at Time, Life, fortune, etc. The Time Warner Alumni group within facebook includes the new media crowd of AOL, New Line Cinema, CNN and other recent acquisitions.

It is a great way to bridge another gap and expand one's network. This group is growing organically from informal relationships. One way to expand your network is to find people within the groups where you have mutual friends. Again, I am a believer in quality vs. quantity of friends on social networks. If you connect with someone find time to follow up to see how you might help each other reach goals or help them on their journey.

I am looking forward to developing new friendships and business relationships among this group.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Andrew Kaplan listing in IMDb

After a year of working in the film industry, my profile is now appearing in IMDb (Internet Movie Database), which is an Amazon owned company featuring the details of your favorite movies from an industry standpoint. My listing can be found at as Andrew R. Kaplan.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New Book Review of Jen-Zen And The One Shoe Diaries - Posted at Amazon

Here is the latest Amazon review of my novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries. There are also some Gather and magazine reviews in the works. I'll let you know when those are live. I would love to get some more reviews going on Gather. In August I'll likely have a new spin on my ebook scavenger hunt.


(The novel is published by and is also available on, and other distributors.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blood Done Sign My Name - Oxford, NC Welcome

This is a picture taken with actress Robyn Shute and Andy Kaplan in front of the Welcome sign for Oxford, NC. In fact, we were actually shooting that day in Shelby, NC in an old run down area of town. The film takes place in a small town in 1969, so our costumes and hair reflect the era. Robin has a wig and my hair was cut short and slicked down. The costumers also supplied my shirt and undershirt and told me to unbutton the top buttons. Even though we are "extras" There is tremendous amount of work put into the details. Most of the costumes for the movie are rented from companies in Los Angeles. The costumers pick out the clothes from a large warehouse and they are trucked cross-country in tractor trailers which then are used as the local "warehouse" during filming.
Robyn is a talented actress who has a background in opera, self defense and horseback riding. She can fill a multitude of roles in a movie from actress to singer to stunt double.

Ten Tips for Being a "Professional " Extra

It is just over a year that I completed filming as an extra in the film Leatherheads. Although being an extra means waiting around, bringing multiple wardrobes, eating after the actors and production crew eat or watching them eat upscale food, while you are having burgers, there is a path or journey to move on to professional acting.

The journey and knowledge of being an extra and moving into different roles includes the understanding of the set, the director, the costumers, and production assistants. Here are some of the tips and tricks I learned along my short journey.

1. Be Inquisitive - On most movie sets there are people who just show up for fun and those who are interested in the "craft" of acting or producing a movie. Since on most movie shoots extras can be waiting for hours a day, there is an opportunity to engage in conversation with other actors/extras. You can also engage in conversation with the production assistants, hairstylists, makeup artists, audio engineers, grips, caterers, and even like on Leatherheads, the Animal Wrangler.

2. Listen - In the midst of all the waiting around there is then that moment when you are being called to the set. Listen to the announcements from the production assistants in extras holding. Be ready to go to the set on a moments notice.

3. Be Professional - Treat this as a professional job, not a hobby. Although you may be making minimum wage, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent daily on major film productions or on a small film the actual invested money of the local producer or director. Show up to the set at the right time, bring the right clothes, and be positive.

4. Costumes - For many films, you may need to be self dressed. This means you are responsible for bringing clothes that fit the role for the movie or scene you are doing that day. If you are going to be a lawyer, town leader businessman, then bring a very nice suit and tie.. If you are a blue collar worker, then an old pair of jeans, and an appropriate shirt works. For women, bring the appropriate dress or pants for the day. Also maybe most importantly bring a good pair of shoes, so that you can wear your own vs the ones they may give you. This also means you may have to invest in clothes. You might need to go to a Salvation army to look for old clothes if you are working on a movie set in the 1960's for example. Make sure you also have an idea of your sizes. You might be dressed by the costumers themselves. In this case, and this is the fun part, you get to wear the clothes of that era.

5. Hair and Makeup - This is possibly a challenging area for some. In many films you will need to have your hair cut to match the era that the film or period that the film covers. In Leatherheads, my hair was cut to look like 1925. In Blood Done Sign My Name, my hair was styled and cut for the small town NC 1960's look. If you have a beard or mustache you might be asked to shave it off. The more flexible you are the more roles you can get.

6. Casting Directors - On each film there is an extras casting director. Keep an eye on their website or call their extras hotline on a regular basis. Keep in contact with them and let them know you availability. If they are on the set, introduce yourself and thank them for the opportunity. You might also inquire to future dates and roles that may be appropriate for your "look". In many films you may play multiple roles.

7. Paperwork and Pay - On most movie sets, you will need a drivers license and social security card as proof that you are legal to work on the film. Upon arrival on the set, the first thing you will do is sign in. There is usually a table set up as you arrive at the extras holding area. You will be asked to fill out a "pay" form that specifies who you are and where the check should be sent and how much the daily pay rate is. In cases where you will be given costumes, you will need to give your form to the costumers during the day. This is a way for them to make sure you don't walk off with any costumes. At the end of the day, when you are "wrapped" they will sign you out and give you the paperwork copy. Keep these in your records, as there might be a chance your paperwork might get lost. Also, travel costs are not usually covered, so plan that as part of your expenses. Carpooling, crashing on someones couch, sharing a motel room or sleeping in your car are some of the ways to keep expenses to a minimum.

8. Directions to the set - Make sure you have the correct driving directions to the set and a phone # of someone working on the production in case you get lost. In many cases, the film will be in an area of town which is sparsely populated. You may also be arriving at the set at 4:30 am to 6 am when not many people are around and stores are closed. Typically there will be signs directing you to extras parking when you are within a few blocks of production.

9. Be Noticed, Not Pushy - When you are on the set or in extras holding, get to know the production assistant who leads you out to the set. As you arrive on set, try to meet the production assistant there also and build trust and let them know your are professional and serious about this film. Many of them are just like you working their way up the ladder.

10. In the scene - One you arrive on the set, an assistant director in charge of keeping track of extras will instruct you or pick you out to be in a scene. They know you may be a first time person or they know you have experience so may use you differently. In some cases you may be in the deep background where you are just filling in the background just like scenery. If you are fortunate you may have a role where your face is clearly seen or you are "Featured". You know you are featured when the cameraman takes a tape measure to your face or the camera is just a few feet away. In any case, once you are "featured" you also may be "used" so they can not show your face any more. For example, in leatherheads I was a Chicago Photographer and Reporter. When I showed up one day, they were filming a scene in Duluth MN. It would not have made sense for me to be there. Or in Blood Done Sign my name, I was a city councilman. It might not make sense, if I was in another scene as a State policeman. As a professional, be honest with the assistant director. If you are not, you may end up being cut from the film when they edit.

10.5 Enjoy yourself, enjoy the journey, make new friends and "break a leg". You may even want to pack a bag with your overnight supplies, you never know when you may be asked to stay an "extra" day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ricky Schroeder and Me

Last night I arrived at Charlotte, NC Silver Hammer Studios for the day filming of Blood Done Sign My Name. It was in a new area of Charlotte being developed for the creative community which included the Music Factory. It was a scorching day outside, so it was good that the production was inside. We arrived at around 1:30 pm and met with the costumer who outfitted us for outfits for 1970's church leaders. Our scene to be shot that day would be the Church leaders meeting with the Minister of the Church, played by Ricky Schroeder. Based upon a true story, our scene was depicting the white minister of the town who invited a black minister into his church to speak about race relations. The church leaders do not think it is a good idea and try to dissuade the minister.

Our scene took place inside a "Church Meeting Room" which looked like a conference room. Eleven leaders and the minister sat around the table. I was standing in the back of the room directly facing the minister (Ricky Schroeder). He gave an impassioned speech. This was one of the first scenes which I was involved with that had intense dialogue and close up shots taken by many of the actors in the film.

It was a great learning curve to see how they moved the cameras around to various sides of the table to get the close ups. They shot about 6 different angles moving the cameras each time.

I did get my third haircut from the film It was cut quite short and it was meticulous since we were getting closeups. Also got to wear a very thin1970's era tie which added to the realism.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Politics and Social Media

The battle is shaping up in the Presidential election and technology is playing a major role in attracting the youth vote. We noticed last week that a new group was set up by the McCain campaign by Senator Joseph Lieberman to attract the independent voters to McCain's cause. This was a new "group" that can be opted into on the John McCain website. This is a smart move for those who do not want to receive the "republican" message and sets a signal that McCain is still working to be a "maverick", yet being practical about consolidating his base of support. They are also going to use this group to attract the disenfranchised "Hillary" supporters from areas such as NY, CT, NJ and FL.

Obama is continuing to mine his base of supporters for small donations. However, his website and messages talk about a "matching donor", so this is an interesting twist since a 'matching donor" seems to me to be someone with "influence".

Speaking of strange bedfellows, I just saw a commercial with the Reverend Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson about the environment and global warming. It is good to see role models of being world citizens from these two influential leaders.

One other trend seems to be happening also. With social networks spreading worldwide, there is more of a chance of a young person to meet and establish friendships with others in dozens of other countries and to essentially develop more of a global framework. This impact means that there will be a developing awareness of global politics and trends from a very young age.
This may also break down some of the stereotypes and propaganda we read about other countries.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Book Expo of America Impressions

Takeaway Feeling at Book Expo - Reinvigorated, Excited About Books
Everywhere I looked people shared the passion and love of books and memories of reading. Author Dennis Lehane mentioned on a panel how he will always remember the first book he read. I think it was Smokey the Bear.

He also shared how his book Mystic River he didn’t think would become a best seller because it was a sad book. Of course, it did, but that humbleness was what the audience loved about him. And we all clamored to have his new book, The Given Day autographed, just one of the many book treasures I picked up at the Expo.

Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran shared how books allow you to live in the imagination and how vital this space is to freedom of the individual and to a country. She shared how in Iran that Desdemona was edited out of Othello because they thought it would depress the people and that Olive Oil was edited out of Popeye because of her apparent low morals. These forms of censorship stifled the imagination and the experience of the story itself.

I left her panel wanting to celebrate the right and priveldge to read, something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Marketing Impressions:

1. The average publisher featured 2-4 books at the show. They probably gave away an average of five hundred books per title. That’s a huge expense.

2. Some publishers featured book samplers. These included sample chapters of a book by a known author. Or included collected bodies of work. For instance, I picked up Paris Review’s sampler of interviews with authors.

3. Most publishers had giveaways in addition to books. These included: beautiful color catalogs, totes, book marks, clever candy, cookies, or magnet type promos around the theme of the book. Some had hats and t-shirts.

4. Authors autographed books at their publisher’s booth, or shared a booth with another author. Many signed books following a panel or signed books at the designated autographing area. Authors like the publishers participated in the huge free book frenzy of Book Expo. It’s the nature of the expo, but I suspect that that will change in the future.

5. Booths for authors
The writers’ row area which was in the secondary hall of the show had several booths for authors. Many authors teamed up to share booth costs. They gave away book marks and were quite selective about who they gave a free book to compared to the larger publishers.

6. Sharing of booths by independent publishers
Various university and literary presses teamed up and shared booths. But they still gave away a ton of books.

7. What seemed hot and different?
a) Graphic novels were very big at the show both from U.S. publishers and Asian publishers.

b) Environmental books and environmentally conscious book giveaways. Along these lines I did check out Amazon’s Kindle Device. Of course, I looked up my novel Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries and that was fun. I liked using the device. It was easy to navigate and a treat to use. I think devices like this will continue to play a larger role in the future as we as a society become more conscious of our carbon footprint.

MediaMensch Meets Marcus Smith, new CEO of SMI Motorsports

This week begins a new chapter for NASCAR and Motorsports as Marcus Smith, takes over as the CEO of the company founded by his father and chairman, Bruton Smith and fills the shoes of legendary promoter and former CEO, Humpy Wheeler.

Today at Lowes Motor Speedway Club, we had a chance to be part of a press luncheon to meet and greet Marcus. Marcus grew up in the business at his father's side and told some great stories of learning the business from the "outside". As a young man, he was a champion "Weedwhacker" who could trim your hair with precision. He also had to opportunity to take part in some other stadium "maintenance" activities such as chasing the pigeons away with shotguns. That was the "sunburn" part of his career.

After college, Marcus had the opportunity to learn about the business from the "inside" moving around from department to department and gaining responsibilities as he grew in his job.

His vision for the future of his organization was to keep SMI a place where the employees and fans had fun each day. At the heart of the sport is entertainment and the future challenges are allowing the fans to have access to the drivers in the face of increasing media and sponsorship demands.

Marcus is currently on a "listening" and learning tour of SMI and seems to be doing the things that a good leader must do, surround yourself with great people, provide direction, and then get out of their way.

Many interesting events are coming to Lowes Motor Speedway and the other tracks owned by SMI. Last week, SMI bought Kentucky Motor Speedway, and on September 11, 2008 will be opening the "Bellagio" of drag racing strips called the ZMAX Dragway. (Can you tell he owns the Las Vegas Speedway too!).

As far the the challenge of filling seats due to $4.00 gas prices, SMI will be working to package its tickets to keep that experience affordable to its core fan base. One statistic, I learned today was the their average fan to Lowes Motor Speedway travels 400 miles each way on average and stays for multiple days. It is the one sport, where you can really bring your friends and family and have a life long memory.

We also had a great time at our lunch table getting to know a "Motorsports Historian" and a few other executives who surround Marcus Smith and will be playing key roles in the day to day execution of his vision.

MediaMensch looks forward to deepening our relationship with NASCAR, NHRA and Motorsports owners, teams, drivers, sponsors and especially the fans!.

Welcome Marcus! We look forward to your 50 year plan!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Filming 'Blood Done Sign My Name' and Timothy B. Tyson

Working on getting back on the set for Blood Done Sign My Name (BDSMN). I had the opportunity to be casted as an extra on two different occasions in the last two weeks and did not make it on to the set for shooting. I did have the opportunity to meet the author of the autobiographical book which the movie is based upon, Timothy B. Tyson.

Tim Tyson was very accessible on the day I was on the set. I had the opportunity to discuss book publishing and movie rights for a few minutes with him while on the set.

On the second day on the film, I was cast as a neighbor of the Tysons. I went through hair and makeup and had my hair cut in a southern 70's look. I also was given a shirt by wardrobe which was from the same era.

There is a great feeling on the set and I believe this movie will be well received. Its release date is in 2009.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Is NHRA the Next NASCAR?

I spent the last two days working at the Lowes Motor Speedway booth at Speed Street, a downtown event attracting hundreds of thousands of race fans and locals. Even though Lowes Motor Speedway is the venue for the event, we had a small one table tent at the very outskirts of the Speed Street.

Lowes is opening a 125 acre zMax Drag race track and the first race is Sept 11 to 14. We had a 30 foot pro series drag racer outside our booth. I had the opportunity to spend time with the people who work at a drag racing team and met with two of the leading drag racers in the country, Hillary Will and Doug Herbert. Hillary is one of the top female racers and her moniker is "The Fastest Woman on Earth" as she has driven at 334 mph. (this was done in 4.5 seconds on a 1/4 mile track).
She spent her life around racing and has a passion for the sport. She is one of the few female racers so she is breaking barriers. Recently she just returned from a life changing trip visiting the troops in Afghanistan.

Doug Herbert is a seasoned veteran of the sport. It was his drag racer which we had at our booth. His booth was promoting B.R.A.K.E.S. with means "Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe". He had lost two of his sons (Jon, 17 and James, 12) to a car accident in early 2008 near their home in Cornelius, NC.

According to the MySpace page, "This horrible loss pushed the boys' father Doug Herbert and Jon's friends from their school to pull together and make a difference in the way teens think about driving. B.R.A.K.E.S.'s goal is to encourage young drivers to be more careful driving on the street, and that racing should be done on the race track, not the street."

So what I came away with from this first encounter with the sport are two drivers who are passionate, driven, focussed, down to earth, and who think about the fans and others.

I also found the NHRA web page to be a great way to learn about the sport. They have easy to read blog entries about the basics of the sport, your first visit to an event, and a glossary of terms.

I look forward to learning more.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tony Stewart Subway Commercial Shoot

In the pursuit of learning about media, marketing and NASCAR, I was invited by an agent, Marty Siu, whom I recently met working on the fil "Blood Done Sign My Name" to be an extra in a Subway Sandwich television commercial.

The commercial will be with Tony Stewart. We filmed two different scenes, one in a "press box" and corporate suite and one at the "Fence" by the track. We filmed the first scenes in the press box with about 30 men, women and children. That took about 90 minutes to film. We had to sit in seats and cheer pretending Tony won the race.

The next scene which was filmed was with Tony at the finish line. They brought the actual NASCAR #20 Yellow Subway Sandwich car. Along with this they selected some extras to be in a pit crew. I was chosen to be an extra who would be at the "fence" when Tony climbed. (I am on the far left in blue t-shirt and sunglasses in picture above) . I ended up right in the middle of the "shot" with good camera time. We had a good time cheering Tony and then pretending to snap photos of him.

I met some friends from Leatherheads on the set, a Production assistant from Blood Done Sign My Name also was working that day, and a few agents, and friends.

At the end of the day, we had a major storm come through (we had tornado warnings for the last two hours of shooting) and we had torrential rain, hail, and high winds...our day ended up in the safest shelter at the track which was the rest rooms. So it was a very eventful day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All Star Race Week, Lowes Motor Speedway, and SpeedStreet.

Motorsports is booming here in Charlotte, NC as Lowes Motor Speedway hosts the annual Sprint All Star Race this evening. This really kicks off a week in which over 200,000 visitors will descend on the Charlotte (Concord, NC) region for festivities which rival any major sporting event in the world.

Tonight is the Sprint All Star race where the top NASCAR drivers will be competing for a prize of $1 million dollars. It is one of the highlights of the year for many of the drivers and their race teams as most have their HQ in this area with some only a few miles from the track.

There are also bragging rights for Pit Crews who competed earlier this week at the NBA Bobcats arena. Pit crews are becoming so sophisticated that they are recruiting top athletes out of colleges similar to what other major league sports do. There is a very athletic ballet that happens when a pit crew can change two front tires and gas up a car push it over a finish line in around 20 seconds.

In addition, you will find that in downtown Charlotte, there is a great party that goes on for 4 days and 3 nights called Food Lion SpeedStreet. This is a great family and fan atmosphere with something for everyone. Sponsors such as Kelloggs, Juicy Fruit, Ford, General Motors, Food Lion, Coca-Cola, Miller Lite, Budweiser, Chevrolet and General Mills, Toyota, and dozens more have booths, games and contests. Autograph seekers can find times to meet with their favorite drivers. as their are 29 scheduled events scheduled. The current and former NASCAR drivers and owners slated to appear at this year’s event have amassed an amazing 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championships, 305 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup wins, 1,080 top-five finishes, 1,754 top-ten finishes, 210 pole positions, 102 NASCAR Busch Series wins, 9 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins and just to add a little extra - 3 Super Bowl wins in the highly competitive National Football League.

Music fans can find wide mix of musical acts on the Coca Cola, Miller Lite and Budweiser stages. Country music superstar Joe Nichols, the R&B supergroup Tony! Toni! TonĂ© and the legendary rock group Cheap Trick join forces on the Coca-Cola stage. One of country music’s most popular female singers Sara Evans, 80’s Rock mega band LOVERBOY, the exciting alternative rock band Puddle of Mudd and one of country music’s hottest groups The Wreckers headline an eclectic mix of talent and energy that will grace the Miller Lite stage. Diamond Rio, one of country music’s most versatile and talented groups joins forces with rising young country music vocalist Danielle Peck and alternative rock giant Better Than Ezra to comprise a formidable lineup for the Budweiser stage. All of this is free!.

At Lowes Motor Speedway, you will find great excitement and fun with booths and entertainment from companies such as Sprint, Irwin Tools, Jack Daniels, Crown Royal and dozens more. You can also visit the gift shop and the walk of legends plus attend the races themselves.

The events include the Nationwide series, All Star Challenge, Pole Night and capped off with racing under the lights at the spectacular Coca Cola 600. For tickets and over information you can contact

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Andrew Kaplan Viewpoint - Presidential Primary and Social Media - Who is Engaging Best Wins!!

I came into the election season with an independent view of the candidates. I had spent time in the fall looking at ways social media would have an impact on the campaigns in the primary and leading up to the election. When the primaries were just heating up, my consulting and advisory practice as a facebook branding expert was also on the rise.

So I started a group on facebook about politics and then started to really look at how facebook was having an impact on the candidates and the election. I noticed a few things immediately.

Obama has very dynamic groups on Facebook and seem to capture the imagination of the college educated and professional class. His groups on facebook linked back clearly to his websites and also were a place of really connecting with the candidate. Reading further into this, Obama early on had recognized the power of social media and networking and had hired one of the early executives of facebook to be on his campaign staff. Basically, Obama new how to engage and build a grass roots organization.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand faced some challenges. Not much was happening in her Facebook groups. In fact, "Anti-Hillary" facebook groups were popping up every day. there were dozens of these groups on facebook. No one from her campaign seemed to pay attention or possibly contact Facebook to have these groups shut down since I believe it goes against the "culture of Facebook" to make derogatory remarks about an individual, even a candidate.
So looking to help out and gain some experience, I sent e-mails into her national campaign's e-mail address on the main website to see if I might help with consulting. NO RESPONSE. The only messages I received from the Clinton Campaign seemed to do with ACCESS.....send a donation and perhaps then we might talk or have you be a volunteer.

I had seen John McCain in person in January and was at his town hall meeting. His rally was engaging, interesting, humorous and warm. He was connecting with the crowd. He recognized that he needed to reach the independent vote and to bring change to Capitol Hill. He surrounded himself with politicians who were moderate and were well versed on reducing spending and healthcare. He also had a relatively young and maverick US Senator at his side Tom Coburn (R-OK). Coburn is energetic, youthful and charismatic. And when question about Healthcare came up, McCain, called upon Coburn to answer......Coburn is a doctor.....(my sense is that he could be on the McCain short list for VP since he has appeal to independent, educated voters and his knowledgable on healthcare....he also works hard to stop frivoulous congressional spending)...

At the town hall meeting, I had a chance to ask a question was about science and math curriculum in public schools and how he might create a way for the US to compete better on the international level in these areas. I also mentioned technology too. He answered in a "political way". He didn't give specifics...he did however show me he had seen a model for this. McCain answered and discussed Ireland and how he had met with the mayor of Dublin and how they have transformed that city into a technological juggernaut. I liked this answer, because it showed that he had a world view and that he had thought about this. McCain won the South Carolina primary two days later. I was impressed with him. I could feel his sincerity. He wants to engage and bring change.

McCain has a facebook group and in fact, in March, he sent out an e-mail about having a March Madness bracket contest for the NCAA basketball tourney. Someone on his campaign was at least working to engage. McCain also is traveling in the "Straight Talk Express". From my viewpoint he does say what is on his mind. This sometimes gets him into trouble, but I respect that he is a maverick.

In April, Hillary's campaign sent her husband and former President Bill Clinton into North Carolina to campaign. I went to see him at a rally in Salibury, NC and had access in the press section. An e-mail had arrived in my mailbox at around 10 pm the night before giving little chance for others to see him He was NOT in Charlotte, but visiting the small towns of the blue collar worker. He discussed policies on global warming, education, and healthcare. He seemed to be enjoying the crowd, but at the same time, I felt that he was just going through the motions for his wife. He even made a joke about it at the rally...about what would happen at home if he didn't go on the campaign trail. He was accessible after the rally to the small crowd of a few hundred who had attended.

I then decided that I would spend some time trying to figure out the "Obama" mystique. What was he doing that was attracting people to his vision and campaign. Was it his message, his charisma or something else? How did Obama come from having no organization to be the leader in the democratic primary? A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from his campaign that they wanted help in "Getting out the Vote". The e-mail did NOT ask for asked for time! It asked for "volunteerisim" and "engagement". The Obama National Campaign had secured office space on one of the "coolest new streets" in Charlotte. On the street was a new upscale bar, a new Starbucks, an new home made Ice Cream shop, and one of the top live music venues. It was also about one block from where the first "early voting" was to occur in Charlotte (Mecklenburg County) beginning April 17th.

I stopped in the Obama HQ and immediately was greeted by 3 volunteers at a long table filled with brochures, pamphlets, "woman for Obama" signups, etc. The volunteers were warm, friendly and inviting. You could feel the excitement and energy. I told them I wanted to find out more about volunteering and I filled out a short form and then was sent over to a table to meet Bruce, who was managing this campaign office. Bruce and I spoke for a few minutes about how I can help, where I lived in Charlotte and then brought me over to meet a young woman named Jori. Jori was the coordinator of the campaign for North Charlotte, Davidson and Huntersville where I lived. She was in a small office she shared with another campaign worker. She was working hard on her laptop. She greeted me and then asked me how much time I had. I told her I had just stopped in to see how I might volunteer and didn't expect to be put to work. I told her I could help for about 90 minutes before I had to leave for my next business meeting. She went into some database on her computer and then printed out about 20 sheets of around 500 names. These were a database of registered democrats in Charlotte. She then handed me a 'telemarketing script' to read for calling and asking people to vote early.

Jori handed me a mobile phone and I started to call. So in less than 20 minutes, I went from someone who wanted to see how I could help to being an active campaign worker. To me that showed great organization. What was more amazing to me, was that these staff members were the ones traveling from state to state and this office had only opened a few days before and was a temporary base. They were so organized. It was impressive.

I was in my element..I had spent a good part of my business career bring contact management and customer relationship management systems such as ACT!, SalesLogix and to Fortune 500 companies and mid-size companies. As a database marketing professional, I saw that they not only were having me call people, but had me circle certain data boxes next to their names. This included where I left a message, had a wrong number, where they were going to support Obama or Hillary. It also asked if they were going to vote early, wanted to volunteer or needed a ride to the polls.

My script also mentioned that we felt there would be long lines due to 200,000+ new registered voters on primary day (May 6th) and we were encouraging voters to use North Carolina early voting at their local libraries starting h. It was an impressive way to organize.

As I finished up about 100 calls, I gave my sheets back to Jori and she told me they would be entered back into the database. She also showed me how each voter was bar coded for easy date entry.

As I was leaving, I learned about door to door canvassing they were coordinating. Even though Jori and these national campaign workers had not been in Charlotte before, she had a large map of her area and was targeting to do a door to door canvassing for "Obama and Early voting" that weekend. Again this was very organized. Although, my schedule did not allow me to participate that weekend, I know that my 12 year old son, told me that someone from Obama's campaign had come to our neighborhood that following Saturday and told him about Obama. From a technology standpoint, they were using geographic mapping systems to plan these.

A few days later, early voting started at our University Libary location. I stopped in at about 6:45 pm Tuesday, a week prior to the official primary day to vote thinking there wouldn't be any lines. The lines were out the door. The majority of voters seemed to be for Obama and energized by the vote. I stopped by the library again on the Saturday (which was the last day of voting) and the line at this point was about 300 people long snaking around...Police where on hand to help with creating extra parking areas. It was no surprise to me that Obama and the early voting initiatives had been effective and he was going to win by a large margine.

Now, here is another thing that separated Obama and Hillary. Hillary's campaign sent me an e-mail that she and Chelsea would be at the 20,000 seat NBA Bobcat arena with Chelsea. I really wanted to see her too, to understand and hear her unfiltered from the press. There was one catch and a "turnoff".....yes I could go see her, but if I wanted to be up close, I would have to fork over $250.00 for a seat up front or $75 for a seat a little ways back....There were also free seats, but I am thinking they are the what is Hillary's message......I will only talk to you or let you close if you have MONEY!!!!.....Seemed to me it resonated in the same way the lobbyist in Washington worked. She is trying for grass roots fundraising, but it seems it is too self serving and too late. Her campaign is out of money.

By contrast, I was invited to two Obama events in Charlotte. One with Obama himself and the other with his wife Michelle. It was open to the public and encouraged us to invite whomever we wanted. He wanted to get his message out. He wasn't looking for a handout.

Hillary did arrive in the state and was supported by our governor. She did make stops in other areas of the state. Yes I guess these were "free"stops, but it wasn't in Charlotte.

So here is my take.......
McCain who had little funding during his campaign, won because he engaged the crowds and had a message that was to bring change to Washington, DC. He was accessible and showed he could admit he didn't have all the answers himself. He was self-deprecating...and enjoyable to be around. You also got a sense he was a true patriot and truly loved this country.

Obama was like a CEO of a well oiled startup company ready for great success. His campaign was loaded with energy, youth, technology and a spirit of changing the world. His little campaign headquarters also was very mixed in demographics there were people of all ages and races working there....including a very bright staff member who actually was from Vancouver, CA and a recent political science grad.

Hillary to me was like the old time politician...She wanted money....she said she was listening, but actually made it difficult to get close unless you had money...and never had any one from her website respond to inquiries. She was not creating "relationships" either in the facebook or web community nor in real life. Bill was doing the connecting and probably could win if he ran again, but it was clear that the voters separated Hillary and Bill in style. Hillary is impressive in the battle to break the glass ceiling. Perhaps her appeal is more to the older and woman voter, so I may have not been her target audiene.

Bottom line on the day after the election in Charlotte, NC (Mecklenburg County)....Obama won 70% to 29% ..........His juggernaut is in place and will be very formidable.....He showed that he could beat one of the top and most experienced and respected campaign organizations - the Clintons.

Last looking at this day an age loyalty is priceless. Obama has loyalty from his followers.Hillary does not have high level people loyal to her..people who worked in the White House and in Bill Clinton's cabinet with her are backing Obama. Those are the ones that had "access" and know her best.

My predication, I am seeing McCain pick a youthful VP (perhaps Tom Coburn), and I see Obama choosing a loyal experienced "centrist" democrat (perhaps Joe Biden who can bring the party together at the convention and offset McCain's "experience".

I don't see Hillary as the nominee for many of the reasons stated above. Even though she may be out of money, she had things that were free and engaging to reach an audience ...Facebook and other social media. She didn't do this and I think she lost the youth vote because of this.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

MediaMensch Radio Show - Ulf Nilsson - Qbrick - Hockey Legend

This past show with Ulf Nilsson, is one of my favorite shows. Ulf Nilsson is an executive with Qbrick, one of the leading digital streaming companies in Sweden. Ulf is also someone who spent his early life and career taking risks and reaching the highest levels in professional sports. He was one of the first European hockey players to come to North America. Upon his arrival at the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association, the games began to sell out. This continued when he arrived at the NY Rangers. His mentor at the Jets was Bobby Hull.

So our show is a mix of what is happening today in current digital media mixed with great advice on reaching the highest goals in life.

You can find the show on this website and at

Please share this show or other programs with your friends. Past shows include the former president of Starbucks and a press conference with George Clooney regarding the movie "Leatherheads" and Darfur.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media Mensch Expands to Professional Sports

Sports are now going to be part of our future MediaMensch offerings and radio show. In April, we were able to attend a press conference for Lowes Motor Speedway and the Sprint All Star race. There are some new changes to the track. The walls at the race track are now painted Yellow to reflect the Sprint brand. There was also an introduction of a contest before the race to see who can create the best "burnt rubber" among the professional drivers. This contest is modeled after the types of things that are done such as the Home Run Derby or the Slam Dunk competitions at the All Star games. Clint Bowher, driver of the Jack Daniels car and Humpy Wheeler owner of Lowes were interviewed by the various media outlets. After the media event, a lunch in the Time Warner media center was held and I had a chance to meet some members of the local media and spend a few minutes with Clint.

Yesterday, I receieved an invite to attend a press conference for the Charlotte Bobcats where they announced a new coach...the coaching legend, Larry Brown. This was my first Bobcats press conference. Sitting in the 2nd row, I had a chance to see and hear Michael Jordan discuss who he came to hire Larry Brown and talk about the future of the franchise. Many of the people now running the Bobcats came out of the college basketball powerhouse a few houses of the interstate, University of North Carolina. It was interesting to watch the "Tarheel" leadership and coaching arrive at the Bobcats.

Today, I had the opportunity to interview Ulf Nilsson, hockey legend and media executive on . We discussed topics ranging from digital media, television, hockey, culture, coaching/mentoring and life lessons.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Small press authors have a hard time gettting in bookstores

A friend went to a coffee shop last night that is next door to a book store. He suggested I try to get a book signing there. I tried a few months ago and it got nowhere. So today I went there and spoke again with the store about my novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries. The clerk tells me that they have very few signings, but the author last night was with a press they recognized and guaranteed a certain number of guests and even provided their names. She says all this in the rudest tone possible. Meanwhile this dear, sweet patron looks at my book and says, "My mother-in-law just loves shoes. The cover is so pretty. What's your book about?" I step over to the side and explain the book, then she says, "Well, can I buy it here?"

I explain that I tried to get in and that the store favors authors with the big presses. She asks for my card, then reads the blurbs and says, "You know I think I want a copy for myself too. I'll call you. And my brother is writing a book and my sister-in-law writes some too. I know my family would just love this book." I thank her and make my way back to the clerk who is watching this whole thing. By this point the clerk apologizes a bit, saying it's very hard to get a book signing at their store. I'm so ticked at her that I say, "I understand, but you have no idea the challenges new authors face...and rattle off some of my awards and stuff," then cut myself off and ask if she knows where my review copy is since the store has no apparent interest and if I could have it back. And then she can't find it.

I leave the store. Twenty minutes later she calls. I hope that maybe they've decided to carry my book since that patron wanted it. But no. She just found my book.

It's so hard out there for authors with small presses. Last month was Small Press Month and that organization complied a list of 31 one ways you can support the small presses.

Things to do for Small Presses:

Contact your local bookstore or library and suggest they put together a special display for National Small Press Month. You can obtain posters from: Small Press Month Coordinator, PMA, Independent Book Publishers Association, 627 Aviation Way, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266; 310.372.2732; Orders come in units of five.

Suggest that your local bookstore offer a discount off Small Press titles this month. Offer a special discount on all of your titles.

Hold a seminar on "How to Get Published" or on a subject related to your books. You might wish to cooperate with other small presses in your area to get this event off to a roaring start. You might wish to charge a nominal fee for the seminar.

Contact the Book Review editor at your local daily newspaper about any events that you plan. Also speak to the Features Editor. The Business Editor is usually interested in a successful publishing story.

Send PMA a list of participating bookstores and libraries. PMA can send them publicity and display material.

Be sure to inform PMA and the Small Press Center about any activities you have planned for the month. That way, we can include your plans in their national database and mention your events when we are in touch with the media. Please e-mail

Get in touch with weekly papers and magazines in your area about readings or events and submit the information to the Listings Editor.

Approach an interviewer at a local radio station about airing a segment on, for instance, the problems and rewards of running a small press, or set one up for an author.

Make arrangements with any local non-bookstore outlet that is appropriate for any of your books. For example, if you publish cookbooks, a grocery store might display them up near the check-out for National Small Press Month, particularly with a special discount as an incentive.

Try for an interview at your local daily or weekly paper, remember that the media is always pleased to find to find that there are successful publishers and writers in the neighborhood. So pitch not only yourself, but also your colleagues.

If you have a personable, articulate author who is available to speak in his or her area, set up interviews with local television or radio stations.

Schedule an interview for yourself at your local television station for National Small Press Month. Be sure to offer visuals if available. Footage of an author doing research in a foreign country, or a sports book author on the ski slopes, for example, would be helpful to getting TV time. Focus on the unique angles of your books and authors.

Band together with other small presses and compile a combined exhibition of titles in a subject area. Offer your library the ready-made exhibit of locally published books in the areas you choose.

Find a college or university that would be receptive to a roundtable discussion on a topic like: "The Growth of Independent Media", "What is a Free Press?" or "The First Amendment and Mainstream Media"

A talk to elementary, junior high, or high school students about being an author could be a highlight of school programs during the month.

Use excerpts from a current or upcoming book on your website. An entire chapter is more engaging than just a short passage.

Arrange readings and signings from your list to be held during National Small Press Month at your local bookstore and library.

Plan a group reading or event with other local independent presses and make night out of it.

Take National Small Press Month posters to your local bookstore or library and be sure that they are displayed and distributed.

Join with other small and independent presses and take out a co-op ad in your local newspaper.

Be sure that every local organization to which you belong to displays a poster about National Small Press Month and has your catalogue available as a handout for Small Press Month.

If you have one, keep your alumni magazine up to date about you and your small press.

Host a wine and cheese party in your office for the press, booksellers and other friends of your publishing house. Celebrate National Small Press Month!

Gather together all your press cuttings and document the successes of National Small Press Month and please send to Mark Kohut for use next year. Send care of the Small Press Center, 20 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.

Link to the Small Press Month website from your own:

Send out e-mails to your customer mailing list announcing the approach of National Small Press Month, and the events you have planned. A weekly digest of news would be an effective way to keep the momentum going throughout March.

Contact other small and independent arts organizations in your area- record labels, theaters, and art galleries, for example- and link to each other's websites, promote each other's events, and support the independent arts community!

Run a contest through your e-mail newsletter, asking for ten titles of famous independently published books. The winner can receive one of your books, or a collection of them.

Contact other independent publishers and set up together a small book fair during the month at a local college or community center

Evaluate authors' pitches - offer to set up a program at a bookstore or library where authors, on the understanding you are there to give general advice, can make a five minute pitch to you about their manuscript.

Look over the previous 30 suggested ideas and let us know which ones provided the most response.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tyler Perry's Success Journey and Time Magazine Top 100 People

In March, I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta to work as an extra on a movie called "The Family That Preys" (Oct 2008) with one of the hottest producers and directors in the country, Tyler Perry. He is a rags to riches story and pure American dream. He is also thankful and appreciative of the abundance he has received. Many of you may not know him or have watch his programs, so I thought I would include his most recent message. It is clearly a message and story of fame, fortune and thankfulness.

" Hi Everybody,

Okay, I know that I haven’t written in a while but I’ve been dealing with
a situation.

I’m trying to be careful how I say this without inciting this person, but
I have a stalker. This person sends several hundred emails a day to my
office and has planned our wedding and bought rings and such. She has
showed up at my house several times. What’s crazy is I’ve never met this
woman nor have I even responded to her emails. I’ve had to increase the
guards at my house as well as travel with body guards and I hate that. I
hate to have big guys following me around. Anyway I’ll try to keep this
positive. Let me breathe....

Okay I’m back, on to the real reason I’m writing. Can I just say thank
all of you for making MEET THE BROWNS such a success? The great thing
about it for me was all of the emails that I got from single mothers who
needed to see it. I know this movie wasn’t for everybody, but for the
people that it spoke to you let me know how it touched you and that lets
me know that I’m still on the right track.

I just finished another movie and for all of MY “Why Did I Get Married?”
fans. This one is going to blow your minds. I’ll tell you more about it
later. Also the ratings for HOUSE OF PAYNE are through the roof again.
Yes, Janine is pregnant and I know that you think you know who the father
is but just wait and see. Hasn’t the show gotten so much better?

I’m trying to make this short, but when I start to think about how much
you guys are with me all I can say is “Thank you God for Favor!” I’ve got
to write a book about this. I’m telling you, you inspire me so much. You
make me want to be a much better human being. Thank you again.

If you can do me a favor, TIME Magazine is having their top 100, people
issue and my name is on the list. Don’t ask me why (smile). And I was just
told that YOU have to vote for the person that you like the most. You can
vote as many times as you want.

I don’t know what this means or why they selected me for this list but
since they did I’d sure like for you to have a voice in this contest. It’s
pretty easy to do. Here’s the link,28804,1725112_1726934_1726935,00.html

Please read the instructions before submitting your vote.

God bless,

Tyler Perry"

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Literary Magazine Emerged from Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest

Conclave - A Journal of Character

This is going to be an exciting journal to watch and read. Publishers take note! If you want to see some great fiction stay tuned for the upcoming print journal. I'm honored to be a part of it.

Here's how Editor, Valya Dudycz Lupescu described this new literary magazine:

"In January and February 2008, writers from around the world came together on the forums because of their shared status as entrants and finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. What began as a contest evolved into a community.

In order to create a permanent home for that writers' community, Semifinalist Valya Dudycz Lupescu and her husband Mark created, an online network and showcase of the published and unpublished works of the ABNA writers. is a place for writers to present their work, get the attention of publishers and agents, and help each other in the process of publishing and promotion.

Eager to showcase some of the talent already in their ranks, as well as to promote the writing of talented authors around the world, Valya with the help of the other ABNA writers and editors, decided to create Conclave: A Journal of Character.

Conclave is annual print journal that focuses on character-driven writing in contemporary literary fiction. We hope to share with you our delight in well-told stories: stories that make you laugh, think, feel, or remember. We hope that our stories challenge and entertain, but most of all, we hope they introduce you to unforgettable characters that stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Bookmark this Web site and visit us often. If you like what you read, we hope you will subscribe, or send a gift subscription to a friend or relative.

And let us know what you think about our journal and Web site. We may post your comments online in a the upcoming “Letters to the Editor” section."

Check out the new editors of the magazine (yours truly is a flash fiction editor).

EDITOR, Valya Dudycz Lupescu



FICTION EDITORS: Enrico Antiporda, Vicki King, Jarucia Jaycox Nirula, Gae Polisner

FLASH FICTION EDITORS: Julie Ann Shapiro, Bret Wright


CREATIVE NONFICTION EDITORS: Melissa Conway, Stephanie Feuer, James Noll, Meg Write



DRAMA EDITORS: Karen Joan, Mary Anne Rooney

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS: Megan Fergus, Jarucia Jaycox Nirula, David Stanley




Saturday, April 05, 2008

Leatherheads Debut with Andrew Kaplan

It was almost a year to the day that I stepped foot on the Leatherheads set thinking I would be a fan in the stands and make $100.00 for one day. A year later, I have had the opportunity to have built long lasting friendships, learn about film production and be in 3 other movies (Gospel Hill, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, and Insignificant Others.).

On Friday, April 4th, I attended the screening with Maurice at the theatre at Concord Mills, actually the same mall where I went to the open casting for Leatherheads in March 2007.

As the movie opened, I sat with anticipation to see how this movie would turn out. It is very difficult to describe the differences in being on a film set and what comes out of the editing and sound process in post production.

I remember talking to many of the people show in the film such as Tim Griffin who is the black football player on the Bulldogs. I remember meeting his girlfriend who had flown out from LA to visit with him. I just had Edd Robinson on my mediamensch radio show and he told me he was a scorekeeper, so it turned out he had about 5 seconds in the movie as a clear shot. Maurice, whom, I had met on my last day of filming had also told me he was on the scale in the athletic club. When that scene came up with Clooney running through the athletic club, Maurice had is 5 seconds of fame as well. There was a man on a "belly machine" who was clearly shown. I had been cast that day for that role and was costumed and then on the day of shooting another gent with a much better belly...showed up and had that role...

Personally, I am in the movie for about 1 or 2 seconds with a closeup during the Chicago-Duluth football game. I also made the background talking for about 10 seconds behind the bench holding my camera. My hand and camera, also had a closeup for about 5 or 10 seconds holding the camera directly behind the coach....(great for my new career as a hand model)...then there was a camera on the sidelines on a tripod, I used that for a while.

The scenes that made the cutting room floor with me were when they took a player off on a stretcher and I was the cameraman almost on top of him. I am not sure if they erased me or just had another angle. I also had been in a closeup talking with Coach (Wayne Duvall) during the game and that also did not make it. The other scene which I thought would have been in was the concession stand. About 50 extras spent about an hour on that scene with George directing. I had been waving dollar bills in the scene.

Well...all I can say is that Leatherheads was an incredible journey which continues to have made changes in my life which were unforeseeable. This included last week when I attended the Leatherheads press junket and asked Clooney two questions. He joked about my memorable acting.

I couldn't have written a better script for this life journey!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Book Review of Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries

Book Review of Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries

Published in Between the Cracks

Review by Kim McDougall

"Bradley was influenced at a young age by his free-spirited grandmother. She taught him to see the wonder in details, the color of a bird’s wing, dust floating in the air. She set him up to be a photographer, a job that uses his creativity and quirky nature to good effect. He shoots the usual commercial photos for clients, but indulges his whimsy on photographs of ripples in the lake and lone shoes forgotten by civilization. For Brad, “It wasn’t about the camera. But inspiration that left one feeling parched, going through life wandering around in the desert like a mad man thinking you’re seeing mirages about some oasis that’s just around the corner – you dream it so. And when it appears, you’re so parched you’re afraid of that first sip of water. But still you drink it, knowing maybe it’s your last and you savor the drops on your tongue, rolling them back and forth in your mouth until you’ve memorized how they feel falling down your throat.” (Pg 127)

Brad’s grandmother also set him up to fall in love with a girl who is more spirit than human at times. Jen Zen is a poet, with all the images that word connotes. She is nebulous, mysterious and sometimes infuriating. When her mother tells Brad that she’s dead, he discovers only the first mystery about the woman he loves. Jen Zen’s mother is a hard woman, who has no time for her daughter’s eccentricities. She says that her tea leaves make more sense that Jen Zen’s poetry, an attitude that prompts Jen Zen to write (pg 253):

Mother’s Sanctified Tea Leaves
You said, “Your tea leaves made more sense than my words.”
A poet sees tea leaves as shortened branches from a tree.
Sensing the whole; sensing the connection.
The existence you ignored.
Preferring to see soggy twigs; flavoring your water.
You’re right tea leaves make sense.
Keep your flavored water.
I’ll keep my flavored tree.
Where my words know the whole, making me whole.

Jen Zen’s mother chases Brad from the hospital and refuses to let him say goodbye. This lack of closure leaves him restless and unsatisfied. Months later, he is still unable to shake the shadow of Jen Zen and he begins to wonder if she haunts him. Along with her ephemeral presence, the discarded shoes turn Brad into a man on a mission. He is convinced that the piles of shoes mysteriously appearing in a small town have to be connected to Jen Zen. Is she really dead? Is she haunting him? Is he finally going crazy? His camera and his mind won’t rest until he answers these questions.

Jen Zen and the One Shoe Diaries is a far-reaching story full of lyrical beauty—a true Between the Cracks novel. It’s part mystery, part poetry. It has elements of magic realism and surrealism. Author Julie Ann Shapiro has a knack for capturing the essence of relationships and all their uncertainties. At times, Brad’s relationships (with Jen Zen, his grandmother, mother and sister) are a comfort. Other times they are a web, ready to ensnare him. In the end, he learns to see life from his own perspective, without the comfort of a camera’s lens to distort it, and he realizes that the challenge of a relationship is what makes it worthwhile.

Julie Ann Shapiro is a freelance writer, novelist, short story author and Pushcart Nominee with over seventy published stories. Julie's novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries is published by Her second novel, Three Drop Pennies was recently a semifinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest.