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.