Tag: Hollywood

Live from Studio City

Live from Studio City

In case some of you weren’t around this morning to see what I’ve been up to today, here’s the real brief teaser I put out on social media:

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where Twitter is dead in the aftermath of terrible social media toxicity, I’ll lay it out in good, old-fashioned text:

The Cal State Fullerton branch of the Society of Professional Journalists got an opportunity to tour the CBS2/KCAL9 broadcast center in Studio City, California this afternoon.

However, assuming you might be reading this in some far-flung future date where the Internet is dead after a nuclear apocalypse…

Well you wouldn’t be reading this anyway. My entire joke would fall apart well before I started it.

So I’ll stop wasting your time.

My dad worked at the station for about three years as an Information Technology Manager, in-part helping to build out some of the infrastructure that we were able to see today.

In fact, I personally helped build bits and pieces when he took me to work with him. Crawling under tables to plug-in computers and stuff.

Because he still has some friends at CBS, he was able to get our club president Harrison in touch with Dan Haight, the Director of Broadcast Operations and Engineering.

As the Secretary for our chapter, I figured the least I could do was help us get a tour at a professional newsroom. Luckily it was a successful venture!

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The broadcast building from behind, on the sixth floor roof of the parking structure.

I got to Studio City pretty early and had the chance to look around at the entertainment side of the house first.

That included a whole host of fancy-looking lots as well as named buildings, street signs and more.

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But more importantly, it included a lot of brief looks at areas where different TV shows are currently being recorded.

The one that stood out most to me was Last Man Standing. Not because I watch the Tim Allen sitcom, but because of where the show was:

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The home of Seinfeld? Now that’s a sound stage that could tell some stories.

Even if most of those stories are technically supposed to be centered in New York.

~*~Hollywood magic~*~

Here are a number of other discoveries I made, all lazily compiled in a slide show because I’m pretty tired after a number of hours on the freeway.

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However, arguably the most important discovery I made was off the lot:

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Don’t know if this is a business officially affiliated with CBS, or if it’s just some business owner with a lot of ingenuity to capitalize on the major job provider in the area, but either way I’m a fan.

After my little self-driven tour, it was time to head back to the broadcast center for our official tour!

… Except traffic was apparently not great today, so I was the first one there and had to hang out for quite some time before the rest of the group arrived.

Gave me a lot of time to look around at the big stuff in the lobby.

It was actually a lot of fun watching folks wander in-and-out, usually stopping by the security desk to see what was on the news with the guard.

After Dan arrived to take us around on the tour, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Got caught up in just checking everything out.

So the best I’ve got for visuals in this stage are the couple of pictures we took as a group that got posted on the SPJ account:

Obviously, that’s where I got my featured image from. I love the image Harrison got of us all looking into a news camera.

We found out that the area where we took that picture is going to be reworked soon for a new project CBS is working on to get live news broadcasts to mobile phones easier. All with the hopes of attracting that young audience that doesn’t watch traditional TV anymore.

Then we got a look around the newsroom, everything from the assignment desk to the online story stations and editing bays.

Afterward we checked out a couple of the shows currently recording, or preparing to record, during our tour.

First was the weekly Veteran’s Voices show, where a few actors were sitting in as the anchors so they could make sure all the shots were right.

After that we saw the end of the News at Noon with Sandra Mitchell, sitting alongside the weather lady Alex Biston.

Fun fact, this weather update was actually what we watched her record. Live. It was pretty cool, and she took some time to chat with us afterward!

The most interesting thing about watching the news broadcast was the fact that those two were the only people on the entire set. Everything else was fully automated.

I can’t help but feel it would be disconcerting to record an entire broadcast like that with nobody else around on a big sound stage… But I suppose it’s the kind of thing that Internet personalities do all the time in the 21st Century.

It was kind of cool to see how much technology has advanced I suppose, even if it wasn’t a great sign for getting jobs in the industry.

Finally, we were in one of the big control rooms just in time for Donald Trump’s speech on the New Zealand attacks — which I’ll use the CNN story for just for the sake of variety.

It was pretty amazing watching almost every screen in the room change to show the President’s face, both for the CBS channels and their competition.

While we were checking out the fully automated sound deck beside that control room, another one of my Dad’s old friends showed up. Bob and Dan got to talking, which led them to telling our tour group about how much they enjoyed working with Dad and missed him.

Which was a very sweet thing to see.

But that was pretty much all there is to say about my CBS tour. It was really cool, especially on the verge of graduation when I need to start thinking about things like work more avidly.

… Plus, I got to write it off as networking with reporters for my internship.

So I really can’t complain about that.

A ten-dollar word worth its weight in gold

A ten-dollar word worth its weight in gold

Once in a while I like to take a break from delving into a video game or bothering you all about my life and talk about another one of my favorite things: The written word.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really an update on my Senior Honors Project. I have been working on that a bit recently, but not in any capacity to show something off.

Instead I wanted to bring back something that I haven’t really done since last summer. A ten-dollar word of the day.

Sometimes I just find a word that stands out for one reason or another, and it makes for some good filler content on a day when not a lot else has gone on.

However, today’s word isn’t quite as (from my point of view) underutilized as something like “proselytize.” In fact, you just might recognize it from my own recent lexicon.


Bonanza

Definition 1:

  1. Something that is very valuable, profitable or rewarding.
  2. A very large amount.
  3. Extravaganza.

Definition 2:

  1. An exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit (as of an ore, precious metal or petroleum while mining).

via the Merriam-Webster dictionary


Yeah that’s right, I’m pulling out that word from my post headline yesterday. Looking it up to see if it was the word I actually wanted to use was what inspired me to talk about it more, actually.

I re-ordered the list of definitions from Merriam-Webster here on my blog to put what I would consider the more common usage on top.

After all,  I personally happen to know the word “bonanza” in reference to something like an extravaganza, or simply something valuable.

But it threw me for a loop to see that the term apparently has roots in the mining industry!

Looking for some more information on that origin led me down an interesting little rabbit hole. I discovered a website called mining.com for example, which apparently covers news regarding different precious metals and their market prices. They also apparently do things like advertise mining-related novels, which is where I found the “bonanza” connection.

Another blog I found off-shooting the Collins Dictionary stipulates that the word came to be popularly used with mining successes as a result of its Spanish origin, where the term meant “calm sea” in reference to an expression of good news for sailors and fisherman.

The general “good fortune” expression wound up being used in the mining industry as well.

This all actually makes some sense considering the more modern usage of the word as being an extravagant event or a rewarding situation. It just comes off of a root that threw me off-kilter — enough to spent at least a little bit of time digging deeper.

Isn’t that the beauty of a language like English, with so many intermingling influences?

While looking for the definition of the term bonanza, I also happened to come across a totally different and interesting off-shoot of the term. One that might be a bit more recognizable for a crowd older than I am.

There was a television show that ran on NBC for nearly 15 years called “Bonanza” based on a group of cowboys tending to their ranch and the surrounding community during and after the Civil War.

This show apparently had 430 episodes, so I’m pretty surprised I’ve never heard of it! Especially considering how much of an old Hollywood fan my dad is.

The western was also popular enough to have a few continuation movies into the 80’s and 90’s according to the IMDb page on its producer, David Dortort.

So there you go! Bonanza. Parties, gold mining and cowboys. Romeo would probably be proud of just how much is in this name in particular.

You know, once he got over the fact that televisions are a thing that exist. Or electricity in general for that matter.


Featured image courtesy of Marshman via Wikimedia Commons

One Night at the Improv

One Night at the Improv

When I turned 21 about a month ago, one of the presents my parents got me were tickets to see the live show for one of my favorite podcasts: Hollywood Babble-On with Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith.

Unfortunately the show sells out rather fast well in advance. So we weren’t able to get tickets closer to my actual birthday.

But hey, the timing doesn’t matter all that much. I still got to go after all! Had a blast too while I was at it.

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Here’s me and my dad in a very lousy picture taken with poor club lighting.

My dad and I have been listening to Hollywood Babble-On together for a long time now. Back in my high school days, probably starting as far back as my freshman year, it would be one of the staple podcasts in our wheelhouse of things to listen to on the way to school in the morning.

Now, for a little bit of context assuming most of you won’t know about it, Babble-On is a dirty, downright raunchy show. All the portions that don’t have Ralph yelling about this or that celebrity doing something dumb and awful usually involves some level of sexual or morbid humor. It’s generally objectively terrible stuff… But terrible stuff delivered in just the most hilarious way you can imagine.

If you’re an awful person who loves the entertainment business like me, you’ll probably enjoy it.

That said, getting to experience the show live with the guy who got me into it was a whole new kind of experience.

We started in the main bar area at about 8:30 p.m. or so and had dinner, which guaranteed us a reserved spot at the show. I had pizza and he had a burger, which were both pretty damn good I’d say. Dinner also included a couple of hours just sitting around and talking about life, since the show didn’t start until 10:30 p.m.

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Somehow got a much better shot of Kevin (left) and Ralph (right) than I did of us…

We got relatively lucky at tonight’s show, as it was the first Babble-On performed since Kevin has been out of the hospital from his recent heart attack.

… Okay, us getting lucky about getting to see a show because someone else survived a heart attack SEEMS like a statement centering the focus somewhere it shouldn’t belong… But hey, you’re on my blog. If you want a more personal perspective about Kevin’s well-being, just follow his stuff.

If tonight is any indication, he’s doing way better.

That said, if nothing else the aftermath of that experience made for a fun first 20 minutes or so.

Did I mention that the show was nearly three hours long last night? Because it was, and we didn’t leave the Improv until 1:15 a.m. or so this morning. Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast, but it’s going to be arduous to listen through the show again to see if we show up in the general background audience noise.

The shout out we sent in emails for was unfortunately not read during the show. But we were so close to the stage that I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear my obnoxiously loud laugh or a cough somewhere along the way, despite the fact that there were probably close to 200 people packed into that comedy club.

Because of the length of the show, I don’t think it would be healthy for me to lose much more sleep just to break the whole thing down. Long story short, it was super fun, I might link to the audio once this episode goes up and I probably won’t ever listen to Babble-On the same way ever again.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to think about, the fact that you can be imagining something auditory one way for years only to have that whole perception change when you finally see it in person.

Maybe I’ll look into that more and write about it one of these days…

But obviously that’s a tale for another time if I do.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that tonight served as another milestone for my being 21: I drank for the first time!

Yes, yes, that ever-present right of passage that literally nobody would ever let me hear the end of when I was making my way through the earlier parts of college and refused to drink. I figured if there were ever a good time to try alcohol, it would be at a raunchy comedy show at the famous Hollywood Improv.

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Given the fact that I have no idea how alcohol works, I let my dad pick out my poison. A White Russian he decided, as he figured it would taste enough like a milkshake to circumvent the bitter alcoholic content.

Unfortunately, that was but a pipe dream.

I’ll be honest, I barely got through half of the small drink I had. While my mom later argued it would have been better to go with something like a rum and coke, I just still don’t know if that would have been my thing.

Maybe I just don’t really understand the appeal. All I got out of the drink was a harsh, bitter taste that burned on the way down. Bitter without any flavor to disguise it.

I don’t know, I suppose I can try again later, but for now my first experience with alcohol was a failed one. Even if the venue surrounding the drink was unforgettable.

Though it is probably worth mentioning that as I suffered through one drink like a loser, Ralph managed to down three shots and four glasses of Guinness in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

So that’s one for the book of masculinity I’m sure someone is keeping.

Representing History through Film

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The famous Hollywood Sign in black and white, as it would have appeared in “old movies”.  (Image Courtesy of circa71.wordpress.com)

Somehow the historical side of my blog for my Honors World Civilizations course has almost become more of a platform for me to talk about films.  In the first two posts I did (Post 1 and 2), I talked about Chantal Akerman’s documentaries in various degrees around the times that I watched them.

So, I figure why not take this last post for the class to talk about the relationship between movies and history as a whole?

The way history is depicted in media often has a large impact on how that history is addressed and thought about in our everyday lives.  Whether this is a good or a bad thing is generally debatable.

The fact that events in our past are recorded and repeated through films and TV programs is a great reflection that we as a species are continuing the legacy of those involved in various historical periods and moment.  As one of my favorite clichéd phrases goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  If stories from, say, the Holocaust are consistently depicted in films, we’re more likely to keep the Holocaust in our collective consciousness as a reminder that we can’t let it happen again.

In his book Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our Idea of HistoryRobert Rosenstone talks about film as a tool which can alter our perception of history by saying, “In privileging visual and emotional data and simultaneously downplaying the analytic, the motion picture is subtly […] altering our very sense of the past.” (32)  Rosenstone ponders the differences between written and visual representations of history, wondering whether or not film can hold the same weight as history books or novelizations of events.

In this same vein, there are questions beyond the general strength of film as a medium.  Are films accurate in their approach to dramatizing history? What additional issues can we cultivate in portraying historical recreations?  Yes, it’s great that movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” help to draw large-scale attention to the Holocaust so we can remember it.  However, to what extent is it irresponsible to make those who watch the film believe that Schindler was the same man who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is also the same man who saved his family with “a particular set of skills”?

There are other potential issues with how we depict historical moments in our filmography beyond this name or face association.  Of course, I’m referring specifically to entertainment, fictionalized or blockbuster films and shows rather than documentaries.  There’s a very common complaint that Hollywood is too “whitewashed”, hiring caucasian actors in roles which are better suited for or meant to be people of color.  There’s also the possibility that the very desire to create a film, which by convention tends to be restricted in view time and the perspectives shown on-screen at a time, results in certain editing or removal of pieces from a history.

Now, whether or not I’m qualified to judge if a movie is historically accurate is a different story entirely.  I’m not planning on tearing apart or championing any particular film for how it addresses the history it desires to address.  I just figure this is a good place to talk about why I believe it’s important to try to be as accurate as possible when showcasing history in a film.

Part of why I say I’m not necessarily qualified to judge historical accuracy is because I’m not a history major.  I enjoy learning about history, but I’m not an expert in any time period by any means.  One of the ways I enjoy learning about history is through movies, as it’s much easier to understand or appreciate something that happened when it’s shown in a recognizable way.

Gillo Pontecorvo‘s 1966 film “The Battle of Algiers” is an excellent example of this.  I knew next to nothing about the Algerian War for Independance before watching that movie.  The struggle between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French Government, the escalating animosity of the two parties from the means of warfare that was used, the large-scale bombings and attacks that devastated the common people, the use of women and their perceived gender roles to sneak things through French boundaries… All of these ideas and more were represented in the film, and therefore all of them were things I learned about the Battle of Algiers from watching it.

Wars and revolutions as a whole are complex, that’s a given just in the nature of building up to such events.  It’s hard to totally understand everything that happens to both parties that physically and psychologically drives them to any sort of conflict.

That’s where I think “The Battle of Algiers” succeeds.  In my opinion, it teaches the history of an event that seems a little less well-known in a way that you get an idea of how both sides are thinking and responding to things throughout the film.  As far as I’m aware, the movie does a great job of teaching someone who knows nothing about the Algerian War (like me, as I’ve said) what they need to know to understand the struggle.

Bear in mind, filmmakers take creative liberties in their art, and what you see in film isn’t always exactly what transpired in history. To some extent, it’s realistically impossible to recreate history exactly as it happened.  For an audience, there should be a balance between suspending your disbelief when you go to a movie and understanding that life is too complex to represent in an hour and a half to a two-hour celluloid format. For a filmmaker, there’s nothing wrong with taking creative liberties or trying to show history in an entertaining way, but we should keep in mind that the movie being created could become someone’s only connection to that period of history.


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