Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Finding My Voice-Final Blog

When your a 30 year TV news veteran, you think your writing don't stink. Boy, was I wrong. The lessons learned during this summer session will stay with me for a long time. Hopefully, not only will my writing improve, but so will all my communication skills. So as I reflect, I look ahead, and look forward to future endeavors.


This has been the hardest piece of the puzzle for me to figure out. What exactly is an on line persona ? How do you achieve consistency with who you are throughout all the social media platforms ? And, for me, given my experience, expectations have already been formed by those who know me. I think that is why I chose to write about sports so much. There was a comfort level in meeting people's expectations about me. I also think that part of that comfort level came from my knowledge and passion for the subject as well.

I think that once I started to gain a little confidence and switched subjects concentrating on my capstone, I realized that my knowledge and passion extended outside the sports world. The subject of Jewish humor has opened me up to explore other sides of my personality. It began with my blog about growing up Jewish in Queens and the impact comedians had on me. As the semester progressed, and I admit it took awhile, I began to get more and more comfortable questioning the genesis of Jewish humor. I think my midterm proposal and my power point presentation best represented the transformation my voice is beginning to take.

Is the search for my on line persona complete ? Hardly. But, the groundwork has been laid and it is now up to me to continue the process beyond graduate school.


If I looked at it honestly, I'm still not sure what my on line presence will be or should be. I do know that I plan to continue striving to figure it out. The idea of blogging as part of my capstone project is one I will continue to explore. My initial thought is to use the blog form as a way to transition my documentary from subject to subject. I also want it to serve as a journal of my research and experiences. My plan would be to post my blogs on my Face Book, Twitter and Linked-In profiles to start a discussion on what I am writing about. The feedback and experience gained in this course should give me the confidence and motivation to get this going.


The most important lesson I learned was to think outside of the box. I think that thought process started taking shape after the devil's advocate module. Questioning one's belief and then writing a coherent argument on that thesis has really allowed me to think from a different point of view.
It has made my writing more abstract and more creative.

But, it all still comes back to what my old News Editor used to say to me when I was writing news. Always look for ways to improve your writing. Simplify what you write and always re-write. Those words were re-enforced during the course of this summer and I thank Professor Kalm for taking the time to work with me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media

Social media is the new kid on the block. Its potential unlimited, its usage still unknown. I have been amazed to see its power unleashed when it comes to re-connecting with someone from the past. I have been to reunions with former work colleagues and look forward to my high school Face book reunion in September. It is great at bringing people together but how is as a P.R. and marketing tool?

I have been invited to join a lot of groups on Face book. I have been reluctant to join them all for fear of privacy and security issues. Recently, I was invited to join the group for the TV show "Lost". I was amazed at the number of fans in the group, over 5 million and the conversation stream is endless. As this assignment to critique a social media campaign from our niche came up, I decided to look at another popular TV show, one that fell into my niche, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with Larry David.

On Face book, there are over 500-thousand friends on the site. On Twitter, tens of thousands more on the show site and on sites for each of the individual actors and actresses on the program.

The HBO website allows you to watch any one of the 70 episodes from the first 7 seasons. There are forums where fans of the show can have discussion with other fans about particular episodes, discuss your favorite guest star, decide who you want to see on an upcoming show, or just get the latest news releases about the show and its stars. You can even join the Face book page from there.

I think you really need to be a die hard fan of a show to get the most out of these social media channels. With the way characters and episode plots are dissected I don't think a casual fan would understand or appreciate it. The big plus for me is a place to be able to view episodes of the show on demand. I give the web site very high marks for its offering.

If there is to be a weak link in the social media chain, I think its with Twitter. Yes, millions of people want to know what 140 character pearls of wisdom comes from the mouths of celebrities, but, it just doesn't seem to employ a big enough payoff for time and energy spent on it. I have been using Twitter as part of our class assignments but I do not follow anyone on a regular basis and do not use it as a running commentary on the events of my day. Maybe its a generational thing, but I enjoy Face book much more than Twitter.

Again Face book, as it pertains to Curb Your Enthusiasm allows for individual reflection and critique of each episode. It allows you to post small video samples that can be viewed in a short amount of time. Like the web site, it allows for discussion amongst fans and allows for divergent points of view.

Overall, I would say that the use of social media for popular TV shows or movies serves its purpose as a PR and marketing tool. It is a way to get in front of the most pairs of eyes in the shortest amount of time. It brings about name recognition and if your on Face book and 15 or 20 of your friends are fans of a certain show, it may force you to ask about it and give it a try for yourself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Icm506 movie pitch2

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Power Point Pitch

We have all seen documentaries on Jewish comedians but none of them ask the question, What Makes Being Jewish so funny? Is it the stereotype of being cheap ? The pain of living with one's mother-in-law ? Or is it a defense mechanism for the more serious problem of antisemitism? These are some of the issues explored in the new documentary due out next May, "Oy Vey, Why Being Jewish is so funny."

The film is the brainchild of Jeffrey Schneider, a five-time Emmy award winner who has been involved in television production for more than 30 years. His passion for the subject matter is a direct by-product of his Jewish upbringing and exposure to comedy from all media. He has dedicated this project to his comic heroes men who always managed to tickle your funny bone..

The career of Milton Berle, Uncle Miltie to millions, spanned 8 decades. He started in film, played in vaudeville and then became a superstar on radio and television. In 1948, the Texaco Star Theater became the first huge television hit and Berle forever became known as Mister Television......

Groucho Marx made 13 feature films with his Marx Brothers. But, Groucho became a TV icon as the host of the radio and TV game show, "You Bet Your Life". His wide lens glasses, thick eyebrows and dark mustache as well as his trademark cigar and quick quips made for many laugh out loud moments....

If story-telling gave you a case of the giggles, then there was no one funnier than Buddy Hackett, who used to talk out of the side of his mouth and tell his story funnier than anyone I had ever seen.....

Mel Brooks was just insane. He was a writer for Your Show of Shows ,the creator of Get Smart, The 2000 Year Old Man brought the old Jewish man character to life. But, his genius was as a director using his Jewish roots for classic comedy's like The Producers, Blazing Saddles and History of the World Part one.....

If Brooks was insane, Woody Allen was cerebral. He wrote with Brooks on Your Show of Shows and later went on to do bits for Candid Camera. But, Allen's portrayal of Jewish life was as the nebbishy misfit who was always a bit too neurotic to fit in. His early films like, Take the Money and Run, Bananas and Play It Again Sam were filled with sight gags that resonated in every Jewish home...

These men paved the way for other comedians like Robert Klein who helped push the envelope of being Jewish into the rebellious times of the late 60's and early 70's. He would become the pioneer of cable TV as the first standup comedian featured on HBO.......

And weird Al Yankovic, whose Jewish parodies took music to a place that Allan Sherman only touched upon in the early 60's. Yankovic's music in a lot of ways blazed the trail for satire along with Saturday Night Live that has evolved into The Daily Show of today...

And all of these entertainers made it easier for Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David to incorporate their brand of Jewish humor into America's living rooms. Jerry and Larry's neuroses just like Woody's, Kramer's slap stick approach just like Groucho and even Mel Brooks spent a season as part of Larry David's crazy world....

To try to answer the funny and serious questions posed by the documentary, we will sitdown with Jews of all age groups in a series of vignettes. The common thread will be a running blog provided by the creator.

One of the vignettes will focus on the elderly. We will visit a group of seniors to see what they thought was funny. Have them tell a joke or remember a visit to the Catskill Mountains. But, to many of them, reflect upon why Jews are so gifted at making people laugh. Was it their lot in life? Successful but persecuted ?

And we will switch from old to young and see if the Jewish youth aspires to follow in the footsteps of their roots. Is what is funny to them the same or different from the older generation. Do they have the same connection to Jewish humor ?

Next we'll meet a man who has turned the connection of God and humor into a new career. The stand-up Rabbi. A rabbi whose congregants meet in a comedy club and find humor in the scholarly observations of the man on the bimah.

And a man who walked the opposite path, starting out in vaudeville and ending up the corporate ladder. How much was his sense of humor a part of his rise in the board room ? From stand-up to CEO......

We'll ask the young comics of today how they incorporate their ethnicity into their acts and why they think that works, as we go backstage to one of the most famous comedy clubs in New York and meet the next generation of humorists......

Plus, since the documentary won't open until May 2011, there leaves time for a few planned and unplanned surprises. Hey, you shouldn't know from what may happen.

So there you have it, the planning is done and the shoots are in the works. Editing will soon follow and after some touching up and after effects, the unveiling of "Oy Vey, What Makes Being Jewish so Funny", will be ready about the time they play Pomp and Circumstance.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Elevator Pitch #2

Take a little old school media, mix it up with some new school technology and watch it take off into the blogosphere.

Everybody has their own take on the sports world. But, few have the perspective of more than 40 years of following sports like the bible and another 30 years of insight into the world of sports television.

I propose to you this hybrid view of sports that few can offer. Its an uncensored no holds bar opinion on the athletes who play the game, the media that covers the game and the fans who root for the game.

As sports has changed from a game to a business, someone needs to keep things in perspective. This blog will not only provide the checks and balances needed but offer solutions to problems that arise.


Not a blog for the sports purists. "The Voice From The Couch" looks inside the games people play and will make you laugh, cry or want to throw something at your computer screen.

Tired of sports TV becoming one endless promo after another ? Wonder when the high cost of player salaries will hit the ceiling ? Fed up with leagues, corporations and networks controlling your teams?

Its time you had a voice. And "The Voice From The Couch" will be that voice. Each blog will look at what's wrong or what's right with sports. Is there something you've observed or want to get off your chest and you don't have an outlet to vent ? Let "The Voice From The Couch" vent for you.

Its time for the fans to take control back of the games we love. Let "The Voice From The Couch" be your voice from the couch.

Elevator Pitch #1

"What Makes Something Funny? "

Humor is such an important part of our lives. It can relieve stress and make coping with adversity a little easier. But, why do we laugh at certain things? What makes something funny to one person and not funny to another ?

It is important to explore the genesis of humor and I'm proposing we do it from a unique and ethnic angle. Jewish humor has been the cornerstone for most of the media we have been exposed to for the last century. Names like Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler have been among the most influential writers, directors and performers in Hollywood and on the TV screen.

My idea is to explore this brand of humor at all age levels. Will a group of Jewish senior citizens share the same ethnic funny bone as a young group of Yeshiva students ? Why is humor, specifically Jewish humor, important as a therapeutic source of coping ? And how has ethnicity shaped some of the great comic minds of our time ?

I hope to find the answers in heart warming reflections from those who have laughed and cried over the years in a must see documentary.


JMS Communications announces it has begun production on a new documentary entitled, "Oy Vey: What Makes Being Jewish so Funny?"

The video will be produced in conjunction with a web site (TBA) that will allow viewers to interactively view samples of all interviews and vignettes.

The documentary will focus on various ways Jewish humor assimilates itself into our everyday life. One aspect of the film will focus on the Catskill Mountains, long considered the birthplace of Jewish humor, where young and established Jewish comedians perfected their craft in front of a mostly Jewish audience.

We will follow a noted Jewish motivational speaker who will share her insights into how humor has become a therapeutic tool in coping and relieving stress and anxiety.

The film reflects upon the life of a former vaudeville comedian who would later become a successful CEO of a large corporation.

And looks back on the career of a noted Jewish comedian and how they used their ethnicity to further their career.

This film is scheduled for release on or about May 2011.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tale of Two Bosses

If Charles Dickens was alive today and writing George Steinbrenner's obit, he might describe him as, "He was the best of owners, he was the worst of owners." Before Bruce Springsteen became "The Boss", George Steinbrenner was "The Boss".

It was almost by accident that Steinbrenner got the opportunity to purchase the Yankees in 1973. Two years before, he was part of a group that was on the verge of buying the Cleveland Indians, Steinbrenner's home town team. That deal fell apart when Indians owner Vernon Stouffer, allegedly feeling the effects of a drinking lunch decided minutes before the scheduled press conference that the $8.6 million dollar sale price was too low.

As hard as it is to believe now, when Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees from CBS in 1972 for $10 million dollars, New York was a National League city. The Miracle Mets had won the World Series in 1969 and made another miraculous run to the Series in 1973.

Steinbrenner learned early on that the best way to take back the city was to take control of the tabloid newspapers. He used the front and back pages of the Daily News and the New York Post to put attention on himself and the Yankees. Think about how owners today utilize the media to gain attention. Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, the Maloof Brothers are all part of the Steinbrenner legacy.

Not only did he bring attention to the team but he wasn't afraid to put his money where his mouth was. Besides turning the Yankees from a $10 million dollar investment into a $1.6 billion dollar dynasty, Steinbrenner should be given a plaque from the MLB Players Assosciation. His signings of free agent pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter and outfielder Reggie Jackson signified the beginnings of baseball's million dollar salaries. When both players helped lead the Yankees to World Series victories in 1977 and 1978, George's spending sprees would continue. But, names like Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Steve Sax and Ed Whitson proved that all the money in the world could not just buy a championship.

And Steinbrenner was making enemies as well as friends. He had broken promises made to former Yankees President Mike Burke and General Manager Gabe Paul, both of whom were forced to leave the organization. His fingerprints were all over every aspect of the team. Before every home game,he used to inspect the bathrooms at Yankee Stadium to make sure they were up to his standards. He would fire any worker who did not live up to his expectations. He would drive Public Relation Directors crazy. I used to work with Marty Appel, George's first Yankees P.R. Director. Appel would tell stories about phone calls in the middle of the night and all sorts of crazy requests and demands coming down from The Boss. I used to laugh at his stories, but, he was quick to say, "It wasn't funny at the time. I was in constant fear of losing my job or losing my health." Appel was the first of the group. More were to follow. One got fired for screwing up lunch and another was let go for being on vacation over Christmas when a big free agent was signed. Add to that 13 General Managers and 22 Managerial changes over a 37 year span.

This was the face of George that the baseball world saw from 1973-2005. The impulsive, intimidating and controlling boss. The one who when he was suspended from baseball in 1990 was the constant target of jeers and taunts from the Yankee faithful in the Bronx. The one who while he was in baseball exile was forced to allow Gene Michaels and Buck Showalter to try to restore the Pinstripe Tradition.

Without the Boss strong arming them, Michaels and Showalter drafted the likes of Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and a shortstop named Derek Jeter. These five players would become the core of the team we know today. A team that was won 5 World Championships since 1996. A team that once Steinbrenner returned to baseball took full advantage of the new technology and wiser free agent signings to become a dynasty.

For it was in his later years that a more benevolent side of Steinbrenner began to appear. We are all seeing the stories about how Steinbrenner paid for fired employees kids to go to college. He was there for Darryl Strawberry when he was diagnosed with cancer. This is the other side of Steinbrenner that attempts to balance out his contemptuous side.

In the past week, we have witnessed nothing but an outpouring of love for the man. An entire generation of Yankee fans never really knew the real Boss. It was interesting to hear at Saturday's Old Timers Game the difference of expression from the Yankees of the 70's and 80's and the Yankees of today.

But, one thing should not be lost. Whether a Yankee fan or a Yankee hater. George Steinbrenner was the kind of owner you wanted to own your team. He loved his team but he loved to win even more. He would do whatever was possible at whatever the cost to win. Think about the men or organizations that own your favorite team. Can any of them make that same claim ?