Before we begin on this week’s topic, This writer does want to establish that from results over last week’s election, Donald Trump will become king of the USA beginning next January 20th. This same writer won’t present any additional opinions or commentary of this matter. We are just recording this notice for the record.
Now that we got that element on of the way, let’s proceed to the real topic on hand, shall we…?
Not so long ago, yours truly was involved in a rather impromptu discussion with a few folks I recently encountered. We, along with my spouse Mary, who never really receives the credit I should give her on getting subject ideas for these weekly editorials, were sitting around over food and drink discussing about the current state media at large. (The people I were with were involved in TV production in somewhat of a smaller scale.)
Anywho, we were talking about how those big deal producers and show runners that create moving image programming find their ideas to pitch so their shows can become the next fill-in-the-blank. I made some half backed comment that these folks seeking the next big thing should turn to radio programs that could make it to the video world. Being the sarcastic one that I am, I didn’t state that these producers and/or executive producers would turn to a AM/FM radio dial to find their big hit, but should turn toward podcasts to see what could could become a series that would be placed within the media landscape.
Of course, there were some laughs involved over my comment. Then we got into another subject that had been since long forgotten about.
I used the focal point on the media called “podcasts” since these programs, found on various places in cyberspace, are audio programs that are indeed radio-esque. The shows themselves usually consist of a team of hosts (it’s usually presented by more than one person since it’s rather difficult, if not overly dull and boring, to have one single person talk for longer length of time) that speak upon a specific subject that the hosts have some knowledge to discuss in full. Many times these programs have interviews with others who also share the same amount of knowledge about the subjects in hand. The shows themselves can range for an hour’s time (its usual running length), although some podcasts are shorter in period, while other tend to ramble on for longer than sixty minutes. And to the show’s content quality, that can range for anything professional to downright crude and amateurish. The reason for this wide scale is the fact that nearly anyone can create a podcast. All one needs is a mic that can be plugged into a device that can capture sound, and a place found on the ‘net that can make their shows available to anyone that has the desire to listen. All of the shows can be heard by demand. One doesn’t have to listen in on a certain day or on a certain time. Just find the show, click on “play” (or something like that to get the sound started), and hear the noise on your electronic device that that reproduce sounds and/or can be connected to the ‘net!!
So what does podcasts have to do with new video programs that can be found on your TV or related device? Legacy network ABC and Amazon, a company now involved in the streaming video business, recently announced that they are involved in bringing to the video world two programs: Start Up, a series that is about an actual start up company called Gimlet Media, and Lore, a program self described as a series about “real-life scary stories”. Start Up is in development for ABC, while Lore will be for Amazon. Both programs have been operating for barley two years, and the same two were first created as separate podcasts.
To give a basic disclaimer, this writer has yet to hear the two noted podcasts in question–or any podcast for that matter! What is the reason for this not tuning in? For starters, this person (“me”) doesn’t necessarily have the time to tune into a talk-type show during the day. The only time I have the opportunity to hear audio gabbing is when traveling in a vehicle. As a captive audience, I have the car radio tuned into to whatever program is of interest at the moment. And that gabbing is something that is rather time sensitive, such as traffic and/or weather reports, or perhaps on a subject that I may find interesting. However, since my commuting time is rather short for what it is, I tend to never hear the show in full. By the time I arrive at my destination, the radio is shut off, and that’s the end of the program. The same goes for missing the first half of the program since I don’t usually start on my journey in sync to a specific radio show.
As to podcast themselves. There are literally thousands of these type of programs found all over where the ‘net is accessible. Last September, there was even a podcast convention that took place in Los Angeles were for a weekend, one can “see” many of the better quality podcasts being performed in front of a studio audience. As to the quality of these invisible shows in terms of content and on how they sound, it’s just a wide range. Because podcasts live as a two sided edge, anyone with a little gumption can present a podcast. And some of these podcast hosts don’t appear to have what it takes, meaning that they should place their efforts on doing something else! Generally speaking, you really get what you pay for!
And where does the term “podcast” come from? It’s a term derived from Apple’s first big hit known as the iPod, a device that can reproduce sounds extracted from a computer based digital file that can recreate audio, both music and voice. And since podcasts can not be found on traditional radio bands, they are not radio shows per se, although they do act like them! And for the most part, they are not transmitted live, although there are many “live” podcast shows out there that keep up to date.
So there you have it! Pretty soon, perhaps the moving picture studios can find a feature film based on a podcast. Those days are not too far off. Then again, super hero movies are a better choice since they tend to make money and are very easy to translate. Gunfire and explosions need no subtitles, and they are very popular in China–the next worldwide market to embrace movies! But that’s for another topic! Perhaps there is a podcast out in cyberspace land that will discuss how this Asian nation will take over the movie business!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Art Shulman’s THE YENTAS WEAR HED HATS, a comedy about the said yentas who shift from playing team basketball to form a “girls club”, and the men that intertwine, performs at North Hollywood’s Secret Rose Theatre.
Tess (Ellen Bienenfeld) and Craig (Art Shulman) has been a couple for some eight weeks. They are of a “seasoned” variety, meaning they are far from being young but remain young at heart. Craig is known in the local circles to coach a ladies basketball team consisting of woman beyond their midpoint in their lives. The team itself called the “Yentas” consists of Anne (Anita Borcia), Becky (Nancy Kramer), Mary Margaret (Sue Molenda), Janice (Carol Anne Sefinger) and Trudi (Suzan Solomon). Although their season of playing basketball can concluded, they decide to form a red hat club. The purpose of this group is to get together and to have fun. They even sport a uniform consisting of a purple dress donning a red hat of various sizes and styles. Craig feels he’s being pushed aside from these ladies, but a rival of sorts appear, Jake (J. Kent Inasy) who seems to be wooing Tess. It’s a clash of a gathering of ladies, as well as if Craig will ask Tess to marry him, although there is some motion that’s stopping Tess to accept. Could it be nerves, another man, or something else?
This comedy written by local writer Art Shulman is a charming look of how those of a select demographic (aged 50+), can shake off any stigma of being up in years to enjoy life, even if that enjoyment has their little issues. The cast of ladies that appear in this play hold a delightful personality that is far from a “little old lady” stereotype that’s been around for quite some time. Much of the action takes place in Craig’s living room setting, meaning that there is a lot of dialogue to go though. It’s far from being talky, yet what’s spoken moves the storyline along. Kaz Matamura directs this program that is charming, lighthearted, and is sweet within its own method.
A special note goes to Liz Nankin for her costuming of the yentas as they become their red hat group, donning purple outfits and red hats that are eccentric, but are not overly wild.
For those not in the know, a “yenta” is a yiddish word to describe a woman who is usually of the Jewish persuasion who is a gossip, busybody, or someone who meddles into a situation that they shouldn’t become involved in. (The term is not to be confused with describing a matchmaker, although there is a relationship subplot connected to this story!) Whatever the case and whatever the label, it’s a very pleasant play that proves that getting up in years is another asset to keep rather than a curse to dread. And these yentas will back up that fact, red hats and all!
THE YENTAS WEAR RED HATS, performs at the Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd, (one and a half blocks west of Lankershim) North Hollywood, until December 18th. SHowtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. For more information or for reservations, call (818) 285-8699, or via online at http://www.TheYentasWearRedHats.com
ARRIVAL (Paramount) features Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist that is teaching at a large yet unnamed university. She once performed translations of languages for the military, so she still holds security clearance. Many years before, she once had a daughter named Hannah who fell ill at a young age and eventually died. But that was those many years before, although she still experiences flashbacks from the time Hannah was still around.
Things begin to change when a series of mysterious ships from another world or galaxy start to appear in various places around the world. Strange sounds are coming from this crafts as if something is attempting to communicate through their speech. Louise receives a visit from army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), requesting that she participates on the army’s mission to not only communication to these aliens, but to perhaps ask why they traveled to earth and what is their intention–peace or war? So becoming part of the special team consisting of Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Special Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg), and Captain Marks (Mark O’Brien), they are out to seek answers from a species they know nothing about to discover why these beings are residing on earth from a place unknown.
This feature can be described as a “sci-fi” feature, although it’s not necessarily the typical type one could experience. Yes, there is a ship or vessel the aliens travel that resembles a vary large black flat rock–the same kind that’s found along a riverbank. And the creatures themselves have the appearance of an blacken elongated squid, complete with tentacles that act as arms. In fact, Dr. Banks and company communicate with two of these creatures where they name them “Abbot & Costello” (no kidding!) that not only “speak”, but they have the ability of written communication. (The “words” they write resemble coffee cup impressions that one can find on a coffee joint tabletop!) The storyline is extracted from a short written piece entitled “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang that appeared in an anthology of sci-fi tales. This movie expands this short tale with a screenplay by Eric Heisserer that focuses upon the Dr. Banks character and how she attempts to communicate with the aliens, as well as how she reacts through the loss of her daughter as experienced through flashbacks. These flashback episodes tend to slow down the tension this type of movie can present. Perhaps the flashback episodes belongs in another type of film, not in a flick that has beings from outer space–or somewhere like that! Denis Villeneuve directs this movie that is a cross between emotional commotion, and the kind of drama that give prominence to aliens and military presence.
This is the time of year where Hollywood releases titles that tend to cater to voting members of groups or organizations that fob off awards to movies released in the year previous. (Disclaimer: This writer belongs to one of those groups!) These same group of members tend to be much older that the standard variety that attend movie shows in theaters, and have a preference to features that are full of drama and pathos, rather than loaded with fart jokes, explosions, gunfire, and super heroes running amuck! That doesn’t give this movie a place where one could be bored with (it’s entertaining as it is), but it does hold more emotional episodes one would expect otherwise for a title of this ilk.
This feature is rated “PG-13” for intense sci-fi-esque scenes and mild cussing. Now playing in multiplexes nationwide.
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