Monday, October 13, 2008

Up Next for NM-shot TV: Crash

The continuing roll-out of NM-shot product continues this Friday with the TV version of the Oscar-winning "Crash" this coming Friday on the Starz cable network. (The first two episodes are supposedly available 'free' -- more info on that below.) The Denver Post has the story:

For Starz, a "Crash" into the competitive TV-series world
Joanne OstrowThe Denver Post

"Crash," the new Starz original drama series adapted from the 2006 Oscar-winning movie, opens with Dennis Hopper riding in a limo, smoking a cigar and delivering a quasi-poetic monologue to his penis.

Portraying a psychopath (what else?), he addresses his offscreen phallus and
details its physical attributes.

The soliloquy is meant to startle.

"We argued about it," recalled Glen Mazzara, writer/executive producer. "We moved the scene to the middle of the hour. Then we put it back." Then they cut it by
three minutes.

Starz executives eventually agreed it was a tone-setting scene, telegraphing that this is an R-rated series that could only be found on cable.

"Crash" premieres Friday at 8 p.m. on Starz. The pilot is available free of charge on the Starz website and on demand.

Like the film, "Crash," the series is about human connectivity, told through a web of characters in contemporary Los Angeles.

"Language and violence are inherent in the story," according to Stephen Shelanski, executive vice president of programming for Starz Entertainment.

In addition to dark humor, the scene serves to showcase a movie star. Initially Don Cheadle was slated to re-create his film role in a three-episode arc, but his schedule didn't fit the production timetable. Cheadle remains on the team of executive producers taking the project from film to TV, along with director/co-writer Paul Haggis and co-writer Bobby Moresco. Hopper is the marquee name, playing a self-destructive music producer.

The series, the first for Starz, was carefully selected to take the cable film channel into the suddenly competitive world of cable originals.

The cost of the series, co- produced with Lionsgate, is on par with other high-end cable titles like "Mad Men" and "The Tudors" (reportedly $2.3 million per episode). The rollout entails a $10 million advertising and marketing campaign in print, billboards, online and on the network.

HBO's recent misfires ("John from Cincinnati," "Tell Me You Love Me") and the Emmy-worthy successes on basic cable networks AMC ("Mad Men," "Breaking Bad") and FX ("Damages") have pointed the way to what Englewood-based Starz hopes is the next chapter in the company history.

Working in an elite field, HBO was able to attract superb writing talent like Alan Ball, David Chase and David Milch to premium cable. FX and AMC joined in, believing they could emulate that success on basic cable, and ended up with mantles full of Emmy Awards proving them right...

Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830 or

The show is sort-of available free for a limited time -- if you're a verizon customer and download the software and, maybe, pay a fee.

From the STARZ website:

In the season premiere, Axel investigates the murder of a Korean man. Officers Kenny and Bebe have a run-in with a mysterious woman. Ben (Dennis Hopper) hires a new limo driver - a wannabe music producer from South Central with big ambitions. And despite Peter’s protests, Christine insists that her father move

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Q Studios, Incentives and PBS keep NM in the News

Nice article in the Albuquerque Journal about Q Studios' partnership with Atrisco Heritage High School... (ironically, the easiest way to find many Journal articles is at Red Orbit, which covers "Science, Space, Technology, Health News and Information:

Film Studio Gives Aid To Atrisco ; Albuquerque Studios Adopts High School's Film Program

Posted on: Friday, 10 October 2008, 15:00 CDT

By Jack King Journal Staff Writer

The hardest part of getting into the film business is getting your foot in the door, Gail Smerigan, vice president of communications for Albuquerque Studios told a movie theater full of Atrisco Heritage Academy High School students Wednesday.

"Your foot is in the door," she said.

About 500 Atrisco Heritage students -- the school's entire student body, since it only has a ninth grade this year -- filed into the historic Kimo Theater on Wednesday afternoon to hear Smerigan and her husband, Nick Smerigan, Albuquerque Studios' chief operating officer, announce that the studio is adopting the high school's film academy. The students also got to watch a 3.8-minute preview of the movie "Terminator Salvation," which finished filming at Albuquerque Studios in August.

The Smerigans said their contact with Atrisco Heritage began when principal Karen Sanchez-Griego contacted Jason Hariton, the studio's vice president of operations, for technical help in setting up the sound stage for the school's film academy.

"In L.A., Gail had seen a Time magazine story on the national dropout rate that said New Mexico has the nation's fifth-highest dropout rate. Her thought was that we had to make kids and education part of what we do. We were looking to hook up some way with the education field and this school fit the bill," Nick Smerigan said.

Sanchez-Griego said Atrisco Heritage is building a separate building to hold the sound stage for its film academy, which will open during the 2009-2010 school year. Albuquerque Studios has offered advice about the sound stage, as well as other aspects of Atrisco's film program...

More at the site.
As noted over on the MISP (Media Industries Strategy Project) list, the discussion of how states are dealing with incentives for film production continues -- and New Mexico is always a significant part of those stories. From the New York Times...

States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters

...One of the country’s most successful programs is in New Mexico, which has backed movies like the Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men” and next year’s “Terminator Salvation,” the latest sequel in the action series, with a reported budget of $200 million.

New Mexico officials boast of having used a 25 percent production cost rebate to build a local film industry that has attracted more than $600 million in direct spending since 2003, and an estimated $1.8 billion in total financial impact, as of last June. And in fiscal year 2008, the productions in the state generated 142,577 days of employment, up from 25,293 in 2004.

Elsewhere, however, critics have sharply challenged the notion that state subsidies for the film business can ever buy more than momentary glitter.

“There’s no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs,” said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center...

Somewhat obviously, I'm a fan of New Mexico's incentive programs. But the main thing many other states seem to be missing is that while the incentives are a keystone in our success, our investment in education and infrastructure is perhaps equally important to creating an environment for real industry growth and not just a short term bump driven exclusively by incentives.

Another item keeping New Mexico in the spotlight is our position as a prominent swing state -- one of the reasons PBS will be working this week out of our local KNME. The Live Townhall yesterday with PBS Senior Correspondent Ray Suarez was definitely interesting, and more highlights are coming throughout the week...

One place to catch up on info is at the New Mexico In Focus page.

But here's a brief bit from Democracy for New Mexico:
PBS NewsHour Reports to Air from KNME Studios Next Week; This Sunday: Live
Townhall with Ray Suarez in ABQ
PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer puts the
national spotlight on Albuquerque and New Mexico, Monday thru Friday, October
13-17, 2008 at 5:30 PM. Albuquerque is only the second “Spotlight City” The
NewsHour has chosen to highlight.
Senior Correspondents Ray Suarez and Judy Woodruff
will bring the program to the studios of KNME, to examine the crucial role the
city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico will play in the upcoming
presidential election. The NewsHour will also profile the unique contributions
Albuquerque is making in business, science healthcare, and the arts. Additional
stories will include: economic disparity, voting machines, getting out the
Native American vote, NM Politics, the economy, etc. KNME airs on channels 5 and
5.2 in New Mexico.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, October 3, 2008

Easy Money this Sunday

Busy times...

The NM Filmmakers Expo is running in Santa Fe, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is wrapping, the new TV pilot "Night and Day" is beginning to shoot, and the locally shot "Easy Money" premieres on the CW this Sunday. If you have a chance, please check it out.

One of the (several) local actors involved, Joe Peracchio (of Tricklock renown) writes,
"It's a great show (synopsis below) from the producers of The Sopranos and Northern Exposure, and Im very lucky to have a fun character with an expanding and wacky storyline all fall (although in the first few episodes I’m in only 2-3 scenes, it really picks up as the weeks progress). The show also stars film veteran Judge Reinhold and actors from Lost, Las Vegas, and The OC. "
You can find the trailer and more info at: The synopsis is below…



Led by business-savvy matriarch Bobette Buffkin (Metcalf), Prestige Payday Loans is a thriving quick-cash company in the Southwest. But trouble soon comes from thuggish new competitors, and it's up to middle son Morgan (Jeff Hephner "The O.C.") to quash any tension. Morgan, though, is having some tension of his own. Having always felt out of place in the Buffkin household, Morgan investigates a childhood secret with the help of beautiful grad student Julia Miller (Marsha Thomason "Lost" "Las Vegas") much to Bobette's chagrin. Morgan has always been Prestige's "heavy," running down ne'er-do-wells and gambling addicts, but he's ashamed to admit that fact to Julia. It doesn't help that Morgan's older, but less mature, brother Cooper (Jay Ferguson, "Sleeper Cell") knocks heads with corrupt local Detective Yapp (Chris Browning, "3:10 to Yuma") who, in turn, blackmails Morgan. If Morgan can find a way to fend off the local yokels and unlock the secrets of his past, he just might be able to spend more time with Julia and find a better life for himself. Katie Lowes, Nick Searcy, Judge Reinhold, Joe Peracchio, Gary Farmer, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, and Kimberly Estrada also star. Alik Sakharov directed the pilot episode written by executive producers Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider ("The Sopranos," "Northern Exposure")
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]