Wednesday, August 27, 2008

#441 Gone Hollywood

#441 Gone Hollywood

The American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, AFTRA, recently moved its national headquarters from New York, where it started to Los Angeles, where it wanted to be, and this makes absolutely no difference at all to the members who are doing better and better all the time, even with the onslaught of new media like the Internet and the video game narration, the onslaught of satellite radio and the staggering of local radio and television such as there is left of them.

But the latest issue of the union's magazine is SO Hollywood you have to marvel. The magazine is a slick paper thing that comes out four times a year and its purpose, like any trade journal, is to toot the horns of the people in whatever the trade happens to be. In this instance, it's acting, announcing, singing and (if you're a stunt actor,) driving Harleys off cliffs.

So there's the usual stuff about new contracts, planned contracts, deceased lions of the business, cheery messages from union officers and a complete list of the locals. (There are 26 of them or maybe 24 or maybe 27 depending on how you read it. Remember, this is a union of "artists," not of carpenters.) No one reads lists, right? Wrong. Some of us read lists. What can you learn from the list? You can learn the names, addresses and phone numbers. You also can learn that the paid head guy in the Pittsburgh local is the same as the paid head guy in the Ohio local, that he has two phone numbers, one in Pittsburgh and one in Cincinnati. Not terribly important. Two locals, one guy? Okay, why not.

But most instructive are the ads. A custom shirt maker. A guy who can "cure" your accent or improve your dialect. Hairdressers, foot doctors (got ugly feet? Not good for TV work. No one hires actors or actresses with ugly feet!) Liposuction, investments and settlement loans, all from the west coast. Cosmetic dentists, "conferences," and more, and not a single 212 area code among them.

Well, at least they're selling ads. Keeps some of the cost of putting out a full color, slick-paper quarterly from coming out of the dues pot.

Those of us in the New York local have to wonder whether the Wilshire Boulevard address has gone to their heads. When they were still headquartered in New York, the Madison Avenue address sure did. The previous headquarters on Sixth Avenue was getting shabby and crowded. But in the Internet age, they could save a bundle by putting headquarters in Wyoming.


--The electric company staged a "planned" power outage the other day, but did not disclose its plans to the customers. Not that it would have made a huge difference. any plans for tonight, boys?

--The entertainer Bono has an investment company which has acquired good chunks of Palm Pilot and Forbes Magazine. This is significant. It guarantees the former will never appear on the latter's well regarded, briskly selling, widely read list of ideas that have come -- and gone.

--Actually, business magazines may top that list fairly soon. They're scratching their heads at Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, Money, and American Usurer, asking "What would Malcolm do?" What he'd do is get into his balloon or on his motorcycle and let the rest of you figure out how to pay for that.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(R)
(C)WJR 2008.

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