Monday, July 21, 2014

Ce qu'ils ont demandé

They got it. Happy now?
Feature film production in France fell nearly a quarter in the first half of the year, according to the latest figures released by the Federation of Cinema Industries (FICAM) on Wednesday.
Down 24 percent, only 55 films went into production in the first half of the year, compared with 72 during the same period last year.
At a minimum;
FICAM also cited the new rules of what is called the “collective agreement,” which regulated the industry practices and created minimum wages in several sectors, including technicians such as electricians and camera operators, costume and wardrobe workers, and assistant directors.

After a decade of debate, the agreement was signed by trade unions and the Association of Independent Producers (API), which represents major production companies Gaumont, MK2, Pathe and UGC in France, in October 2012 and went into effect Jan. 1, 2013. At the time, many directors opposed the measures saying that the new wages and stipulations regarding overtime and night shoots would jeopardize low-budget films.
 Bold in the above by HSIB.

Lo que este país necesita es un buen impuesto del 5%

Tax the hombres behind the tree, not we artistes;
Spain’s arts and entertainment sector faces “disaster” as a result of the government’s decision two years ago to apply a 21-percent sales tax to movie, concert and theater tickets, according to an open letter from industry representatives presented to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last week.
....Sales tax, or VAT, was raised from eight to 21 percent in September 2012. Since then, say sector representatives, there has been a 30-percent drop in cinema, theater, concert and dance attendances, along with a “drastic reduction in the ability to produce new content, one that will be difficult to recover from, and that has badly hit businesses, which are closing down: exposing the total uselessness of a measure that is as absurd as it is destructive.”
Because the competitors have lower taxes;
Spain is alone among EU nations in imposing such a high level of sales tax on the arts. In France the figure is five percent; in Greece, nine percent, and 13 percent in Portugal.
That's entertainment!

Pacific Heights II

The Melanie Griffith role is filled, so who have they got for Michael Keaton's game theorist;
Cory Tschogl says she has an Airbnb squatter - a guest who rented her Palm Springs vacation condominium, then stopped paying rent, refused to leave and threatened her with legal action.
"It's a horror story," said Tschogl, 39, who lives in San Francisco.
It's also a cautionary tale, illustrating the tenuous nature of new marketplaces that let people rent homes or rooms to strangers.
Not exactly. It has to be in the right place, for the right time period;
Now she's hired a lawyer, who will cost several thousand dollars and take three to six months to evict the tenant, who now has renters' protections under California law because he has occupied the unit over 30 days.
Sonny Bono's Law (as explained to Chris Matthews on Hardball about 15 years ago): There are people who will game any system. In this case, those 'renters protections under California law'.

But hey, the lawmakers' intentions were good. What could go wrong?
The guest booked the space for 44 days from May 25 to July 8 and paid for the first month in advance through Airbnb. After 30 days, Airbnb notified Tschogl that its attempts to collect the balance due "did not succeed" without specifying why. The company eventually paid her the two weeks' missing rent.
After numerous e-mails and calls from Tschogl, Airbnb offered to pay for the man to stay at a hotel for 30 days, but said he didn't respond to e-mails and his phone was disconnected.
Once the 44 days were up, Tschogl texted the renter that his reservation contract was over and that the power would be shut off in 24 hours.
The guest texted back saying he was legally occupying the condo and that loss of electricity would threaten the work he does at home that brings in $1,000 to $7,000 a day.
The texts threatened to press charges for "blackmail and damages caused by your negligence and malicious misconduct, including $3,800 PID Espresso machine as well as medical bills for my brother's hospital visit after he got sick here drinking unfiltered tap water."
That's what.

If it's a good deed, it shall not go unpunished

Nice to be able to live in the lap of luxury on $45,000 per year?  That argument is taken with a straight face by a Seattle PI reporter;
The Theodora’s owners, Volunteers of America, describe the proposed closure and sale of the 114-unit facility as necessary to improve the lives of the residents, most who get by exclusively on public assistance and veterans benefits.
“The 50 year-old building – with small efficiency rooms, no individual kitchens and an overall antiquated design – no longer serves our mission or the needs of our residents,” said David Burch, a Volunteers of America spokesman.
The charity is selling the building, and using the proceeds (up to $9,000 per resident) to relocate their tenants to other sites. They only went that route after considering their options;
Volunteers of America worked for years to craft a redevelopment plan that was feasible for The Theodora, Burch said by email. When none was found, the charity contacted 75 other nonprofits in an effort to offload the facility; none were willing to take on the property.
“Nonprofits told us that because of the building’s age and current configuration, they could not afford to acquire, renovate and operate the building,” Burch said. “This situation cannot be sustained long-term and we decided that selling The Theodora on the private market would be the most prudent solution.”
Enter the professional kibitzers;
News of the sale prompted the formation of the Theodora Rescue Committee, which, with the help of the Tenants Union of Washington State, has held several protests calling for the building to be maintained as-is.
 At whose expense? We're guessing not the Tenants Union of Washington States's.

And is anyone surprised that this 'fight' is being billed as the rich against the poor;
Members of the committee have contended the building will be replaced with “luxury housing for the wealthy.” They’ve asked the supporters to fight to stop the redevelopment from going forward.
I.e. to prevent Seattle from having more housing;
Goodman Real Estate Group [the developer buying the Theodora] President and CEO George Petrie rejected the contention that the recreated apartments will be out of the reach of Northeast Seattle workers.
Petrie said the apartments will be aimed at people earning 65 to 85 percent of the median income for the area. While the exact figure varies by family size, that amount equates to less than $45,000 a year for a single person or $64,000 for a family of four.
“The new apartments will not be luxury homes – rather we are committed to adding more workforce housing to the neighborhood and city,” Petrie said by email.
Housing for all those newly-made-middle-class by Seattle's $15 per hour minimum wage?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You can leave your name and number...

But Jim Rockford won't be getting back to you any longer;
James Garner, the actor and producer who has died aged 86, made his reputation in the late 1950s as the shrewd, anti-heroic gambler Bret Maverick in the iconoclastic Western series of the same name — and sealed it as the 1970s private investigator Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files.
Garner fell into acting when, driving down a Los Angeles street after he'd been discharged from the army (and winning two Purple Hearts in Korea) he noticed a sign on a building with an old acquaintance's name advertising his theatrical agent services. Serendipitously, a car pulled out from the curb, leaving an empty parking space. 'What the heck...'

That led to his first acting job; a non-speaking role as a military judge observing the legal arguments in the play The Caine Mutiny. Since he didn't have any lines to learn himself, he decided to make himself useful to the play's stars--one of whom, Henry Fonda, took notice of him and assisted his career--by reading with them as they learned their parts. That characteristic of Garner's surfaced time and time again over the years, making him extremely popular with his fellow actors, directors and camera/lighting/sound/stage hands.

His attitude was, 'I’ve done a lot of casual work, and acting is a lot easier than laying carpets.' Though the business end of acting he didn't take casually at all. He was party to two lawsuits that helped define a new paradigm for the business. The first was one Jack Warner never forgot, nor forgave.

Garner was a $400 per week contract player with Warner Bros. in the mid 1950s when the writer/producer Roy Huggins--'I have a love-hate relationship with James Garner; I love him, he hates me.'--was assigned Garner to be the star of Huggins' new and idiosyncratic Western television program, Maverick.  Jack Warner didn't want to waste money hiring a new actor for a show he wasn't sure was even going to last.

Huggins--who had only been allowed to make his labor of love (a non 'John Wayne' Western TV show) as a reward for having revitalized a failing Warner's television program (Cheyenne starring Clint Walker) a year earlier--didn't want Garner for the role of Bret Maverick. He'd had him in an episode of Cheyenne and didn't visualize him as at all right for what he had in mind. But Warner insisted on using the actor who was already being paid.

Fortunately for Huggins, who tells what happened in one of his interviews on the TV Legends site, Garner's take on the character of Maverick was superior, and funnier, than Huggins'. Maverick became that season's biggest hit, even outdrawing The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights. James Garner's introduction to the economics of the entertainment industry was about to start.

Garner found out from reading Variety that Maverick was bringing in something like $50,000 per week for Warner Bros (split 50/50 with the show's sponsor Kaiser Aluminum). Naturally he wanted an increase in his pay for being the goose laying the golden eggs. Warner flatly refused to even discuss a raise, insisting that Garner had to honor his contract. So Garner was stranded...until the right opportunity presented itself.

Which opportunity was a strike by the Screen Writers' Guild. Warner's response to that was to close the studio, to save money while the strike lasted. But Garner objected that he had to be paid his weekly salary regardless. Warner claimed that there were no scripts with which to shoot, and Garner pointed out that Warner Bros. had rooms filled with scripts previously written,  that could be shot.

It came to an actual courtroom trial--legal wrangles back then moved through the courts much more quickly--when Garner sued Warner for breach of contract. Garner's lawyer made mincemeat of Jack Warner, exposing him on the stand as a liar, and Garner won the lawsuit. That gave Garner two options. 1. He could collect the $400 per week back pay Warner hadn't paid him. 2. He was free to leave Warner and the contract he'd signed.

Obviously, Garner took the latter option. He went over to the movies and quickly became wealthy. And Jack Warner's Pound foolishness cost him what would have been a share in Garner's productive endeavors.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bit o' license

New York, New York. Where, if it exists, there'll be a taxpayer-paid-regulator using it to justify his existence;
New York's top financial regulator on Thursday proposed the toughest restrictions onbitcoin companies to date, unveiling a plan that would require firms dealing in virtual currencies to hold certain levels of capital, hire compliance officers and obtain special licenses.
Regulators around the country are grappling with how to oversee virtual currencies as more entrepreneurs create bitcoin trading exchanges and merchants accept it as a method of payment.
The latest proposals come after nearly a year of scrutiny by the New York Department of Financial Services.
"My hope is that the companies that can meet these rules will give consumers a lot of confidence when they do business with these companies, and that will help those companies thrive and succeed," said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the department, in an interview.
Nice little virtual currency you've got there. Be a shame if....

Ranch: Oh, notorious!

Bolthouse Farms, a maker of juices and smoothies, recently launched a perishable peppercorn ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt. The new product has 40 calories per two-tablespoon serving, compared with 140 calories for the same-size serving of Hidden Valley Ranch, or 110 calories for a serving of Wish-Bone's Russian dressing.
"We're trying to make the healthy choice the easy choice," says Todd Putman, chief marketing and innovation officer at the Bakersfield, Calif.-based company.Vegans are being roped in, too. At Whole Foods Market, the number of ranch-flavored vegan and vegetarian snack options has nearly doubled over the past five years due to consumer demand, says Dwight Richmond, global grocery purchasing coordinator at the upscale supermarket chain.
Among the offerings: Rhythm Superfoods Kool Ranch kale chips and ranch-flavored Go Raw Salad Snax—nonperishable munchies made from raw dehydrated kale, carrots and other vegetables.
Bailey Rae, a 24-year-old who produces The Local Vegan blog in Nashville, Tenn., recently developed a popular vegan avocado-ranch dressing recipe that she says also satisfies "raw, paleo, dairy-free and gluten-free" dietary restrictions.
When they make one you can pour to Anticipation...
With its 2012 launch of Hidden Valley For Everything, the company was trying to "mimic the behavior of ketchup on a hamburger or fries," explains Mr. [Jon] Balousek. The company went so far as to tout the product as "the new 'ketchup' " on its packaging.
The Everything version "sticks on the food to a greater degree" than regular ranch, or other dressings like Italian, he says. "Italian dressing will roll right off of a hamburger, and [regular] ranch would roll off more than ketchup would."
'The company' being Clorox Inc. It sells about equal amounts of salad dressing and bleach every year.