Thursday, November 29, 2007

I could already have it...

Just saw this news come up on CNN.com... Apparently, the World Health Organization is adding "overnight work shifts" as a probable cause of cancer. That does not bode well for those of us who do independent films and tend to shoot overnight.

Yikes...

CBS might get it right

I just read in the news that CBS is sponsoring a pilot program, CBS Mobile Zone, to provide free wifi to Midtown Manhattan. Wireless transmitters have been installed throughout the area at subway station entrances and routers have been distributed to some local businesses. There have been moves in other cities to do the same thing, and I am thrilled that New York City is the next in line to usher in the digital age for all residents.

This pilot program for midtown Manhattan joins a program already in effect which is wiring New York City Parks and Libraries with free internet access.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In anticipation of fame

Playbill.com asks all of the big Broadway starts to fill out a survey they call the Cue and A.“ In anticipation for fame and glory, I thought I had better fill mine out in advance...


Full given name:
Erin Quinn Cronican. Try telling people your middle initial is Q. No one believes you (darn that John Q Public for ruining it!)

Hometown:
San Diego, CA

Zodiac sign:
Scorpio. Wait, why are you backing away slowing?

Audition song:
Will He Like Me? (age old question)

First Broadway show ever saw:
Noises Off.

If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Angels in America

Current show you have been recommending to friends:
Pygmailion.

Favorite show tune:
Oh gosh, there are so many. Mostly I like the opening a closing songs to Act I of any large ensemble musical. They are so dramatic!

MAC or PC?
Mac. For years and years.

Most played song on your iPod:
Morning Song by Jewel.

Last book you read:
The Complete History of Nearly Everything. It’s an incredible science book.

Must-see TV show:
Pushing Daisies

Last good movie you saw:
The Hoax. I didn’t expect it to be good, but it was.

Favorite card game:
Go Fish.

Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Toad the Wet Sprocket, in particular because they have broken up and rarely tour.

Pop culture guilty pleasure:
America’s Next Top Model. How can you be an actor and NOT watch this? As my main job is marketing myself to audiences as a certain character, I find immense value in watching models struggle with marketing themselves as a product.

First stage kiss:
Senior year “South Pacific.” My Emile was very tall.

How you got your Equity card:
An original production of a play called Oxygen, co-written by a Nobel Prize winner for chemistry and the father of the birth control pill (pun intended)

Worst onstage mishap:
I was touring with a musical that had canned music. At the end of Act I, the last track is many minutes long and includes a song, a musical interlude and then the final song. The technician heard the 1st song end and then, expecting that the musical interlude was on the next track, hit “forward” on the CD player. Since the CD was, in fact, at the end hitting “forward” started the CD over again. The technician realized what happened, muted the music, and cued up the CD again to the last track. Problem was, remember, that the last track includes a song, and interlude, and the final song. So when I paused on stage for the music to being for the final song, instead I got the beginning of the track with a song we had already sung 5 minutes prior. My fellow actors and I had to improv our way around this music for 5 minutes until we finally got to the music for the song I needed to sing. The time on stage was as long and grueling as it was to read this story.

Who have you played on "Law & Order"? Which edition?
The regular. Technically it was photo work, but I played one of many women who was murdered by the guest star. You saw my photo in an album the killer kept as a memento. I have also done background work on CI.

Worst costume ever:
For Oxygen, I had a corset underneath a very heavy 18th century ball gown, topped off with an even heavier, floor length velvet cape. In the scene I was supposed to go up and down a staircase and I could barely move.

Cats or dogs?
I’ve had both, but right now it is my dog, Denver, who I have had for 12 years.

Favorite cereal:
Frosted Mini Wheats

Who would play you in the movie?
These days it would be Naomi Watts or Marley Shelton.

Worst job you ever had:
Being a personal assistant for a manic-depressive millionaire.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Strikes, in my humble opinion

In my last blog, I promised that I would wax philosophic about the strikes that have overtaken my profession- both stage and screen. As you know, I am an actor, and though I am not a series regular or a Broadway star I am definitely seeing the effects of the strikes on my brethren. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but the opinion I hear most often (Brent- you are not the only one) is:

“I can understand the Writer’s Strike, but I am not sure about the IATSE Strike. What gives?”

So, I thought I would focus this blog on the Stagehand’s Strike and give you my thoughts on why we should be supportive.

The media states that the main issue on the table is that of the required amount of crew hired for load-ins. The League says that they are being forced to hire more people than they need for these jobs. This appears to be true, and when you hear the description of the conflict, the League sounds very reasonable. Who, in their right mind, would say that hiring more people than you need is fair? The media has played this out over and over, and the League has been very good at the “woes me” approach.

But let’s clarify things a bit- this is not a new issue on the table. This is (or was) a part of the previous contract that BOTH parties had agreed to and signed. This fact is not being played in the media- the fact that at one time the League said, “Yes, that amount of stagehands required is fine. We concede,” and now they are complaining about how unfair it is. You know, I am all for a group like the League coming to the table and saying, “You know what? We agreed to that but, as it turns out, it’s not such a good idea, and we want to change that aspect of the contract going forward” And when the League did this, Local One said, “Ok. Let’s negotiate. If we take that out of the contract, it will drastically reduced wages and/or benefits for our members. What are you prepared to offer in its place?”

NOTHING. The League has offered nothing. Instead, they whine to the media about how unfair the Stagehands are being. They call is “featherbedding” further degrading the union. Lest I confuse things further, let me put it in terms that most of us can understand (Note: This is an example, and is in no way meant to mirror exactly what has happened between the League and Local One. I don’t know how they negotiated the terms, I only know what terms they agreed upon. Now, for the example...)

Let’s assume you go in for your yearly review with your boss. You are due a 5% raise, but he/she says, “Bob, we cannot offer you a raise this year because we don’t have any more funds to do so. Instead, we are going to allow you to work up to 10 hours per week in overtime, which should give you a good boost each pay period.” You accept, and become accustomed to working 50 hours per week to be able to meet the rising cost of living. Then, let’s assume you go back the following year for your evaluation, and your boss says, “You know what? That was sort of a dumb move on our part. Overtime is costing us way too much, and we don’t even need you for all of those hours. You are no longer allowed to have overtime, and because we are still in financial turmoil, we can only offer you a 2% raise this year. Thanks for being a team player.”

So, let’s get this straight= You working at your same job, but making only 2% more when you should be making 10% more (5% for each year). The concession that the boss made for the lack of raise last year has been yanked off the table AND NOTHING HAS BEEN PUT IN ITS PLACE. The worker has lost 8% of income rightfully owed for a job well done. Is that fair?

Here’s the kicker. The employer in this case is not hurting for cash. The League is seeing record revenues since before 9/11. All Local One is asking for is for something to be put in the place of lost revenues if they lower the minimum of stagehands needed for load-ins. And apparently, the League is not prepared to offer anything- they are more interested in complaining to the public that the union is “featherbedding.”

Ok...

I very rarely get into heated discussions about anything like this. I hate stepping in when both sides are so passionate. There are so many angles to this thing, and unless I am in the talks with both parties there is no way I could appropriately argue one side over another. I am sure I have missed things. Further, I actually have a soft spot in my heart for the corporations and producers who make it possible for me to do what I love.

As we speak (or, as I type and later you read), the two sides are talking and I have heard that the issue of crew numbers at load-in has been resolved. But I still felt compelled to jump in to explain why Local One needs our support. I have read statements released by my union on behalf of Local One. I have read statements released by the League and followed them through the media. The majority of stagehands are not making 6 figure incomes- they are working long, physically exhausting days for a mid level salary, and there is no job security- they always have a chance of losing their job due to shows closing.

Please support Local One. And support the WGA. And when this strike is over, please reward the producers by buying tickets to theater and films, download your TV shows- do everything in your power to show the entertainment industry how much it means to you. I truly believe that no one person is wishing ill will on another, so let’s treat each other with love, respect and honor.

-- End of Soapbox. Back to your regularly scheduled program. --

Thursday, November 22, 2007

IATSE Strike

It's been a while since I have posted- more on that later.

In the meantime, here is an outstanding timeline about the IATSE Local One strike on Broadway:

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/112946.html

I will write my thoughts and opinions about this strike (as well as the WGA strike) very soon. Until then, please support these hardworking union employees. Thank you.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Today's Happiness List

Today’s Happiness List is brought to you by:
The letter - F - for Filmmaking

Happiness is...

• Having a place to sit while waiting on the set

• Finding pieces of fudge at craft services

• Having people call me by my name instead of “Hey you” or “Stand In.”

• Working with great crew members

• Double time- not the kind where you have to move really fast but the kind where you earn twice your hourly pay

• Free Starbucks on set on late nights

• Getting paid just because I look like someone famous

• Mistakes in the schedule that allow me to go home after one hour with full pay (!)

• Meeting awesome actors who don’t have chips on their shoulders

• Avoiding those that do

• Finding wireless internet access so I can submit for principal while on set

• Making jokes like, “We’re called stand-ins because we stand in everyone’s way.” It’s not really a joke, though.

• Earning money towards pension and health care

• Earning money towards Unemployment, which I will file when I finish this project

• Getting paid to work in an industry that I love- living the dream!

Today's Happiness List...

Today’s Happiness List is brought to you by:
The letter - F - for Filmmaking

Happiness is...

• Having a place to sit while waiting on the set
• Finding pieces of fudge at craft services
• Having people call me by my name instead of “Hey you” or “Stand In.”
• Working with great crew members
• Double time- not the kind where you have to move really fast but the kind where you earn twice your hourly pay
• Free Starbucks on set on late nights
• Getting paid just because I look like someone famous
• Mistakes in the schedule that allow me to go home after one hour with full pay (!)
• Meeting awesome actors who don’t have chips on their shoulders
• Avoiding those that do
• Finding wireless internet access so I can submit for principal while on set
• Making jokes like, “We’re called stand-ins because we stand in everyone’s way.” It’s not really a joke, though.
• Earning money towards pension and health care
• Earning money towards Unemployment, which I will file when I finish this project
• Getting paid to work in an industry that I love- living the dream!


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