Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

“Kindness is free.”
Garry Marshall
From the post Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

In lectures, I often beg people to do one thing— one simple thing— that I truly believe can change our world: Do at least one thing to help or promote another person and his or her work. That chain of support is the key to a sustainable diverse culture. We must shed the hierarchy that we have imposed upon ourselves. At public events, I am always surprised that audience members don’t introduce themselves when asking questions: It would put us all on common ground.

Filmmakers often make the common mistake of thinking they are all in competition with each other. It is not a zero-sum game. When I was just starting out, it took me a long time to realize that when I was applying for a job (as an assistant director or a line producer), the challenge wasn’t to beat someone else out for the job, but to find the best fit. Now I try to share what I have learned with others, and their responses, in turn, sharpen my focus. When a friend’s business improves, so do my opportunities. I try to introduce the people I like to the people who I know can help them. Sometimes, their success eclipses mine, and that is fantastic. I have had the joy of mentoring many individuals, watching my assistants like Anthony Bregman, Glen Basner, and others rise up the ladder and contribute to the improvement of others’ work. Community building is in all of our interests. Helping others rarely hurts anyone, particularly yourself.
Ted Hope
Hope for Film: From the Frontline of the Independent Cinema Revolutions (pp. 212-213). Soft Skull Press. Kindle Edition.

So the person I’m going to be promoting is Ted Hope. He’s been pretty prolific online writing about the past, present, and future of filmmaking so I’ll ride that wave for a while.

P.S. And a shout-out to Jon Strong whose feature doc Long Time Coming was just announced to be a part of the 2018 Florida Film Festival.

Scott W. Smith

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“You are about to enter an industry that’s filled with narcissistic, egotistical, misanthropic liars and cheats. You’d better find a safe harbor of people you trust. Being an artist is exhausting and nobody appreciates your work to the degree that you want them to… unless you have people around you that say I hear you, I see you, we are in this together, I’m going to help lift you up.”
Ted Hope
Speaking to students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts 
Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope shares principles of artistic success 

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“I’m incredibly excited about the future at Amazon Studios. In the studio’s relatively short existence they have innovated, disrupted, and created characters that are already an indelible part of pop-culture. I am both honored and emboldened by the opportunity to lead this extraordinary business. Of course, this is also bittersweet for me. NBC has been an amazing home – creatively, professionally and personally – and I leave there knowing that the work we did had groundbreaking impact. It’s an exciting time to be a content creator, and I look forward to being on the front lines of an innovative business with storytelling at its heart.”
Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios (and former NBC Entertainment president)
Tracking Board 

This is pulled directly from the Amazon Studios website:

  • Submit Your Series Idea

    Amazon Studios is producing Emmy Award-winning television series. We’re looking for smart, cinematic drama series; bold, original comedy series; and innovative, educational series for kids.

    Now, anyone (including WGA members) is welcome to submit their work with no strings attached. Learn more about our Submission policy here.




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“In ‘Amazing Grace,’ that line —  ‘that saved a wretch like me ’— isn’t that something we could all say if we were honest enough?”
Bob Dylan
Interview with Robert Love

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Back in 1989 I had Forrest Gump moment in Hollywood.  I was eating at a Hamburger Hamlet on Hollywood Blvd. when I saw a crowd gathering across the street and it would be the first and only time I ever saw someone getting a Hollywood star. No, it wasn’t Tom Hanks— or any movie/TV star, but the evangelist Billy Graham. It was surreal.

Somewhere in a box I have a photo of that moment. And that distant memory came to my mind yesterday when I learned that Graham died at age 99.

“I feel somewhat out of place because I’m not sure that a clergyman belongs here.”
Billy Graham on getting a star on Hollywood Blvd.
(His star is between right between actress Judy Holliday and Italian opera singer Beniamino Gigli.)

But Graham was involved in radio, television, and film on an international level so it wasn’t so odd that he ended up with a star on Hollywood Blvd. When I lived in Burbank and was just a couple years out of film school I met a guy who worked on the film side with Graham and he gave me a tour of the World Wide Pictures studios (a division of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn. ) in Burbank just a few blocks from Warner Bros. Studios. (And just down the road from Universal Studios.)

According to the Los Angeles Times the World Wide Pictures studio closed in 1988. Their first produced film played at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. and some of the best known films from the World Wide Pictures library are Joni (the story of a diving accident that left Joni Eareckson Tada paralyzed) and The Hiding Place (about Corrie ten Boom’s family hiding Jewish people fleeing the Holocaust).

Along the way a list of Hollywood actors had rolls in various World Wide Pictures including Jennifer O’Neill, Ken Howard, Pat Hingle, Jill Ireland, Dabney Coleman, and Julie Harris. Ken Wales, who was one of the producers of Amazing Grace (2006), also had a hand producing and acting for World Wide Pictures.

It’s also a little surreal to find a Rolling Stone article yesterday that touched on the friendship between Billy Graham and Johnny Cash.

The Sacramento Bee reported that when actor Steve McQueen died he was “clutching a Bible – one given to him by Billy Graham.” Elvis, President Jimmy Carter, and Martin Luther King Jr, all had positive connections with Graham.

“When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody.”
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan: The Uncut Interview with Robert Love

I went to the final Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA concert in 1985 at the L.A. Coliseum—greatest concert I ever saw. Largest crowd I ever saw, too. If I recall correctly there were 100,000 people there that night. But that’s not the attendance record there. That belong to a 1963 Billy Graham crusade with 134,254 in the stadium. (And a reported 20,000 more outside.)

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Before Graham filled stadiums he spoke in revival tents including a eight week period in downtown Los Angeles in 1949. That event was covered in the recent L.A. Times article Billy Graham: Made in L.A. (While talking about sin in the shadow of Hollywood might seem 1940ish to some, in light of Harvey Weinstein, sexual assault/harassment in the current headlines, and the #MeToo movement it seems rather timeless and appropriate.)

One of the people who attended the ’49 crusade was POW survivor Louis Zamerini. A USA Today article recounts how Zamerini learned about forgiveness from Graham. Zamerini’s story become the Laura Hillenbrand book Unbroken; A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Then the Angelina Jolie directed movie Unbroken. 

My story is not as dramatic as Zamerini’s, but out of curiosity I went to hear Billy Graham speak at Anaheim Stadium in 1985. I was living with a woman at the time and, like a lot of 24 year olds, my life was messy and complicated. Billy Graham had his critics, but I’m not one of them. You can put me in the company of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Steve McQueen, Obama, Zamerini and millions of others who respected the man.

When I look at that photo of the crowd at L.A. Coliseum, and I think back to hearing Graham at Anaheim Stadium in ’85, and reflect on life and death the word surreal keeps coming to mind.

You want something else a little surreal? Here’s a 1969 interview of Billy Graham with Woody Allen.

P.S. I hear there’s only one Hamburger Hamlet left these days (in Sherman Oaks) but they were once  sprinkled throughout Los Angeles. This is from an blog called Old Los Angeles Restaurants:

The Hamlet was the invention of a Hollywood costumer named Marilyn Lewis and her husband, Harry.  Harry was an actor, perhaps best remembered for his role in the Humphrey Bogart film, Key Largo.  The way the story goes, they opened the first one with all their savings — about $3,000 or $3,500 depending on which account you read. That opening was just before Halloween of 1950 and when they were about to open the doors, they discovered they couldn’t cook. The gas hadn’t been turned on and they were so tapped out that they couldn’t afford to pay the deposit and couldn’t afford to not open on schedule. Marilyn got in touch with a gas man and struck an under-the-table bargain: If he’d come over and turn them on anyway, he could eat there for free as long as they were in business. He did both these things. The original idea was to open an actors’ hangout but the place quickly caught on with folks of all different vocations and other outlets quickly followed.

Scott W. Smith

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Eagles Flying High

“Two years ago [Nick] Foles was ready to retire from football at age 26, frustrated with his situation, lacking in his motivation, uncertain either would ever improve.”
Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports 

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles may have started the year sitting on the bench, but he finished it Sunday night as the Super Bowl MVP.

If you’ve ever read the book, seen the movie, or watched the TV show Friday Night Lights then you know how big high school football is in Texas. Foles lived that dream in Austin, Texas and then turned that into a solid career at the University of Arizona.

He was taken third in the 2012 NFL draft, but until this year sports reporters called him essentially a mediocre career journeyman. That’s why he thought about quitting the game two years ago. Except he didn’t.

So Sunday when the Eagles upset the New England Patriots to win their first Super Bowl, the 29-year-old Foles enjoyed his moment in the spotlight. Chances are next season he’ll be the back-up to quarterback Carson Wentz who was injured this year.

But for one night Foles was on top of the world.

”Don’t be afraid to fail… I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen thousands of times, make mistakes. We are all human. We all have weaknesses… I know when I listen to people share their weaknesses, I’m listening. I’m not Superman. We might be in the NFL and we might have just won the Super Bowl, but hey we still have our daily struggles, I still have daily struggles. That’s where my faith comes in. That’s where my family comes in.  I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that that’s just an opportunity for your character to grow.”

I imagine this is how everyone in Philadelphia feels this week:

P.S. You can file in the It’s a Small World File: The quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles is Frank Reich. I did a video interview with him several years ago when he lived in Charlotte after his playing days with the Panthers. I’m sure getting a Super Bowl ring will mean a lot to him. He was the back-up QB to Jim Kelly when the Buffalo Bills went to four straight Super Bowls in a row without a victory.

Also in that same Small World File you can put another interview I shot in Tampa with Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Reggie White who played for many years with the Philadelphia Eagles.


I also did a shoot in 2012 with Deion Sanders who was also covering the Super Bowl for the NFL Network  (and is still the only person to ever play in a Super Bowl and a World Series). And while I’ve never meet Chris Collinsworth (who was one of NBC’s announcers during the Super Bowl) I’ve followed his career ever since he was an All-American QB at Titusville Astronaut High School on the Space Coast of Florida.


Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth just before Super Bowl LII

Scott W. Smith


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“I was a big math and computer geek.”
Brian Acton
(Lake Howell High School grad and now billionaire)


I know there’s a big football game today in Minneapolis, but just to mix it up a little here are some photos and memories surrounding an alumni baseball game I played in yesterday at my old high school. And the story of two graduates from my high school who made it big.

The mascot of Lake Howell High School is the Silver Hawks. The hawk statue in the above photo was part of a $4 million dollar donation that also included renovating the school’s air conditioning, updating the football field, building a swimming pool, and new computers.

It was an anonymous donation, but most figure it came from Brian Acton who was one of the founders of the WhatsApp and also a graduate of Lake Howell High School. Brian and Jan Koum sold their WhatsApp to Google in 2014 for $22 billion dollars. It’s estimated that Brian’s net worth today is around $6.7 billion.

Last September, Brian announced he was leaving WhatsApp.

 I’ve decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute.
Brian Acton

When Brian was on the Lake Howell math team his coach was Mike Bouch.

 “You wonder in your career whether you’ll ever touch the life of someone who goes on to make it really big. But this, uh, this is just beyond belief.”
Mike Bouch
Orlando Sentinel article 

Though I was more than a decade ahead of Brian, Coach Bouch was also a coach of mine when I played football there. And just a two years behind me at Lake Howell was Dave Martinez. He went on to play pro baseball for 16 years, and won a World Series ring two years ago as a bench coach for the Chicago Cubs.

This year as MLB spring training gets on its way, Dave is the new manager (what they call head coaches in baseball) of the Washington Nationals. In November, The Washington Post announced his contact was worth a million dollars a year.


That puts a Silver Hawk in Washington, D.C. and one in Silicon Valley. And in previous posts I’ve mentioned screenwriter Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall) and actor Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) are also Sliver Hawks flying high in Hollywood.

If you’ve follow this blog for long, you may have noticed that in many phots of me I have a hat on. It’s not because of the older I get, the less hair I have (which is true) it’s just that I grew up loving and playing baseball and wearing baseball hats as far back as I remember. Here’s a photo from yesterday’s game.


Scott W. Smith

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In the podcast Launch novelist John August gives an insider look into the book making process, down to the font selections and the voiceover narrator for the audio book. Because August is also a screenwriter, there’s a better than average chance that his book Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire will become a book.

But in another podcast this month he answers the question from a frustrated novelist named Matthew who’s had novels optioned, even screenplays written based on his books and stars attached to the projects, but still not a single movie from his work has come to fruition. Here’s part of John August’s answer why:

“Most books that get optioned don’t get made into movies. Most scripts that get written don’t get made into movies. And when I see authors being so excited about the film rights sold, or it’s going to be a movie, I’m happy for them, but I also want to pull them aside and let them know that like if it gets made into a movie, that’s winning the lottery. That so rarely happens…But other times, like Big Fish, it happens. And so you just don’t know. And you have so little control over it, Matthew. That’s the remarkable thing. As the author you control everything. And every word and every comma. Movies seem like they’re made by magic. Like 200 people are off making your movie. Except most times they don’t get made. They get optioned, they pay someone to write a script. That script sits on a shelf and it doesn’t happen.”
John August
Scriptnotes, Ep. 334

P.S. Speaking of Big Fish (screenplay by John August, based the book by Daniel Wallace), I had breakfast with several people Saturday to remember a man named Jim who died recently at age 85.. At one point they wanted everyone to share a story about this him. I shared a story and then I recommended to Jim’s adult children that they watch Big Fish. Jim was from Kentucky and like a lot of people from the south, Jim could tell a yarn are two. In fact, you never were sure which stories were true and which weren’t. Which is part of the Big Fish story.

Scott W. Smith

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