Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Pardon My French...

June 29th, 2015
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., July 2 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable Channel 12/high def 1012 (a.k.a OC16). We've got a fun segment on master illusionist John Hirokawa and the Magic of Polynesia show, plus a cool story about the new North Shore Bike Park at Turtle Bay, which includes family-friendly bike trails, as well as a pump track for advanced riders! Here's a sneak peek.

Our show host, Theresa Tilley, does a terrific job with our segment introductions, promotional spots and on-camera interviews. Recently, a prominent attorney who hired me to do a website video for him commented on her work in a piece we produced about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to help children of immigrants obtain temporary legal status to live in the U.S. He thought she was excellent. No surprise to me, since she displayed the same level of professionalism in the 808HALT human trafficking videos I directed.

She also has a full-time job in sales, representing a huge product supplier for hotels and resorts. Theresa is active with a variety of organizations too, and pops up in lots of photos at fashionable social events with her long-time significant other, Guillaume Maman. "G" as I call him, because my French is terrible, happens to be the General Manager of Loco Boutique. We profiled him in this piece awhile back. Well, G is not just a dashing figure with a charming accent who looks great in formal wear. He's been appointed Honorary Consul in Hawaii by the Consulate General of France -- a pretty big deal from what I understand.

Below is the press release about his new position. Congratulations, Guillaume -- and mahalo to Theresa for sharing this news!

The Consulate General of France in San Francisco has appointed Guillaume Maman as Honorary Consul in Hawaii, effective May 06, 2015. Mr. Maman has been a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii for 28 years and is originally from Paris, France. While in France, he served in the French Airborne Forces and received the medal of National Defense.

Guillaume Maman earned a French Baccalauréat in math, physics and chemistry, studied Economics at the University of Montpellier and a Master’s degree in Finance at La Sorbonne University in Paris. Since 1996, he has been heading a Hawaii based swimwear retail and manufacturing company, Loco Boutique, with locations in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Japan. He has also been the chairman of the Matsunaga Charitable Foundation since 2006 and a board member of the Alliance Française of Hawaii since 2007. Prior to his current position, Mr. Maman held many executive positions with high profile companies such as Louis Vuitton and Waterford Wedgwood.

As Honorary Consul of France in Hawaii, Mr. Maman perpetuates the mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in Paris. He directly collaborates with the Consulate General of France in San Francisco to provide assistance in administrative affairs and protection of French nationals settled or traveling within the state of Hawaii. He also represents the French Republic at official and cultural events in Hawaii and facilitates in deepening the relations between France and the United States.

Guillaume Maman succeeds Patricia Lee following her 18 years of service to the French government as Honorary Consul for Hawaii. “It is an honor to continue the tremendous service that Patricia Lee has provided to France and Hawaii. I feel blessed to have been raised in France and built an executive career in Hawaii, this has provided me with a deep understanding of the cultural differences and similarities between these two places I call home. I hope to serve as a bridge between France and Hawaii.” remarked Mr. Maman.

The Honorary Consul of France office is located at 1436 Young Street, Suite 303, Honolulu, HI 96814. Hours of operation- Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4pm to 6pm or by appointment Monday thru Friday.

Movie Biz on North Shore

June 17th, 2015
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Waimea Valley is hosting their first Screen on the Green family movie nights, beginning Thurs., June 18 around 7:30 PM following their regular Haleiwa Farmers' Market from 2 to 7 PM. Pamela Boyar, who co-owns FarmLovers Farmers's Markets, suggested we make THE GOONIES our first showing. As it happens, this is the 30th Anniversary of the cult classic, so it's perfect timing for that film! Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help keep the film series going. Here's a video piece we did on Pamela for our show awhile back.

For the inaugural summer movie nights, it will be every other Thursday. The next one will be GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, which was shot in Waimea Valley, on July 2. You can find the rest of the schedule, plus other info about what's going on at the park by visiting WaimeaValley.net. To see the short commercial I produced for them, click here. If all goes well, they may be offering more serious feature films and documentaries in the fall -- or even Dinner and a Movie nights at their Proud Peacock restaurant, which could have food-related themes. Beyond that, we've been talking about putting together a Waimea Surf Film Festival to coincide with the big swells that roll in during winter.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is filming new stuff on the North Shore right now. My cameraman and I were at Turtle Bay on Monday to shoot a segment about the new mountain bike trails that have been developed by Brett Lee, the owner of the Hele Huli activity center at the resort and North Shore Explorers center at the Polynesian Cultural Center's Hukilau Marketplace (here's a segment we did on Brett earlier this year).

As I drove into the resort, I saw lots of huge trucks, trailers, tents set up and knew it wasn't just another TV shoot. This was much bigger. Turns out they are filming MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, starring Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Devine and Stephen Root. Haven't read the script myself, but someone who has told me it was funny. Speaking of not-so-hot scripts, last year I had heard from reliable sources that the "Untitled Cameron Crowe" screenplay was a mess before it even got made. Then it became ALOHA and from what I've read, it sounds like the problems on the page were never fixed before the cameras started rolling.

This is the problem when Hollywood heaps praise on writers or directors for their early work. They develop this aura that shields them from any objective criticism. People suck up to them and tell them everything they do is wonderful -- until their next project bombs at the box office. And even then, some A-list screenwriters and directors can coast for years on the success of one hit movie or TV show.

Anyhow, if you're in the North Shore area Thursday afternoon, check out the Haleiwa Farmers' Market and Waimea Valley movie night!

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For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over one million total views. If you're interested in having your business featured on the show as a sponsor, shoot me an email at richfigel@gmail.com. Mahalo!

Diana Ross and Other Milestones

June 10th, 2015
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DING-DING-DING! One million and counting -- nope, didn't hit the Megabucks slots jackpot in Vegas, but saw my Career Changers TV YouTube Channel cross the one million views mark this past weekend. In an age when videos of cats jumping in boxes or people dancing around to pop hits easily surpass that number in a day, it still represents a big milestone for me because five years ago I wasn't sure my OC16 TV show would even last more than two or three episodes. Posting segments on YouTube was an afterthought. Now, we have subscribers from all over the world. People we featured have been contacted by producers of nationally-broadcast television shows for segments on the Food Network, Travel Channel and Discovery Channel because they saw those pieces on the CCTV YouTube Channel while Googling around for leads on Hawaii stories. You can see our latest videos by clicking here. But you should watch this month's episode on high def widescreen if possible to appreciate the beauty of the quilts that were on display at the Hawaii Quilt Guild Show last month. Just amazing.

As noted in my May 21 post about the end of the Dave Letterman era and Mad Men show, I've been in a New York state of mind (love that Billy Joel song). With Diana Ross coming here to perform this weekend, I had another flashback that reminds me how much things have changed in the past three decades since I left NYC. I was at her 1983 free concert in Central Park -- the one attended by more than 350,000 fans when it started raining, then turned to chaos as young black kids began snatching purses and knocking over stunned, mostly white people who had laid out picnic blankets and brought bottles of good wine and primo pot.

At the time, I lived on W. 89th Street a block from Central Park, where I shared the ground floor apartment of a brownstone with a time share law attorney, who traveled frequently... which meant I often had the large two-bedroom place to myself (brick walls, fireplace, small garden area in back). The Upper West Side was just starting to show signs of gentrification, so there was still a good mix of lower, middle and upper class incomes in that area. But if you went further uptown about 20 blocks or so, you'd find yourself in the heart of Harlem. Rarely did the twain meet in Central Park. Prior free concerts were for musicians like Simon & Garfunkel, who weren't big draws for young African-Americans in NYC, as you can probably imagine.

When all heck broke loose, I was in the vicinity of a group of young preppy types who were distraught and shook up. Two of the girls had their pocketbooks stolen, the guys got punched, they were soaking wet from the sudden downpour, and they needed help. I took them back to my apartment, where they were able to dry off, make phone calls and compose themselves. Turned out they had summer jobs in the Hamptons, where wealthy New Yorkers and the jet set vacation or own second homes. Part of the Hamptons was also a hot spot for gays to hang out during the summer season, as I learned from my boss at a publishing company in Greenwich Village.

The preppy group I rescued were grateful and invited me to stop at the restaurant they worked in if I ever got out to the Hamptons. That didn't seem likely, until my boss -- who was gay and diagnosed with AIDS -- asked me if I'd like to go with him one weekend to his beach house. He wasn't interested in me that way, and he knew I was straight. But his boyfriend was living abroad, he was lonely, scared and knew I liked to party hard -- and that's what people did in the Hamptons. He collected vintage Thunderbirds too, and had a couple at his Hamptons place. We stopped at the restaurant where the preppy kids worked, and they were surprised to see me. I don't know if it was seeing me with Marc (not all gays are obvious in their orientation -- he was though) but instead of greeting me with open arms, they were a bit stand-offish. They didn't offer to show me around town or meet up with me later.

At Marc's beach house, he had disposable plastic utensils, paper plates and cups for me to use because he knew straight people were afraid of catching AIDS from gays, infected with HIV or not. He also had Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer that leads to telltale purplish lesions on the skin. Maybe the preppy kids noticed that when he and I sat down at the restaurant table for lunch. In some ways, being with him was like hanging out with a leper and trying to act like everything was normal while knowing that person was going to die soon. That night, I went to a bar by myself, got very drunk, then took a cab back to his place. He smiled as I attempted to tell him how sad it was for me to see him like this. I started crying, and we hugged. I was too smashed to be afraid of getting the "gay disease" through physical contact. He was just a human being who was dying and all alone. Marc passed away not long after that weekend.

The other lasting memory connected to that Diana Ross concert was what transpired a day or two later in the jazz joint I regularly visited after work. I had become good friends with the bartender, Lee Dobson,  a talented actor who never got that big break to launch his stage or screen career. He was black, smart, funny and we used to joke that I was his "Samurai Brother" after he found out that I was half-Japanese. Most of my friends at the Seventh Avenue South jazz club were black, and when race came up, it was usually joking around about the differences between whites and blacks  -- how we danced, dressed, talked. Jazz music was our common language though.

Anyway, the topic of the Diana Ross concert came up and I told Lee how terrible it was "those animals" came down from Harlem and ruined everything, or something to that effect. There was a look of pain and hurt in Lee's eyes that I will never forget. I didn't consider myself prejudiced, but yes, I had to acknowledge that I viewed blacks from above 125th Street differently than the blacks I knew at Seventh Avenue South. Lee felt things were blown out of proportion because the kids were black -- and he was probably right. Words like "mobs" and "riots" were thrown around by the media, and even myself afterwards. He tried to get me to see things through their eyes -- the have-nots on the outskirts of affluence, watching the wine and cheese set take the best spots in front of the concert stage while they had to push and shove their way through the crowds just to get a glimpse of Diana.

Today, we have an African-American President and I live down the street from the beach the Obama family has stayed at for their Christmas vacations. We've seen attitudes about gays and gay marriage progress a great deal in recent years throughout the country. It's a long way from Central Park and that summer weekend trip to the Hamptons... but there's still too much prejudice, racism and intolerance in the world. New York taught me how to deal with it. Hawaii has shown me that we can do better.

Cemetery Pupu Theater

June 2nd, 2015
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cemetery theater

Program Alert: The June episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., June 4 at 7:30 PM on Oceanic Cable Channel 12/high def 1012. We've got great pieces on the Hawaii Quilt Guild Show, Honolulu Mini Makers Faire, and the humongous Pictures Plus/Plus Interiors plant out at Kapolei. For other days and times, visit www.CareerChangers.TV or watch segments from the show on the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now at 999,505 views!

Last year, we did a segment on the Hawaiian Mission Houses and Cemetery Pupu Theater program, which I went to and really enjoyed. They just announced dates for a new production that I highly recommend you check out (details below). Here's the link to the piece we shot at the cemetery. It wasn't creepy at all -- in fact, it was quite beautiful as you'll see in the video. We also did a story on the Mission Houses (click here) that you may find interesting too.

They have a limited number of tickets per show, so don't wait until the last minute to make online reservations! Please mention you heard about it from my blog or the Career Changers TV videos. Mahalo!

From the Hawaiian Mission Houses press release:

Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives premieres a new production of Cemetery Pupu Theatre: Footprints on the Land, on Friday and Saturday, June 12, 13, 19, and 20 on location in Oahu Cemetery at 2162 Nu‘uanu Avenue. Hawaiian Mission Houses carefully researches the letters and lives of prominent Hawai‘i residents and brings those stories to life in a script written by director, actor. and playwright, Zachary Thomas. Enjoy pupus during the sunset before hearing stories that are brought to life by local actors. The evening performances by the gravesite of each individual makes for a moving and evocative experience. Tickets are $50 per person and include 2 drinks and pupus. Cash bar for additional drinks. Reservations are required and can be made online on our website, www.missionhouses.org, or by calling (808) 447-3926. Seating is limited for this unique theatrical experience.

This is the sixth Cemetery Pupu Theatre production in this popular series of historical vignettes and will focus on those who studied the natural history of Hawai‘i and left their mark on these islands. Footprints on the Land, features the following figures from the history of Hawai‘i.

Annie Alexander (1867 – 1950), Hawai‘i-born paleontologist, botanist, and vertebrate zoologist who founded the Museum of Paleontology and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC-Berkeley. Alexander will be portrayed by Alicia Rice.

Charles Sheldon Judd (1881 – 1939) was a son of Albert Francis Judd, the supreme court justice. As an early Territorial forester, he pioneered conservation techniques with tree planting and preserved watersheds all over the islands. Judd will be portrayed by Russell Motter.

Dr. Joseph Rock (1884 – 1962) authored the first book on native trees of Hawai‘i. He was a botanist, explorer, ethnographer, and anthropologist who travelled extensively through China, Tibet, and Southeast Asia collecting specimens of plants and doing cultural anthropology work. Rock will be portrayed by Zachary Thomas.

John Adams Kuakini Cummins (1835 – 1913) was a sugar planter and rancher in Waima-nalo and was the President of the Waimanalo Sugar Company. He served in the legislature and in the government of King Kalakaua and became involved in the 1895 counter-revolution to restore the monarchy. Cummins will be portrayed by Moses Goods.

Cherilla Lillian Lowrey (1861 – 1917) was the founder and first president of the Outdoor Circle whose mission was to “Keep Hawai‘i clean, green and beautiful.” Twenty-two Monkeypod trees were planted in A‘ala Park as the organization’s first tree planting project. Lowrey will be portrayed by Karen Valasek.

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Mad Men, Letterman, Rupert Jee and Me...

May 21st, 2015
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Late Show signI stopped watching David Letterman's Late Show regularly a long time ago when he seemed to be falling back on stale bits and spending most of the show on digressive grumblings that went nowhere. He wasn't the quick-witted, anything-goes sardonic young host I grew up with while living in NYC as a bachelor in my mid-20s during the go-go 1980s. By "go-go," I mean there was lots of drinking and copious amounts of cocaine in the bars, jazz joints and after hours clubs I frequented from the Village to the Upper West Side. Bruce Willis, who I knew from Montclair State College, was still bartending at Cafe Central in 1985 -- the year I pulled a geographic and moved to Hawaii, in part, to avoid the fate of people like John Belushi and others who were part of that scene.

Generally speaking, I'm not the nostalgic type who likes to post a bunch of old photos on Facebook and tag people I hung out with way back when. Yet it's hard for me not to reflect on the passing of the Mad Men television series and Letterman show because of personal connections to both that remind me how far I've come or gone, literally thousands of miles away, and how old I am. Aging sucks -- unless you consider the alternative. Just surviving long enough to grow into a crusty, cynical curmudgeon like Dave, can be considered a success in itself. It's like that old song, "I'm Still Here" from Follies: Good times and bum times, I've seen them all.

The other day I had a business meeting with a former New Yorker and during our chat, this younger woman asked how old I was to compare notes about our respective time frames in the Big Apple. I hesitated, thought about fudging by saying "I'm in my 50s" or "mid-50s," then shrugged and admitted: "Fifty-eight. I'm old." Ugh. Why did I feel like I had to apologize for not being young any more?

She appeared to be caught off guard. Her New York and mine were decades apart. She only knew the Disney-tized Times Square version. My NYC was dirty, dangerous, dying from the AIDS epidemic, yet still retaining some of Don Draper's Mad Men business trappings from the 60s and 70s. I even interviewed at Grey Advertising, one of the biggest agencies in the world, rivaling the agency that swallowed up Don's firm. At the time, I was news editor of my college paper and a friend's dad at Grey introduced me to their head copywriter -- a woman, just like Peggy on Mad Men! She looked over sample commercials I wrote, liked a couple, suggested I write more, then get back to her after she returned from vacation. But I needed a job fast, so I never followed up with her and wound up stumbling down other career paths.

After I moved to Manhattan in the early 80s, I got a marketing job in publishing down in the Greenwich Village area. I ducked into a jazz club to get out of the rain one summer evening, and that's where I met musicians from the Late Show band and Saturday Night Live orchestra. It was named Seventh Avenue South and was owned by the Brecker Brothers, well-known jazz musicians in their own right. It became my pau hana hangout, where I held court with Hiram Bullock, the original Letterman band shoeless guitarist (played with David Sanborn often too); Sammy Figueroa, a percussionist (the conga player on David Bowie's "Let's Dance"); Will Lee, still playing bass with the Late Show band; Paul Shaffer would pop in; Jaco Pastorius, the late great electric bass player with Weather Report was a regular... plus a host of other young actors, musicians, artists and riffraff. Hiram told me how Belushi was at his place one night, found a box containing all of Hiram's tax info and receipts, and proceeded to throw them out the window. A few months later, Belushi would OD.

I also befriended David Murray of the World Saxophone Quartet, who I learned was related to Walter Murray -- the UH football receiver, best remembered for dropping a pass that would have given the 'Bows their first victory over vaunted nemesis, BYU. As it happened, on my final night in New York before getting on the long flight to Honolulu, a co-worker scored tickets to the Late Night show as a going away gift for me. I had always wanted to see it live, so it was a big deal. However, David Murray also offered to put me on his guest list for a gig he was doing with another jazz legend, Ron Carter, at the Lush Life that same night. I opted for the Lush Life instead of Dave. Sigh. That was New York in a nutshell -- too many choices, too much to do in too little time.

It's strange how things come full circle. Three years later, I was married, had gone through rehab for alcoholism, got sober and started growing up at the age of 31. That's when I began writing screenplays based on my wild nights in NYC and 28-day stay at Castle's treatment center in Kailua. Eventually, I would get to meet staff writers for Mad Men, who were doing a UH screenwriting workshop. They had worked on the Baywatch Hawaii series, along with former Star-Bulletin columnist, Charlie Memminger. He got that short-lived TV staff job as a result of winning the Maui Writers Conference screenwriting contest -- the same one I came in second place for a script that was set in NYC a year before 9/11 would change the skyline forever.

Me and Rupert JeeIn 2006, my wife and I stopped by the Late Show theater to see if we could get tickets but none were available. We did get to meet Rupert Jee, the Hello Deli owner and frequent guest on Letterman (often put in amusing, uncomfortable situations when Dave would fit him with an earpiece and instruct Rupert to do odd things to unsuspecting parties outside the theater).

I'm still searching for that illusive first big script sale. Heck, I'd settle for a small low budget straight-to-video deal. I used to snicker at shows like Baywatch Hawaii, but now that I'm older, wiser and less full of myself, I realize what it takes to be a professional screenwriter no matter what you or I may think of the quality of the show itself. The Mad Men writers I mentioned had gotten to know Matt Weiner long before he achieved critical acclaim with his series about a Manhattan advertising agency, and the characters we watched grow up (or not) before our eyes. Most don't know what a hard sell it was for the creator of that series to get it on the air. It's really an inspiring story for any writer, artist or entrepreneur. You can read the Fast Company piece by clicking here.

The last night I spent in New York, I remember coming back to my apartment on 14th Street, still intoxicated and high from the Lush Life show. Down on the corner, there was a lone sax player I could hear through the open window, blowing sad, sweet notes -- a serenade for no one in particular. But in my heart, I believed he was playing his song for me. I miss the city... I'll miss Mad Men and Dave too.

Hello Deli sign

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For daily viewing times of my Career Changers TV show, visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel... including commercials written and produced by this former NYC mad man.