Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FirstCom Makes Beautiful Music with DJ Skee

FirstCom Music, a leading provider of production music services, has added Build Destroy Music (BDM) into The Chronicles Of Hip-Hop catalog. BDM, created and produced by DJ Skee, is a hybrid music company featuring up-and-coming musicians, songwriters, and producers. It is designed to fill the demand for unencumbered, cutting-edge, original music for TV, commercials, films and video games.

According to FirstCom, by leveraging its sister company, SKEE.TV and its founder DJ Skee, BDM looks to capitalize off of the brands’ built-in network – a network with more than 400 million impressions to date via video and radio content. “Skee has created a mecca for the freshest, newest talent anywhere around with BDM, and we are excited to have this incredible talent pool producing for Chronicles of Hip-Hop,” says Ken Nelson, Sr. VP/executive producer for FirstCom Music.

“As a regular consultant for artists, labels and brands, Skee is an industry icon and has a unique perception and ability to create innovative content," Nelson continued. "We look forward to collaborating with him and his group as the top resource for Urban and Pop music for editors, producers and music supervisors.”

In addition to being one of the highest regarded DJ’s in the world, DJ Skee has four Sirius/XM radio shows, a show on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, a leading media marketing and online entertainment company in SKEE.TV and was named to Billboard Magazine’s coveted “30 Under 30” industry Power Players. The multi-hybrid music mogul launched the SKEE.TV platform in 2007 and has quickly built it into one of the most successful producers of original content and marketing initiatives on the web, orchestrating campaigns for Fortune 500 companies including Daimler-Chrysler and T-Mobile, as well as producing some of the most viewed music videos of all time from artists such as Far East Movement, New Boyz, Soulja Boy Tell Em, Chris Cornell and The Game.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Classics

For many of us, one of the great pleasures of the holiday season is watching our favorite Christmas movies and TV specials. Just like the holidays themselves, these shows and films spark childhood memories of innocent times when our only cares were what would be waiting for us under the tree on Christmas morning, or which of our favorite cousins would be waiting for us at our grandparents' house when we arrived for the annual holiday meal.

Like me, it likely was in your grandparents' living room where you watched many of these holiday classics – such as It's a Wonderful Life or Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer – for the first time. Thus, we have a great deal of affection for these classics (which is why they are referred to as classics in the first place) and tend to make them holiday traditions with our own children. My personal favorites tend to be animated, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. But thinking about these old standards this year has me wondering, are there any "new classics" out there? Are there any recently produced Christmas movies or TV specials that will earn a place among the holiday classics?

Every year there is a new crop of holiday programming and new films in theaters, but can you think of any that deserve to be called classics? The movie, Elf, is funny and airs on TV quite often this time of year, but it's not heart-warming enough to become a classic. Home Alone is much-loved, but again, can one consider it classic? I, for one, cannot. I think Tim Burton has come the closest to producing a new classic with The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Burton wrote and produced the film, which was directed by Henry Selick.) Close, but no cigar, as the saying goes. Don't get me wrong; I adore this claymation film, but I don't anticipate watching it every December. Perhaps there is a younger crowd out there that does.

On television, some more recent programming has tried to acknowledge older TV classics, such as Rudolph, with old-school style animated programs, though they tend to do so with a sense of humor. Last year's Community (NBC) holiday episode (pictured) and the recent holiday episode of Eureka (Syfy) spring to mind. Both shows were quite funny, especially if you're familiar with the material that is being lampooned, but they're certainly not destined to become classics.

So, what are your favorite holiday shows and movies? Please share your memories and family traditions with us.

About the image: Community (NBC) Christmas episode, Dec. 2010. Image courtesy of Eden FX. Originally appeared in Markee Nov/Dec 2010 issue.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

TV Documentary Depicts the Prohibition Era Experience in South Florida

Premiering Nov. 4, 2011 at 9 p.m. on South Florida’s PBS Station WLRN Channel 17, Prohibition and the South Florida Connection – a WLRN original production by local filmmaker Steve Waxman – tells the notorious tales of the seedy, seductive and often scandalous side of the Sunshine State during the 1920s.

For many, the Prohibition Era conjures up images of some of America’s most infamous criminals from New York, New Jersey and Chicago: Bugs Moran, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone. Yet few realize the prominent role South Florida and its Caribbean neighbors played in the transportation of illegal booze into the United States during this era.

Filling the demand for alcohol were a host of bootleggers and rum runners transcending both gender and racial lines. Suave and sophisticated men, such as Bill McCoy and Cracker Johnson, who along with their savvy female contemporaries, Gertrude Lythgoe and Marie Waite, all relied on their wits and bravado to amass sometimes fleeting fortunes that often were fraught with risks and danger. Pirates, illicit still makers, an unmotivated local police force, along with an undermanned but determined Coast Guard, all added to an intoxicating South Florida cocktail of peril, profits and corruption.

Filmed in an intimate style with telling photographs, obscure footage, vivid recreations, and a lively soundtrack,
Prohibition and the South Florida Connection, reveals yet another fascinating and intriguing chapter in Florida’s colorful past.

Additional broadcasts:

Sunday, November 6 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, November 10 at 10 p.m.
Tuesday, November 15 at 10 p.m.

About Steve Waxman:

Steve Waxman began his career in broadcast journalism in radio in 1981 when he created “WaxTrax,” a very successful weekly album review show in Arizona. Moving into TV in 1993, he has written and produced programming for a variety of national syndicated shows such as Travel Log, Business Today, American Journal, Inside Edition, and Fox Sports. He also received a segment producing credit for a VH1 documentary on Michael Jackson. Waxman’s documentary writing and producing credits include the PBS aired programs: Great Entrepreneurs, Generations in the Sun, and Israel Forgotten Heroes, which won an Emmy in 1999.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Top 9 Baseball Movies

Moneyball (Sony), starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, is a hit with critics and is doing quite well at the box office. The movie, which is about Oakland’s team struggling to be competitive with a highly limited budget, has the potential to become a classic among baseball films. Thus, I’ve been thinking about my favorite baseball movies, so I decided to create a list of the Top 9 Baseball Movies as I see them. Why nine? Well, I think that’s obvious, but if you don’t know, then you’ve probably never seen the films on this list anyway.

9. Major League – Shows the funny side of baseball and all professional sports, really. Grown men who get paid to play a game and thus haven’t quite grown up.

8. For Love of the Game – Shows the romantic side of the game and how it can be hard for an aging athlete to let it go.

7. The Rookie – Based on a true story, this film is an uplifting story about a man who never gave up on his dream of playing professional baseball.

6. Eight Men Out – Also based on a true story, this film tells the story of how the 1919 White Sox may have intentionally lost the World Series. The stellar cast includes Charlie Sheen, who would later star in Major League.

5. Soul of the Game (TV movie) – This movie is about a few of the now-legendary Negro League players’ attempts to break the color barrier into the Major Leagues. There’s a deep well of stories within the Negro Leagues that have yet to be told on film.

4. A League of Their Own – This 1992 blockbuster recounts a story of two Oregon sisters who played in the female professional baseball league during World War II. Tom Hanks and Geena Davis gave terrific performances, and the ending still makes me tear up.

3. Bull Durham – I think I’ve seen this movie more than any other on this list, perhaps because it seems to be on TV often. Both funny and poignant, this movie shows the gritty side of the game – the guy who plays just for the thrill. Kevin Costner’s character, Crash Davis, doesn’t want money or fame. He just wants to play.

2. Field of Dreams – The third Costner movie on this list and my favorite of the three. (Hey, you can’t name a list of great baseball movies without the guy.) This one shows how deeply baseball is rooted in America and more importantly, how baseball often is the catalyst for fathers to relate to and bond with their sons. Beautiful film. Interesting note: Costner’s role originally was offered to Tom Hanks.

1. The Natural – Stars Robert Redford, of course. This isn’t just one of my favorite baseball movies, it is one of my favorite movies, period. It’s a fantasy about a guy who may or may not have died before getting his first chance to be a star player. The second time around, he doesn’t make the same mistakes.

Some of your favorites may be on this list; many may not. So share your thoughts here. Let me know what other films I should check out, and tell me why those movies are among your favorites.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'Top Gun 3D'?

When Hollywood sees a moneymaking opportunity, the studios are quick to churn out movies and TV programs in order to get their share. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily; the target audience is provided with a great deal of affordable entertainment, and a lot of industry personnel are put to work. However, as is often the case, trends are taken too far – too many movies shot entirely in front of blue screens or “torture porn” horror movies, for example – before studios decide to move on to the next big thing.

As is often the case, it is behind-the-scenes technology that makes many of these trends possible. For example, in the mid-1980s, many movie fans were upset by the fact that the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) had purchased the broadcast rights to more than 100 Hollywood classics with the intention of colorizing these old films. Just because it is technologically possible, people said, doesn’t mean it should be done. In my opinion, the same can be said today about adding 3D visual effects to old movies.

As I write this, studios are scheduling to re-release “The Lion King” (Sept. 2011) and “Top Gun” (sometime in 2012) in 3D, and many other 3D re-releases certainly will follow. Granted, the technology behind these endeavors certainly is fascinating – as was the colorization process in the 1980s – but is it really necessary? These movies have stood the test of time on their own. Some may even refer to them as classics, or “new classics,” though I’m not arguing they are on par with “The Wizard of Oz” or “Casablanca,” which were colorized by TBS. Back then, the outcry was over messing with Hollywood history and potentially destroying a director’s original intent. (Who’s to say what color clothes the actors wore, or what colors were used in set design, purists asked.)

Today’s issue, however, seems to be solely about money. But will audiences really pay to see these movies in theaters again – movies many people already own on DVD – just because of a few added VFX? Based upon the popularity of recent movies filmed with new 3D cameras, such as “Avatar” (which made more than $2 billion worldwide) and “Alice in Wonderland” (which grossed more than $1 billion worldwide), the studios seem to think so. But re-purposing a movie as 3D is not the same as a movie shot in 3D. Perhaps the studios believe the younger demographic, which fills most theater seats these days, doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the difference. There’s no doubt the new 3D technologies are bringing people to their local movie houses, but I believe that pushing out old films with added 3D effects diminishes the updated technology’s contemporary appeal.

I very well may be proven wrong upon the re-release of “Top Gun” and movies like it, but until then, all I can think about when picturing old 3D movies is “Jaws 3-D.” And that’s an unpleasant memory in more ways than one.

Update: "The Lion King" in 3D is doing well at the box office. It debuted with an estimated $29.3 million, well above industry estimates.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Updates, Updates, Updates

Greetings! Clearly, this blog page has not been active during the past year, but all that is changing. As the newly appointed executive editor, I am committed to posting to this page regularly, to post to MarkeeMag.com regularly, and to continue to provide the excellent content within the magazine that subscribers are accustomed to reading.

Additionally, Markee 2.0 has started Facebook and Twitter (@MarkeeMag) accounts, so readers can join us there for active discussions on topics they read about in the magazine, or to talk about anything else happening within the industry.

One final note:
Do you sometimes feel like your company isn’t making enough noise in the industry? Are your messages going unheard? Markee 2.0 magazine wants to hear from you!

Do you have an exciting, new technological innovation that could change the film and video industry? Markee 2.0 magazine wants to hear from you!

Are you an industry leader with lessons to impart and stories to tell? Markee 2.0 magazine wants to hear from you!

Reach out to us. We're listening.