Category Archives: Entertainment

How Pop Stars Make Rebranding Work

Branding is an integral part of any entity’s ID. Every industry is crowded with personalities and products competing for attention and customers. That is why a noticeable and recognizable campaign is so important.

Expert marketer Evan Metropoulos has worked with some of the biggest brands and pop stars to rethink and revitalize their image. His vision and strategies drastically heighten brand awareness and create new points of contact for fans and customers.

Evan Metropoulos and Sylvester Stallone
Evan Metropoulos, left, with actor Sylvester Stallone

According to Metropoulos, branding campaigns need to incorporate all forms of media and span numerous platforms to be effective. Whether in the movie, music, or merchandise world, from New York to L.A., the United States or Europe, branding must be bold and striking and reflect the values and persona of its representative icon.

Evan Metropoulos and Michael Bay
Evan Metropoulos with movie director and producer Michael Bay

When considering a rebrand for a superstar, Metropoulos says it is most important to work slowly and methodically, convey authenticity, and exercise humility. “It is absolutely possible to rework a personal brand,” he says, “but it needs to be done with intention and thought.”

Optimism in LA

The coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on our everyday lives but there are some individuals and businesses determined to ride the storm and work toward development and growth.  One such example is The Grand – a complex being built at a cost of $1b in downtown LA. Featuring residential units, a luxurious hotel featuring over 300 rooms, restaurants, stores, 430-seat cinema complex, a residential 436 luxurious unit tower and more, is located across from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, it is currently 50% complete. This, despite the fact that many other local facilities are emptying out at a rapid speed.  Gehry himself – being 91 years old and thus classified as high risk – is hardly visible at the site as his aides try to shelter him! But it’s still forging ahead.

Also invested in the project is Core USA (which is a venture between China Harbour Engineering Co. and CCCG Overseas Real Estate, a subsidiary of one of China’s largest state owned companies – the China Communications Construction Group). An investment of $290m in the Grand has been made by this venture.

In related optimistic local business news, thanks to the Fresh Air Eats promotion, many restaurants are faring better including Downtown Lafayette. With the space to adequately social distance, Mary Buckley – one of the owners of Bistro 51 reported her optimism.  On the first weekend on the venture she reported:

“Last weekend was phenomenal, better than we expected. We knew it was going to be a great experience. But we didn’t realize how well it would be received.”

The Fresh Air Eats program is set to be in operation through October 4th 2020.

Madeleine Sackler Takes Her Camera Behind Prison Walls to Find Forgotten Humanity

In 2009 Madeleine Sackler founded Great Curve Films, a film production company. In 2010 Sackler directed The Lottery, a documentary about one of Success Academy’s charter schools in Harlem, and the families who struggle to have their children attend.

While Sackler was working on The Lottery she began to think of the potential consequences for those who do not get quality education, which is all too often life in prison. Sackler decided that she wanted to make a narrative film about hope and redemption, entirely filmed within the walls of a functioning, maximum-security penitentiary.

In 2018, Sackler’s film O.G., which she directed, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. HBO acquired the rights and then released it on HBO in February 2019. Uniquely, the movie was filmed entirely within the walls of the Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana.

But it was not just the location of the film that was singular; Sackler remarkably culled much of her cast from the inmates and guards at Pendleton.

The main character, Louis, is played by professional actor Jeffrey Wright, who spent a year visiting the prison before any auditions or filming began to build trust with the prisoners and staff.

The process from idea to finished product was a long, complex one. Sackler enquired at twenty different departments of correction all over the country before she finally found someone who would even consider having a film made in a prison. Doug Garrison, the head of communications at the Indiana D.O.C., a former FBI special agent who had participated in the creation of a Discover documentary, was willing to give Sackler a hearing. Garrison was able to convince everyone that needed convincing that this was a good idea, including then governor of Indiana, Mike Pence.

Back in the fall of 2014 Sackler came to Pendleton with screenwriter Stephen Belber and director of photography Wolfgang Held. During their five-day visit they filmed tens of interviews with the staff and the incarcerated, who came from diverse backgrounds, old and young, black, white, and brown. Those interviews helped Belber create an authentic script.

Sackler came back in early 2015 to see how the prisoners would react to the script. To her relief, the prisoners were satisfied. As time passed, Garrison and Sackler were surprised to find that the authorities began to warm to the project, with the superintendent approving the general concept.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the quality of the acting by the prisoners and guards, and especially by Theothus Carter, a prisoner who was serving a 65-year sentence for armed burglary and attempted murder. Carter was cast as the younger prisoner, Beecher, who is befriended by Wright’s character, Louis. Only Wright, who has performed with Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Anthony Hopkins, has more on-screen time than Carter. Wright said of Carter that he had never worked with an actor as intense.

The film received an approval rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sackler has also directed a documentary, It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, filmed at the same time O.G. was in production at Pendleton Correctional Facility. The film follows 13 prisoners while they study filmmaking as a way to explore their memories and how they ended up behind prison walls for decades-long sentences.

Investing in the Entertainment Industry in the Wake of COVID-19

Two million dollars has been earmarked for the Beverly/Fairfax District entertainment industry. The money is being given by Television City in an attempt to “promote diversity” as well as “heal, empower and rebuild” the region’s industry.  The other half will be used for the formation of job training, career mentoring and other work-related ideas for those looking to get a kickstart in the industry.

According to CEO and founder of Hackman Capital Partners (which has an affiliate operating Television City) Michael Hackman:

 “Television City has called this community home for nearly 70 years, and it pains us to see our neighbors, community organizations and small businesses — many of which are trying to reopen their doors in the first time in over three months — suffer through these challenging times. We believe Television City can spearhead a catalytic effort among local stakeholders to provide meaningful help. This community is resilient and will come back even stronger, more vibrant and cohesive.”

In related news, just last week some local theaters – following intense rules and guidelines – were given the green light to open up following the major restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hollywood’s Travels to the East

It’s not just Hollywood where Hollywood is successful.  In fact, the figures for 2018 from the box office in South Korea show that the Hollywood movies is mega popular there too.  indeed, in 2018 the top 10 box office list in South Korea was more than half from Hollywood!

This number is quite a deviation from years in the past.  Significant among these in revenue were: 

  1. Avengers: Infinity War ($92.8 million) (position number 2; first position was a local film Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days, $92.9 million)
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody ($62.6 million) (position number 3)

It was 8 years ago when Hollywood titles last held more than half of the top 10 titles.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong last year, Hollywood was even more popular with the top 10 movies including 8 from the other side of the pond!  Figures there were:

  1.  Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds ($6.96 million) in #9
  2. The Last 49 Days ($6.17 million) in #10.

Overall almost a 6% increase was gained in theatrical box office in the region.

Getting Creative with the LA Clubbing Scene

There are a lot of successful, creative individuals in the LA region looking for something different in the entertainment industry.  There are currently two private clubs now which are gearing toward this scene, with a kind of elite membership in the hope of changing the caliber and genre of club scene.

Spring Place (which opened just last month on October 29) and  (due to open on February 9 next year) are taking a leaf out of the book of Soho House which limits membership to creative businesses. Clubs will feature private dining, sport facilities and residence rooms which are often found in membership based clubs worldwide.

Spring Place was designed by wHY Architecture – a finalist for the 2018 World Architecture Festival.

Putting the Pot in Pottery

There are many approaches to ceramics.  In Los Angeles, a recent one has been the brainchild of Mandy Kolahi and her friend Amber Arias.  Named POT, the business partners set up their 1,200 square foot space last year in Echo Park, specifically chosen in an effort to “hold down brown space.”  Kolahi explained:

“We fantasized for a while about creating a space run by women of color or people of color where we can attract people like us. We wanted to create a space where we feel comfortable expressing ourselves, which is a big thing because LGBTQ and POC artists can feel censored in artistic spaces.”

Although the women were initially advised to focus on the “older white people” market they went against that and created the “brown space.”

In other ceramic news, Sharon Brush’s Sculptural Vessels exhibition opened yesterday at the UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) Library.  Featured there are her pieces that are between 25 to 27 inches tall.  Techniques she uses in construction include coil, pinch and slab.  She uses traditional glazes on the exteriors, creating a more matt finish.

Summertime in LA

And the livin’ is easy and there’s so much to do and it’s such a great atmosphere. Why not take your friends/significant other downtown to enjoy a Modern Family Drama. The Humans was described by The LA Times as “quite possibly the best cast of actors you can see anywhere.”   It’s on til the 29th July so catch it while you can!

If you don’t yet have plans for the weekend, why not enjoy a Wine Tasting afternoon in Santa Monica? Head out to the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club and taste up to 200 wines!  Meet the different winemakers (from smaller wineries) and help “bring the California wine country to the city” at The Garagist Festival. Or if music is more your thing then head South East to Anaheim’s Honda Center to enjoy Brad Paisley, Kane Brown and Dan Tyminski.

LA is a great place to be anytime of year, but summertime is something really special!

 

 

Cinco de Mayo and Los Angeleans

It might be Cinco de Mayo but all that means is May 5th…literally.  For Los Angeleans however it’s a day that is marked with a lot of respect, perhaps more so than in any other region throughout the US.

LA has an abundance of Mexican-American communities.  On May 5 you will find Fiesta Broadway abuzz with festivities as it turns into a street fair featuring vendor booths, music, games and more.  indeed from 4th Street to Broadway (including Grand Park) from 11am to 6pm free festivities are open to the public.

Step up the beat at night and enjoy some great weekend activities as you bounce into the weekend thanks to the celebratory markings at the Plaza Kiosko.  There you will be subject to lots of classic pastimes including piñatas, Folklorico dancers, alongside kids activities at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Downtown LA.

A lot of the Cinco de Mayo LA festivities turn have become a weekend bash beginning on the day itself and continuing right through until Sunday.  So check press for further details and get your sombrero ready!

Christmas Is A-Coming…

There are plenty of things to do in the lead up to Christmas in the LA area.  One very traditional one is the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. From November 17, this becomes home to LA’s brightest traditions featuring lights, real live reindeer and old St. Nick!  Pre-paid online tickets are just $10 for the extravaganza and the event is on until January 7, 2018.

Alternatively (or in addition) one can enjoy another $10 event at Lake Perris State Recreation.  The event is actually free (when you bring gifts worth at least $10) but register in advance. This starts in 3 days’ time.

There is also a mile and a half 25 minute car ride of special Christmas twinkling lights for pre-paid $20 from November 17 to the end of December at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

These are just some of many festive events leading up to (and following) the Christmas period in Los Angeles.