Sunday, August 31, 2008

'My Best Friend's Girl' film shot in Boston



"My Best Friend's Girl," formerly known as "Bachelor No. 2," hits theaters on Friday, Sept. 19. The flick features Kate Hudson, Dane Cook, Alex Baldwin and Jason Biggs

Filming locations in Boston include the Boston Common, Boston Harbor Hotel, Grill 23 & Bar, Copley Plaza Hotel, Old South Church, Suffolk University Law School (120 Tremont Street) and the former Frugal Fannie's store in the Brighton Mills shopping center in North Allston which was used as the film's primary soundstage.

Click here for the official site.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Controversial Weekly Dig cover? No big deal

I'm laughing out loud over the WBZ-manufactured controversy surrounding the recent cover of the Weekly Dig. The drawing, a crude illustration featuring naked people enjoying the last days of summer, generated some colorful comments from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

"It's totally irresponsible to have a photo like this in a paper that's widely distributed around our city," Menino tells WBZ. "Young children can see it. It's not what we should be showing our young people."

One man takes WBZ's penchant for reporting in hyperbole a step further.

"I think it's sick. It's a sick picture," Yves Pierre-Louis adds. "I don't know what they're trying to portray."

According to the WBZ piece, the mayor is looking into whether he can remove the alt-weekly boxes from nearby city buildings.

My thoughts? Whether the Weekly Dig cover is an actual piece of art or even offensive is purely subjective.

However, the alleged negative reaction to the cover is emblematic of our city's puritanical double standard: We're progressive in regards to social issues like gay marriage but completely backwards when it comes to basic rights ... like freedom of the press.

Click here to download a .pdf of the Weekly Dig cover by Phil McAndrew, an award-winning illustrator and cartoonist from Syracuse, NY.

UPDATE: When I was the A&E editor at a free weekly in Florida, I ran a cover for our annual local music issue that generated a similar reaction. Click here for the lowdown.

Americanizing the BBC's 'Edge of Darkness'

There's an interesting article in the weekend edition of The Sunday Times in the UK.

The piece talks about the Americanization of British entertainment staples like the remake of the 1985 BBC series "Edge of Darkness" currently being filmed in Boston (with production today in Winthrop, Mass.) and starring Mel Gibson.

Graham King, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning financial backer of "The Departed," says he had to make a few changes in the Americanized version of "Edge of Darkness," which originally featured the late Bob Peck in the '80s.

“One character asks if it was time for a cup of tea,” King tells the Sunday Times. It seems there will be no tea in the American version.

"Not in Boston, where it was thrown overboard," the UK paper jokingly adds.

King says that the Boston-based version will be less gloomy and the actors will have "better teeth."

Click here for the latest on Mel Gibson's "less gloomy" version of "Edge of Darkness."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mel Gibson cruising in the South End

Sightings of Mel Gibson, currently in Boston filming "Edge of Darkness," have been pouring in to Loaded Gun all week. The flick, a thriller about a cop who investigates the murder of his protester daughter, has taken over Albany Street near Harrison and Mass Ave.

Some tips have been off the record sent via e-mail while one reader gives a detailed account:

"Been spotting him all week around 670 Albany Street where the mock Boston Police Deptartment was set up for the film," the source writes. "He looks incredible--tanned and fit."

The source continues, "Today, he stopped to speak to us from the rented blue Cadillac Escalade while on lunch break. Exciting times in the South End."

Click here for the lowdown.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Circle Cinemas' last picture show

One of my old college haunts, Circle Cinemas at 399 Chestnut Hill Ave. in Brookline, will officiallly close its doors on Sunday, Sept. 7.

According to the Globe, National Amusements Inc. is shutting down the 68-year-old theater because the location is "no longer financially viable."

For those not in the know, this Cleveland Circle staple is a seven-screen, old-school movie theater that's a throwback to the '70s and walking distrance from the Reservoir and Cleveland Circle stations as well as Boston College.

Unfortunately, Circle Cinema's curtain call is emblematic of the financial impact of DVDs and home movie viewing is having on many Massachusetts movie theaters.

So long Circle Cinemas!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Povo.com Hotspot :: Boston Opera House

If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat at the Boston Opera House in the Theatre District/Downtown Crossing area, you’ll be overwhelmed by the Edith Wharton-esque beauty and gilded opulence of one of the most sublime theaters in Boston.

The opera house got its not-so-humble beginnings on Huntington Ave. in 1901. The current locale is the renovated B.F. Keith theater which was once a downtown hotspot for films and vaudeville shows.

Now, after $30 million worth of touchups, the Grande Dame of Washington Street hosts Broadway-style musicals ranging from “Wicked” to an upcoming production of “A Chorus Line” (Sept. 11 until Oct. 5) followed by "Legally Blonde" (Oct. 28 to Sunday, Nov. 9).

Click here for the Povo.com listing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Boob Tube :: 'You're Fired' Catchphrases

Thanks to the pioneering work of the first season of “The Apprentice,” producers of the competitive reality TV genre try to mimic the success of the “you're fired!” tagline and search for a memorable way to kick off their loser of the week.

Reality rule No. 2: You need a snarky end-of-show slam. You know, the “auf wiedersehen!” catchphrase that's regurgitated in the press and those reunion shows right before the winner is announced.

I'm not sure if TV execs have ran out of bitchy phrases or they're just getting lazy but the recent crop of reality show wannabes like "Glam God with Vivica A. Fox" are cracking me up with their one-liners. Here are my all-time faves:

*America's Next Top Model
"You must pack your bags and go home"

*America's Toughest Jobs
"Sorry, you're just not tough enough"

*From G's to Gents
"Please remove your jacket. Your membership has been denied."

*Glam God with Vivica A. Fox
“Keep reaching for the stars ... because you're not ready to style them”

*HGTV's Design Star
“Your show has been cancelled”

*I Want To Work For Diddy
"You're not ready to work for Diddy"

*Make Me a Supermodel
“We cannot make you a supermodel”

*MILF Island parody on 30 Rock
"We no longer want to hit that"

*Paris Hilton's My New BFF
"TTYN (talk to you never)"

*Project Runway
“You're out”

*Shear Genius
“That was your last cut”

*Step It Up and Dance
“The show is over. It's time for your last dance”

*Stylista
"You're not the right fit."

*Survivor
"The tribe has spoken"

*The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
“You just don't fit in”

*Top Chef
“Please pack your knives and go”

*Top Design
“See you later decorator”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Manhunt's reaction to Crutchley scandal is bad PR

When the news broke that Jonathan Crutchley, the co-founder of the Cambridge-based gay hook-up site Manhunt.net gave a $2,300 donation to presidential candidate John McCain, my initial thoughts: So what?

While I'm not a fan of the GOP, I believe Crutchley has the right to be a closeted Log Cabin Republican if that's his thing. Believe it or not, there are fiscal conservatives out there who happen to be gay.

However, when reports surfaced that Manhunt.net started to delete profiles from their site if members merely mentioned the scandal, I became outraged ... in that self-righteous, First Amendment advocate sort of way.

Manhunt members like Frank Winsor of Palm Springs were reportedly kicked off the network after sending a simple e-mail asking if there was any truth to the rumors. Scott Smith from Dallas was axed from the site after he included what he knew about the Crutchley scandal on his Manhunt profile "to alert people."

Deleting members for asking questions? Not cool. In fact, it's downright inexcusable.

By censoring their pay-to-play members, they're pissing off the people in the community who literally made their site a $30 million a year monster. Unfortunately, Manhunt's bad PR move gives new meaning to their cheesy tagline: "Manhunt: Get on, get off."

Yep, people are getting off ... and not in a good way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bella Luna announces move to Brewery Complex


I had a fabulous time last night at the Blogger Cafe event at Bella Luna in Jamaica Plain.

Carol Downs, the co-founder of the restaurant and general manager of Milky Way Lounge & Lanes nightclub gave me the grand tour of the Centre Street complex. During our chat, we talked about their scheduled move to The Brewery Complex on Amory Street and the struggles of having to install sprinklers within their current location in order to remain open as a restaurant with entertainment.

Here's a photo of Downs with Povo.com's new CEO, Sean McDevitt.

Photo (l-to-r): Carol Downs (General Manager and Co-Founder), Sean McDevitt (CEO of Povo.com), Megan Mainzer-Ramirez (Director of Operations), Katherine Mainzer (Co-Founder and President).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

VH1 scores with Margaret Cho's return to TV

Margaret Cho's "The Cho Show" premieres 11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21 on VH1. Based on the clips I've seen, the show looks hilarious.

Back in April, I interviewed the the comic while she was in the process of filming the VH1 celeb-reality series. Here's her take:

Comedian Margaret Cho is a bit preoccupied lately because, well, she’s making a skin flick.

"Is it raunchy? Absolutely," she jokes, giving the lowdown on the simulated sex scenes for her upcoming celeb-reality project, "The Cho Show," which will mark the comedian’s return to primetime TV after a 14-year hiatus.

The VH1 series follows the 39-year-old and her eccentric entourage as she deals with her family and friends while working a hectic stand-up career.

Cho, who had a disastrous experience with her ABC sitcom "All-American Girl" before it was cancelled in 1994, says she has no fear as she prepares to make a triumphant return to the small screen.

"I don’t have any reservations about being back on TV because it’s a reality show and I love the reality-show format," she says. "It follows my day-to-day life so it would be really difficult to go bad this time around."

Click here for the interview.

Monday, August 18, 2008

List your business for FREE on Povo.com

Forget review sites like Yelp.com, Wicked Local and Yellowbook.com. They charge local businesses fees for basic features like adding a YouTube video or an image gallery.

Take control of your online brand with Povo.com. This FREE service enables Boston-area restaurants and shops to easily share information about their establishment to the many of thousands of potential customers that use Povo.com as a community resource.

Also, because of the site's tagging capabilities, improve your establishment's SEO (search engine optimization) with a few clicks.

Learn how to list your business for FREE here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

'The Women' remake transforms Boston into NYC



What happens when your script is set in Manhattan but you shoot the film's key scenes in Boston as a way to take advantage of the state's insanely low tax credit?

The answer is "The Women," a remake of George Cukor's 1939 classic starring Annette Bening, Meg Ryan, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Eva Mendez.

For the record, "The Women" was filmed in Boston's Back Bay area including the Copley Plaza Hotel and 33 Restaurant and Lounge and in Gloucester, specifically at Lighthouse Beach and along the Annisquam River.

Boston's Newbury Street, for example, was transformed to mimic the Big Apple's posh Madison Avenue retail stretch.

Who knew Boston looked so much like Manhattan?

"The Women" hits theaters Friday, Sept. 12.

Mediabistro.com Lecture: Pitch Letter Essentials

Mediabistro contacted me last month to book an encore "Pitch Letter Essentials" class slotted for October 14, 2008.

This will be my third semester as a Mediabistro.com instructor. For the seminar, I plan to go into pitch letter strategies for marketing professionals as well as integrating social media to spice up your query.

Click here to sign up for my Pitch Letter Essentials class 7-10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14 at BCA, Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116.

My seminar last June was a huge success. I have a lot more to add this time around--especially material geared toward marketing professionals looking to craft the perfect pitch letter that will generate buzz from editors.

Here's the lowdown:

For a freelance writer, pitches are everything. They're your personal introduction, writing sample, and article outline all in one. They're how you break into a magazine and how you keep the assignments coming in once you do. Write a compelling query and you're on your way to an assignment, or at least an ongoing relationship with the editor; write a lousy one and you'll disappear into the slush pile.

Whether you're pitching a celebrity profile or a travel feature, there are some key techniques and strategies you need to know to come up with a killer query. This seminar will walk you through the most important ones, from researching your target publication to structuring the pitch to selling yourself as the perfect writer for the job.

In this seminar, you will learn:

*How to surprise editors with fresh ideas
*Techniques to come up with salable story ideas
*How to tailor your query letter to the publication you're pitching
*What editors look for in a query and what turns them off
*What makes an effective -- and not-so effective -- query letter
*Online query letters vs. print query
*How to package yourself as the ideal writer for your idea
*How to turn a query into an ongoing editor-writer relationship

Click here to sign up for the class.

Also, here are a few testimonials:

"Sam Baltrusis was excellent, and had a broad range of experience to draw on, including in new media. I especially appreciated his individualized suggestions and followup." -- Kimberly Davis

"Pitch Letter Essentials was the perfect course and Sam Baltrusis had all the answers I needed to put together my letters. This course is highly recommended!" -- Colleen Perry B.savvy Marketing Mashpee, MA

"Sam was terrific, knowledgeable, supportive, and interesting. He's already lived up to his promise to follow up with us by viewing and commenting on my blog and offering potential publications for my writing. Thanks to his direct and humorous approach, experience and knowledge, Sam offered much more than information ... he offered camaraderie and support for freelancers, new and experienced." -- Kate Daly

"The instructor was just terrific. He was fun, relaxed, and had tons of experience. We covered lots of territory. A very successful evening." -- Miriam Weinstein

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where in Boston is Mel Gibson?

Have you seen this man? Yes, Mel Gibson.

Currently in Boston filming the feature "Edge of Darkeness" from Monday, Aug. 18 until Thanksgiving, the infamous actor has been spotted carousing with the locals (the pretty Aryan females, of course) at hotspots like Mantra, 23 Bar & Grill and and Irish pubs like J.J. Foley's and Sullivan's in Charlestown.

Any anonymous tips or information leading to the exact location of this "person of interest" or even details giving the lowdown on his look-alike will be kept strictly confidential.

Click here for more information.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Timberlake rings Boston for new MTV show

Justin Timberlake is making a return to MTV in the fall and this time it’s not in a music video.

The network, FremantleMedia (creators of "American Idol") and executive producer Timberlake are holding a casting call from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 16 at the Boston Hard Rock Café, 22 Clinton Street.

The crew is casting for a new game show based on a Dutch idea that juxtaposes "The Bourne Identity" with "The Amazing Race."

Called "The Phone," the show kicks off with two strategically hidden cell phones ringing in opposites sides of a city. MTV producers are searching for "outgoing and adventurous contestants" with a "dynamic personality and are ready to win."

Click here for more info.

UPDATE: A source says there's an e-mail going out from casting folks to local theatre groups asking for participants with a Boston accent. Thanks for the wicked pissah tip.

Mediabistro.com's All-Media Party in Boston

Silvertone Bar & Grill, in the heart of Boston's Downtown Crossing area, is festooned with '50s-style radios, vintage family snapshots and retro liquor posters.

It was also the site for Mediabistro.com's All-Media Party held on Tuesday, July 29.

Here are my photos from the networking event.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Esquire cover features Patriots QB Tom Brady

Here's a sneak peek of Patriots QB Tom Brady on the cover of Esquire slotted to hit the stands Tuesday, Aug. 12. The interview teaser: "Let's stop hating on Tom Brady." The New England hottie reveals to Esquire scribe Tom Chiarella in the Sept. 2008 issue that he's living his life according to "The Four Agreements," by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The self-help book, by the way, is a great read for those looking to simplify their lives. The agreements are simple: Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

MFA screens 'James Brown Saved Boston' doc

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is screening "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" documentary Aug. 9, 10, 17 & 24. Discussion follows the Sunday, Aug. 17 showing.

Here's my review of the documentary when it first aired in April:

As a former NYC-based researcher and associate producer at VH1, I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard about the new Rock Doc called "The Night James Brown Saved Boston."

I waited to watch the tighter, VH1 version of the documentary in its entirety tonight before commenting and, after sitting in awe for an hour, I’m pleased to say the work is a stunning achievement of narrative storytelling.

The documentary focuses on the night of April 5, 1968. Race riots were erupting throughout the country and Boston, a deeply segregating urban enclave at the time where African-American Bostonians primarily lived in Roxbury and the South End, was on edge the day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Brown's concert on April 5 was on the verge of cancellation because the new mayor of Boston, Kevin H. White, thought it would exacerbate an already inflammatory situation. Also, politicos were afraid that the Boston Garden concert would erupt into a violent, emotional outburst.

Instead of canceling the concert, White decided to televise the show on WGBH, Channel 2. Whether the decision to air the Brown performance actually saved Boston from burning is debatable, however, David Leaf’s account of the event is storytelling at its best.

Not only does Leaf effectively use first-person accounts of that fateful night including recollections from former mayor White and city councilman Tom Atkins but he intersperses commentary from critical thinkers like Al Sharpton, music journalist Tom Vickers, Princeton University’s Dr. Cornel West and Northeastern’s Dr. Robert Hall.

Brown, who passed away in 2006 due to complications from pneumonia, is featured in the documentary via audio interviews, rare news footage and highlights from the actual 1968 WGBH telecast.

James "Early" Byrd, the first black DJ in the Boston market, added some interesting insider information. "If that concert didn’t happen," Byrd says, "we would have had the biggest problem since the Boston Tea Party."

As someone who once specialized in acquiring archival footage for VH1, I was blown away by the news clips filmmaker Leaf was able to find for "The Night James Brown Saved Boston." One clip, pulled from the Channel 2 performance, shows how Brown quelled a potentially combustible situation when a group of kids stormed the stage.

Leaf, who is known for "The U.S. vs. John Lennon," will release the full 74-minute documentary of "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" in August.

Click here to learn more about the Museum of Fine Arts screening in Boston.

Povo.com Hotspot :: City Feed and Supply

City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain's new kid on the block located at 670 Centre Street, is officially opening its doors on Monday, Aug. 11. From the outside, this place looks like it's going to be my new JP hangout.

The popular local convenience store and café has taken over the former Videosmith storefront on Centre Street.

This is a much larger second site for the company (with their first location on Boylston Street). This Centre Street location (in the 3,000-square foot space on the corner of Seaverns Ave.) includes tables for enjoying a sandwich and plenty of windows for people watching.

City Feed targets the "Ped Set" or the pedestrian traffic strolling up and down Centre Street.

Click here for the Povo.com listing.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Production Assistant job listing from hell

There's an interesting thread here on Craigslist responding to a job listing from a former LA-based film crew that recently moved to Boston. Seems like they're looking for "one hella-reliable" production assistant.

The list of requirements rattles off like a backstage rock star rider gone wild. Here's what they're looking for in a PA:
  • Minimum two years experience in production
  • BA in Film/Film Studies or equivalent
  • Masters degree preferred, but we know we’re not in LA anymore
  • Must own newer model car---SUV w/ leather interior preferred
  • Expect regular airport pick-ups during off-hour
  • Some reimbursement for gas a possibility
  • Must be attractive, presentable and intelligent
  • Taking shirts to be dry cleaned
  • Experience working in a dry-cleaners preferred

Here's the clincher:

  • We will give you a generous stipend of $25-50/day

Are you kidding?

One Craigslist poster sums it up: "$25-$50 a day? Stay in LA. You don't have a chance on the East Coast where reality rules. What a joke."

Click here for the listing.

PinkChoice.com launches travel sweepstakes

Trevor and Stephen, the tech-savvy duo behind PinkChoice.com and owners of Provincetown's Oxford Guesthouse, contacted Loaded Gun about their new sweepstakes.

Post a review on Pink Choice before October 31 and you will be automatically entered to win a two-night getaway at a Kimpton Hotel of your choice along with a $1,000 cash spending spree.

Woo hoo! Pink Choice is a great idea. In fact, I just posted a review on the site on my favorite B&B in Provincetown, the Revere Guest House.

The site provides guest reviews and ratings of hotels, inns and guesthouses that market specifically to the GLBT community.

Click here for the lowdown.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Guerrilla gays takeover Providence on 08.08.08

We’re here. We’re queer. We want a beer.

It's official, the Guerrilla Gay Bar folks are literally taking over the Northeast with their first event in Providence slotted for 08.08.08.

The bash is 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 at Ri Ra-Irish Pub, 50 Exchange Terrace in Providence, Rhode Island.

For those not in the know, Guerrilla Gay Bar is a combination of flash mob and the French Revolution. Fewer decapitations. More Kylie.

Once a month, (usually on the second Friday), the Guerrilla Gays take over the coolest straight bar they can find in the greater Providence area. The key is they don't tell the unsuspecting "straight bar" they're coming and just show up--by the hundreds--and make themselves at home.

Done all around the country in cities such as Los Angeles, D.C. and, of course, Boston, Providence Guerrilla Gay Bar brings this time honored tradition to The Renaissance City.

UPDATE: The Providence event is 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 at Ri Ra-Irish Pub, 50 Exchange Terrace at the Union Station complex between Burnside Park and Memorial Blvd. Click here for info about Ri Ra.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Random Shot :: South Street Documentary Shoot

South Street in the Leather District has become a magnet for film shoots lately--ranging from the Disney sci-fi flick "The Surrogates" to Kate Hudson's "Bride Wars" to the Italian independent "Four Single Fathers."

According to the production team's PA, the above shot from last Thursday is a scene from an upcoming documentary on ... get this ... bike messengers.

Click here for more photos from the "Loaded Gun Random Shots" series.

Photo by Sam Baltrusis

Povo.com Hotspot :: Nico

I spent the day in the North End and found this new restaurant, Nico (417 Hanover St.), slotted to open in late August '08:

Nick Varano, the owner of Strega, is paying homage to the '70s at this new North End hotspot on Hanover Street. Currently under construction, the two-floor restaurant will boast classic Italian fare--did someone say meatballs?--and the decor is reported to be a throwback to the disco era. Think John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever" without the bellbottoms.

Click here for the Povo.com listing.

UPDATE: Nico officially opened its doors on Friday, Aug. 22 with guests Danny Terrio of "Dance Fever" fame and Vincent Pastore, known as "Big Pussy" from "The Sopranos" and a participant on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" and Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Janice Dickinson's gay duo getting hitched

Florida’s Shuan McCarron and Paul Anderson, two model boyfriends from Oxygen-TV's “Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency," are planning to head to Bora Bora in November to tie the knot.

Project Publicity, McCarron and Anderson's PR team, spilled the news to Loaded Gun.

The couple, who joined Janice Dickinson's crew last fall, agreed to be with the agency and the TV show as a package deal. Dickinson signed them both: the 25-year-old brunette McCarron and his hottie blonde partner Anderson.

Congrats!
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