I’m Just Not Sure What To Believe Or Think Other Than Maybe I Should Watch Even *Less* TV

This post is kind of a thought piece and is only very tangentially related to VDO so you might want to move on if you’re were hoping for something more on point.

Last night ABC TV’s (in the USA) Primetime aired a piece on the actor Daniel Baldwin and his latest attempt to rehabilitate himself from his apparently very long-term addiction to cocaine. For whatever reasons, Daniel let the ABC cameras be turned on him while he spent several months in a $50,000 a month rehabilitation facility in Malibu California and also while he went through various criminal court proceedings on drug-related charges as well as him going on a movie location shoot. The ABC report also delved into his relationships with his family a little bit, especially mentioning Daniel’s also famous actor brothers.

For those who don’t know who Daniel is, he was one of the stars of the highly-regarded US TV series ‘Homicide: Life On The Street’. Daniel played Detective Beau Felton and left the show well before VDO did his Emmy-nominated guest appearance in the H:LOTS episode ‘The Subway’.

Felton was not a very popular character on Homicide. He was not meant to be pretty or brilliant or particularly likeable. But Daniel played Felton well, figuring out how to balance Felton’s repellant qualities and the character’s downward spiral with a sprinkling of humanity that would cause you to soften your initial negative judgment of his worth. That certainly takes some skill on the part of an actor and Daniel Baldwin proved he had the talent to find just the way to play that character.

I for one learned to like the Felton character enough to write a short piece of fan fiction a few years ago that would allow me to combine the Felton character and that of Ned Beatty’s perfectly archetypical cop Detective Stanley Bolander with Detectives Goren and Eames of Criminal Intent fame and play around with some ideas I had into what has turned out to be a not utterly embarassing piece of writing that lingers on the ‘net in the archive of the excellent peer-reviewed fan fiction site Apocrypha (for those who care to read it see “What It Feels Like For A Girl”).

Frankly of the four established characters I was writing for, Felton was the most difficult to make believable and consistent with what most Homicide fans would know about him and yet not appear as a simple strawman or too stereotypically the ‘bad boyish cop’. I don’t think I succeeded totally capturing the complexities of Felton but at some point you have to put an end to a story for it to be published. So you could say I carried the idea of Felton and my conceptions about around in my head for quite some time.

So it was with more than a little interest that I tuned into watch the Daniel Baldwin piece.

In that story I wrote of Felton:

“The younger man is somewhat burly and boyishly attractive, but Goren notes that excess is taking its toll on those inherent good looks and prematurely aging the man”.

You can imagine that my description pretty much fits Daniel Baldwin the man as much as and maybe more so than it fits Felton, especially as he appeared before ABC’s cameras.

At this point in the Primetime show I was utterly hooked into watching in the same way that I was initially hooked into watching VDO’s film ‘Guy’, the story of a relatively ordinary and average man who lets a strange woman filmmaker turn the camera on him to make her next movie. ‘Guy’ to me is a watershed moment in filmmaking not only because it predicts the rise of ‘reality’ television in our culture but because it plays around with the idea that the act of turning a camera on someone causes them to alter their personality and become someone other than they normally would be. Maybe this isn’t acting in the professional sense of the word but it could be called posing or persona building.

The thing that makes a movie like ‘Guy’ different from a ‘reality’ program like Primetime is that it is 100% clear to me that ‘Guy’ is a character being made by Vincent D’Onofrio and being masterfully fashioned into an utterly average guy trying to figure out on the fly who to be before a camera and in the process not only distorting his own identity but how he relates to the films few other characters. I can’t say enough good things about how brilliant D’Onofrio’s performance in ‘Guy’ is, how I am haunted by it when I think of it and how I find much more to thoughtfully consider in it every time I actually watch the film.

Anyhow the ‘Daniel Baldwin’ in front of the Primetime camera struck me as less of a real person and more of a character like ‘Guy’ as the camera rolled on. The TV program does give some glimpses of a person in real pain but there are also moments when we see Daniel trying out being an actor, trying out being a contrite defendant, trying out being a part of a family, trying out being religious. You are left at the end of the hour wondering how much of what you saw was due to drugs, how much was due to his fear of being incarcerated, how much was an actor trying to suss out what his audience wanted at any given moment and how much was the actual human being underneath all of the layered-on roles.

I looked at the comments on Primetime’s website after the broadcast and found that the comments about ‘Daniel Baldwin’ were very mixed but one comment lead me to what is purported to be Daniel’s MySpace page. I found the possibility of ‘Daniel Baldwin’ having a MySpace page both intriguing and repellant.

I should mention that a few years ago after an experience I had online at a Yahoo! group purporting to have had the actual Vincent D’Onofrio as one of its members that my opinion of celebrities who venture online into public fora and with no intermediation from others is inclined to be negative and mistrusting. You can read about my experiences elsewhere on my blog if you choose to (just search on ‘DASH’).

But given my viceral reaction to the similarities of Felton as I envisioned the character and the ‘Daniel Baldwin’ of Primetime, I felt compelled to go to the MySpace page. I went there not taking for granted the fact that the page’s author might not be the actor I have seen on fictional or ‘reality’ TV.

I have read every entry at ‘Daniel’s’ blog at MySpace and I can say that I am now more thoroughly concerned confused and repelled by what I saw. Again ‘DB’ or ‘Deebs’ as the author calls himself is by turns misogynistic, angry, despairing, flippant, profane, insecure, self-absorbed, meek, playful, despondent, conflicted and contradicts much of what was said in the Primetime program. If anything “Deebs” is far more villainous, self-destructive and frightening to me than I would have imagined the character Felton to be (and if you read my story you will see that I only have the Felton character drinking heavily, hitting on women while he is still married, and utilitizing the services of a prostitute). That confuses and bothers me in a way I cannot adequately express but I also accept that it is not up to me to do anything about it other than to not encourage “Deebs” to make a spectacle of himself.

If I were his lawyer I would demand that the MySpace page be taken down: If it is *the* Daniel Baldwin writing the page there are admissions that could be used against him in court (not to mention calls into question what was said before Primetime’s cameras) and if it isn’t some of what is said potentially defames a whole panoply of people. But the one thing that seeps through the entire MySpace blog is that there is a troubled person behind the writings even though the medium of a MySpace page further distorts the true identity of the author and may pile on some more roles, poses and personas that have to be stripped away from who ‘Daniel Baldwin’ and/or ‘Deebs’ truly is/are.

I only know that whoever all these people may be, they are beyond my very limited capacity to help them. I also have confirmed why as a rule I choose not to watch ‘reality’ television. Unlike my experience of the film ‘Guy’ where I know I am dealing with an invented premise and characters, with ‘reality’ programming, I don’t believe the picture represents reality anymore than Salvador Dali painted with absolute fidelity the world around us. If I want to ponder alternate realities I can choose a good piece of fiction like a Phillip K. Dick story or I can daydream.

But I fear for a world where this sort of ‘reality’ television and unfettered access to the well-known via the Internet is considered to be a healthy diversion or a legitimate form of entertainment.

Anyway if ‘Deebs’ or his people should stumble upon this blog post this song is for you and all the complexity within and around you. I hope for your sake and for those who know and love you that you have an ending at least as upbeat as the one Primetime wanted to attach to its report on you. I also hope that with what you’ve done on TV and online that if you can’t redeem yourself, you help one other person who is similarly situated.

Music: ‘The Beast In Me’ by Nick Lowe

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Entertainment Professionals Sites: Meet Vincent D’Onofrio’s European Doppelganger

I have been working on adding links to the official websites of a lot of people who have worked on various projects with VDO to the blogroll at the right of this page and in doing some research I stumbled onto the website of László I. Kish.

I know you American fans are asking yourselves “who in the heck is László I. Kish” so check this out:

The resemblance is startling isn’t it? Other than the hair color of course…

László I. Kish is a Swiss actor who speaks many different languages, English, German and Italian being but three of them. László (who is only 2 years older than VDO) also writes and directs movies and you should watch his reel and his video clips at his website (the text is in German but I’ll walk you through this):

http://www.thekish.com/

Go click on the number “4 Galerie” at the bottom of his webpage to see László in his multilingual “Demotape” (click on the word “abspielen” (play) under it, it’s on the right hand side of the screen)

Does his acting style strike you as more than a little familiar (even when he’s not speaking English)?

How about his resemblance to a 1980s era Paul Masson commercial-appearing Orson Welles in the “Run Rabbit Run” videoclip (click on the word “abspielen” (play) under “Run Rabbit Run”?)

Or how about the many photos of László on both the Galerie (Gallery) and “5 Logbuch” (Log Book) pages, especially his ‘Dune” photos at the latter link (the photos are on the left edge of the page)?

So what is Kish’s connection to VDO?

László snuck under all our radar screens playing “Angus” the fisherman in “Salt On Our Skin”/”Desire”.

And here I though I was paying really good attention when I watch VDO’s movies. LOL!

Now I’ve simply got to figure out how to see the entirety of that short film “Run Rabbit Run”…what a great performance!

Music: ‘Gemini Dream’ by The Moody Blues

Web 2.0 Is Time Consuming, Sometimes Tedious, Sometimes Thrilling. And It Makes Some Entertainment Professionals Look Better Than Others

Music “Cry” by Godley & Creme

This post I hope is more realistic than ranty but one of the many things I do is look into various Web 2.0 sites to decide whether or not it’s worth my time to sign up for them and build things on them, the way I blog here, keep photos at Flickr, keep videos at YouTube and keep audio files at MusicWebTown.

I have received a few emails and a few contact form requests through my blog here from people who want to know whether I have a MySpace page.

I have signed up for a MySpace page and I use it a little bit
but basically I prefer to be contacted via email rather than carrying on conversations at MySpace via their email and messaging systems …the contact form here on the About Page of my blog is the best way to reach me if you have a really pressing question to be answered. I get to contact form requests a lot faster than I get to MySpace emails and messages.

What I am using my MySpace page for (besides to redirect people interested in what I do online to this blog and at Flickr, YouTube, and MusicWebTown) is to add to the Friends section the following kinds of people:

1) Entertainment professionals who have worked on projects with VDO
2) Entertainment professionals in training who have worked on projects with VDO (there’s a certain college student who just finished an internship on CI who fits this category and I expect that over time I will find more and more amateurs, extras, and behind the scenes people to network with)
3) A few entertainment professionals who I would like to see work with VDO or whose work I really love
4) Fans of VDO (both casual and hardcore)
5) A few personal friends whose only online presence is on MySpace (so far thankfully no one fits this category)

What I don’t like about MySpace is how busy/cluttered/unprofessional looking it is. There are a lot of ads there and I am trying to minimize how many ads people who are exploring what I do are forced to see. I don’t like ads and clutter on web pages the same way I don’t like looking at all the logo bugs etc they put on broadcast and cable TV shows and I’m assuming most of you don’t like them either so I try to avoid sites that are chock full of ads and pop-ups etc.

Also it is a pain to relearn how to redo the appearance oriented stuff at MySpace. I finally figured out how to make my MySpace page less hideous looking than its default version, but it took forever to do simple things like make all the headers the same color (to me orange headers are hard to read and I can’t believe those are the default header colors at MySpace) or make actual working links to my pages here (I can’t believe I finally got that working – hooray!). There’s still stuff not working on my MySpace page the way I want it to work but I can live with it for now. But it’s a really clunky to use site.

MySpace is kind of weird to me in that some of the pages that people have created are pretty good-looking considering how much stuff MySpace wants you to put on your pages. There is a whole huge cottage industry around creating things for MySpace pages, some of which I don’t understand, like all of the funky graphics people leave in their Friends comments section etc just to say ‘hello’ to each other each day. That sort of seems pointless to me, but then again what I do on my sites isn’t exactly vital to the survival of mankind so I guess I shouldn’t knock it too hard.

The other thing about MySpace is how scary/juvenile it can be. Some of the pictures people post there of themselves are really off-putting. I don’t get why anyone would want to post pictures of themselves in varying states of undress and/or intoxication and/or potentially embarassing foolishness that could haunt themselves for the rest of their lives but that’s just me and my pre Web 2.0 generation.

The thing is that because MySpace has become so popular that it is sort of a necessary evil. I think a lot of actors and entertainment professionals realize that to reach all of their potential audience (especially the youngest segments), they need to have a presence on MySpace. Some of the actors are smart enough to have also set up their own websites and redirect people to their sites. An excellent example of this is Anthony Michael Hall’s pages. His MySpace page is decent-looking enough but his personal webpage is far more useful and attractive. For those who don’t know who I’m talking about, AMH is the lead actor of ‘The Dead Zone’ on the cable TV network USA (the new home of CI). AMH also did a cameo in ‘Happy Accidents’ so his site is worthy of inclusion in my blogroll for that reason alone.

But then there are actors like Robert Sean Leonard who only seem to have a MySpace page and no webpage of their own. RSL (a star of TV’s ‘House M.D’) has heavily tricked out his MySpace page but it has annoying things like its black text on black background layout (hard to read), music that starts playing automatically (the House theme which you might not want to be blaring out of your computer’s speakers), and general weirdness in how the page loads and displays. If RSL had a website, I’d be thrilled to put it in my blogroll because he’s one of VDO’s co-stars in Ethan Hawke’s ‘Chelsea Walls’ (and he’s also an excellent actor and musician). But I just can’t see including MySpace pages in my blogroll, even if they are the entertainment professional’s only web presence.

So I am afraid that for the sake of completeness and to be sure that I and anyone else who wants to learn more about the people who have worked with VDO can do so, I will have to keep my MySpace page. But please understand that this page is the pariah in my family of pages and will only be of limited utility, essentially just for checking up on who is in its Friends section.

In the highly unlikely event that AMH (or his people) stop by to read this, keep up the good work at your site. In the equally highly unlikely event that RSL (or his people) stop by to read this, I’m begging you to please get a real website somewhere other than MySpace. If you do I promise to link to it in my blogroll :-)

Sites mentioned in this blog post:

Anthony Michael Hall on the Web:
AnthonyMichaelHall.net

Anthony Michael Hall at MySpace:
Anthony Michael Hall at MySpace

Robert Sean Leonard at Myspace:
Robert Sean Leonard at MySpace

VDO Vault on MySpace:
VDO Vault at MySpace

PS In the also highly unlikely event that VDO (or his people) stop by to read this blog, Happy 48th Birthday a day early to you Vincent D’Onofrio. May you continue to be blessed with the affections of your friends and family as well as the good wishes of your fans on this and every day.

As per my usual policy there will be no blog post on June 30th 2007 as it is (only) the second anniversary of my mother’s accidental death and it is a time for quiet reflection offline with my family in remembrance of her life and spirit.

A Moment Of Zen: Go Look At Matthew Modine’s Demo Reel

One of the more tedious tasks in keeping up an online site is checking for broken links. I have been checking the links in my blogroll to make sure they work correctly and was stopped dead in my clicking by what the actor Matthew Modine has done with his web site.

You simply *must* go to Matthew’s site and have a look at his demo reel.

Matthew Modine

After the nifty flash series of color photos of Matthew and the letters spelling out his name finish uploading, click on the link marked REEL to watch his demo reel.

For those who do not know what a demo reel is, it is a tape (or more likely these days a DVD) showing examples of an actor’s (or a director’s or a special effects house’s or some other creative person or organization’s) professional work. It is the film/video version of a head shot and is meant to give a prospective employer an idea of the range of a creative person’s talents and previous accomplishments. For the most part you don’t see too many reels online but in the future I expect that to change as the entertainment business becomes more computer-savvy.

For those of you who make your fan videos and put them online, I think you will find some inspiration in watching what a professional editor can do in making a reel. I thought the Rolling Stones’s ‘Paint It Black’ was an interesting choice of soundtrack for Matthew’s body of work.

I am sure that VDO has a reel out there somewhere but since he doesn’t have an official website, you certainly won’t find it online. But I would love to see what his various reel(s) look like…like head shots, reels are updated over the course of a career.

Oh and guess who makes an appearance in Matthew’s reel?

Enjoy!

State Of The Vault Sites Report: Right Now I’m Loathing Web 2.0

Music ‘Missing (Todd Terry Remix)’ by Everything But The Girl

I guess I am something of a bad blog mommy in that I have been very slow to update pages here but you need to look at things from my perspective:

1) I still have ungodly numbers of photos to scan in and up load to Flickr in some semblance of order…this does not include items that either do not fit on my scanner…
2)…for which I either need to buy or borrow a digital camera…
3)…or in the case of my slides for which I need to get access to a decent slide scanner. I have spent a week or so trying to fake it with my scanner and various kinds of backlighting and my scanner is simply not going to let me do what I want to do. It has me very annoyed to say the least.
4) There are all kinds of ‘next level’ things I need to start doing (for example: text files anyone?) but I am having trouble figuring out the best way to get them online and make them organized and usable…
5)…and yet not look as God-awful and cluttered as a lot of the badly implemented sites out there like Blogger and Myspace etc. I hate ads and dancing hamsters and unrelated crap on pages, especially when they’re under my control.
6) Then there is some truly rare video that I have to figure out how to efficiently get into an uploadable form and get uploaded for which I could either drag my eMac out of the basement…
7)…and upgrade its OS and finally learn how to use my Formac Studio TV and Final Cut Pro plus set up its external hard disk…
8)…or outsource the job to a friend which involves stuff being sent out of state etc.
9) Then of course there is email in my inboxes at various sites plugging new Web 2.0 apps which promise to be fabulous…
10)…but most of which are duplicative of my efforts here, waste my time, and produce ugly useless and/or pointless results (like Squidoo or Twitter).
11) Of course there is stuff to be organized before it can be digitizied and uploaded.
12) There is maintenance to be done at the sites I care about (here, Flickr, You Tube, and Musicwebtown)
13) There are post topics I need to get up here already…
14)…some of which are the continuation of old topics…
15)…and some of which are new topics.
16) Couple all the above with stuff still being found and acquired for my collection…
17)…requests to join discussion groups (which respectfully and regretfully right now I have to turn down for now)…
18)…emails to be answered (and I am trying hard to catch up on them…I enjoy answering your questions and am trying to do a good job on that with each one so pardon my snail’s pace)…
19)…and real life demands…
20…and color me overwhelmed.

So if I go AWOL for stretches of time it’s not because I don’t like doing what I am doing or I hate the people who come here. It’s actually exactly the opposite. But my creative process is just extremely slow. I wish it were faster, but I prefer good, thorough and well thought-out over fast.

Others who are either blogging or running websites or discussion forums or make videos online etc will understand this lack of swiftness intuitively.

My only frustration is with my tools to do what I am doing. I’m not mad at anyone other than maybe the people who make such klunky software and myself for not being instantly able to figure out their ‘neat toys’.

Fan Follies: The Debate/Smackdown At The ReelBlog

Whoa!

Reading the comments in the latest posts at TheReel seems to require a thick skin *plus* some extra protective padding…doesn’t matter if you’re a fan, a CI cast member or Dick Wolf (or a network executive/pinhead).

From the innocuous sounding post entitled Contest:Find The Emmy

comes this pithy comment that has me laughing louder than what people are saying about a certain nameless celebutard and jailbird (although the people who have called her one of the ‘Three Bimbos Of The Apocalypse’ have both my bemusement and my utmost respect for their cleverness)

“Right now, I’d like to soundly beat Dick Wolf and the NBC money-men over the head with an Emmy…” -Diane

Oh and if the comments to a post entitled No-raise offer irks “Criminal Intent” stars doesn’t leave you feeling a little emotionally jostled, you’re either a robot or you really *don’t* care about LO:CI.

I’d say the fan sentiment over what will happen to CI, its cast, its crew, and its creative direction is far from unified and *very* touchy right about now.

Tread cautiously everyone.

Music ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ by Nick Lowe

Bonus cut ‘Go Insane’ by Lindsey Buckingham

The Negotiations Saga: The Sequel: They’re Back…All *Three* Of Them…

Music with a coded message: ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’ by The Police

Bonus message/track: ‘Your Latest Trick’ by Dire Straits

…you can color me a little surprised but these days I guess any paycheck is better than no paycheck, and (maybe?) mediocre scripts are better than no scripts even (especially?) in an industry as arbitrary as the entertainment industry

Here’s hoping they clean house on the show runner/writing/ creative side of things at LO:CI to *improve* the downward spiral that was Season 6

I seriously doubt that will happen (because chances are to do that *properly* also costs money) but one can always hope and dream, can’t one?

Hollywood Reporter Article Link:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i74b211e4087bceb965f9b4ed0eddf42c

“‘CI’ stars returning without raises
By Nellie Andreeva

June 9, 2007

Good intentions have prevailed in the salary dispute between the stars and producers on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

Sources said Vincent D’Onofrio, Chris Noth and Kathryn Erbe all agreed Friday to return to the series next season without a raise. Wolf Films and NBC Universal TV Studio had set a Friday 5 p.m. deadline for them to accept the offer. (HR 6/8)

The actors are said to be disappointed because leads on returning series get at least 5% salary increase every year. In the end, it came down to wanting to come back to the show and understanding the financial strain posed by the series’ move from NBC to USA Network next season, sources said. (Repeats of the show will air on NBC.)

It’s belt-tightening time on the “Law & Order” franchise. Sources indicated that below-the-line crews members are taking 5% to 10% pay cuts next season.

Reps for Wolf Films and NBC Uni TV declined comment Friday.”