How Much Do You Know About Satellite TV?

If you drive around your village or if you are able to get the chance to go around a rural area, you will find a couple of houses with those satellite dishes that are installed in their roofs or concrete walls. At the sight of this familiar equipment, you can immediately tell that these homes have their own satellite TV system. However, do you have any idea what this technology really is, how it works and why more and more people are signing up for their own subscription? If you don’t have this system yet in your own home and are not at the slightest instance even intrigued about this amazing breakthrough in the TV network broadcasting technology, then you should read further.

Satellite TV is a type of broadcasting system where it makes use of satellites to send signals to the subscribers. Unlike the cable system where subscribers are connected to the broadcast center through cables in receiving signals, in a satellite TV system, the subscriber’s satellite dish receive the signals directly from the satellites located above the earth. For this reason, the satellite is always installed on the roofs or concrete walls so it can receive the signals from the satellites.

What you can get from the satellite TV system?

You may be currently enjoying the benefits of your cable TV in providing you with different local and foreign channels. You can get this from satellite TV, too but way much better. This is because you can get a greater selection of local and foreign channels, in different varieties. Whether you are into sports, movies, lifestyle, education, news, and much more, you will surely have a lot of options in any of these categories.

The viewing experience is very much unlike with the cable TV because and you can view the programs in digital format. You also get channels in high definition picture and sound which makes you feel like you are in a movie house when viewing these channels.

After reading these amazing features, you may think the cost of getting a satellite system is expensive. If that is so, you will be delighted to know that subscribing to it is getting more and more affordable. With all the providers trying to compete with each other in getting consumers to sign up, even the leading companies have special offers, discounts and affordable monthly plans that even an average working employee will find reasonable.

What are the conditions that I should meet?

While location is not a problem in getting a satellite TV system because even consumers in the rural and remote area can sign up, there are other conditions that you should have to make sure that you can make the most out of this technology.

Be sure that you can get a clear view of the sky from your home. If you live near tall trees or buildings, you need to examine thoroughly if there is a way that the satellite dish can still get a clear reception. If you are living in an apartment building, check first if you are on the side where the satellite dish can get a good reception from your balcony.



No Animals Were Harmed – All About Animal Actors

ANIMAL ACTORS: Interview with Sandi Buck, American Humane, Certified Animal Safety Representative

Q: What is the American Humane Film & TV Unit?

A: American Humane (AH) Film & TV Unit is based in Los Angeles and we monitor the use of animals in media. American Humane is a national organization with headquarters based in Denver, Colorado. I’m one of the Certified Animal Safety Representatives who go on set and monitor the use of animals in film and television. We award the “No Animals Were Harmed® in the Making of this Movie” disclaimer seen at the end of the credits in a movie.

Q: How did the American Film & TV Unit start?

A: Back in 1926, AH set up a committee to investigate abuses of animals in the movie industry. At that time, horses were the most at-risk animal actors. But, then, as now, animals have no inherent legal rights, so we couldn’t mandate the safety of the animal actors. In 1939, for the film “Jesse James,” a horse and rider were sent hurling over a 70-foot cliff into a raging river for an action shot. The stuntman was fine, but the horse’s back was broken in the fall and it died. Outrage over this sparked a new relationship between AH and some motion picture directors and producers and caused the Hays Office to include humane treatment of animals in the Motion Picture Code. The following year, AH received authorization to monitor the production of movies using animals. We worked on set for quite a while after that until the Hays Office was disbanded in 1966, ending our jurisdiction and excluding us from sets. This was a pretty dismal time for animal actors who were being used in some brutal ways. Then, in the early 1980s, another incident caused another public outcry and American Humane was added to the agreement with SAG that mandated that union films contact us if they were using animals. This agreement now includes any filmed media form, including television, commercials, direct-to-video projects, and music videos. A more detailed history is on our website. Right now, we monitor about 900 films a year, maybe more. That’s not counting commercials.

Q: Did you say animal actors no have legal rights?

A: That’s correct. Animals have no “legal” rights in the sense that humans have. But because of our SAG agreement, animal actors in SAG films have “contractual” rights because the AH office must be contacted by productions using animals and an AH Film & TV Unit representative be on set during the filming.

Q: What about nonunion productions?

A: Nonunion productions are not contractually bound to contact us, but we find that a lot of people want us there anyway. I’ve worked with several productions that say – “We want you here. We want that rating at the end of our film and we want people to know what we had you on set.”

Q: So people on set are happy to see you?

A: Generally yes, but sometimes no. Actors always love seeing us there. They look at the AH patches on my jacket and come up to me constantly on set and say – “Oh, you’re here for the animals. That’s so great, I’m so happy you’re here.” That’s what we want. We want people to look for us, to know we’re there, and why we’re there. As for production, it depends on their perception of us and if they’ve worked with us in the past. People we’ve worked with before love having us there. The ones who haven’t worked with us before sometimes think “oh, no, here comes the animal police to patrol us,” like I’m going to stand there with my hands on my hips telling them what they can and can’t do. It’s not like that. We’re not there to criticize. We’re there to work with filmmakers, not against them. If we see a problem, we’ll address it and work it out together. In Florida, for instance, one of the big concerns is heat. During one production, the producer wanted a dog to walk back and forth across the pavement. I told the director there was a problem with this. I already knew he didn’t like having me on set, but I told him anyway, “You take off your shoes and walk across that street.” He went out to the street, put his hand on the pavement, and said – “Yeah, you’re right.” He wasn’t trying to harm the animal, he just wasn’t thinking about the animal, the heat, and the pavement. That’s part of the reason we’re on set. We don’t expect filmmakers to also be animal experts. Even producers who personally don’t care about animals usually realize it makes sense for them to have us there. Many people say they won’t watch a movie in which they think or have heard that an animal was injured or killed. People look for the AH disclaimer at the end of movies saying – “No Animals Were Harmed® in the Making of this Film.”

Q: How do filmmakers get a “No Harm” disclaimer for their movies?

A: The process starts when production contacts our Los Angeles office to let us know that they plan to use animals. We direct them to our Guidelines which are available on the internet and we request their script. We review the script and arrange to come in and observe the animal action to ensure that the conditions in which the animals are working and kept is safe and comfortable. This doesn’t cost the union production anything – that’s part of the arrangement with the SAG office.

Q: What about nonunion productions? Can they get this “No Animals were Harmed®” disclaimer?

A: The process to get the disclaimer is the same, only there’s a $30 an hour fee for the hours we’re on set. The time we spend in pre-production script evaluation and then screening the films and writing up reviews is included in that $30 an hour on set fee.

Q: Can student and independent filmmakers get your disclaimer?

A: Definitely, if they meet the guidelines for it. If they have questions, all they need to do is call our LA office and ask. Our LA office is happy to help young and aspiring filmmakers with guidance and information on safely using animals in their films. If they’re in the process of writing a script, they can call us and ask if certain scenes are feasible and for advice on how to get the scenes and action they want. Productions who can’t get an AH representative on set because of cost or scheduling conflicts can write down what it is they plan to do, document the filming of the animal action with a little video, a behind the scenes – this is how we did it, kind of thing – and send it in. We review it and though we can’t say we were actually there, we can say that through our review, it looks like the production followed the Guidelines. That rating is called: “Not Monitored: Production Compliant.”

Q: How many ratings are there?

A: We have several ratings which range from our highest “Monitored: Outstanding” and receiving the “No Animals Were Harmed”® disclaimer which appears in the end credits of the film, to “Not Monitored,” to our lowest rating which is “Monitored Unacceptable” – where our guidelines and animal safety were disregarded and or negligence caused the injury or death of an animal. Striving for a good rating helps ensure that the production will go well. If a production is half way through shooting and an animal that is key to the movie gets spooked and gets loose or injured, it’s like losing a lead human actor. What’s the producer going to do? Re-shoot the animal scenes with another animal actor? Rewrite the script? Scrap the movie? Professional trainers have several different dogs with different talents that look alike. One’s a really good barking dog, one’s a really good jumping dog, another does something else. That helps in the event one dog gets sick or injured, it won’t halt filming. A lot of the worst scenarios can be avoided with planning. I look for potential problems and to keep everything as safe as possible for everyone. There can always be accidents, there’s no way to prevent that. That happens in life. You can work to make things as safe as possible, but there can still be accidents. We understand that. The bottom line is at that any time filmmakers plan to use animals, even their own pets, they should contact our LA office.

Whether or not one of us comes out to your set, they should refer to our Guidelines For the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media so they know what they need to prepare for, to say to themselves – this is what I need to prepare for if I’m going to use an animal on my production. Am I prepared to do what I need to do to make sure that everything is safe for my animal? Having us involved benefits the production in that if there’s ever any question as to how a stunt was done the filmmaker can say – call AH. Filmmakers with the reputation of abusing animals for the sake of producing a film or commercial won’t get hired and people won’t want to watch their movies. We are the only organization authorized to make and uphold these standards and people look for it. When people see animals in films, they look to see that no animals were harmed. If they have any questions on how things were done, they can go to our website and read about it. They can see that this stunt that looks absolutely horrible was actually done with computer graphics, a real animal wasn’t even involved.

Q: Are personal pets allowed to be in movies?

A: Our Guidelines recommend that filmmakers use professional animal actors obtained through trainers, but we know that filmmakers, especially small independent and student filmmakers are going to use their own pets or the pets of friends and family in their movies. We understand that, that’s a reality in this business. But even if it’s no more than filming their own pet cat or dog sitting in a chair or walking across the room, filmmakers should get in the habit of contacting our office. When producers choose dogs, for instance, they should look for dogs with outgoing personalities, dogs that aren’t afraid of people. Fear can cause a disaster. The dog can bite someone out of fear if they get in a situation in which they’re not comfortable. If more than one dog is to be used on set, the dogs should be used to being around other dogs. If one dog shows aggression toward another dog on set, the aggressive dog must be removed. Dogs that live together and are accustomed to being with each other are good choices.

Q: You mentioned education as being part of the goal of AH. Would you talk some about that?

A: We’d like to work more with film schools developing programs where as part of the curriculum, students take a course or attend a seminar held by an AH representative about using animals in film. If the school can’t put us into their program yet, just having our Guidelines available at the school or distributed to students will help educate them. The earlier we reach the students, the better. These filmmakers will grow in their careers and will eventually be involved in large productions where they might end up working on films with large animals. That’s the point where you really worry about safety, so the earlier we can educate students, the better.

Q: What can you advise students or aspiring filmmakers wanting to use pets? Your Guidelines can look daunting.

A: If filmmakers choose to use a pet instead of trained animal, we have no control over that but we still recommend they review and adhere to our Guidelines. If the Guidelines seem overwhelming, call our LA office with questions, say – “All I want is for my dog to sit in a chair or walk across the room while we’re doing our filming, what are the guidelines?” Most of it is just common sense. Know that the animal you’re using is friendly and completely safe to be around people and other animals. You don’t want an animal on set that’s aggressive, skittish, or snaps. Think about what you’re going to do with this animal while you’re setting up shots. How many times do you actually need the real animal? Can you use a stuffed animal if there’s any concern about using a real animal? You don’t want a real dog sitting under hot lights while you’re setting up. Go to a toy store and get a stuffie look-alike of whatever animal you’re using. Make sure the animal won’t be in the way of a moving dolly and that she won’t be in area in which she can get stepped on. When she’s not being used on set have a suitable place for her to hang out, that she’s not running around loose. There needs to be a safe area like a crate or separate room for the animal. Make sure the pet has breaks and gets to lie down and rest or get something to eat and drink. If the pet isn’t kept in a crate, make sure it’s on a harness or leash so that should she get spooked by a loud noise or quick movement, she can’t jump down and run away. Plan ahead and prepare for all possible scenarios. That’s critical. If an animal won’t do what you want, what are your options? Have back up plans. How far should you go to try to get an animal to do something? If the animal won’t or can’t do what you want him to do, forcing him is inviting disaster. Even if the animal normally does something, an animal is an animal. You can never predict what it’s going to do or not do. It’s like working with a child. The producer has to be prepared.

Q: Who is responsible for the safety of a pet during filming?

A: The ultimate responsibility lies with the owners as they will suffer the anguish and grief if something happens to their pet. I recommend that pets not be passed around to people on set to play with. That can be overstimulating to animals, and if they’re all excited, they may not be able to perform the action you want them to perform. Many trainers make a general announcement on set – don’t touch animals while they’re working. Obviously, with the exotics, people are pretty good about asking before touching them but a lot of times, with dogs and cats, people just walk up and pet them without asking.

Q: Does AH have a problem with certain action shots?

A: If filmmakers wonder if a certain action shot can be obtained safely, call and ask us. If a filmmaker wants a dog to run off the end of the dock and jump into a lake to get an exciting shot, they should make the obvious choice. Pick a Labrador Retriever who loves to swim and run and jump off the dock and has actually practiced this. They shouldn’t choose a little Chihuahua that’s never been in the water.

Q: How did you get into the field?

A: I grew up in Michigan in a very animal-oriented family. We had the house with the invisible sucker sign hanging on the front of it – animals could see the sign, but we couldn’t. Animals constantly showed up at our door and people dumped their puppies and kittens off in our barn. We had dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, and hamsters, and just about everything else. As a teenager, I raised and trained a working Seeing Eye dog. After that, I raised a wonderful Doberman for obedience. After college, I tried a few careers, but didn’t really care for any of them. In the early 1990s, I moved to Key West, Florida. That was about the time the series “Key West” with Fisher Stevens and Jennifer Tilly was being filmed as a pilot. I accidentally met the medic on set and we started talking. He learned that I was a dive master with dive master medical training and said they’d been looking for someone else to work on set when they went to series. He asked if I was interested and I was. So, I went and got EMT certification and worked on that series as the medic when the other medic wasn’t available. After the series ended, I worked fulltime as an EMT paramedic and part time as paramedic in film. I also volunteered with my dog in the education department at the Humane Society of Broward County. We went around to schools and taught pet education to the kids. Through that, I began working as a surgical assistant for the shelter. I was basically done the same things for animals that I was doing for humans. It was hard working for the shelter, for obvious reasons, but it was also very rewarding and I loved it. One day I was watching a movie through the credits and saw the “No Animals Were Harmed® in the Making of this Film” disclaimer and that a representative was on set to monitor all animal action. A light went off in my head – “Hey, that’s a job. If somebody was on set that means it’s an actual job.” I sent my resume to the recruiting office in LA and got an interview. My background with horses and dogs, and dog training, and medical and film experience worked well together for the position. I then went through the AH training which basically teaches film and set etiquette, which I already knew from my experience on set, and learning report writing and the Guidelines. Right now, I live in Virginia. As my husband is in the military, we move around a bit, but as my job requires a lot of travel, I can do it from wherever we’re based. Though most of my work is in this area, I’ve traveled all over the country. I’ve been to Mexico, Canada, Wyoming.

Q: What films have you worked on locally?

A: Susan Jackson, our representative based in Richmond, and I have worked independently and, in the case of large films such as “Dreamer,” we’ve worked together. During the filming of “Dreamer,” producers wanted something that looked like ointment to slather on an animal and they didn’t know what to use. Susan suggested a solution of milk and water. So they mixed the milk and water and said – “oh, that’s looks really good.” Another instance on “Dreamer” was a barn scene. The crew needed the barn cats out before they could start filming. Susan came up with and organized a plan to catch the cats and send them off to be spayed and neutered. By the time filming was done, the cats could come back. It helped everybody. These are simple solutions that have helped producers get the scenes they want. We don’t expect filmmakers to be animal experts; that’s why we’re there. We’ve been in this business a long time and have a lot of training behind us. A lot can be done with camera tricks, computer graphics, stuffie stunt and photo doubles and some creative solutions. Most recently I was one of the Safety Reps on “Evan Almighty.” “Birds and Animals,” a huge animal company for the film business supplied the animal talent. They have offices in Florida, California, New York, overseas and have all kinds of animals and I’ve worked with them for years since I started at AH seven years ago. They’re great to work with and have excellent trainers who very concerned about the safety and welfare of their animals. Another huge part of our job is perception. It’s often the perception of actors who aren’t familiar with animal training. For example, when I was on “Evan Almighty” there was a scene with all these different small animals. One way to lure small animals like skunks, rats, and porcupines from point A to point B is with a buzzer. These little animals can’t be trained to come like dog or even a cat. These little animals are taught that when they walk across the room to the buzzer, they get a food reward. One of the actors watching this came over and asked – “Are these animals being shocked?” I said, no, and explained the whole buzzer thing. Without someone like myself being there to ask, this actor could have walked off set thinking that the animals on set were being shocked. It was amazing to watch the whole process on “Evan Almighty.” A huge ark was built in Charlottesville, VA, and they had a special camera that exactly replicated every single move of the animals. Animal were brought in one at a time, so if there were forty animals in a scene, they did that take forty different times at least, each time with each different animal. Sometimes there were pairs of animals, sometimes there was only one – the same animal walked across the room twice. It was all put together by computer to look like all these pairs of animals were in the same room, even though they weren’t. That was a lot of fun to work on.

I also do the “Puppy Bowl” in Silver Spring, Maryland, at the Discovery Channel which airs on the Animal Planet at the same time as the Super Bowl. A little stage is built that looks like a football field and puppies go out there and play. They have “Kitty Half Time” and a “Tail Gate Party” for the dogs that didn’t get into the game. It’s hilarious. Initially, they were a little wary of me, but now we have a great relationship. It’s nice when you walk off the set and the people you met when you first came in were looking at you like – “here she comes,” then say – “thank you so much for being here, we want you back next year.”

American Humane was founded in 1877. It is the oldest national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, the American Humane Association develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane’s regional office in Los Angeles is the authority behind the “No Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane’s office in Washington is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. American Humane is endorsed by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and has been awarded the Independent Charities Seal of Excellence.

Animal actor “Angus,” Actor Ken Kline’s black Labrador Retriever was cast as “Dog with Man” in “Capitol Law,” an ABC Pilot filmed in Washington, D.C., and also on “Shooter” as a quadedestrian in Baltimore’s Federal Hill. Ken met American Humane Film & TV Unit representative Sandi Buck on the set of “Evan Almighty” in Richmond, Virginia, where she was overseeing the use of wild animals like bears, wolves, and mountain lions on set. Angus decided stay to home for that particular film.



Know All About Measuring ROI of Social Media

Whenever any conversation arises about social media marketing, companies always involve the ROI of such media and try to define ways to measure it. Businesses using social media view it as any other marketing tool and expect it to provide similar returns, not realizing that this is not a simple marketing tool. Before asking how to measure ROI of such marketing, it is important understand why you need to measure it and whether such reasons really warrant an in-depth analysis of ROI.

Traditionally, businesses used TV advertisements to promote their companies’ products or services. The impact of such marketing strategies was very easy to measure by measuring the change in sales during and after the advertisement period. Businesses feel that social media marketing works in a similar way and want to measure the ROI of such media in the same manner. Moreover, companies feel that as they have appointed a special person to look after social media marketing, there should be noticeable returns.

The problem with most businesses is with this basic assumption and comparison of social media marketing to traditional marketing. Social media marketing is a tool that is and should be used for effective communication with the community at large. When compared to a marketing tool, it can at the most be called a pre-sales strategy that involves chatting with the prospective customer with the hope of enticing the person to buy the product. It has been often associated with idle conversations and building relationships. Social media marketing is akin to the free trials of products that are given as part of traditional marketing, and also all types of technical support that is given before final sale. When defined in such terms, ROI of such media becomes very difficult to measure as it is very tricky to measure the ROI of conversations and relationships.

Secondly, it is important to note that such marketing is most useful in post-sale customer service, where companies use these tools to maintain and develop their customer base. If there is a customer who does not like a product, then companies employ such methods to ensure that the problem is solved. By helping such customers, you are building a loyal base, which in turn will virally ensure future growth in sales. This again proves how difficult it is to measure ROI of such media in actual terms. While customer service and pre-sales strategies definitely cost something and are a necessary investment, it is important to understand whether such measures can be calculated and whether such measures actually reflect their impact on businesses.

Finally, proponents of measuring ROI of this type of media feel that people only oppose it because they do not know how to measure it and hence feel that it is hard to calculate. This is not true as it has been proved that while ROI of such media is difficult to measure, it is not impossible. It is pertinent to note that some people feel that this method of measuring ROI of such media is short sighted and completely wrong and that there are other ways of measuring than in monetary terms. According to such people, while value of a conversation and relationship cannot be measured in monetary terms, it definitely has some importance, which may or may not be directly visible.

In a nutshell, you will need to measure ROI of social media to keep a tab on the results that it’s delivering, and fine-tune your strategy, as and when needed, to reap the optimum benefits.



Trying to Figure Your Social Media ROI

As a client attraction coach using social media and online marketing strategies, one of the biggest problems I see small business owners and entrepreneurs have is trying to measure their ROI… Return on Investment.

First: We have to understand that social media is a different type of marketing. It’s not the old traditional static style marketing that send sales messages to buy – buy – buy. Once the ad was printed, that was it for the duration of the time period the ad ran.

There wasn’t any connection or contact made with the person you were marketing to. Advertising companies controlled the marketing. Social media on the other hand is all done in real time and has leveled the playing field between the big guys with big advertising budgets and the little guys with little to no advertising budgets. For the first time, the consumer is in control.

Now your viewers want to talk with you, they want to interact and have conversations with you.

Social Media is all about people and taking the time to build relationships, it’s not about being salesy.

Second: People are not on social platforms looking for ways to spend money. They’re wanting to connect with likeminded people and people with like interests and to learn more about the things they want to spend money on. They aren’t there to actually buy.

Social Media ROI is not measured in Return on Investments, it’s measured more by Return on Impressions.

So how do you measure your Return on Impressions? By connecting and engaging in conversations with your viewers and:

  1. Building your online social media community consistently and persistently
  2. Your community in turn start talking about and promoting you to their communities
  3. Scheduling speaking engagements at live and online events and promote products or services
  4. You build your email list
  5. You’ve built brand recognition
  • These are just a few of the ways you can measure your Return on Impressions using social media. Again, it is not about sales, you’re building relationships which in turn leads to sales which in turn builds your business for traditional ROI.

Your Simple Action Step: Get the word out there and let your ideal clients know about you and what you do. Start searches on Facebook and your other social sites for your ideal clients and message them that you share a common interest (name the interest) and would like to connect with them. Careful though… on Facebook, do not send more than 25 personal friend requests a day or Facebook will shut you down for a few days.

Plus build your community, take the time to interact more on your social sites, it’s critical to your social media success. Post several times a day, using a post scheduler like Hootsuite (for posting across multiple sites) or the Facebook post scheduler (for Facebook business pages only). Ask questions, post pictures, use quotes, post blog posts, share other’s blog posts or information, and bring personal into your business page… it’s not all business.



Bob Hope TV Shows Timeless Classics

“I’m so old, they’ve canceled my blood type” quipped Bob Hope, upon reaching the age of 100 in July 2003. Indeed, Bob Hope has been around throughout the 20th century, becoming immortal to so many generations by entertaining the masses with countless films, TV and radio shows and of course his appearances with the troops overseas.

Bob Hope was born on May 29, 1903 in Eltham, England although his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was four years old (“I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn’t be king”). His first modest success in show business came in 1915 when he won a Charlie Chaplin imitation competition.

He began to work in vaudeville in the early 1920s and during the early 1930s was appearing on the stage in Broadway. His first film role was “The Big Broadcast” in 1938 in which he sang the song “Thanks for the Memory” in a duet with Shirley Ross. That song would become Bob Hope’s signature tune.

Bob Hope appeared in over 75 films throughout his career although he only won two honorary Oscars. He even joked about his lack of Oscar awards – “Oscar night at our house is called Passover!” He may not have won many Oscars but he enjoyed bringing his unique humor to the awards ceremony – he presented or co-presented them on a record 18 occasions up until 1977.

His most famous movies, of course remain the series of “road” movies that he made with Bing Crosby during the 1940s. He also starred in “The Paleface” along with Jane Russell which many consider his best film. Today, many of his classic movies are available on DVD or regularly shown on cable TV channels.

Hope took to TV fairly late in his career, not entirely convinced that the still fairly new medium would succeed. “Television – that’s where movies go when they die,” quipped Hope once. However, it was television that really made Bob Hope a star and a household name throughout the United States.

Easter Sunday 1950 was a memorable day. It was on that day that Bob Hope made his formal television debut. In addition to Hope’s appearance, the “Star Spangled Revue” featured other popular entertainers and stars of the day including Dinah Shore and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

The show’s formula was immediately successful and Bob Hope’s television shows remained successful for the next 40 years. NBC was his network of choice and Bob Hope appeared in many of the network’s Christmas and other holiday specials. His last TV special was in 1996 appearing alongside Tony Danza. Today these programs are rightly considered classic TV shows, television programs that translate for multiple generations.

Perhaps Bob Hope is most famous for his appearances with the troops, a gesture that almost certainly boosted morale far more than any appearance by the president. His first such appearance was in May 1941, when Bob Hope, along with various friends, appeared at March Field in California to entertain the airmen.

The rest, as they say, is history. Bob Hope was soon christened “G.I. Bob” by the troops and went on to perform all over the world during the next 60 years. He has entertained troops and broadcast from Europe, the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. He nearly always appeared in army fatigues as a further gesture of support for the soldiers.

Bob Hope has been honored five times by the United States Congress, has been made honorary mayor of Palm Springs and an honorary veteran. He also has several theaters, a battleship and an airport named in his honor and his love of golf lives on in one of the sport’s major events – the Bob Hope Classic.

But his biggest legacy is the wealth of entertainment he has given us over the years. And of course, his sharp wit; his one-liners and quotes are almost as well known as his TV shows and movies. As he accurately remarked once, “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.”

~Ben Anton, 2007



Reality TV – How Low Can It Go?

There’s a book written by Stephen King called The Running Man He wrote the book in 1982, and in 1987 it was made into a rather good film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember the first time I watched that film I thought it was an interesting piece of science fiction. The thought of people being hunted down and eliminated/killed for national TV was very unique, and a bit far fetched.

But that was then and this is now. And what was entertaining fantasy is almost a reality today.

The fantasy that was The Running Man was followed by the reality show Big Brother. I remember watching South Africa’s first ever Big Brother show. It was a unique, albeit voyeuristic concept. Nobody I knew would admit to watching it, but we knew the names of all the housemates, and we would discuss the previous day’s antics every morning at work. It was a novel concept – watching the behaviour of a crowd of 12 strangers in a house. I remember the shower being turned on at 9.00 am and 9 pm – and the age restriction being raised to 16 at those times so youngsters couldn’t watch the housemates showering!

There have been more Big Brother series in South Africa, but the interest has not been as intense as it was with the first one. I think the same is true for the other Big Brother series all over the world. At first it’s a big issue – almost like spying on someone without their consent! It’s like being a legal voyeur. Eventually the novelty wears off, and the initial attraction is boring. How long does it take before the average viewer gets tired of watching people eating, drinking and sleeping? So the producers have to do something to improve ratings/viewership/advertising. So now we have extra cameras in the bedrooms and bathrooms. And the producers punish the housemates by withholding food if they cannot complete a task successfully. So they get uptight and pick fights with each other. That makes things interesting, for a few weeks at least.

Big Brother was the start of the dreadful phenomenon that is Reality Television. Idols, Survival, Meet My Folks, I’m A Celebrity… take your pick. Almost all of these shows are notable for the one unpleasant thread that winds its way through each one – ridicule. In Idols people who believe they have a singing talent are humiliated by opinionated, rude judges. Viewers can watch the hopeful contestants burst into tears of anger or humiliation at Simon Cowell’s caustic comments. Their dreams are shattered in the most unpleasant way, and many viewers sadistically watch each show, enjoying the sight of lifelong hopes and dreams being shattered in a really ugly way. In Meet My Folks prospective dates for a couple’s child are subjected to intrusive, personal questions; in the one episode I watched a girl forced to face up an ex-boyfriend she’d dumped under terrible circumstances two years prior to the show! Is there anyone out there who hasn’t had a horrible break up with someone from years gone by? I’m A Celebrity takes many washed up “stars” and forces them to eat bugs and other do unmentionable things in a jungle. The audience apparently votes off the most useless celebrity… well I guess these people ask for it! They apparently take part in the show hoping to revive their flagging careers.

I admit – I’ve watched some episodes of these shows. But these are nothing compared to Ultimate Makeover.

Viewers can now watch a person – woman or man, but usually the former – having plastic surgery and professional advice of how to make the most of him/herself. I’ve watched one or two episodes of Ultimate Makeover, and none of The Swan. It saddens me that some of these girls think the only way they can be great, successful women is if they change their faces and their body shape.

Then they go through what looks like absolute hell. A facelift… I almost passed out watching the surgeon using a metal rod to free the flesh and skin from a woman’s forehead so he could LIFT the skin up and stitch it into her hairline. The probe went down as far as her eyebrow, its outline visible as the skin was freed from the bone. All in the name of beauty.

Liposuction… shoving a thick pipe in and out of her stomach as her “fat” (combined with rather copious amounts of blood) is sucked down a tube into a beaker.

Breast enhancement… shoving a silicon bag underneath someone’s breast with the force of a Mike Tyson punch???

Would we have watched these procedures on television 17 years ago? The answer is no. It was consider invasive and intrusive. In those days Dallas was considered raunchy!

I’m not condemning those who chose to undergo surgical procedures. Discovery Channel shows documentaries about people who desperately need plastic surgery. I recall one show featuring a policeman whose face was burned off when her car caught fire following an accident while on duty. Anothr case told of a woman who lost her entire eye socket to cancer. She wept after the plastic surgeon replaced the missing bone so she could wear an artificial eye. But is reality TV taking the world’s obsession with beauty and youth a little too far? Or is it the media again – taking our tolerance levels to the max? After all, viewer figures and show ratings mean greater advertising and hefty profits! Perhaps they want to see how much we can take before it becomes boring and we start flipping channels. Are they preying on insecure, desperate people in the hope that ratings will jump?

It started in a house. We observed people like laboratory rats, watching them in a controlled environment. We held the key to whether they stayed or whether they left. It evolved into a talent show, where again we had the power to vote for the winner, and vote out the losers.

Today we can sit with an insecure young woman while she has her appearance changed to meet what she believes is society’s criteria. We watch every pain filled moment – whether she weeps with physical pain from her nose job, or cries because she realises she will never look the same again. We suffer with her, but don’t have to endure the reality she’s experiencing. Many times one of the “victim’s” friends or a family member has contacted the programme because he/she feels this person needs plastic surgery. Sometimes the person’s partner has contacted the show! Yes, I know that often the “victim” herself wants the makeover, but the thought that someone who is supposed to care about this person just the way he or she is puts a partner’s name forward is sad. To me anyway… what happened to loving someone for him or herself, despite a few extra pounds or some wrinkles?

So where does reality TV go from here? And how close are we to shows like The Running Man?

I think we’re almost there.



Moving to the New Windows Media Player, How and Why

If you own a PC that uses the Windows operating system then you should consider using the great, and free Windows Media Player to play all your media files, and if you need convincing the latest versions of this multi-purpose media software can offer you all the features you need to enjoy virtually any type of media you have on your PC!

Windows XP and Vista Users

If you are a Windows XP or Vista user, then the latest version of Windows Media Player that you can run on your PC is WMP 11. This version offers a number of great features that its biggest competitor cannot, and has a much more attractive and intuitive interface. Here are some of the best features of Windows Media Player 11

  • Intuitive Windows Design

If you are use to the Windows interface then using Windows Media Player is simple. You can find options like settings, tool and shortcuts in all the usual places. The best features in this area are the improved playback bar, and the status area that can be minimized to your tool bar keeping it out of the way, but still accessible.

  • Great Options for Music Lovers

Media Player 11 gives you access to the Microsoft online Music Store so you can download your favourite music and new tunes directly to your PC. It also comes with easy to use software to rip CD’s so you can listen to your music in the car, and has improved library settings to make organizing your music easier and more customizable.

  • Stores all your Media in One Place and is Accessible from Anywhere

Windows Media Player 11 can store all your media files including your movies and pictures in one place and organizes them so they are easy to find, view and share. It can also be easily downloaded to many m3p devices as well as cell phones so you can enjoy your media anywhere. It even has a handy sync function so that it is always up to date.

To Download Windows Media Player 11 for Windows XP or Vista, simply follow this link!

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/Default.aspx

Windows 7 Users

If you use the new Windows 7 operating system then you can access the latest version of the Windows Media Player, version 12, and there are some improved functions that you are definitely going to want to check out!

  • Supports more Media Formats

The new Windows Media 12 can support even more media formats which means that you can still store all your latest media in one place. It includes 3GP, AAC, AVCHD, MPEG-4, WMV, and WMA formats, as well as most AVI, DivX, MOV, and Xvid files.

  • Offers Remote Media Streaming

This is a great feature for those of you who enjoy taking your movies and music on the road, but don’t travel with your PC. This feature allows you to play media to other devices from your home PC using the Play To feature, including your mp3 player, car stereo or cell phone.

  • Improved Playback Features for Music and Movies

The new playback features offer you greater customization and control over your music and movie playback options including song previews and jump lists.

To get the latest version of Windows Media Player, just follow this link to start downloading your copy now!

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/windows-media-player-12



Taming the Media Beast in Your Home!

Does your home have more noise, confusion, mixed messages, commercials, or tasteless junk coming from the airwaves than you’d like? Computer, TV, radio, video games, CD’s and DVD’s–no matter how careful we try to be, there are still “leaks” allowing things in our personal spaces that we don’t really like. There’s a name for this onslaught of worldly messages and political correctness–it’s called, the Media Beast! And our best efforts to stop it from gaining access to the minds and hearts of our families sometimes seems hopeless. Even “children’s” books can be the source of some of the worst messages–ie., stuff that we don’t want to teach our kids (such as the infamous, “Heather Has Two Mommies”).

Fear not: The holiday season presents the perfect time to tame the media beast in your home. There is no period of the year that is more conducive to getting together as a family and sharing what we watch, hear, or read. I have two suggestions that all families can–and should– try, at least during the holidays, if no other time of the year.

#1: Have a “19th Century night” once or more each week. With the exception of Christmas lights, turn off all other electronics: the TV, computer, games, etc. If you have a fireplace this is the time to USE it! If outdoor wood is not available for burning have some store-bought fire “logs” ready for the occasion. Hunker down together in one room, making sure everyone is comfortable. Hot cocoa, mulled cider, or non-alcoholic eggnog make the perfect libation. Popcorn, Christmas cookies, or anything your family likes to nosh on should be available. Candles–so long as they are not accessible to small children–are a wonderful atmosphere enchancer. If not practical for you, then substitute flashlights.

Once everyone is cozy, read a Christmas story together. Some are ageless, and even reluctant teens will end up getting involved in them, such as “A Christmas Carol.” Very young children will enjoy shorter selections and there are abundant offerings to choose from; in fact, this is true for all ages. Alternatives to reading aloud together are listening to holiday stories on tape or cassette, and of course, watching a holiday movie, my second suggestion, which I’ll discuss in a moment. Young children should be allowed to color or play quietly while listening to audio tapes or longer stories read aloud. (A side-benefit of having a “19th Century Night” is that it becomes a great memory for the kids later on.)

#2: Have a Merry Movies Night. During the holidays my family does this as often as possible. First, be sure that all homework is finished, projects worked on, and baths accomplished. Once everyone is ready, get comfortable and pop in a wholesome Christmas movie. (Beware of modern remakes, and never assume that because the word “Christmas” is in the title that the movie will be a good one, or appropriate for all ages.) We have nights when we do a few cartoon classics such as, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” Snoopy and the gang, or Rudolph. Other nights we pick an old film classic, and sometimes we try a more modern one (“Christmas with the Kranks,” “Elf”). For some tried and true movie ideas, check my holiday picks page on my website. This is the time to add to your collection of good films–and they make great family gifts, too!

The benefit of doing family nights are manifold: first, everyone is together! For families with older kids, being together gets harder as interests spread and commitments take children from the home. Second: You can control, or at least have a large say in what form of media is getting everyone’s attention (make it wholesome and fun). Finally, you won’t be passively allowing the “media beast” to trample on you or your family–not this year, not this time!

Have a warm and wonderful, wholesome and happy Christmas!



Twitter Complements Mainstream Media

Many people view Twitter as another agent to the destruction of mainstream media and journalism. However, in reality, Twitter works as more of an accessory, complementing traditional means of journalistic reporting. This form of social market enables more people to act as journalists, reporting breaking news the way that they see it. This, in turn, allows the news to spread more quickly than on television alone. But, Twitter does not replace a professional journalist’s job. Twitter not only acts as a venue for the every-day person to share their take on an issue, but it also serves as another tool for the media to use to spread credible and verified information on breaking news and important current events. The ability for people to connect over these common issues and happenings has increased exponentially with the use of Twitter, yet has not nullified the value of traditional news reporting. People may see information about something on Twitter, but still, more often than not, will verify these new ideas or facts through the use of mainstream media, such as television or newspapers. Twitter just enables information to travel faster, thus decreasing the time it takes the media to reach and inform the public. Twitter can also traffic larger audiences to news and journalistic reports. If people are tweeting about an upcoming presidential address, for example, people on Twitter who may have not been aware that this event was about to occur, will now be informed and intrigued, hence a larger audience will know to tune in to this report or show due to its presence on Twitter.

Look at Osama Bin Laden’s death, for instance. Many people learned about this news through Twitter before traditional credible media sources, but a large portion of these tweets actually stemmed from television networks and journalists. Twitter played the role of making the news go viral at a much greater rate than it would have before the days of social.

In the same way that Twitter increases audiences for special television reports and events, it can also be used as an extremely effective tool through which to inform potential customers about upcoming promotions, events, or developments of a specific business. In the field of social media marketing, Twitter provides companies with the crucial ability to connect with their clients, and allow their clients to connect with each other. While Twitter and other tools are not positioned to completely take over the marketing industry, businesses without social network outlets are missing out on reaching a large potential customer base.

Go Social Now, a social marketing company, works with businesses to create, modify, and constantly update customized Twitter accounts. Similarly to the way in which Twitter amplifies mainstream media outlets, Go Social Now uses Twitter, as one of their many social media marketing strategies, to drive greater traffic to company websites, increase company sales, and spread the company’s brand and products across the web.



Your TV Is Born Again: It’s Now A Radio!

The Oxford Advance Learners’ Dictionary defines Television as a process of transmitting a view of events, plays, etc (while these are taking place, or from films or tapes on which records have been made) by radio to a distant television receiving set with synchronized sound. The word Television is a combination of two Latin words, “Tele” (far), and “vision” (seeing); representing a medium of communication whose duty is to transfer information from one source to another.

Television with its superior visual effect makes information memorable, convincing and appealing by breaking down the pictorial information into easily recognizable symbols. Television provides us with a regular communication channel through which we keep up with the latest news, discover what the weather is likely to be, enjoy game shows, movies, talks and discussions and learn more about the world in which we live.

Just like the television, radio is also another medium of communication. Before its arrival, especially in Nigeria, people communicate and send messages across through the word of mouth or person to person. Unlike the television, radio broadcast is very easy and cheap to produce. It also has a wider coverage, more penetrating than the television; hence transistor radios are portable; very easy to carry along anywhere. In other words, people are more who listen to radio broadcasts than they do to televisions. Another added advantage the radio has over television is that its messages are translated into various international languages.

Having revolutionized a world of mass communications which was then dominated by print and until recently an upstart offspring, television, radio is looked upon as a dead means of mass communication especially in a modern media world that is dominated by images, where the visual seems to mute the aural. Radio, the marvel of the age, has a special place in people’s lives. It has helped in no small measure in the times of disaster, war and economic depression in holding the nations together through its unbiased reports. For so many years, before the advent of television, radio has remained a companion that kept people informed about world and local events without asking for anything in return.

Radio seems to have lost credibility simply because of its omnipresent nature. People took it for granted because they wake up every morning with radio, and do so many other things with radio. The perception that television’s birth meant radio’s death is false. Seeing that radio which is only limited to sound forcing the audience to always listen before they could hear and understand, its audience is still in the increase with people listening to its news – in the car, at home, in offices, on the street, in restaurants and stores, etc. No matter the claim that television has an added advantage over radio broadcast it still remains the dependable modern-day town-crier of society’s news in good times and bad due to its fast, easy and user-friendly nature.

Though television has the ability to combine sound, motion and colour in its broadcast, radio with its audio effect occupies a corner chair at the media family’s gatherings. Because of the high importance of radio, people of various nationalities believe that television can do better if it becomes transforms into a radio (born again), having the key components of a radio and the ability to get essential, breaking information out to people fast, when it happens and the people need it. It is undeniable that when disasters happen, or anything that makes news, it takes radio only few minutes and then the world will be reached with the news.

In Christianity where the word “born again” originated, it simply means leaving behind old, but bad lifestyles, and picking up new and better ones. Television producers should be able to understand that the world is moving and changing fast, and as a result, attention must be paid to the areas of carrying people along as the world moves on. Despite the high improvement in technology today, the whole world looks for a better means of reaching the general public faster than it is known today. Moreover, like radio news broadcast, the television has a long way to go in terms of accessibility to the commoners no matter how remote. Transistor radios will continue to topple the lead as the most penetrating medium until television becomes born again!