Letter From New York February 8, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Every year for the last ten years or so, come the end of January, the beginning of February, documentary and non-fiction film makers descend upon Washington, DC for the annual Real Screen conference, a gathering that started as a conference and which has morphed into a market – a place to buy and sell non-fiction ideas, meet and greet, have non-stop meetings, eat and drink, back-slap, and party, see old friends, make new ones, feel connected to the business that consumes one’s life.

From the producers of Mystery Quest to the producers of John and Kate Plus Eight, they’re there. Ben Silverman, former head of programming at NBC, gave a keynote as did Abbe Raven, CEO of A&E Networks, which includes History Channel. If you are in the non-fiction film business it was the place to be.

At the end of the day, I still think what programmers are looking for in non-fiction boils down to this: networks are looking for larger than life characters who are in unique situations [preferably life threatening] that will give an embarrassing amount of access to their lives. If you have that, you have a good shot at a series.

While I was backslapping, eating and drinking, doing non-stop meetings, the world continued on its merry pace. If you call a financial crisis spreading across the southern part of the Euro Zone “merry.” Greece is in trouble, Spain and Portugal not far behind with Ireland beginning to look like a southern European country, at least financially. Toyota became even more mired in recall drama, its credibility damaged. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came out for an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, a stance reinforced by Colin Powell, who announced he agreed with Admiral Mullen, saying times had changed since he had sat in that seat.

And while the world was moving on, as the deficit was mounting, as Greece tottered on the edge of default, while the fate of gays and lesbians in the military was again being debated, while the world continued its news making, I took a couple of days off to visit friends and family, a trip that reminded me of many of the good things about life – good people, who are part of your life, who have been and will be. I visited with my brother, soon off to Honduras to provide medical care to those who have none, with my lovely cousin Virginia, who has been a beacon of kindness my whole life, as well as her sister Marion, my friend Christine Olson, whom I have known since I was a sophomore in college, elegant as ever, real as always, my old friend Kevin Rozman, a friendship from high school days that has been revitalized since we re-encountered each other several years ago.

It was the perfect capstone from a week where I was surrounded by all kinds of people I know and love, first at the conference and then in my flying visit back to the land of my birth, for a few moments basking in the glow of friends and family, who are so important, particularly in a world as uncertain as the one in which we find ourselves…

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One Response to “Letter From New York February 8, 2010”

  1. crisismaven Says:

    In and of itself a Greek bankruptcy or bond default should -in theory- not affect the Euro as such very much, Greece being maybe 3% of the total. However, just as a Californian bankruptcy would reflect badly on the “state of the Union” as a whole so would the default of on EU country, coupled with the rising interest rates and thus further destabilisation of the remaining over-leveraged member states, make investors wonder when sovereign default across the board is likely. Thus they wouldn’t commit themseves to bonds of longer maturity and that’s the beginning of the end.

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