Posts filed under ‘News’

Another Added to Week of Celebrity Deaths: Billy Mays

Police: TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at home – Yahoo! News.

Wow, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson . . . and now Billy Mays.  He probably won’t be as memorable as MJ, but he’ll always be remembered for pitching those crazy As Seen On TV products.  R.I.P., Billy.

"Hi, Billy Mays here with . . ."

TAMPA, Fla. – Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.

There were no signs of a break-in, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn’t answer any more questions about how Mays’ body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner’s office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

(image from the Associated Press)

June 28, 2009 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

SAG Strike Averted?

Looks that way . . . for now.
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At long last, SAG’s tortuous, yearlong contract drama with Hollywood’s majors appears to be coming to a close, capping a two-year period of labor unrest that included the trauma of the 100-day writers strike.That should have the biz breathing a sigh of relief, right?

Not really.

Because even if all goes well with the new regime at SAG and a handshake deal is finally reached this month, there’s little respite in sight for the studios: The WGA and Directors Guild of America contracts come up for negotiation again in mid-2011, which means the jockeying will begin this time next year, if not sooner.
There’s sure to be more dickering in the 2011 round of negotiations over the compensation formulas that were hard-fought in the 2008 DGA and WGA contracts (the same template that SAG is poised to embrace). Already, the WGA has grievances pending in a dispute over the interpretation of a key point of compensation terms for paid downloads.
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April 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Christopher Nolan’s Brother Arrested

Who knew there was a 3rd Nolan?
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The brother of Christopher Nolan — director of the blockbuster “The Dark Knight” — has his own dark tale, law enforcement officials allege.
Matthew Francis Nolan, 40, of the South Shore neighborhood, was under investigation by Chicago Police in a $700,000 bank-fraud scheme when FBI agents here nabbed him last month in connection with a 2005 killing in Central America.
Matthew Nolan is wanted in Costa Rica in the kidnapping and murder of Florida businessman Robert C. Cohen.
Matthew Nolan pretended he was interested in doing business in Costa Rica when the two met in a hotel. But his real mission was to recover $7million Cohen owed another Florida man, authorities said.
An accomplice kidnapped Cohen and the men tried to extort the money from Cohen’s family; but when that failed, they killed Cohen, Costa Rican authorities said.
Sources said Chicago Police were investigating Matthew Nolan in an unrelated, $700,000 check-kiting scheme.
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March 20, 2009 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

The HotSpot’s Response To Anti-Military Comments

Last week,’s ‘The HotSpot’ podcast had a discussion about the upcoming America’s Army 3 videogame, and some of the comments made drew complaints from some listeners (myself included).  This week, ‘The HotSpot’ crew took the time to respond, with a specific response directed at my email, and I can say that I’m pleased.  I sent them an email about the issue, and though I never asked for a retraction of the statements or a change of the opinions, I did ask for some clarification and the acknowledgment that maybe that particular podcast wasn’t the best way to let these opinions be heard.

Below is the email I sent them in response to this week’s show.


I just wanted to say ‘Thank You’ for Tom McShea’s response to last week’s America’s Army comments.  I asked for clarification, and an acknowledgment that certain political comments shouldn’t be said on ‘The HotSpot‘, and I got that.  I also understand that the America’s Army games are a special case considering its origins, but the comments should be kept relevant to the game and not to personal or political beliefs and opinions.  Anyway, thanks again for responding and for not brushing off this complaint.

February 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

The HotSpot’s Anti-Military Comments

Last week, GameSpot’s “The HotSpot” podcast (episode 1-27-09) made some comments regarding Ubisoft’s America’s Army 3 videogame.  I found some of the comments offensive; not the ones that dealt with the game, but the ones dealing with the U.S. Military.

Basically, one of the members of the podcast said that the game glamourizes Army life, when it’s “the worst place ever”.  Also, he accused the Army of using a game to recruit people into ‘kill squads’, and that only “poor kids who can’t afford college” enlist.

I believe everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I don’t particularly care for America’s Army the game, but what he said (I’m not entirely sure which of them said it) was offensive to me, as I come from a family with a proud history of serving in various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Below is an email I sent to them in response.  I hope that whoever reads this understands where I’m coming from and that I’m not some pro-war gun nut, but that I respect the opinions of others (as long as they’re informed opinions), I just thought that political statements like the ones I mentioned have no place in a video game podcast.


“I would like to comment on something that was said a little over an hour into “The HotSpot” podcast last Tuesday.  I’m not sure which one of podcast members said it, but certain comments were made that particularly offended me.  The subject was the American’s Army 3 game, and how underhanded the marketing of the game is, considering its use as a promotional item by the U.S. military.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially when it comes to how the Army recruits..capitalizing on the ignorance of youth, people who are desperate and poor and can’t afford college…” are, to me, way out of line.

It sounds like the opinion of certain members of “The HotSpot” is that the Army is made up of poor kids from ghettos who can’t afford college and don’t understand that videogames aren’t real life.  Not every member of the U.S. Armed Forces is a poor kid who can’t get into college.  Believe it or not, there are members who volunteer by personal choice and actually hold higher education degrees.

Another comment I found particularly offensive, about how the game is glamourizing the “cool action aspects of [army life], without showing you that it is the worst place ever“.  To me, that spits in the face of ever man and woman who ever put on a U.S. military uniform.  I came from a Third World country; I know what some of ‘the worst places ever’ look like.  And on the comment about the ‘cool action aspects’ of the America’s Army game, what about every other game that places you in the boots of a member of the military?  I don’t hear any complaining from the HotSpot about how the Call of Duty games glamourize violence.  Or how Full Spectrum Warrior teaches players Army techniques?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend America’s Army as a game; I’ve played some entries of the series, and I don’t care for them because, to me, they’re just not very good games.

The comments made regarding the U.S. military sound more like politically-charged statements; things that shouldn’t be said on company time with company equipment.  I’m not threatening any kind of action (boycott, petition, etc) only because I may be alone in this and I know that CBS Interactive, CNet, and GameSpot probably don’t care if one person gets upset over something one member of the staff said.  I’m even willing to admit that I may have taken the comments out of context.  The only thing I ask for is a clarification of the statements made in an upcoming podcast (or whatever venue GameSpot feels appropriate), and the assurance that political statements have no place in any GameSpot podcast or media venue (unless GameSpot and its parent companies are willing to adopt these comments as company policy).

I enjoy “The HotSpot” and have been a listener for a few years now.  I listen because I find the podcast entertaining and informative, but anti-military comments like the ones I mentioned above have no place on the show.”

February 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm Leave a comment

Jaoquin Phoenix To Start Rapping?!

I know he was ‘retiring’ from the movie biz to focus on music, but rapping? Joaquin Phoenix? WHAT?!
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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Casey Affleck will get behind a camera lens to track the musical career of fellow actor Joaquin Phoenix , who portrayed Johnny Cash in ” Walk the Line .”
Affleck is directing a documentary feature on his friend and brother-in-law Phoenix, who in the fall announced his retirement from the thespian business in order to focus on a music career.
Phoenix is embarking on a new path as a rapper, with an album to be produced by Sean Combs . He is scheduled to make his first public performance Friday at a Las Vegas club, which will officially kick off Affleck’s shoot.
Affleck is known for his work in front of the camera with movies like ” Gone Baby Gone ,” ” The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ” and the ” Ocean’s Eleven ” series. He directed a series of shorts for Sundance Channel in the late 1990s. He is married to Summer Phoenix , sister of his new film subject.
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter
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January 16, 2009 at 7:55 am Leave a comment

More Turmoil Within SAG

With the Screen Actors Guild strike already approved, all the execs need to do is send the word out and the entire industry stops, almost like it did during the WGA strike a little over a year ago.  Earlier last year, AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) made some headway with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, with some objections by SAG.  This does not bode well for the moderates within the Screen Actors Guild who are trying to re-start negotiations with the AMPTP.
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In the last two days, the Screen Actors Guild has been full of sound and fury, signifying … the status quo.
After a filibuster-filled 30-hour board meeting Monday and Tuesday that was meant to bring some resolution to the raging divisions within the guild, nothing has changed: Though moderates have a majority on the SAG board, the stall tactics prevented a vote on a measure that would have ousted Doug Allen as chief negotiator, canceled the strike authorization vote and replaced the negotiating committee.
And the battle’s probably not over. SAG noted after the meeting that no date’s been set for sending out the referendum ballots and then added it would not comment further.
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January 14, 2009 at 5:50 am Leave a comment

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