Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oakland's Lake Chalet reviewed by NY Times

In what's supposed to be a restaurant review, but comes off as more of a general commentary, the New York Times reviewed my favorite Oakland Restaurant, Lake Chalet. (As a note, Lake Chalet was where I had the Oakland YouTube Meetup and I've served as spokesperson which started because I just plain love the place.)

I had to read the review in an effort to get out of my Oscar funk in the wake of the very weird treatment by their communications staff, but I digress. I don't understand what the reviewer means by "inconsistent menu" because the food's quite the same and I might add the menu's new. They changed it about a month ago. The new Half Chicken is fantastic.

What I'm wanting and waiting for is the Zennie62 Burger. It's my dream burger and would consist of:

1 lb. ground italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper
sliced mushrooms, drained
sloppy joe and salsa sauce
kaiser rolls, toasted
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese


In a large skillet saute sausage and onion, and bell peppers, then drain.
Then stir in mushrooms and special sloppy joe and salsa sauce
Heat until almost hot
Place mixture on rolls and top each with 1/4 cup cheese

That's the Zennie62 Burger! Great with a glass of Merlot!

Jeff Bridges wins SAG Best Actor Award for Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges just won the SAG Best Actor Award for Crazy Heart. It's his first SAG Award. He took the stage to accept his award to a standing ovation. And is now congratulating the actors he competed against, including "My buddy George (Clooney)." Jeff Bridges mentioned his co-workers, his teachers in life, and his wife Sue. "Thank you guys!" Bridges said. "I love playing with you!'

Here's a scene with Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart:

Stay tuned.

Sandra Bullock wins SAG Best Actress Award for The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock just won the SAG Best Actress Award for her role in The Blind Side. It was her first SAG Award, and led to a very deep and heartfelt explanation that she thanked her friends for sticking with her during a time when she quit acting and elected to go back and start all over again. She auditioned for Crash and was nominated for her role in it.

The Blind Side is an amazing departure for an actress once known for ditzy, pretty woman roles. The Blind Side is the story of now-Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman Michael Oher, and the family that takes the homeless Oher in, led by Leigh Anne Tuohy, played by Sandra Bullock.

Bullock won the Golden Globes Best Actress Award last Sunday.

Here's Sandra Bullock, in The Blind Side:

Stay tuned.

Saints v. Vikings: NFC Championship game preview

The 2010 NFC Championship Game is the Saints v. Viking on Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings visit the New Orleans Saints in this battle to determine which team will represent the NFL's National Football Conference in the Super Bowl in Miami. The game will be a battle of quarterbacks: The Vikings' Brett Favre v. The Saints' Drew Brees.

Brett Favre is coming off what many are saying is the best year in his history. Brett Favre's thrown 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Drew Brees has thrown for 4,388 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Both offenses are potent, but the Saint's Offense is the league's 3rd best; the Vikings have the league's 2nd best defense.

The Saints Offense is indeed potent, but the key is not just in Drew Brees' passing, but the game planning and play calling of Head Coach Sean Payton. Coach Payton has not only developed an offense that consists of a plays that he uses as tools to attack a defense' weaknesses in formation structure, he and his staff do a great job of changing their game plan to adjust to a defenses approach.

The Saints did this in their game against The Dallas Cowboys in 2009, when, down 24 to 7 in the third quarter, the Saints went to a hybrid four-receiver set to march back, only to lose 24 to 7. The the one factor of that contest which also works in the Vikings favor is the rush of the Cowboys' front four when they used a four-man rush, which harassed and hurried Brees all evening long.

The Vikings led the NFL in sacks with 48, and have a defensive line paced by Defensive End Jarod Allen, which is every bit as physical as that of the Cowboys. Look for the Saints to use more play-action against the Vikings, but if the Vikings scout well and pass rush and blitz when the Saints line up in single back sets, it could be a long day for Drew Brees.

The Vikings Offense consist of Favre, second-year Runing Back Adrian Peterson, and a set of excellent wide receivers paced by Sidney Rice (with 1,312 yards on 83 catches, and 8 touchdowns). But Percy Harvin, who was not expected to play, practiced with the team Saturday. Harvin has 790 yards on six touchdowns and 60 receptions. Percy Harvin is the Vikings weapon, used in reverses, and even as a running back.

Adrian Peterson is incomparable. He's good for 4.4 yard a carry, has 1,383 yards and 18 touchdowns. But Adrian Peterson hasn't had a breakout 100-yard game since earlier this year when he went crazy against the Cleveland Browns. Adrian Peterson is the key in this entire game; if the Saints can't stop him, they'll lose.

The other factor here is the emerging talent that is the Saints' Reggie Bush. The man who should have been drafted by the Houston Texans in 2006, is finally seeing the field and as a result has become a better running back. His pair of long-distance touchdown runs against the Arizona Cardinals helped them when their NFC Divisional Playoff game 45 to 14.

But that was against Arizona. The Vikings have a better defense. The one question is their ability to craft an offensive game plan that takes the pressure off Brett Favre and keeps the Saints Offense off the field. The key is Adrian Peterson. The Saints' Defense is ranked 25th in the NFL and has given up 400 yards in six games this season.

The other key is the desire of New Orleans itself to escape the shadow of Katrina. That's hard to quantify.

Score: Vikings 24, Saints 21, OT.

16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards tonight

The 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild is tonight at 7:30 PM / 6:30 PM CST, and presents an interesting battle between Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart and George Clooney who starred in Up in the Air. Jeff Bridges won for Best Actor at The Golden Globe Awards last Sunday, so he's seen as having the edge over the often-decorated George Clooney. The winner of the award has the inside track to Best Actor at The Oscars, although there have been some exceptions to this in the past.

Best Actress has Golden Globes winner Meryl Streep from Julie & Julia up against Sandra Bullock's against-type performance in The Blind Side, and Gabourey Sidibe, the first-time actress who took the World by storm in Precious.

A Big Party

Lori Bergamotto of People Magazine describes the behind the scenes effort needed to bring the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild / People Magazine after party to life:

Betty White is the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Here's we spend a moment with Betty White as she answers questions from fans who submitted questions on the SAG website:

Here's the full list of SAG Nominees from The Screen Actors Guild:


Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
Mo'Nique, Precious

An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds


Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House

Patricia Arquette, Medium
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine

The Closer
The Good Wife
Mad Men
True Blood

30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
The Office

Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Cuba Gooding, Jr., Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Jeremy Irons, Georgia O'Keeffe
Kevin Kline, Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac
Tom Wilkinson, A Number

Joan Allen, Georgia O'Keeffe
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Ruby Dee, America
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby


Public Enemies
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The Closer
The Unit

Hope for Haiti Now raised estimated $9.5 million so far

According to this new report, the concert Hope for Haiti Now raised an estimated $9.5 million. According to the Daily World Buzz, the concert telethon established by George Clooney with MTV and what became perhaps the most televised and media exposed event in history, there were several country-based versions of the telecast: $9.4 million came from English based Canada for Haiti and French-based Ensemble for Haiti gave another $6.8 million.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada would match the Hope for Haiti Telethon "dollar for dollar."

There's no word on the donations from the U.S. based telecast as of this writing because they're still accepting donation. The site is Hope For

Haiti Earthquake update: cardboard communities, man rescued

In this Haiti Earthquake update, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Haitians are building new homes after the earthquake with little more than cardboard and plastic in refugee camps. It's estimated that there are 250 such camps in existence.

The rich have left Haiti's capital city of Port-Au-Prince, leaving the poor to fend for themselves. Haiti Earthquake relief efforts are building, but with 3 million people in need of aide and a crumbled infrastructure, it's a challenge.

Meanwhile, a man was rescued from rubble by an international rescue team after being trapped for 11 days after the Haiti Earthquake. The 23-year old man was under the remains of a crumpled hotel in Port-Au-Prince.

But all of the news is not bad, Haitians have lined up as private banks have reopened. Security forces have been on hand, and bank customers have been allowed to draw a limit of the equivalent of $2,500 to prevent a run on the banks.

And click here for more on the Hope for Haiti Now concert from Friday night.

Stay tuned.

Hope for Haiti Now concert performances and update

Last night's Hope for Haiti Now concert featured 19 performances from artists like Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, U2, Wyclef Jean, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Keith Urban, and Kid Rock Jennifer Hudson, Emeline Michel, The Edge, Dave Matthews and Neil Young.

Here's the AP's video summary:

And Hope for Haiti Now attracted stars who worked the phones like Colin Farrell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Charlize Theron, Steven Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Robert Pattinson, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, and Ben Stiller.

Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, and head of the Bush / Clinton Haiti Fund, gave this speech:

The Hope for Haiti Now concert event was in Los Angeles, New York, and Haiti, where CNN's Anderson Cooper is working to report on the country's effort to recover from the 7.0 Haiti Earthquake. Hope for Haiti Now was organized by Up In The Air star George Clooney, who said to MTV, "I think it's the same message that everybody does, that churches do, that communities do — which is everybody participate, help out, whatever way you can."

Hope For Haiti Now as event planning was put together very rapidly, about the same time as the Haiti Earthquake itself ended. George Clooney explained to MTV how he came to be involved in forming Help For Haiti Now:

"I was in New York the evening it (the Haiti Earthquake) happened. It happened at four or five o'clock, and I got a message from Wyclef that he's gonna go into the Dominican Republic and that it was much worse than what's initially been reported," Clooney explained. "We knew it was bad, but who knew how bad. And he said, 'Is there anything you can do?' So the next morning, I woke up and called (MTV CEO) Judy McGrath at MTV, and Judy said, 'We were thinking about doing something too,' so I said, 'Let's do it.' And I flew back to L.A., and as soon as I landed we got the other networks involved. And now it's every major network, every single one. At some point, it got to a place [when] you couldn't be the network that didn't [join in]."

The list of participating networks was vast: CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, CMT, PBS, TNT, Showtime, Comedy Central, Bravo, E! Entertainment, National Geographic Channel, Oxygen, G4, CENTRIC, Current TV, Fuse, MLB Network, EPIX, Palladia, SoapNet, Style, Discovery Health, Planet Green, CNN en EspaƱol, HBO Latino and Canadian networks, including CBC Television, CTV, Global Television and MuchMusic. As of this writing, there's no official estimate of the television viewer count; that should come next week.

Hope for Haiti Now may have been the most media-exposed event in history; it was also streamed online at,, VH1, and MySpace, Fancast, AOL,, Yahoo!,,, and Rhapsody, and on cell phones by way of Alltel, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and FloTV.

Hope for Haiti Now

You can still help now by going to or calling by phone at 877-99-HAITI. You can even text "GIVE" to 50555.

Here are some of the 19 performances from Hope for Haiti Now, Friday night:

Alicia Keys (video link):

Donate Now: 1-877-99-HAITI in US/Canada, or go to

Stevie Wonder: (video link)

Donate Now: 1-877-99-HAITI in US/Canada, or go to

Shakira (video link):

Donate Now: 1-877-99-HAITI in US/Canada, or go to

Coldplay (video link):

Donate Now: 1-877-99-HAITI in US/Canada, or go to

Taylor Swift (video link)

Donate Now: 1-877-99-HAITI in US/Canada, or go to

Stay tuned.

Oscar Nominations Ballots due today, Saturday; and note of protest

AMPAS, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that the 5,777 voting members of the Academy are to return their completed Oscar nominations ballots to to PricewaterhouseCoopers not later than 5 PM today, Saturday January 23rd. If they are returned by any time after 5 PM today, they will not be counted.

UPDATE: AMPAS did not state if the 5 PM time was eastern or Pacific in the press release; since it's on the West Coast, Pacific time (PST) should be used.

Apparently the presence of this video-blogger will not be counted either. After being invited by AMPAS to submit a press credential application for the Oscar and Oscar-related events, the result was three successive rejection emails without a reason other than "lack of space".

Again, I was invited. I would think AMPAS understood their space needs ahead of time, before invitations to apply for The Academy Awards were sent out. But even more disturbing is that there's not one set of metrics that's used to determine who gets an invite or who gets admitted.

This kind of 1960s gate keeping in the 21st Century is awful. Below is the email letter of protest of their decision that I wrote to Leslie Unger, the Director of Communications at AMPAS:


With all due respect, I really must protest AMPAS decision not to grant a press credential to me for The Academy Awards and its related Nominations Events and on a wide scale.

First, I was invited to apply by AMPAS last year and because I'm on the AMPAS press list. Second, I met all of the necessary application document criteria as per AMPAS instructions. Third, I have regularly covered the Oscars and film via my blogs and videos and have an online reach that's better than the vast majority of media outlets you have credentialed (including an average of 26,000 video views a day on YouTube alone). Fourth, my overall reach is much greater than it was even when I was granted an Exterior Pass last year as my blog is on and I own 100 blogs, and blog at and The Examiner and I'm syndicated by Newstex. Fifth, AMPAS has no - zero - set of metrics for evaluating the effectiveness of media that's asked to apply for credentials before an application is submitted.

That's really not the way to set up a system. By contrast, the Democratic National Committee had a clear set of metrics for the 2008 Democratic National Convention: Technorati authority rating, minimum number of blog posts, minimum number years that the blog was in existence.

I knew what the metrics were and determined that I met them, so I applied. The result was that my blog was one of 124 that was credentialed for the DNC in 2008.

Please note the word "number" - that's the expression of a "metric" or a way of measuring.


And this is the list of credentialed blogs (mine is at the bottom of the list):

There were thousands of blog that did not make the cut, but they knew the metrics going in. They could have chosen not to apply if they just looked at where their blog was compared to the metrics, but some people did not do that. But they knew and the process itself was easy. And to help those blogs that did not make the cut, The Daily Kos and YouTube created something called "The Big Tent" at the DNC.

That was and has been missing in the Oscar Press Credential process and it's really unbelievable that an organization like AMPAS would have such loose system. Your system must be numerically based so that people like myself know the rules of the game. That's a rule that's as old as discrimination law itself. Otherwise, how does one know if they're not being discriminated against racially or in any other kind of way?

I am not concerned about AMPAS tradition here; the 21st Century, technology, and American History have changed our culture such that it's a meritocracy. "If I achieve X level or number, then I get Y" is the way now and it's at the center of New Media. AMPAS must reflect the expectations of media in the 21st Century.

All of this has been most upsetting to me because it's not right. Moreover, I'm of the opinion now that AMPAS thinks I'm someone without any reach, say, or influence, thus this treatment. I remain a fan of AMPAS and of OSCAR, so it's in that sprit that I embark on my quest for change.

I understand that your office deals with many people who "want in" and claim to be press. But I am on the press list, was invited to apply for credentials, put a lot of people through their paces to meet the application document requirements, waited for the result because I would then get a sponsor for my trip on that basis, and this.

Basically, AMPAS has harmed my ability to achieve my professional objectives; given how this happened I'm deeply saddened and upset with AMPAS. The only way I know how to explain to the World what's happened is by using New Media. It just happens to be a powerful tool. Maybe then AMPAS will understand and at least work to set criteria or for that matter ask me.

That would be a good idea.


Zennie Abraham

Stay tuned for my video version.