Friday, April 16, 2010

Seattle International Film Festival Opening has "The Extra Man"

The Extra Man
This is exciting! The Seattle International Film Festival's Opening Night Gala on May 20th will be anchored by the presentation of the film The Extra Man. The movie was a hit at The Sundance Film Festival and at the Sarasota Film Festival just days ago. On March 29th, Magnolia Pictures inked a deal to distribute the film.

The Extra Man features Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) and Kevin Kline with appearances by Katie Holmes and John C. Reilly. It has Dano as Lewis Ives, a school teacher who has a love of wearing women's lingerie (Olympian Julia Mancuso, who has her own lingerie line, might find this interesting). Not surprisingly Ives loses his teaching job. Kevin Kline plays Henry Harrison, who works as an "extra man" who's an escort to rich, older women to parties and social affairs and who takes Ives under his mentorship as an aspiring playwright in New York City.

Here's a video introduction featuring the writers and directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini talking, in a quirky way, about The Extra Man.

The Gala will be held at the Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, and feature a red carpet entrance for Paul Dano, Shari Springer Berman, and Robert Pulcini, and other cast members that were not specifically mentioned as attending. (Translation: Katie Holmes may show up, so get down there!)

The SIFF runs May 20th through June 13th. Visit the website at

NFL Draft: Conte Cuttino sleeper running back prospect

The NFL Draft always has it's share of sleepers and this year, one is Conte Cuttino. But before we look at Conte Cuttino, a brief review. In past NFL Drafts the classics were Notre Dame Quarterback Joe Montana, taken in the 3rd round by the San Francisco 49ers, and Tom Brady of the University of Michigan, taken in the 6th round as the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

But real NFL Draft sleepers are players that come from small schools that go past the view of pro scouts. Like Marques Colston of The New Orleans Saints. Colston was taken in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft but ended up starting as a rookie. Now, Colston has his first Super Bowl ring.

This year, Conte Cuttino may be that sleeper. A video sent to me by my friend and NFL Draft colleague Bill Chackhes at Football Reporters Online and NFL Business Blog showed a running back that's shockingly quick.

Conte Cuttino's 5-9 and 200 pounds, runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, and played for Stony Brook University. He ran for 3,067 career rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. Here's the video:

There are a lot of YouTube videos about Conte Cuttino, so he's not far below the radar at all. 10 NFL team reps reportedly came to his pro day at Fordham University, and the Sun Sentinel blog writes that Conte is being compared to Dave Meggett, the New York Giants running back who played for Bill Parcells.

Conte Cuttino's one to watch. Stay tuned.

Larry King divorce: King and Shawn Southwick second thoughts, again

CNN's Larry King has been the focus of a possible divorce from his wife Shawn Southwick. While reports have Shawn Southwick fuming over King's alleged gift-buying for her sister, and today a new TMZ blog entry explains the two are reconsidering the divorce idea, it's clear they've had a stormy relationship.

In 2008, the blog appropriately named The Dailystab reported that Shawn Southwick King was rumored to have been caught cheating on Larry King with a then-29-year old actor named Hector Penate; Shawn was 48 and Larry King 74 at the time, and were married for 11 years.

Hector Penate, described as a B-list actor by the National Enquirer, was their son's baseball coach at the time.

(A momentary aside; how's that for a sex scandal that's covered the age spectrum? So cool. 29, 48, 74. Young. Middle. Old. Nice.)

The National Enquirer claims that Hector Penate took a stab at Shawn King on Larry King's desk at their Beverly Hills home. The relationship was said to have gone on for a year. King was fuming, and divorce rumors were in the air but King reportedly confronted Penate.

So both Larry King and Shawn Southwick King have sadly faced allegations that one was cheating on the other. Maybe the two should take a time out from other people and focus on each other. For King, who's been with her for 13 years now, the seventh marriage should be the charm, yeah?

Stay tuned.

CBS News "60 Minutes" slamed by CJR for Chevron Ecuador segment

CBS News 60 Minutes was massively body slammed by Martha M. Hamilton of the Columbia Journalism Review Thursday, for presenting in a May 3, 2009 segment what Hamilton writes was "clear impression that Chevron trashed the place and left, while downplaying the fact that Petroecuador has been operating alone at the former Texaco sites since 1990."

If you're just reading this, the CJR's article is another chapter in the long story of one man, Steve Donziger's, 20-year-old and now $27 billion lawsuit against American Chevron for environmental damage that Donziger claims was done by Chevron without an adequate cleanup effort.

(Proponents will chime in that the lawsuit was presented by indigenous tribes of the impacted areas, but in point of fact, the architect of the suit has been Steve Donziger, who's a brilliant man so this is not personal against him, from day one.)

This song is getting old because now with 1) revelations that an Ecuador judge in the Chevron lawsuit was in on an alleged bribery relationship where his apparently planned decision to rule against Chevron would have resulted in a payoff for that judge, and 2) discovery that the environmentalist on the case rendered a view that cleared Chevron of environmental damage but his writing was replaced with a false report, and 3) the fact that Ecuador has worked to kick out American Oil Companies and nationalize its oil industry, Ecuador looks more like what this blogger always asserted it was: a nation that does not take care of its poorest people, but blames foreign companies for its economic irresponsibility.

People who attack American Oil and American Business, I've found, are really part of an environmental industrial complex that has it's own monetary relationships. One must ask why none of the plaintiff lawyers in the Chevron Ecuador lawsuit ever bothered to sue Ecuador? Why is it that Ecuador's attorney general said Ecuador would collect 90 percent of the court's $27 billion award?

Anyone who attacks their claims that protect Ecuador is painted as someone paid by Chevron, as opposed to having a view that simply disagrees with the lawsuit. Just wait for one person to accuse Martha M. Hamilton of being paid by Chevron.

The fact is that Ecuador must take care of its poor. Chevron proved it cleaned up its mess, but an environmental report saying so was apparently doctored to avoid such news, all the better to win a lawsuit.

None of that helps Ecuador's poor and it was clear from a long time ago that the money from a court win against Chevron would see the pockets of Ecuador's elite before Ecuador's poor ever got wind that a victory happened.

That fact alone should make anyone who really does care about what's happening down there cry.

Stay tuned.

A Day in the Life of an NFL Prospect

12 Days ago We spent the day with Stonybrook University Running back Conte Cuttino.

Fabrice Tourre and Goldman Sachs sued for fraud by SEC

London-based Goldman Sachs Vice President Fabrice Tourre and the firm which employed him are the focus of a civil lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud. Fabrice Tourre allegedly packaged Credit Default Swaps (CDS) against the very same subprime mortgage-backed securities he created.

In other words, Fabrice Tourre both created a debt instrument that he allegedly knew was risky, then set up insurance - the CDS - to make money when it failed.

So if you were one of the people Fabrice Tourre convinced to buy into his securities, you were set up for a big fall while he walked away with the cash. That's the focus of the SEC's lawsuit.

But who is Fabrice Tourre? According to The Huffington Post, Fabrice Tourre's a Stanford grad from France who's worked on Wall Street in New York and for Goldman since 2001. Proud of his achievement in creating the CDS at issue, he referred to himself as "The Fabulous Fab" in an email to a friend on January 23, 2007.

Fabrice Tourre's LinkedIn profile shows he has 95 connections and received his bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Ecole Centrale Paris in 2000, then his MS in Operations Research (a cousin of systems theory and system dynamics, of which this blogger's a expert in) from Stanford in 2001.

In the interest of full disclosure, this blogger is indirectly connected to Fabrice Tourre via 68 connections on LinkedIn but as of this writing as not met or corresponded with Fabrice Tourre. (I have almost 2,000 LinkedIn connections.)

If you want to learn more about CDS and how they work from a basic perspective, look at this online slide explanation that's based on Michael Lewis' book The Big Short with a click here: CDS Scandal.

In closing, as a counter to those who may fall back on the rather empty charge that mortgage loans were given to people who should not have them, a claim that when expanded has the tinge of racism, the fact is no one can pay a loan without a job. The rise in jobs loss caused the subprime loan problem.

Stay tuned.

NFL Draft: Ted Ginn, Jr. trade not the answer for Niners

The NFL Draft is next week, but one trade has some bloggers thinking that what will happen in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft will be altered by it. Here's a tip: don't believe anything an NFL team rep tells the media before the NFL Draft because it's a clear sign that media person's being used to send a false signal. Translation: the San Francisco 49ers still need a speed running back; Ted Ginn, Jr. does not solve their problems.

The Niners trades their 5th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft for Ted Ginn, Jr., the Dolphins Wide Receiver / Returner, who was their answer to Wide Receiver / Returner Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears.

The year Ginn was drafted, 2007, was the same time NFL personnel execs were on the lookout for someone, anyone, who could be the next Devin Hester, the speedster from The University of Miami.

Hester came in and shook-up the NFL with his shocking straight-ahead speed. The one player tagged by many to be the next Devin Hester was Ted Ginn, Jr. from Ohio State. But when the Dolphins took him as the 9th pick in the first round, there were many in the room at Radio City Music Hall who believed they grabbed him too high.

They were right, sort of.

It's not to say Ted Ginn Jr.'s not the deep threat the 49ers need; he is. The main question is can he catch the ball when it gets there?  He was two caught for eight thrown to him against the New Orleans Saints last year. It's just that Ginn's not the only answer for the speed the Niners need; Clemson Running Back C.J. Spiller's still a player the 49ers should work to get. Spiller's 4.27 speed in the back field combined with Ginn, second-year player Michael Crabtree, and fast tight-end Vernon Davis, will on paper give the 49ers the most dangerous offense they've had since the Bill Walsh years.

But Ginn's not the answer.

From the perspective of Miami Dolphins bloggers, Ted Ginn, Jr. did not have a happy time in Miami. The Phinsider reports that Ginn's high selection in the 1st round of The NFL Draft translated to great expectations as a return guy and a wide receiver.

In fairness, while Ginn didn't meet them as a receiver, he did set return records with the Dolphins. Last year, Ginn became the first NFL player since 1967 to score two return touchdowns in the same quarter against the New York Jets. But Ginn's toughness has been roundly questioned, with Dolphins legends like former offensive guard Bob Kuechenberg calling Ginn a "coward."

Ted Ginn for all the world looks like a Vernon Davis project for San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary. If Coach Singletary can have the same impact on Ginn he's had on Davis, Ginn's NFL Draft promise may well be met.

Stay tuned.

Luxury W Hotel San Francisco gets praise for GDC

OK, beyond the LEED award, the W Hotel San Francisco, in fact, the W Hotel chain, has established a level of legendary cool seldom appreciated.

This blogger takes time to gush about The W Hotel because the memory of it as a new, innovative, and deliberately hip place to lay one's head is still fresh. Each W Hotel this blogger has visited has attracted beautiful, well-dressed, intelligent patrons and featured a bar scene that in many cases was part of the social scene for that city: New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, all have prominent roles in their cities.

The W Hotel's combination of dark muted colors, indirect lighting, and smoked glass create a theme popular with tourists, tech industry leaders, entertainers, and even game developers. The annual San Francisco Game Developers Conference brings the biggest heavy-hitters to The W Hotel San Francisco and this blogger was there, first, in 2007; 2009 was not different.

The lobby was teaming with game development executives, graphic artists, and other members of the game industry, meeting and talking about the doings at what's called The GDC. The W Hotel San Francisco played gracious host, and to my understanding no one was unhappy.

This video is from the 2009 GDC and shows how the lobby became a kind of small convention hall itself, and perfect for the presentation of game ideas:

That had to be written because it's not often a business is openly praised for being the perfect place for its patrons, but that's what the W Hotel San Francisco was at the 2010 GDC.

W Hotel San Francisco gets LEED award, has American Idol Kris Allen

This space has been constant in reporting buildings that get LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) awards from the U.S. Green Building Council and today's no exception.

The popular luxury W Hotel San Francisco, next to Moscone Convention Center, earned a LEED award and celebrated in W Hotel style and fashion, by hosting American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen at a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday at the hotel at a private, invitation-only ceremony.

The timing is perfect because Kris Allen just scored his own first:  Allen signed a publishing deal with Universal Music.

A LEED award is given to the builders of structures that have efficient, energy-saving HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems that use natural light effectively.

 The W Hotel San Francisco is one of a handful of buildings in America, and even fewer hotels, to earn a LEEDS designation.


Larry King divorce based on King's gifts to Shawn Southwick sister?

The news that CNN's talk show legend Larry King is divorcing his wife Shawn Southwick has burned up the Internet, but what's interestingly unfortunate is the reported reason for the divorce.

According to, Shawn Southwick found evidence that hubby Larry King bought expensive gifts for her sister Shannon Engemann.

And while King allegedly said he would stop giving the gifts, he never did. That sent Shawn through the roof and making moves toward divorce court, filing legal papers and interviewing potential counsel.

Meanwhile spotted King and Southwick at their sons little league game in Beverly Hills. The blog post reports the two got along famously with King saying "that was the best 30 minutes of my life" and leaving this blogger to wonder what happened to make him say that.

Whatever the present, it's clear Larry King's marriage with Shawn Southwick (Shawkn King) has been anything but easy over the last two year, and in the next post on this you will learn why.

Stay tuned.