You guys are the BEST!" Marie D’Amore—Production Supervisor, HSI
We truly enjoyed working from the Helios, the attention to detail to make it an Eco friendly asset to our industry should be commended. The quiet workspace you get when running on the solar power is delightful! Rob was pleasant to be around and always willing to help out. Thank you Rob and King Kong for bringing us the Helios!" Rochelle Savory-Assistant Production Supervisor
You guys did a phenomenal job with the Helios. And Rob, as always, went above and beyond for us." Dan Kae—Assistant Production Supervisor
The Helios is a great motorhome. Not only is it energy efficient but it offers a large space for production to work in. The copy machine is great because you can wirelessly print and make color copies and send faxes. The satellite phones came in handy when we realized we didn’t have any cell service on location. We received several compliments throughout the shoot day. Crew walked into the motorhome in awe of such a beautiful space." Courtney Witherspoon-Production Coordinator Three One O
Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome customer service. Our driver was friendly and professional. He arrived early and had everything ready to go for us. The motorhome was clean and in perfect shape. Every detail matters on a shoot to help keep everything running smoothly. We love working with King Kong!" Jamie Williams- That Girl Productions
I just wanted to send you a quick message and let you know how amazing Rich is. I have hired motos from all over and this was by far our best experience. Really nice to work with great people" Crystal Raymond- Chinese Laundry
Thank you so much for lovely Eko lav — definitely the nicest port-a-potty I’ve ever used!" Amanda – Producer
North Six has been working with King Kong for many years now. Not only is their customer service unparalleled, but their fleet of motorhomes is always clean, reliable, and exactly what we need to support our photo productions." Kyd Kisvarday—Producer, North 6
King Kong… top notch service, incredible drivers, clean, well equipped vehicles, on time—every time! Thanks guys…. you ROCK!!!" Elaine Lee—Producer 5th and Sunset Los Angeles
We’ve used the Helios twice now and have been quite impressed each time. It has everything production could want AND it’s earth friendly! We will use the Helios on every job in which we need a moho." Mario D’Amici—Production Coordinator, Beef Films
The drivers were awesome to be with. Hard working drivers!! It really stands out when the drivers jump in to help set up base camp, and tear it down. Not to mention always having a fresh green tea for me just when I needed it every time. They really were great and I’d ask for them anytime we get vehicles from you. Thanks!" Mary Brooks – 3 Star Productions
I wanted to give Rich another glowing report, He was AMAZING on our shoot. The most helpful driver I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be requesting him on future shoots.
Thanks for everything guys!" Adrienne Burton – Freelance Prod Coordinator
…the moho was super nice, everything was great! I will definitely rent it again!!" Susan Borbely – Prod Coordinator
Rusty, Bruce and the guys at King Kong were a crucial asset to my photoshoot. They took a lot of stress off of my plate and came through when I needed them, allowing me to focus 100% on the production. Without a doubt, King Kong is now my go-to for production vehicles and I do not hesitate to recommend them to my colleagues. And, not only is Rusty the best and most helpful driver I have ever had the pleasure of working with, he is also awesome with a fog machine!" Brett Spencer-Producer, Nastygal.com
King Kong has great motorhomes and the best drivers in the business. Working with you guys is always easy and a pleasure." Cat Burkley-Portfolio One
Archive for September, 2012
Folks who’ve had their fill of political ads for President Obama and Mitt Romney are being subjected to another onslaught of politically themed ads from consumer product giants selling something more concrete than the political promises: stuff.
There’s bourbon (Maker’s Mark). There’s coffee (7-Eleven). There’s chicken (Boston Market). And there’s office services (FedEx).
But these marketers may be taking a risk by getting cozy with politics in an emotional election. “This is a tight election with massive polarization,” says Daniel Howard, marketing professor at Southern Methodist University. “This is not something I’d want to associate my brand with.”
How marketers are voting:
•7-Eleven. For the fourth-consecutive presidential election, the chain is asking its customers to help predict the outcome. If you’re an Obama supporter, you’re being asked to buy coffee in blue cups. If you’re a Romney supporter, it’s red cups. The chain keeps a running tab on the purchases and updated results will be posted daily on a micro-site. For four elections running, 7-Eleven’s “poll” results have virtually mirrored real election results.
“This program is meant to be a bright spot amidst political campaigning,” CEO Joe DePinto says.
Regular cups are available for undecided customers or those who don’t want to tout their vote.
•Maker’s Mark bourbon. What are James Carville and Mary Matalin doing in a bourbon ad instead of on Meet the Press? Shilling, of course. The political party they both support: The Cocktail Party. “Maker’s Mark has always been interested in creating conversation, and we knew that this would do that,” says Jason Dolenga, U.S. brand director.
•Boston Market. A micro-site with a voting function allows folks to vote for turkey or chicken to determine which Market Bowl “candidate” is their favorite. Voters can get a coupon valid for a free Market Bowl with any Market Bowl purchase and a fountain drink, says Sara Bittorf, chief brand officer.
•FedEx Office. In a TV spot, two local politicians agree to a clean campaign. But one candidate, whose last name is Taylor, discovers his rival has printed signs that say: “Honk if you’ve had an affair with Taylor.”
That sign almost didn’t win out in the ad, says Steve Pacheco, director of advertising.
Other signs considered for the ad: “Taylor is a cannibal,” and, perhaps worst of all, “Taylor hates puppies.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Kodak said Monday it is reshuffling executives and cutting thousands of jobs as the pioneering photography company tries to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
Eastman Kodak Co. said it cut about 2,700 employees worldwide since the beginning of the year and plans to cut about 1,000 more by the end of 2012. Annual savings from the cuts should reach about $330 million, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Kodak’s workforce peaked in 1988 at nearly 150,000 employees. But the company couldn’t keep up with the shift to digital photo technology and with competition from Japanese companies such as Canon.
“We recognize that we must significantly and expeditiously reduce our current cost structure, which is designed for a much larger, more diversified set of businesses,” Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez said in a statement.
Kodak expects to exit bankruptcy some time in 2013. The company said earlier this year that it would stop making digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames as it tries to reshape its business.
The company also said Monday that President Philip J. Faraci and Chief Financial Officer Antoinette P. McCorvey are leaving their posts.
Rebecca A. Roof a managing director of AlixPartners, the company’s restructuring advisory firm, will become interim CFO.
Roof has served in similar capacities for other companies that have emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructurings. Kodak said she has experience in reducing overhead costs, implementing cost reduction programs, managing liquidity and raising capital and executing asset sales, which the company called “critical areas of focus” as it restructures.
Kodak has a new unit that includes two businesses that are for sale, Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging. The company announced last month that it was looking to sell those businesses.
Kodak was founded in 1880, and it introduced the iconic Brownie camera in 1900, making hobby photography affordable for many people. Its Kodachrome film, introduced in 1935, became the first commercially successful amateur color film.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Carmageddon II” — the sequel — is coming to one of the most crowded U.S. freeways, and authorities are hoping its subtitle won’t be “The Traffic Strikes Back.”
Transportation officials say what they would like to see during the last weekend of September is a rerun of last year’s two-day closure, when hundreds of thousands of motorists dodged doomsday predictions by staying away until the busy, 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 405 reopened. It was one of the lightest freeway traffic weekends anyone in Los Angeles could remember.
Hopes are high that next weekend will have the same happy result, as businesses and residents prepare to avoid the roadway that must close again so work can be completed on a bridge.
At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, just outside the Carmageddon Zone, officials plan to house as many as 300 doctors, nurses and other staff members in dorms at nearby hotels so nobody will have trouble getting to work.
Some patients, including women in the latter stages of complicated pregnancies, are being encouraged to check in before the freeway closes at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 29.
“Everybody, including myself, will be here to man the entire event, just to make sure everything goes safely for our patients and staff,” says Shannon O’Kelley, the hospital’s chief operations officer.
A group of art enthusiasts, meanwhile, formed “Artmageddon,” featuring activities at dozens of museums and art-house theaters and listing them on the website artmageddonla.com. People are encouraged to walk or bike.
The UCLA campus, with about 41,000 students, has emergency traffic diversion plans in place. In Santa Monica, just down the road, a new emergency operations center opened last month. Authorities say every major transit, law enforcement and emergency services agency in the area has been cooperating in making contingency plans.
In the meantime, just what should people do over the weekend when they will hopefully be too afraid to pull out of their driveways?
“Eat, Shop and Play Locally,” advises the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, reciting its official Carmageddon II slogan.
The agency is partnering with hundreds of restaurants, tourist attractions and other venues to offer discounts to people who can show they used mass transit to get there.
If thousands of people hadn’t stayed home on a mid-July weekend last year, authorities say they might have caused a traffic backup so massive it could have spread to connecting freeways, gridlocking the entire city highway system. The result, “Carmageddon,” would have been miles and miles of idling cars filled with thousands and thousands of angry people.
“The risk factors are exactly the same as they were last year, so nothing has changed in terms of the heartburn that traffic agency people are feeling right now,” says Dave Sotero, a spokesman for the transportation authority.
It’s not just any freeway being shut down, but one that even on weekends, when traffic is relatively light, can carry a half-million vehicles. It’s also the one that links the city’s San Fernando Valley, where 1.7 million people live, to its dense, urbanized West Side and its beaches.
As they did for the first Carmageddon, officials have been posting flashing freeway signs for weeks warning people all over the state to stay away. On Labor Day weekend in early September, people driving in and out of the desert resort of Palm Springs, 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the east, began seeing the signs.
The freeway is scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1, just before the morning rush hour.
Last year it opened 17 hours early, but Sotero says not to expect that again because there’s more work this time.
When all the work in the area is completed toward the end of next year, there will be a new, wider and seismically safer bridge crossing the freeway at the city’s scenic Mulholland Drive.
If the freeway doesn’t reopen on time, that’s when Carmageddon will really kick in.
While they insist they don’t expect that to happen, officials say they will be ready if it does.
Inside Annie Leibovitz’s Latest Photography Exhibit
This Saturday marks the opening of a vast collection of photographs by Annie Leibovitz at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, including the 156 portraits in “Master Set,” displayed together for the first time. The exhibition encompasses highlights from her various assignments and projects she has shot through the years. Leibovitz is famous for capturing the essence of a person through the viewfinder of a camera, and the selections are emblematic of that talent. The show features many photographs that were originally taken for Vanity Fair, including a nude and pregnant Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub of milk, Lance Armstrong racing nude, and David Byrne in a suit made of leaves. The exhibition also showcases images from “Pilgrimage,” a series of landscapes, interiors, and objects that are personal points of interest for Leibovitz. The show will be up from September 22 to December 30.
Sneak peek at Derek Lam-designed Emmys Green Room
The scene backstage at the Emmys is hardly a collection of folding chairs and dusty sofas. This year, the the Audi Green Room partnered with fashion designer Derek Lam to provide a chic, black-tie worthy space which will likely welcome stars like Jon Hamm, Sofia Vergara and host Jimmy Kimmel. Want more of a peek at what goes on while stars prepare for the stage? Emmys.com and ABC.com will host a “Backstage Live” simulcast during the awards show from this space.
This Startup Makes Using A Savings Account As Addictive As Shopping
Julie Bort/Business Insider
Impulse Save cofounders present their idea at Disrupt SF
Would you believe there’s an app out there that can give you an extra $3,000 a year, just by helping you not spend your money on stupid stuff?
That’s the goal an app called Impulse Save, from a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup launched at TechCrunch Disrupt today. It taps into the same psychology that makes us impulse shop, but gets us to put that money into our savings account instead.
Here’s how it works according to cofounder Phil Fremont-Smith: You’re at the store, and you see a crazy great item on sale. You are about to buy it, but you check Impulse Save instead … you remember that you are saving up for a fantastic vacation. So instead of buying the item, you scan it’s barcode into the app and it transfers the price of the item into your vacation savings account.
You then get the satisfying feeling of immediately seeing how much you’ve saved. It satisfies that same hunter/gatherer urge that makes shopping so fun.
The app launched earlier this year. Fremont-Smith wouldn’t say how many users it has yet but says it’s enough to start tracking stats. So far, people are saving an average of over $3,000 a year, mostly by skipping purchases that cost about $15.
Do Hollywood tax credits really help the economy?
Capitol’s number crunchers wonder if proposed $200 million in subsidies could be used better elsewhere.
|Moviemakers work on a film in Culver City in 2005. Hollywood is being challenged to prove that the plan for $200 million more in subsidies that lawmakers sent to the governor last week would not be better spent preserving other kinds of jobs. (Los Angeles Times)|
SACRAMENTO — As Gov. Jerry Brown mulls whether to sign into law another round of subsidies for Hollywood production companies, the question that confronts him is how much each job on a movie set is worth to taxpayers.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers recently discovered a similar program was much more expensive than they thought. After years of subsidizing film productions without looking too closely at how that was helping the economy, state officials put it under a lens and found that taxpayers were spending as much as $300,000 to bankroll each position.
Other states that went in for a close-up after dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks found that every public dollar put into the film industry was generating a few dimes, or less, in revenue.
FOR THE RECORD:
Tax credit: In the Sept. 6 Section A, an article about the state tax credit for film productions said that the governor was considering a bill by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles) to extend the credit for two years. Another measure that would do so, SB 1197 by Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), was also sent to the governor.
Boosters of California’s tax breaks for filmmaking say they cost just $10,000 for each production job that would otherwise disappear from the state, an investment that more than pays for itself when the workers file their tax returns and spend their earnings. But some of Sacramento’s most trusted number crunchers say the cost could be considerably higher, questioning whether the tax benefit to production companies provides any economic boost at all.
“Runaway production” — the flight of some filmmaking to cheaper states — has played a role in California’s double-digit unemployment rate. But as the available government dollars continue to shrink, Hollywood is being challenged to prove that the plan for $200 million more in subsidies that lawmakers sent to Brown last week would not be better spent preserving other kinds of jobs.
“The state is using money it then can’t use for other things, like education, transportation and healthcare, which also create jobs and economic growth,” said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal activity at the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C. “There is no accounting for what else the state could be doing with those dollars to provide economic growth.”
The measure, AB 2026 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles), would extend the existing $100 million annual tax break for two years, until 2017. Supporters say the credit, which Brown has until the end of the month to act on, has a “multiplier effect” on the economy.
“It brings so much associated investment and job creation in all the industries that benefit,” said Barry Broad, a labor lobbyist and part of a coalition that includes the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, which is urging the governor to sign the bill. “Tourism, hotels, restaurants, equipment rental — it is just a huge benefit.”
Proponents also note that a decade ago only a few states offered tax breaks intended to lure film productions. Now, some three dozen do.
If California withdraws its subsidy, they say, the industry will more quickly migrate elsewhere and harm the industry overall.
The California tax break “impacts the confidence of this industry and whether a talent pool of people will remain here,” Broad said.
And the Motion Picture Assn. of America cites a study it commissioned by the major accounting firm Ernst and Young that says the tax credit should not be judged only by the revenue it helps generate in the short term.
“The primary benefits of film credits accrue to the private sector, not the public sector,” it says. “The relevant policy question in evaluating film credits should be, ‘Do the residents of the state get a good return for their investment?’ and not simply, ‘Does the investment pay for itself in terms of additional state tax collections?’ ”
Officials at the association, which is taking the lead for studios in promoting the credit extension, declined comment.
Some of the state government’s top tax experts say the industry’s claims are overblown. The nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office, which both Democrats and Republicans look to for frank and reliably independent financial advice, recently produced a report declaring the proposed credit extension a net loser.
The report said each dollar spent on film tax credits is bringing back less than a dollar to the state treasury and “perhaps well under $1.00 in many years.” It also ripped into the much-repeated finding by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. that 20,000 jobs have been created by the tax credit for California film productions, which went into effect in 2009 and has so far cost taxpayers $300 million.
The county report assumed all of the subsidized jobs would not have been created without the credit. The analyst cautioned against that assumption, saying that it meant the benefits of the program may be “dramatically overstated.”
Severe U.S. drought hurting crops, energy supplies
This summer’s U.S. drought, the worst in decades, is damaging corn crops used to produce ethanol, disrupting energy deliveries and threatening thermoelectric power plants, according to federal data this week.
Less than a fourth, or 23%, of the nation’s corn crop is now rated as good to excellent, down from 66% in June, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A significant share of field corn (35% in the 2010 to 2011 harvest season) is used to make ethanol, which is blended into gasoline and accounts for about 10% of all motor gasoline.
Not surprisingly, the production of ethanol sank in July to its lowest level in two years and its prices rose. The USDA reports that 85% of the U.S. corn crop is located in drought areas of the Midwest and Great Plains, nearly half of which are suffering extreme or exceptional conditions.
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That’s not all. The drought, considered the worst in decades as measured by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is disrupting the deliveries of petroleum and coal that are carried by barges on the Mississippi River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reported groundings of traffic along the river because of low water depths.
The power sector is also affected. Higher temperatures boost demand for electricity to cool homes and businesses, but lower water levels can affect the operation of thermoelectric power plants, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.
What does this mean for gas prices? While ethanol prices have increased from $2.10 a gallon in late June to $2.59 per gallon as of August 28, DOE sees no “discernible pass-through pressure” on retail gas prices — at least not yet.
There’s little relief in sight, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center which expects drought conditions to remain mostly unchanged through the end of November.