Friday, April 26, 2013

Community bands together to stop production of reality T.V. show

A wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles' San Fernando valley, where celebs like Justin Bieber and the Jacksons live (along with many private people) is standing strong against a show that wants to film "typical Calabasas" families, including kids.

Keep out, residents say.
At least one community is saying no, they would not do it, too.  A production company has recently been developing a reality show that would film life inside the exclusive The Oaks neighborhood.  But residents are falling back on several rules of their homeowner's association, including restrictions which prohibit filming in the gated community for more than five consecutive days.

A casting call from the production company includes the following:

"We are looking to focus on a total of four to five families who portray the typical Calabasas family. The parents and kids are busy, it's competitive lifestyle and they are keeping up with everything around them. Elaborate family vacations, sports, lessons for their kids from everything from music to football, travelling the country, looking at colleges, tutors....these competitive families push everything in their lives to the limit."

One resident of The Oaks called "Calabasas 91302" in "poor taste" and "invasive." She added, "The reason we are all there is for privacy." 

Stand strong, The Oaks.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Zumba fundraiser to benefit PA family of crash victims

Kate will attend a fundraiser tonight at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pottsville, PA to benefit the family of the two children who died in March as the result of a car crash. The event will feature Zumba, a popular dance fitness program, from 6 to 7 p.m. upstairs at the church. Doors open at 5 p.m. It is $5 to attend.

Carianna Kroh, 6, and Catrina Williams, 3, both of Minersville, were passengers in a 19
96 Plymouth Breeze driven by their mother, Victoria Place, 27, of Minersville, that was hit broadside by another vehicle on Route 61 at the entrance to Faith Church in West Brunswick Township on March 24.

Kroh died later that day at the Lehigh County trauma center while her younger sister died March 25 at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest after she was taken off life support. Place survived the crash.

From the Facebook invitation: 
We are doing a Special class to help defray expenses.

Look who showed up.

Was Kate accepting personal gifts for herself at this charity
fundraiser that were not part of the auction? According to one 
person on Facebook, yes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the earth began."

"Mama always said dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn't." ~Forrest Gump

Part of the reason yesterday's tragic events at the Boston Marathon has hit so hard at the heart of America, is because gathering together to run or cheer at a marathon is such an iconic part of who we are. Many runners seem to have an almost spiritual connection to the pavement, and even if running isn't for you, it's hard not to be inspired by such a remarkable accomplishment. Marathons have also traditionally been so welcoming to people of all challenges, from those in wheelchairs to the blind to the very old, and their stories have continued to inspire year after year.

Several films have been made exploring why people would want to subject themselves to such a difficult race, a race so hard it has made many runners sick and rarely, worse. But runners can't stop chasing after those 26.22 miles, and some even come back year after year. Perhaps the most beautiful cinematic look at long distance running is in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, in which Forrest passes a mountain lake in Glacier National Park so clear it looks like a mirror, and watches a breathtaking sunset in the desert (You can see a brief clip of some of these dramatic running scenes above).

And here are two of our favorite documentaries:

Spirit of the Marathon. Filmmaker John Dunham follows six runners from vastly different backgrounds as they train for the Chicago Marathon, exploring the history of marathons and the appeal of such an arduous challenge. (Netflix streaming, Amazon.)

Running the Sahara. America's Charlie Engle, Canada's Ray Zahab and Taiwan's Kevin Lin embark on an unprecedented quest to traverse the entire Sahara desert -- on foot. Along the way, the runners encounter the beauties and hardships that accompany modern African life. The only weak point in this documentary is watching Charlie become less and less of a team player as the run goes on, however, it is an honest look at the imperfections of human beings as they put their bodies and minds through tremendous strain. (Netflix streaming, Amazon.)

God bless all the runners and spectators hurt, killed or witness to the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Bring them peace.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

'The People vs. Larry Flynt': Was Falwell bullied and deserved damages for emotional distress, or was it just free speech about a public figure?

'Free speech,' said the Supreme Court in 1988.

What if you said a very famous celebrity likes to sleep with goats? What if you said that celebrity loves hard liquor and is always intoxicated in public? What if you said his first sexual experience was with his own mother?

In 1983, Larry Flynt said all that and more about Jerry Falwell in his magazine Hustler. Falwell sued him for 50 million dollars. What followed was one of the greatest victories for free speech, specifically parodies and criticism involving public figures, ever to come down from the Supreme Court. The decision was unanimous. Said the court, in part:
"Justice Frankfurter put it succinctly in Baumgartner v. United States, 322 U. S. 665, 673-674 (1944), when he said that "[o]ne of the prerogatives of American citizenship is the right to criticize public men and measures." Such criticism, inevitably, will not always be reasoned or moderate; public figures as well as public officials will be subject to "vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks," New York Times, supra, at 270. " . . .

. . .In the world of debate about public affairs, many things done with motives that are less than admirable are protected by the First Amendment. In Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 64 (1964), we held that even when a speaker or writer is motivated by hatred or ill will his expression was protected by the First Amendment: Thus while such a bad motive may be deemed controlling for purposes of tort liability in other areas of the law, we think the First Amendment prohibits such a result in the area of public debate about public figures.
"Debate on public issues will not be uninhibited if the speaker must run the risk that it will be proved in court that he spoke out of hatred; even if he did speak out of hatred, utterances honestly believed contribute to the free interchange of ideas and the ascertainment of truth." Id., at 73."

Falwell and Flynt later became good friends, visiting each other frequently, going on speaking engagements together, and exchanging Christmas cards. In 1998, Flynt apologized for the ad. Falwell leaped to his feet and shook Flynt's hand.

This Oscar-nominated film from 1996 details Falwell's early life through the famous court case and his near assassination. It can be viewed for free and legally from on Youtube.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kind-Hearted Woman, Part 2 (full episodes posted here)

By the end of Part One of David Sutherland’s Kind Hearted Woman, Tribal Social Services had taken Anthony and Darian away from Robin, deeming her an unfit mother. The resulting custody battle led to a pivotal court appearance for Robin, but she was left in limbo after Tribal Social Services failed to show up The custody fight continues in the gripping conclusion to Kind Hearted Woman, but for Robin, Anthony and Darian, there are also new beginnings, new conflicts, new struggles and new triumphs.

Part 2 of Kind Hearted Woman airs Tuesday, April 2 on most PBS stations or you can watch online, starting at 9 pm EST (check your local listings here). 

Watch Part One in full for free via Frontline:

Watch Kind Hearted Woman Part Two on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Watch Part Two in full for free via Frontline:

Watch Kind Hearted Woman Part Two on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Thank you Frontline for making this important documentary available so quickly.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kind-Hearted Woman, Part 1

Filmmaker David Sutherland (The Farmer's Wife) profiles Robin Charboneau, a divorced mother and Oglala Sioux woman living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation. Sutherland follows Charboneau over three years as she struggles to raise her children, further her education, heal the wounds of sexual abuse and battle alcoholism. She fights in tribal court with her ex-husband for custody of the children, even after he’s convicted of sexually molesting his daughter and another child. Charboneau’s quest to heal her family, earn a degree and return to the reservation to help prevent abuse of women and children leads her on a journey of discovery, heartbreak and, ultimately, redemption. 

Watch Kind Hearted Woman - Long Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Today on PBS. Check local listings.