"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Screening of "Is That You?" Israeli Academy Award winner for best independent film December 1, 7:30 pm at Laemmle Town Center Encino

Fundraiser for an Israeli Culture Program to bring positive awareness to kids of all ethnicities. All proceeds go to Lashon Academy Hebrew Charter School.

Written and directed by Dani Menkin, starring Alon Aboutboul, following Q&A with Dani, silent auction including complimentary flight to Israel donated by ELAL. All proceeds go to Lashon Academy Hebrew Charter School.

Tickets are $25 which can be purchased on the Laemmle website.

After Ronnie (alon Abutbul) is fired from his job at the age of 60, he sets off to America in search of his childhood love. His road trip across the ins and outs of multiple states turns into a life changing journey.

For cable networks, holiday movies are the gift that keeps on giving

Photo Credit: UPtv

Even Ebenezer Scrooge might have been impressed with how TV networks are profiting from holiday movies.

Along with early displays of decorations by retailers, the continuous loop of holiday music on radio and the festive color of Starbucks coffee cups, nothing rings in the season quite like the volley of holiday movies that flood the small screen.

Hallmark and its Hallmark Movies spinoff, for example, are showing 21 new original Christmas-themed movies this year, up from just 13 in 2010. Lifetime has seven of its own, and the Atlanta-based cable TV channel UP TV has three in its bank, in addition to returning holiday movies of years past.

These holiday movies are proliferating because they're cheap to produce, generate strong ratings and lots of advertising revenue for the television networks. Hallmark parent Crown Media Holdings credited its holiday programming for helping to spur an 11% increase in advertising revenue last year to $328 million.

November and December are key months for advertisers that want to get in front of consumers in festive moods. Advertisers spent $13.8 billion on television spots during November and December last year, comprising 18% of all ad dollars spent in 2014, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media.

"Advertisers are attracted to eyeballs," said Jason Maltby, head TV buyer at the prominent advertising agency Mindshare. "There's the added benefit that holiday programming tends to be upbeat and positive, and you're always looking to put your brand message in an environment that makes people feel good."

The television channel guide is littered every year with festive titles such as "Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery," "The Flight Before Christmas" and "Elf" as dozens of original and acquired movies, as well as a long list of specials, roll out on cable, broadcast and streaming networks in November and December. In some cases, the Yuletide ringing started on Halloween.

Broadcast networks rely more heavily on specials and perennial favorites such as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

But the surge of holiday programming is more apparent on cable, where networks such as Hallmark, Lifetime, ABC Family and the small channel UP can dedicate weeks, or months, of programming to the genre.

The holly jolly is working. ABC Family saw its ratings double last year in the holiday period that encompassed the week of Thanksgiving through the first week of January, according to Nielsen.

The network's programming block, dubbed "25 Days of Christmas," is more heavy on acquired movies such as "The Polar Express" and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," as well as the occasional holiday-themed episode of its original series. The block has proved to be such a key tent-pole event through the years that in 2007 the network launched a supplemental block, "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas," for November.

"The holidays are one of the biggest times of the year for families all across the country," said Salaam Coleman Smith, ABC Family's executive vice president of strategy and programming. "There's been such a wealth of Christmas movies and programming that have been created over the years … [that] we really felt like there was a unique opportunity to create this stunt that featured the best of Christmas content. There's something for everyone."

Hallmark, meanwhile, saw its ratings last year nearly double in the holiday period. UP TV experienced a 74% bump, while Lifetime saw it's ratings go up 4% in the holiday period compared with the rest of the year.

"Viewers are really rabid for this content," said Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming for Studio City-based Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. "All we hear every year is that people want more of it."

Additionally, these programs are good investment for cable channels because they are inexpensive to produce and are evergreens, returning for years to come. These two-hour movies cost about $1 million to $3 million to produce, which is equivalent to the cost of producing one episode of an hourlong drama on cable.

TV movies on the Big Four networks have waned in recent years as broadcasters have preferred long-form series that keep viewers engaged over an expanded period of time. That has created an opportunity for some cable networks to become the main suppliers of holiday movies.

The investment in made-for-TV movies is a less risky one on cable because the platform allows for repeated plays the year that a movie debuts and beyond.

"You hear people say, 'We watch your movies while trimming the tree' or 'We watch your movies while wrapping gifts,'" said Barbara Fisher, UP's senior vice president of original programming. "And for us networks that are geared toward families, it's a no-brainer to be in this space."

The holiday movies are popular in part because they follow a simple formula: a Scrooge-like character discovering his or her Christmas spirit; someone stranded while trying to get home for the holidays; and, of course, the heartwarming romance.

There's also a growing roster of talent eager to star in holiday movies. Actresses such as Candace Cameron Bure, Beverley Mitchell and Lacey Chabert have become mainstays of the genre.

"It makes me giggle," said Cameron Bure, who this year stars in "A Christmas Detour" on Hallmark. "I will wear the title proudly. I get so many messages from people saying, 'I hope you have a new Christmas movie coming out.' I love that people know me from those."

Mariah Carey, the unofficial queen of the holidays with her hit "All I Want for Christmas," directed and stars in "A Christmas Melody" for Hallmark. And Dermot Mulroney, also for Hallmark, stars in "North Pole: Open for Christmas."

"The stigma of doing cable TV Christmas movies has really diminished in the last few years," said Tim Johnson, the producer of Lifetime's "Becoming Santa" and "A Gift Wrapped Christmas." "Ten years ago, it was harder to get actors to do it. Now we're getting calls from agents saying, 'We have this client who wants to do a cable Christmas movie.' They know the audience is there."

Of course, the flood of holiday dramas could reach a tipping point. But for now at least, they are ratings gold for some networks.

Planning has already begun for next year's slate and beyond, and expansion in the number of hours dedicated to the programming and/or the number of original TV movies is expected. Hallmark, for one, is looking to increase its output of originals to 28 in 2018.

"The demand is there and the suppliers are there and there's room for more," said Dan Angel, an executive producer of "The Bridge" on Hallmark. "We just have to keep up."

Reposted from the LA Times

Angels in the Snow Sunday, November 22nd at 7 pm ET

When nothing short of a miracle can hold a deteriorating family together, a Christmas getaway sets the stage for a miracle to occur. A heartwarming family story of love,loss, and rediscovery.

Dr. Kenneth John Atchity visits the CymaScope Laboratory

The true shape and power of sound to feature in a forthcoming animated film.

Dr. Atchity is an American film producer and author who has worked in the world of letters as a literary manager and as a professor of comparative literature. He was labeled a "story merchant” by a visiting ambassador to the United States. Atchity commented, "I believe in the power of stories to change the world. I’ve been privileged to spend a lifetime helping storytellers project their stories to the widest audiences in book and film.”

The latest franchise he is managing is Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton, a
purchase on Amazon.comyoung person’s novel (now available) and forthcoming live action animated film in which the forces of good-versus-evil (cacophony versus euphony) play out through the transformational power of classical music. The concept was created by Dr. Warren L. Woodruff, musicologist and head of the Woodruff School of Arts in Roswell, Georgia. During Dr. Atchity's visit the creation of the Gold Baton app was discussed, based on the concepts used in the CymaScope Music Made Visible App, in addition to ideas for representing music in the film within a visual context. Atchity said," Because of the CymaScope instrument, the forthcoming Gold Baton App and finale of the film will introduce to the world the true shape and transformative power of sound.”

Read more at CymaScope.com

Have You Heard Book Review Gives Art Johnson's Deadly Impressions Five Stars!

Billionaire Ezekiel Fick is extremely worried. His pride and joy, his granddaughter, Stephanie has been kidnapped. He'll do whatever it takes to get her back. Using his contacts among the elite of the United States, Zeke demands action from everyone!  To the LAPD and private investigator Arnold Blackburn, this seems like an ordinary kidnapping. They all seem to follow the same game plan. This one, however, stops being ordinary when no demands are sent to Zeke. Everyone is contacting their sources to try to find Stephanie. Will it be enough help?
purchase on Amazon.com
This book surprised me. I felt it was going to be another simple mystery. WOW was I ever wrong. Mr. Johnson leads you subtly and carefully down a path of twists and turns. The intrigue and suspense is off the charts.  While reading this book, I was certain I knew who dun-nit only to be proven wrong over and over. The writing style is terrific. The characters well defined and easy to understand. I also loved the history tie-in. This book is an easy read and perfect to curl up with. I know you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

I gave this one 5 cheers out of 5 because of the twisted ending it has.

Reposted from Have You Heard Book Reviews