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February 2011

02/27/2011

NYC in LA

Let me start off by writing that I had hoped to be blogging more on this trip.

But it never fails to amaze me how quickly time can slip by.

All those trips from the hotel room where we are editing Sandy Kenyon’s Oscar pieces to the Red Carpet – Oscar Excitement Central – eventually eat away at any spare time you might have.

All those trips to “In and Out” Burger don’t help with the time crunch either.

 

But enough excuses.

 

Let me tell you about a couple cool connections between NYC and Hollywood, that you might not have heard about yet.

 

The first is something that happened today:

Two students from Hofstra University made a big impression with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and as a result, they are getting the experience of a lifetime.

Luz Pena and Philip Robibero are the Grand Prize winners of the “Oscars Correspondent Contest”, presented jointly by the Academy and mtvU.

They beat out teams from across the country in the competition, and as a result they get a spot on the Red Carpet and get to go backstage in the Press Room and the Governors Ball.

We hope to learn more about this dynamic duo when we turn the tables a bit and interview THEM Sunday morning on the Red Carpet.

 

Hey, we can’t say enough good things about designer and former FIT student Katelyn Bischof. If you watched Sandy’s piece at 11:00 PM on Saturday, you got just a peek at what a pleasant and charismatic individual she is. But more than that, she is talented! Katelyn is the sole designer from New York in this year’s Oscar Designer Challenge 2011. The competition has been documented in the web series, “Oscars Designer Challenge: Behind the Dress” at Oscars.com. The winning design will be announced during “Oscars Red Carpet Live” on ABC-7 at 7:00 PM on Sunday.

 

 

A fellow Brooklyner of mine, Luke Matheny, wrote, directed and starred in the live-action short "God of Love".

It was turned down by the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals.

But now “God of Love” is nominated for an Academy Award.

Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/godoflovefilm and http://www.youtube.com/user/lukemathenyfilms

www.lukemathenyfilms.com.

 

 

Finally, Josh Fox is a theater director in NYC.

He directed the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Gasland.”

Its portrayal of greedy energy companies and sickened homeowners is so offensive to the natural gas industry that the industry tried to have Academy reconsider the documentary’s eligibility.

The Academy refused.

You can watch Diana William’s interview with Mr. Fox on “Up Close” this Sunday.

 

Good luck New Yorkers! We are all so proud of you.

 

Lights, cameras, and lots of action!

-Andy Savas

02/23/2011

Greetings Again from LA

Hello Eyewitness News fans,

One year ago, I wrote my first blog entry from Los Angeles, as I was field producing Eyewitness News’ Academy Awards coverage with Sandy Kenyon.

It was an exhilarating assignment for me, not only because I was on the red carpet in Hollywood, but because it was such an extreme change of pace.

I normally produce the 6:00 AM on Channel 7.

I have access to a world of information from my desk – but it also means that I am, well, at my desk.

Covering the Oscars meant I got to stretch my legs, literally, outside, as I booked satellite windows, set up interviews, and oversaw Sandy Kenyon’s live shots.

It was a total blast and one of the highlights of my career.

 Now, I have the extreme fortune to have the assignment again, and I am most grateful.

Already Sandy, photographer extraordinaire Mike Thorne and I are off to a flying start.

 

This morning we were set to interview Academy President Tom Sherak and the producers of the Oscars telecast.

But some news here in LA threw us for a little loop.

See, Ms. Lindsay Lohan had a court hearing… and the judge wasn’t too happy with her.

In fact, he told her today "I don't care that you're Lindsay Lohan."

And he told her that no matter what, she was going to serve jail time.

 

Well, we got the call from our bosses in New York: Sandy now needs to front a new piece, not Oscar-related, on Lindsay Lohan.

Suddenly, we had twice as much to do with the clock ticking… and since there is a discrepancy between New York time and LA time, we essentially had 3 hours less to complete everything.

That sent us off to the races.

 

As we were waiting for Mr. Sherak to meet us for the interview, Sandy was writing his piece on Lindsay Lohan, using information he and I were able to grab on our Blackberries and smart phones from the wires, online newspapers, and other sites.

Our assignment desk back in NYC was also a huge help (thank you Mark Crudele).

As Sandy was interviewing Mr. Sherak, I was setting up new satellite windows for the added live shot and trying to pinpoint video sources for the writer who would be assembling the piece in NYC that Sandy was writing in LA.

Tick, tick, tick…

 

With the Academy President interview over, and the telecast producer unable to break away at the time, we raced back to our hotel rooms, where Sandy finished writing his Lohan piece, and Mike and I sent the material we had shot earlier that morning to NYC (FTP is a wonder). At some point, we wolfed down lunch (or is it breakfast? My body still doesn’t really know).

 

Then it was time to head out to the red carpet for our live shots for the 5:00 PM show (2:00 PM PST).

Already, the red carpet is coming alive. And as Sandy said to Diana Williams and Sade Baderinwa, it is a working construction zone. Several times we almost got hit by golf carts carrying huge golden Oscar statues.

And we still are not done. Right now Mike and I (but really Mike is doing all the heavy lifting) are putting together a piece that will air tomorrow on the remarkable back story of the writers of “the King’s Speech”.

Trust me, it’s a great story!

 

I can’t wait for Day 2!

 

One last note:

Last year, when I arrived in LA for my first Academy Awards, my wife Aransas called me with the wonderful news that she was expecting our second child.

Derby was born in November and is now 4 months old, joining her older sister Savannah, now 2 ½.

To my beautiful girls: I miss you so, and I will see you son,

Lights, cameras, and lots of action,

-Andy

02/13/2011

Wedding Celebration in Liberation Square

“Arruz” the woman kept saying in Liberation Square today. She was clearly excited about the “arruz”, and as much as I wanted to share her excitement, the Arabic word meant nothing to me. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Arab world, but that word just never came up. It was not the scene around us she was excited about. It wasn’t the celebration of new freedom, or a revolution that succeeded, or the neo-natal Democracy rising from the suddenly rich Egyptian soil. She had something altogether different she wanted me to know about.

 

Joe was off shooting some locals who were painting an ornate metal fence with paint they had bought and brushes and rollers donated by a local civic club.  The government, or what’s left of it, played no role. Earlier I had asked one man, who was wearing a suit coat and carrying a brief case, why he had stopped his day to paint a fence that was clearly the province of the government, and he said “because Egypt belongs to me now. The fence is ours and we must take care of it.” 

 

Thousands joined in. They painted buildings and polished statues and washed grime that had grown unchecked for a generation. It was a nation washing that man right out of their hair and in all my travels I have never seen people working so hard and  smiling so broadly. But it had nothing to do with “arruz.”

 

In a lot of countries, its not very difficult to find someone in a crowd who speaks enough English to help out. But its not that way in Egypt. Education, one of the key gripes of the revolution, is restricted to a select few and even for them is hardly world class. Of course, there are times when a translator is unnecessary. There are times when all you need is to be lead by the hand.

 

One of the rules for men in the Muslim world is that you never touch a woman who is not your wife. Ever. You don’t shake their hands or pat them on the back or help them over a puddle. In Pakistan and some other countries, it’s a good idea to avoid eye contact if you would like to keep your eyes. Sometimes a woman who has had experience with the west or is not particularly religious will reach a hand out to shake yours, but its smart to wait for that gesture before you offer. I have never before been grabbed virtually by the scruff of my neck by a Muslim woman and marched as if to the principals office.

 

Frustrated with my obvious ignorance, the woman in Liberation Square did just that. And I marched until I saw it. Arruz.

 

It means wedding. In the heart of Liberation Square, in the middle of a revolution that empowered and transformed a nation, in the final moments of one reality or the dawning moments of a new one, a couple had decided to  make the holiest of vows to see this new world in together.  The bride wore white and a smile as wide as the Nile itself. The groom wore a black suit and his pride in his new family and new nation as clear as the dawning day. And none of that needed a translator. Just a woman with a strong hand and an unyielding faith in her country’s future.

 

Arruz. Pretty sure it means wedding. Meet the couple in my 11:00 report on Sunday.  

02/12/2011

Jim Dolan in Egypt

The bridge over the Nile was so packed with traffic, both cars and people, that we worried for a time about collapse.

 

Horns blared and flags waved in the final cacophonous moments of a dimming day, the final day and the first day and a day like the world has rarely known. The bridge almost seemed to sag. What could possibly hold up beneath the weight of all that hope?

 

Egypt is just now a giddy nation. It is so easy to get all gushy and romantic about this. It was brave beyond words and bold and righteous and it was so dramatic. But the people of Egypt are no more capable of free elections tomorrow than I am of striking out Derek Jeter on two pitches. They have no parties they have no infrastructure, they have no candidates, they have no history of running anything but pretend elections, shows for the camera’s that were more fiction than reality.  And, even if they could field a decent field of candidates and parties, take a look back through history and count how many military’s have ever voluntarily given up power just because the people wanted it. Few, but that’s what will have to happen here: the military runs Egypt now and they will have to usher in this ancient nation’s modern era of openness, if it's to happen. I’m not sure where the smart money is on this, but I do know they’ve been in charge for a day and all the camera gear Joe and I brought to Egypt that was confiscated under the old regime is still impounded under the new regime. They don’t want the world to see what’s going on here anymore than Mubarak did.   

 

So from this reporter, a salute to the bravery of a nation that today can raise its children to its shoulders and tell them with confidence to look to the horizon and a future as bright as it has ever looked. But to those who thought the hard part was getting rid of Hosni Mubarak, be aware that Democracy is harder still, and crossing the rugged terrain from here to there will take the will of a nation and the patience of a saint. And it will require the strength of steel - a steel strong enough to carry the weight of all the hope this country has invested in the future.

 

That bridge over the Nile, so loud and joyful and teeming with optimism, still stands, by the way. Strong steel for a suddenly muscular nation that this week chooses its destiny and all the work that goes with it.

Jim

(Below is Jim's report from Friday on Eyewitness News at 11pm)