How I Got to Madison Avenue. And beyond.

As with life, this blog is developing and changing. It began with a lot of stories that occurred on my career path from Albany to Madison Avenue and back.

There were some similarities to the AMC series "Mad Men," and then I went even farther back in time with a somewhat fictionalized version of growing up in Troy's Little Italy.

And now, a new development. As my free lance advertising and marketing career winds down, I'm becoming more interested in the theatre arts that my father and his 3 brothers helped instill in me as I grew up.

As a result, I've volunteered to help promote the Theatre Institute at Sage, and now, to continue a long-interrupted desire to be behind the proscenium, I've joined the newly formed Troy Civic Theatre, and was actually fortunate enough to appear in their first production.

So, I hope you'll enjoy the new stories that will develop from this latest turn.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frankie Goes To Guilderland

It's Academy Awards night! Hollywood's glamour will be on display for the world to see, Billy Crystal will be back as the star of another dramatic story, the “last minute” rescue of a show when the original choice can't (or won't) go on.

And back here, in New York's Capital District, another story plays out. Not as glamorous, to be sure, but not as dramatic, either.

I make my on-screen debut as an actor! (I call the part, “the man with the book.”)

After a lifetime of being behind the camera, writing, casting, producing and sometimes directing commercials, I got the urge to get in front of the lens, and I managed to get there.

The shoot was on location, in Guilderland, a suburb of Albany, at the home of the man who inspired my character, the grandfather of the writer/director, a brilliant young student named Hunter Dimin. You will hear more from him, I'm sure.

The results are in, and as you will see, Hunter has actually made me look good. Well, not bad.

The project, a 5 minute dramatization of a short story by Isaac Asimov, is now ready to be seen.

Here it is: "Personal Democracy."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Product Placement in Movies

It didn't start with James Bond. It didn't start with Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplain. It started when the 20th Century began, in 1901. And I will show it to you in this blog. But be patient, I have a story to tell – one that leads to many delightful and intriguing serendipitous discoveries.

Maybe more fanatic cineastes than me already knew this, but here's how I learned about it.

Went to see “Hugo,” in 3D. (Albany area readers: as of this writing, it's still on the screen at the Spectrum8) A wonderful film, based on the uncategorizable book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” which I then borrowed from the library,

along with a dvd of “Melies The Magician.”

Follow this trail of imagination, and oh, the places you'll go!

You'll discover the world of 19th century automata, which, by the way, is not a place that gives you food for coins. And although the automaton in "Hugo" is fictional, there is a real one, even more intricate, on display at the Franklin Institute, which in fact, inspired the book in the first place. That landing page is here, complete with amazing videos.

You'll take a trip to the moon. And join in a new discovery of a century-old work -- that there is a restored color version of Melies's science fiction film.

Oh, and that product placement? It was Georges Melies himself, the renaissance man of filmdom, who had a giant bottle of Mercier Champagne paraded across the screen in one of the first filmed stories, Barbe-Bleu.

Not only that, but Melies created humorous commercials that were shown to Parisians at the turn of the last century, and are included in the dvd I watched.

Whether you're a film buff, an ad junkie or just a curious person, I guarantee an enjoyable voyage.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Super Bowl Follow-up

I don't usually do this, but after reading Pete Iorizzo's column in today's Albany Times Union about Pick Boy, and laughing so hard that I came perilously close to a "spit take," I'm turning today's entry over to videos and articles about former area resident Jeff Sutphen, AKA Pick Boy.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Predicting a Winner

Went to a potluck dinner last night, and brought dessert. Chocolate was the consensus, so I dug around and found this easy-to-make recipe.
No matter who you're rooting for today, no matter who wins, I predict you'll score big with...

Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

SIMPLE INGREDIENTS: (Best to have all ingredients at room temperature.)

1 package devil's food cake mix

1 package instant chocolate pudding mix

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream (I used no-fat and it worked fine.)

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup water

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray with cooking spray, then lightly flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.

2.In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, sour cream, oil and water. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3.Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

He bakes.... he scores!