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Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Kopple’

Lunch: Soledad O’Brien Talks Helping Haiti’s Children



The media mob was out in force today at Michael’s and we spotted plenty of table hopping between bites. It was fascinating to see all the head honchos make the rounds while checking in with the competition. Who needs to eat anyway?

I was joined today by CNN’s anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, who I’ve known since her days as anchor of Weekend Today, and CNN publicist Van Scott. Since making the move to cable, Soledad, who left NBC in 2003 to anchor the network’s maiden season of American Morning, has gotten plenty of attention for her on-the-ground reporting of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and Hurricane Katrina. It was Soledad’s infamous interview with then FEMA chief Michael Brown that started the public outcry eventually leading to his resignation in September 2005.

After logging in plenty of air miles last year covering major news stories like the earthquake in Haiti, Soledad has unpacked her bags long enough to do a slew of documentaries that are kicking off next month. On May 8, CNN will premiere Rescued, an hour-long look at the plight of Haiti’s children told through the eyes of 6 year-old Cendy Jeune and former child slave Marc Kenson Oliphi. After being in Haiti immediately following the disaster, Soledad tells me she held orphans in her arms whose eyes had seen so much that “they looked old.” The documentary chronicles the lives of the children who are living in the Lighthouse orphanage where rather than being put up for adoption, they are instead taught skills, given an education, and encouraged to be valuable members of society when they “age out” of the orphanage at 18.

It was clearly a transformative experience for Soledad, herself a mother of four. She told me, “The best way to help Haiti is to help the children of Haiti help Haiti.” She’s planning on returning to the region next month with her 9 year-old daughter Sophia in tow. “My kids really want to do something to help. We’re going to ‘adopt a community’ and do what we can.”

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The lovely Pat Schoenfeld, in a chic red topper and matching loafers, with a few close pals.

2. Cablevision’s president Tad Smith

3. Sony Pictures’ Steve Mosko

4. Steve Rubenstein and William Lauder

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Reed Martin Wanted To Tell His Story His Way

New York University adjunct associate professor Reed Martin wanted to clarify the aim and the scope of his new book, “The Reel Truth,” which FBLA wrote about last week. To be honest, we gave an honest interpretation. As marketing books are extremely difficult to market and having contributed to several marketing texts in the past, we simply told him Good Luck. That wasn’t enough.

To wit, we’ll let Mr. Martin have it his way:

“NYU adjunct associate professor Reed Martin has written a new book he hopes will help first- and second-time indie filmmakers navigate the current economic downturn. ‘The Reel Truth,’ (Faber & Faber, Jan. 2009) draws from more than 100 interviews with leading names in the independent film world, which has seen its share of hard times of late. This past year alone saw the closings of New Line Cinema, Picturehouse, Paramount Vantage, and Warner Independent Pictures, as older audiences stayed home with Netflix rentals and TiVo while younger moviegoers found it hard to pull away from Facebook updates and Xbox LIVE.”

See more below:

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American Teen Sells at Sundance–Backstory at Camera Planet

Nanette Burstein’s doc. American Teen sold at Sundance, finally, to Paramount Vantage for $1 million.

This project started in 2003, and there’s been quite a bit of wrangling along the way, if the Camera Planet files are to be believed. Burstein wrote:

American Teen is an idea I created and have developed for years, long before I met anyone from Camera Planet. Two years ago, Steve Carlis was asking what kind of projects I was developing to see if he could help me get the financing. I submitted American Teen as one of my ideas/films I was trying to make, and he told me that Camera Planet could help me find financing. There was never any oral or written agreement between us. It was more like if you can help me, great. However, an entire year went by and nothing got done. There was never even a single meeting set up with any kind of financing entity. The only thing that Camera Planet did do was offer to help me write a treatment, which someone there did but it was very poorly written. I ended up throwing out the treatment and writing an entirely different treatment on my own. I then told Steve Carlis that I was going to raise the money myself and produce it entirely myself since Camera Planet never did anything to help me after a year going by. I then singlehandely produced the movie, raising all of the money on my own. The one company that did help me raise the money was Cinetic Media. We had a written contractual agreement.

At one point, Burstein was in business with ever controversial Steve Carlis and Camera Planet. Carlis described her as:

Nanette Burstein-major documentary reputation (Kid Stays in Picture etc) Currently does about 5 mil/year. Smart, creative, reasonable, would be a great creative name on door

But he wasn’t as kind about Barbara Kopple:

very talented but difficult-approx 3 mil per year


(photo from Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE)