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October 7th, 2007 Sunday
October 7th, 2007

The Glamour Guilds- The Screen Actors Guild, Writers and Director's Guilds, are all in negotiations with the major studios. There is great anger among the rank and file for an increased cut of the DVD pie. Right now for the studios it's pure profit. Another reason why studios put films out on DVD as soon as possible. The writers are up first and their negotiations broke down on Friday. They say they are still far apart from the studios in any deal. Interestingly enough, the re-elected President Verrone of the WGA is an animation writer, and the chief negotiator for studio management is animation producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. One of the Guild's negotiators, Susannah Grant, worked with me and Jeffrey on Walt Disney's Pocahontas. She later went on to write the hit films Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes.

Last time there was a writers strike in 1986 we got reality shows as a result. Both sides are gearing up for a strike and the writers contract runs out on the 30th. All of us in animation have to prepare for a series of major strikes. Our animation writers are under our TAG 839 jurisdiction instead of the WGA, but there may still be an impact on our business.

We'll see.

Birthdays: Hans Holbein, Heinrich Himmler, Caesar Rodney, Joe Hill, Andy Devine, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Henry Wallace, June Allyson, Oliver North, Al Martino, Jose Cardenal, Neils Bohr, Ameil Buraka, Johnny Cougar Mellencamp, Toni Braxton, Yo Yo Ma

312 BC-THE SUCCESSORS- Seleucus Nicator - Seleucus the founder - conquered Babylon and set up his Syrian-Greek kingdom. One of the generals of the recently dead Alexander the Great, he divided up Alexander's Empire along with fellow generals like Ptolomey, who became Pharoah of Egypt, Perdiccas, Antigonus One-Eye, who controlled mainland Greece and Demetrius Poliocretes-the Destroyer of Cities. Called the Successors, they and their descendants warred and conspired with each other until the Roman Empire rose up and knocked them all off. Seleucus and his heirs figure prominently in the last parts of the Old Testament. The Israelites did well under the Persians and Alexander but the later Greeks attempted to force pagan worship on them and tried to put statues of Zeus in the Holy of Holies. King Antiochus Theos Epiphanes –Antiochus the God Made Manifest, plundered Solomons Temple for money and ordered Jews to eat pork and worship Zeus on pain of death. Many Jews were martyred until an uprising led by Judas Maccabeus restored the Hebrew Kingdom.

1337- King Edward III of England decides he's not only King of England but King of France as well- the HUNDRED YEARS WAR begins. It was actually 111 years, until 1446. Ironically it was around this time that the English language began to emerge as the common mother tongue of Britain, melding the Norman French of the nobility with the Anglo Saxon of the common folks.

1571- BATTLE OF LEPANTO- Great naval engagement in which the ships of Venice, Spain, Genoa and the Papacy defeat the Grand Turks navy led by Ali Pasha. The last battle fought with war galleys rowed by teams of rowers. The admiral in charge was the bastard brother of Phillip II, Don John of Austria, a military hero who would have later led the Spanish Armada against England had he not succumbed to an early fever. Had he lived Shakespeare might have had to learn to write in Spanish. The battle raged from ship to ship until Don Johns ship overran Ali Pasha’s flagship and hoisted his severed head to the top of their mainmast. Among the common sailors in the battle were future writers like Lope De Vega and Miguel de Cervantes, who lost his right hand:" For the greater glory of my left" he joked.

1763- THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION TO NORTH AMERICA- The British Colonial Ministry, trying to reward it's Indian allies in the French and Indian War and kill two birds with one stone, told the Americans that any further western colonization to the Mississippi was forbidden, but they were invited to go north and colonize Quebec. This would hopefully mean the outnumbering and eventual assimilation of the French Canadians. Neither happens and it only angered the Americans who were never asked about this idea. The British even toyed with making the Illinois and Michigan territories part of Canada. Could you imagine it:" How' bout dem Cubs,-eh?"

1777-SECOND BATTLE OF BEMIS HEIGHTS-British General Johnny Burgoyne trying to break out of a trap, smashed his army against the American defenses in a heavy rain. The defense works were engineered by Polish patriot Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Washington spelled his name 11 different ways in dispatches, the men just called him " Colonel Koz". Burgoyne had snubbed his superior officers since his arrival in America, saying he answered directly to the War office in London. Now surrounded in the forest by overwhelming odds he snuck out a message to General Guy Carleton in Canada "I await your Lordship's orders." Carelton recognized this weenie attempt to shift blame and ignored him. The hero of this battle was Benedict Arnold. Arnold was everywhere, rallying minutemen brigades and crashing them into the enemy without waiting for his commanders orders. The U.S. commander Horatio Gates spent most of the battle in the rear entertaining captured British officers and discussing the futility of the American cause. The battle ended when someone shot Arnold in the leg.

1799- Napoleon returns from his Egyptian Campaign without his army but with a new appreciation for antiquities.

1870- Writer Edgar Allen Poe was found sprawled over a barrel in a Baltimore street, dressed in someone else's clothing. He was taken to a hospital where he died raving at the walls. It was thought he died from heavy alcohol abuse but recently scholars theorize he may have died from a brain tumor or diabetes impacted by alcohol sensitivity, which would explain the violent mood swings, and that he drank heavily to deaden the pain. Another scholar also theorized that the symptoms strongly point to rabies. Poe loved cats and as we all know there was no rabies shot or test at the time. How or why the cats changed his clothes, is another puzzle.

1897-A group of Russian Jews, disgusted by the state sanctioned anti-Semitism of the Czar, formed the Jewish Socialist Bund. They broke with Theodore Herzel and the mainstream Zionist movement who wanted all Jews to go to Palestine. The Socialist Bund advocated political action to reform within Russia. Communist Leon Trotsky, himself a Jew, belittled the Bund, calling them “Zionists who are afraid of getting sea-sick”.

1915- President Woodrow Wilson reversed his position and announced he was now in favor of giving women the vote.

1927- Sam Warner, the Warner Brother most responsible for committing the studio to gambling on a talking picture process, died as the 'Jazz Singer 'opened and made Warner-Vitaphone a major Hollywood Studio. Jack Warner had earlier said "Who the heck wants to hear actors talk?"

1947 "Hey Stella !!" The Actor's Studio opened, teaching the Stanislavski Method, sometimes called Method Acting. The group later suffered a feud between it’s two top teachers-Lee Strassberg and Sandy Meisner. Ask any old actor if they were with Lee or Sandy, odds were they sided with one and hated the other.

1957-Dick Clark’s T.V. show American Bandstand debuts.

1959-MARIO LANZA.- Philadelphia born Italian–American Lanza was the pop icon opera singer long before there were three tenors in concert. With moviestar good looks and a velvety voice his records and movies sold millions. But he was temperamental and had angered most of the powers that be in Hollywood, climaxing with skipping a $250,000 promise to perform in Las Vegas. This day in Italy he was found dead of a heart attack at age 38. For years there were rumors that he was actually done in by the Mafia for offending Lucky Lucciano, but in the 1990s a forensic investigation by his son proved his brutal regimen of binge eating and furious dieting wore out his heart. He literally dieted himself to death.

1959- Young assassins sent by the dissident Ba’ath Party made an attempt on the life of the Prime Minister of Iraq Sherif Al Kassim. The plotters failed but they sneaked back into the country later. One of them would be one day the ruler of Iraq- Saddam Hussein.

1960- The movie Spartacus opened. Producer/star Kirk Douglas had been using blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for the script , smuggling him in and out of the lot for story meetings. Finally Douglas got fed up and ordered Trumbo to be brought out in the open as the movie's true author. This was considered the official end of the Hollywood Blacklist era, which had lasted since 1947. After director Anthony Mann left the project Douglas hired Stanley Kubrick, who had such a hard time he afterwards left Hollywood never to return.

1964- ITS FUN TO PLAY AT THE Y-M-C-A! The only big sex scandal of the Lyndon Johnson administration. Walter Jenkins was a top LBJ aide and confidant. Johnson called Jenkins “My vice president of almost everything.” This day Walter Jenkins was busted for lewd behavior with a Turkish diplomat in a pay toilet at the YMCA just two blocks from the White House. Jenkins claimed he was just dehydrated.

1974- THE TIDAL BASIN BOMBSHELL- At 2:00 AM Washington DC police stopped a car driving near the White House with its lights off. Inside police discovered powerful Congressman Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, drunk as a skunk with an Argentine stripper named Fanne Fox. Mills broke away from the cops and he and Fanne began to cavort in the Tidal Basin pool near the Jefferson Memorial. They were fished out by police. Mills’ sexual escapades had been hushed up by politicos before but this was just too much. The subsequent publicity brought about hearings and Mills resignation.

1982- London musical 'Cats' opened on Broadway.

1985- Palestinian terrorists hijack the Italian Mediterranean cruise ship Achille Lauro. They murder an elderly Jewish American tourist named Leon Klinghoffer and dump his wheelchair and body into the sea. Composer John Adams wrote an opera about the incident called the Death of Klinghoffer.

1993- Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" earned $ 712 million dollars just in North American box office alone.

2003- The state of California had an unpopular Democratic Governor named Grey Davis. A Republican congressman named Daryl Issa who made a fortune making annoying car alarms “step away from the car..” found an obscure codicil in the State constitution calling for a recall election. The recall election soon had 154 candidates including a porn star, former child star Gary Coleman, Porn publisher Larry Flynt,, a woman who financed her campaign by selling autographed thongs and Grey Davis’ own lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante, who couldn’t stand him either. This night, after a comical election the state elected Austrian-born weight-lifter, turned movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.