Greetings from Sunny California!

Now is an ideal moment to take stock of our performance, and reorient ourselves in the direction of peace, renewal, introspection, and togetherness.

However challenging this past year may have been for you or your business, we hope that the net effect has been a positive one, not only to your bottom line, but to your and your colleagues’ personal sense of wellbeing. We work to live, and may we all live to make our world a little better – whether through art, commerce, social service, or whatever pursuit gets you out of bed at the beginning of your day!

As always, our firm’s marker for success is how much we were able to learn and grow, in any given year. 2019 was no exception, though it had some unforeseen moments!

Our recent engagements have taken us into a variety of new markets and fields, for which I am grateful. Whether working with the UN Foundation on their “Girl Up” initiative, restructuring a nationally syndicated radio talk show for the podcast era, or celebrating the opening of a new local business venture. Our company’s focus remains on people, sustainability (environmental and fiscal), and innovation.



Grand Opening of Los Angeles’ Artesano Tamaleria


Attendees at the UN Foundation Girl Up Summit


Personal commitments prevented me from spending my usual couple of months with our London and Lisbon teams, but more time in the Los Angeles area allowed for greater participation in some local initiatives.

We continue to enjoy supporting the great work done by the film and TV industry’s Green Production Guide team, and I enjoyed spending a day at the Produced By Conference in early June, roaming the Warner Bros lot, challenging the thousands of industry professionals in attendance to rethink and upgrade their approach to sustainable production. Personal engagement remains the foundation stone upon which fruitful change is built.


Leaders of the Producers Guild of America Green Initiative


Our firm continues to work with and advise a variety of political and educational initiatives and organizations, including the City of Burbank, where we are based. We are passionate about improving the transportation infrastructures and community health of this beautiful city – no small undertaking in an area so slavishly devoted to the automobile! We were thrilled to participate this year in some milestone events and initiatives, including the groundbreaking ceremonies for a bikeway we’ve been working on for a number of years, the continued development of a regional rapid transit system (BRT), and ongoing improvements to the intersections between our regional and local traffic infrastructures (more access for bicycles, pedestrians, and public transportation!). There has been a lot of success in 2019, but, as with all such projects, the movement is glacial and there remains much to be done!

This was a great year for improving the city’s fiscal and functional health, and it’s been a pleasure to welcome new City Manager Justin Hess, while thanking outgoing City Manager Ron Davis for his service. Each person, though cut from different cloth, brings a standard of excellence and service worthy of appreciation. The inimitable Emily Gabel-Luddy, nearing the close of her term, will shortly be succeeded as the City’s Mayor by our other admirable friend Sharon Springer, and I look forward to a period wherein her infectious enthusiasm, love of community, and intelligence will continue to inspire and uplift not only City Staff, residents, and businesses, but the municipalities around us, as California continues to lead the way in facing the challenges and opportunities of our myriad communities.


Burbank City Council and Community Leaders at Los Angeles Bikeway Groundbreaking Ceremony


A summer opportunity to travel back to Seattle, Washington allowed me to catch up with a previous client, OneRedmond, and the numerous technology and entertainment companies with whom we collaborated during our most recent project in the area. Some very interesting progress has been made, including the establishment of a very promising Public/Private partnership serving the Greater Seattle Economic Development area. This region includes not only Seattle itself, but also the wonderful cities of Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. We were also able to spend a good amount of time with another cherished client, one of the Northwest’s top event and hospitality firms with whom we are developing a growth strategy, as they expand into more strategic and global ventures relating to their already impressive core capabilities.

The Northwest region remains a favorite one, and I’m excited to see its continued growth as a hub of innovation and workforce development. The area’s renowned commitment to sustainability and community makes it an excellent breeding ground for the next generation of purpose-driven enterprises.


Back in Los Angeles, I was recently invited to participate in a long-overdue Mobile World Congress workshop session entitled “Women4Tech”. It was inspiring to see and talk with such a diversity of women leaders in the fields of tech, marketing, engineering, government, and creative production. Some of next year’s most compelling innovations from around the world will be coming from women-led enterprises, and we can only benefit from their contributions, guidance, and insights.


Women4Tech Conference at Mobile World Congress USA

At the end of last year, I was invited by Al Gore to become a Climate Reality Leader, helping to inform and inspire communities to become more actively engaged in combating the undeniable climate crisis we all face. In addition to giving presentations to schools, local governments, corporations, and community organizations, it was an honor to be asked to establish and chair one of the newest Chapters of the global Climate Reality Project. This proved a mighty and worthwhile challenge! During the course of this past year, we recruited more than 40 passionate advocates for responsible stewardship, and together we have made a marked impact on local, state, regional, and national policy and action. We look forward to helping the organization further consolidate and maximize the energy, knowledge, and commitment of these leaders.



The Southern Poverty Law Center has been a favorite organization, ever since I was a student at Duke University, helping to set up a chapter of the Center’s then-new “Teaching Tolerance” initiative. I’ve long enjoyed supporting the great work done by this laudable organization, and this year we were offered a marvelous opportunity to spend some time with co-founder Joe Levin, as we reviewed the extraordinary efforts undertaken by the SPLC, on behalf of the disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed members of our nation’s family. I remain in awe of their passionate zeal and commitment.


With SPLC Co-founder, Joe Levin


While 2019 provided a diversity of opportunities and discoveries, it also unhappily took away important treasures. I was greatly saddened this year to participate in memorial and funeral services for some great people, including my friend, Blake Byrne; an important mentor, David Picker; a previous boss, Michael Lynne; and former colleague and icon, Cokie Roberts. It would be pitiful to attempt here any sort of In Memoriam for such admirable people, so we will instead commit ourselves anew to conducting our professional business in a manner reflecting their integrity, passion, and service. We are sure that each of our friends, colleagues, and clients has experienced the pain of loss this year, in their own unique but equally important way, and we offer each our sympathy. Life is indeed a fleeting gift, the value of which we seem to fail to take full measure, until we find ourselves being ushered toward the exit. To borrow the latest aphorism: KonMari the year ahead, and share the joy you keep!



The future must always be seen with optimism. We are looking forward to continuing our work with our newest client: an exciting tech & creative startup venture focused on increasing access for the visually impaired to content otherwise out of reach. We’re eager to see what other opportunities and innovations present themselves next year, in markets and industries that will assuredly teach us new lessons and show us new wonders!

My thanks go not only to my colleagues, but to clients and friends alike who have welcomed us this year into their offices and labs, as well as onto the many studio lots and sets! The opportunity to learn from and watch you invent inspires me on a regular basis!



Wishing you the peace, renewal, and togetherness to which I alluded at the beginning of my post, I close, grateful for a year where the positives outweighed the negatives, and in the hope that this trend continues robustly in the year to come.







Nicholas de Wolff


I originally posted the “official video” for this song a couple of months ago. Following some legal wranglings with their label, EMI (which recently removed the embed functionality from all the band’s videos on YouTube), OK GO  went and got an independent sponsor to support a wholly autonomous remake of the video, over which EMI had no authority! Here it is:

Just watched two Meryl Streep films in a row, and while her roles could not have been more different (although a scene in the latter slyly referenced Ms. Streep’s work in the former), my experiences had some similarities. However, before I get all tongue twisted…

Julie & Julia” (also starring Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci) was a lovingly served, albeit occasionally unnecessarily garnished, feast. Streep’s performance was exquisite, and will – I have no doubt – garner her yet another Oscar nom. She (if you’ll forgive the pun) chewed the scenery with thrilling aplomb. Tucci, as her adoring husband, was solid in his support in the way only a great and confident actor can be. Adams, with perhaps the more subtly brittle and thereby complex role, had the unenviable task of running a race against the far more entertaining flashback scenes involving Streep. She didn’t have a chance, but she ran it to the end nevertheless, which deserves some kudos.

Ultimately, this was one of those films that delivers a “tour de force” performance, and a middling script. What may have worked on the page was not meant to be translated to the screen so unimaginatively. Creative? Yes. Imaginative? No. There IS a difference.

Being a bit of a gourmand (translation: “I love my food!”), I found myself enjoying certain scenes that may not have been so readily stomached by less gastronomically inclined viewers. I do wonder whether the cooking scenes did not manage to artificially sweeten my experience…

Streep’s other performance this year was opposite Alec Baldwin, in Nancy Meyers‘ latest “wealthy white witty women” comedy, “It’s Complicated“. What I most remembered about this film, in addition to Streep’s undeniably entertaining performance, was how she had once more been blessed with another strong male co-star, yet cut of a completely different cloth (or three) than Mr. Tucci.

Meyers has found a formula that works for her and her fans: Strong actors, visually appealing eye-candy locations, cute supporting actors, moments of highly predictable yet somewhat effective emotion, and always the neatest of bows to tie up the package. Only the grumpiest of failed filmmakers would criticize these films with more than a light paddle, because they don’t pretend to be anything more than that which they are.

That said, one can only eat a pleasant confection so many times, before one begins to tire of the taste. Just as “Julie & Julia” delivered strong performances on the back of an unremarkable script, “It’s Complicated” also gave Streep and Baldwin (especially Baldwin) the chance to create some memorable moments, despite an altogether unmemorable (albeit pleasant) story.

Stayed up late and watched “Lost in La Mancha“, the chronicle of Terry Gilliam’s sojourn in Spanish Hell.

Directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, whose “Hamster Factory” witness to Gilliam’s “The Twelve Monkeys” proved that “Making of…” docs need not be fawning paeans to the genius of all involved, nor sycophantic celebrations of the warm and fuzzy working environment on every movie set ever assembled. These two chaps seem to be Gilliam’s personal biographers – although they’ve now moved on (of course) to their own fictional gig, “Living and Breathing”.
But back to Spain, where the rain does fall on the plain, a lot…Mr. Higgins, you-have-no-idea…

Gilliam at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con Intern...
Image via Wikipedia

Terry Gilliam has been trying to make a feature film adaptation of Cervantes’Don Quixote” since 1991, or thereabouts. He has struggled valiantly against a host of obstacles (read financiers), and as this documentary begins, we learn he has finally acquired enough funding, all of it European, to squeeze out a production that might just approximate the rich tapestry currently residing in his Pythonesque cerebrum. Gilliam plans to make this $70 million for $35.1 million, and nothing seems to be able to stop him…that is, until he actually gets started.

As with “Hamster Factory”, this feature shows the truth about the unglamorous aspects of getting a film made. Unlike the “Twelve Monkeys” documentary, this project keeps rolling as Gilliam’s quest becomes swiftly unseated, landing unceremoniously in a mess of hailstorms, hemorrhoids, and high-flying (make that “not-so-high-flying”) Spanish fighter jets.

This film is a must-see for film students, as well as for those wishing to better understand why movie tickets cost so much!

As those of you who read my reviews in the past know, I don’t rehash the whole story, but prefer to share a few hors-d’oeuvres, in the form of background, and sideline info, leaving the meat for dinnertime.

Bon Appetit!

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[In light of a recent LA Times article decrying the quality of films released this year (2009), I thought it interesting to see what began the year nearly 6 years ago]

…Saw several films in the past week. The first was “Bend It Like Beckham” – Gurinder Chadha’s charmingly pop market take on the FullMonty/Rocky/Breaking Away ethos. Parminder Nagra is both engaging, boyishly sensual, and intelligent in her lead portrayal of teenage Footballywood wannabe Jess Bhamrra. Keira Knightley, unhealthily skinny as she is (although her facial features look almost exactly like my high-school girlfriend!), is quite satisfactory as her counterpart, Jules Paxton. The script cleverly (and at times – thanks to Juliet Stevenson‘s great turn as Mrs. Paxton – hilariously!) helps us experience how Jules’ androgynous name is not the only outwardly confusing element in this relationship. All in all, small as this feature was, the experience was a well placed kick, and a guaranteed gooOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Underworld“, starring Kate Beckinsale in myriad tight-fitting leather costumes, was unfortunately offside. Watching this battle between Vampires and Werewolves, I was unaware for which side I was supposed to be cheering, although at the end there is a nicely subtle demonstration of reversal impression, when we realize the wolves are not the baddies they were apparently set up to be…but by then I didn’t give a rat’s arse, lycanthropic or not. Yes, it was nice to see Kate up on screen (see “tight-fitting leather costumes” comment above), but many pieces of paper do not a gripping novel make – and thus did first-time director Len Wiseman fail: the film – while visually striking (I expected no less from the Art Director on “Stargate” and “Independence Day”), was drained dry of compelling characters or rich soryline.

Last, but certainly not least, “Bug“.

Written by Matt Manfred, and directed by Manfredi and his “Crazy/Beautiful” partner, Phil Hay – this chain link fence of action and consequence is a hypnotic visual and mental stream of consciousness that would put James Joyce to test. Several great performances in one of the few truly ensemble features where the ensemble never actually meets, all adding up to a surrealist take on how life is never as simple, nor as insular as we might think…or wish.