Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ControlTV: Outstanding Production and Entertainment

Hello blog, Face Book, and Twitter Nation. Here I sit, in Charlotte NC, nursing a hot cup of Starbucks (had to splurge today)and contemplating if there really is life after ControlTV.

I never realized just how much a person can go through in six weeks time. I took a look at my own life six weeks ago. Compared to now, I think I have made monumental changes in my life. I also believe that I have seen Tristan Couvares grow as an individual. Like many of my generation, I thought he was just another hot shot IT guy looking for a change in jobs and lifestyle. I quickly learned that it was more complicated then that. Tristan was and is a complex, scrutinizing (to the point of being very skeptical), and compassionate person. That, again, was not my first opinion of him. My view of him has changed from that first time I saw him on camera. I got to know him as a person. He got me to relate and understand the world as it is seen through his eyes. And his world, in the loft, was not an easy one to live. I believe Tristan has persevered and learned to be a stronger person through this entire project. He let us into every aspect of his life. Not all of it was pretty, nor was it easy to watch sometimes. But this was LIFE. You deal with what is thrown at you on a daily basis and learn from it. Tristan, I commend what you have lived through and look forward to seeing you become a success, at whatever you you, in Hollywood.

Now, how do I make it through the day without my daily fix of ControlTV? I haven't figured that one out yet. ControlTV had become a part of the routine in my house. It is going to be hard not to be watching it on a daily basis. There is going to be a big gap there. But, with life, you learn to roll with changes. I have a feeling that we're going to see ControlTV pop back up again. As a working member of the entertainment industry, I can normally sense when something has what it takes to be a success in Hollywood. I believe that the creators have caught on to something here that has not been previously explored in any broadcast medium. They've achieved the careful balance between reality television and true entertainment. You have been successful when you can hold an audiences attention, on a daily basis, over a period of six weeks. That is unheard of in the television industry. Sorry, guys, I know this is the web. I'm a little old school television and motion pictures. So, this medium, for this old fella, was originally hard for me to catch on to. However, I now see that this is the future of broadcasting television. I sincerely believe that this is a view the future of television entertainment. Kudos go out from the top down. EP's, directors, producers, field producers, camera and sound, administrative and creative departments have all excelled at ControlTV. All of you can be very proud at what you have done and achieved over the last six weeks.

Okay, I know, you're probably snoozing yourself by now. I myself have been rolled up into the term "Controller". Avid daily viewer, voter, Twitterer, and chatter. I become involved, interacted with, and have been very much entertained with ControlTV.

I, myself, plan to introduce, based on my viewing of ControlTV, a project called "LifeCast". That is a term I have learned from Jen Friel, who I consider to be a leader in the future of social networking. I am invigorated and pumped up about lifecasting through my viewing of her site, TalkNerdytomelover.com, her Tweets, interactions with people, and her insights into daily life. Keep up the great job, Jen. I truly believe that I have been living the life as a nerd for 34 years. Is that what they mean by coming out of the closet? No, I am not Gay, just a nerd and proud of it! I truly believe that being a nerd is the new sexy. My wife would tell you that is true. #NerdsUnite!

Well, that is what I have to say. ControlTV, we will miss you. But we'll still be around in chats at Dreamupdates.com/chat. And I am sure we will continue to Tweet about it. I will continue to produce ControlTVPod cast, as long as there is an interest. Plus, all of us will keep on the producers about season 2. We want to be involved (looking for the audition and casting call) with the next season. We also hope that all the original playas will be back in production. We'd also like to see Tristan back in some form to help the next "victim" cope with life that has become known as "ControlTV".

Leave y'all with the words of a very wise being - "Do, or do not, there is no try."

Randall Melton

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ControlTV: Best Entertainment on the web

Greetings one and all. You've probably noticed that I have not blogged for some time. I used to blog fairly often when If I Can Dream (IICD) was running. Sort of taken a break since the demise of IICD. That is the subject of an entirely different blog to come.

I wanted to hold off on blogging on the new web-based series, ControlTV, until it was near the end of their six week run. I guess I just wanted to make sure that they stuck around for the entire six weeks. Many of us IICD viewers were stunned when IICD just up and stopped the feed without warning. I now know I can offer my view of what I have part a part of for the last six weeks. Six weeks is along time to hold my interest. As a part of the entertainment business, I am very selective in what I watch. So, for me to watch anything, continuously, over six weeks, had to be entertaining.Plus, I found the interactive part of ControlTV very appealing. We had a little taste of that with IICD. ControlTV went far beyond anything that IICD did.

Our star (and yes, I consider Tristan Couvares a star) started out a little rocky. As I watched, I found the premise of the show very appealing and different from anything I had seen on the web. I was not sure what the appeal was at first. I had just learned (yes, at age 52, I can still learn something new)Twitter while watching IICD. So, I plugged in ControlTV to my TweetDeck and proceeded to have the time of my life. I found myself watching at home and at work. In fact, I have configured my laptop to boot up to TweetDeck and IE with ControlTV as the home page.

The interactivity just just didn't stop at the use of Twitter. Tristan actively participated in one on one responses with viewers. We offered our options and Tristan honestly told us his thoughts. Dream Updates, who had offered updates on IICD, now did updates on Tristan and his activities. I found myself making Dream Updates as part of my morning routine. Dream Updates also offered a fully interactive chat room for us "Controllers". That also became a part of my daily routine. I eagerly looked forward to participating in the up front, straight forward conversations with other viewers, Tristan, guests, and the production staff. At first, Tristan didn't come into chat much. Toward the end, Tristan has made the chat room a nightly activity.

I will first tell you that I know that I could not have done the job that Tristan has done in the "loft". I am a behind the scenes guy in production. I do not like being in front of the camera. I also highly value my privacy. I can't imagine the psychological effect that those cameras would have. Tristan, buddy, you have done well to tolerate our invasion to your personal privacy. I admire you for signing up for this kind of constant coverage. Plus, the constant picking apart of of your decisions. Well, I know I would not have handled that very well.

We have seen Tristan on dates, at parties, possible job opportunities, nights on the town, and evenings with his friends at the loft. All under our, The Controllers, contact watching and comments. Again, we have been afforded the chance to see life in Hollywood. It isn't as easy as it looks.

In addition to all the activities, we have seen a large step forward in the technology used to broadcast (not sure that is the right term)a project like this. As a geek, and yes, Jen Friel, a nerd too, I am excited to see this technology used for a new form of entertainment. Everyone involved in the technical operation of the project has far exceeded anything I have seen on the web. You all can be extremely proud of the job you have done. You have set the standard for all other web shows to follow. I was very happy to finally see someone get mobile (in the Fiesta) video as good as they have done. I realise that the tech side of a production offer goes uncredited and unthanked for what they do. Again, all of you should be proud at what you have accomplished.

I also managed to get myself, and my personal life, tied up into the daily interactivity. It was fun to be able to share special times with all The Controllers, Tristan, and the production staff. I received a lot of personal encouragement for everyone. I can't tell you how that made me feel. I truly felt like a member of the ControlTV "family".

I also assisted Anders in producing a weekly half hour PodCast on the activities of ControlTV. We got the opportunity to talk to Jen Friel, Marni Battista, and Maurya Couvares. They allowed us to get a glimpse of what it was like to be involved in this tend setting project. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.

Now they are at their end of this six week experiment. Have they accomplished what they set out to do? Well, if it was to entertain, they did accomplish that. I have laughed, cried, yelled, giggled, and talked to (might need a little therapy) the monitor on many occasions. Both Alina and I have found ourselves fully engrossed with ControlTV. I also believe they set out to educate both Tristan, and us, of what life is like in the entertainment field. They surpassed my expectations.

So, in closing, I would like to thank Tristan. I hope you find your path through what you have learned during this past six weeks. Doug, Ryan, Matt, Seth, Ken, Orlan, Corey, Marco, Kristan, Kimberly, Shayna, Shara, and to anyone I might have forgot, thank you for keeping my life exciting. You all have done an excellent job. We all certainly expect to see good things out of all of you. If can ever help, any of you, just ask.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

IICD to the past, ControlTV to the future

Well, here it has been, one week since the demise of IICD. Yes, I said demise. I don't believe that we will see IICD return in its current form. It will probably be retooled to a 30 minute TV series on Fox next year. The way that this was announced (not really announced -just quit) was a slap in the face to its many dedicated viewers. 19 should have given this cancelation alot more thought than they did. It was wrong just to suddenly announce - to viewers and Dreamers alike - to stay tuned for season 2. In the television business, you just don't burn an entire group of viewers and expect them to return for the next season. What goes around, comes around. That is very true for the television business.

I will miss watching Ben, Kara, Alex, and Gig on a daily basis. I wish them all the best in their futures in the entertainment business. I credit them with inspiring me to persue my dream of going to work in the television business. I owe that to them.

I did recently discovered Seth Green's www.controltv.com while suffering through my IICD withdrawl symptoms. I have found that it is very entertaining to just watch one person, Tristan Couvares, wander his way through L.A. for the next six weeks. Viewers get to frequently vote on what Tristan should do next. The producers have created an excellent environment for their star. I have found that both Tristan, and the producers, seem to be very open to viewers suggestions and ideas.

Well, that is all I have time for. I will try to get myself on a better blog schedule.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Dream Continues . . .

Yeah, I know, it has been too long since my last post. As I said before, I don't post unless I have something contructive to say. I don't write just to see my own words up on the screen.

I have just watched episode 17 of If I Can Dream - Go Nude or Go Home. I really feel that my respect for Kara and Alex has increased. It is the organization that Gig, Ben, and Justin should question. I felt they jumped in without knowing who they were getting involved with. Sometimes

PETA is widely known, amoung the humane organizations, as an extreamist, far left animal rights group. So, you're asking where do I get off talknig about them like this? I have been running a no-kill, animal rescue and adoptin shelter for the last seven years. Plus, I also speak of my personal dealings with PETA.

Two years ago, PETA came to Halifax County North Carolina, to rescue unwanted cats. That is how they represented themselves to our community. Both young and old people gladly gave up their unwanted cats to this PETA couple. These two representatives were operating out of PETA's Norfolk Virginia world headquarters. They told all who they received animals from that the cats would be taken back to Norfolk and be adopted out. We, as naive as we are, believed them. However, what they did was 180 degrees opposite.

These two PETA representatives (remember what PETA stands for - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)took over 45 cats, illegally put the animals down, placed them in trash bags and tossed them into a supermarket dumpster. First of all, neither rep was a licensed vet. In North Carolina, you have to be a licensed vet to put an animal down. Second, what they did constitues animal abuse - which is a felony in all 50 states. We all felt betrayed when we learned this. People lost their trust in us - because we recommended our friends to give up their animals to them. I, for one, and our organization, Down East Animal Refuge, does not like to be made fools of.

We approached the national PETA leadership regarding this issue. They NEVER denied that this was their intention. However, they deceived people into giving up, sometimes their loving pets, to PETA, thinking they were going to get loving homes. So, you'll understand why I question PETA's motives.

I understand that PETA is looking the animal rights issue from a much bigger picture. However, it is the princple of this issue. Animals are animals. You can't have it both ways, PETA. You either protect ALL animals, or, you don't protect them at all. You can't pick and choose the animals you want to protect. Killing animals for their skin is wrong. So is putting loving pets down and deceiving people. PETA does all these high impact, controversial ads. They spend millions on getting their word out. It is too bad that PETA can't funnel that money into our communities to support local shelters.

Okay, okay. I'll get off my soap box. Tell me what you think? Do you think that Justin, Ben, and Giglianne had the right intentions? Do you feel that they picked the right organization to go with? Let's hear it. Again, kudos to Kara and Alex for standing their ground.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Week 14 in the If I Can Dream House

Remember what I said about my blogging? I only blog when I feel like I have something useful to say. It has been about two weeks since my last post. Nothing since then, in the house, has inspired me to blog. However, during the last two weeks, I have made some observations. Thus the reason for this post. Again, I do not write for writing sake. I do love to see my stuff in print. I am certainly not going to write and just ramble on.

First notable observation from the last two weeks - the lack of Justin Gaston and Alex Lambert's presence in the house. I realise that most of what they might have to do takes place outside of the house. Being out of the house also means that you are being productive. We can't be sure of that because we can't see that process. However, I look back at when If I Can Dream first started. We did see songwriters and musicians in the house with Justin. Now, we rarely see Justin in the house working on his music with others. So, we do know that he can work on his art in the house. But, for some reason, Justin has migrated that process out of the house and out of the sight of his fans. Is this because of the strict requirements of coming into the house? Is it just a personal perference of Justin's? We don't know. No one has ever asked him and Michael has never addressed it. Well, if IICD wants to keep all those Justin Gaston fans happy, then it might be wise to speak up about this.

Same goes for Alex Lambert. We have been seeing Alex's creative process throughout the last several weeks. Watching this process unfold on live stream has surely built up Alex's fan base. Plus, there are those of us who have always been interested in seeing how this creative process works. I now have a greater appreciation for what singer/songwriters have to go through. Now, Alex has seems to follow in Justin's footsteps and has taken some of that creative process outside of the house. Surely this is not what Simon Fuller had originally envisioned for this project. I have liked seeing Alex grow as a musician, singer, and as a person. But now I feel we, their loyal fans and viewers, are being left out. Again, I do not know if this is a choice that Alex has made, or someone has made for him.

Next, I have observed some tension between Alex and Giglianne. This all results from what I have just written about. Alex stated that all Gig does is lay on her bed all day in front of the computer. I think that comes from Alex not really being aware of what kind of time, effort, and work Giglianne has put into her dream. High fashion is just as competitive as being a successful singer or songwriter. Giglianne has been on alot of photo shoots, has networked with alot of people, and is making every effort to do what she wants to do. I think it is not fair of Alex to make comments about Giglianne's seemingly lack of work. Alex, take a look at what she has done and where she has come from since she first started. Being a model surely has alot more down time than being a singer/songwriter. You are applying your work ethic to her craft. You can't do that. Your two professions can't be more different. Plus, if you spent more time in the house, you might see that Giglianne does alot more work toward her craft than you may think.

Ben and Kara, our two actors. Like Giglianne and Alex's profession, being an actor is so diversely different from that of a model or a singer. Ben and Kara invest large amount of their time going over monologs, dialects, acting classes, and auditions. I truly admire the time that they have put into their craft. They are very dedicated and very concerned about the quality of their work. That comes across in their acting classes with John Kirby. I do think, more often than not, that Ben and Kara get "stuck" in the house alone. This has happened alot in the last several weeks. They have not wasted that time alone. Their time has been spent perfecting their craft. But I am a little concerned over their social, or lack thereof, lives. That may not be my business. As a loyal fan of them both, I feel like they are searching for something. Kara has has some core friends that come over. We haven't seen Ben go out on many dates or bring dates to the house. Hey, guys, we are here for you.

Michael, we need to hear from you a little more often. A Tweet session, maybe with you, Claire, and Kirsten might shine a little light on what you guys do, how you do it, and what it takes to keep this project running. I commend you all for an execellent program. And, as a geek, I would like to see more about those unsung people at 19 who work in the control room, garage, camera & sound people, and photographers. There is a story to tell there. Why not tell it?

Okay. Enough of this rant. Tell me what you think?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If I Can Dream - Episode 12 - It is STILL a Dream

I'll be the first to tell you, episode 12 was not an easy episode to watch. I already knew what this particular episode was going to be about. Normally, with any other show, I would have probably steered clear of watching it. But, like my friends in the Dream House, you have to learn to accept the good as well as the bad news. That is part of of life. Unfortunately, being an actor, musician, or model, life is full of rejection and you learn to deal with the word "no". Okay, enough of that rant. Like an actor, I had to emotionally prepare myself to watch what I knew would be difficult scenes to watch. I traditionally watch the episodes early in the morning when it is quiet.

It is funny, even though I knew the outcome of this, I was still emotionally attached to the people in If I Can Dream. Some may say that is creepy. Well, I just like to see people doing what they love to do. I feel terrible inside when I see someone's dreams dashed. It wasn't any less emotional for me even though I knew how this story would end.

I think back to the morning that Michael appeared at the house, with camera and sound guys in tow, to have a meeting with all the residents of the Dream House. I knew something major was about to happen. Sometimes, even though there is a great distance involved, you can sense the emotional energy through the video. I watched the meeting and made a Tweet comment that this was one of those "I speak and you listen" meetings. And it was.

It was now good to finally see the portions after that mornnig meeting that we could see. It was like the viewers had seen the start and the end of a story. But had missed the bridge between the beginning and the end. Most of us knew that there are people in the house that are safe, meaning that, barring a major problem, would probably never be asked to leave. Michael has a keen sense of knowing where the bumps in the road were at. I watched as they individually came into this office to their meetings.

At first, I wasn't too attached to Ben or Kara. But, after this, and some of the events in the house, they have become my favorites. I could see that Ben very much wanted to be there. In my mind, Ben has come along way since he first got there. Michael agreed and Ben was going to stay right there. They all agreed that they had some weaknesses. But, as Giglianne is fond of saying, " I have to step it up," is so true of all of them. Gig has grown immensely in the last month of photo shoots. Justin is getting the opportunities of a life time and is heading road the right path. Alex is full of talent and drive. And, as Michael said, Alex still needs to grow up alittle. Finally, it was Amanda's turn. There was where I started to get tears in my eyes.

It was so difficult to see Amanda speak on what she had long remained silent on. We all knew from scenes in the house, that she had problems with the lack of personal freedom. I had Tweeted her once that after being in the Navy for 20 years, I knew what she was talknig about. It was difficult for her to admit. This is one of the things I like about Amanda. Is that she is not afraid to speak her mind. It was clear that this had been something she had been thinking about for a while. Michael handled the situation very well. That has as probably hard for him as well as it was for Amanda.

At one point, Amanda got in the Fiesta to head home, she turned to the camera and said, "Did I just F up my life?" Amanda, I have been theer many times. I felt that way the day I joined the Navy at age 25. But, I made that decision because it was what I felt was the right thing to do. I am sure that Amanda knew that this was the right decision for her. She is a fighter and we wil see her again in Hollywood. Sure, she may have to struggle alittle. But, that is part of life. We've all had times that we struggled in order to do the things we want to do.

Then she got home. I am sure that was the longest drive back to the house for her. Now she had to face her friends, people she had grown close to over the last several months. We have all been in her position once or twice during our lives. So, we could relate what she was going through. Once at home, the tears continued agian. I remember watch the feed on that Friday night. That is about the most emotion I had seen in the Dream House. And,as being on the receiving end of sad news like this, I also knew what Kara and Ben were going through. My heart went out to Kara. I knew that the two of them had formed an emotional bond. And they relied on one another for support. It was really sad to watch Kara and Ben deal with Amanda's leaving the house. But they dealt with it well. I respect them so much and appreciate that they are sharing this part of their lives with us.

Some, like Alex and Giglianne, were not so surprised that Amanda had decided to leave. Their words were slightly stinging, were truthful and sincere. That is where that respect comes in. I respect them both for being honest and straight with themselves and with us. I know it wasn't easy to hear Alex say that he felt that Amanda just didn't put the time into her craft. And it wasn't easy to hear Giglianne say that she would not miss Amanda. Again, I may not agree with them. But I respect their opinions.

Okay, now the episode is over and we're down to five in the house. Now everyone is back and is focused with the matter at hand. This is one of those emotional low points. We have them. We've all been through them. And we all have dealt with them. Everyone in the house has clearly learned a valuable lesson from Amanda's departure. One lesson, which I think sunk in even deep through this event, is that you have to make some personal sacrafices in order to get to where you want to be in life. All our Dreamers, Alex, Ben, Kara, Giglianne, and Justin have their eyes on the prize.

That my my blog for this Super Tuesday. I know, he's quiet all week until Tuesday. well, I don't write unless I have something to say. I guess that is the journalist in me coming out. After all, I spent 20 years as a journalist in the Navy. I wrote on alot of things that others wanted me to write on. Now, it's my turn. I want to hear what your thoughts are, good or bad. Speak your mind.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If I Can Dream Episode 11 - The Emotional Rollercoaster

First of all, to the editors and producers, that was the best episode of the series. I felt that this episode explored the entire range of emotions that make up the six members of If I Can Dream. I came away from the episode very emotionally satisfied. I laughed, cried, chuckled, and even tossed back some comments as the episode progressed.

We got to see emotions from Ben, Amanda, Giglianne, Alex, Kara, and Justin that we had not seen before. That gave me a sense that they were all human and had their breaking points. Some were diplomatic, like Kara's confrontation with Alex, to Alex's vocal reactions at the family meeting. We got to see the humorous side of Kara sneaking up on Amanda. Only to see later in the episode Kara running upstairs, crying, from Kristen's questions about Brandt. Then it swung back to the more serious with Kara's, Amanda's and Ben's audition. Even the preview of the next episode tugged on your emotions.

That preview really made my eyes tear up once again. It is funny how you react to seeing a story unfold that you already know the ending to. You could sense that Amanda had already been thinking some of things that Michael was talking about. It really hit home for her when he said if something isn't working, then we need to get rid of it. You could sense, just from that short preview, that there were emotions bubbling just below the surface. I am eager to see the next episode that explores those meetings. I am sure episode 12 will be as much as an emotional rollercoaster as this episode was.

Great job one and all. This episode only strengthens my reasons for watching If I Can Dream. You all have proven to be very likable, entertaining, professional, and, sometimes, very child like. There isn't anything wrong with that last quality, in moderation of course.

Something related to all this, I have found myself swinging back, looking at the MySpace auditions. I think it will be an interesting process of who next moves into the House of Dreams. It was a painstaking process to select the current six house mates. I am sure the creators and producers have all learned something during this last week. I know they will take all that in consideration when someone is selected. Surely the potential artists are also going to learn from the events in the house.

Finally, Executive Producer Michael Herwick reminds me of what would happen if you rolled up Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi together. His cannot be an easy job. Stay away from the dark side, Michael! Michael, keep up the great work.

Okay, enough of all that. Let's get some feedback on this and my other posts of this week.