Hollywood on the Potomac

Examiner says Yea to Katy Adams

August 29, 2010

Twenty colleagues joined the "rebooting" of the Washington Examiner's Yeas & Nays team adding newcomer Katy Adams. Teatro Goldoni was buzzing about the Glenn Beck rally on Saturday.

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Mississippi Rising -- From Katrina that is

August 25, 2010

It seems like yesterday, but it’s been five years since hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast and five years since “heck of a job Brownie.” Most of us remember it differently -- in particular former CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch, who is celebrating the launch of her new book at Politics & Prose on Wednesday night.

“Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered,” is a riveting and harrowing account of what it was like to be part of nature’s destructive force and the aftermath.

“I was reporting from Mobile when the hurricane roared in, and then spent the next week in Mississippi,” said Koch. “Networks located media crews in locations they (and we) considered safe -- like north of the I-10 Interstate in Mississippi or at a hotel in Mobile to the east of expected landfall.  FEMA and most of the aid agencies apparently positioned themselves further north in places like Hattiesburg and Jackson, Mississippi.  They had to cut their way south through miles of downed trees.  Hence, it took nearly a week before they arrived.”

“Rule #1 when covering a hurricane:” she said. “Buy all the food, water and gasoline you will need to sustain yourselves.  If you’re covering a Cat 2 storm, then three day’s worth may suffice.  It it’s a Cat 4 or 5, you’d better buy enough supplies for a week.  So yes, we breakfasted on granola bars, lunched on tuna packs and dinner was pop-top Campbell’s soup -- and it was all delicious! Working as hard as you do at times like this, anything you eat tastes like a banquet. 

Not sharing the food and water supplies was devastating, according to Koch.  “That was one of the most difficult things to deal with -- being one of the few with ready access to food, water and gasoline.  The guilt was magnified because I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the tiny town of Bay St. Louis.  The survivors I was interviewing who had lost everything were my friends, high school classmates and neighbors.  I continually offered them what we had, but most declined and just urged us to get the word out that no help had come and people were suffering.”

She remembers it as if it was yesterday.  “I realized that then we’d be the victims and unable to do our jobs -- which at that moment was truly the best way to help the most people.  Still, I dealt for years with the suffocating guilt over how you can consider yourself a good person if you didn’t give away what you had.”

“I no longer have much trust or faith that the federal government is capable of responding well or speedily after a major disaster.  I know that what national officials say is happening on the ground at times like this may actually be very far from the truth.  I have learned that though some in federal agencies may have a good understanding of what is in store and what needs to be done to prepare and respond, that information doesn’t necessarily get to the top decision-makers.  Consequently, bad decisions are made that end up impacting survivors for days, weeks, months, even years,” she said. 

“I tell civic groups that after a calamity on the magnitude of Katrina, you are on your own.  For days, and perhaps weeks, you will have to rely on your neighbors -- literally and figuratively.  The first and sometimes best help will come from bordering cities and states.  The federal government will get there when it can.” 

Koch heads to the Gulf on Friday for commemorative ceremonies.

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What’s up with Georgetown, AU and Hollywood?

August 23, 2010

For a university that primarily attracts students of foreign policy and politics, AU sure is turning out a lot graduates that move on to the entertainment business. That would include David Gregory and Betsy Fischer of Meet the Press, film producers Elan Sassoon and former Georgetowner Philip Botana -- and most recently Georgetown resident Pergrin Pervez and AU comrade Nick Cambata, who work together at 8112 Studios.

Cambata, who along with his partner Douglas Sonders, formed 8112 Studio and have been tapped for both magazines and television shows -- Nick as a video producer and Sonders as a highly skilled entertainment photographer.  Collectively, their work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Travel Channel, a documentary in India and even work with Lady Gaga.

Now they have been hired to produce a music video for Hollywood heavyweight Brett Ratner of X-MEN fame.  All three worked on a music video for supermodel (Victoria’s Secret and Playboy)-turned-musician Alina Puscau over the weekend. Previous shoots for the video included Georgetown and U Street. 

While that shoot went smoothly, Nick says it is not always the case. "Things can frequently go wrong, so we typically have a contingency plan to everything we do. We recently shot a video where the artist suggested that we shoot him inside a helicopter flying with the doors open.  After arranging the helicopter and having only 30 minutes to film everything we needed, the artist discovered his fear of heights at that moment and refused to fly.  After a lot of convincing, I told the artist that we were only going to go up 10 to 20 feet in the air to create the illusion he was flying.  After strapping him in and the artist not being able to hear myself and the pilot, I instructed the pilot to take us in the air and fly around at full speed at a few thousand feet above the ground.  The artist was visibly nervous when he realized this but I kept the cameras rolling," Nick told the Dish.  "When they landed, first thing he said was, 'Did you get the shot?'  I did and the success of the video hinged on this key shot."
Thanks to 8112 publicist Pergrin, here is a look at the behind the scenes development of Alina’s upcoming music video.

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