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Movie Mom
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I love the idea of “offlining,” asking families to take a pledge of device-free time to focus on real-life communication. More than 10,000 people have signed their pledge to have at least 10 device-free dinners between now and Thanksgiving. I like the statement of the guys behind it about where it came from (even if they make the unforgivable mistake of writing “it’s” when it should be “its” — I will correct it below):

We persuade for a living.

We’ve devoted much of the last couple of decades to convincing you to log on, click here, call now, surf, search, pay bills in your underwear, trade from the beach, add “friends” to your digital network and, as AT&T once famously promised in their “You Will” campaign, tuck your children in from your mobile device.

Then one day we made a mistake — we looked up. We took our eyes off the screen long enough to see. We noticed we had kids and wives. We took in the way leaves open their faces to the sun. We reacquainted ourselves with the sounds birds make. And we realized these things could no longer compete.

We marketers had won!

All around us, all the heads in all the malls, airports and train stations seemed bowed in reverence to the device. Life had become multi-screen, multi-task, multi-plexed, mashed-up, an unrelieved contest for diminishing attention. And those who use the media professionally were perhaps the most inundated of all.

…..

We’re not fundamentalists. We’re not anti-marketing. In fact, we love marketing and we respect its power, which is why we’re committed to applying our expertise to the important things. And we’re not anti-technology — on the contrary, we love technology and all it can do for us. But we’re only going to enjoy those benefits if we learn to use the Off Button.

They’re calling for a device-free Yom Kippur (sunset of Sept 17-sunset of Sept 18 this year), not just for Jews but for everyone, to re-connect with friends and family. As noted above, they are marketing guys, and their ads are provocative and some may find them offensive, with photos of scandal-prone celebrities whose electronic communications have gotten them in trouble: Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, and Tiger Woods. They would say that it is necessary to get people’s attention and I suppose that my writing this right now shows that it worked.

Aviva Kempner is the director of the outstanding documentary, “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg,” just out on DVD. I interviewed her about making the film and new material and surprising discovery she added to the DVD features.
What surprised you most in researching this film?
I never knew about the blacklisting and sad demise of fellow actor Philip Loeb, who played Jake Goldberg on first season of “The Goldbergs.” Very talented and union organizer Loeb was targeted and driven from the show even though Berg fought hard to keep him on. Losing his livelihood Loeb killed himself 55 years ago on September 1st. He taught many fine actors, including Kirk Douglas, and directed seasons of the Marx Brothers in “Room Service.” He lost his life to a disease called the blacklist.
What was it about the Goldbergs that made their stories seem so universal?
It was so delightfully about the joys and woes of family at a time that so many immigrant and accented speaking families were living together and struggling to succeed.
Is ethnic material handled differently now? What’s better and what have we
lost?

Sadly those ethnic characters are no longer the norm unlike those delightful characters on early radio and television. I was saddened to see “Ugly Betty” go off the air as it celebrated the aspirations of a Latin immigrant family. Hopefully more of those shows will emerge again.
Is there anyone today who is a performer/writer/producer the same way that Berg
was?

Tina Fey and Oprah are as multi-tasked and powerful women in popular culture today. I was honored to bring Gertrude Berg, the most famous woman in America you have never heard of, to the screen. I loved that a combination of senior citizens, who watched the show, and young viewers, especially feminists, flocked to the movie theatres. Now the DVD can expose the rest of America to talented Gertrude Berg.
What was her biggest challenge? Her biggest triumph?
Her biggest challenge was fighting the blacklist of Philip Loeb and the her biggest triumph was winning the first Emmy for an actress sixty years ago and then go on to also claim a Tony award for “Majority of One.”
What kinds of extras are on the DVD?
The jam-packed DVD includes interviews with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner, producers Norman Lear (“All in the Family”) and Gary David Goldberg (“Family Ties”), and NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg, as well as early career appearances of Anne Bancroft and Steve McQueen. The bonus features are chock-full with over two hours of material including my own audio commentary, episodes of “The Goldbergs” (including a surprising 1954 episode featuring Molly and Jake in the same bed together!), Gertrude Berg’s guest appearances with Edward R. Murrow and on Ed Sullivan, additional scenes and interviews, a Gertrude Berg recipe, an essay from the director and much, much more.

Every family should share these ten moments of courage, dedication, awakening, and inspiration. Thanks to Mashable for putting this together.

Labor Day is a good time to see this musical about the romance between a representative of the union (Doris Day) and a representative of management (John Raitt). It has the good sense to keep the plot out of the way of the wonderful songs (like “Hey There” and “Steam Heat”) and the ebulliently energetic dance numbers (choreographed by Bob Fosse). But there is enough of a plot to provide an opportunity to discuss the ways in which workers and managers might feel differently about things, and how they work together to find the best solution for both of them.

NOTE: There is a subplot about a man who is irrationally jealous and possessive, played for humor.

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