PBS – ‘DISSONANCE AND HARMONY’
excerpt – 10:53
There were over 500 applicants for 12 grants being awarded by the CPB as part of the nationally aired PBS series America at a Crossroads. It’s purpose was to examine America’s relationship with the Arab world post 9/11 from numerous perspectives. Ours focused on Middle Eastern culture by chronicling the everyday joys and frustrations of musicians, both legends and struggling artists from a cross-section of Arab countries. My co-producer and the film’s narrator was Miles Copeland, formerly the manager of The Police and then Sting. It was a very difficult film to make, arranging travel and permits and directing shoots in numerous Arab countries during the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. The real challenge was back in the USA, working with embassies and diplomats to get visas for the 29 Arab musicians we wanted to bring back to LA. All but two Iraqis made it. But the Iraqis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Lebanese who did arrive collaborated with western musicians like Nile Rodgers and RZA to put on a remarkable concert at The Roxy. The ultimate effect was to present a reality that countered the image of all Arabs as terrorists.
Independent Feature Film – ‘AMERICAN BELLYDANCER’
excerpt – 5:19
This was a first collaboration with Miles Copeland, who grew up in the Middle East while his father was hatching the CIA. His business had transformed from managing The Police and Sting into importing the Arabic music of his childhood, but after 9/11 it was difficult. Taking Riverdance as his model, he decided to create a Bellydancing Spectacular driven by the compelling modern music of the MIddle East. This would soften the perception that the music suffered on its own. I followed him all over the world for a year, and against all odds, he succeeded in creating the first internationally touring troupe of Bellydancers. Bellydancing, it turns out, is a huge global phenomenon filled with contradictions, but the narrative needed a center and the enigmatic Miles was it. Ultimately, the film touched on the fall of the music business, a man reinventing himself, Arab/American cultural conflicts and transformation through art. American Bellydancer was released theatrically, ran on The Documentary Channel and throughout South America and The Middle East.
VH1 – ‘BEHIND THE MUSIC: STUDIO 54’
excerpt – 7:59
Executive Producer Gay Rosenthal wanted to expand the BTM franchise, so she asked me to create the first episode NOT about a musician or a band, but about a convergence of social forces that spawned a unique phenomenon. Studio 54 defined a moment in American popular culture when the 70’s became the 80’s, when frivolous excess finally reached its thoroughly entertaining limit. In addition to being the first 90 minute version of the show, this was one of the most highly rated and rebroadcast episodes in the series.
VH1 – ‘BEHIND THE MUSIC: WOODSTOCK’
excerpt – 8:36
The success of the Studio 54 episode brought on this second 90 minute, cultural event-driven addition to the BTM franchise. It became a very highly rated season premiere. From TV Guide…
“By focusing on the four twentysomething impresarios who staged 1969’s Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, the series finds a fresh angle on an overreported event. Included: clips of the concert; interviews with performers.”
The four original producers were two hippies and two business types who could barely speak to each other. Their plan to have a little arts festival tucked away upstate took on a gargantuan life of its own, which freaked them out, in a good way for some, not so good for others. In the process, to their everlasting bewilderment, they had made history.
PBS: ‘Life Pt.2 – ROCK BOTTOM REMAINDERS’
segment – 5:46
The objective was to tell the story of a band. The band’s mission, for some reason, was to carry on a long-standing tradition of very good writers creating very bad rock & roll. Members have included Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Matt Groenig and Frank McCourt.
The New School: ‘THE BOB KERRY DECADE’
Former Senator Bob Kerrey was leaving The New School as it’s president and it had been preordained that the staff would give him the gift of a video at a fundraiser celebrating his decade-long tenure. But Bob’s tenure had been extremely controversial, so there was a long debate about how to approach it. I knew Bob and asked asked him what he wanted. He said, “I rarely watch these things. Just tell the whole truth.” Then he proceeded to give some names of people to interview who might not be his biggest fans. The New School staff felt I had thoroughly succeeded in giving Bob what he’d asked for, but the film was clearly not appropriate to show at a fundraiser. As promised, it was handed to Bob, who to this day claims he never watched it.
WOR-TV: ‘WHAT’S HAPPENING AMERICA – INSIDE THE IRA’ (segment)
We arrived in Belfast one day after the death of the hunger striker, Bobby Sands. Our photographer friend had covered the IRA for many years and had complete access to them. We spent two weeks tagging along with various members of the IRA as they went about some very tense and dramatic business. A remarkable experience.