Archive for category: Entertainment

The Small Town America Tour recap

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

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Last weekend we had an amazing concert night with the Small Town America Tour. It was also our first foray into pyrotechnics in the sanctuary …

The concert itself was a blast. Openers Scarlet White and Shonlock were both amazing, with Shonlock really winning over the teens – they’ve been begging me every time they see me to bring him back for another show where he can have more time and really go to town! Seventh Day Slumber is definitely a rock band. They came out hard and it was amazing. I have to admit, the flame throwers were really, really cool. The lead singer also gave a powerful message that saw a number of kids raise their hands to commit, or recommit, their lives to God which was an incredible thing to witness. Fireflight finished out the night strong, belting out songs from their new album as well as older favorites.

I have to admit, our attendance was not where I was hoping. Usually the bulk of the online ticket sales happen in the days before the show … which this time around was when all the weather reports were saying a hurricane was going to blow through Wilmington the same time as our concert was. Instead of fielding calls about the show, I was answering the question over and over as to whether or not we were going to cancel. The storm never actually hit, but it did damage none-the-less! The bands told me that was the challenge they were running into all that weekend. Even so, they rocked the room like it was packed – I’d definitely recommend ANY of the acts to anyone looking to work with great bands and host an awesome concert!

Bob is the new host of Biggest Loser

09 Sep
September 9, 2015

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In an interesting changeup, Alison Sweeney is no longer on Biggest Loser and Bob Harper will take up the Hosting mantle for season 17! Dolvett and Jennifer will return as the trainers for the show. It’s weird in a way, the show is so far removed from when I was on it – different production company, different location, different trainers – Bob is the only real constant over the seventeen seasons, in addition to the behind the scenes medical and nutritional crew (who don’t really get much screen time).

I’m curious to see how he does in the role. Caroline Rhea is still my favorite host for the show, but Bob could really run with it. Part of me is wondering if it’s a behind the scenes budget cutting move – the fewer celebrities on screen, the lower the bill, and Bob has a fan base they just can’t afford to lose. Either way, without him having a specific team to be championing it’s an opportunity for him to really impact the whole cast and be a voice for the show in a way that he hasn’t had before now.

“The Death of ‘Superman Lives’; What Happened?” Review

25 Jul
July 25, 2015

A Superman movie directed by Tim Burton, starring Nicholas Cage? I’ve been making jokes about that killed project for years! It seemed a bizarre concept at best! But now a documentary, years in the making, has dropped giving the full story of the dropped film from Tim Burton, the producers, writers and more.

It is fascinating.

I thought I would just watch for a few minutes; the thing is as long as the movie would have been if it had been made! But the longer I watched, the more captivating the story. Hearing Tim Burton describe his ideas and direction, listening to the producer (he’s OUT THERE), watching Kevin Smith and the later writers talk about their process and scripts submitted, I found myself really wishing I could have seen this thing. The only voice missing was Nicholas Cage, the actor cast to play Superman (what?!?). Even there I could begin to see it watching some of the test footage with him. There’s certainly no denying his love for the character.

Playing into the narrative was the reaction to people when Tim Burton was originally chosen to direct and reinvent Batman, as well as the choice to cast Michael Keaton. It did seem ludicrous at the time, and yet he completely changed the way comic book movies were approached from then on. And Michael Keaton? He was amazing in both his turns as Batman. Hearing Burton describe how he saw the character of Superman, I really began to buy in to it.

And the whole thing was killed after years of development only days before they were to begin filming.

The documentary is great. For comic book fans and superhero movie buffs, it is a GREAT look at an abandoned project still talked about years later.

In the end, I couldn’t believe they chose to risk the money on “Wild, Wild West” instead. I mean, seriously. We lost Nicholas Cage as Superman so we could have Will Smith playing a cowboy in a sci-fi western that flopped. Argh.

The United We Stand Tour recap

17 Oct
October 17, 2013

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“Woah. Matthew. I need you to understand that this concert is on a whole different level.”

Words from the tour manager on the phone with me the day before they arrived at my church … and he wasn’t kidding! I was downplaying something as not being a big deal based on the concert events I’ve hosted in the past – I needed a wake up call to what I had booked! The United We Stand tour with Building 429, The Afters, Hawk Nelson & Finding Favour is a full fledged concert event!

The tour was amazing. They did things in our sanctuary with staging, lights, smoke and cryo effects I never would have thought could happen there! They showed up with a semi truck FULL from top to bottom, front to back, with equipment – my heart literally stopped when they popped open the doors and it was 100% full. The sound was so loud, the bass so powerful, it literally vibrated three lights out of their sockets! And under every light fixture there was a small pile of sheet rock dust that had been shaken out of the building!

I still can’t believe the crowd we had for a Tuesday night concert! I’m even more amazed with the 50+ volunteers that gave up their time throughout the day to make the thing happen! I love these kinds of events – it’s part of what makes our youth group the place to be for teens in North Wilmington!

Check out this little video highlight from the end of the night … when they started firing off the smoke jets (directly into the ceiling fire alarms!), my heart literally skipped a couple beats. I had three simultaneous thoughts: (1) I can’t believe they’re going to blow the fire alarms now after making it through the whole day, (2) this is the coolest thing I have ever seen in this room, and (3) seriously, that’s where Pastor Bo normally stands!

And no, even with the smoke machines going steadily from early afternoon until 10pm, and the cryo smoke jets shooting off every few seconds during the Building 429 performance, the fire alarms never went off!

Star Trek: The Middle School Musical

25 May
May 25, 2013

Well, clearly that’s awesome.

I’ve been holding off on blogging my reactions to the new film to give people time to see it before I post spoilers … but fear not, my thoughts are on their way (whether you want them or not!).

Biggest Loser season 15 casting calls announced!

17 Apr
April 17, 2013

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Check out the above graphic to see when and where the open casting calls for the next season of Biggest Loser are being held! Exact times and locations will be updated soon at the casting website, www.thebiggestlosercasting.com. What this means, since filming usually begins 4-6 months before the season premiere, is that we’re probably looking at another January launch to the show. Casting will happen over the next few months, be finalized in the summer, and begin filming late summer for a January premiere. Good luck! For more advice on trying out for the show, check out my casting tips blog post.

So who’s going? And to which city? I’d love to hear how it goes!

Video Game Tournament?

14 Jan
January 14, 2013

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There is one big event idea that I have been coming back to in student ministry for more than a decade now … and still haven’t done: a video game tournament. I thought of it again last night as my kids and I were watching for the umpteenth time (and rightfully so, it’s awesome) The Wizard, Nintendo’s movie/commercial that came out in the eighties. That thing NEVER gets old.

My guess is that it would be a slam dunk in bringing kids in; with a ton of video game stores in the area, it would be easy to promote, and a significant portion of our population in general is into gaming in one form or another. Did you know at 37, I’m right around the average age of gamers? Not the 13 year old boy hiding in the basement stereotype!

It would take setting up a bunch of systems, a well rounded series of games to compete with along with a scoring system to let contestants move through the brackets and eventually narrow down to a top three. This would necessitate referees for each gaming station to make sure points were given out accurately. It would also require a lot of game systems and copies of the same games, which I think could be accomplished by teaming up with local video game stores (for example – let me use your used systems for game stations and I’ll let you be a show sponsor and have a table set up to sell games and game related products).

Prizes would be easy; trophies and either new systems/setups, or gift certificates to video game stores. The cost of the prizes would be covered through entry fees. As contestants were narrowed down to a top three, other game stations could be switched to open gaming so kids would still want to hang around. Food should be sold/provided, as it would probably be half a day to a full day event. A trading area would probably also be a hit where kids could go to find other people wanting to trade games, etc.

Where I struggle is having a clear purpose for the event. It would be outreach, but does that happen simply through giving people a fun experience at church while gaining their contact info through the registration process to invite them to future events – kind of getting a foot in the relational door? Or does it become more direct through having a short gospel message before the final three playoff on big screens for the prizes? I would be comfortable with either approach, but wouldn’t want to come across as a bait and switch or have it be jarring (and thereby more damaging than beneficial) to the flow of the day.

I’d love to know if other youth workers have done game tournaments. With the national interest and obsession, it seems like a no brainer, but at the same time, I’ve been thinking that for more than a decade and still haven’t convinced myself to actually take the plunge.

Biggest Loser casting tips (season 15)

07 Jan
January 7, 2013

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Biggest Loser is getting ready to start casting for season 15!  Casting calls will be posted on the Biggest Loser casting website.  Basically, this post is a collection of tips I’ve written based on my experience making the cast of season three, as well as some links to casting advice I don’t think you should miss:

  • NBC has posted casting information and the application here.  They have all the casting news and information on a special blog just for Biggest Loser casting, which you can find here.
  • Pete Thomas, the season 2 $100,000 winner has some of the best casting call advice out there, which you can find at his website, Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever.
  • Holland, a casting director for Biggest Loser sent me a bunch of great advice on how to be casted, you can find it here.  She updated them October, 2009.
  • I’ve been posting these casting tips for the last few seasons and they always seem to end up with thousands of comments; just about every season has contestants that were hanging out on here, reading and giving each other thoughts and advice.  You can find the most recent one here.
  • If you’re dealing with disappointment about not being cast, then check out my post on Biggest Loser casting disappointment.

One of the questions I hear a lot is about money … how do contestants afford to be away from home and work for months at a time? I don’t know what it is now, but when I was a contestant there was a $500 a week stipend for cast members on the ranch. When you received the check you could cash it and spend it, send it home, save it, whatever. All airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, etc., for the contestants and potential cast members are taken care of by NBC, and during the casting process it self there was a $50 per diem to cover food costs.

Another question is timing; typically a season lasts for about 8-9 months. About four of this is spent in filming; if you last all the way until the final three or four, you could be away from home for as much as four months or so. Once the ranch filming wraps and the last few contestants are sent home, however, there is still another four or five months that all the contestants have to continue losing weight until the finale. In addition, potential cast members are flown out to California a couple weeks before filming begins for the final round of casting, medical checkups, psychological evals, etc. NBC brings out more people than what they need and the cast is not finalized until filming literally begins. People have been cut at the last minute and replacements flown in with hardly any time to spare. Nothing is in stone until it’s on camera!

When will you hear from Biggest Loser about your video? There is no way of knowing. I heard back a few weeks after I sent it in, but even after that it’s a big waiting game. If you get a phone number or email from a casting direction, definitely drop them a line/call every couple weeks to find out if you’re still in the running or what’s going on. Schedules and plans change almost every day, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t hear back within a month I would think your video didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t send in another or visit a casting call – it’s just up to you!

Finally, here’s my video application tips! This is by no means a recipe for success; it’s based on my video application and the conversations I had with casting directors out in LA in between things. I was pretty curious about the whole process so I was pumping them for info even after filming began. I’m such a nerd!

  • They’ve usually decided if they’re interested in you within the first 30-60 seconds of your video, so front load it with your best stuff. Make it interesting! Start off with something funny or exciting!
  • Keep in mind, if you’re going to be cast, your video is going to be watched hundreds of times by producers, executives, casting directors, etc. If it bores you or your friends the second or third time watching it … put some more time into it!
  • Special effects? Don’t bother! We’ve all got video editing software with all sorts of bells and whistles on our home computers, but fancy transitions are not going to sell you to people who do video editing for a living. In fact, it can distract from who you are. I’m a video editing nerd and I didn’t use any special effects other than putting my name and contact info on as a subtitle at the beginning.
  • Don’t bother talking about why you need to lose weight. When I first started filming my audition video I started describing all of my health reasons for losing weight – but when I was watching it back, I realized … they don’t need to hear it! One look at me was all they needed to know I needed to lose weight! Show them why you need to lose it; I said I needed to lose weight for my kids, and then I followed it with a minute or two of the best footage I could find of me with wrestling with my three boys. We probably filmed half an hour of that insanity and I grabbed the cutest, loudest, and funniest few moments for the audition video. Your physical need to lose weight is not nearly as interesting as who or what your losing the weight for.
  • Live loud! Reality TV is over the top, dramatic, and filled with loud personalities. They need to see that on your video! I wanted them to know that even though I was morbidly obese I was up to the challenge of the crazy competitions and workouts – so I threw on a bunch of clips from my different youth group activities; me getting slimed, snowtubing, playing paintball, screaming at events, being on stage, running around … you get the idea. Other contestants did things appropriate to their lives; Tim from Oregon had himself spinning out on his Harley, Tim from Delaware recruited his elementary school class to do things with him, Heather Hanson filmed herself running around in a sports bra all day doing her household chores and errands. The less talking and more action you can have, the better (in my opinion)!
  • If you have footage or photos of yourself thin, include those at some point on the video. If you can show them what your after will be, then do it!

Remember, enjoy the conversation here and know that I will never compromise your anonymity – not to NBC, 3Ball, Casting Directors or anyone. You can post anonymously, or you can leave your names and contact information … just remember that NBC likes to be the one announcing their cast for the show, so if you start identifying yourself publicly as a finalist, you’ll probably find yourself eliminated from the casting process. Be aware that casting directors do check in at my blog to see what people are saying, get a feel for what questions are going on out there, and sometimes to give us updates. Good luck to everyone … and let me know if you make the show! I get a kick out of hearing about the different contestants that have hung out on my blog before making the show! ;)

Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer

06 Dec
December 6, 2012

Well, calling me excited for May 17th is an understatement! This thing literally gave me chills. Very, very excited!

And check out the bonus few seconds at the end of the Japanese version of the trailer … very similar to the ending of Wrath of Khan – is it an homage, something to fool us, or a hint at where this one is going?

Brace yourselves. I’m going to be amping up my nerd levels in the coming months.

Biggest Loser’s new logo

01 Dec
December 1, 2012

Well, it’s almost here … after half year hiatus, the Biggest Loser will be coming back in January with a new cast, Jillian Michaels back, and a new logo (see above)! I actually think the time off the air will do the show a lot of good. I’ve thought for a while now that two seasons a year would wear viewers out, especially with two hour episodes. I think the return to one per year, with (hopefully) shorter episodes to go along with the shorter season will actually give the show what it needs – it will leave people wanting more!

I’m intrigued by the logo redesign, though. Maybe I’m still getting used to it; it’s actually the third in the series history. Season one saw the original logo; if you notice ‘the’ is actually on the upper left, and the the rest of the logo isn’t quite as smooth or refined as later versions. That’s Gary Deckman rocking his finale weigh in, by the way, one of my long time inspirations. By season two they made the switch to the logo that carried the show through twelve seasons and the special editions, however, even as far as season three there were still leftover shirts from season one popping up now and then with the original logo. I know I received at least one.

Of course my favorite is the logo I wore. I’ve always felt like it perfectly summed up the show through the shrinking waistline, the tape measure, and besides that, it just looks good. I think I’ll miss seeing contestants sporting it on the show! But I definitely agree with the recent seasons ratings declining, the show definitely needed some retooling and rethinking. Then again, most of the decline I still attribute to the changeover in production companies. Hopefully this time around they find the right inspirational feel for the show in their editing!

But now that I’ve had my long winded say … what do you think of the new logo and what you’ve seen so far of the new season?