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What Lily Tomlin Taught Me About Pilot Projects

September 12, 2006 | By | One Comment


Your (very young) Business Blogger

and Lily Tomlin Big Shows always start small. Lily Tomlin would test her acts, not on an off-Broadway hide-a-way in New York City — not even another country, like say, New Jersey.

No, Lily would test her lines and the script in another world: Branson, Missouri.

A few decades ago, Your Business Blogger — that’s me, the dork on the left — caught up with Tomlin backstage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. During the run of her solo — one woman performance in The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe.

It was no secret that Tomlin is the consumate professional whose presentations seemed effortless. Yes, she and her team practiced with military precision.

But she knew to do a bit more. One of her secrets was to practice in front of a live crowd. To test her timing. For the laughs and special effects. Practice and pace. To hit the marks and watch the sparks.

Her testing would require stops and starts and direct interaction with her Branson audience — which was a test market for her new show; her new product her new production. She would be a wizard alchemist reformulating as she observed and assessed her focus group’s response. And the laughs.

Comedy is hard work.

The challenge of conducting the practice, the dry runs, was that the critical, cynical New Yorker would not sit still through trial run. Tomlin as magician perfected her act behind the curtain, away from the show-bizzie chattering classes. So Lily would go to ‘fly-over country’ where normal people live, to hone her act.

To Branson, Missouri, the Show Me state where over 100 shows play in over 40 theaters. Branson is called “The Live Music Show Capital of the World.”

Lily Tomlin and her crew would then take her perfected, polished performance back to the Big Apple and the rest of civilization.

Her business lesson from show business was to quietly introduce a pilot show, a pilot project. Gauge reaction and launch a high percentage deal. And practice to a small sample size.

Because you will screw it up. And it is best to screw up on the farm team than before the big league crowd.

Do you have a pitch to practice? Find a small group who loves you.

Practice your sales pitch to a live audience. And ask for feedback.

Looking to flog your product on national television, the cables and network? Start with small radio wattage. Then take your show on the road.


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Media Alert: Charmaine Returns To C-SPAN

August 25, 2006 | By | No Comments


C-SPAN Charmaine will be on C-SPAN tomorrow Saturday at 0800hrs, that would be 8:00 am, EST civilian time. Debating the Plan B political play and other news stories of the day.

We all are going with the Penta-Posse to watch from the green room. And eat all their donuts.

C-SPAN Washington Journal video here.

Tune in or TiVo and let us know what you think.

Check local listing here.

The press release from Barr,

Plan B should not be used as routine contraception and does not protect against HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Barr’s release, continues:

FDA Grants OTC Status to Barr’s Plan B(R) Emergency Contraceptive

Historic Dual Status Decision Provides OTC Access to Those 18 Years of Age and Older; Remains Prescription for Women 17 and Younger

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: BRL) today said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) filed by Barr’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to market the Plan B(R) (levonorgestrel) emergency contraceptive Over-The-Counter (OTC) without a prescription. In approving the sNDA, FDA granted OTC status for consumers 18 years of age and older, while maintaining the prescription status for women 17 and younger. The Company’s Plan B OTC product and the prescription product will be marketed as a single package, which will allow for a prescription label to be adhered to the package when dispensed to women age 17 and younger. Because Plan B will still remain a prescription product for women 17 and younger, it will be sold in retail pharmacy outlets from behind the counter. Duramed plans to introduce the dual status Rx/OTC version of the product before the end of the calendar year.

More on Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc..

Make a Movie or Make a Family?

August 8, 2006 | By | One Comment


Naomi Watts

The January issue of Vanity Fair features Naomi Watts, the new Fay Wraye in King Kong, on the cover.

After years and years of B roles, Watts has finally “made it.”

And yet.


Rigg, Kidman, Watts

Credit: American Photo

The article features quotes from her friend and fellow Aussie, Nicole Kidman, who talks about their friendship with another less-famous fellow actress, Rebecca Rigg:

We always say to Rebecca that she is the successful one because she has the successful marriage with the three kids. . .

In our house we call three kids a ‘starter family.’


The Penta-Posse

But the girls are on to something. Something bigger than themselves.

What are they doing in Hollywood?


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Cross Post from Reasoned Audacity.

21 Jul



Katie Couric Doesn't Want Single Mothers in War Zones

July 21, 2006 | By | 4 Comments


Lori Piestewa,

single mother of two,

killed Katie Couric recently refused to go to Iraq. She gets this right,

Katie Couric, who takes over the CBS Evening News in September told Access Hollywood that at this point, she would not venture into the Middle East hot spot.

“I think the situation there is so dangerous, and as a single parent with two children, that’s something I won’t be doing,” Katie said.

Couric lurches into the truth: War zones are not safe for anyone. Especially for moms and the kids left behind.

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness reminds us that,

To date 60 women have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11. By contrast, only 16 women killed in all the years of Vietnam, most of them nurses. In the First Persian Gulf War, 33,000 women were deployed, but only 6 perished due to scud missile explosions or accidents.

Women should not be killed in combat.

No single mother with children should go to war. Not Katie. Not Lori.


Katie Couric


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Kathryn Lopez at NRO points us to Access Hollywood, blockquote above.

Full Disclosure: Your Business Blogger also serves as the Vice President of the Center for Military Readiness.

See Saving Private Lori.

Get Women Out of Combat.

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

20 Jul



World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's New Movie

July 20, 2006 | By | 6 Comments


World Trade Center “Redemption,” wrote Cal Thomas earlier when he saw Oliver Stone’s movie. Stone may have redeemed himself.

Tonight, Thursday, The Washington Insiders were invited to a private screening of World Trade Center. I got in on a waiver. I would have been easy to pick out of this cool crowd: I was the only one with a bucket of (fattening) buttered popcorn, slurping a giant Coke.


Your Business Blogger, Charmaine

Melissa and Rob Bluey

Charmaine and I joined Rob Bluey, blog editor at Human Events and his wife Melissa from The Atlantic Monthly and the smart crowd at a Cinema near Charmaine’s office to see Stone’s newest movie.

What it was and what it was not.

It was not a conspiracy movie.

It did not bash Bush.

It was not sappy.

It was not about stupid, church-going nuts.

It did not mock marriage.

It did not blame America.

It did not support radical Islam.

It did not mock Marines.

It did not mock Jesus.

It did not mock cops.

It did not mock family, faith or freedom.

Charmaine says, “It was a Hallmark Hall of Fame special…on steroids.” Jim Pinkerton, from the New America Foundation DID NOT tear up. Me neither.

But the theater was a bit dusty. That stuff can get in your eyes. Or was it dust from the movie?

This is a movie that you will see in a few weeks and you will be glad you did. After the viewing, there was no applause, little talking. At the end, the crowd audibly exhaled, as one.

People moved out as if leaving a wake. Tony Blankley and his significant other were the last, the very last to leave. They were moved.

Laura Ingram moved out quick; she was among the first out. Dr. Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention expected to walk out early and didn’t.

We spoke to Blankley. He was surprised at Stone’s movie, “Good, True, Patriotic, Religious.”

Kate O’Beirne from Nation Review was a bit more skeptical about Oliver Stone, “His other movies don’t sell, nobody goes to them. So he made this to appeal — to sell. He wants to make money.”

And so he will. You must see how Stone can make a movie with Jesus, yes Him, without a smirk. Mel Gibson can do Passion, sure. But Oliver Stone?

Better check the temperature in Hell. The impossible has happened. Oliver is redeemed.


World Trade Center


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Thank you (foot)notes:

The movie will be theaters August 9, 2006

Special thanks to Mike Thompson, Senior Vice President of Creative Response Concepts, who coordinated the event for Paramount Pictures.

More on the movie at the jump.

The Raw Story has more. Read the Comments, liberals still believe “9/11 was an inside job no doubt.” And my favorite, “Hey cons, Jesus says watch this film or you’ll go to hell.”

Mudville Gazette has Open Post.

OpFor has more.

Read More

Tom Peters(!) and Rick Kaplan: Who's Who

July 12, 2006 | By | No Comments


Tom Peters “Look, there’s Tom Peters,” I whisper to Charmaine. “What’s he doing here?”

We were at a show bizzie garden party in Georgetown in Your Nation’s Capital. It’s a pre-party for a big-party, for media moguls. Drink freely. Talk freely. It’s Off The Record.

There are no name tags.

Tom Peters is a super star. But not in quite the same way as Joe Pantoliano from the Sopranos or Chris Matthews from Hardball or Tom Oliphant with the Boston Globe. (Who is looking good after a brain aneurysm last year. Don’t like his opinions. But glad he’s around to kick around.) Morgan Fairchild, Bernie Trainor and Tucker Carlson, who says he’s quit smoking.

But ! is a business super star. So we elbow our past Michael Barone, Howard Kurtz, and step on Bob Schrum’s feet. He’s got no sense of humor. Democrat.

We go straight for Peters, unafraid to intrude and break in — the roof constitutes an introduction as Miss Manners might say.

We reach our target. “Hello,” I stick out my hand, “Jack Yoest,” I’ve always wanted to meet you…”

He faces me, “Rick Kaplan, nice to meet you.”



Rick Kaplan Charmaine sees my quarter second silence and knows immediately something’s wrong. She jumps in. “Yes, Rick, I’ve done MSNBC and we loved your work on Nightline…” Kaplan makes eye contact; makes small talk. Bookings, Ratings, Revenue.

Then we are mercifully pushed aside by the slobbering scrum of lower lights, bottom billings. (How did they get in?)

Anyway, I might be forgiven in that Tom Peters and Rick Kaplan are twins, I think. But I don’t think they’ve met.

Alert Readers will note that Rick Kaplan recently left his number three slot at MSNBC. I don’t know his reason for leaving or how MSNBC will fare without him.

But I know that he is a gentleman. Because of how he treats bumbling unknown nobodies.

Like me.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

The identifying names captioned below the pictures are… reversed.

See the Washington Post.

More on Britney Spears and Pregnancy

July 9, 2006 | By | No Comments

Alert Readers will remember Britney’s nude prego pose. Alert Readers will also remember Spears’ nuttiness from April last year. From Reasoned Audacity.

For the files of “amazingly stupid things the MSM says” . . . The AP is reporting that Britney Spears has announced that she is pregnant. And here’s what they conclude:

Spears’ impending motherhood may be the ultimate indicator that the former teen princess is all grown up.

Sorry, but that’s just not the way it works. I do wish Britney and her husband good luck — but unfortunatley, “growing up” is a different process entirely than getting pregnant. . .


Washington Baltimore Corridor Music Camp

July 7, 2006 | By | No Comments


The Diva on Piano The Baptist Convention of Baltimore and Delware is sponsoring a music camp. Starts this Sunday and spaces are filling up.

Cost $99 per child — We’ll be sending our Penta-Posse.

Call Bryan at 410 -dot- 695 -dot- 5374 to reserve a spot. Reservations can also be made at the door at First Baptist Church in Laurel, Maryland. Or email Bryan at BPatrick AT FirstBaptistLaurel dot org

Or email me.


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Thank you (foot)notes:

Cross posted at Reasoned Audacity.

Plan Your Next Event — Be SAFE

July 4, 2006 | By | No Comments

In the Army, Your Business Blogger first learned the ‘7 P’s of Planning’: Proper Prior Planning Prevents [Pretty] Poor Performance.

Except the fifth ‘P’ wasn’t, well, Pretty.

Event Planning is made easy by being SAFE:





For more detail, please visit Event Planning: Keeping it SAFE in 4 Easy Steps at my weekly column in Small Business Trends.


MSNBC Chooses World's Ugliest Dog…Over Charmaine

July 1, 2006 | By | No Comments

This is an update on that old story about an ugly dog. It came back to bite us.

The story, that is.

Charmaine was bumped last night off MSNBC for a segment on The World’s Ugliest Dog.

You could choose:


Screeen Capture Credit:

Peter Shinn



World’s Ugliest Dog

But I’d choose…



My friend Steve, on the bestiality beat. . .


Be sure to visit Small Business Trends Radio and see my weekly column. Topic today: Feed Your Family or Feed Your Ego: Sales.

Cross-posted at Zeitgeist and at Reasoned Audacity.