Monthly Archives: January 2016

My Time at Critics Choice 2016 – with Bryce Dallas Howard!


I was at a front and center table at the Critics’ Choice Awards with members of Universal’s film marketing team. I love them but, no offense guys, what made it even better was having Bryce Dallas Howard sit down next to me. Bryce, of course, stars in Universal’s “Jurassic World,” a monster of a film that was the biggest around the globe in 2015 until Disney unleashed you know what. A table away was J.J. Abrams whose “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” knocked Bryce’s pic from the number one spot.

Bryce was gorgeous in a super low-cut cleavage revealing black dress. Even getting deluged with enthusiasm – hugs and handshakes from the people who came to meet her – there was never a wardrobe malfunction. OK, I did notice a few guys taking a naughty peek. Bryce’s double-stick tape has to be better than any I’ve ever tried. She sparkled more than her necklace.

Now Director Howard (not her Dad, Ron, but Bryce herself) will take her short film “Solemates” to Sundance. She says it’s a couple’s journey through life revealed through shoes. Think she was inspired by those high heels she famously ran in throughout “Jurassic?”

You can’t sit still during the commercial breaks at the awards. There’s a frenzy of table hopping and I admit to giving congrats to Sly Stallone who is so emotional about all the attention to “Creed”. When I went up to Leslie Mann and Helen Mirren, they were giving each other confidence about an upcoming project. Amy Schumer was a delight. She was fixing host, T.J. Miller’s make up while he warned her, ”Don’t be funnier than me, please.”

It was quite a night and there were a lot of gasps when “Spotlight” took Best Picture. After the Oscar noms it was all “Revenant.” Now all bets are off again. Who says awards season can’t be fun and perplexing?




Listening well will save you time.

Listening gives you a direct line to what’s really going on.
Listening keeps you in touch with people in your life and your work.
Listening joins other #ProductivityHacks as a way to optimize time.

—-Jane Fonda accepted the American Film Institute’s honor by pronouncing, “It’s more important to be interested than interesting.”

—-Pope Francis speaks to all of us when he cautions that we must learn before we teach. “Today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, not so much of teachers but rather of witnesses.”

The first step is learning how to become a better listener. This means avoiding what I call the “Bite Your Lip” mentality. Observe yourself when you just shut-up and let the other guy “have his say.” You nod your head and make listening motions and noises but you’re really just biding your time until the other person stops talking. You’re waiting to jump in with your own two cents worth –that’s not real listening.
Perhaps you consider yourself a good listener because you stifle your emotions and stay silent. Wrong! The usual pattern for that kind of listening is that you’ll be quiet until you can’t take it anymore, and then you’ll unload with a torrent of words. Or you’ll walk away with no more connection or comprehension than when you started. Sound familiar? Too close to home?
You may be surprised as you begin to pay attention to your own listening style. Don’t be dismayed if you discover how out-of-the-habit you are of really zoning in. Consider how often you don’t take into account the body-language and inflection of the person who’s doing the talking. Think about what a face reveals—yours and theirs.
We all complain about the lack of time. The substitute for that is “Quality Time.” If you want to escalate the impression of time with quality see what happens when you focus on the other person you haven’t had enough time for and truly listen. In an intense personal conversation or a crucial conference listening is as important as your prepared agenda.

—-Talk about paying attention, I’ve often quoted Maya Angelou who said, “When people tell you about themselves believe them.”

If you let your intuition pick up “tells” it may force you to stop and consider before you partner-up or take action. Think of the time you could save by really having a grasp of what someone is trying to tell you the first time around. There are so many misunderstandings that can be avoided if you are listening with concentration and interjecting questions that clear up the other person’s position . Truly listening will dictate a more precise and appropriate response.

There is an evergreen belief that men and women don’t really listen to each other. We all might pay more attention if we realized that listening is sexy.

—- Christina Hendrix from Mad Men gave me romantic advice: “I think communication is really hearing the other person. Sometimes our first inclination is to say “no,” and protect our own ideas or opinions. It’s important to say “yes” more often and to really listen to why someone wants to do something or really, really hear each other.”

“This executive really listens!” is a compliment often given with a note of surprise. Individuals so often feel that they don’t have access to the people “at the top” or the people they really need access to. In an organization or a family, deliberate times of attentive listening can go a long way to relieve that frustration. You can set the atmosphere that encourages feedback. You need to create the feeling of safety, extreme interest and even fun. You will find that “lending your ears” pays off.
Don’t worry, you won’t spend all of your day in irrelevant chatter because you’ve learned to be a good listener. You can cut a phone call short more effectively if the caller knows you’ve truly paid attention to the brief encounter. You can hasten meetings when the participants get the idea that their comments are being regarded and there will follow up.

—-George Clooney greets press and fans like long-time buddies. He says, “Hey, how are you?” He holds eye contact while he gets bits of news, often from people he doesn’t even know. Then he graciously—memorably, speedily—goes on to the next person!”

If you work on becoming an involved, curious and motivated listener, you will be astounded at the response you get. Simply paying active attention, to ideas, motives, arguments, protestations of affection, and declarations of feelings will put you way ahead of the efficiency game.

RIP Vilmos Zsigmond, Cinematographer and Image Maker

Vilmos was Steven Spielberg’s absolute favorite! There has been so much praise for his work – “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and many more memorable films. Years ago I got to work with him on a commercial with Heather Locklear for “Holiday Health Spas.” Don’t laugh – most fine filmmakers have done commercials and videos. Vilmos was as serious about his work on this as an award-worthy film. I was off-camera asking Heather questions and she would adlib the answers. He lit her gorgeous face ‘til she glowed and kept telling me “Move back further. I don’t want any shadows on the shots.” He was a perfectionist with a great eye and a marvelous sense of humor.