Celebrity Life Coach Lauren Handel Zander on Organizing Your Life in 2018

 

Photo of Lauren Handel Zander
Image courtesy of Handel Group

Welcome to 2018!

Are you busy working your way through your list of new year’s resolutions?  Are you going to stick to them this time?

Reel Focus blog is usually concerned with all things film and television.  However, occasionally we take a break from the lights, the camera and the action to focus on the key ingredient in entertainment: you!

Keeping in the tradition that we began a while back, I want to keep the momentum going by including a health and well-being segment that helps to make a better you so that you can get all the good that this year has to offer.  Whether you are a veteran or an aspiring film professional, we can all use a small dose of self-improvement, especially this time of the year.  In order to bring in the new year with a new you, this year I have invited renowned life coach Lauren Handel Zander,  Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group, to share tips on how to help you sort out your life for greater success and abundance this year.  

Lauren, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this important information with Reel Focus readers.  Everyone comes to a point in life where they feel as though they are inundated with deadlines, family obligations, professional obligations and a host of other “busy-ness.”  First, tell our readers how to recognize when life is becoming overwhelming and when they should seek the help of a life coach to aid them in clearing the chaos.

No problem. It’s very much my pleasure (and my job!).

 

In the fast paced, digital world we live in today, it’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed, anxious, inundated, stressed, excuse-filled, and guilt-ridden.  [And then some.]

 

If you’re not fully happy, inspired, and proud of yourself, more than likely you are not living true to your highest ideals for yourself.  

 

That’s where I and HG Life Coaches come in.

 

The very first assignment we give to each and every client is to dream. And not just dream in one or two areas of their life where most of us dabble, but twelve areas of their life––from their body to career to love life to areas they possibly haven’t thought about in years––like fun, adventure, and spirituality. Dreaming wakes us up to ourselves. It gets us into the right fight. It acts as our own internal GPS, allowing us to see where we really want to go. And worse (and best), it gets us to very clearly see that there is a gap between what we say we want AND what we are currently doing about it (see: excusing and blaming).

 

As a coach, your dreams give me (your GPS) our final destination.

 

That was a long way of saying it, but basically you know you need a life coach if you’re not tickled with or particularly proud of any area of your life.

Lauren, most of our audience members are film and entertainment professionals and this industry is definitely a beast in terms of climbing the ladder of success.  Specifically, share with our readers how your organization can help members of the film and entertainment community get their lives on track and realize their dreams.   

No matter how partial you are to believing your industry is the fill-in-the-blank-est (hardest, nit-pickiest, most sexist, etc.), truth be told, climbing any ladder in any industry is difficult. Sure, the entertainment industry has its own brand of beastly; however, watch out if you think your industry––whatever it may be––is harder than any other. After all, doesn’t that theory allow you to 1) be a bit less accountable for your own aspirations, actions, and ascent, and 2) blame your industry for it? 

In my twenty plus years coaching clients––from CEOs to entrepreneurs to politicians to award-winning artists––I have yet to meet a human, no matter how huge and successful, who REALLY understood how to create and design their time so that it’s not only consistent with and true to their dreams, but allows them to get ahead. A coach comes in and helps you get smarter about your time, get your head under new management (curate your thoughts), fight for your dreams, and learn how to make and keep promises to yourself that are wholly consistent with your dreams.

People (even A-list-ers!) think change is hard. It’s not. It’s just different than what you, left to your own devices, are currently doing.

Text messages, social media, work meetings, sporting events, friends’ weddings, kids’ school plays, spouse’s needs – whew, everything and everyone is competing for our attention and time!  In general, tell us more about what your organization does to help us “cut the crap” so that we can complete our obligations happily and successfully.  

See the species packaging: we all (and I mean all––from CEOs to artists to your aunt) know what we should be doing daily to be more productive, happy, and proud.

But we aren’t doing it…

Ever wonder why?

See the title of my book:  Maybe It’s You. Cut the Crap. Face Your Fears. Love Your Life. There is no maybe about it––you are your productivity, happiness, and pride’s biggest problem.

Here are some basic pointers for how to get more productive and, in turn, wildly proud of yourself and what you’re up to.

  1. Instead of battling time and pretending like it is not finite, start partnering with it. Befriend it. There really is a certain amount of time each thing you want to get done takes. Most of us play a bit duh-mb to it. I have clients actually schedule every item (yes, every) on their ‘to do’ list into their calendar and stick to it. I have you wake up to what things actually take to accomplish in real time, not in your head.  

  2. Learn how to keep a promise to yourself and make sure your promise forwards your vision for your career, like working on your business plan (or scripts) for 5 hours a week or attending networking events monthly, or even, uh, having (let alone writing down) a vision for your career, etc.

  3. Be bigger than your favorite brand of excuses. Listen. Excuses are brilliant. They work. They also, however, sabotage your own dream. Discover, once and for real, that every time you sell yourself an excuse and buy it, your relationship to yourself suffers.

  4. Put in a self-imposed consequence should you not succeed at #2. For example, if you don’t put in 5 hours a week on your business plan, lose your weekend wine. The key is not to lose your wine (or whine!) but to keep your promise. It’s pretty impressive how most of us will fight for our vice more than our dream. But, so be it.  At least, let’s use our bad for good, no?

  5. Go public with your promise (and consequence).

Try following these 5 methods for 1 month and you’ll be astonished (and proud!) at how much you’ve accomplished already in 2018!

 

“Most of us will fight for our vice more than our dream.”  Wow that is a powerful statement, Lauren and I can certainly relate to being my own worst enemy at times.  I want to end with sharing more about your best-selling book “Maybe It’s You – Cut the Crap.  Face Your Fears.  Love Your Life.”  For those readers who are not quite ready to seek personalized life coaching sessions, tell us how this acquiring this book can still help them to get on the road to success starting this year.

For those of you who aren’t quite ready to work one-on-one with a life coach and/or would prefer to work at your own pace with no one in your face (hi!), I have two great options for you. First, my book, MAYBE IT’S YOU, takes you through ten coaching sessions, it gives you the actual assignments I give to my clients, plus you get to follow the stories (and assignments) of four of my clients. The other option is my digital coaching course, Inner.U., which is over fourteen hours of coaching with yours truly. There will be assignments, stories, and even prizes (!). You can push ‘stop’ on me (a rarity), do the deep work at your own pace, all the while wondering if I’m aware that not only do I cackle, care about you, and crack myself up, I still have a slight (smirk) Long Island accent.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get started, my free Current Reality Quiz is a quick, easy, and fun coaching tool. Use it to self-assess and get a better idea of which areas of your life to work on: handelgroup.com/crq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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In Memoriam – Remembering Atlanta News Anchor Amanda Davis

News Anchor Amanda Davis
Image Courtesy of Fox News

 

On December 27, 2017, the beautiful, beloved and well-known news anchor in Atlanta – Amanda Davis – passed away.  Our condolences go out to her and her family.  She will be missed.  For more information about this heart-breaking story, visit Fox News.

 

 

In Loving Memory of Amanda Davis

 


 

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Centric Reality TV Star Cathleen Trigg Jones Keeps it Really Diva in Her New CBS Show ‘Chic Chat’

 

Centric TV’s number 1 reality series, ‘We Are The Joneses’ star, Cathleen Trigg Jones has landed her very own talk show called Chic Chat. Premiering on CBS in ATL on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 12:00pm, Chic Chat is a diverse show platform personalized for women by women, focusing on the matters we cherish most; family, lifestyle and trending topics, sprinkled with words of wisdom.

On the premiere of Chic Chat, Love & Hip Hop reality TV star, Karen King, joins Emmy Award-winning journalist and host Cathleen Trigg Jones for a Girl’s Night In! Karen opens up about her troubled past and how a family conflict landed her on the America’s Most Wanted list.

On TV, Karen seems like the outspoken and outrageous diva, but Cathleen uncovers so much more.  Through her tough life experiences, Karen never gave up and is turning everything around.  With a new fashion line, upcoming book release, and a new beau, Karen King is taking control and living the life she always wanted.

Chic Chat enables women to connect with one another, share stories and information, and aims to extend relevant conversations often deemed taboo. Curating this platform with all women in mind, it serves as a place that is approachable and relatable and provides a voice for all.

No story is the same; no woman is the same. However, we can all connect, relate, and learn from the experiences of one another. No Girl’s Night is complete without a glass of wine, so tune into Chic Chat and prepare for a roller coaster of emotions, digging deep into the journey of women of all kinds.

Chic Chat airs in Atlanta, New York and Washington, DC. Check your local listing for times.

MORE ABOUT CHIC CHAT

Hosted by Emmy Award-winning Journalist and Producer, Cathleen Trigg Jones, Chic Chat, is a diverse TV show personalized for women by women, focusing on the matters women cherish most; family, lifestyle and trending topics, sprinkled with words of wisdom.

Chic Chat enables women to connect with one another, share stories and information, and aims to extend relevant conversations often deemed taboo. Curating this platform with all women in mind, it serves as a place that is approachable and relatable and provides a voice for all.

 

ABOUT CATSCAPE PRODUCTIONS

A full-service agency, specializing in film, music videos, commercial and original television programming founded by Emmy Award Winning journalist, Cathleen Trigg-Jones. Catscape has a team of experienced professionals that is dedicated to creating and producing original productions with an edge and flair like no other. Catscape Productions has produced projects for major networks including but not limited to, NBC, BET, VHI, ESPN, CNN, TNT, MSG, CNBC, MTV, SHOWTIME and Box Networks.

 

 

Article #reposted from chicchat.com 

 


 

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Enhance Thanksgiving Dinner With These Celebrity Cookbooks

Girlfriends,

Thanksgiving is in a few days and this is one of my favorite holidays of the year because I love to cook and I love to eat.  If you love to cook and eat, then I have a special treat for you this year. 

Last year, we looked at vegan alternatives with Chef Stacey Dougan.  Remember to try to incorporate some vegan recipes into your Thanksgiving dinner this year because I’m sure there will be some friends and family that you don’t want to leave out of the festivities because of their lifestyle change. 

This year, we are going to keep the Reel Focus tradition of Thanksgiving food ideas going by examining some cookbooks that will have you inspired to throw down in the kitchen so that you can impress family and friends with your amateur chef skills.  I have pulled together four fantastic cookbooks by celebrities that definitely know how to do their thing in the kitchen and once you read these succulent recipes, you will agree that these ladies own the culinary world.  

 

Gina Neely

I thought that her book would be a great place to start because I love Southern food.  It is a great option all year long but it’s especially a great choice for Thanksgiving dinner.  What I like about her book is that she shares her fond childhood memories with some of her recipes.  This brings the food to life, giving it a history all its own.  Another thing that I like is that she provides techniques on how to do things that hardly anyone does any more, such as pickling and canning.  

A few of her recipes that stood out as something that would be great on the Thanksgiving dinner table are as follows:

GREEN ONION AND CHEDDER QUICK BREAD

Mmmm.  I can just smell the green onions, cheddar and bread baking together in the oven now.  

GINA’S QUICK CONFETTI COLLARDS

I don’t know about you all but I love collard greens!  It is a southern comfort food for sure.  This is an interesting recipe because it doesn’t require boiling and instead Gina sautee’s the collards with red pepper flakes.  

OLD-FASHIONED ELBOW MAC AND CHEESE

Mac and cheese seems to be one of the most controversial dishes at the dinner table.  Why?  Because so many people have a different take on what it’s supposed to taste like (and look like).  As a result, some people can make it taste really, really good and others — well not so good.  This is a simple mac and cheese recipe.

REMIXED GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

I have never attempted to make this dish but whenever I eat a portion of this dish prepared by others, it seems a bit soggy to me.  What I like about Gina’s recipe is that it incorporates fresh ingredients such as fresh green beans and fresh mushrooms.  This recipe may be just what I need to discover just how good and crisp this dish really is.  

TANGY, SWEET AND SOUR POT ROAST

I know that turkey is typically the centerpiece at Thanksgiving dinner but just in case you want to switch it up, or have an additional meat at the table this year, I thought that this pot roast looked like a tasty option.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Penguin Random House

 

Rachel Ray

Italian food is not typically a part of Thanksgiving dinner; however, if you are looking for alternative additions this year, then Rachel Ray’s recipes may be the way to go.  This cookbook is cool because she shares a tip or something of value about the meal before she dives right in and shares what ingredients are needed for the dish.  

Where do I begin?  There are so many delicious recipes in this book that you may be tempted to make your entire Thanksgiving dinner Italian.  But here are a few that I thought would be some good additions at the dinner table this year.

FAMILY-SIZE CAESAR SALAD

There’s nothing like a leafy salad to kick off Thanksgiving dinner.  Rachel’s made-from-scratch Caesar salad dressing should be sensational, too.

SPICY ITALIAN-STYLED DEVILED EGGS

Deviled eggs are AMAZING.  If you agree, then tossing these in as an hors devours or entree add-on for your guests will be great.  

CREAMY CELERY SOUP WITH GARLIC TOAST

There is something so amazing about the aroma of soup cooking slowly on the stove.  And with so much celery that you may have left over from other dishes, why not whip up a quick soup like this one.

SPAGHETTI WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS

This is one of those dishes that is good as an Italian entree or you can add it to your collection of good food accumulating on the dinner table.  If you plan on frying the turkey or preparing some fried fish to satisfy your “pescatarian” family members, this is a great side dish. 

SLOW-ROASTED BONE-IN LEG OF LAMB

As I mentioned before with the pot roast, if you are all ‘turkeyed’ out and want to try something new this year, then lamb is a good meat choice.  I’ve tried lamb in a stew in the past but this slow roasted leg of lamb seems like it will be everything!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, Target.com, and RachelRayShow.com

 

Martha Stewart

For most, Thanksgiving represents tradition and if you want to stick with traditional meals, Martha Stewart’s recipes are as traditional as it gets.  I love this book because it is arranged by month and she incorporates meals that work best for the month.  The month of November is filled with great Thanksgiving food ideas.

Since most of you are stern about upholding tradition, I decided to choose dishes from her book that are traditionally seen on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  

ROASTED TURKEY WITH GARLIC HERB BUTTER

Turkey is the most traditional dish on the Thanksgiving dinner table.  This recipe is very simple and, if executed correctly, this will be the star of the table.

SIMPLE STUFFING

What would turkey be without the stuffing? Boring, I tell you!  This is one of my single-most favorite dishes of the day and just like macaroni and cheese, some people make really great stuffing and others — you know the rest.   This dish is unique because it incorporates sweet fennel sausage.

RED WINE CRANBERRY SAUCE

This sounds delectable!  And it is certainly a positive shift from the typical canned cranberry sauce.  Nothing against canned cranberry sauce but just the thought of wine added to the cranberry sauce makes my eyes twinkle. 

MUSHROOM GRAVY

I try to eat healthy most of the year but when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner I like to live a little.  And living for me is to drown my food in gravy. Hey don’t judge me… it’s only a once a year thing!  

APPLE PIE-SPICED CIDER

Now I know that most of you all would prefer to pass the soda around the room.  However, if you want to get creative in the drink area, then consider making fresh this apple cider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon.com and  Ebay.com 

 

Patti Labelle

Most of you all know that songstress, Patti Labelle, can jam on the microphone. But did you know that she can also jam in the kitchen?  I love her cookbooks and this latest one is all about desserts, so you know that I’m excited.  

What I like about this cookbook and any cookbook that Patti Labelle creates is that she emphasizes family and heritage.  I also like how this book takes time to explain the different types of tools to use in the kitchen because believe it or not some people, myself included, aren’t aware of the names of all kitchen tools. 

Now that all of the savory dishes are planned, its time to dig into these sweets, my favorite.

JACKIE’S REDEMPTIVE RED VELVET MARBLE CAKE

Child, let me tell you… Whoops – I’m feeling this cookbook too much.  I’m starting to sound like Patti.  But, child, let me tell you:  this red velvet recipe sounds good!  And this is made from scratch so you will really have to take your time to prepare this.

CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONES

These are probably best for breakfast but could probably also end up on the dessert table too if there are any leftover after breakfast.

THE VERY BEST LEMON BARS

When life gives us lemons, some of us make lemonade.  Patti takes it further and makes lemon bars and boy do these seem tasty and easy to make, too.

THE SWEET POTATO PIE

What would Thanksgiving be without sweet potato pie? Not bad, if you have peach cobbler to replace it.  But in this case, I’m going to emphasize Patti’s sweet potato pie because it’s much simpler to make than peach cobbler and you can make so many of these that you can pass these bad boys out to the guests as they leave.  

DOUBLE-DECKER BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING

Pudding!  This takes me back to my youth when I used to covet pudding snacks.  I’m sure these are much more thrilling than store-bought pudding, however.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Target.com, Walmart.com, and PattiLabelle.com

 


 

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Lifetime Interprets the Flint Michigan Water Crisis in a New Made-For-Television Film

Talk about Girl Power!  Three women from Flint, Michigan – LeeAnne Walters, Nayyirah Shariff, and Melissa Mays – banded together to investigate and speak out about the Flint River water crisis and now Lifetime has allowed their story to be heard in a scripted drama for television.  

Who would have thought that something so simple and so precious as water could become a source of so much contamination, controversy, and corruption? 

The Flint water crisis – which some residents still claim is not over – was an environmental catastrophe that was mired in confusion and mystery for many years, even among its residents.  News reporters were covering the story sporadically but the rest of the nation didn’t seem to know what was really transpiring in this tiny, close-knit town. 

Lifetime has developed a movie staring Queen Latifah, Betsy Brandt, Jill Scott, and Marin Ireland which provides insight into this crisis.  The drama takes the real life story and makes it approachable, endearing, and comprehensive so that audiences can understand the political corruption behind the crisis and the damage it caused to families many years before it became national news.  

The movie first aired on Lifetime on October 28, 2017.  The movie is also still currently available On Demand and at Mylifetime.com.  

 

 


 

 

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Tiffany Haddish – The New Face of Comedy on SNL

What’s so special about Tiffany Haddish hosting Saturday Night Live?  Not much except that SHE IS THE FIRST BLACK WOMAN COMEDIENNE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHOW TO SUCCESSFULLY HOST IT

This may not be special to some because 11 other black women, mostly actresses, have hosted the show before her.  But for many, this represents a huge victory among black comediennes and a major change in climate for a show that has very rarely included black women in its cast historically.  Not bad for an untrained actress who admittedly grew up in foster care.  

You may remember Tiffany from her staring role this summer in the high-grossing film, Girl’s Trip, in which she co-stars with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Regina Hall.  After gaining much popularity for her role as Dina, Tiffany has now gone on to accomplish another major feat.  Many have been weighing in on performance on SNL this past Saturday night and it is all good.  Her much anticipated appearance on the show was well-received by audiences.

Did you see Tiffany Haddish on SNL this weekend?  How do you think she performed?  Share your comments below.  

 

 

 

 

Girls Trip movie poster courtesy of IMDb.

 


 

 

 

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2017 Atlanta Horror Film Festival

 

 

Halloween is approaching, and ghosts and goblins will be making their debut soon.  Some of these of these creepy beings will be appearing in the films this weekend hosted by the Atlanta Horror Film Festival.   This year will mark the 11th season for the festival and attendees at this year’s celebration are poised to have a ghoulish, good time.  Some films that will be showcased this weekend are as follows:

 

Replace

Elise’s Nightmare

Don’t Turn Me Off

The Glass Coffin

Earworm

The Frozen Eye

Here + After

Twin

 

These films will scare the living daylights out of you.  Check out the horror fest October 19-22 at the Sychronicity Theater.  For more info visit www.atlantahorrorfilmfest.com 

 


 

 

 

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The Home Depot – America’s Home Improvement Store Gets Involved in Film

 Home Depot Pinewood Studios

 

Film and home improvement – what could these two seemingly different business have to do with each other? Apparently, in Georgia they have a lot in common.  

A few years ago, Pinewood Studios was added to Georgia’s studio family and with it came The Home Depot Studio Store. Upon initial glance, these industries don’t seem to have anything to do with each other.  But closer introspection reveals that set-building is as crucial to Hollywood as its actors, scripts, and any other key component that make a movie come to life on screen.  With this in mind, we can see how these two different businesses can form a symbiotic relationship that results in a very beneficial outcome.

These week Reel Focus explores just how beneficial of a relationship this is by learning more about how The Home Depot is helping the film industry grow in Georgia, one wood plank at a time.

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers.  For starters, what is The Home Depot Studio Store and how is it different from regular stores?

 The Home Depot Studio Store is unique in that it’s located on the grounds of Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville and was built to serve set builders and construction crews who work on movie and television production sets in the Atlanta area. Even though the store has the Home Depot sign on the outside, the inside looks more like a fulfillment center than a traditional store. It is 4,500 square feet with just 2,300 square feet of dedicated sales floor. The store carries about 2,500 different items, and lumber and other construction-related materials are the biggest sellers.

Is the location at Pinewood Studios Atlanta the only store of its kind?

While we do have another store that is exclusively for the Pro customer (contractors, commercial business, etc.) the Studio Store is the only store we’ve opened to exclusively serve customers in the television and film production industry.

Do you all supply product only for set-building or, are you also involved in the labor of set-building?

We only supply product for set-building. We do not build sets.

This seems like a great concept for The Home Depot.  Is there plans to expand this concept and how important do you think such a diversion from norm is this for The Home Depot in terms of new business development?

We do not have plans to expand this concept.

 


 

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Oxygen Network’s New Crime TV Line Up

COLD JUSTICE -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Kelly Siegler -- (Photo by: Kurt Iswarienko/Oxygen)

 

I don’t know if you have heard but Oxygen, the television channel that has touted itself as the channel for women, has recently re-branded itself as a crime television network.  It still is marketing to women but many of the non-crime themed shows will no longer be part of the lineup.  I was shocked to read the news but I was excited to know that some of my favorites will still be on like Snapped.  Remember, Reel Focus did a segment last year featuring Snapped Executive Producer, Sharon Martin.  I’m delighted with their new line up and I think you will be, too.  

Some of you are probably like me  — I have a tendency to binge watch crime television shows.  So, now that Oxygen is a full-scale crime network, I will likely binge watch the entire network all season long!

 

I recently saw The Jury Speaks and let me tell you – this is a great show. From what I gathered, this show covers really popular cases and pulls together the original members of the jury to get their opinion on whether they would stick with their original verdict.  In hindsight, some jury members change their mind but a majority tend to stick to their original decision.  This show has covered high profile cases such as the Michael Jackson trial, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the George Zimmerman trial.  

THE JURY SPEAKS -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: "The Jury Speaks" logo -- (Photo by: Oxygen)

 

Another show that I have fallen in love with is one called Cold Justice.  Former prosecutor Kelly Sigler visits a variety of small towns to help families of victims to solve murder cases that have lain dormant for many years.  She and her team of detectives dig up new evidence about the case that ends up leading to a conviction and helps grieving families finally put an end to their dilemma.

COLD JUSTICE -- Pictured: "Cold Justice" Logo -- (Photo by: Oxygen)

 

DATELINE: SECRETS UNCOVERED -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Craig Melvin -- (Photo by: Hatnim Lee/Oxygen)

Just when I thought that this new crime line up couldn’t get any better, Oxygen added to its line up another show called Dateline:  Secrets Uncovered hosted by NBC news reporter Craig Melvin.  This was a recent addition to the Oxygen crime TV family this summer but the TV show Dateline, as you know, has been around on NBC for many years.  This is another spin off to the immensely popular show but this show explores chilling stories through first-hand accounts, told by those closest to the issue, including investigators entrusted with cracking the case and the families confronting tragedy.

These shows that I have mentioned are not all that Oxygen has to offer.  I can’t wait to dig into some of the other new shows that they have included in their line up.  I’m looking forward to the new one airing on October 1 called Criminal Confessions and the one that just released this weekend called The Disappearance of Maura Murray — both of which seem facinating.  

For more about what’s on Oxygen and schedule times, visit http://www.oxygen.com.  

 

 

Images courtesy of NBCUniversal Media Village

 


 


Interview with Tempest Storm Director, Nimisha Mukerji

Tempest Storm and Director Nimisha Mukerji
Image courtesy of https://www.tempeststormfilm.com/

At a time when Marilyn Monroe was the poster child for all things sexy in Hollywood, there emerged another woman – a close friend of Marilyn Monroe – who was to become the Queen of Burlesque.  Annie Blanche Banks, better known as Tempest Storm, left her humble beginnings in Eastman, Georgia to launch a successful career in Hollywood and Las Vegas that has spanned nearly a century.

Tempest Storm was and still is a sight to behold but in spite of her outward beauty which undoubtedly was the envy of most women of her time, she lived a not-so-sensational personal life which she kept very private until now.

Director Nimisha Mukerji goes beyond the sexual stereotypes to explore the obscure personal life of this burlesque superstar. Nimisha’s latest documentary explores the pain and triumphs of Tempest Storm in her own words.

Nimisha, I know that you are a very busy woman but I want to thank you for taking the time to allow Reel Focus readers to learn more about you and your latest film project.  First, tell our readers more about your background and how you became a film director.

Growing up my mom loved watching movies and she was a fan of every genre, from foreign films to westerns. I think her passion for films is one of the reasons I was so drawn to making them. In high school I volunteered at a local cable station as a camera operator and I took a lot of theatre classes, so I really started out directing small, one act plays as a teenager. I did my undergrad at the University of British Columbia but it wasn’t until my second year that I stumbled on the film program and realized I could take production classes as an elective. At the end of the year students were able to apply for a major in film production (which was a two year course where they only accepted 15 students). While I got shortlisted the first time I applied, I didn’t give up and went back the following year and got in. I often joke my first experience with film was rejection, and it taught me early on you can’t take no for an answer if you want to have a career in directing.

What sparked your interest in doing a biography on exotic dancer, Tempest Storm?

I was immediately drawn to the story of Tempest because she is indisputably the last great surviving burlesque performer from her era, and she’s also a very private person, which I found quite surprising. Tempest is a funny, charming woman, who has given countless interviews with the press. But I wanted to get past the usual questions and answers and delve deeper into her experience to get a better sense of what her life is like today. As it turns out, becoming a star involves a lot of sacrifice and loneliness, and Tempest was very honest about this side of the industry. She was willing to show us both the glamour and the grit involved in becoming an independent, working woman, who started out in the 50s and remains an icon to this day.

How well has your biography been received thus far?

We’ve had a fantastic reception at festivals, especially from female audiences, and thankfully Tempest has been able to attend many of our screenings. At our world premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto we were voted in the top 20 of the festival by audiences, we were also selected as the international spotlight film at Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in Arkansas, and in Georgia we recently won Best Documentary Feature at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and Best Director at Atlanta Docufest. These last two screenings and awards meant a lot to us since Georgia is Tempest’s home state and we filmed parts of the film in Eastman and Waycross.

What’s in the works for you in the near future?

I’ve been directing for television this past year and had the opportunity to work with DisneyXD and Amazon which has been really fun. It’s great to collaborate with actors and work with visual effects! It’s also been a nice change to have a script! I’ve spent the past ten years making feature documentaries where the story is constantly evolving.  I’m looking forward to developing a feature script based on a novel as well as a half hour comedy series that I’m been thinking about for a long time. While I love working as a director I think the best way to move the needle forward for women is to keep creating content that features our own stories and voices. I’m excited to keep directing and writing for both narrative films and documentaries.

 

 

 


 

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