Filed under: Work | Tags: broadcasting, gay, gay middle east, gaymiddleeast.com, TV news
Look, I’m not embarrassed by them, but I also don’t think these are good enough to send as links to the producers of the English-language evening newscast here in Israel. With no budget or teleprompter, I am reading the stories from a script in my hand. My head is bobbing up and down faster than Pamela Anderson in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room. But it’s OK. Next time we are going to try a creative solution – slowly filming us moving the script upwards in front of the camera, then playing it back on a monitor next to the camera when we record me. Makeshift teleprompter!
Stick the popcorn in the microwave for these. But don’t take a sip of water before pressing play – you might just do aspit-take.
Filed under: Cool Things, Work | Tags: broadcasting, gay, Silvano Orsi, TV news
On top of both my jobs, this week I did a third job, albeit one that didn’t pay me anything. I mentioned it already on here; it’s sort of combination news writer/reporter/anchor work for GayMiddleEast.com. GME is a news-aggregator site for LGBT stories from throughout the Middle East. I’m part of a new project for them, where we’re creating original video content from the stories on the site and posting it on YouTube. You never know – there’s at least one English-language newscast in Israel, and I’m sure the talent pool for native English-speakers with broadcasting skills is pretty small…who knows – maybe this will be the thing that pops, and I’ll wind up the Israeli Anderson Cooper.
One of the videos we’re working on is an interview with Silvano Orsi. It’s a pretty incredible story. In 2003 Orsi, an American citizen, was chilling in a 5-star hotel restaurant in Geneva, Switzerland, when Sheikh Falah al-Nahyan – the brother of the President of the United Arab Emirates – came up to him and started hitting on him hardcore. When Orsi turned him down (he’s not gay), the Sheik sent over a $500 bottle of champaign. When Orsi turned him down again, the Sheik whipped the shit out of him in front of everybody in the hotel bar with a heavy metal belt buckle. Orsi tried to get away to another room, and then to the reception desk to call for help, and each time the Sheik followed him and whipped him with the belt buckle in his face all over again. Because the Swiss didn’t wanna piss off UAE royalty, they confiscated Orsi’s cell phone, refused to call the police for him, and kept him against his will at the hotel until 3:00 a.m. Anyway, that’s just the beginning of the story – but already, WTF, right ???
GME.com’s Shabi Gatenio (who’s, I guess, my boss in this non-paying gig; but actually more like my friend) interviewed Orsi over Skype last month. This week, we videotaped me outside the Swiss embassy reporting on part of the story. Then, today at Shabi’s house, we videoed me in front of a green screen asking questions that will be edited together with Orsi’s interview. We also recorded a separate news brief of six LGBT stories from around the Middle East the last six months.
Now, look: there wadn’t no tellyprompter; I had to look down at the pages I was holding a lot. Our budget was less than what a pack of cigarettes cost in New York City these days. But, like I said, what if this explodes into a new career for me here? Israel’s a very “small pond;” it is entirely within the realm of possibility. Also, think of all the LGBTs throughout the Middle East – many of whom are educated and speak English – they’ll get some validation seeing their issues broadcast in this Internet video coverage. Also, people from around the world looking for these stories will find our coverage online. What I’m getting at is: drawing attention to the many abuses inflicted upon LGBTs in this region is a very worthwhile service to be providing. I’m proud and happy to do it!
Oh, what’s with the title of this post? Funny joke from the classic movie Airplane II: The Sequel.
I have a great feeling right now. Not a fleeting one, I mean, but a more general overall vibe that positive and significant change is coming. In fact, it is imminent, and it will be rapid.
From where, right? A couple of places. The first is a brand new development, and it’s not time to blab about it yet. I saw a JOBOPP post on CIWI, and I answered it – the kind that almost looked too-good-to-be-true, it was so perfect. The subject line asked three questions, and it was so über-directed right at me, I could answer all three, like Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! So, I answered it, and it lead to a phone interview. And it seemed to go very well. It’s a writing position, and although it would be freelance/hourly at first, I had to ask if I liked them and they liked me & my work, was there potential it could turn into something more. There was one more caveat, it turns out: they are a startup and so, the funding would have to be there for that to happen. But essentially, yes – if things look like they are working out between us, there is definitely that potential. I have an in-person interview with them scheduled for Monday. The last thing I will say about it is:
Then, there’s GME.com. Shabi wants to film my YouTube news report of Silvano Orsi‘s story this week. I’m not sure how this is going to work: We don’t have any video to go with the story, nor do we have soundbites from the Swiss and American embassies. In fact, we don’t even have statements from them, because they haven’t replied to our faxed questions. So, Shabi wants this to be just me telling the story to the camera. At least from what I learned in my MediaBistro courses, that’s just all kinds of wrong. But it is what it is. I’ll do my best, and hope the result works.
We’ll do more stories after that, and then it’s not far fetched at all to think that a producer from Israel’s Channel One or Channel Two English-language news broadcasts will see these. This is a small country; our whole population isn’t even as big as New York City. The talent pool for skilled, mother-tongue English-language TV news presenters has got to be relatively small. I could end up having the TV news career in Israel that I never got to have in the US. Wouldn’t that be something? Now that I’m not so desperate for it to happen – in fact, pretty ambivalent about it – I feel like that it’s all the more likely to.
It’s really just those two things. There is also the G-Fish memoir writing. Though I have lapsed on it temporarily, I will pick it up again this week. My current project at work is also extremely exciting. I’m working with a web designer volunteer in Australia on the new version of our website. He came to us through a comment I left on an article at NYmag.com that was related to our work. That’s pretty incredible, I think. And we’re using Google Wave and Twitter direct messages to work on this really creative and important project together – 8,700 miles and 8 time zones apart.
2010 is going to be great!