Tuesday 30 March 2010

Only in Canada You Say!

If the Olympics had a dime for every bill donated
... they'd be better off today

During the running of the Vancouver Olympics a fundraising globe was set up at a popular Toronto tourist attraction. The money collected was to be donated to the Canadian athletes competing at the Games. A close look inside the Globe shows that American tourists responded positively with their greenbacks. And, how about our fellow Canadian citizens? Looks like there are more Canadian Tire 5-centers than $5 bills!

Monday 29 March 2010

Easter Sunday at the McMichael - music. brunch. tours.

Montreal guitarist and popular Easter Brunch all part of Sunday, April 4th at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

March 29, 2010 Kleinburg, ON—Easter is here, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is celebrating once again in family-friendly style with the return of its popular Easter Brunch buffet in the gallery restaurant. There will also be, included with admission, an afternoon classical guitar concert and guided tours of the gallery.
Montreal-based Cary Savage will be performing in the McMichael’s Grand Hall beginning at 1:30 p.m. Savage has performed throughout the United States and Canada. A versatile performer, he has recorded two CDs: “Transcriptions and Works for Guitar” (2008) and “Favorites: Music of J.S. Bach and Isaac Albéniz” (2009).The Easter classical guitar concert is part of the gallery’s ongoing Sunday Concert Series. The concert performances, which are included with gallery admission, are presented by the McMichael Volunteer Committee and the Canadian Amateur Musicians / Musiciens Amateurs du Canada (CAMMAC).
Brunch will be served Sunday, April 4 from 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. in the McMichael Café and features a full selection of delicious items including eggs Florentine; rosemary roasted chicken, garlic jus and preserved lemon; roasted salmon filets with maple Pommery glaze; penne alla vodka; and cranberry bread and coffee cake served with butter and preserves. There is a special children’s buffet menu including macaroni and cheese, and chicken fingers and fries. Fruit juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee are available throughout. Brunch is priced at $24.50 per person, $10.95 per child (ages 4–11), excluding tax and gratuity. Call 905.893.1121 ext. 2363 for reservations.
On Easter Sunday, McMichael docents will be offering tours of the permanent collection and the gallery’s special exhibitions: Tom Forrestall: Paintings, Drawings, Writings and Woodland School (First Nations art exhibition). The tours start at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

About the Gallery

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Culture. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of more than 5,500 artworks including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations and Inuit artists. The gallery is located at 10365 Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For directions and information, visit www.mcmichael.com.Cary Savage's website: www.carysavage.com
CUTLINE: Cary Savage
For further information:
Stephen Weir, Publicist
Gallery: 905.893.1121 ext. 2529
Toronto Office: 416.489.5868
Cell: 416.801.3101
sweir@mcmichael.com, stephen@stephenweir.com

Saturday 27 March 2010

Singing the praises of Guerrilla Market(ing)

Opera Singers Meat the Saturday morning St Lawrence market crowd

Cell phone photograph captures fleeting duet
While enjoying a cup of tea at the St Lawrence Market this morning, my people watching and the observance of the hustle and bustle of the building on a Saturday came to a stop when a butcher began singing -- opera style -- to a young woman laden down with her purchases. She too broke out in song. They were good singers -- too good to be butcher and a shopper -- and besides, the headset microphones gave it all away. I was accidental witness to 10 minutes of Guerrilla Market(ing).
Were they there to promote Toronto's Opera? Were they simply making an artistic statement that had some funding from the city owned building or from the cash rich Luminato Festival? Don't know. Haven't been able to find anything on line about the performance. I will have to wait until next Saturday and quiz Brown's Butchers (who lent a clean uniform to the male singer).
She sang a solo. He sang a solo.They sang a duet. It all ended when he presented her with a pea meal bacon on a bun. They melted into the wildly applauding crowd. No flyers. No explanation. But a lot of applause. Guerrilla Market(ing) without a cause.
UPDATE APRIL 17 - Three weeks after the above picture was taken, I returned once again to the Market on a Saturday morning. After buying a newspaper and a coffee in the basement of the south market, I came upstairs to the main floor and once again heard the sounds of the Opera. Singers and a keyboardist were hard at work entertaining the morning shoppers. This time the performers were more open about who they were - the auidence were given flyers to the Secret World of Og, an upcoming world premiere production of an opera based on a children's novel written by Pierre Berton. The performers? The Canadian Children's Opera Company. Not sure if the were the same group who staged the market(ing) stunt describe in this story.
CUT LINE: I used my cell phone to take a single picture of the singers in the market. What did they sing? Don't know. It was in Italian. Given the surroundings maybe it was an operatic version of an old Dominion store jingle: pricipalmente a causa della carne

Friday 26 March 2010

UPDATE: Shipwreck became travelling museum show and is now morphing into amusement park

I'm getting set to throw out the five Titanic books I own. We will smash our Titanic wine goblets into the fireplace like we were at a traditional Jewish wedding. I will take down the Titanic poster I got from the Science Centre when the latest Titanic show left port for some museum in Toledo, or was it Mexico City or Rio? I am going to purge my CV so that I no longer brag about doing PR for a Titanic exhibition at the Boat Show (it had authentic Titanic deck chairs and life jackets), assisting with the marketing of the first Titanic exhibition held in the Better Living Building at the CNE (the original artifact exhibition with items recovered by submarine)http://divemar.com/divermag/archives/dec99/around_lks_dec99.html, pre-promoting James Cameron's movie Titanic at Underwater Canada, trying to acquire 3-D underwater footage from Dr. Joe MacInnis for display at the Pier (Toronto's now closed marine museum) and assisting the Ontario Science Centre with yet another travelling Titanic exhibition http://20minutesoffame.blogspot.com/2008/02/publicity-successes-of-titanic.html.
I thought I had an unquenchable thirst for the Titanic. I was wrong. It has reached the end. Clive Cussler. Dr Ballard. Dr. Joe MacInnis. Steve Santini. R.M.S. Titanic (the owners of the travelling shows - http://www.titanic-online.com/), James Cameron. Please take me off your mailing lists. I am not buying another blessed thing about the wreck of the Titanic.
What was the tipping point? Photographer Dave Tollington sent me the photograph shown above. Cedar Bay Entertainment a privately owned entertainment and development company which built the Branson, Missouri first Titanic Museum Attraction is close to finishing another museum attraction, this time in Pigeon Ford,Tennessee. In Branson, the building is shaped like a mini-Titanic, except that it only has two smokestacks. Aside from the museum they also hold mystery theatre nights and weddings inside the replica Titanic state rooms.
Cedar Bay expects to open the Tennessee Titanic Pigeon Forge Museum Attraction this April 2010. According to Mary Kellogg, their media contact, the new attraction is "shaped like Titanic herself. It will comfortably hold 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts."
Cedar Bay is not affiliated with R.M.S Titanic. R.M.S Titanic has a legal lock on the rights to salvage material directly from the sunk shipwreck, so where are the aforementioned priceless Titanic artifacts coming from? Again according to Ms. Kellogg, the items that will be display were " either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew, or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats."
As mentioned, I worked with Linda Crane to promote a Canadian exhibition of Titanic flotsam and jetsam at the Toronto International Boat Show. The collection was at that time owned by magician Steve Santini, who is reported to have recently sold his Titanic holdings. Are those artifacts now in Tennessee? Probably. The new museum attraction will have dive footage showing the ship underwater, could that be the same footage that the Pier Museum in Toronto tried to acquire?
(Actually not. In March 2010 I exchanged email with Rick Laney from Ackerman PR, the firm handling the April opening of the museum. Accordingto Laney the film that visitors can see "is footage shot by John Joslyn – the owner of the new Titanic Museum. He has made 32 dives to the Titanic since the late 1980s.")
But, why is the Titanic being rebuilt in the Smoky Mountains? According to the attraction's website (http://www.titanicpigeonforge.com/), a life-size facsimile of a Titanic First Class stateroom will be constructed in honour the Polk-Carters family. "Polk-Carters, a socially prominent American family—with strong ancestral ties to Tennessee— were returning home (on the Titanic) to Philadelphia following a trip abroad".
Travel photographer Tollington has another idea. When asked why he thought the Titanic was being built in a landlocked state he replied "same reason the upside-down house --"Wonder Works" (www.wonderworkstn.com) in Sevierville down the road from the Titanic was built; the more tourist bullshit around here that has nothing to do with the Smoky Mountains,the better it seems..."
Thirty years on, I've have finally overdosed on the Titanic. When the "unsinkable" ship sails into the Smoky Mountains, she will do so without me or my money onboard. Never mind the 20,200,000 postings on Google for the Titanic, but, isn't time she was allowed to really sink?
Cutline: Still missing two smoke stakes, the new Titanic Museum Attraction begins to shape up. The museum is being built in the Tennessee Smoky Mountarins of the United States. Photograph by Dave Tollington.
Post Script - I lied, there is one Titanic epherma I will continue to enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/st3f4n/3916528250/ (nude painting of Kate Winslow and Storm Trooper on board the Titanic - photo by French photogapher Stéfan Le Dû)

UPDATE: The museum is set to open. This press release went out today (March 26th)

Regis Philbin to host Grand Opening Event in Pigeon Forge
We pay respect to Titanic by telling the story of the ship and her passengers

Titanic Museum Attraction Will Open on April 8


Pigeon Forge, TN (Vocus/PRWEB ) March 26, 2010 -- The new Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. will open on Thursday, April 8, 2010 with a star-studded Grand Opening hosted by Regis Philbin. The event, which is open to the public, also will be attended by descendants and family members of those on board the Titanic and includes a christening of the ship.
The weekend-long Grand Opening Celebration at the new Titanic Museum Attraction includes the christening by Philbin, a free concert by country music legend Neal McCoy, a free concert by Beatles cover band Liverpool Legends (hand-picked and managed by George Harrison’s sister), nightly fireworks displays and special events and performances through Sunday, April 11.
Philbin, best known for his television shows including Live With Regis & Kathie Lee and Who Wants to be A Millionaire, will serve as master of ceremonies during the Grand Opening. Philbin’s television career started more than 50 years ago when he was a reporter in San Diego. Since that time, he has become a national fixture with a string of Emmy Award-winning shows. The christening and Grand Opening event, which take place outside of the Titanic Museum Attraction, are free and open to the public.
Titanic Museum Attraction is a half-scale, permanent, three-deck reproduction of the Titanic. The museum houses 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts that were either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew, or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats.
Inside the Titanic Museum Attraction, visitors find full-size reproductions (built to actual Titanic blueprints) of Third-Class quarters, a First-Class suite, dining rooms and – the museum’s centerpiece – a $1 million exact reproduction of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase. The First-Class suite in the Titanic Museum Attraction, which was occupied by Isidor and Ida Straus who founded and owned Macy’s Department Stores, was also the cabin used in James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Titanic as Rose’s suite.
“We pay respect to Titanic by telling the story of the ship and her passengers,” said John Joslyn, owner of the new Titanic Museum Attraction. “Visitors learn the individual stories of those onboard the ship as they are learning about the ship itself. We have spent years researching these people and their stories are absolutely amazing.
“In addition to an unparalleled collection of artifacts, we have built Titanic Museum Attraction as a completely interactive attraction. You hear the wonderful stories as you’re going through the museum, but you are also experiencing things the way they were in 1912 when Titanic sailed. It’s one thing to hear about the men who shoveled coal into the boilers – but it comes to life for you when you pick up that shovel and feel what it means to shovel coal into a furnace.”
In addition to being a world class museum in the truest sense of the word, Titanic Museum Attraction is also highly interactive and offers a hands-on experience for children, teenagers and adults. The ship is anchored in water to create the illusion of Titanic at sea, and a 90-minute self-guided tour gives guests the sensation of sailing on the original ship’s 1912 maiden voyage. Upon entry, each guest receives a boarding pass bearing the name of an actual Titanic passenger or crew member whose fate is revealed on the Memorial Wall at tour end. Along the way, powerful emotions surface as guests:

* Walk Titanic’s Grand Staircase
* Touch the frozen surface of an “iceberg”
* Feel the chill of that fateful “Starry Night”
* Study some of the largest, most detailed Titanic models ever built
* Grip the ship’s wheel and follow the Captain’s commands
* Tour world-class galleries and the rare historical artifacts they hold
* Sit in a Titanic lifeboat and listen to actual survivors tell their stories
* Send an SOS from the Marconi Wireless Room
* Test their balance while standing on mini-decks built to show the ever-steeper slope of Titanic as she sank
* Watch children eight years and younger explore the special interactive TOTanic Play-and-Learn Room
* Dive to Titanic’s wreck site via spectacular underwater camera footage

The Titanic Museum Attraction Grand Opening event begins on Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10 a.m. and continues with special events and celebrity guest appearances throughout the weekend. Tickets to the new Titanic Museum Attraction, which will open April 8, are now available online at www.TitanicPigeonForge.com. (Note: The outdoor Grand Opening and christening are free and open to the public, but admission to the Titanic Museum Attraction requires a ticket.)
Cedar Bay Entertainment is a privately owned entertainment and development company headquartered in Branson, Missouri, the site of Cedar Bay’s first Titanic Museum Attraction. Since its April 2006 grand opening, it has welcomed more than 2,000,000 guests.
Editors: For more information about the Titanic Museum Attraction Grand Opening or to arrange for a media visit, please contact Rick Laney at (865) XXX-XXXX. High resolution photos of the new Titanic Museum are available upon request. A complete Regis Philbin bio is also available upon request.

Friday 12 March 2010

Free Fridays In The Big Smoke - From Flaming War Planes to Sex in the White House Basement



A news bulletin from Media Bistro arrived this morning on my Mac - you know one of those daily mailings pointing out articles you may wish to read (but you don't because who has any free time these days to read?). Just when I finally got up the energy to actually cancel the complimentary service I was sent something that I wanted to read. This morning their mailing was all about the business of free, very apropos, because for me, at least today, it was a free Friday.
From Swag to receiving Critical Information, free is a big part of what makes both PR and Journalism work. Free is not something that is sought out or requested, it is just there, all the time, all over the city. I was interested to see what a US based media news advisory service had to say about it -- this was in part what Media Bistro said about free stuff ... before trying to sell me on a non-free seminar about free.
"Across all segments of the media landscape, entrepreneurs and executives are pioneering online business models that combine a free (... with a paid offering)Free sells" they wrote. In other words? Look for an incoming wall of Free.
In my day-to-day work free is a big part of what I do. Free passes for the media, free books for reviewers, free lunches for contacts and so it goes. Even though there is no cost, somehow my wallet opens up as soon as I leave the house and comes back empty when I return home 12-hours later. No wonder Revenue Canada has me in their radar -- they want their money before I go broke paying for all that free.
Sometimes the tables are reversed and that free is bestowed on me, usually for a reason. Take this morning.
It started at 6.30 am. I headed out to the subway. A man standing outside the entrance opened the door for me for free (with his hand-out). After passing through the turnstile (that wasn't free) I picked up complimentary copies of the Sun, Metro News and 24hours. By 7.30 I had arrived -- well read -- at the Toronto Board of Trade conference room in First Canadian Place. I had a free breakfast - bagels and juice, followed by cup after cup of free tea.

The Breakfast is hosted by the CNW Group - the nation's number one resource for time-critical news and information. The news agency stages breakfast meetings for its clients - PR people for industry, government and institutions - people who use CNW Group to issue their financial news, press releases and media alerts.
This is a popular programme, CNW often gets 400 people in attendance while hundreds of others watch the event from their computers in other Canadian cities.
I find the meetings informative, I network like crazy and hey, it is free.
Today the speakers are Stu McNish and John Stufflebeem. McNish is a former British Columbia TV journalist and Stufflebeem is a former Vice Admiral of the 6th fleet and was President Bush's military voice during the War in Afghanistan.
McNish has gone to the dark side -- he now has a PR company that provides among other things, corporate videos and media training. Stufflebeem left the Pentagon as the result of a sex-scandal and now gives inspirational talks to industry, the military and rooms full of PR types wearing power breakfast suits and noshing on no-cost high cal bagels.
CNW Group bills the pair as experts who "will share the secrets of managing your reputation by engaging the media. Learn how to determine the right message to deliver; how to develop messaging you can own; how to practice; and most importantly, how to negotiate and control the terms of engagement."
Biggest free secret of the morning came from McNish. "If if it doesn't come out of your mouth it won't get in the media". It is a truism I preach, but, I have never said it so well. I plan to borrow that Bon Mot ... often.
As for Stufflebeem, he was able to "negotiate and control the terms of engagement (with his morning auidence)" by talking about his successes in the Bosnian War, in the Pentagon and as aide to the president during the crises in Panama, Iraq, the invasion of Kuwait and the war in Afganistan. He didn't mention what made him so infamous later in his career.
When you are giving free advice, it is your right to keep some information back. While he did talk about piloting a flaming Tom Cat US Navy jet to a safe landing after being hit by enemy fire, he didn't mention how he was drummed out of the service after an anonymous letter detailed an affair he had 18 years ago while in the White House.
According to Navy Times journalist Chris Amos, the letter accused Stufflebeem of carrying on an eight-month affair with a female State Department staffer while the two were assigned to the White House in 1990.
"Stufflebeem, then a 37-year-old commander, pretended to be a widower, telling the woman that his wife had died of breast cancer and that he was raising his two children on his own ... In fact, Stufflebeem was still living with his wife at the time."
"The report says Stufflebeem had sex with the State Department staffer in sleeping quarters in the White House basement and when the two traveled abroad with the White House travel team. The two engaged in “passionate kissing” in a car parked near the White House grounds, and he even sexually propositioned the woman’s close friend on a trip to London," the reporter wrote.

Too bad Vice Admiral Stufflebeem didn't know then the media rules he now imparts routinely as he barnstorms PR meetings across the continent.
The morning session begins at 7.30 and ends shortly after 9am. The clock separates the self-employed from the staffers. Most of the room empties at 9 ... the desk jobs call ... the rest linger to hear the end of the talk.
On my way back to my office I find myself walking up Yonge St. Ahead I see two men dressed as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I ask them if I can take a picture. They agree but on condition that I answer one question correctly.
"Who stars in the new movie Alice in Wonderland?" Tweedle Dee asks?
"Johnny Depp," I answer.
"Take your picture kind sir," Tweedle Dum says in a loud theatre voice. "And, for being so smart, here is a free deck of Alice in Wonderland playing cards."
I took the tin of cards, which it turns out promote the opening of the Alice in Wonderland 3D movie. The two costumed actors posed for the picture and turned to walk away.
Looking over his shoulder at me, Tweedle Dee said "Here is a free spot of Alice advice you can pass along (to Vice Admiral Stufflebeem I wonder?), she says 'I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it'."

Top - Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
Middle - The Vice Admiral
Bottom - My "free" deck of cards