News and Notes: ‘Miracle’ in the O.C.

Digital Content, documentary, Journalism, Manhattan Plaza, Me, Media, Miracle on 42nd Street, Shameless Self-Promotion, Star Wars

Miracle on 42nd Street, the doc on subsidized housing, artist communities and the origin story of Seinfeld that I keep posting about (’cause I cowrote it with Steve Ryfle), will screen April 29 as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival. Tickets, as they say, are now on sale.

In other business:


On Becoming a Tabloid Figure and a Sellout

Manhattan Plaza, Me, Movies, Screenwriting


It’s pretty cool, actually.

Miracle on 42nd Street, the documentary I cowrote with Steve Ryfle, got New York Post coverage, and sold out its Saturday premiere at Doc NYC in Manhattan.


How the Documentary I Worked on Spent Its Summer Vacation

documentary, Manhattan Plaza, Miracle on 42nd Street, Movies, Screenwriting

Miracle on 42nd Street was completed. The official Website was relaunched. The teaser poster was rolled out.

Miracle, which I co-wrote, is about Manhattan Plaza, the affordable-housing community for artists in New York City. The complex was born of the Big Apple’s mid-1970s financial crisis, and opened during the Bronx Is Burning summer of 1977. So, yes, there’s a lot of cool footage in Miracle — and a lot of cool stories from the likes of Larry David (an early Manhattan Plaza resident) and Samuel L. Jackson (a Manhattan Plaza security guard during the ’77 blackout).

Telethon Man

jerry lewis, R.I.P.

My birthday nearly always falls on Labor Day weekend. As a child, the occasion meant action figures from the close-out rack at Uncle Tom’s Toys (yes, Uncle Tom‘s), and the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. I liked the telethon in the way I liked the Johnny Carson-era Tonight Show: If I was seeing it, then I was being allowed to stay up late.

The year I turned 8 I was gifted with a $5 bill by my far-away, rarely glimpsed paternal grandmother. Later that weekend, I tuned in the telethon. One of its pre-taped segments about children with muscular dystrophy got to me. I walked down to phone booth at the corner gas station, and pledged my birthday money to Mr. Lewis and the MDA. (Why I was walking down to the corner gas station to make a phone call is another story.)

A couple of weeks later, at a time when things happened at the pace of “a couple of weeks later…,” I received an invoice and an envelope, in which I was to tuck in my $5. By then, however, I’d decided that $5 was a lot of money, and I didn’t want to part with it. I felt guilty about not living up to my word, and about about letting down the children, my peers, but I didn’t feel guilty enough to send in the $5. And so I kept the cash. I don’t recall what I did with it, but my money’s on: (a) I spent it foolishly; or, (b) I lost it recklessly.

Lewis. who died Aug. 20 at the age of 91, last hosted the telethon in 2010. When I wrote his obituary for Yahoo!, I was struck by how few of the usual career plaudits came his way. There was no Kennedy Center tribute, no Mark Twain honor, no American Film Institute black-tie gala; the Jean Hersholt statuette that he did receive was met with backlash. He was “loved”; he was “reviled.”

And I’m the kid who reneged on a $5 pledge to his charity, so I don’t think I get a vote on this one.