Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Fine-Tune" Youngstown World Movie Premiere at Ford Family Recital Hall

I was invited last night to the world premiere of the made in Youngstown movie, "Fine-Tune". The premiere was held in front of an almost packed house at the Ford Recital Hall in the DeYor Performing Arts Centre. Youngstown native Chris Rutushin, returned to the area to shoot a film based on his family and it's Italian heritage, after an Emmy winning turn in broadcast news in Las Vegas, and learning behind the scenes of his craft at the Today Show in New York. The movie provides a slice of life view of a typical Italian family, circa early 1970's Youngstown Ohio. Shot entirely on locations familiar to most Mahoning Valley residents, Fine-Tune, is a light nostalgic ride through a time not too long ago.

The premiere was a who's who of young and old, in those that are vocal in championing our city and putting their words, actions and money, where their mouth's are. Fine-Tune's Executive Producer, Tony LaRiccia, and his lovely wife and thespian in the film, Mary, were welcoming invited guests, and seen mingling were Janko from "I Will Shout Youngstown" blog, Phil Kidd, Youngstown's Downtown Director, Khaled Tabbera and his band the Zou, and many, many more. I was honored to be invited by the Maluso Family, who's patriarch John Maluso, pretty much steals the show as "Grandpa". John's wife Claire, former downtown Youngstown Director was greeting the crowd and singing Youngstown's praises as always along with the talents of the director, cast and crew of the film. Mary Jo Maluso was beaming with pride about her fathers work in the film, as was her husband and musical partner Rick Blackson, who was equally proud of his father-in-law. Together, Rick and Mary Jo's company, Beyond Broadway Entertainment, are excited about the surge of artistic talent that is energizing in Youngstown, and have some exciting plans of their own for the City to be announced in the coming months.

The film itself was overall, very enthusiastically recieved by those in attendance at the premiere. The premiere's opening remarks compared the independent nature of the film, to "Napoleon Dynamite", that captured the slice of life exploits of the underdogs in society, and went on to gross over a million dollars in box office and rentals. Running a production company, it is not fair for me to review the artistic merits of the film, because we all have our own production biases. I will say that the set decoration and mood of the film, certainly captured the look and feel of the period. There was a good mixture of comedy and plot development. The acting was enjoyable and fun, and let you see the characters as well rounded. The themes of family interaction, responsibility, race, and friendship, ring true to the period and contrast how far we have come, and how much we have remained the same. Some inside and mainstream jokes had the audience laughing in all the right places, and of course, being a hometown film for a hometown audience, some of the biggest applause came at the opening and ending credits, in recognition of the work of both friends and neighbors that collaborated in the making of this film.

Congratulations to Chris Rutushin and his crew for turning his dream into a reality and creating his own, "Accent On Youngstown," with his film inspired by his family and the City where he was raised. Check out the trailer below, and look for this film to come to a theater near you. I am sure that no matter what happens in the extremely competitive film distribution business, you will hear a lot more about "Fine-Tune", and where you can watch it for yourself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Choose Youngstown

"I Choose Youngstown!" I recently read that in some comments on a post by Vindicator Editor, Todd Franko. After some dispariging comments about the City, a few or our more vocal citizens re-iterated their reason for being here. They CHOSE it. I reference that because of other comments I was hearing last night at an event for the Positive People Group, at the B&O Station. The mandate for that group is to promote growth and purpose and happiness in our region, with a group of like minded, "Positive" people.

While Positive People Group, (PPG), is a new organization, the goals they are trying to achieve, and the obstacles they have to overcome, are as old and tired as the day is long. Can a group of positively thinking people win out over the same old, "Youngstown is Over", mentality. You hear the same old arguments creep up again and again. Downtown Youngstown is not safe. If you provide bussing to the outlying community, it will only attract people with no money in their pocket to the subarbs, and back into downtown. There is no housing downtown to keep the area alive. There is no inftrastructure or services to support housing downtown. Blah, blah, blah. The truthfulness, or lack-there-of, of those statements aside, it is what is constantly being heard on the street and in some of the media. The admirable and attainable goal by the PPG, is to turn those negative comments around to positive affirmations about the City. There are always going to be sour apples in the bushel, but a lot of positve can outweigh the negative if working together as one. I personally believe that, and am trying to do something about that. Many others in the community, and even outside the community with strong ties to the area are trying as well.

Back to my first statement. "I Choose Youngstown"!! That to me is very positive. It's an affirmation that there is something going on here that I agree with, believe in, get behind, support, or am involved in. I consider Youngstown Downtown Director Phil Kidd, to be a friend. Someone I believe in and appreciate his hard work. To be honest, reading his blog, Defend Youngstown, is one of the reasons I steered my company to come to downtown Youngstown last year. However, after listening to the negative comments, constantly being put out there, I believe we have focused on the negative for too long. "Defend Youngstown" is actually sounding negative lately. I know that is not the case, nor the intent, but to "Defend", means you are concentrating on the negative that is coming at you. Now "Choose Youngstown" is positive in it's meaning and intent. Are there problems in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley? Absolutely! Are there a lot more things going right in Youngstown now and the Valley? Yes! So I too join the commenters above and Choose Youngstown. I hope all of our friends out there decide to Choose Youngstown as well. And Phil, maybe it's time to have a second line of t-shirts. "Choose Youngstown", it's a good choice.........Scott

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Accent On Youngstown" Episode 7, 7/11/08

Hey Friends. "Accent On Youngstown" is up and running with our new episode #7. I want to thank Julie from the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Liz for the Children's Museum of the Valley, for stopping by to chat with us for a bit. If you are looking for great business advice, YBI is the place to start asking questions. A true key to revitalization of downtown Youngstown, the Incubator has a waiting list to get in, and some stellar company's putting it's resources to good use. If you are looking for something to do with the kids this Summer, the Children's Museum of the Valley is a must-stop event. Support the museum with your visits, and also help this no profit continue to serve, by helping out any way you can.

Finally, I know I am beating you over the head with Oreo's lately, but we are so supportive of this worthwhile event, we really want to make it a success. We NEED Oreo Stackers, Volunteers, Corporate Sponsors, and Chinese Auction Donations. Cash or merchandise for the auction with a value of $100 dollars or more, gets your name listed on the famous, "I'm Stacked" T-shirt. Please contact me on how you can help with this event...................Scott

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Accent on Youngstown" airs 1 week later, Happy Fourth of July

Hey Friends. With the short week for the holiday weekend, we will not be posting out next webcast of "Accent On Youngstown," until next Friday, July 11th. We hope you will all have a safe and fun Fourth of July weekend. Tonight is the exciting Pub Crawl, taking place over 15 establishments throughout the area, with t-shirts and trolly's provided. The event will culminate in a spectacular fireworks display over the City at midnight. Tickets have been pre-sold, and will also be available at the event. The crawl begins at 5pm at the soldiers monument for sign-ups and getting your maps and information.

Of course there is also the 4th of July Riverbend concert over at Anthony's on the River, featuring Frankie and the Sensations from 7-10:30pm on Friday the fourth. If you are ever looking for something to do around Youngstown, I hope you are checking out the recently completed Youngstown Events website, at Downtown event director Phil Kidd has made sure to keep this website updated often and chock full of good information. Well, we are off for the 3 day weekend blogger friends, enjoy your holiday, and talk to you all soon.........Scott