Tag Archives: Entertainment

AP story on country music, the bathroom bill and similar legislation

By Kristen M. Hall, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Several country music artists and songwriters have condemned proposed laws that critics say discriminate against LGBT people, but anyone looking for reaction from the record labels and production companies on Nashville’s Music Row has heard only the sound of silence.

New laws in North Carolina and Mississippi have drawn the ire of businesses and celebrities alike, with Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams canceling shows in those states. Legislation dealing with the treatment of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people was vetoed by Georgia’s governor, but bills are still being considered in Tennessee and South Carolina.

Numerous artists with ties to Nashville have denounced the proposals here, which would ban transgender people from using restrooms that don’t conform to their sex at birth and would allow counselors to refuse services to LGBT people on religious grounds. Among them: Emmylou Harris, Billy Ray Cyrus and his pop star daughter Miley Cyrus, and actor Chris Carmack of ABC’s “Nashville.”

Gretchen Peters, a singer songwriter who has written hits like Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” said the bills being considered in Tennessee are deeply personal to her as the mother of a 31-year-old transgender man.

“The people who are at risk are people like my son who would really be called out publicly, and anyone who is a trans person knows that can escalate into a really dangerous situation,” she said. “I live in fear of that as a mother.”
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Lee Harris: ‘Guns in parks’ may close festivals, concerts in TN cities

News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Joined by gun safety advocates and a former chief of police, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris talked about the danger to Tennessee concert goers posed by an attorney general’s ruling forcing private entities to allow guns at concerts.

“If this is allowed to stand, some of these major festivals may decide to end or move out of public parks,” Sen. Harris said. “A few reasonable people may avoid going just to avoid risk. Given the economic impact of these festivals, we have to do something so that people can feel safe at major festivals and concerts. We need legislation that makes clear that organizers can ban guns at these events when they believe there is a security risk.”

Junaid Odubeko, a Nashville attorney who served in the Bredesen administration and provides legal counsel to the Senate Democrats, said the ruling will stop city and county governments from banning guns in their parks, including at major festivals, even if these governments contract with private, third-party entities to operate the parks.

“The AG has opined that the legislature’s actions here are clear and unambiguous,” Odubeko said. “The legislature wanted to take away the ability of local governments to keep people from carrying guns in parks. From my review of the law, I would say that the AG correctly interpreted the legislative intent of the new law.”

There have been at least 20 accidental shootings in Tennessee so far this year, according to Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for the Safe Tennessee Project.

“The frequency of these kinds of incidents is alarming,” Roth said. “What’s even more alarming is the possibility of these kinds of accidental shootings happening in extremely crowded situations such as an outdoor concert venue or festival. Unlike those who describe accidental shootings as ‘acts of God,’ we believe that they are 100 percent preventable.”

Retired Memphis Chief of Police James Bolden spoke from his experience in law enforcement on the danger guns can pose in large crowds where alcohol is consumed.

“At the Memphis in May festival, at any given time we could have 75,000 citizens cramped into a small space,” Bolden said. “Even if you took a small percentage and allowed them to bring firearms, we’re setting ourselves up for a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Police won’t know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys and would have to make a snap decision.”

Sen. Harris will host a roundtable in Nashville with gun safety advocates to continue the discussion, tentatively set for Aug. 13.

Note: Reporting on the release and Harris’ news conference Friday includes: News sentinel/Commercial Appeal HERE; Times-Free Press HERE. Both quote a former Memphis police director as seeing a “potential disaster” and note regional events that could be impacted.

Previous post HERE, including link to the AG opinion HERE.

Fred Thompson plays Judge Noose in Broadway ‘A Time to Kill’ show

Tennessee’s former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, is making make his Broadway debut in a play based on John Grisham’s novel “A Time to Kill.”

Thompson will play the Judge Omar “Ichabod” Noose, who presides over the Mississippi trial of a black man accused of killing the white men who raped his young daughter.

“He’s kind of like the lion tamer in a three-ring circus,” Thompson told Reuters of his role. “He doesn’t suffer fools or anyone gladly.”

The former U.S. senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate also said he role is close to his heart because he “a small-town Southern lawyer early in his career, long before he turned to acting.” Thompson started his lawyer career Lawrenceburg, Tenn., his hometown, before relocating to Nashville and moving on to fame.

His first acting role was playing himself in the 1985 move “Marie,” based on his real representation of Marie Ragghianti, who was fired as chairman of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles during the cash-for-clemency scandal of former Gov. Ray Blanton’s administration. Subsequent multiple acting roles included playing New York prosecutor Arthur Branch on the “Law and Order” TV series for years.

Thompson told the Tennessean he likes being in front of a live audience.

“Walking into the theater every night, and into the side entrance and seeing the line already forming — sometimes a rather long line already forming by the time I get there — is a thrill,” he said.

UT Music Center gets ‘Tennessee Waltz’ manuscript

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A group including U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey, have donated the original manuscript of the “Tennessee Waltz” song to the new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center at the University of Tennessee.

The song was written on the back of a large matchbox by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart in 1946 while they were travelling back to Nashville from a show in Texas. Upon their arrival they transferred the song from the matchbox to a sheet of music

The Alexanders and three other couples bought what is known as the “lead sheet” in August. The song later made famous by Patti Page has been recorded by more than 500 musical artists and has sold more than 10 million copies. It is also one of Tennessee’s state songs.

Here’s the UT News release:
KNOXVILLE—U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and his wife, Honey, along with three other couples, have given the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the original manuscript of “Tennessee Waltz” to be displayed prominently in the university’s new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.

In December 1946, Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart wrote “Tennessee Waltz” on the back of a large matchbox while returning to Nashville from a show in Texas. King and Stewart, upon arrival in Nashville, transferred their song from the matchbox to a sheet of music. The original sheet music of a song is known as a “lead sheet.”

The tune, made famous by singer Patti Page, would become one of Tennessee’s official state songs, be recorded by more than 500 musical artists and sell more than 10 million copies. It has been cited as the most popular song in the history of country music.
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Former Rep. Scotty Campbell’s TV Dancing Debut

Former state Rep. Scotty Campbell, R-Mountain City, won the chance to appear with Tons of Funk and the Funkadactyls at a World Wrestling Entertainment event through an online charity auction to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. Here’s the video of his debut dancing performance last night. (youtube link HERE.)

Fairness in Ticketing Act Proponents: Maybe Next Year

The Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition, which lobbied for passage of the “Fairness in Ticketing Act (HB1000),” has thrown in the towel for 2013 in one of the 2013 session’s great lobbying wars.
From the Tennessean:
After appearing to flounder recently under the weight of growing opposition from conservative leaders, a proposal to impose greater restrictions on the event ticket resale market died Wednesday in a House committee.
The bill’s author, state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, said the measure suffered “some of the harshest” lobbying he had experienced, making it impossible to continue.
“They’ve done an excellent job maligning what the bill actually does and that’s just something I haven’t been able to overcome just yet,” Haynes said of the bill’s critics. Opposition has been led since last year by a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization, but the army of dissenters swelled in recent weeks to include conservative leaders from throughout the state.
Haynes declined an offer by state Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, to send the bill to a summer study committee and said he hoped to present it again next year.
“Around here everybody really knows a summer study committee is a way to dispense with a bill and just never have it dealt with again,” Haynes said. “And I think we do need to deal with this issue.”

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Comptroller Says Film Incentives Not Working

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Auditors from the Comptroller’s office found that the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission; the Department of Economic and Community Development; and the Department of Revenue have failed to ensure that public incentives for filmmaking businesses were properly administered. Auditors could find little to no evidence the incentives have led to new film producing facilities or permanent film jobs in Tennessee.
In 2006, the General Assembly passed laws giving the film commission authority to provide certain financial incentives to attract movie production companies to the state. However, auditors questioned whether the incentives provided have been properly determined and whether certain incentives intended for filmmaking facilities located in Tennessee have been improperly awarded to out-of-state businesses.
The Comptroller’s report, which was released today, can be found online at: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/sa/AuditReportCategories.asp
The auditors found that incentive payments were based on expenditures that did not always meet the program’s guidelines or have adequate supporting documentation.
The audit also revealed a former executive director had a potential conflict of interest that was not properly disclosed. The former director’s spouse worked for a legal firm that was involved with at least three film projects which received incentives.
Auditors will give a presentation on their findings today at a meeting of the General Assembly’s joint subcommittee on commerce, labor, transportation and agriculture. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room 12 at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville.

Film Folks to Get $2 Million More in State Incentive Money

News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE – Changes to state law made during the 107th General Assembly will mean $2 million in anticipated funding for the state’s film incentive program, administered by the Tennessee Film Entertainment and Music Commission (TFEMC).
In addition, reforms to the state’s film funding grant formula will give smaller, indigenous film productions access to a larger share of available grant dollars.
Sen. Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) sponsored a repeal of the refundable tax credit available to film productions under TCA § 67-4-2109(j). The repeal will mean an additional $2 million in funding for the Tennessee Film/TV Incentive Fund .
Norris said the move makes TFEMC the “one-stop shop” for film incentives in the state and ends a complex system of incentivizing productions through both TFEMC grants and refundable tax credits issued by the Department of Revenue.
“We recognize the importance of the film industry not only to the economy of the state but to the welfare of countless Tennesseans whose livelihoods depend on it,” Norris said. “This new program simplifies, streamlines and strengthens our commitment to the film industry.”
Changes made to the Tennessee Film/TV Incentive Fund grant formula by the TFEMC are designed to promote the development of indigenous production and attract independent filmmakers by streamlining the incentive delivery process.
Under the new program, projects with budgets over $200,000 will be eligible to receive grants equal to 25 percent of their qualified Tennessee expenditures. Previously, the combined grant and tax credit system awarded a 17 percent grant and 15 percent refundable tax credit only to productions with budgets over $1 million.
“As part of Governor Haslam’s Jobs4TN economic development plan, the entertainment industry was identified as one of the key industries in which the state has a clear competitive advantage,” Bill Hagerty, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “I would like to thank Sen. Norris for his vision on this bill and members of the General Assembly for their support.”
The TFEMC is part of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Rally Seeks for More incentives to Movie Makers

The Association for the Future of Film & Television, a Nashville-based lobbying arm for the state film industry, has planned a rally at the state capitol to support pending legislation that would give bigger tax breaks to those who film in Tennessee, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The AFFT organized today’s Nashville rally to generate publicity and support for the state Entertainment Industry Investment Act, an incentives bill that would strengthen the state’s ability to compete for film projects.
Sponsored by a pair of Shelby County legislators, Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova, the bill would bolster Tennessee’s lights-camera-action allure by offering studios tax credits rather than rebates for production expenses in Tennessee.
“This is about creating jobs in Tennessee, not just for actors and films crews but carpenters, drivers, the hotel industry, the stores,” said Falk, who will tote made-in-Memphis signs to the rally with such slogans as “HUSTLE! Stop the FLOW of Films to Georgia!!” and “We’re Walking the Line for Tennessee Movies.”
The slogans allude to “Hustle & Flow” and “Walk the Line,” two films shot in Memphis before the exodus represented by “The Blind Side,” the cable TV series “Memphis Beat” and Craig Brewer’s “Footloose” remake, all initially set in the Volunteer State but shot in Georgia and Louisiana.

Note: The bill is HB555/SB354, introduced more than a year ago and not yet scheduled for a vote in a committee of either chamber. The Senate version was put in ‘general sub’ last year. The fiscal note estimates that passage would mean a loss of $35 million in state revenue next fiscal year and $25 million a year thereafter.

Hagerty Reshuffles Film, Entertainment Commission

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced key appointments today to the Tennessee Film Entertainment and Music Commission (TFEMC).
Bob Raines, who was most recently serving as interim executive director, is now the executive director. Music industry veteran Hank Adam Locklin will fill the newly created role of director of music and business development.

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