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October 29, 2009 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-29

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 3B

Big-screen bailout

All shallow's eve

Why one Michigan
director is fighting to
protect film incentives
Daily Arts Writer
Michigan's Film Tax Incentive is a
provocative piece of legislation that
has incited passion in many film buffs
- friends and enemies alike. The incen-
tive's 40-percent tax-refundable credit
for filmmakers is currently the highest
offered in any state and has attracted
many Hollywood-based and local pro-
ductions. Famously, Clint Eastwood's
film "Gran Torino" was shot in Michi-
gan after the incentives were passed.
Drew Barrymore's "Whip It," a more
recent example, was filmed in the greater
Detroit area as well.
Some lawmakers, however, claim the
state can't afford to keep making big pay-
outs to filmmakers. There's a possibility
that the incentive could be decreased or
capped to curb state spending. Advocates
of the bill in its original form argue that
changes will only flaunt Michigan's eco-
nomic instability, which could cause Hol-
lywood to look for greener pastures.
Michigan director and producer Mike
Manasseri shares these sentiments. But
what sets him apart from other voices in
the debate is his unmatched devotion to
a simple cause: keep the incentive from
changing. To further this goal, he created
the non-profit advocacy group Big Screen
Michigan. The group emphasizes the eco-
nomic successes brought on by the incen-
tives thus far, especially the creation of
new jobs for Michigan.
Monday night, Big Screen Michigan

held a rally at the Crofoot Ballroom in
Pontiac. Manasseri spoke with the Daily
by phone before the rally.
A joint project with a local news sta-
tion convinced him of the incentive's posi-
tive effect on Michigan's economy. While
interviewing Michigander crew members
on the set of the upcoming remake "Red
Dawn," he heard personal stories that
inspired him to take action.
"One person after the next, over and
over, basically said 'I was laid off from
my job, I had to move out of the state, I
was going to lose my house,' " Manas-
seri recalled. "Before these incentives
were passed, they were in serious, serious
trouble. And here in person, they all said
'I've been working non-stop ever since the
incentives passed, and it has changed my
One of his favorite stories from his
time working with Big Screen Michigan
involves a diner in Birch Run where part
of "Whip It" was filmed. The new own-
ers of the diner re-opened the restaurant
as a real-life version of the fictional "Oink
Joint" that appeared in the film.
"It's there now," he said. "They serve
a great pulled pork sandwich. I've been
there. I've eaten it."
Manasseri's passion for the cause is
palpable. He spoke with gusto about the
importance of the incentive for the Michi-
gan economy, describing it as "a bright
light that is shining on this state."
"We need to make sure that the legisla-
ture - who invited this industry in here
with a great incentive package - doesn't
start tinkering with it, changing it, cut-
ting it," he said. "Because when hundreds
of millions of dollars are at stake, these
companies will turn away, and we can't
have them do that."
Manasseri went on to answer critics

who fear that Michigan could be outbid or
wouldn't be able to sustain the incentive.
He turned to Louisiana as an example of a
successful film incentive program.
"They've had their incentive for a
decade," he said. "Because that infrastruc-
ture was given the time to take root - to
form a foundation Louisiana is doing
fine. They're still making terrific money.
Their workforce is still doing 'incredibly
Manasseri also downplayed the incen-
tive's impact on the state budget.
"The entire incentive package for 2008
was less than one one-thousandth of the
state budget," he said. "There are so many
more important things (to single out) than
this, but because it is high-profile, because
it is Hollywood, it's an easy target."
Asked about upcoming movies to be
filmed in Michigan, Manasseri mentioned
"Highland Park," starring Danny Glover,
and "Game of Death," a remake of a Bruce
Lee film set to star Wesley Snipes.
After the rally, Manasseri shared his
thoughts on the event by e-mail.
"Great speakers and a terrific turnout,"
he wrote. "State Senators Gilda Jacobs and
Hansen Clarke took the stage followed by
Mitch Albom who really rocked the house
with a passionate speech."
While Michigan's Film Tax Incentive
is still in jeopardy, Manasseri's enthusi-
asm has already worked to mobilize sup-
porters. The issue has obviously attracted
strong opinions from a variety of view-
points, and whether or not the incentive
is actually helping Michigan, remains up
in the air. Regardless of the feasibility of
sustaining the tax incentive, Manasseri
at least. has his heart in the right place:
He's committed to helping fix Michigan's
economy while also bringing the state the
excitement of an active film industry.

ta's that time of year again, faithful
gossip devotees. All Hallow's Eve,
the favored holiday for anyone hop-
ing to channel his or her inner bimbo, is
just around the cor-
ner. While a sizable
female majority will
continue to capitalize
on the "slutty bunny
/ slutty cop / slutty a
prostitute" costume
bracket, this Hallow- SASHA
een is also likely be
dotted with innumer- RESENDE
able references to The
Summer of Celebrity Death.
Just as the late Heath Ledger's Joker
dominated 2008's festivities, expect to
see an overabundance of silver-gloved
Michael Jackson impersonators moon-
walking their way to the next kegger
this Saturday. The late infomercial king
Billy Mays's family has already learned
to embrace the cultural obsession with
commemorating celebrity death. Mays's
son is offering a prize to the three best
costumes immortalizing his father. In
order to properly pay homage to the late
mays, the prizebetter include astub of
OxiClean mixed with an eight-ball of
high-grade Colombian blow.
Speaking of snowy weather, let's
check in with Hollywood's A-list train-
wreck Lindsay Lohan. Try as I might
to write a single column neglecting to
mention Miss CokePants, the sometimes
actress and failed fashion designer con-
tinuously manages to generate highly
unflattering but entertaining press about
This week, LiLo's father Michael
Lohan - a man better known for his
repeated jail stints and his recent friend-
ship with Dad of the Year Jon Gosse-
lin - has reached out to his estranged
daughter in the best way possible: by
going on Maury to beg his little girl to
quit the drugs and get her life straight-
ened out. Oh yeah, and to maybe cut
him another check - things have been
a little tight lately with the recession
and all that. At least the man refrained
from commenting on Lindsay's unmen-
tionables, unlike Papa Winehouse,
who proudly announced to the world
that daughter Amy - and her recently
enhanced silicone breasts - is just fine.
Poor little LiLo reacted to unanimous
worldwide ridicule of her Ungaro fash-
ion line by going on a month-long bend-
er, passing out in nightclubs and causing
the weekly tabloids to speculate that the
end is near for hapless Lindz. Luckily,
her 15-year-old sister Ali - you know,
the one who briefly had an E! reality
show showcasing Dina Lohan's attempts
to turn her youngest daughter into a
cash cow - is in tow for the festivities,
joining her big sister for vodka-Red Bull
flavored nights on the L.A. nightclub cir-
cuit. At least if Lindsay's health doesn't
hold out, there will be another little
Lohan trainwreck to follow.
One person who won't be frequenting
the club scene for much longer is rap-
per Lil Wayne, who recently pled guilty
to second-degree gun possession and
will likely be sentenced to a year in the
pokey. Why exactly would a millionaire
recording artist, whose claim to fame is
comparing Blow Pops to oral sex, need
to pack heat on his tour bus? Appar-
ently he had to keep those crazed fans
in check. He's the second high-profile
hip-hop artist convicted of felony gun
charges this year, effectively stealing
T.I's thunder. Hopefully the two will
bond behind bars and release a mixtape
titled "Whatever You Like a Lollipop."
Martha Stewart will grace the cover art

and Plaxico Burress is expected to guest.
Shifting from the very real shackles
of prison to the metaphorical shackles of
parenthood, a slew of reality starlets are
set to give birth in the coming weeks.
Thank god; I was getting sick of relying
solely on the Gosselins for my weekly
dosage of televised child exploitation.
Former "Girls Next Door" Playboy
groupie Kendra Wilkinson has taken a
break from hawking her dumb-blonde
schtick and is showing off her expand-
ing belly for a variety of celebrity week-
lies. Thankfully she's expecting a boy,
so the child will be groomed for football
tournaments rather than magazine cen-
Kourtney Kardashian - the one
who didn't just put together a hasty
wedding and hasn't leaked a sex tape
yet - is also with child. She report-
edly became preggers after a series of
unprotected flings with her cheating
ex-fiance Scott Disick, who has now
been upgraded to temporary boyfriend.
The entire pregnancy, from the early
"Oh-shit-I-missed-my-period" stages
all the way to the tenuous "Should-I-
get-an-abortion?" debates, has been
captured by a live camera crew for
Kourtney's latest El reality show. These
tapes will be a lovely supplement to
'future "How You Were Born" conversa-
tions between Kourtney and her Little
Dress up as Billy
Mays, win a prize!
Kardashian. Let's just hope the TV
crew doesn't capture the live birth for a
raw two-hour special.
Speaking of out-of-touch reality
starlets, aspiring singer Heidi Montag
recently dissed her own sister by refus-
ing to attend her birthday party. Heidi
allegedly opted out of the festivities
because wasn't goingto be paid for the
appearance. The fact that anyone would
pay Heidi to stare at a camera for 23
minutes every week, much less attend
an actual publicized event, is enough to
make even the most upbeat person lose
all faith in humanity.
Heidi's sister-in-law and "Hills"
co-star Stephanie Pratt is also fight-
ing her own battle to maintain media
relevance. The reality star was recently
arrested in Hollywood for suspicion
of driving under the influence. To her
credit, Stephanie is related to Spen-
cer Pratt, and if I had to deal with his
fame-whoring ways every day I'd be
pounding the vodka harder than Paula
If you've been feeling like there has
been something intangible missing from
your life these past three weeks, there's
a likely answer. Disney pop-tart Miley
Cyrus recently quit Twitter, unceremo-
niously dumping the 2 million-plus fol-
lowers she had accumulated. Apparently
little Miley's newestboyfriend didn't
like that she was documenting her every
burp for a gaggle of fans. I'm sure Daddy
Billy Ray and the Disney execs had
absolutely no interest in preventing yet
another leak of a scantily-clad, mildly
racist photo.
What will the Twitteratti do now that
Hannah Montana isn't tweeting all her
profound thoughts for the masses? Are
they really expected to follow Audrina
freaking Patridge?
Resende needs more people to follow on
Twitter now that Miley's gone. E-mail her
your Twitter name at sresende@umich.edu.

Playing with fire: poi meets girl

Daily TV/New Media Editor
This past summer I devoted my free time
to perfecting moves with names like the
"buzz-saw," "corkscrew" and "windmill"
so when I performed with fire, hopefully
I'd walk away unharmed. I had discovered
fire poi - an obscure performance art from
New Zealand - in the most unexpected
place: northern Michigan.
I spent my summer working in a tour-
ist town placed in the middle of northern
Michigan's expansive wilderness, and
after we exhausted the town's entertain-
ment (which didn't take long in a city
designed for families that came, saw and
bought souvenirs), my coworkers and I
turned to a summer of projects and hob-
bies. Some tackled books, others learned
to sew, many plowed through TV mini-
series. I discovered fire poi.
Poi is a performance art native to the
Maori culture and other indigenous popu-
lations of New Zealand. In the art, women
spin balls attached to the end of a cord
made from varying materials in a sort of
dance. The Maori people pair this art with
song, dance and storytelling. Original poi
was made from native plants, but today
there are many types including glow poi,
flag poi and, of course, fire poi.
In my favorite variety, the balls are

made from Kevlar wicks and the cord's
material is made from metal chain, and
after the Kevlar has soaked in kerosene,
the balls are set aflame. Often performed
in the dark, artists throw, toss and twirl
the fireballs around their bodies, creating
the visual effect of a performer encom-
passed in personal little infernos where
How a rare fire art
made a summer in
northern Michigan
almost tolerable.
lines of flaming light seem to float in the
air around them.
It was a coworker who got me into fire
poi in the first place. Having spun fire for
over a year, she performed on weekends in
the most tourist-inundated district of town
hoping to make some extra money. Watch-
ing a fire poi performance is always mes-
merizing, but seeing it for the first time is
indescribable. My colleague was extremely
at ease. It was as though spinning fire with-
in inches of her hair and face was the most

natural thing in the world. She danced
without care to techno music while effort-
lessly spinning blazing circles and flowers
in the air with her poi, completely unaware
of the crowd she was attracting.
Here I was, stuck in a bizarre city with
50 hotels and two streetlights, watching
my friend perform an ancient Maori art.
Who knew this would happen? All I knew
was I had to try fire poi for myself.
I was quickly provided with a set of
practice poi (nothing more than a pair of
tennis balls stuffed into knee socks) and,
for the next few weeks, spent the major-
ity of my free time in front of a full-length
mirror swinging the tennis balls at my
sides and acquiring bruises. Eventually,
my spastic motions grew smoother - I
wasn't hitting myself in the face (as often)
and my bruises began to fade.
After a month of practicing with tennis
balls, I tried fire and'- because I escaped
without burns - never looked back. The
rush of spinning poi and sense of relief
that spilled over me once the fire went out
were the most satisfying feelings I have
ever experienced.
Ever since that first time, my curiosity
about poi has only grown. I started fre-
quenting websites and forums for poi and
found it has a pretty large following. What
started as a cultural dance in New Zea-
See FIRE POI, Page 4B

\xt For a video of Daily TV/New Media Editor Carolyn Klarecki
performingfire poi, check online at michigandaily.com.


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