Sunday, April 26, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Hey Hey Hey....

It's Fat Albert!

"Bill Cosby scandal leaves Western Mass. town wondering" by Bella English Globe Staff  April 25, 2015

SHELBURNE FALLS — The federal courthouse in gritty Springfield is about 45 miles and a world away from the sheltering serenity of Shelburne Falls, where Bill Cosby settled 45 years ago, raised his five children, and where he still owns a home.

But Springfield is the setting for a recent skirmish in the sexual-assault scandal that has embroiled the entertainer and threatens to kill his five-decade career. Three women have filed defamation claims there against Cosby, who is the subject of accusations from more than three dozen women who say he assaulted them decades ago. Three more women came forward in Los Angeles Thursday with similar accusations.

The lawsuit filed in Springfield alleges that Cosby and his representatives branded the women liars after they went public with sexual-assault allegations. Cosby, 77, has never been charged with criminal assault, and his lawyers and spokesmen have denied the lawsuit’s claims.

Few courthouse observers believe that Judge Mark G. Mastroianni, who has been assigned to the case, will ever preside over a trial, or even a hearing. Though the women may want their day in court, it is doubtful that Cosby does. He has yet to address the claims other than to call them “innuendos.”

Little more than a half-hour away, Cosby’s hometown of Shelburne Falls seems a bucolic still life where in sugaring season buckets hang off maple trees, and where the Village Information Center bears a sign: “Closed Till May 1.” Most people in the town of about 2,000 know Cosby from a distance or have seen the family around town.

There is no shade yet.

“The Cosby family has been good neighbors,” says Town Clerk Joseph Judd. “They’ve made donations to different organizations and they’ve given people work. I think people here respect their privacy and the fact that this is a private matter.”

Bill and Camille Cosby have bought up hundreds of acres for conservation purposes, endearing themselves to some locals. Mostly they’ve kept a low profile, sending helpers to fetch Cosby’s cappuccino at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, where the espresso machine he donated years back still has his name engraved on it.

Some are willing to discuss the scandal. “There are too many stories with too many similarities,” says Patti Hackett-Hunter, a retired health care policy analyst. “Women don’t come forward to get crucified unless they’ve got something to say, because they’re the ones who are going to be questioned. It’s sad, but I absolutely believe them.”

How did Cosby end up here? According to a 2014 biography by Mark Whitaker, “Cosby: His Life and Times,” Cosby performed at UMass Amherst in 1969 and officials encouraged him to enroll in a new midcareer program in education. He got a master’s degree and, at age 40, received a doctorate.

That wasn’t without controversy, either. A high school dropout, Cosby got his equivalency diploma while in the Navy and dropped out of Temple University — which later awarded him a degree. At UMass, he had a minimal class schedule. His dissertation focused on how his TV show “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” could be used to teach students in the classroom.

The Cosbys bought their 15-room farmhouse, built in 1842, for $65,000 on the rural reaches of town, which is not far from Amherst. The couple, who have been married since 1964, sent their five children to area schools and still vote at Shelburne Town Hall, or by absentee ballot.

Their hilly estate comprises woods and fields dotted with yellow “No Trespassing” signs. A sign at the house’s gates warns: “If You Are Not Invited, DO NOT Pass Through These Gates.” Cars have recently been seen on the property, which includes a gray main house, a modern timber barn, and a gazebo. According to tax records, the property is assessed at $2,694,800.

At Green Fields Market, a natural-foods store in Greenfield, Cosby would order things for his mother by phone and send someone to pick them up. “I told him I appreciated all the laughs I’d gotten from him over the years,” says a market worker, who asked not to be identified. “He said he didn’t come into the store because he didn’t want to cause a disturbance.”

Shelburne Falls has been the scene of both happy and tragic times in the Cosbys’ lives. One of the Cosby daughters was married in a cornfield there. On Thanksgiving Day in 1981, the Cosbys hosted Miles Davis’s wedding to actress Cicely Tyson.

And in January 1997, Ennis Cosby, the couple’s only son, was buried in an herb garden on their property. He was 27 when he was shot to death in a robbery as he changed a flat tire on a Los Angeles freeway. Locals recall that Ennis and his dad, who were very close, would be seen shooting hoops, and that the son played in a town basketball league.

Sergeant Dana Lavigne, a state trooper with the Shelburne Falls barracks, says one of the Cosby daughters has recently been at the estate.

Of the current charges against Bill Cosby, Lavigne says: “If the allegations are true, it’s good that these women can come together in strength to bring their story forward. Who knows how this stuff lingers on in their lives? And I guess if he’s not guilty of the charges, all of this will vindicate him. Let’s hope that the truth comes out.”

Jean Gobillot, an artist who lives in town, says she can relate to the women. “Something similar happened to me when I was a teenager,” she says. “It was a very shameful thing, and I didn’t report it. But it stays with you. He [Cosby] says why are the women just now coming forward? But it might help them just to know they aren’t alone.”

Her husband, Per Brandin, says he feels the complaints are valid. “When there are allegations, I feel they are generally true,” Brandin says. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

He sounds like a conspiracy theorist.

Sidney Anderson owns Baker Pharmacy in town, which has an old-fashioned soda fountain and counter in the front. He says locals felt sympathy when Ennis, who used to ride his bicycle around town, was killed.

“But when something like this comes around, people don’t know what to think,” he says.

Not to hurt anyone's feelings, but who cares?


RelatedLights, camera, tourism in Shelburne Falls

Yeah, I care more about that than the Coz. A lot of times I even forget he's up there.

"Behind the scenes, many careers rely on film tax credit" by Malcolm Gay Globe Staff  April 18, 2015

Film workers say ending the tax credit would not only kill that nascent industry, but also disrupt the careers of thousands of film professionals, people who have built careers and made sizable investments — personal and professional — under the assumption the incentive would remain in place.

But is this the best use of taxpayer funds? The Massachusetts Department of Revenue reports that between 2006 and 2012, the state doled out $356.7 million in film credits, which by the DOR’s math meant each Massachusetts job cost the state roughly $118,000. Those jobs had a median income of nearly $65,000.

“We’re using about twice as many taxpayer dollars for each dollar of salary that is going to a Massachusetts worker,” said Peter Enrich, a law professor at Northeastern University Law School who specializes in tax incentives. “I’m pretty sure this is a bad investment of state money.”

The DOR estimates that in 2012, $83.5 million in production spending on wages for people making more than $1 million annually was eligible for the film tax credit — and the majority of them lived out of state.

Related: Massachusetts Lets Hollywood Roll Credits 

They SOLD 96% of them to corporations and wealthy elites?

“This is primarily about putting more money in the hands of local families,” said Paul McMorrow, director of policy and communications at the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, which oversees the Massachusetts Film Office. “Creating jobs and paying wages out of state? It seems like a logical place to look. . . . That money is better used in the hands of local families.”

But state film workers say the DOR report only tells a fraction of the story.

Meet the pigs at the trough.

Melissa Cooperman first started working in film as a production assistant in the late 1990s, often waitressing and selling jewelry to make ends meet.

“Then the tax incentive came,” said Cooperman. “Now I have a solid job. I make a living. I was able to buy a home, a car. I spend money in the state. I’m not rich, but I’m solid working class.”

Cooperman, who now works in set decoration, spends her days buying items for film sets. She estimates she spends $10,000 per week at local businesses, procuring everything from desks and credenzas to period telephones and coffee makers.

“I shop all over the state,” she said. “All the local businesses and vendors, thousands of people are making money off of films spending money here.”

And some not, just like at the movies.

Like many film workers, Cooperman said she doubts the DOR report fully accounts for these ancillary benefits to local businesses like dry cleaners, lumberyards, and antiques stores.

“I was spending thousands of dollars a day between mid-January and February, when we were apocalyptic,” she said, adding that one shop owner told her he hadn’t had a customer in two weeks.

Yeah, she saved the economy during the brutal winter, blah, blah.

The DOR estimates that in 2012 tax incentives resulted in roughly $304 million in new spending. Contrary to the widely held belief among film workers, DOR spokesperson Maryann Merigan says the figure accounts for secondary economic activity.

“DOR does account for this spending,” wrote Merigan in an e-mail. “DOR categorizes every dollar spent by all film projects in 2012 and allocates them to over 20 types of spending. These include cleaners, construction, clothing stores, etc.”

What the report does not account for, say many film workers, is the professional expertise it is creating, enabling local companies to bring projects into the state that weren’t offset by tax incentives. David Waller, who mortgaged his house in 1999 to start Brickyard VFX and now employs 22 full-time employees at his visual effects company, says the tax credits have been essential to building his business.

And you were told it was an economic $y$tem based on the free-market and enterprise.

“There’s no way to grab ahold of it, but the unintended consequences of this just means more business,” said Waller, who plans to move his operation to an 8,000-square-foot facility near South Station. “You can’t really track it, but there it is.”

Frans Weterrings, who cofounded Red Herring Motion Picture Lighting with David Cambria in 1997, spent the first 10 years of his career traveling back and forth between Boston and Los Angeles. Whenever Weterrings got a contract, he’d pack his lights and generators into a container truck and head to California.

“It was incredibly expensive,” said Weterrings. Since Massachusetts began offering film tax credits in 2006, however, he’s worked exclusively in state. “We have gone constant gangbusters since then.”

You have to wait for them to roll credits to see who is buying them up.

Last year, Weterrings and Cambria expanded their business, starting Allston-based Red Sky Studios, which houses two soundstages for films and commercials. Between the two companies, they now employ 10 people full-time and keep another 50 “busy throughout the year,” Weterrings said.

On a chilly afternoon, while Weterrings was in Sturbridge managing lighting on the set of “The New World,” an HBO pilot directed by Gus Van Sant, his wife, Tiffany Kinder, was overseeing operations at Red Sky Studios, where one crew was planning a commercial and another was loading trucks with equipment for two feature films.

“Everybody involved in the ad is local,” said Kinder, who moved here from Los Angeles. “It’s the same for makeup, hair, and sound.”

Kinder made her way through the bustling warehouse where workers built transport shelves and loaded lighting equipment. “It’s been like this since the tax credit,” she said. Losing the credit “would be devastating.”

Hearing her comment, one of the milling crewmembers stopped by the truck he was loading.

“None of us would be here without the credit,” he said, a knit cap protecting him against the cold. “We would be home collecting unemployment and planning to move to New York.”

Bye, and what cold?!


Sorry, but the $elf-$erving agenda-pu$hing slop “feels like a gut punch” -- especially after one of them compared eliminating the taxpayer handout to child molestation!!

Also seeHaverhill has only joy for David O. Russell’s ‘Joy’

Until they keep you from getting home.