the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Movies and Television

Battle of the Races


For the first portion of the 13th edition of “Survivor,” which premieres Sept. 14, the contestants competing for the $1-million prize while stranded on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific will be divided into four teams — blacks, Asians, Latinos and whites.

It was announced today that General Motors has ended its sponsorship of CBS’s hit series “Survivor.” Some are wondering if this has anything to do with Survivor’s decision this year to divide the contestants by race and ethnicity, rather than the usual cheap gimmicks of gender and age.

Honestly, do these divisions even matter to the show, considering how the producers always seem to “keep around” the young girls in the bikinis for as long as possible, while kicking the old, demographically-wrong broads off as fast as the next promo break?

GM says the new gimmick has nothing to do with their decision to leave the show. Others continue speaking out about the show’s lack of good taste. For instance, a group of New York City officials has criticized the new format, saying it promotes divisiveness. They have asked CBS to reconsider its plans.

“How could anybody be so desperate for ratings?” City Councilman John Liu asked last week.

Show creator Mark Burnett pooh-poohs the criticism.

“By putting people in tribes, they clearly have to get rid of people of their own ethnicity,” Burnett, who also created NBC hit “The Apprentice”, told a group of reporters on Tuesday, Variety reports. “So it’s not racial at all.”

The big question is — will this be a fascinating sociological study or does this mean that Survivor, after 12 seasons on the air, has finally “jumped the shark.”

But excitement for the show runs big on the Vegas strip, as the professional gambling community debates the odds of which ethnic group will win.

“I put my money on the Asians” said Murray “The Greek” Solipikis. “They are smart and wise, like Mr. Miyagi.”

The following are the current odds, according to Las Vegas Reality Show Oddsmaker (LVRSO). (as always, remember to gamble responsibly!



  • Good in athletics
  • Have “street smarts”
  • Can use “rapping” as a secret code between tribe members
  • Tribal Camp will have the best music
  • Can bring out “race card” if too many tribal members are eliminated


  • Men cannot swim
  • Wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a “Survivor bandana”
  • Can’t understand why “crazy white folk” ENJOY camping outside
  • “Eat bugs — are you out of your motherf***ing mind?!”




  • Others will be afraid that they might know “martial arts”
  • Math geeks will be good at solving “puzzle challenge”
  • Can make anything taste good by stir-frying it in a wok
  • Have actually eaten bugs as a delicacy
  • Japanese women thin enough to slide under obstacle courses
  • Asian cultural “group dynamics”


  • Too polite, let others go first
  • Mediocre at sports
  • Can build a microprocessor, but cannot set up a tent
  • Infighting between Japanese and Koreans
  • Sleepless nights as Japanese men rub against women while reading “Manga” pornographic comic books




  • Espanol has the best curses!
  • Women have nice big asses so fat deposits will help them survive longer
  • Men learned effective team management in Latin gangs such as 18th Street, MS13, and Pacatrece
  • When food gets low, have no problem sneaking into other camps as “illegal immigrant” tribesmembers
  • Women can distract men of other tribes by shaking “Shakira-style” during competitions


  • Have never actually watched this dumb show — Jeff who?
  • Churros not included in “food competition”
  • It is difficult to dance salsa in the dirt
  • No siestas allowed during the game
  • Can actually make MORE than a million dollars by selling vegetables on the freeway




  • Stupid enough to enjoy camping and “proving” oneself by eating live bugs
  • The network wants them to win
  • Were the only competitors invited over to Jeff Probst’s home for dinner
  • Have actually watched all previous 12 seasons of Survivor because that is what “white people” do on Thursday night


  • Zero street smarts
  • Boring as hell
  • Women anorexic before the game even begins
  • They take the game WAY too seriously


Which group are you rooting for?

(note:  thank you, Laurie, the phattest Southern belle knitting blogger in LA, for telling me that I was totally off-base with previously using the Crips and Bloods as Latino gangs. I am SO WHITE!)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Dude Thinks Like a Lady

From Television City in Hollywood


Some of you have noticed that I’ve been a bit jittery on this blog lately — putting posts on, taking them off, and changing titles every half hour. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with me. Maybe I’m nervous about spending two weeks in Flushing with both Sophia and my mother. Did I mention that we’re also spending five days in a lakefront cabin in the Berkshires together?

But I think the real reason for my nervous energy is because I recently went to a meet-up with a few old friends from grad school, and I’m doing the inevitable comparisons of our lives. We were all in the MFA program at USC Film School. We lost touch for a while, but one found me through “Citizen of the Month.” During the weekend, we had a reunion. One is them is a major movie director. One is a editor for TV. One is a ICM talent agent. And then there’s me, the freelance writer known as Neilochka. So, I hope this explains my recent ranting on about syndication and bloggers making money.

I was very anxious about seeing these guys, but once I was there, it wasn’t bad at all. After you hit the age of 30, everyone’s life is such a confusing mess that it’s difficult to make comparisons based solely on career choices. And in Hollywood, everyone has had his ups and down, including the most successful of the bunch.

At some point during our meet-up, we went around the table, and each told a tale of his WORST Hollywood experience. This was not an easy task. Everyone had stories of crazed agents and meglomaniacal producers, sometimes even with the same characters.

When it was my time to tell a story, I filed through my storehouse of unpleasant Hollywood moments. Should I tell the one about the agent that was arrested while I was in his office? How about the pitch meeting at Fox? Sophia and I had written a romantic comedy script together. But when we pitched it to a young executive, he stood in the corner of his office and played this miniature hole-in-one golf game by himself.

I decided to tell the story of the sitcom taping that I attended with my former writing partner. It was the taping of some brand new show for the Fall Season. The show had a lot of “buzz.” They were filming their first episode at Warner Brothers.

After the show, my partner and I went to Dalt’s Grill in Burbank (which sadly closed last year). Even though Dalt’s was nothing more than a fancy coffee shop, it was close to Warner Brothers and Disney Studios, so everyone went there. You saw more celebrities at Dalt’s than in Beverly Hills.

As we ate our burgers, we saw the cast and crew of the sitcom taping we had just attended — sitting a few tables away. The producers, the writers, and the cast were there, all celebrating the success of the taping.

My partner dragged me over there to say hello and kiss some ass. We tried to look confident as we introduced ourselves. We told them how brilliant they were and that their show was the best thing on TV since “All in the Family.” They invited us to sit down with them. My writing partner and I looked at each other. We were in!

For the next hour, we poured on the B.S. I told my best stories. We did some shtick. I talked with the lead actor about some obscure movie he was in, and scored some major brownie points. The executive producer treated me like I was an old buddy. We both were from Queens. He said my partner and I would be perfect as writers for the show.

The executive producer’s phone rang, supposedly about some party we were all going to attend in West Hollywood. But it wasn’t about the party. It was the network. They were cancelling the show — after the taping of the first episode.

The executive producer started to cry. The lead actor threw a container of coffee against the wall. The others got drunk.

My writing partner and I never heard back from any of them again.

Beggars and Choosers


Sociology experiment:

This Morning

Looking disheveled and unshaven, I stood outside my local Starbucks and panhandled for money.  I said I was an unemployed Desert Storm veteran.  I mentioned that my wife and child left me and that I hadn’t eaten in a week.


This Afternoon

After showering and putting on a Lacoste polo shirt, I returned to the exact same spot to panhandle for money.  This time, I asked my film school friend, Roland, to show up with his camera and videotape me.   When asking for money, I told passerbys that I was one of the participants on NBC’s "The Apprentice" and that our latest "task" was to use our marketing skills to obtain the most money by "begging," or risk being "fired" by "the Donald."  I told everyone how important winning this game was to me, because despite my trust fund, my Harvard education, and my success as a Wall Street attorney in my father’s firm, I thought it would be "cool" to become Donald Trump’s apprentice and try to get a television gig of my own.  After all, who doesn’t want to be on TV?

TOTAL AMOUNT COLLECTED:  467 dollars, including 2 dollars I took from a homeless Desert Storm veteran

Really Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

BEFORE the arrival of ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Life has never been easy for the Wilson family.  After she lost her job at the auto plant and her husband was killed in a freak explosion at an Office Depot, Deborah Wilson and her seven children, three of them disabled, became homeless. 

Deborah remarried, but her new husband — an alcoholic, abuser, and wife beater — ran away with Deborah’s sister, leaving Deborah with three of his children.  Two of his children suffer from a rare untreatable skin disease, and the third child, alas, was recently mauled to death when a Burmese tiger escaped from his cage during a class trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

The Wilsons now live in a tiny shack in the poorest section of Phoenix.

The arrival of ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Ty Pennington and his design team roll into town from Los Angeles.  They have decided to build a new home for the the family because, frankly, the Wilsons are one unlucky, miserable bunch of losers.  The Wilson’s shack is bulldozed and three hundred construction workers, whose boss wants to be on TV, quickly build the Wilson’s new 5000 square foot home.  

Every room is equipped with the latest appliances from Sears (the show’s official sponsor).  There is to be a plasma TV in every room (from Sears).  An elevator to the second floor is installed for the disabled children.  Special space suits are developed by NASA to be worn by the children with the rare skin disease.  The new house has a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a huge kitchen where Deborah can further her dream of becoming a gourmet chef.  And to help her further her goal, ABC has convinced famed Scottsdale Chef Anthony Dematto of Anthony’s Bistro to give Deborah a job as an assistant chef.


After the house is built, the design team cries.  The Wilsons cry.  Three hundred workers cry…  because their boss, who got his 15 minutes of fame, "volunteered" them all for this grueling ordeal for no pay.  A beautiful new home has been built for the Wilsons — a family desperately in need of help.  The show returns to Los Angeles — a job well done.

Three months after the airing of  ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition


Life has never been easy for the Wilson family.  Deborah has been fired from Anthony’s Bistro after she accidentally poisoned a customer and famed Scottsdale Chef Anthony Dematto called her "an absolute moron." 

The Wilson home has been robbed three times in the last three months by neighbors who resent a fancy house in the middle of their ugly impoverished neighborhood.  All of their plasma TVs have been carried off by angry mobs. 

Deborah’s youngest son is beaten up in school every day by bullies.  Another child is mocked as "Ty Pennington’s Love Slave."  The elevator in the house broke, and no one from the show returns the phone calls, so the disabled children haven’t been able to leave the second floor for two months.  One of the children with the rare skin disease suffocates to death in his NASA space suit. 

The wife beater who ran away with Deborah’s sister returns for the funeral service of the child he left behind.  He reveals some more sad news — Deborah’s sister has bled to death after she cut off her finger to try the "sue Wendy’s because there is a finger-in-the-chili trick."   But the car broke down while they were stuck in Houston rush hour traffic, and the finger ended up getting lost somewhere in the engine.

One good note — after the funeral, the abusive, cheating, alcoholic, child abandoning wife beater decided to stay in town, so he’s now living with Deborah again!  They couldn’t afford the upkeep of the new place, so they moved into another tiny shack.   It  feels more spacious this time around, because they had to leave some of the children behind.   The elevator on the second floor is still broken.   So, everything is fine!


UPDATE:  A network memo on The Smoking Gun shows that this post is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Rehearsing with Sophia

I’m rehearsing with Sophia at a hotel in Valencia, CA (wireless is ten bucks!) , where the shoot is today.  I’m trying to convince her that when she speaks Russian in the script, she should throw in “Neilochka is a sex God” as part of the Russian dialogue because no one will really know anyway.  She refused.

I hate to leave my readers completely without some sort of entertainment, so here is photo of me in the ninth grade. (thanks Tuck).


Today on Blogebrity:  Is a Blogger’s Attractiveness Important?  (of course it is!  Look at my yearbook photo!  (Retropolitan, Betty on the Beach, Grow Some Testicles)

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