Mega Tent Pole Movies Open Market for Small Studios

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – The film industry is undergoing an overhaul that is creating excitement throughout. Video-on-demand (VOD) has changed the DVD game, and as a direct result, major studios are focusing exclusively on high-budget films like “Avatar” and “Transformers” to attract the masses. Now, these “tent pole” films are opening new doors for smaller studios.
As noted by animation specialist and studio executive Andy Hendrickson, tent pole movies rely on the viewer’s obsession with action-packed spectacle as opposed to adept storytelling. But where does that leave smaller-budget pictures?
“The industry is saturated with franchises like “Harry Potter” or “Twilight,” TV spin-offs like “Sex and the City,” not to mention sequels and remakes,” explains Peter Hoffman, CEO of Seven Arts Pictures. “However, this shift creates opportunities for smaller independent film studios, like Seven Arts.”
As is the case with several industries, massive changes can be attributed to the sweeping wave of digital technology. More people than ever are watching movies at home through new digital streams.
Big studios see tent pole movies as the strategic way to generate billions in revenues, but the demand for quality, smaller-budget films that focus on characters and plot development can be strong at the box office.
“The potential success of small-budget pictures is demonstrated by films like “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan” and “The Kids Are All Right,” says Hoffman. “But it’s now solely up to independent studios, like Seven Arts, to produce plot-driven films that strive for merit in addition to box-office numbers.”
Tent pole films are the latest trend in Hollywood. And now, smaller film studios are seeing greater commercial success as a result.
To learn more about the changing film industry, visit

Medicare Open Enrollment Is Earlier This Year

(NewsUSA) – Your health needs change from year to year. Plus, your health plan may change the benefits and costs each year, too. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your Medicare choices every year. Open Enrollment is the one time of year when all people with Medicare can see what new benefits Medicare has to offer and make changes to their coverage.There’s never been a better time to check out Medicare coverage. There are new benefits available for all people with Medicare — whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan — including lower prescription costs, wellness visits and preventive care. Take advantage of Open Enrollment, and you may be able to save money, get better coverage or both.You may be wondering, what is the benefit of having an earlier enrollment period?Starting this year, Open Enrollment starts earlier, Oct. 15, and lasts longer (7 full weeks) to give you enough time to review and make changes to your coverage. Also starting this year, you will need to make your final selection for next year’s Medicare coverage by Dec. 7. This change ensures that Medicare has enough time to process your choice, so your coverage can begin without interruption on Jan. 1.It’s worthwhile to take the time to review and compare, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you typically use the December holidays to discuss health care options with family or friends, plan now to move that conversation earlier. And remember that Medicare is available to help.Take a look at to compare your current coverage with all of the options that are available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you decide to make a change. Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to find out more about your coverage options. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.Review the Medicare & You 2012 handbook. It is mailed to people with Medicare in September. Get one-on-one help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE to get the phone number.   This message is brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Delivering Wind Power to Produce Water

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Open a faucet, and fresh water will quench thirst. Turn a handle, and a shower will invigorate a person. But what if the tap was dry, and bringing water home were your job?
Almost one billion people around the world live this way. One in eight people does not have immediate access to clean water, or “blue gold,” and lugging it home for miles often is the only option.
Within the next 10-20 years, worldwide demand for fresh water could outstrip supply by 20 percent. It soon could cost more than oil.
Growing up in Greenwald, Minnesota, Daniel Ohmann was acquainted with pumping water. Windmills were found on most farms. His father installed many windmills to pump water before electricity reached the area.
Years later, as a Maryknoll priest in Tanzania, Father Ohmann thought about the windmills as women carried five-gallon water buckets on their heads six miles from a river. Drought is common in Africa. Villagers often can be seen scooping murky water from makeshift wells in scorched riverbeds.
“You don’t need to be here long to see that water is the number-one need in this part of Africa,” said Father Ohmann. The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is the overseas mission society of the U.S. Catholic Church founded during 1911.
When Minnesota farmers converted to electricity, many donated their windmills to Father Ohmann. Others were purchased from Nebraska, Australia and South Africa to support Tanzania’s initiative to ensure all homes had access to water. Government inefficiencies, though, eventually closed the windmills for 15 years.
Father Ohmann was committed to get them pumping again, and more were installed. Twenty windmills now provide water to 18 villages. Each fills a 2,000-gallon tank, and water can be used to irrigate gardens and orchards. A fully installed system today costs about $20,000.
“People enjoy better health in the villages served by clean water,” said Father Ohmann. “Diarrhea and cholera, once common, are now rare.”
For more information about the work of Maryknoll missioners such as Father Ohmann, visit Follow Maryknoll on Twitter ( and Facebook (

Time Is Everything This Mother’s Day

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Moms everywhere seem to share the same problem: There’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. With endless work and family demands, finding a spare moment is nearly impossible.
Grand Slam tennis champion and mom Kim Clijsters is no exception. The 2005 US Open Championship winner returned to the game in 2009 following a two-year absence after the birth of her first daughter, Jada. Between diaper changes and feedings, Clijsters managed to become the first unranked wildcard to win a Grand Slam event in over 30 years.
Clijsters successfully defended her title and went on to win the 2010 US Open.
The secret to her success? Timing. Citizen Watch Company recently signed Clijsters as its newest Brand Ambassador for the Citizen Signature timepiece. For Clijsters, donning a Citizen Signature Ladies’ Diamond timepiece is more than a fashion statement. It’s the key to finding time to hit the courts or be home with Jada.
“I am very proud to be an Ambassador for the Citizen Watch Company,” said Clijsters. “Citizen has had a long affiliation with tennis as the Official Timekeeper of the US Open, so a partnership with Citizen is a natural choice for me. Passion has always been a critical part of my tennis game, just like the passion that Citizen has put into The Signature Collection.”
Make life for busy moms a little easier this Mother’s Day with the gift of time. All Citizen Eco-Drive watches are powered by light and permanently rechargeable, so Mom doesn’t have to worry about replacing a battery a few months down the road.
And with fashionable touches including mother-of-pearl dials and diamond-embellished cases, working around the clock has never been so stylish.
For more information, visit

Is your Public Pool Struggling to Stay Open?

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – In December 2007, Congress and President Bush passed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB). Inspired by the tragic drowning of a seven-year-old girl, the law required all public spas and pools to install VGB-compliant drain covers, properly separated or unblockable drains or anti-entrapment systems such as a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) — by December 19, 2008.
Today, in 2011, many public pools still do not meet the law’s requirements.
“We know that, due to economic cutbacks, this is a difficult time for many public swimming pool operations,” said Kevin Potucek, Hayward vice president of product management. “There are many facilities serving under-privileged children, senior citizens, physically or mentally disabled citizens or other worthy causes. For whatever reason, they are not yet compliant and are at risk of not opening this spring.”
There are resources for non-compliant pools and spas whose budgets do not allow them to make the required changes. For example, Hayward Pool Products, the largest manufacturer of residential swimming pool equipment in the world, created its “Safe Swimming Initiative” to aid public pools serving the communities that are facing compliance challenges with VGB due to budgetary issues.
The initiative will run through July 1 or until $1 million in Hayward Stratum VRS products have been been given to public pools in need. Hayward will refer facility operators to registered installers.
To submit a request for consideration in Hayward’s Safe Swimming Initiative, go to and click on the “Hayward Pledges up to $1 Million for Pool Safety” button. Products will be awarded with special consideration for public or non-profit facilities serving populations that are under-privileged or have special needs.

5 Free Ways to Work and Collaborate

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – You don’t have to be a tech geek to work smarter in and out of the office; there are some straightforward, free software programs that will help you connect with colleagues for conversation and collaboration.
Let technology simplify your work life with these free software programs. Each offers the ability to get work done on your own time and from anywhere.
* Skype. Sign up for a free Skype account, then send instant messages or make calls from your computer. It helps if you have a microphone and video camera connected to your computer. Try it out at
* This program lets you share your desktop. Once you sign up for the free account, you can send up to 250 colleagues to After they enter the nine-digit code that you provide, they can see your desktop and files. This is great for meeting, training and group editing.
* Open Office. Build documents, spreadsheets and presentations without the expense or megabit-girth of Microsoft Office. Download Open Office onto your computer, and use the free suite of open-source software as if it were Office. It can save and open Office files, so no one will know the difference. More details are at
* Google Docs. Google Docs allows you to host documents for free, so everyone can have a look. Go to to download your file, then share it as a link or send an e-mail to collaborators. You can change the settings to allow users to edit the document (you can track changes) or limit them to viewing only. You do not need to have Gmail, though you will need to create a free Google account.
* Among Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and iCal, you might have trouble sorting through your date book. lets you sync these calendars and provides a place where people can schedule time with you — without your involvement. Go to for more information.