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Industry Veteran Glenn Ross Shares Words of Wisdom and Insight with KIDS FIRST!

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Glenn Ross, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Universal 1440 Entertainment

You are sure to enjoy Gerry O.’s interview with industry veteran Glenn Ross, sharing his wisdom and advice for kids wanting to pursue a career in the entertainment business. Take a look at his video interview below and read here more about him.

A veteran in the global entertainment arena, Glenn Ross has served as General Manager and Executive Vice President of Universal 1440 Entertainment since March 2005.  He oversees the development and production of live-action and animated productions for distribution in all media worldwide, fueling Universal’s aggressive strategy of capitalizing on the power of its high-profile properties and franchises to create top-quality filmed entertainment content.

Mr. Ross and his team have produced movies based on the wildly successful Bring It On film franchise. Additionally, he was responsible for the Tony Award-nominated Broadway Musical, Bring It On: The Musical.  Mr. Ross oversaw the fall 2006 production of the Daytime Emmy Award®-winning Curious George series,the #1 animated television pre-school program on PBS Kids.     

Universal 1440 Entertainment has also produced sequels to The Land Before Time, American Pie Presents, Death Race, Scorpion King, Beethoven, The Little Rascals, Veggie Tales, Dragonheart, The Little Engine That Could and the latest installment in the Chucky franchise.

Mr. Ross came to Universal from Lionsgate Family Home Entertainment where he served as Executive Vice President and was responsible for the acquisition, production, marketing and day-to-day activities for the company’s family entertainment projects. Concurrently, as EVP of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Mr. Ross oversaw all the marketing efforts for the division.  He joined the company in January 1998 when it was formerly known as Artisan Home Entertainment.

Prior to his tenure at Lionsgate, Mr. Ross worked as Senior Vice President of Hallmark Home Entertainment where he was responsible for the acquisition, marketing and sales for a broad range of films.  Before Hallmark, Mr. Ross held the position of Senior Vice President of Republic Pictures, overseeing worldwide theatrical, home video and television marketing. Previously, he served as Vice President of Marketing at RCA/Columbia Home Video.  Mr. Ross began his career as Director of Creative Services for RSO (The Robert Stigwood Organization) Records. He holds a BS from the Philadelphia College of Art, and is a Trustee of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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Introducing industry leader, Geneva Wasserman, SVP, Condé Nast Entertainment

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Today in our third installment of our CSuite Interviews, we’d like to introduce you to Geneva Wasserman, SVP Motion Pictures, Condé Nast Entertainment.

Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, previously was co-founder and executive producer of Project Z Entertainment where she is credited for producing Door Man and Godfrey.  While there, Wasserman and Tim Marlowe struck a deal with Microsoft to develop and implement proprietary artificial intelligence software tools to better predict market reaction to entertainment and advertising content.

Previously, Wasserman was president of Whitener Entertainment Group, a film/TV production house focused on family and animation, and president of WV Enterprises, Wilmer Valderrama’s film and television production company, where she produced Seoul Searching and Gnome Alone. She also co-founded publishing and advertising platforms True360VR and 360 AdSpots.

Wasserman started her career as an attorney with law firm Gray Cary. She has worked as an entertainment licensing attorney and in business development, finance and production roles on projects at Disney, Lionsgate, Oxygen, DreamWorks Animation, Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox and Discovery, among others.

Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE) is an award-winning next generation studio and distribution network with entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, virtual reality and OTT channels. CNE develops, produces and distributes video content across 17 brands, including Bon Appétit, Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired. We can’t wait to see what Ms. Wasserman brings to life at CNE.

Interview by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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What Makes Brian Schultz, CEO of Studio Movie Grill, Tick?

Friday, January 31st, 2020

KIDS FIRST! launches a series of C-Suite interviews with leading entertainment industry executives who are true role models for young people. This week we feature KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. interviewing Brian Schultz, Founder and CEO of Studio Movie Grill. Schultz shares his story of how he got started in the entertainment world, what he looks for in employees, advice to young people, and explains SMG’s motto: Opening Hearts And Minds One Story At A Time.

Having just opened a new 60,000 square feet theater in Glendale, CA with a high tech cinema that amps it up to give moviegoers a first class dining experience with a full-service restaurant and bar, while enjoying first-run movies. This location will host premieres, special events and fundraisers, as well as SMG’s legacy Special Needs Screenings and Chefs for Children program which benefit local charities.

Enjoy Gerry O.’s Interview with Brian Schultz, Founder and CEO, Studio Movie Grill

From one screen in 1993, to over 250 screens today, Studio Movie Grill and Brian Schultz have come a long way together. It wasn’t long ago that Brian was working every position on a Friday night, to leading a Top 20 theater chain today with thousands of team members. Despite the challenges of building a business, one thing has remained the same…positively impacting lives through the power of movies and sustainable deeds is good business for everyone. Brian Schultz’s vision raises the bar for cinemas nationwide.

For more information and to find a location near you, visit https://www.studiomoviegrill.com/locations

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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Earth to Echo Brings Back the Sci-Fi Feel of the 80s

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

For those of use who hold a special place in our hearts for the sci-fi films of our youth such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this film may seem like a blast from the past, only with new and fun twists. The story follows a group of kids who embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry Orz comments, “This movie brings the old sci-fi feel of the 80s back to life. It has the same style, which is my favorite.” See Gerry’s full review and interviews with cast and creators below.

Earth to Echo
Reviewed by Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is an adventure Hollywood has been waiting for. This is not just another story about helping an alien to get to its home planet, Earth to Echo is an emotional and fun adventure that many kids will love and cherish for generations.

The story has a little sprinkle of romance, displays a true friendship, thrills when they discover Echo, and, of course, will pump you up with adrenaline. If you are the type of person that likes action – this film has plenty of it since there are also BAD guys chasing after them.

The adventure starts when four young kids have to move out of their homes because a highway project is going to demolish them. On their last day together, they follow maps that randomly appeared on their phones. What they find is greater than any of them anticipated. Now, if you want all the juicy details – you have to watch the film.

This movie brings the old sci-fi feel of the 80s back to life. It has the same style, which is my favorite. It relates a lot to the legendary film, E.T and I see Echo as a sort of E.T. Jr. character. However, the story starts rather abruptly. It feels like there is no well-defined beginning. Otherwise this is great adventure that kids will love and perhaps even look for their own Echo’s in the neighborhoods.

The directing, I think, is very unique since it seems as if the movie is shot from the kid’s prospective. There is a lot of complexity around this type of technique but I believe the end result is well worth the time and the effort that was put into the movie.

My favorite scene is when they are escaping BAD guys. The thing they find, which they name Echo is in danger because of those bad guys. They are about to crash into a truck, but Echo takes the truck apart in midair and puts it back together behind them! The special effects are amazing and it also shows that Echo is very protective of her friends.

I recommend this movie for ages 6 to 18. Younger kids may not understand the full complexity of the film. I also give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Earth to Echo
By Kendyl P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
Video review here.

Earth to Echo is a mind blowing movie. If you are a fan of movies like E.T. or discovering aliens from space, this movie is perfect for you. Earth to Echo is about a group of friends, Tuck (Astro), Alex (Teo Halm), Munch (Resse Heartwig) and Emma (Ella Wahlesedt) who are forced to move because of the construction of a big freeway near their houses. Before they move, their cell phones start acting up. It turns out to be a map and they follow it. It leads them to an alien that is trying to get back home but can’t go. It’s up to Tuck, Munch, Alex and Emma to save the day.

My favorite character is Alex because he is very helpful and cool. He sticks by the alien’s side and he really cares about him. He is like the alien’s best friend. My favorite part is when small parts of the space ship fly in from all over the neighborhood to form a really large spaceship and the main part of the ship is in Alex’s backyard. I really enjoyed watching that.

The actors, Astro, Teo Halm, Resse Heartwig and Ella Wahlesedt do a great job expressing different emotions in the film. The message of this film is “true friendships can last a lifetime.” The friendship the boys have continues long after they go their separate ways.

This is a great film. I recommend this film for kids age 9 to 16 and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Earth to Echo
By Kayla P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
Video review here

Earth to Echo is a fantastic family movie to watch this summer. This film is about three boys, Tuck, Alex and Munch who have a very close friendship. Unfortunately, their homes are being demolished because there are plans to build a major highway right through the middle of their community. As the boys prepare to pack up and leave their community, their cell phones began receiving strange pictures, which they learn is a map. The boys decide to follow the map and discover a robot named Echo. After communicating with Echo, the boys learn he is trying to build a key to unlock his space ship to go home. While the boys are helping Echo, they learn the real reason why their homes are being demolished. They may be able to save the community from being destroyed.

Tuck and his friends are told to stop trying to help Echo. They learn that by helping Echo they are also helping the families in their community. The message of the film is “do the right thing.” You might face some opposition by some people, but you still have to do the right thing that will benefit all people.

My favorite scene is when Tuck, Alex and Munch discover Echo. At first they think he is a beeping machine. Every time Echo beeps Munch starts running for his life and acts crazy. He is my favorite character because he brings a lot of the humor to this film.

The actors are spectacular. They make the film come alive and make you feel like you are on the journey with them. Earth to Echo is the perfect summertime movie for the entire family.  I recommend this film for kids ages 7 through 18. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. Earth to Echo will be in theaters July 2, 2014, don’t miss it.

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Divergent – When Outcasts Have to Hide to Protect Themselves

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Divergent.jpgBased on the young adult novel by the same name, this PG-13 rated film follows the life of Tris who lives in a world divided by factions based on virtues. Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D, age 16, commented, “I really like this film. I went into it not knowing anything about the book trilogy so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleased with the outcome.” For her full review, read below or click on the link to her video review.

Divergent
Reviewed by Raven D., age 16, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic
Video review here.
Cast interviews here.

Based on the wildly successful novel by Veronica Roth, “Divergent” tells the story of teens struggling to find their place in post-war Chicago. Society is separated by factions based on personality traits and virtues in attempts to keep the peace and encourage the population to participate equally in maintaining a functioning community. When a person turns 16, she takes a test to determine what faction best suits her characteristics to help her decide whether she should stay in her home faction or move elsewhere. Tris, played by Shailene Woodley, is a modest girl from Abnegation, but her entire life is turned upside down when the test reveals something about her she didn’t know was possible. She is a Divergent, which means she does not fit into any category, therefore cannot be controlled and is a threat to the system. With the advice of an older faction member, she is warned not to tell a soul or her life will be at risk. Young Tris then decides to leave her home of Abnegation and transfer to Dauntless, a fiery group of individuals that show no fear and protect the people. There, she has to learn to fit in and test herself physically and mentally, all the while guarding a dark secret.

I really like this film. I went into it not knowing anything about the book trilogy so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleased with the outcome. The visuals are interesting because even though this film is set in the future and it features some advanced technology, everything is kept quite simple looking. There are, however, some flaws with the visuals and effects because at times it is very apparent that green screen is in use. The soundtrack is absolutely incredible. It features a variety of artist that I really enjoy and I’ve already downloaded music from the film because it is something I actually listen to on a daily basis which isn’t the case with me for most motion picture soundtracks.

My favorite character is surprisingly not one of the leads, but a supporting role. I like the character Will, played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes, who is a boy Tris meets during her training in Dauntless. Will is a sweet, kind-hearted person who is always very supportive of Tris and her friend Christina, played by Zoe Kravitz. He is very level headed and is someone you can always count on. I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Lloyd-Hughes and I think he is perfect for the role of Will. The rest of the cast works very well together. Shailene Woodley does a great job portraying her emotions and showing Tris’s character development. She goes through quite a lot over the course of the film and Shailene is really able to embody Tris and show how she transforms from a timid, modest Abnegation, to a fearless young woman who is not defined by anyone or anything. The only problem I have with the casting is that Four, played by Theo James, is supposed to be 18 in the book series. However in the film, he appears to be in his mid 20’s, since Theo is 29 years old. He does a wonderful job playing his character, but it makes the romance between him and Tris really uncomfortable.

My favorite scene in the film is when Tris and the rest of the new members of Dauntless are heading back from playing a capture the flag like war game. They each strap up to a high-speed full body zip line that goes rocketing through the empty city. I think this scene is visually appealing even though it is very short and has really no importance to the film. The CGI and landscape in this scene is just well done.

Since I have not read this trilogy, I was a little let down with certain aspects of the film. In “Divergent” the film, the whole movie is mainly Tris training in Dauntless and it feels like the plot takes far too long to develop. The last 15-20 minutes of the film is where the action and the conflict begins to happen and then the movie is over. I found out that this is how the first book is written as well, but as someone who has very little prior knowledge of the series, it seems a bit odd. The second thing that threw me off was that it seems as if quite a bit of the dialogue is taken directly from the book. This is something that fans of the book will love since the films stays so true to the novel. However, from my point of view, a lot of the dialogue does not translate very well to the screen and appears a bit cheesy and forced at times. Like I said, this is really only an issue for me since I have not read the series nor was I a fan prior to watching the film. Overall, I was entertained despite these points.

I recommend this film for ages 12 to 18 or for anyone who has read the novel. The movie gets a bit violent during training scenes and towards the end but is nothing too bad and if you’ve read the books you know what to expect. Overall I give Divergent 4 out of 5 stars because it is entertaining and I’m already eager for the next installment in the series. Plus I and all my friends that saw the film have been quoting the movie non-stop and making “Divergent” references in almost every conversation, so it clearly left its mark on us! Be sure to check out “Divergent” in theaters on March 21st.

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