Sunday, September 30, 2007

Georgia State University, College of Arts & Sciences Story

Georgia State alumna helped launch Rachael Ray's career
Thursday, August 23, 2007 – Ann Claycombe

Every time you see celebrity chef Rachael Ray on television or on front of a cookbook, you have Georgia State alumna Jennifer Pullinger partly to thank for it.

Pullinger graduated from Georgia State in 2003 with a master’s degree in communication with a concentration in screenwriting/film. She worked as Ray’s publicist for two early cookbooks: Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals and Veggie Meals: Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals. Pullinger describes the campaign she designed in a recent interview on the web site

Pullinger said she focused her pitch on Ray’s personality and likeability, focusing on television and radio rather than print. She sent videos of the chef to about 20 different contacts at the Food Network, and sent the rest to network shows that had regular guest cooking segments.

The pitch paid off with an appearance for Ray on NBC’s The Today Show. Within days, her cookbook had shot to the top five in sales on, and the Food Network had called to discuss setting up a show.

“The publicity plan involved equal parts strategy, a talented, charismatic author, and luck,” Pullinger said. To read the interview in full, go to

Source: Georgia State University, College of Arts & Sciences

Wednesday, August 22, 2007, August 9, 2007

Hey, How'd Your PR Plan Introduce Rachael Ray to the Food Network?
This former publicist describes how she ushered the popular chef to TV stardom
By Jennifer Pullinger/ Rebecca L. Fox – August 9, 2007

While she may make near-hourly appearances on the Food Network these days, there was once a point when the nascent network aiming to reach home cooks didn't have the ebullient E.V.O.O. slinger-cum-magazine editor on their radar. Back in 2001, then-publicist Jennifer Pullinger was charged with getting Ray TV and radio appearances to promote the cookbook she'd just released. With an aggressively strategic approach and lots of videotapes, Pullinger scored Ray a coveted Today Show segment and a meeting with a Food Network programming exec. She tells us just how she did it, and shares her key tips for crafting publicity campaigns to catapult promising unknowns to stardom.

In 2001, as a publicist at National Book Network, you were assigned to work on two early Rachael Ray cookbooks, Comfort Foods: Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals and Veggie Meals: Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals. How much publicity work had you done prior to that assignment? Did these books/Rachael Ray represent any special opportunity for you?

At that time, I was new to book publicity. Before I was hired to be a book publicist at National Book Network (NBN), my professional experience in the media consisted of working as a volunteer media and marketing director for a small film festival in Orlando, and as a radio news reporter at WINA-AM in Charlottesville. Both, however, prepared me for the fast pace of book publicity. The "foodie" craze then wasn't what it is now, but it was gaining popularity.
I had been with NBN for less than six months when I was assigned to work on Lake Isle Press' Comfort Foods and Veggie Meals. Since the publication date for Veggie Meals was pushed back, I was primarily publicizing Comfort Foods.

To start off, NBN's publicity director and I met with Rachael and her publisher in New York City (we were based in Lanham, MD) to discuss the publicity plan. I think everyone in the room, including the NBN sales rep who attended the meeting, knew that Rachael had the innate talent and personality for TV, so it was a great opportunity for me to develop a publicity plan that had lots of potential.

Describe the publicity plan you crafted for Rachael and the two books she was releasing at this time. What kind of resources did you get from Lake Isle Press to do this?

The publicity plan involved equal parts strategy, a talented, charismatic author, and luck. The publicity plan was about being in the right place at the right time, and hitting the right synergistic notes. I like Woody Allen's quote: "80 percent of success is showing up," and I think that applies here. It wasn't quite that simple, but the plan was successful in part because I got the information about who Rachael was into the hands of the right people. Rachael took it from there by just by being herself.

The cookbook itself was the kind that wouldn't daunt your average cook. That's part of the reason why people like Rachael—her style of cooking is fairly easy and doesn't intimidate. My pitch focused on Rachael's personality and likeability, and how compelling she was on camera and in person.

My assignment was to secure Rachael radio and television interviews and appearances—no print. I also set up some book signings for her in upstate New York, where she was from, because they loved her there. At the time, she was a local television personality with WRGB-TV in Albany where she hosted a weekly cooking segment. So she was known regionally. I was given roughly 25 to 30 video cassettes as a demo to send to television producers. I sent about 20 of them to the Food Network. I just blanketed the place as much as I could, and started with follow-up. I sent them to shows that I thought would be open to a guest host or guest cooking segment. I also sent the tapes to the three major network morning shows, among others. For radio, I used the contacts that Rachael provided me, and also researched other topical radio shows that I thought might be interested in having a cookbook author on to talk about such.

(For the rest of the story (if you have a account. . . If not, continue reading. . .) Source:

What exactly did it take to land Rachael an NBC appearance? Walk us through the back-and-forth between you and the network, as our understanding is that nabbing a publicity opportunity like this is no small feat.

As any good book publicist does, they send their titles to the book producers at the major morning news outlets—The Today Show,Good Morning America, and The Early Show. I did that, but the book producer at The Today Show turned Comfort Foods down at first. She must have passed it on to a colleague, because shortly thereafter, a special projects producer from the show called me to see if Rachael was available to do a cooking segment. It was winter, so it was the right time for Comfort Foods. It's just the kind of stuff people crave when it's cold outside. I don't mean to make it sound that simple, but the back-and-forth kind of was. Because it wasn't that long before the book producer passed and the special projects producer called me to book her, at that point it was just a matter of nailing down the date and time, and then Rachael getting to the Today Show studios. Seeing Rachael on tape was likely what cinched it for the producer, as well as the timeliness of the release of Comfort Foods. Any time you have good video that shows how well your author presents themselves, make sure to include that in the press materials you send out.

At the time, how did you and Rachael think her first TV appearance went? Did it seem to either of you that she had great TV potential? Why?

Within days of her Today Show appearance, Comfort Foods shot to the top five in sales, so I think it went really well! As a publicist just starting out, I couldn't have been more thrilled. You could tell Matt [Lauer], Katie [Couric], and Al [Roker] liked her a lot too. She came across as real and approachable and full of energy. But as I said, even before her Today Show appearance, I thought she had national TV potential. She was a natural before the camera as demonstrated by her WRGB tapes and I always got positive feedback from the booksellers who wanted her at their store for a signing—nothing like I had experienced with the authors I had worked with up until then.

How did the NBC spot lead to a meeting between Rachael and the Food Network? Back in 2001, the Food Network had a far more minor media presence than it does now—how did Rachael, in that stage of her career, and the network complement one another? What was the original thinking on what a collaboration between Rachael and the Food Network might look like?

It was synergy. As mentioned, I sent as many demo tapes as I could to the Food Network, so if they hadn‘t heard about her by then, then they would by the time I started follow-up. That "blanket" strategy paid off, I believe, because a day or two after her Today Show appearance, I scheduled her to be on WAMC Public Radio's "Vox Pop" in Albany. This was a contact of Rachael's. Someone associated with the Food Network was listening to the WAMC interview, liked what they heard, and called some other folks at the Food Network, who, fortunately, had already heard about her because I had sent them the tapes and press materials. So her appearance on The Today Show, coupled with her next-day WAMC Public Radio segment, led to her first meeting with Food Network executives. Right place, right time. Right around that time I also got her an interview on WHYY radio in Philadelphia, and I'm sure that didn't hurt either.

It was a day or two after her Today Show segment that I got a call from Bob Tuschman, vice president of programming and production at the Food Network, inquiring about scheduling a meeting with Rachael. This meeting would involve discussion beyond the scope of publicity—it was to talk about a possible opportunity for Rachael to host her own show. So I had accomplished my goal for Rachael, the cookbook, and more. The 2001 publicity plan for Comfort Foods was what got her foot solidly in the door at the Food Network, and she took it from there.

What's the nature of your relationship with Rachael Ray, currently? Do you keep in touch? Does she acknowledge that you were instrumental in connecting her with the Food Network? What is your title/affiliation now, and how did it evolve from what you were doing at National Book Network back in 2001?

A few months after the Comfort Foods campaign, I moved to Atlanta to attend graduate school at Georgia State University, where I studied communications. I didn't keep up with Rachael, other than what I saw or read in the media myself. In her book, Rachael Ray: 30 Minute Meals 2, which came out in 2003, she does thank me. As to what I do now, not long ago I was a freelance writer and book/film publicist, but soon I will join the staff of a publisher in Washington, D.C.

Are there any other clients you've seen since Ray whom you believe has the same kind of star power, and is poised to break out as significantly as she has? What are the qualities or elements that lead you to believe someone has this kind of potential?

I have worked with some authors who have a great story to tell, but may not be as compelling as an in-person interview. And there are others who have something unique to say, but beyond the release of their book, will only be of value to the media as news warrants. Some of the recent breakthroughs for me professionally have come from the publicity campaigns I contributed to in the indie film arena when I was a full-time freelance publicist.

I think the most important quality in an author or potential media personality is to know what you are talking about inside and out, because people can tell when you are full of hot air. Having a certain presence is important. It doesn't hurt to be likable on some level too. Then again, there are a lot of unpleasant personalities in the media today that people are drawn to, so maybe it's not always critical to be likable. But overall, it's hard to list specific "star power" qualities, because I imagine it's the same instinct that casting agents have when they see talent. They just know.

Jennifer Pullinger holds a BS degree in marketing from Virginia Tech and a MA degree in communications from Georgia State University. She has been a media professional for over 10 years.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007, August 1, 2007

Xeri-ously Green
Growing in popularity, water-conserving landscape design is recomended as a smart boost for your yard and the environment.

Living "green" is fast becoming more than a trend; it's becoming a way of life.

Homeowners are incorporating eco-friendly practices into their household routines and altering their lifestyles in the name of conservation. This mindset also applies to outside the home, as people take heed to the same old tips we hear from local officials every summer, such as "water your lawn in the early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation."

While that is important, homeowners can take outdoor water efficiency to the next level by xeriscaping their yard, a water-conserving landscape design method that's quickly gaining popularity.

With the dreaded "dog days of summer" here, water conservation is more important than ever. Incorporating xeriscape techniques into your lawn, however, can help you save water year-round. The core principle of xeriscaping is the use of drought-tolerant, native plants that don't require frequent watering.

"Anything that helps the environment nowadays is trend, and a good one," said local landscape designer Susan Schlenger of Susan Schlenger Landscape Design.

When drought-tolerant landscape design comes to mind, many might imagine lots of rocks and gravel and a grass-less yard. Not so, however. Low-water plants are also attractive.

(For the rest of the story. . .) Source:

Thursday, August 2, 2007, August 1, 2007

48-Hour Film Project
Local filmmakers work with little time and resources to complete a film in two days

The crew filmed one last shot under the pergola in Maymont Park's Italian Gardens before quickly packing up and moving on to the day's next location at Virginia Commonwealth University. The clock was ticking loudly, and there were more scenes to get on film, and still another day full of editing yet to be done. Such is the pace of the 48 Hour Film Project, coming to Richmond -- and a theater near you -- for the first time in its history.

Last weekend, Richmond area filmmakers teamed up to take part in the 48 Hour Film Project, created in 2001 as a challenge to those across the country to get out there and make films instead of just daydreaming about it. The mission: write, shoot, edit, and score a short film in two days.

"So many film projects linger and get drawn out or don't ever get finished," said Ellie St. John, the local coordinator of Richmond's 48 Hour Film Project. "This is something that you know -- boom -- you are going to get it done."

The 37 teams who signed up for the Richmond 48 Hour Film Project will vie for "Best of…" and audience awards this Saturday, Aug. 4 when their finished products will be screened to the public at the Byrd Theater. By comparison, more than 100 teams participated in Washington, D.C.'s event.

"They told me initially that my goal was to get 24 teams, and I thought they were crazy," St. John said. "Well, I got the 24 the first two weeks of registration." The screening schedule was soon expanded to accommodate an overflowing waiting list of additional teams.

(For the rest of the story. . .) Source:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brick Weekly, July 26, 2007 Issue

Brandt Identity
By Jennifer Pullinger

You can almost hear Don LaFontaine’s ominous voiceover introduction to the film now: “In a world where your identity and quality of life depends on corporate sponsorship, losing your sponsor could mean the difference between upscale condo living and West Virginia public housing.”

In his new comedic short film “nyc 2057ad,” Richmond animator and commercial ad designer Stephen W. Brandt explores what the future may hold if corporations are allowed to run our lives. The two-minute short recently made its television debut on Logo Network’s “Alien Boot Camp,” a show featuring gay and lesbian-themed animation.

39-year-old Brandt is part of Richmond’s creative community, and like many, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. And like so many more creative types, he paid his dues with stints in Los Angeles or New York City. In the early 1990s, he worked on the west coast in broadcast design at E! Entertainment Television and Turner Entertainment Networks. Later, he freelanced in New York City as an art director for such companies as PBS, Showtime and The Movie Channel.

Brandt held on to his freelancer status when he moved back here in 2001, but now his domain is animation and television commercial production. He says transitioning from broadcast design to what he does now wasn’t difficult to do artistically.

“I actually feel like I almost have—even doing television commercials through ad agencies—more freedom than I did before, simply because when I was in broadcast design, I was expected to work in the style of the television networks,” Brandt says.
Since then, Brandt has created commercials for the likes of Bojangle’s Chicken, The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation and World of Mirth. He’s also written, produced, and directed some short films, in addition to “nyc 2057ad.” If that wasn’t versatile enough, he also composes the music for most of his animated shorts.

While he says he enjoys experimenting with a variety of looks and techniques, he is drawn to a few visual styles in particular. One of those Brandt describes as “the penny arcade look,” which is abstract, mechanical, contemporary and reminiscent of Betty Boop cartoons all at once. It is perhaps what TV ads would have looked like in the 1940s if advertising executives had access to today’s modern software. If commercials were fun to watch, as Brandt’s are, then viewers wouldn’t flip the channels in between breaks as much as they do.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Brick Weekly

Tuesday, July 24, 2007, July 24, 2007

Some Assembly Required
A new exhibit at the Virginia Center for Architecture may change some people's minds regarding prefabricated housing.

When most people think of prefabricated housing, the descriptives bland, cheap and wide load are not far behind. But today's architects are re-imagining the design of manufactured homes as a more upscale, or at least, more livable option.

The Virginia Center for Architecture examines the current trend toward contemporary prefabricated and modular housing with its latest exhibit entitled "Some Assembly Required," which is on view and free to the public until Sept. 30.

Prefab homes are everything from factory-built kits of parts homes and modular units to mobile homes and houses that arrive fully assembled. Even some site-built homes that involve standardized parts and are labor-intensive can be considered prefab.

The multimedia exhibition offers a glimpse into the design and construction of eight modern modular house projects through animations, video clips, photography and material samples, as well as architectural assembly diagrams, drawings and scale models.

"I think a lot of times, people hear the word 'prefab' or 'modular housing' and they think about house trailers, and that as a stereotype is an image that is locked in a lot of people's minds," said Vernon Mays, the Center's curator of architecture and design.

(For the rest of the story...) Source:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brick Weekly, July 19, 2007 Issue

Let There Be Light
by Jennifer Pullinger

Many in the media cognoscenti believe that the internet, and blogs in particular, are the most democratic mass medium available and the easiest way for citizens to participate in the political process. What could be more democratic than a website devoted to open government? was created by Waldo Jaquith, a 28-year old Virginia Tech graduate and Charlottesville resident. Jaquith, who has been developing websites since he was 16, including the definitive Dave Matthews Band fan site and the community scuttlebutt blog, says the website’s name refers to the idea of government transparency, specifically that of the General Assembly.

How works is it collects, or aggregates, information about the General Assembly and presents it in a user-friendly format so those following along at home can stay on top of what Virginia’s lawmakers are doing.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Brick Weekly

Monday, July 9, 2007

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, "Green Scene," July 2007

Easy Being Green
Mow in peace

Miss the bygone era of soundless lawn mowers? Consider reviving it with a push reel mower, which are powered by—you got it—you. The advantages over gas or electric-powered mowers are many. Push reel mowers save energy, are quiet and relatively inexpensive (prices range generally from $100 to $200). Another plus is not having to fuss with starters or recharging.

The downsides? Self-propelled mowers are still better for cutting large yards and grass taller than 2".

Throwback mowing machines can be found at any home improvement store like Martin Hardware or Lowe’s.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement, "Green Scene"

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, July 2007

Let’s play scribble
How to make any surface into a chalkboard

If your kids (or you, for that matter) can’t stop doodling on the walls, and you’re sick of scrubbing their masterworks off the satin-finish paint, devote a space to homegrown and temporary art by employing chalkboard paint. The stuff is made for virtually any surface, including wood, metal and plastic—even glass.

Buy chalkboard paint from any hardware or arts supply store. Then prep the surface as you would any other painting project. The final step is paint. Voila: instant canvas.

Benjamin Moore makes an acrylic-based chalkboard paint, while Rust-Oleum has a latex version. One quart is about $14. If you want the chalkboard to be magnetic too, simply slather the surface first with a magnetic paint undercoating. Or buy MagnaMagic’s two-in-one magnetic chalkboard paint. One quart covers 25 square feet and costs about $40.

Having your own in-house chalkboard allows you to write all of those things you were afraid to scribble on the Downtown Mall’s Free Speech Monument. Feeling like a censor? Removing the magnetic chalkboard altogether is also easy: Just sand it down and paint over it.—J.P.

Source: July 2007 C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, July 2007

By the Numbers 20.6
(inches of rain we’ve gotten so far this year)

An arid May got us wondering: Are we in a drought? Actually, no: By mid-year, Charlottesville normally receives 21.8 inches of rain. Year to date for 2007, total precipitation was at 20.6 inches as we went to press.

Even though water is relatively plentiful this year, being proactive about conservation—especially with your lawn and garden—can‘t hurt.

Rainwater harvesting systems are one way to conserve, says Garnett Mellon, Easement and Education Programs Coordinator with the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. To do this, simply install a rain barrel on your gutter to collect the water.

You may also want to think about xeriscaping, the water-conserving landscape design concept that all the cool kids are into. “The idea behind it is you plant species that are drought-tolerant so they don’t require a lot of water and don’t need a lot of irrigation,” she says. Drought-tolerant plants include cacti, yuccas, sedem, portulaca, and herbs like thyme and lavender.

Mellon also says adding two inches of mulch around plants helps water retention in the soil.

Another tip: Install a drip irrigation system instead of showering water on your plants from overhead. Water from on high will just evaporate in the heat, Mellon says, while the drip system trickles water directly on the root zone.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007 C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement

Thursday, July 5, 2007, July 5, 2007

A Presidential Production
A new HBO miniseries, 'John Adams,' brings to life the least-glamorized of our founding fathers.

Jennifer Pullinger
Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The name George Washington immediately conjures up images of cherry trees, Mount Vernon and, of course, the Revolutionary War. With Thomas Jefferson, it's Monticello, the University of Virginia and his enduring ideals. But in between those great men of state falls President John Adams, easily the least glamorized of the triumvirate of first presidents.

Now, with Virginia commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown and the celebration of history in the air, it seems fitting that a new film would begin to detail one of the nation’s least cinematically well-known founding fathers.

"John Adams" is a new HBO Films miniseries filming in the Commonwealth at locations in the metro Richmond area, as well as Colonial Williamsburg. The set and production offices were based out of the old AMF warehouse in Mechanicsville, while farmland in Hanover County and Powhatan County substituted for scenes set in early Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

(For the rest of the story...) Source:

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Washington Writers Conference, June 9, 2007

The 28th Washington Writers Conference
By Jennifer Pullinger, Special to WIW

Another Washington Writers Conference has come and gone, and this year a palpable energy was in the air. On Saturday, June 9, writers of all varieties headed to The George Washington University Cafritz Conference Center to hear from authors, agents, and other writing professionals about the nuts and bolts of the business.

(For the rest of the story...) Source: Washington Independent Writers

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, "Green Scene," June 2007

Leaves of green
Put houseplants to work on indoor air quality

If you‘re like me and check The Green Guide as often as you text your best friend, then you may already have read the green living site’s article on how plants can improve indoor air quality. We were surprised to learn how the leafy ones act as your personal ecosystem’s filter.

The full story can be found in Dr. B.C. Wolverton‘s handy book How to Grow Fresh Air. Here’s the crib notes version: plants can’t reduce indoor air pollution entirely, but they can clean up the minor contaminants that float about—including those from everyday products like paint, grocery bags, computer screens, and gas stoves. Harmful chemicals are also emitted from household materials like carpet, upholstery, and ceiling tiles. Even our breath releases air pollutants.

Some recommended cleansing plants include the Boston fern, the moth orchid, the peace lily, English ivy and the snake plant. If you have a standard-size home, distribute about 15 houseplants throughout to reduce air toxins.

As long as we’re talking plants and health: Some houseplants can be poisonous if kids or pets ingest them. Ask at the nursery which ones are nontoxic, or call the Blue Ridge Poison Center at 800-222-1222.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement, “Green Scene”

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, June 2007

Move it!
How to survive the prime season for moving

Have you heard of the fashionable new workout, the one where you drop unwanted pounds by lifting heavy cardboard boxes in the sweltering heat from one location to another? That would be “moving day.” The summer months—May through September—are typically the time when most people move.

Paul Breaud, vice president of Student Services Moving in Charlottesville, knows how hectic this time of year is. “I’ve been on the phone since 6:30 this morning doing nothing but scheduling last minute student moves,” Breaud said recently. “I go form running three trucks a day during the school year to running as many as ten trucks a day during the summer.”

The laws of supply and demand suggest that prices should go up when fewer trucks are available. But Breaud says his company doesn’t have a seasonal rate. Year round, you can get four guys for less than $135 per hour.

U-Haul doesn’t have seasonal rates either. Rather, they factor in several variables to calculate the cost of a move, including equipment size, point of origin, destination, and the date of your move, says Joanne Fried, spokesperson for U-Haul International.

No matter who you choose to move your boxes of tchotchkes, if you need a truck on a specific date, call at least a month in advance. And the consensus is, if you are moving in the hot weather, drink lots of Gatorade.

“Make sure everything is packed and ready to go. Make sure you have plenty of liquids for the guys. It’s a hot time of year,” Breaud says.—J.P.

Source: June 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, June 2007

Last stop

Losing homeowners’ insurance is downright scary. The Glen Allen-based Virginia Property Insurance Association provides basic property insurance for people who can‘t secure coverage through the voluntary market, says Leland Nye, general manager. Rates may be lower in some areas and higher in others, but “we are right in the same ballpark” as regular coverage, Nye says. Coverage may be more limited, though; Nye says, “When they can resolve their insurance issues, we encourage them to go back into the standard market where they have a lot more choices and are better off.” Call the VPIA at 800-899-7973.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: July 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement, "Green Scene"

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Brick Weekly, June 7, 2007 Issue

Food Awakening
by Jennifer Pullinger

Walk into any garden-variety grocery store today and you’ll likely find a specialty aisle or two loaded with shelf-fuls of organic meat, milk, and fruits and vegetables. Even though your local Kroger and Ukrop’s are jumping on the farm fresh food bandwagon by offering organically-grown food, the neighborhood farmers market is still where you can get the freshest produce around.

Sales of organically grown food are up substantially nationwide. In early May, the Organic Trade Association released statistics that show sales of organic foods grew by 22.1 percent and represented approximately three percent of all U.S. retail food and beverage sales in 2006. The origins of that upward trend can be found at farmers markets across the country.

In Richmond, the newest farmers market to crop up is the Byrd House Market, located at the William Byrd Community House on the corner of South Linden Street and Idlewood Avenue in Oregon Hill. Operating every Tuesday from 3:30pm to 7pm through October, Byrd House Market offers a bevy of locally grown food and handmade arts and crafts. Manager Stacey Moulds says the main goal is to support local farmers, crafters, and artisans by giving them a place to sell. Plus, it gives local residents a place to buy fresh food since the neighborhood is without a conveniently accessible grocery store.

(For the rest of the story..) Source: Brick Weekly

Monday, May 21, 2007, May 21, 2007

20 Questions
Todd Raviotta, Richmond filmmaker

Jennifer Pullinger
Monday, May 21, 2007

"My hope is to continue work as a southern filmmaker with a home base in Richmond, the center of the east coast."

Todd Raviotta has lived in Richmond since 1996, and graduated from VCU in 2004 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film. Now, he passes his knowledge on to his students at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, where he teaches a Digital Video Senior Seminar and Film Studies class. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Yellow House, a non-profit theater and film company; an adjunct in VCU‘s Photography and Film Department; and Vice President of the Virginia Production Alliance, an organization whose mission it is to promote the Commonwealth’s filmmakers. Raviotta shares his latest work, "Mediated: The 21st Century Lifestyle," at the Byrd Theater on May 26.

Your film "Mediated: The 21st Century Lifestyle" screens at the Byrd Theater on May 26. What’s it about?

That film was a project I started when I was in graduate school at VCU working on my Masters for film. When I was ending my undergraduate studies, I got this idea to do a film about a guy who is completely isolated from the rest of the world based on his addiction to technology. The script took on a couple of different drafts and different forms and the one that my co-writer Chris and I landed with was a guy who surrounds himself with so many televisions, that the televisions start to talk to him. In some ways, it’s an investigation of schizophrenia where the televisions start to embody his doubt and dread and becomes the nagging voice in the back of his head that tells him to do bad things.

Speaking of media criticism, how can the media do a better job at being a positive cultural force?

The film has two main inspirations. When I was an undergrad, the Columbine tragedy happened, and I, as a young person, was aghast at how the victims were treated, and as it wore on, how the perpetrators were raised up to be seen as icons. The second inspiration was after 9/11 when the media switched onto this [nonstop] coverage – not to understand the cause or how this could have been avoided – but just to profile the perpetrators and offer this constant coverage. Those instances are what made me start to really look at the media. Now to your question, what could they do differently? I think the integrity of the on-camera people – they need to not be so as detached from what’s going. Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech instance happened earlier and everyone in the media descended on the town. I have friends who work in the industry of news and videography and they were getting phone calls to come and shoot the thing – "Come join us. We’re doing this coverage . . ." Instead of thinking about what would get them ratings or what’s going to get them the shot, the media need to think of what the effect is going to be on the viewer and how to disseminate information to them.

(For the full story...) Source:

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, May 2007

Cook your buns off
Win big: Do Dixie in the kitchen

What could be more Southern than sweet potato rolls with sticky caramel-pecan sauce? That’s the recipe that won the 2006 Southern Living Cook-off. The grand pooh-bah of all Dixie region lifestyle magazines is running the annual recipe contest again right now, and there’s a big cash incentive to submit. The grand prize winner will score a cool $100,000—enough dough to buy a lifetime supply of cinnamon rolls. Last year’s other finalists created an array of recipes featuring Southern decadence on a plate, including shrimp bruschette with guacamole and spicy braised short ribs with peach gravy and green rice.

One catch: You have to use at least one of the “sponsor products” in your recipe. Your options include pride-wounding stuff like Crisco and Jell-O, but also versatile and respectable ingredients like peanuts and shrimp. This year’s Cook-Off Finals will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, where finalists will duke it out on October 3 and 4.

If you’re a local and you win, we promise not to make fun of you for reading Southern Living. Last year’s winners were all from the Midwest or West Coast, so our position is that Southerners need to bring bragging rights back home. Go ahead and enter! And, for the love of O’Hara, don’t forget to garnish.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: May 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement