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The renewed contract negotiations between the studios and the Screen Actor's Guild have broken down again. This even despite a Federal Mediator being present. Although, if the mediator was a Bush appointee, I'm not surprised he was ineffective.

Now SAG is asking it's membership for a Strike Vote. Speaking as someone who has been in a lot of labor negotiations, let me offer you my insider's view. A strike vote does not mean there will be a strike yet, 75% of the membership needs to vote for it, then more brinksanship and counteroffers.

In this current bad economy, the producers are probably gambling that SAG members won't have the stomach for another fight after the WGA mess last year. There will be a lot of threats and counterthreats until the actual strike would occur. So we still have a long way to go. But this overall climate will probably intimidate the already skittish big money guys from greenlighting more projects. We'll see.

Question: What does it mean when you say someone is your Bete-Noir?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: What is the Borscht Belt?
HISTORY FOR 11/23/2008
Birthdays: German Emperor Otto Ist 972AD, President Franklin Pierce, Krystoff Penderecki, Manuel DeFalla, William Henry Pratt better known as Boris Karloff, William Bonney better known as Billy the Kid, Susan Anspach, Victor Jory, Vincent Cassel, Joe Esterhas is 64, RObert Towne is 76, Miley Cyrus is 16

1654- BLAISE PASCAL was one of the great minds of French civilization. A scientist who invented an early computer. He loved debating science with Rene Descartes and Johannes Kepler. Descartes joked about Pascal’s championing the existence of a vacuum: “The only vacuum that exists is in Monsieur Pascal’s head!” This day he almost died when his carriage plunged off a Seine River Bridge. The carriage remained precariously perched above the water allowing Pascal to escape. That night in his trauma he had the first of several religious revelations. Blaise Pascal became a philosopher and one of the greatest Christian apologists. He wrote of that night:” The God of Abraham and Issac appeared to me, The God of Jacob - Reassurance. Certainty. Peace.”

1889- The first Juke Box installed at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. Created by Louis T. Glass, it used Edison cylinders instead of records and cost 5 cents a play. Juke comes from Juke Joint, a slang term for a dance hall.

1897-First Royal performance for Queen Victoria of a Cinematograph moving picture, at Windsor Castle. Also on the program was Monsieur Taffary's Calculating Dogs.

1903- Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made his debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in Verdi’s Rigoletto. The great singer loved drawing caricatures, collecting police badges, pinching ladies bottoms and doing practical jokes like filling your hat with flour. Painter Norman Rockwell recalled, he was paying his way through school by being a Met stagehand. Caruso liked to talk art with him and about his teachers at the Art Student's League like George Bridgeman.

1936- The first florescent lighting tubes are installed in the U.S. Patent office.

1936- Time Magazine owner Henry Luce launched LIFE Magazine. The first picture on the cover was a dam photographed by Margaret Bourke-White. The second picture was a doctor slapping a newborn baby with the caption: “Life Begins!”

1938- Bob Hope recorded his signature tune “Thanks for the Memory” for the movie The Big Broadcast..

1942- PLAY IT AGAIN SAM- The movie [CASABLANCA premiered. Based on an never produced musical, “Everybody Comes to Ricks’, Howard Koch and the Epstein Brothers adapted the play into one of the most memorable Hollywood movies ever. It was never expected to be more than a rehash of the popular Charles Boyer film Algiers. George Raft was offered the script first, but he turned it down. Humphrey Bogart acted opposite Ingrid Bergman, although he had to stand on boxes to appear taller than his Swedish leading lady. Bogie told friends " Ah, it's just some more shit like Algiers!"

Louis, I don't know whether to shoot you for trying to arrest Viktor Lazlo, or Tom Sito for working on Son of the Mask.

During the famous scene where the French exiles drown out the singing Germans with a stirring rendition of le Marseillaise the Germans are singing Watch On the Rhine. The director wanted them to sing the Nazi Party anthem the Horst Wessel Song but the Warner Legal Dept discovered it was copyrighted! Don’t want them Nazis to sue! At this time the real Casablanca was still in a war zone so director Michael Curtiz and his art director Carl Jules Wyl had to fake what a North African French colonial city might look like. A decade later while filming in Almeida, Spain, he took the ferry over to Casablanca to see how close they came. Driving around Curtiz remarked “Carl, this doesn’t look anything like our movie!!”

1945- The U.S. government ends most wartime food and gas rationing.

1947- THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS- Prof E. L. Sukenik of Hebrew University in Israel was first told of a discovery made by two Bedouin shepherds. A cave near Qumran contained earthen pots containing scrolls, some used to cork the jugs. They may have been hidden there by the Essene priests to save them from the Roman invasion. These Hebrew sacred scrolls dated from 200BC to 70AD, and many were found to corroborate translated passages in the modern Bible.

1948- Japanese Prime Minister Gen. Hidecki Tojo was hanged for war crimes.
While Hitler was in power throughout the World War, Japan had gone through several parliamentary administrations, all dominated by the army party. Tojo had been out of power since 1943 after the Americans captured Saipan. Throughout the war Tojo’s official limousine was a Buick. Must have been tough getting parts....

1952- Animator Fred Moore, who drew Mickey Mouse in Fantasia and the Brave Little Tailor, died in an auto accident in the Tujunga Canyon area of Los Angeles.

1960- The Hollywood Walk of Fame is dedicated, featuring over 1,500 names- but not Charlie Chaplin, who was banned until 1972 because of his alleged lefty political views.

1963- The first episode of Dr.Who premiered on the BBC.

1966-The film “ Spinout “ premiered. Elvis Presley pioneered the genre movie of bored male movie stars who use their studio pull to make us watch movies of them racing cars. James Garner in Grand Prix-arguably the best one, Steve McQueen in LeMans, Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, Sly Stallone in Driven, etc.

1973- THE BOSTON STRANGLER- Albert DeSalvo molested and murdered 13 women and kept Beantown in fear between 1962 and 1964. In '64 he was finally apprehended and sentenced to life in prison, just getting in after the states death penalty was repealed. On this date another prisoner did what the State would not do, he knifed him to death in an argument.

1990- 37 year old baseball catcher Bo Diaz was crushed to death by a large satellite dish he was trying to install.
Yesterday’s Question: What was the Borscht Belt?

Answer: In the American northeast, because many newer immigrant groups like Jews, Italians, Russians and Poles were barred from older WASP mountain resorts. So starting in the 1940s they build their own resorts in the Adirondacks and Pocono mountains where they could enjoy the scenery and fresh air and celebrate their own culture.
The most well known were the Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Grossingers, The Pines Resort, Kutchners Hotel and more. Because of all the resorts, by the 1950’s the Catskill’s were nicknamed the Jewish Alps.
Many nightclub celebrities earned big money by playing this string of resorts, called by them the Borscht Belt, over the summer vacation season. Stars like Danny Kaye, Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce, Alan King, Rodney Dangerfield and many more. Films like Dirty Dancing were set in such a resorts.