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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2012 Hollywood Movies for Australian and American movie fans to get excited about

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Movies Hollywood Marvel Entertainment Marvel Comics Marvel Studios Paramount Pictures Amazing Spider-Man The Avengers Batman The Great Gatsby Actors Celebrities




"Sin City" Sydney has been a bit of a celebrity and media circus lately and there's more media and entertainment war, fun and games and the way soon. Australian and international media are all on the chase. Splash News, Snapper, TMZ, OMG, the Media Man agency - everyone is jockeying for position and exclusive news scoops.

Let's get ready to rumble. Here's some of the best Hollywood blockbuster movies coming up this year. We've got the U.S movie release dates, which in some cases will be the same as the Australian release date. Note: Some Australian release dates are likely to be a day or two after the U.S date.

Will the movies live up to their comic book or novel? The world is extremely keen to see how Baz's version of the "The Great Gatsby" (Dec. 25) literary classic matches up, but more on that and its star Leonardo DiCaprio later.

What many of this year's blockbusters are about is building on the brand and plugging into the news media machine. Most, like "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" (Nov. 16), "The Amazing Spider-Man" (July 3) or "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (June 22), are based on already mega successful brands. It's pop-culture realm stuff and plugging into established audiences.

Here's the list of some of this years most anticipated movies.

The Raven (April 27)

John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, detective – tracking down a series of murders in 19th-century Baltimore.

The Avengers (May 4)

Fans are into this big time. This Marvel flick puts Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and The Hulk together. Little wonder Marvel fans can't wait. Last Sunday Sydney's George St Event Cinema's even had a preview screening for lucky fans who won a competition, with many fans dressing up as their favourite hero. Talk about an Excelsior initiative.

Dark Shadows (May 11)

Tim Burton directs, Johnny Depp has a white face. Depp fans are going to see his films no matter what, so let's hope its good.

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)

"Snow White" is a long time fav of Hollywood. It's a sword-and-sorcery epic version of the Grimm fairy tale.

Prometheus (June 8)

A prequel of sorts to 1979's "Alien," with "Dragon Tattoo" lady Noomi Rapace as a space archaeologist who digs up trouble. Directed by "Alien" and "Blade Runner's" Ridley Scott, this is already getting fans in a frenzy.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)

It's bit of a cross-pollinating of geek and traditional culture. It will be an interesting contrast to Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," arriving in December.

The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)

It's been 10 years since the awesome original. Andrew Garfield plays Spidey and Rhys Ifans is The Lizard. Marvel Comic super hero movie fans are hoping they won't be disappointed and left in a spin.

The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)

Batman (Christian Bale) with villains Bane (Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). DC Comic super hero fans have long deserved a quality remake, so hopefully this is in. Pow.

Frankenweenie (Oct. 5)

Tim Burton's full-length puppet-cartoon remake of his early short from 1984.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Nov. 16)

The second part of the fourth instalment of Stephenie Meyer's girl-crush vampire series.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)

It's J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" prequel, directed by Peter Jackson.

The Great Gatsby (Dec. 25)

The fourth film version of the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, directed by the Australian Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge!" "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet") and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. Millions of Australia's are hoping that Baz has done us proud.

Lincoln (December)

A Steven Spielberg historical epic, with Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.

Movie speculation...

Now fans, can you just imagine what drama is going to hit Sydney if or when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or Leonardo DiCaprio come to Sydney later this year. Stranger things have happened, so here's hoping.

‘Bending the Rules’ stars former WWE superstar Edge...

It was 22 years ago when Edge sat in the Toronto SkyDome for WWE’s WrestleMania 6 with big dreams of joining his boyhood idol Hulk Hogan in the ring.

In the past year since his wrestling career ended because of neck injuries, Edge has tried his hand at acting. He can be seen in his first starring role in the movie “Bending the Rules,” a WWE Studios production that hits select theaters Friday, March 9. The “Rated R Superstar” plays Detective Nick Blades, a New Orleans cop on trial for corruption.

“I have kind of likened it to ‘The Big Lebowski’ in a way,” Edge said describing his character during a media tour in Miami.

“He is the Big Lebowski, but he can kick a--. I guess it’s kind of what sums it up. I wear a Hawaiian shirt, board shorts and flip flops and Mardi Gras beads for about a month-and-a-half down in New Orleans. A recurring theme throughout is that you will always see the character eating a lot of donuts. We ate a lot of donuts in that movie.

“I liked the character because it didn’t take himself too seriously. I don’t really take myself too seriously, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch for me.”

The former pro wrestler enjoyed the movie-making process.

“I did some of the action stuff,” Edge said. “The only thing I didn’t do was the accident. We kind of had a head on kind of deal, and I guess they didn’t want me to do that because I had to go to Raw the next day. I guess they didn’t want me to do the whole, ‘He can’t wrestle because he just got whiplash.’

“Beyond that I did everything else. It wasn’t too in-depth or anything because it’s more of a buddy flick than it is action, but there is a little bit of action to it.”

Among the other cast members is Jamie Kennedy, Alicia Witt, Jennifer Esposito and accomplished actress Jessica Walter, who has recently done voice work on the animated series “Archer”.

“Philip Baker Hall was big for me, especially being a ‘Seinfeld’ fan. Lt. Bookman was one of my favorite, probably my favorite character in ‘Seinfeld’ actually. So when I saw I was sharing scenes with him I thought, ‘This is awesome.’ He is a really funny guy. His delivery is amazing. He is such an underrated actor to some people, but there are some people who know what he can do.”

“Jessica Walter I didn’t know what to expect,”Edge said. “Here is this proper actor or actress who shared the screen with [Clint] Eastwood. I was like, ‘I don’t know what I am doing. She is going to be sick of me right from the get go.’ But she could not have treated me better. Everyone was very understanding to the fact that I was in way over my head and having no idea what I was doing. So they were very gracious and respectful.”

Those who have seen “Highlander: Endgame” may remember Edge’s cameo. However, the budding actor says it didn’t prepare him much for “Bending the Rules.”

“That was 12 or 13 years ago, and that was basically a fight scene,” Edge said.

“I flew to Romania for that, but it was entirely different. At that point WWE was even new to me, so it was like what is happening? This was much more involved, I guess, being one of the stars of the movie. Being expected to learn a bigger part and not knowing what I was doing.

“My only real preparation has been WWE, which prepares you to adlib and comedic timing and those things. In respect to being able to think on your feet, I was able to bring that into it. But still my first day of shooting, in the first scene I had shot, I had just come from SummerSlam in LA…We did two Raw shows that day, so right after that I hopped on a jet to New Orleans, landed at 4 and was on set at 6 with Jennifer Esposito, having no idea what scene we were doing.

“I didn’t know what lines to study, nothing. This was my first real scene in the movie, and I was like ‘No, they are going to think I am such an idiot.’ I got it over with. Then I thought that once I got that over with, I thought, ‘OK, I might be able to pull this off.’"

Edge never really had his Hollywood in his eyes. His dream was always being a WWE superstar.

“Wrestling took up the radar for me,” Edge said. “That was always my priority, and if other things fell in my lap, then great. The ‘Highlander’ thing or any other thing that has come into my lap has always been because of WWE and that exposure. Then I got approached to do this movie by WWE and thought, ‘This could be fun. I’ll give it a shot. Why not?’"

The film was shot before his recurring role on the SyFy original series ‘Haven,’ which gave him an idea of what to expect on theseries. He says he is returning to the character Dwight Henrickson for the upcoming season.

“By ‘Haven,’ through the experience of ‘Bending the Rules,’ I felt much more comfortable,” Edge said.

“Then going back this year for ‘Haven’, I will have much more understanding. Even with just the lingo like turning around. I know what that means now. I know I don’t have to stand there for 45 minutes while they switch everything out, and I can go grab a cup of coffee. Little things like that was all a learning process.

“Now that I can’t wrestle I think it would be cool to play a Viking in ‘Game of Thrones’ or something like that. I think I could sink my teeth into something like that. I also have a bit of a vampire experience or arch-villain or something. That would be fun…I just want to enjoy retirement, and at the same time do some stuff to stay creatively stimulated.”

Since his life on the road and traveling the world wrestling are over, his outlook on life has changed.

“Before it was WWE and that was my main priority,” Edge said. “It always has been and always would have remained that, but you still have to do something so you just aren’t home twiddling your thumbs all day. I think last year with ‘Haven’ it was going to Nova Scotia for the summer and getting to do this new kind of thing that was fun. I’m going up again this summer, and if things happen after that, then great.

“It’s not like I am going to consider myself an actor. I say more power to [The Rock]. I think it was awesome he was able to parlay it and translate it, but I don’t think I would be able to do it at that kind of schedule or want to. I like having my own time and then on the horizon say, ‘OK, I have that in a couple of months. Cool.’ Then I go do it, have some fun with it and be able to go back home.

“I already was lucky enough to do the job that was my passion. Everything I do from here on out is just going to be fun. It’s a good place to be. I’m not going to lie. It’s nice to have the luxury to enjoy everything I’ve done my entire adult life.”

To watch the trailer of “Bending the Rules” or to find a theater near you showing the film or get more information, visit http://www.bendingtherulesmovie.com


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson And Mark Wahlberg Team Up for Pain and Gain; 2013 Release...

Mark Wahlberg is in top shape, but next to 'The Rock' he looks kind of small. Put six-foot five-inch Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson next to him, and Mark (5' 8") looks sort of average.

Wahlberg and Johnson are currently filming "Pain and Gain" in Miami. The film centers on two bodybuilders who get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. The film is set for release in 2013.

That's it movie and music fans. Stay tuned to Media Man and Street Corner for more entertainment news and scoops daily.

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The gambler who hasn't made the list - yet; A serious man; When the crowd funds a flop, what next?

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The gambler who hasn't made the list - yet - 24th May 2012




An honorarble mention in this year’s Rich 200 must go to David Walsh. While his estimated wealth falls short of the $210 million cut-off in this year’s ranking, the Taswegian stands out this year for his ability to make Australians feel uneasy.

It’s not just the contents of his Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), perched on the banks of the Derwent River just outside Hobart, with its excrement-producing Cloaca exhibit, display of human ashes and artist Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary depicting the mother of Jesus surrounded by female genitalia and including elephant dung that will discomfort some.

It is the fact that in a year when arguments about gambling reforms have drawn vicious lobbying from the pubs and clubs industry and threatened to bring the machinery of parliament to a halt and when there’s growing concern about gambling generally that Walsh has so overtly used a fortune accrued from wagering to build a temple to art – celebrated by many of the same people who decry gambling.

In fact, the country’s largest private museum, which opened early last year, has contemporary Australian art fans salivating. Its contents include Sidney Nolan’s Snake, a 46-metre-long, nine-metre-high collation of 1620 different painted panels, and works by Brett Whiteley, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman and Russell Drysdale. Mona also treads solidly into ancient territory with the mummy and coffin of Pausiris and a cast bronze votive figure of Isis and the Infant Horus, from 600-300BC.

The public loves it. Mona drew more than 330,000 visitors last year – almost half from outside Tasmania. The collection is doing great things for tourism to the Apple Isle and for Australia as a whole.

“The only time I can think of in recent history that [we had] something this big, audacious, generous and gifted was probably in America,” Edinburgh Festival director Jonathan Mills gushed last year. “It’s the Getty, the Guggenheim, it’s on that level.”

And yet, revelations that Walsh’s $175 million project was funded in part by his friend and fellow gambler Zeljko Ranogajec, whose gambling syndicate makes money out of the rebates that totalisers give in exchange for placing large bets – reducing the pool of winnings for ordinary punters placing smaller bets – only adds to the unease.

It’s no doubt a contradiction the private Walsh enjoys. If he were a miner or industrialist, his generosity would be unambiguously celebrated. That’s the sort of background Australia has come to expect of its arts patrons. Still, taking from the poor and giving to middle-class causes is something state-owned lotteries have always done. Walsh could argue he is doing the redistribution more directly, by cutting out the need for a lot of grant applications. Or he might not.

“I invent a gambling system,” Walsh writes in the introduction to his book Monanisms. “Make a money mine. Turns out it ain’t so great getting rich using someone else’s idea. Particularly before he had it. What to do? Better build a museum; make myself famous. That will get the chicks.”

The extent of Walsh’s own fortune is unclear. He has a collection of properties in and around Hobart, one of which he co-owns with Ranogajec, along with the premium Moorilla Estate winery and vineyard and Moo Brew brewery.

It remains to be seen how Walsh views his own cash flow. Is Mona, with its stated $100 million worth of artworks, simply vanity spending? Is Walsh a patron in the traditional sense or should this be seen as an initial investment into a new realm of money-making ventures?

Features of the museum, with its iPod-based self-guide system, which explains exhibits while simultaneously collecting useful data for curators on what visitors are viewing and the length of time they spend at each artwork, along with a bar in the museum selling Moo Brew beers and Moorilla wines lend themselves to replication. A side project is the 10-day Mona Foma (Festival of music and art), which this year ran for the fourth time.

It may all be just another investment. The 50-year-old Walsh has already said in interviews he intends to exploit his high-profile attraction.

“I want to use Mona as a marketing tool to drive some products that I hope will make some serious money.” (Fairfax Media)


A serious man - 28th May 2012...






Tom Waterhouse just lost $400,000. It's 2.25pm on a Saturday in Melbourne and Waterhouse is working, with 20 of his staff, in his weekend "office", a gloomy bunker at Moonee Valley Racecourse. The course itself is a ghost town - there are no races here today - but the bunker, a low-ceilinged and exceedingly unglamorous space, is animated by the kind of urgency you see in a termite colony that has just been kicked. There are lots of computers, screens, mobiles, TVs tuned to six race meetings, and young guys with fashionable facial hair - Waterhouse's "wagering officers" - who yell out stuff like "The eight in Sydney to win $5000" or "$4000 each way on Top Fluc One!"

At the centre, meanwhile, is Waterhouse, standing at a high table, sucking on a vitamin C tablet. He is dressed in a dark-blue suit and mint-green tie. His eyes are blue, his skin pale, his teeth ruler straight and pearly white. On the table before him are four computer screens and 10 mobile phones, the numbers of which are known only to VIP clients, 100 "high net worth individuals" whose minimum bet is $1000. He won't tell me their names or, in fact, anything about them, except that all but one are men.

The first thing you notice about Waterhouse is that he is the exact opposite of what you expect. He doesn't drink alcohol or coffee, nor does he smoke or swear. Instead, he says "Oh, gosh". He is distractingly, almost distressingly polite: "When I first met him he was so nice I thought he was taking the piss," his marketing manager, Warren Hebard, tells me. Above all, he does not get ruffled. Getting ruffled would indicate either a lack of control, which he has in spades, or a surfeit of emotion, which he hasn't. And yet, like his mega-risk-taking grandfather, Bill, Waterhouse is known for taking on the biggest punters, for winning and losing bathtubs full of money in the course of an afternoon. In 2008, he lost $1.175 million in 10 minutes, only to make it all back by sundown. Not long after, he lost a further $2 million (for good, this time). When, this afternoon, it becomes apparent that he has just done $400,000 on one race, he issues only the slightest wince, pops another vitamin C and returns to his screens.

Waterhouse, who turns 30 this June, is the managing director of www.tomwaterhouse.com, one of Australia's largest corporate bookmakers. The company, which has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin, offers odds on not only thoroughbreds, harness racing and greyhounds but also on rugby league and rugby union, cricket, tennis, Australian rules and, as Hebard puts it, "every other sport you can think of, from Swedish handball to two flies crawling up a wall".

Waterhouse makes the most of his family name, which has been intimately associated with bookmaking and horse racing for 112 years. (His father, Robbie, still works as a bookie; his mother, Gai, is a celebrated trainer.) But his real business is in creating as many markets as possible for punters to wager on: Waterhouse now offers odds on everything from who will win Dancing with the Stars and the Miles Franklin Literary Award to the final sale price of painter Edvard Munch's masterpiece, The Scream. "As long as it meets my licensing conditions and it passes the smell test, meaning it's not too weird, I will bet on anything," he says.

Perhaps more than any other bookie, Waterhouse embodies the changes that have recently transformed Australian gaming. Ever since the easing, in 2008, of regulations governing cross-border betting and gambling advertisements, overseas and domestic bookmakers have been battling each other for a piece of the local market, where punters wager more than $20 billion a year. Corporate bookmakers such as the foreign-owned SportingBet and SportsBet barrelled in, going toe to toe with on-course operators, including Waterhouse, who had been working "on the rails" since 2003, building his VIP business under the tutelage of father Robbie and grandfather Bill. By 2008, Tom was Australia's biggest on-track bookie; at the Melbourne Cup that year, he held more than $20 million over four days, more than all the other bookies combined.

But there is only one Melbourne Cup a year. Thanks to the advent of pay TV and online gambling, normal race-day attendances plummeted throughout the 2000s. "I haven't been to the races in three years," Waterhouse says. "It's dead. At the same time, I realised people still want to have a punt, they just wanted to do it from their couch or on their iPhone."

And so, in 2010, Waterhouse launched his online business, which he promoted in a multi-million-dollar campaign of free-to-air, print and online advertisements, including paying $70,000 to have his face plastered on a Melbourne tram. The company now has 80,000 clients, boosted by the purchase last year of the databases of two corporate bookmakers who had recently gone bust. Waterhouse employs 60 staff, and is recruiting overseas for 40 more. Robbie Waterhouse calls the strategy "growing broke", explaining, "The business is expanding at such a rate that it requires every dollar Tom has."

According to Warren Hebard, the marketing spend is now $20 million a year, a mere fraction of company turnover, which he puts in the "hundreds and hundreds of millions".

Recently I had dinner with Waterhouse at Nobu, a Japanese restaurant in Melbourne's Crown complex, where he lives in a $1900-a-night villa apartment on the 31st floor. Waterhouse has a perfectly acceptable home in Sydney - an apartment in Balmoral on Middle Harbour, just around the corner from his parents, that he bought in 2009 for $3.5 million. But Victoria's more favourable gambling laws mean he spends half his life south of the border, necessitating a yoyo-like schedule of at least three business-class flights to Melbourne and back a week. Such an arrangement is fine for now - he and wife Hoda Vakili, whom he married last year, don't have any children, a situation Waterhouse plans to remedy.

"I want to have six kids," he says. "As soon as possible."

"Seriously?" I ask.

"Seriously," he says.

Thanks to his 2006 appearance on Dancing with the Stars (he was knocked out in the third round), and his frequent partying with the likes of Charlotte Dawson and Tim Holmes à Court, Waterhouse has become known as something of a red-carpet junkie. He certainly knows how to spend his money: there are the skiing trips to Aspen, the holidays in Italy and, of course, the yearly pilgrimage to London, where he attends Royal Ascot and picks up a new suit from his father's tailor in Savile Row. His marriage last year was similarly five-star: bucks' and hens' nights in London, ceremony in the Sicilian seaside town of Taormina, followed by, as one newspaper put it, "lunch in Switzerland" and the honeymoon in Monte Carlo.

Not surprisingly, plenty of people don't like Waterhouse. The consensus is that he is too rich, too young and too lucky. Others don't like the fact he's a bookie. "Self promoter, making $ off the misery of others," one tabloid newspaper reader commented after an article on him last year. When news emerged that Vakili had undergone emergency surgery in January after injuring herself in Aspen, readers responded with an outpouring of indifference: "Should wipe the smug smile off their faces for a few weeks at least," one wrote.

I'm as jealous as the next guy, but "smug" isn't the right word for Waterhouse, who, in person at least, is self-effacing to the point of invisibility. He is softly spoken and reflexively formal. "Mum thinks I dress very boringly," he says. "Always in a dark suit and white shirt." When he was nominated for the Cleo Bachelor of the Year Awards in 2005, he was one of only two people out of 50 who opted to keep their shirts on for the photo. (The other was Guy Sebastian.) For now, he says, his life is defined by work: he goes to bed at midnight and rises at 7am, and takes only one day off a week. "Until I was married I worked seven days a week," he says. "Even when I'm on holidays I'm on my computer six or seven hours a day."

He is partial to fast cars: he has owned a Porsche 911 and currently drives a silver Mercedes SLS Gullwing (retail price: $496,000). But to picture him driving it fast, let alone crashing it, is to picture the Pope smoking crack. His optimum mode of relaxation is going to the movies with Vakili, which he does at least once a week. "We'll get the choc tops, a Slurpee," he says. "It's really great."

He also likes tennis, though playing him requires a certain kind of patience. "This is the problem with Tom at tennis: he is so formulaic and robotic," friend Jason Dundas says. "He never goes for a winner, because he knows the formula is that whoever can hold the rally longest wins. And so he plays the game to never hit a foul, and just hits these lollipops; he never goes for that Rafael Nadal cross-court winner because he knows that the chance it will go out is higher than it will go in, and he calculates that all in his head and wins the game every time. It's so annoying."

It's impossible to separate Waterhouse from his family, which has, since the First Fleet, shown a Flashman-like knack for controversy. When Governor Arthur Phillip was speared by Aborigines at Manly in 1790, it was Lieutenant Henry Waterhouse who was there to pull out the spear; Henry also brought the first thoroughbred racehorse to the colony, along with the first merino sheep. Later the family operated a Sydney ferry service, ran pubs and a sly-grog operation, even dabbled in opium smuggling.

The first bookmaker in the family was Charles Waterhouse, who got his licence in 1898, but it was his son, Bill, who would take it to another level. Through a combination of brains, balls and ruthlessness, Bill, who had initially practised as a barrister, became arguably the world's biggest gambler, a "leviathan bookie" who in the 1960s took on high-stakes punters like "Filipino Fireball" Felipe Ysmael and "Hong Kong Tiger" Frank Duval in million-dollar betting duels.

With his suit, hat, tote bag and cigarettes - 100 a day at one stage - Bill, who turned 90 this year, epitomised the old-style bookie. In his autobiography What Are the Odds?, he writes about arming himself with a .38 Smith & Wesson in the 1970s, and about his various entanglements with gangster George Freeman, "marijuana salesman" Robert Trimbole and the late Kerry Packer, who apparently died owing him $1 million. ("You can go and get f...ed and whistle for it," Packer reportedly told him. "You'll get nothing from me.")

"I don't pretend to be Simon Pure," Bill Waterhouse writes. "I have sometimes cut corners to get what I needed, but I am certainly no crook." Yet his name has been associated with virtually every scandal in horse racing bar the death of Phar Lap. Chief among these was, of course, the Fine Cotton affair of 1984, in which a handy sprinter named Bold Personality was painted with Clairol hair dye and substituted for a weaker horse called Fine Cotton. Bill and son Robbie, who had put money on the horse, were both charged by the Australian Jockey Club with "prior knowledge" - something they have always denied - and banned from racetracks for 14 years.

Tom insists he can't remember much about it: "I was two years old!" he tells me. Nor did it feature much in conversation. "It's a little bit like religion; I try not to bring it up."

It's tempting to see in the younger Waterhouse a reaction, conscious or otherwise, to the family's picaresque backstory. But it seems Tom has always been serious. Like his father before him, he attended the elite Sydney private school Shore. But where Robbie had gained a name for running a student betting ring, Tom became a senior prefect and house captain. "He is a seriously, like very, very, very ambitious guy," long-time friend David Chambers says. "He controls his emotions, he doesn't let them control him."

Chambers, who grew up around the corner from Waterhouse, says "Tom was always super competitive ... and a little bit bizarre. One day he came to school and said, 'You guys are all taking sick days: that's soft. I am never going to take a sick day.' He just thought it would be fun. And we were all like, 'Yeah, whatever.' But he never did, the whole time we were at school."

Horse racing dominated the Waterhouse home. "It was always discussed around the dinner table," Robbie says. "Every aspect of it." Tom got his first horse, a Shetland pony, for Christmas when he was five. Yet he had no interest in an on-course career. Instead, after school, he started a commerce degree, majoring in finance and marketing, at Sydney University. "I wanted to go into finance," he says. "It seemed like a good industry to be in."

Then one day in 2001, Robbie asked him if he'd come and "help out on the bag" at Rosehill. "Within about 20 minutes I was hooked," he says. Waterhouse was only six months into his course, but he immediately rearranged his timetable, moving his classes to Monday and Tuesday so that he could attend the races for the rest of the week. He got his licence for the dogs, then for thoroughbreds. Coming from racing royalty had its advantages. Gai, daughter of legendary trainer Tommy J. Smith, taught him horses; Robbie taught him analysis. ("Dad still gets up every day at 3am so he can do seven hours studying all the results and times.") And Bill showed him how to gamble. (Bet bigger if you're winning, smaller if you're losing, and always keep an eye on cash flow.)

Yet there were mishaps. In 2007, one of Waterhouse's biggest punters, the CEO of a big listed company in the US, placed a bet with him of $1.2 million. As he had never taken a bet that big, Waterhouse laid off the risk by "betting back" $800,000 with other bookies. When the CEO's horse lost, "I thought, 'Oh gosh, I've won $400,000! I'm going to buy a Ferrari!' But come Monday I had to pay $800,000 to those other bookies while my guy took the knock [refused to pay]."

Waterhouse pursued the debt through the courts, but has never got all of it back. (Courts are a recurring motif with bookies. In 2010, Waterhouse was in the Federal Magistrates Court chasing $2.6 million that he said Sydney businessman Andrew Sigalla owed him. And in January this year he placed a caveat over brothel-owner Eddie Hayson's Parramatta Road business, Stiletto, as security for $1 million in gambling debts.)

The movement of money away from the track and onto the internet has done much to sanitise racing. "In the days of the SPs, if you took the knock they'd come round and cut your toes off," veteran race writer Max Presnell says wistfully.

The perils of 21st-century gambling are more prosaic. Addiction. Bankruptcy. Family break-up. Waterhouse was raised in a religious household. "We went to church every Saturday night," he says. "I still pray occasionally, just to reflect on family and loved ones." But the moral dimension of his business doesn't trouble him. "I always say to people who bet with me, 'Anything in excess is bad for you: shopping, eating, gambling.' "

When in doubt, he invokes what he calls The Toilet Test: "If you feel uneasy about the bet, if you need to duck off to the toilet all the time, then you're betting too much. It's like anything else - if you feel uncomfortable doing it, chances are it's not a great thing to be doing."

The boardroom of Waterhouse's North Sydney office is an impressive space: there's a giant antique table, a cabinet full of trophies and a life-sized portrait of Bill Waterhouse, form guide folded under his arm, standing beneath the Harbour Bridge. Tom is explaining how he prices his odds when I spot, high up in the cabinet, Bill's original white leather tote bag.

"Do you want to see it?" Tom asks excitedly.

"Yes," I reply, imagining it to be full of interesting stuff: betting stubs, track programs, old pencils worn to the nub. But when Tom opens it up, it's empty. "Oh," I say, disappointed.

"It's basically just like a big purse," Tom says. "That's the way it worked." (Fairfax Media)


When the crowd funds a flop, what next? - 29th May 2012




Backers of high-tech video glasses have had enough of waiting for their crowdfunded returns.

Crowdfunding website Kickstarter was used to raise $US340,000 for a project to build a pair of HD-video recording glasses, but almost a year on, people who invested in the project have not received their products and the project creators have seemingly disappeared.

Kickstarter has denied responsibility for a growing number of apparently failed crowdfunding projects, but donors who claim to have been ripped-off are fighting back.

Crowdfunding is a way for individuals to make their dreams a reality, as touted by websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo which provide the social media tools to tap friends, family, and their extended networks for the capital needed to build a product.

In the embryonic stages the quirkier ideas garner media attention and are oversubscribed, often raising more money than initially requested.

While the success stories are well-documented, there is a growing list of stillborn projects where money has been collected by the project owner (95 per cent) and by Kickstarter (five per cent) but donors haven't received their promised returns.

The websites stress the responsibility rests with the project owner and the donor - they shy away from calling them "investors" as this would attract different regulatory compliance - but some frustrated donors are taking action.

The ZionEyez project trajectory is typical other Kickstarter consumer tech product success stories, but so far it doesn't feature the same happy ending.

The four founders asked for $US55,000 to build Eyez, a pair of glasses that could record HD video. After extensive media coverage (including by Engadget, Mashable, Forbes and Rolling Stone) it raised $US343,415 from 2106 backers when the funding round closed on July 31.

Since then the founders have missed the original delivery deadline of the northern "Winter 2011" and donors' growing concerns over product delivery are not being directly addressed.

There are more than 850 comments on the project page, some asking for a class action, and including one donor's correspondence with ZionEyez.

"Thanks for reaching out to us. We will be releasing another engineering update for our KS Backers in the near future. Thanks for your patience and support!"

Bill Walker was one of the donors who committed the $US150 required to secure a pair of the glasses.
In an attempt to claw back the donations he built the site zionkick.com to organise legal action against the founders of the ZionEyez project.

They must provide a reasonable time for the product to be delivered, he said.

"At the present time we (interested backers) are playing the waiting game," Walker wrote via email. "We have to give them a period of time in which to perform before filing fraud charges. When a period of time elapses that would satisfy the legal eagles...then we attack. Until then we bide our time."
"Their attorney CEO knows the heat is on so he might be insisting they produce something, even if it's on the level of the $US59.95 products currently on the market. Produce anything that will satisfy the spirit of what they said they were going to produce.

"In the meantime Kickstarter takes their 5 per cent and insists the backer is totally responsible for vetting the money grubbers."

Kickstarter did not respond to specific questions about whether it would intervene in the ZionEyez project, and pointed to their frequently asked questions (FAQ) page which says the creator is responsible for fulfilling a project's promise.

"Kickstarter doesn't issue refunds since transactions are between backers and creators, but we're prepared to work with backers as well as law enforcement in the prosecution of any fraudulent activity. Scammers are bad news for everyone, and we'll defend the goodwill of our community."
ZionEyez did not respond to requests for comment.

Crowdfunding projects fall outside the general consumer protections afforded by the Australian Consumer Law and NSW Fair Trading's jurisdiction, according to a Fair Trading spokesperson.

This is because the project is not a form of business trading, and a consumer-supplier relationship does not exist. The risk is amplified when dealing with international sites, the spokesperson said.
"Whenever dealing with an entity that is from outside Australia, consumers should be aware that should something go wrong, redress can be much more difficult to achieve than when the trader is domestically-based," the spokesperson said.

Donors do have some avenues for legal recourse but this could be expensive, according to Rouse Lawyers special counsel Kurt Falkenstein, who specialises in start-ups and has helped some raise money via crowdfunding.

The crowdfunding websites should take responsibility, he said.

"The principles of contract law still apply to crowdfunding – and if you misrepresent or falsify information that induces someone to enter a contract, you are liable – so the terms and conditions of the crowdfunding platform are vital," Falkenstein said.

"The hard thing with contract law is enforcement – are you going to go to court over tens or hundreds of dollars?

"Consumer law may apply where goods or services are promised but not delivered – you can't promise to provide something and not do it – but then you are relying on the ACCC.

"For me, if hundreds or thousands of people are ripped off, the platform should help those people band together and enforce their rights."

There is always a risk that these websites can be exploited, according to Alan Crabbe, co-founder of local crowdfunding website Pozible. He did not respond to a question whether the site had any undelivered projects.

There are safeguards against this, including filtering projects based on national/state investment laws, checking the project creator and holding photo ID, and tracking unusual activity on projects, he said.

Crowdfunding websites are not legally responsible for failed projects, according to StartSomeGood.com co-founder Tom Dawkins, but this does not mean they won't be judged in the court of public opinion.
The key is to curate the projects , he said, so the sites, project creators, and donors are ensured of the greatest chance of success.

"We don't believe we are legally or functionally responsible but, after the project concludes, we know people will hold us responsible anyway."

"We reject a lot of projects because they're too fantastic and unachievable. We try and make sure that we do feel proud of every project on our site, that we feel comfortable and stand by it."

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Media Man News Update: Movies, Gaming, Casinos, Politics, Australia, Hollywood...

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PartyCasino.com Wins Media Man 'Online Casino of the Month'

PartyPoker And PartyCasino Owner bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plans Return to US Market

Worldwide Satellite Trailer Debut: “The Great Gatsby”; YouTube Warner Bros. Pictures

Australian Government may legalise live online gambling; NRL, Crown Limited; The Star, Marvel Games

CeBIT Australia; CeBIT platforms NSW tech projects; Award Winners - Sydney, Australia

Avengers smash $1 billion mark; Marvel Entertainment: The Avengers video game in the works...

The secrets of Sin City

Bikie Wars skids to under 1m for Ten

ABC, Star casino go to court over TV news report

Kerry Packer is Nine’s secret weapon

Casino Stocks Worth The Gamble

Labor and Communication Minister Stephen Conroy under attack over internet gamble

Russell Crowe Feared He Was Target of 'Hit'

Your Guide to 'Mad Men' and Advertising History

TNA claims WWE tried to poach its wrestlers

Worst Comic Book Ever!

Spotify Launches Down Under

News On Rock's New Movie, Legend At Comic-Con This Weekend, Brooke Hogan On FOX & Friends

WWE Attorney Responds To TNA Lawsuit, Says They Did The Right Thing

‘Marvel Heroes’ Online Game Gets First Preview (Video)

Resort experts welcome more non-gaming business

Hollywood action hero news: Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Expendables 2, The Tomb

An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical Plays Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star

Fightin' Fanboys: Dolph Ziggler

Business Matters: Bono Will Make Maybe $10 Million, Not $1.5 Billion, From Facebook's IPO

Facebook could kill the internet: Wolff

Naples Museum of Art to feature costumes from famous science-fiction movies, TV shows

TNA Files Lawsuit Against WWE, Ric Flair Mentioned In Suit

WWE News: Jericho "suspended indefinitely" following flag incident at Brazil house show, WWE issues statement

WWE STAR CHRIS JERICHO Suspended for Desecrating Brazilian Flag

JOHN CENA'S WIFE You Can't Divorce Me... Yet

A Much Closer Look At The Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man

Mashable’s Exclusive Q&A With Stan Lee: Here’s a Teaser [VIDEO]

bwin.party gets answer to Schleswig-Holstein question

Australian tourism can be saved by Chinese middle class to large casinos; Melbourne, Perth, Sydney

Wrestling with face paint, bodyart and human statues; Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Jeff Hardy...

What the Media has said about wrestling over the years

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

World's biggest gambling nations

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Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment PartyCasino.com PartyPoker.com Casinos Gaming Live Dealer World Casino Directory Global Gaming Directory

World's biggest gambling nations...

The world's biggest gambling nations include plenty of unlikely candidates.

Mention gambling and glitzy images of Las Vegas come to mind. But you'll be surprised to know Americans are not the world's biggest gamblers. In fact, the world's biggest gambling nations include plenty of unlikely candidates.

The rankings are based on data from H2 Gambling Capital, a consultancy based in London. They take into account average gaming losses (the amount bet and never recovered) in a year divided by the adult population in over 200 countries. The numbers include money lost on all types of betting including horse racing, poker machines, lotteries and casinos during 2010.

Read on to find out the countries with the biggest losers and the boldest gamblers.

10. Spain

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $389

Gaming was legalised in Spain in only 1977 and gambling of pure chance (slot machines) was legalised in 1981. Spaniards love to bet on everything from football to cards to the lottery.

Spain's Christmas lottery called "El Gordo", or the Fat One, is the only lottery draw in the world to award more than $1 billion in prizes. Last year, an estimated four in five Spaniards bought this lottery ticket, even at a price tag of 200 euros.

Lottery-crazy Spaniards helped Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, the organiser of the draw, to earn just under 10 billion euros in revenue last year.

Faced with a mounting fiscal deficit, the Spanish government plans to sell 30 percent of the company and raise up to 7.5 billion euros in the second half of 2011.

9. Greece

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $391

Greece boasts of one of the most legendary gamblers of all times - Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos. He died almost penniless at the age of 83 in 1966, having lost all his winnings, which were estimated to be worth almost US$500 million in 2009 in inflation-adjusted terms.

Lotteries are among Greeks' favorite ways to gamble. In 2010, the "Joker" lottery accumulated a record jackpot of 19 million euros.

The country is also home to Europe's biggest gambling company, OPAP, which has a market cap of about 4.1 billion euros. Its privatisation, to be finalized by 2012, could help the government pay off some of its debts.

8. Norway

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $416

Lotto, scratch cards, slot machines and football bets are Norwegians' favored ways to gamble. In a survey carried out by the government in 2008, 88 percent Norwegians confessed to being lifetime gamblers. It also found that gambling addictions occurred most frequently among young men who had previously played on gaming machines.

That's despite the fact that the country has made efforts to make gambling less accessible - reducing the number of slot machines in the country to 10,000 from 22,700 machines in July 2007.

That hasn't slowed Norwegians love for betting and many gamblers have turned to playing poker online forcing the government to threaten blocking or filtering online gambling operations.

The state-owned gaming company, Norsk Tipping falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs - and posted revenues last year of A$1.9 billion.

7. Hong Kong

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $468

Casinos are outlawed in Hong Kong, but the world's biggest gambling center, Macau is just an hour's boat ride away, and in the first-quarter of 2011, half a million Hong Kongers visited Macau.

Within Hong Kong, horse racing, lotteries and soccer betting are the only forms of gambling allowed. Little wonder, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a major draw and a cultural fixation in the territory. The club hosts some 700 races a year and earned A$2.5 billion in betting and lottery revenue in 2010.

The people of Hong Kong are famous for their gambling habits. According to a medical research carried out by the University of Calgary, an estimated one in 20 Hong Kongers have a gambling disorder.

Another survey by Hong Kong-based Caritas Addicted Gamblers Counseling Centre found that of the 1,040 students interviewed, more than half were introduced to gaming by their parents. And 41 percent said they started as young as age 6.

6. Italy

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $481

Italians' favorite gambling activity is to play electronic gaming machines such as slots. According to a 2010 study conducted by strategy and business advisory firm MAG Consulenti Associati, electronic gaming machines generated nearly half of Italy's total gaming revenues in the first half of 2010. During just that six-month period, gaming revenues totaled A$20.4 billion in the country.

Italy is also credited with inventing the popular game Baccarat, and for opening the world's first government-sanctioned casino in Europe back in 1638, called "The Ridotto" in Venice.

The Venetian government finally shut the casino's doors in 1774 in an effort to preserve the city's "piety, sound discipline and moderate behavior".

5. Finland

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $514

Forty-one percent of adult Finns gamble every week, according to a study by Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in 2007. The minimum age for playing on a slot machine has just been raised to 18 in July 2011, from just 15 previously.

But that's not the only quirk when it comes to Finland and gambling. The country's national lottery company, Veikkaus is entirely owned by the government and is actually run by the ministry of education. Most of the profits of the company are allocated to education, arts and culture.

The Paf Group of Finland, which runs an Internet gambling company, has an interesting "pay back" scheme for loyal customers. If you have spend at least 120 euros ($159.55) on its site and are certified by a medical professional to be suffering from a gambling addiction, you are entitled to a maximum of 10 therapy sessions, worth up to 2,300 euros ($3,057).

4. Canada

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $528

Over 75 percent of adult Canadians gambled on some form or the other, last year. The biggest gamblers come from the potash-rich province of Saskatchewan, which has an average gambling revenue per person (aged 18 and above) of $783, against a national average of $490.

The most common gambling activities in Canada are lotteries and Scratch and Win cards.

Canadians' love for lotteries runs deep, so much so, that the government has set up a national initiative to raise awareness that lottery tickets are inappropriate gifts for minors. This came after criticism of parents who often included a lottery ticket their children's Christmas stockings.

3. Ireland

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $547

Ireland's casino industry is currently entirely unregulated because the country is governed by an outdated Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. The law allows only bona fide members' club to provide casino services.

Under the Act bets on a gaming machine cannot exceed 6 pence while prizes are capped at 10 shillings. No wonder, the law cannot be enforced as the Irish pound has not been legal tender since 1999 and the country is now trying to enact new legislation.

The Irish government has just given the green light to build a Las Vegas-style sports and leisure complex in Tipperary at an estimated cost of 460 million euros ($668 million).

To be completed in three years, the venue will house a hotel, a casino, an all-weather racecourse, a greyhound track, a golf course and even a full-size replica of the White House, which will be used as a banquet facility.

2. Singapore

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $1,093

Singapore opened its first casino a little over a year ago but it's already the world's third largest-gaming center after Macau and Las Vegas and it's set to overtake Vegas this year.

The decision to allow casinos to be built in the city-state has created plenty of worries that Singaporeans may end up getting hooked to gambling. The government has tried to discourage local gamblers by imposing an entry fee of S$100 ($80.50) for citizens who want to enter a casino.

Authorities have also implemented a "Family Exclusion Order," that allows a family to ban relatives from visiting casinos.

But the measures have done little to dampen enthusiasm for gambling. Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, has forecast that Singapore's gaming revenue could hit A$5.9 billion in 2011, outpacing Las Vegas, which earned A$5.3 billion in 2010.

1. Australia

Gaming Losses Per Adult: $1,199

You know a nation is crazy about gambling when a gaming company offers people a chance to bet on whether the central bank will raise interest rates or not.

Besides that, Australia is the only place in the world that allows online wagering on sport but prevents gamblers from using the internet to place bets during live games. But that may soon change as the government has agreed to review laws following intensive lobbying from the country's major sports bodies.

Slot machines - known locally as pokies - are by far Australia's favorite game, with an estimated 75-80 percent of problem gamblers hooked on them, according to the country's Productivity Commission.

New South Wales, with 100,000 poker machines accounts for half of the nation's total number of poker machines. According to the state's Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, 935 gamblers registered themselves to be banned from casinos between 2006-2010, but were caught 1,249 times for breaching their own ban.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Australian tourism can be saved by Chinese middle class to large casinos; Melbourne, Perth and Sydney

Profiles

Australia Australian Casinos Macau Asia Travel and Tourism

"Chinese middle class is going to change the world"

James Packer says man-made attractions important

Mr Packer owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth and Macau

Sydney's The Star already attracting high roller VIP's

Non Packer casino and resorts also want in on the action





Profiles

Australia Australian Casinos Macau Asia Travel and Tourism Crown Melbourne Crown Perth The Star Entertainment Casinos

Sunday night's 60 Minutes report 'Packer's punt' got tongues wagging and telephones running hot across Australia - Melbourne and Perth (both home to existing Packer casinos) and 'Sin City' Sydney (site of the Barangaroo development).

Australia's flagging tourism industry can be saved by attracting the Chinese middle class to large casinos, Crown Limited chairman James Packer told the Nine network.

Mr Packer said recognising the Chinese middle class was as important as recognising the internet.

"It's like saying how big a deal is the internet," Mr Packer told his former business co-hearts Channel Nine.

"The Chinese middle class is going to change the world."

He advised Australia cannot rely on its natural beauty alone, because people are more drawn to man-made attractions.

"A lot of the Chinese tourists like man-made attractions as well as natural attractions," he said.

"We need to have better hotels, better restaurants, better shopping."

Mr Packer gave the United States as an example of how man-made attractions win over natural ones.

"Las Vegas gets 40 million people a year," he said.

"I think maybe the greatest natural attraction is the Grand Canyon. It's a half-hour drive from Las Vegas but gets about three million (visitors) a year."

Mr Packer owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth and Macau.

He also pointed out that casinos in The Philippines were doing well and contributed greatly to that country, and that he didn't currently have any casino interests there.

He said he was keen to secure a tables-only Sydney casino complex at Barangaroo to bring in more Chinese tourists.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week started yesterday and the NSW Government is encouraging problem gamblers to seek help.


Casino King James Packer really aiming for Echo Entertainment...

Gaming analysts believe billionaire James Packer would consider offloading some of Queensland's casinos if he is successful in acquiring the Echo Entertainment Group.

Greg Fraser, a senior analyst at Fat Prophets, said that Mr Packer's real goal in his expected takeover tilt for Echo was to snatch the scandal-plagued Star Casino in Sydney and merge it into his Crown group.


Cairns casino targeting Chinese tourists: Packer's Crown not the only option for Chinese punters...

The famous Pullman Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns is not letting gaming tsar James Packer have all the action when it comes to attracting cashed-up Chinese gamblers to his legal gambling dens.

Mr Packer said the struggling tourism industry could be saved by attracting Chinese middle class visitors to large casinos.

As well, he said many Chinese tourists liked man-made activities as well as natural attractions.

But Cairns casino chief exec Alan Tan said his venue established a China strategy some six years ago.

"I think, while the casino is important, we offer more than just that. The Great Barrier Reef is very important, especially when I talk to the Chinese who say they like to see the Reef and in the evening they like to enjoy time in the casino as well," Mr Tan said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said the casino was part of the overall experience for Chinese holidaymakers.

Cairns Airport chief executive officer Kevin Brown said the casino complemented other activities the Chinese tourists wanted to experience, including dining, shopping and cultural activities.

Casino marketing executive manager Richard Porter said its China strategy included the relocation of Cafe China restaurant to the casino, Chinese language signage and information.

He said casino reps frequented China at least six times a year, worked closely with inbound operators and leading Chinese businessman Harry Sou.

Mr Porter said when China Southern Airlines started flying to Brisbane the casino experienced a "giant leap forward" in Chinese visitors.

So there you go... Packer is far from the only switched on casino and gambling baron. It's going to be mighty interesting to see how Pullman's Alan Tan continues to fair in the Australian "casino wars", as Packer continues on his quest to also takeover Echo Entertainment operations, as well as push forward for his greater "Sin City" Sydney ambitions.

It's said "The house always wins" in casino talk, but can the trio of Crown, Pullman and Echo Entertainment all continue to win big time, or is something going to give (like a merger or acquisition)? Stay tuned as we continue to probe for developments.

*the writer is a shareholder in Crown Limited and Virgin Enterprises Limited

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Media Man News Report: Gaming, Movies, Wrestling, WWE, Marvel Entertainment, Disney...

News

PartyCasino Wins Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month'

What the media has said about wrestling over the years

The Avengers, Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Games, Spider-Man, WWE, Paramount Pictures, Celebrity

The Star Turns It On; Tonight in Sin City Sydney, Australia

Jury retires in Hudson family killings case

Travolta lawyer blasts second masseur sex lawsuit

Avengers sequel in the works

Johnny Depp promotes new movie in Japan

James Packer has lost 25kg since undergoing gastric bypass

Brooks discussed phone hacking with British PM

1st Fleet owner flee's country

Hulk Hogan: still runnin' wild

Now North Tce is on the revamp list

John Cena to Appear in Nickelodeon Film; Top 3 Movie Cameos by Wrestlers

Fleet's owner Stephen Brown leaves for US

Australian films prepare to storm Cannes Film Festival 2012

Police jitters over the 'glamorising' of bikies

Sacha Baron Cohen drops out of Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

The List: Facts about the Incredible Hulk

MARVEL Expands comiXology Partnership

Disney CEO Bob Iger realizes $26.6-million pre-tax gain from stock sale

'The Avengers' Will Cross $300 Mil Mark in U.S. Today

'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' of Wrestling?

'Django Unchained' Cursed? Fourth Star Drops Out of Quentin Tarantino Western

Beyoncé, Jay-Z 'moving to London'

The History of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan

Jerry Lawler Reveals Which Celebrity Should Be In The WWE Hall Of Fame

The Avengers, Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Games, Spider-Man, WWE, Paramount Pictures, Gaming, UFC

The Billionaire Brands

PartyPoker And PartyCasino Owner bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plans Return to US Market

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Putting a new spin on an old sales pitch (republished)

Profiles

Media Man Shane Warne Messages On Hold Markson Sparks! Max Markson Greg Tingle Publicity Marketing Brands

In September of this year, supermodel and paparazzi favourite, Kate Moss, was unceremoniously dropped by H&M for "shock drug use" (H&M apparently never realising that drug use existed in the modelling world). Kate also lost lucrative contacts with Channel and Burberry within a few weeks of this incident. And while other managing directors around the world prayed that their celebrity spokespeople would remain model corporate citizens, the managing director of telephone audio production company, Messages On Hold, was headed in the opposite direction. Defying convention wisdom, Kym Illman was about to team up with a new spokesperson that had been dropped by previous sponsors for being risky and unpredictable. Messages On Hold bought Shane Warne.

It was a decision as bold as it was controversial. Was this move sheer stupidity or, in fact, the greatest piece of spin seen outside of a cricket ground? Illman suggests it was a little bit of both.

The story begins, as they often do, in the men's toilet. It was November 2003. At a function with the legendary leg spinner, Illman remembered being impressed with Shane's passionate, energetic style, believing these traits made the cricketing personality the perfect face for his company. Illman scribbled a proposal on a card and suggested that, for a sum of money, they might do business together. Either he never read the card or the figure was lower than Warne's batting average. Either way, Illman received no reply.

Clearly the time wasn't right for Warne to join the Messages On Hold team, but Illman wasn't daunted. The seed had been planted, and for the next 18 months the Adelaide-born businessman continued to push the idea with Warne's manager (and brother), Jason. Finally, in October 2005, Warne and Illman came to an agreement. Shane signed a long-term deal with the business, and the year's most attention-grabbing endorsement contract was born.

While the star power of Mr Shane Warne is indisputable (he was recently rated number 3 in Alpha magazine's list of the "Most Influential People in Sport"), just what do the two parties have in common? Upon first inspection, the 'messages' connection is obvious - until you realise it's nothing of the sort. Shane may have been famous for sending one too many messages in his time, but Messages On Hold has nothing to do with texting.

Established in 1988 after Illman was sacked from Channel 9 (so perhaps they do have something in common?), Messages On Hold was started from the spare bedroom of Illman's modest Scarborough flat. He began writing and recording audio productions for businesses to play back to waiting callers on hold.

The concept was canny enough for others businesses to warm to, and when it was combined with an unparalleled commitment to customer service (Messages On Hold's clear competitive advantage), it proved a runaway success. The company went international in 2002, and today is the largest provider of On Hold Messages in the Asia-Pacific region. However, this doesn't change the fact that the service has nothing to do with text messaging or mobiles. Perhaps this is just as well. Even with the exquisitely planned national PR campaign (with assistance from Sydney's Markson Sparks), Shane's credibility in this particular playing field is dubious at best. His behaviour, put simply, just isn't cricket. Synergy was built instead upon Shane's personality. Like Messages On Hold (famous for ambush marketing everything from the 1996 and 2000 Olympics to the ambush king himself, Richard Branson), Shane Warne is cheeky, brash and passionate. Shane is also the best at what he does - an achievement Messages On Hold is more than happy to associate itself with. It's this latter trait that the company chose to promote, and was integral to the campaign launch.

Kym's existing spin doctor, Greg Tingle (from Media Man Australia), was already creating groundswell about the pending launch in November. Around this time, Illman then brought PR veteran Max Markson (of Markson Sparks) into the fray. Having already worked with Shane on the Advanced Hair campaign, Markson was the perfect man for the job. His philosophy was simple - keep the past in the past and Shane's profile (currently at an all-time high following the Ashes) would do the rest.

The objectives were clear - to launch the campaign with as much media coverage as possible, and to create public awareness of Messages On Hold (both the company and the concept). The result was electric. Interest was widespread around the country, nowhere more so than in Melbourne where the press conference was to take place.

To capitalise on this, on November 11th (the day of the launch), teams of chalk artists daubed Messages On Hold logos on street corners around Melbourne and Sydney to further pique the public's interest and build awareness of the company. The press conference itself took place that morning at Melbourne's Junction Oval, with Shane fielding questions from the media alongside Illman. Photo opportunities then followed, as Warnie played a game of cricket with models dressed as Messages On Hold receptionists. Select one-on-one media interviews were scheduled immediately after this, and a nationwide videoconference drew the day's activities to a close.

The press launch over, Messages On Hold then got down to the business of big business. As the media packed up their cameras in Melbourne, telemarketers in the company's Perth office began playing pre-recorded sales offers to prospects around the country, voiced by Warnie. A viral video did the rounds and signed Shane Warne memorabilia was suddenly up for grabs to both new and existing Messages On Hold clients. Shane Warne had successfully swapped the cricket pitch for the sales pitch.

Not surprisingly, the reaction from press and public alike was huge. Most major papers in the country (and many overseas) featured the story; it also made headlines on radio and TV news bulletins around Australia. The press couldn't resist making the connection between Shane's messaging past and Messages present, and though the media was quick to realise there was no real connection, the level of interest was high enough to make the story hot news.

Weeks later it still is, with columns and panels alike debating the controversial nature of the partnership. However, thanks to a cheerful admission regarding the ironies involved and Shane's good-natured acceptance of some ribbing from the press, the media's take on it was universally a positive one.

Let's be honest. What makes this case study so interesting is the danger inherent in it. We've followed the story with nervous excitement, as if it were a natural disaster or terrorist outing. At the end of the day, however, the media loves Shane. He's always news (even when that news isn't good) because he never gets upset at them. Shane knows to let the press get their story without taking it personally, and in their eyes that makes him a larrikin not a liar, a champion not a cheat. Always one to play the game, he keeps the journalistic beast at a respectful distance, which in turn allows agencies like Markson Sparks (and through them, Messages On Hold) to ride that beast to their own ends.

Messages On Hold counted on this shaky relationship to take their business into every home around the country, and it's paid off. Less than two weeks on, the company has enjoyed more than half a million dollars worth of publicity. What if though, as many have asked, history repeats itself and Shane is embroiled in yet another scandal? Suffice it to say, Illman's PR agency has damage control measures at the ready. As Illman says, "There is a level of risk in sponsoring any athlete or celebrity, but no business gets to where we are today by playing it safe. I guess time will tell if the decision has been a good one."

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wrestling with face paint, bodyart and human statues; Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Jeff Hardy, Lord Tensai and more, by Greg Tingle

Profiles

Human Statue Bodyart Eva Rinaldi Wrestling Jeff Hardy Hulk Hogan Face Painting Sydney Australian Sports Entertainment




Pro wrestling is different things to different people, but it's widely accepted as one of the most popular forms of entertainment - especially for men and kids.

Every week millions of fans tune into television to watch promotions like the famous WWE and Impact Wrestling.

Pro wrasling may be as American as apple pie, but Australia is one of the world's biggest non U.S fan bases, and we back it up with impressive PPV buy rates via Foxtel as well as weekly top 10 number crunching for programs such as RAW and SmackDown!

There are many elements that make the pseudo sport exciting. The spectacular moves, the amazing bodies, the ring entrances, the storylines, the costumes and face paint. Say what - face paint! Yes, even most casual fans would have heard of the man they call Sting (currently with Impact Wrestling, but featured on the WWE website), Jeff Hardy, The Ultimate Warrior, and let's also include the recently renamed WWE super heel - villain, Lord Tensai (tattoos and bodyart galore). It also appears that current WWE champion Sheamus aka 'The Great White', uses a little white paint or some other substance on his chest area (you need to look closely, but check out the WrestleMania 28 footage and judge for yourself).

We think that Australian pro wrestlers might soon more readily adopt face painting as another way to help stand out from the pack.

Famous Pro Wrestling Stars With Face Paint...

Sting




The Man Called Sting. Icon or not, he has an impressive pro wrestling body of work and knows how to work the crowd.

He has the 'It Factor' and is almost as famous for his face paint, as he is his matches with fellow legend Ric Flair.

His red version of the paint during his time in the NWO Wolfpac was something to behold.

He even had previous face paint along the lines of Ultimate Warrior styling when he still had blond hair and more recently at Impact Wrestling with Joker type face paint. No wonder WWE seem to be making a play to sign Sting, or at least to have him officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

The different changes have lent him to using his face paint as both intimidation and character enhancement.


Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal)




Considered by many as one of the greatest tag teams of all time, if not the greatest, The Road Warriors both had simple but awesome face paint.

Hawk and Animal had their Mad Max-inspired gimmick down to a science, spiked shoulder pads and all.

This face paint seems to be a combination of character inspiration and intimidation.

RIP Hawk. Ah, what a rush!


Jeff Hardy




Jeff Hardy aka 'The Charismatic Inigima' might just be the king of the face paint in professional wrestling.

His use of face paint is pure character enhancement, but nobody has ever done it better.

He changes it frequently, and usually it comes up looking amazing. Most hardcore fans will tell you that Hardy's face paint has been better and more creative in Impact Wrestling than in the WWE. Maybe Hardy has more control in his current promotion, which is also a scary thing. Great paint, and well done on cleaning up your act Jeff, if we should believe the press.


The Ultimate Warrior

The Ultimate Warrior had some of the coolest face paint of all time.

Some have noted a dash of Batman themes in the mix.

Add the paint to the interviews, chiseled body and unique and crazy ring style, and this guy was one of a kind wacko (and successful). Will Triple H bring back the Warrior? Stranger things have happened, and Triple H has hinted via the WWE website and leaked elsewhere that he would be interested in getting a 1-2-3 over Warrior, so stay tuned.


Demolition

I can remember it like yesterday "I'm Axe and "I'm Smash" and we're going to kick your stinking teeth in". The them went something like "Here comes the Ax and here comes the Smasher. The Demolition is coming to get ya". Red, black and silver have never looked so good (or scary).

Like The Road Warriors, Demolition also employed a Mad Max-inspired theme in their gimmick.

Demolition seemed to use their paint as intimidation and character enhancement.


The KISS Demon

The KISS Demon was created with a licensing agreement with KISS the band. Supposedly the beginning of a stable that was to include wrestlers modelled after each of the KISS band members. Only The Demon came to pass, and it didn't last. Another WCW idea that went south. I would have trusted my marketing and promotion with KISS top brass Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley more than with the then WCW marketing department. How about you KISS Army fans?


The Powers of Pain (The Warlord and The Barbarian)

The Powers of Pain was a team that consisted of the Warlord and The Barbarian. Managed by Mr. Fuji, who for a few years was one of best managers in my estimation. Their face paint was fairly generic but nevertheless intimidating.

After the team split up, they both stepped away from using facepaint and each gained a new manager—Warlord being paired up with Slick and Barbarian joining Bobby Heenan.


The Missing Link

The Missing Link was a character not so unlike to that of George 'The Animal' Steele and Madog Vachon - a crazy man that needed a handler to bring him to the ring and keep him under control.

He would repeatedly smash his own head into turnbuckles during matches and use his head as a weapon (but in reality his forearm appeared to take most of the blow). Kayfabe!

His face paint seemed to be geared more towards furthering his character.

'Dewey' Robertson passed away in August 2007. RIP.


Yoshi Tatsu

Yoshi wrestled in WWE for some time before debuting the above look.

During a feud with Tyson Kidd, where he was written off of television for a few weeks, Yoshi debuted this look when he returned citing it as a tribute to The Great Muta and his Japanese heritage. You have to long his ring entrance music and video, but his win - loss record is not on par with the rest of his act. Maybe he would have had more impact 10 years ago. Sadly we will never know. Tipped to enter a feud with Lord Tensai at some point, judging by Twitter, or might soon end up being shown the door, thanks to new WWE talent coming in. We like your work Yoshi and hope things pick up for you whatever happens.


Kamala The Ugandan Giant

The Ugandan Giant wrestled mainly in the 80's and 90's and his gimmick was that of a head hunter. Slap that huge belly. Recently told some dirt sheets that he wasn't happy with his paydays and guys like Hogan were making millions. Kamala, you were never Hogan (but we get your point).


Vampiro

Was a very good wrestler, especially by old WCW standards.

He has mainly competed in smaller organizations and wrestled in WCW for awhile. Face paint was simple, but effective.


Bull Nakano

Competed in Japan for most of her career. Many fans from North America know Nakano from feuding with Alundra Blayze / Madusa in WWE and WCW.

Her face paint is fairly understated most of the time save for the crack like streaks down her face.

Nakano is understood to have given professional golfing a swing!


Papa Shango

The man that would go on to become Kama and The Godfather. A good gimmick (geared to kids).

His voodoo gimmick of causing wrestlers to vomit and ooze oily looking stuff out of their heads was only enhanced by his skull inspired face paint.


The Great Kabuki

The man credited with being the first to blow 'Asian Mist' into his opponent's face has pretty cool face paint. Almost looks like he was on the receiving end of the Asian Mist himself.

He held a series of retirement matches in 1998 and was always a very solid worker.


The Great Muta

The Great Muta has had many different styles of face paint throughout the years.

Mostly known in North America for his stints in WCW and short time in WWE, Muta has always been a top wrestler wherever he has competed.

Changed over to wearing a mask since shaving his head. Check out Muta VS Hogan which took place in Japan about 15 years ago. Classic.


Hakushi

The whole gimmick of Hakushi 'tatooing' his face and body with Kanji characters was very cool. Very good worker.


Goldust

Dustin Rhodes eccentric character has one of the coolest paint jobs ever. You have to love the Hollywood theme and intro, and how about the trademark promo "You will always remember the name... GOLDUST".


Umaga

The Samoan Bulldozer was awesome. Umaga's face paint appeared to be an extension of his tribal tattoo art that he had across the rest of his body.

Umaga used his face paint to enhance his character and as a source of intimidation to his opponents with it resembling war paint of certain tribes.

Sadly, Eddie Fatu passed away in 2009. RIP.


Damien 666

While the colours and styles of Damien 666's paint changed throughout the years, the number 666 has always emblazoned his forehead.

Wrestling for most of his career in Mexico, Damien uses his paint as a character enhancer as well as for intimidation purposes.


The Bogeyman

If any gimmick was perfect to have face paint associated with it, the Boogeyman is it. He made a few alterations to it throughout his WWE career, but all consisted of a blood red backdrop on to which he superimposed other weird things.

His apparent eating of worms added additional intimidation factor to the whole gimmick.


Others

Lord Tensai, a major heel (villain) in the WWE has heavy face and body tattoos and body piercings, most if not all of which are legit. A former name he wrestled under was 'Prince Albert' (look it up and draw your own conclusions). A tough and legit SOB with loads of talent. Give the hardcore fans more time and they should come around and back him up more in current WWE storylines.


So wrestling and face paint fans. There you have it.

Got a wrestling match or fancy dress party coming up? Why not contact face painting and costume specialists, Human Statue Bodyart, for more details about how you can bring your pro wrestler to life. Masks and other costumes and accessories are also available.

Thank you to the extremely talented pro wrestlers who keep entertaining the fans each week, and Sting, Jeff Hardy and friends... please keep wowing us with your artistic creations.

That's it for the wrestling and face painting unmasked news today, but stay turned for developments as the countdown towards AWF 'Australia VS The World' and WWE 'Over The Limit' continues.

*The writer is the business manager of Human Statue Bodyart, Eva Rinaldi Photography and the director of Media Man and Australian Sports Entertainment.

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