Category Archives: Media

10 Media tips from Jay Onrait

Jay Onrait is successful (duh).  The broad strokes of his resume are: 10+ years hosting SportsCentre on TSN, 4 years on FS1 (FOX Sports 1) in the US, and 2 best-selling books.  He’s set to return to TSN in September with Dan O’Toole….Canadians haven’t been this jazzed since the Golden Goal.

Jay was the keynote speaker at NAIT’s annual Media Broadcast day Saturday.  If you’re thinking about getting into the Media, here are the Top 10 Tips I took from his presentation:

  1.  Establish industry contacts early and put together a “demo” ASAP (read “What Color is your Parachute” for more on this)
  2. There is no replacement for face-to-face conversation when looking for a job.
  3. Embrace any city/town you land in.
  4. Find common ground with others to get over personality conflicts and always turn the other cheek.
  5. Remember:  you’ll always be working when your friends and family are not.  Get used to it.
  6. Don’t judge anything/anybody/anyplace until you get there and see/meet/experience it/them for yourself.
  7. Get used to hearing “no” a lot.  Lose your sensitivity to it, but never stop asking.
  8. Writing is STILL the most important skill in this industry.  Find a reason and an outlet to do it more.
  9. For that first job, be willing to move anywhere.  Your first job is the toughest one to get.
  10. As of now: your social media existence is different.  Be a professional because anything you say can and will be used against you.
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Explaining the RHCP Super Bowl Fake

The Red Hot Chili Peppers admitted to not performing live Sunday at the Super Bowl in New Jersey.  Anthony Kiedis WAS singing (to a backing track of his own voice) but the band admitted to miming along to a track they had recorded specifically for the big half time show.  People are outraged.  Fans of the band are blaming the Super Bowl brass for “stripping” the band of their artistic right to perform live.  Others are using this as an opportunity to attack the band on the grounds that they couldn’t have performed well enough to entertain the masses in the stadium and at home live anyway.  Everybody is pointing a finger at everybody else like some sort of perverse Mexican Standoff.  All the while -in the shadows- the entity responsible for the controversy goes unnoticed, unchecked and unchallenged: The Media.

The Media have trained the average music consumer into accepting a performance myth.  The myth that a live performance should/can sound as sharp, pitch-perfect and as spot-on as the recorded performance they hear on the radio.  Consumers have been told to demand their cake (recorded songs that are well written and performed) and eat it too (be able to enjoy them in an unreasonable live setting; like at a Super Bowl).

If the band were actually allowed to plug-in and play live, the performance you would have seen and heard on the couch in your living room Sunday would have very different; and it certainly wouldn’t have been the same spectacle.  How much of Flea’s bass would have been drowned out by the sound of fireworks, explosions and general thrashing around?  And how entertaining would have it been -really- to watch Kiedis tone it down a little in order to focus on hitting as many of the notes in “Give it Away” as possible?  I say: not very.

The Media have done a masterful job over the last four or five decades training consumers to believe the unbelievable, and now that the curtain can no longer stay closed (thanks Internet!) John and Jane Doe don’t want to believe the truth.

Rappers vs Rockers: pretending and performing.

Why are Rappers (generally) better actors than Rockers (generally)?   Both groups are made up of artistic, expressive and skilled communicators.  They take the stage and rock the mic.  They sling the axe down low and snarl.  Being a successful member of either of these groups requires an element of performance ability.  So why can Mick Jagger act like a rock star on stage but bomb as a thespian (Free Jack), while Ice Cube does the same on stage and was “this close” to a Oscar nod for Boyz in the Hood?

Laugh if you want, but DMX has a dozen films under his belt, including a role in the upcoming “Expendables 3”.  Cube was – at one point- a leading man in major studio action movies (xXx: state of the union).  Eminem’s “8 Mile”, in addition to making millions world wide,  holds a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.   Eminem was both critically and commercially successful.  This isn’t a new trend either, its been happening for decades:  Rappers are successful actors.

Ice-T has been so successful as an actor, there’s a generation of people who have no idea he was once a Rapper (the same goes for Will “Fresh Prince” Smith).  Ice has been making movies, and been on TV, for over 30 years.  I can assure you that NBC would fire him if the ratings for Law & Order: SVU  tanked.  The guy is good as his job: and his job is to pretend.

To refresh your memory, here’s a short list of Rockers failing at acting:

-Tom Petty in “The Postman”

-Jon Bon Jovi in “U-571”

-Sting in “DUNE”

-David Bowie in about a dozen films you’ve never heard of

-Jack White in “Cold Mountain” (not a failure, but it didn’t exactly spawn more roles either…hold on, his “Elvis” was spot on in Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story)

What does this tell us about Rock and Rap music in the realm of authenticity?

This is my theory:  Rockers are bad actors because they are unable to “act” or “pretend”, in a convincing manner, to be anything more than a hyper version of themselves.  Josh Homme is charming, quirky, handsome and enchanting.  But, he can only ever be JOSH HOMME when he is performing on stage, in studio or on tv during an interview.  In all other instances, he’s just Josh Homme (emphasis on the CAPS).  Inherently, this makes what Rockers sing, scream and swing about more genuine.  And by the same token: Rappers have the opposite issue.

Because Ice Cube seems just at home rapping about stomping the LAPD on “The Predator” as he does yucking it up on screen in the family-friendly, slap-stick “Are We There Yet?” tells me that Cube isn’t really “anything” at all.  How can I take the messages of social injustice in his lyrics seriously when I KNOW he’s an ace at pretending?  I get suspicious.  On the other hand, because  Jack White’s emotions are not convincingly malleable (when it’s not a 10 second cameo as Elvis), I’m more to believe and identify with the reality I see on stage and hear on the radio.

Is rock music more authentic, more real and more genuine because its performers are less likely to be able to convince me of anything else besides the reality they depict in their music?  This essay says “yes”.

Full Disclosure.  While writing this piece, I came up with a decent list of Rockers who have strong acting chops: 

Jared Leto- this guy is a great actor and an overated rocker.

Hugh Dillon – this guy is both an great actor and rocker.

Dave Grohl – he’s the Devil in “Tenacious D and the pick of Destiny”.  Nuff said.