In the week since our week of blogs leading up to our nation's 237th birthday, we've been overwhelmed by the serious interest from veterans and the people who love them in our television series project OPS-USA. We've been spending all our time writing copy for our website, http://www.ops-usa.com, updating the media on the site, learning to tweet and interact on Facebook, answering emails and generally trying to keep up with the enormous interest this project seems to be generating.
All the while we've been swamped with all this, I've tried to keep up with the goings-on in the country by checking in on the news from time to time. But I couldn't find much of anything on the economy, immigration, women's rights or gay rights. They weren't even doing much bashing of President Obama on Fox News. Suddenly it seems as though the rest of the country is transfixed by the trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Trayvon Marton in February of 2012. It was everywhere. It was OJ Simpson redux. One network even rolled out Marcia Clark, one of the prosecutors from the OJ trial for her "insights."
As I watched this media circus unfolding, I was reminded of a scene from the HBO series Newsroom, written by the incomparable Aaron Sorkin. (It's worth getting HBO just for this series.) At a New Years Eve party, Will McAvoy, the series' crusading news anchor hero played brilliantly by Jeff Daniels, is trying to pick up gossip columnist Nina Howard. In the course of his flirtation, Will asks Nina what she's working on. She responds, "A 'take down piece' on Britany Giancarlo the drunk golddigger on The Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Will is not familiar with take-down pieces or Brittany and doesn't understand why anyone would be interested in her. When Nina tries to equate what she does to what Will does by saying she's watched him do a take down piece on the tea party for six months, he goes berserk: "I try to expose the truth about things of national importance."
Nina counters, "I'm trying to expose the fact that Brittany may have had a daughter while she was a teenager who is now 10 and being taken care of by her mother."
Will wonders incredulously, "Why is that a concern of anyone besides Britanny, her alleged daughter and her mother?"
To which Nina responds, "It's not a concern, it's entertainment.
Will answers, "Well, it shouldn't be."
Then in an "attempt to assuage Nina's growing anger, and appeal to her better nature, he offers that she is smarter and better than that: "You don't have to write gossip. You can be part of the change. What you do is a really bad form of the pollution that is making us dumber and meaner and destroying civilization."
He concludes his sweet talking rant by saying that, "professionally speaking," he would have more respect for her if she were a heroin dealer. To which Nina responds by saying "F*** you" and throwing a drink in his face.
It is a delicious scene that captures America's obsession with the bright shining "entertainment" objects of our culture over the real, consequential concerns that impact our own lives.
At first this all really bothered me until I realized that OPS-USA has this same appeal built into our series. Only in our case, our bright shining objects, the "A Team" of real veterans who are our heroes, are doing important things and engaging Americans in issues that impact them and their communities while they're entertaining them with the drama of their real lives and relationships. So we can both entertain and inform. We're a part of the change!
If you want an example of what I mean, click on the link that follows. It's a sample of the kind of people we want to cast on our OPS-USA team of real veterans. These people are not our actual cast members, but they are real veterans and we know that we can find six or seven people to be the cast of our show who are just as engaging, just as smart, just as talented, just as inspirational as these folks. After you've viewed it, maybe you'll think of someone you know who could be part of our team. If you do, please tell us about them on our website at http://www.ops-usa.com, or on our Facebook page. Join us in being part of the change.
In the meantime, check out our casting reel. We're looking for a few good men and women. And maybe a dog. Have a great weekend.
OPS-USA Casting demo: http://vimeo.com/37998871
NOTE: The individuals, videos and associated organizations used in this casting video are used for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to imply participation or support on the part of these individuals or their associated organizations.
Follow Peter Calabrese on Twitter: www.twitter.com/opsusa_vet