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» More News for Monday July 2, 2007

News Round up for Monday, July 2, 2007

07.02.07 | technician | In flint, art, windsor, downtown, auto, transit, roundup, economy, film

It’s More Than Meets The Eye For GM And Its 4 ‘Transformers’

“You’re going to see these cars as the heroes. You’re not going to see the other actors,” said Dino Bernacchi, GM’s associate director of branded entertainment. “These cars are the stars, literally, in the movie.”

The word “Camaro” is mentioned a handful of times by various characters, and close-ups of the Chevy, Pontiac, GMC and Hummer logos get ample screen time.

“Product placement has never been so blatant, and the potential for a global platform to build brand awareness could not have come at a better time for GM,” said David Koehler, a clinical-marketing professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“In many ways, we couldn’t have made this movie without a company like GM,” he said.

Will it pay dividends for the most Detroit member of the auto industry? Surely it will to some extent but it will be a long time before you can say whether it was worth it. But it does show that Detroit products will continue to be a part of American pop culture.
[via CNNMoney.com]

Dirty bomb would cause panic, cost billions: Study

The study led by Defence Research and Development Canada predicts economic costs of up to $8.75 billion should a similar americium-laden device be set off outside Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium – a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics – and as much as $2.25 billion if one exploded near the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit.

Maybe Canada gets it and the United States doesn’t. There is more to terrorism than airplanes. And making it more difficult for people to cross the border won’t necessarily make it more difficult for someone to bring and set off a bomb at the border. Is there a more economically important border crossing in America than the ones over the Detroit River?
[via Toronto Star]

Now’s the time to overhaul Amtrak

Amtrak ridership is growing across the country.

In Michigan, it’s exploding.

The number of passengers on the Grand Rapids-Chicago route alone jumped 75 percent between 2001 and 2006. That increase is something to whistle about.

Not to mention the great increases in the already high Detroit-Chicago route that starts from Pontiac which operates at a profit. Meanwhile, despite Amtrak’s recent positive track record the president keeps decreasing funding at a time when our national passenger rail service needs a capital infusion to invest in improving service to continue to attract even more passengers every year.

Federal law requires freight trains to yield to Amtrak on shared lines, but too frequently they don’t. Passenger trains are sidetracked while freight carriers rumble through. That, too, would be addressed in the pending legislation, giving the government more tools to go after violators. In addition, Amtrak has not always had a sterling record when it comes to customer service and efficiency. That must be addressed.

Clearly, Michigan wants passenger rail service — more and more of it. Congress can give that to the state and the country by promising steady funding that will build up the national passenger train system. In an age of rising energy costs and a national thirst for foreign oil, that’s the right track to follow.

When topics like energy security and terrorism are in the news constantly we seem to forget that Amtrak offers a solution to the former and requires more protection from the latter, at least proportionally to the same extent that the airline industry gets.
[via Kalamazoo Gazette]

Canadians toast 140 years

In Windsor, Ont., an estimated 50,000 people lined an avenue for a very cross-border Canada Day Parade. It featured 45 entries from Michigan, Wisconsin, New York and Ontario, and included the Lutheran Vanguard marching band from Wisconsin and the Canadian Cowgirls performing troupe.

Don’t forget that when American Independence Day approaches, it’s also time for Canada Day!
[via Montreal Gazette (subscription)]

Financial incentives cast Michigan as great venue for film, TV …

Nearly six months after the state approved new cash incentives to lure movie, TV and commercial filming to the state, three productions have taken advantage of the offer, said Janet Lockwood, director of the Michigan Film Office.

This spring, New Line Cinema’s “Semi-Pro” spent eight days shooting at the Michigan State Fairgrounds and various locations in Flint, Lockwood said. The movie features Will Ferrell and Andre Benjamin in a comedy set in the 1970s about the fictional Flint Michigan Tropics basketball team.

In February, opening scenes for “Jumper,” starring Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson, were filmed in Ann Arbor and the Downriver area. The Doug Liman movie tells the tale of a teenager with teleporting powers who’s on a quest to find the man responsible for the death of his mother.

No place in Michigan benefits more from filmmaking than Detroit, the venue most requested by production companies looking for gritty industrial landscapes like those seen in “Out of Sight,” filmed in 1997.

The city would like to build a film district, said Al Fields, director of the Detroit Film Office. He envisions a large building with sound stages, offices and studios that would serve as a film incubator for the area.

Many were skeptical whether tax breaks would really work as an incentive to bring more film industry dollars to Michigan. Apparently it’s working. Even the new Transformers movie has scenes filmed in Detroit. Some of us already recognize the many assets that Detroit and Michigan offer as film settings. We just need to get the word out. Furthermore, we need to support the burgeoning local film industry although perhaps not with tax breaks. Unfortunately with the state’s budget as it is the government is under pressure to cut funding of arts programs which would include support for local filmmakers.
[via Detroit Free Press]

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