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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Saturday morning, exhausted beyond my own believing, I slept in, only to be awakened by Tripp, who has, unfortunately been the harbinger to me of great events, telling me that the day had already started badly: the Columbia Shuttle had been lost.

It was enormously painful for me to hear that a shuttle had been lost. When the Challenger blew up I nearly rear ended the car in front of me in Los Angeles.

I am a huge advocate of the space program. It is something I have believed in since I was a little child. And since I was a little child I have known that lives would be lost in the process. It is the price of conquering the unknown. It was the price that was paid by the first sailors who went out into the Atlantic seeking a New World.

And while we mourned the seven astronauts, a photograph of how I see America, families were buying young men killed in an accident in Afghanistan.
These events have cast a pall upon our world.

While we have been dealing with the Columbia disaster the world was also moving closer to war - and I find it almost impossible to comprehend. It fills me with such mixed feelings. I understand so much of why we might go to war and yet there is a part of me that cannot believe that we might go to war.

Yet, of all the people in the administration, I trust Colin Powell the most and as he was giving his speech I was riding in a taxi down the FDR, looking at the United Nations building in the distance, knowing that as I was in that taxi, history was being made.

Driving down the streets of New York with one of my clients, we were talking about the state of the economy of New York and John's feeling is that things in New York are worse than anyone admits. We haven't admitted how difficult thing s are nor that they were likely to get worse.

In television, programs are being sold but the price for programming sinks and where there were once thirty major post production facilities in New York there are now only three - and they are underutilized. Technology and budgets have resulted in the closing of most facilities.

Speaking to another friend, last night, it was this: not many are really hurting but lots of us are deeply afraid that we will be hurting badly soon. And so we are in a very strange economic place with the possibility of war hanging over us, with our sense of buoyancy fading. Many of my friends who are looking for jobs are not finding opportunities and are digging into their savings to maintain lifestyles while they contemplate painful alternatives such as leaving New York, moving into second homes owned by their parents,

Friends who had quit smoking are lighting up again.

As I write this, I'm at Real Screen, a kind of mini MIP for those who deal in non-fiction programming and it is a healthier place than it was a year ago. More people are here and more business is being done but over all of us and over all of this is the reality that in a moment or three we will be in a shooting war in the Mid East and it will be very real and very hard on us.

A week ago Saturday I was at a party, a grand and wonderful party in SoHo, in the kind of loft that everyone thinks of when they think of a SoHo loft. People were dancing and singing and celebrating and in quiet corners only were saying: no one is talking about war. For a moment everyone there wanted to be free, free of all the things we are facing now. It was a wonderful party and it was a party that could be soon be part of some past that we do not wish to loose.

This is what we are living with, the possibility that the world we know and love is about to leave us, forever. And none of us want the life we love to leave us forever. I wonder if this is how the intelligent people felt in the months leading up to what became World War I and World War II.

When asked about the possibility of war in Iraq, New Yorkers are afraid. We are afraid we will be a target of retribution for any attack anywhere. Yet, at the end of the day, we will go on. We will deal with what comes but we don't want to deal with what we are afraid is coming.