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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

May 20, 2007

Happy Thoughts…

My friend, Christine Marsh-Rijssenbeek, a wonderfully wild Welsh woman, married to a slightly more sedate but definitely romantic Dutchman, sent me an e-mail after my last column: she thought I needed a break.

And I probably did or do. Need a break. I’ve been feeling serious, parsing all the news about global warming and the news out of the Middle East, in all its various hotspots, most especially Iraq.

So this week, I thought I would think positive thoughts, make note of those things I saw in the media that amused me or moved me.

The first of those things happened while I was in Los Angeles on business. On the Monday evening while I was there, the Television Academy had an event celebrating Bob “The Price Is Right” Barker’s fifty years on television and his retirement from show business at the grand old age of 83. My friend Nancy Wiard produced the event and in an effort to show her solidarity, I took my jet lagged body over to the Academy, thinking I would stay as long as my body held up and then scoot back to my hotel.

However, the evening was enjoyable, so enjoyable I woke up, went the course and had a good time – Bob Barker, interviewed by the urbane and witty Harry Smith from CBS's morning program, was unexpectedly delightful and genuine. Illuminated by clips from a very long career, Bob Barker commented upon his life, looking back with joy on his career, without visible regret. He learned what he did well and he stuck with it, refining it with every performance. “Come on down!”

The on-air celebration will be happening momentarily.

Another thing that amused me this week was the campaign by Paris Hilton to get herself out of jail, before she had gone. Her “people” were appealing to Governor Schwarzenegger to pardon her before her foot stepped across the sill of the jail cell. Failing that, there was a bit of activity about getting Paris sent off to one of the California jails where you can pay for upgrades [yes, that’s right, you can pay for upgrades in certain jails in California]. Reports had poor Paris abandoned by her fan base [she had one?]. With the exception of one small “Free Paris” rally at a smallish eastern university; her legions of fans have seemed to have completely forgotten her!

I also found amusing an NPR Report that Canadians weigh less than Americans – and not because they’re healthier [they might be] but because, for some reason, the gravity is lighter there – I heard the story in the shower and missed the punch line about why gravity might be lighter there. I wonder if I could jump higher if I were Canadian?

There was an uproar in Chicago over a billboard posted by a divorce firm. Between provocative photos, one of a woman, one of a man, was the statement: Life is short. Get a divorce. The billboard lasted one week, earning a place in local infamy for the law firm [as well as probably a fair share of phone calls]. Still and all, it was amusing.

A story on Sixty Minutes, a follow-up to the young Iraqi boy who lost both arms and was severely burned in a bomb attack on his home, touched me. People all over the world and particularly Americans reached out to help him. He is now in England, in school and doing well. Every year he returns to Iraq for his summer vacation. He inhabits a world that is a study in contrasts, tony Wimbledon and bombed out Iraq and in these contrasts, this young man finds things to laugh about and to care about, while learning how to live without arms.

And that is, ladies and gentlemen, the way of the world, a confusing pastiche of joys and sorrows. While we are faced with global warming, wars and all sorts of other plagues, we are also faced with the courage of survivors and the foolishness of our poplets and the blunderings of advertising. We are human after all, full of failures, foibles, courage, stupidity and hope – and laughter. It is what keeps us going, all these things.