Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

from the team at Merrow
charlie merrow Merrow

Merrow has manufactured sewing machines since 1838 and remains one of the most interesting companies in the textile space

sewing machine history stuff

a reader of the blog sent me a link to the ehow article titled : What Does a Serger Sewing Machine do asking whether the Merrow history was correct

What Does a Serger Sewing Machine Do? |
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Well the article is certainly closer than most! However the author neglects to note that the father/son team first perfected the looping stitch with one thread (now known as the Whip Stitch) and modified this to trim with three threads, creating the first automated overlock stitch. The implications were broad and this invention changed how clothing and garments were manufactured.

Great stuff though -- we're proud to carry on the tradition!
charlie merrow Merrow

Merrow has manufactured sewing machines since 1838 and remains one of the most interesting companies in the textile space

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hollywood Hypocrisy, how Davis Guggenheim stole his footage from My Uncle John

update: Washington Posts weighs in on John Merrow's side
 this blog is generally our bulletin board for announcements and reporting on the general goings on at Merrow. Occasionally it will pivot and tackle something of general interest. Today it will specifically reprint an email from our Uncle, John Merrow

I watched John get an award from the Taft school last year and after listening to their introduction of my Uncle, I'm quite certain I don't have the wherewithal or knowledge to introduce John with any measure of thoroughness (here is their summary). 

Suffice to say, He's been a pre-eminent reporter on education in the US over the past 40 years, runs a non-profit dedicated to the same in NYC and paraphrasing Taft '...[has] motivated others to change how we educate children to improve the quality of their lives.'

A couple days ago I got an email that he circulated to the Merrow family -- and was surprised to read that Paramount, and specifically Davis Guggenheim and his new film "Waiting for Superman" has bilked the non-profit out of a small but meaningful royalty on their reporting of Michelle Rhee.

The email is being posted because:

1. I like and admire John a lot -- and am proud of the work he's done
2. he's family, and we stick up for family
3. the absurd and unnecessary f***ing of a non-profit (which not-so-unimportantly has been dedicated to reporting on education and the issues surrounding education) is just reprehensible. Fuck Viacom/Paramount/Davis Guggenheim (if they don't pay... )

Here is the email, make your own judgements -- and if you feel inclined
 visit Learning Matters.
 or/and write Paramount & Viacom and let them know how you feel
Thought you'd be interested in this mess. Basically, an Academy Award winning director, backed by Paramount, has misappropriated (fancy word for stolen) some of our NewsHour footage for his film. I've sent this letter to reporters I know.
I've been advised, believe it or not, to 'roll over' and 'take one for the movement.'
Davis Guggenheim's new film, "Waiting for Superman," is getting rave reviews. The excerpt I saw in October was powerful. It's a story of leaders, including Geoff Canada and Michelle Rhee, standing up for children against unfeeling bureaucracies and the powers-that-be. It's a feel-good film that shows the underdog triumphing. Director Davis Guggenheim is on the side of the underdog, or so one would infer from watching his film.
But not in real life. To make the film he and his producers have chosen to take advantage of the little guy, because they have appropriated our footage for their film, without our permission and without payment. 
Here's the background: Last September Davis called me and asked about using footage from our NewsHour coverage of Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC. I was flattered, of course, because I have the highest regard for his work (an Academy Award is just one of many honors he's received). But I explained to him that our little non-profit, Learning Matters, was struggling. I had been forced to cut salaries across the board by 10% (my own by 25%) and had suspended company payments into Tiaa-Cref. I told him that, although we had never sold footage before, I would consider it if the price were attractive.
Flash forward a few months. His producer called to request permission to use several scenes, including the one where Chancellor Rhee fires someone. The total running time was 2:17, and she offered $5000. Standard rates begin at $100 per second, or $13,700, by the way, meaning that this was a very low offer. I was surprised but asked her to negotiate with David Wald, our managing producer. My colleagues and I decided that we would prefer not to sell (hoping to make our own documentary), but I knew that Learning Matters' economic condition would force me to accept a decent offer, if one were forthcoming.
Less than two weeks ago his producer called again, about the same time that we learned that Paramount had bought the rights to the movie. I want to give you one more chance to accept our offer of $5,000, she said, so you can get some money out of this. I declined, at which point she told me that they were going to use it anyway, citing the 'fair use' rule. That doesn't apply here, I told her, but she said that their lawyer said it did.
It ought to be obvious that they know that 'fair use' does not apply. Why else would Davis and his producer have tried several times to buy the footage? I can only assume that they are accustomed to having their way: make a low offer and wait until the sucker accepts it. If not, take the footage anyway. They apparently assumed that they, now backed by Paramount, could steamroller over us. 
Our attorney has written their attorney, who--big surprise--has not answered the letter.
It's also obvious that the footage was already in the film when she called me, which makes me question whether she was calling to negotiate in good faith. 
We are insisting that our footage be removed from the film. If need be, we will seek an injunction against its distribution. 
John Merrow
Education Correspondent,
PBS NewsHour, and President,
Learning Matters, Inc.
Listen Up!
6 E 32nd St., 8th Floor
New York, NY 10016
p: 212.725.7000 x230
f: 212.725.2433

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charlie merrow Merrow

Merrow has manufactured sewing machines since 1838 and remains one of the most interesting companies in the textile space