Friday, December 8, 2017

The LeoFinelli.com Most Influential Person of 2017

SHE ARRIVED ON A STRANGELY warm March evening in New York earlier this year. She was loaded off her truck and fixed opposite a thirty-year-old statue of a charging bull. She was the brainchild of advertising agency McCann and State Street Global Advisors. She was five feet tall, and she had the same proactive attitude as every other girl in New York. She had hair blowing in the wind, she wore a T-shirt and a skirt, she wore sneakers. She was just like every other girl in New York.

Except she could not move.

The "Fearless Girl", a statue aimed at promoting the power of women in leadership, sculpted by Kristen Visbal, was unveiled the following morning, and the news media poured down on her. She got crowned with anti-Trump pink hats. She was the #1 trending topic on all social media. Many people knew and heard her message. She was initially only meant to stay for a week. But a week became a month, and a month became a year. Nira Desai even started a Change.org petition to make her permanent.

New York's innocent, imaginative children welcomed the new girl on Wall Street, and started the trend of the "right" way to get your picture made with her - linking arms with the statue, whose hands were permanently bound to her hips.

(Above: kids mimic the "Fearless Girl"'s gesture in March 2017.)

Fearless Girl became the symbol of the resistance to the anti-female sentiment President Donald Trump was promoting. She became the most popular girl in New York. Everyone knew her, everyone stopped to talk, but she didn't talk back.

Though some of the children of New York still say she could talk back, but she didn't want to.

"Kids and their imaginations", thought many New Yorkers, until one day, May 6, as the bell rang at the New York Stock Exchange just down the street, a crowd gathered again where the statue stood, a crowd whose likes had not been seen since the statue was erected. People of all ages and all occupations crept in for a look.

But there was nothing to see. Fearless Girl had vanished.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio soon heard about the goings-on and arrived in his limo to check up on things. Murmurs of "Where's Fearless Girl?" persisted as he drove up. De Blasio left his car and approached the crowd. "Does anyone know anything about this?" De Blasio inquired to the gathered masses, upon seeing with his own eyes the absence of the statue.

"I do," said a 13-year-old girl, with radiant fire-colored hair, quickly running down Broadway and into the crowd. Mayor de Blasio called the girl to his side. "Please tell me what you did with the statue," he insisted.

"I'm sorry, you must be mistaken," said the girl. "I am the statue."

Most adults present laughed. Yet most children, especially the smallest ones, listened to the girl, who identified herself as Shea Mentzer, tell her story, as did a curious Mayor de Blasio. According to Mentzer, she had stood for nearly two months on Wall Street opposite the charging bull, calling out to young girls on the street. "Why?" asked an inquisitive young child. "I needed to empower a young girl and win my humanity," Mentzer explained. Mentzer related that about two weeks ago, she'd called out to yet another young girl, but unintentionally attracted the attention of a 13-year-old boy.

Mentzer told that this 13-year-old boy had listened to her desires and her explanation that she needed to be an inspiration for a young girl's confidence, and if she did, she would become a human girl. "Ari (the boy) pried me up and he took me to his apartment on 4th and Avenue of the Americas," Mentzer explained, "and he took me to school the next day, being sure to keep me out of sight. That's when Ari met his teammate on the school quiz bowl team, a little girl named Dakota Severn."

Mentzer continued her story, saying that she and the boy realized Severn, who described herself as "timid, weak, and unmotivated", was the girl she needed to empower in order to gain her humanity. "I spent a few days in Ari's apartment, listening in on Ari and Dakota studying, but one night Ari told me he didn't see the confidence in Dakota that I needed for my humanity. He put me back on Wall Street the next morning."

"Tears," Mentzer said, "ran down my bronze body all day. But that night, I was still crying a little when I felt this strange tingling sensation. My bronze began to chip and tear, and triumphantly, I put my best foot forward, and it moved. I don't know how I knew where the TV studio they were doing the quiz bowl at was, but I just bolted where my feet took me. As I stepped inside, I heard Dakota giving a rousing speech. She was vowing that she wouldn't let her confidence plummet during the trying teenage years. Then the audience got angry and started to yell at her. I opened the door to the studio, and urged everyone to listen to Dakota. She answered the last question correctly, like the unstoppable girl that she is, and won her team the quiz bowl. Soon, she and Ari found me a young couple to be my mom and dad."

Here Mentzer concluded her story, and she turned to the mayor, saying, "It's true. I am the Fearless Girl."

The general consensus among the adults of New York City is that the disappearance of the Fearless Girl will never be explained, but to the children of the city, Shea Mentzer spoke the truth. Every child in New York now recognizes her as their former statue. And it's not just the kids. Many women, especially feminists, revere Mentzer, saying that the world is brighter with their feminist symbol as a truly human, and truly fearless, girl.

Mentzer's closest friends, the aforementioned Ari Bellum and Dakota Severn, are supportive, and, being first hand witnesses to the Fearless Girl's unbelievable evolution into a human girl, confirm her story and persuade doubters to believe her.

And with this said, I am proud to present the LeoFinelli.com Most Influential Person of 2017 to the girl who, it is said, was no more than a slab of metal in January, but is a happy 13 year old in December. Congratulations to Shea Mentzer - your influence this year, and the tale among those who support you, is truly beyond belief. Shea Mentzer, you were the most influential person of 2017, from idea, to feminist symbol, to fire-haired 13 year old.

And what does Mentzer say to this honor, looking into 2018?

"Whatever comes, I'm not afraid," she says when asked.



SHEA MENTZER
The most influential person of 2017


Note: This image is actually Shea McHugh, an actress who I'm sure would be honored to be "enacting" Shea Mentzer on my blog.




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In My Opinion: The 12 Greatest Christmas Specials of All Time

In addition to the wide-eyed wonder of children and the good music, one of my favorite things about this time of year is watching the Christmas TV specials and movies. I ranked my top 12 essentials, not counting my own scripts. Why top 12? Well, 12 days of Christmas...so here goes, with types (see my July post on types of Christmas specials) enclosed.

12. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1965 TV Special, Type 4)
Upside: The fight against prejudice wasn't a common topic in family shows in 1965 and it's one of the reasons this special has stood the test of time. This classic shows that prejudice doesn't have to be based on gender or race - it can be as simple as choice of career. The message resonates well with me, because I have faced prejudice (mostly from myself, though) my entire life.
Downside: The songs can be too catchy at times, and it utilizes the old cancel/save Christmas trope too clearly. Santa (Paul Frees) is grumpy and not at all what a good Santa should be. He's more like a Macy's Santa who's underpaid. The stop-motion Rankin/Bass animation is not their best and looks artificial. Sometimes it looks as if it were just too obviously made in 1965 (which it was).

11. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1967 TV Special, Type 2)
Upside: The Grinch is a character a 16-year-old who feels alone can relate to well. The animation is well done and there are some funny moments. A cartoon allows for Dr. Seuss's original book to be truly extravagant on TV, and this one is certainly a faithful adaptation.
Downside: The story is a little too hard on consumerism, and I am a little shaken by how much it strikes back against commercial retailers that are pushing people to buy, buy, and buy some more Thanksgiving weekend, mostly because the ways they push people to buy are what I adapt some of my scripts from.

10. "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (1972 TV Special, Type 3)
Upside: The hilarious Miser Brothers are definitely a highlight, but I'll leave the rest of the upside to Rick Goldschmidt, Rankin/Bass historian: "The story of The Year Without a Santa Claus basically says that you are never too old to believe. It emphasizes the fact that in today's world, the spirit of Christmas seems to be lost. Santa is given the luxury of a personal day off by the children of the world, but is much too kind to accept."
Downside: Like Rudolph, it utilizes the cancel/save Christmas trope. Santa and Mrs. Claus (Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth) give excellent performances but they're too often glanced over, because all people remember is the Misers.

9. "Elf" (2004 Theatrical Feature, Type ?)
Upside: Will Ferrell, Will Ferrell, and Will Ferrell. He is one hilarious man. His Buddy the Elf isn't as good as his Alex Trebek, but it's still good. The supporting cast is top notch, but for me, Charlotte (the news reporter who "wants her boyfriend to stop butting his nose into her business") steals the show. That performance is underrated but strong.
Downside: It's very conspicuous that Jon Favreau is trying to make a fantasy, but it isn't working. The story just feels too real and too heavy-duty for Christmas. It's a little dark at times, and I don't like the way they make the Central Park Rangers, in real life trustworthy guardians of New York's public playground, look genuinely evil.

8. "Frosty the Snowman" (1967 TV Special, Type ?)
Upside: Jackie Vernon is a wonderful Frosty. The story has fantasy that's rooted in reality, which I always like. Jimmy Durante nails the narration. There are lines you love to repeat in your room at night.
The animation is classic and everything feels like a good cartoon should.
Downside: Parts of it seem dated, the cartoon medium exaggerates even the reality, and if ever a sequel cheapened the original, Frosty Returns did. Really, John Goodman as Frosty?

7. "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946 Theatrical Feature, Type 2)
Upside: Great performances by the whole cast, black-and-white, old movie charm, and an inspirational message. Even facial expressions, such as that when George sees that he has no house if he were never born, are well done.
Downside: It lacks one good thing every Christmas show needs: music. It's a Wonderful Life would be better as a musical. Of that I am sure. Also, many people, myself included, have wondered what the story would be like if, rather than wishing he never had a life, George wishes he had a different life.

6. Toss-up between two stories with many, many adaptations: "A Christmas Carol" (Type 2) and "The Nutcracker" (Type 5)
Upside: Both stories have a certain charm to them that always makes you feel warm inside. Christmas  Carol is a heartwarming story about one man's change of heart in one night, and how he left his penny-pinching ways. The Nutcracker is a different thing in each incarnation, but its popularity in America scores it major points.
Downside: A Christmas Carol is too widely interpreted when one interpretation was clearly intended, and The Nutcracker is too filled with the past and generalizations. I think we should look more to the future for our holiday staple shows, because in my opinion, you're nothing without hope of a brighter future.

5. "A Christmas Story" (1983 Theatrical Feature, Type 5)
Upside: There are hilarious moments, such as the tongue scene and the decoder ring scene, and the running gag involving Ralphie being told he'll "shoot his eye out" if he receives the Red Ryder BB gun is hilarious every time. I've only seen it once, and it was a heartwarming tale about family - as I experienced it initially.
Downside: Dated gender and racial stereotypes, in addition to some other dated stuff and some scenes where it's hard to distinguish between imagination and reality. The lamp that the father puts up in the window and the mother subsequently breaks is a little raunchy. If this movie were set in the 2010s rather than the 1940s, which would mean fewer gender or racial stereotypes and no dated feeling, and if Ralphie's ideal gift was something other than a gun, it might be my #1.

4. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1968 TV Special, Type 1)
Upside: This special is the only one on this list in which Jesus is mentioned. It communicates its message well and has its share of hilarious moments, and as many heartwarming moments to balance them out. Charlie Brown's devotion to his friends through emotional upheaval is inspiring, and that last shot will stay with you.
Downside: Again, striking back against commercialism when commercials are such an inspiration to me can be unsettling at times, similar to the downside of the Grinch special. The piano music is well done but can be annoying and/or make you skittish when it's not there to underscore a good scene.

3. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (1970 TV Special, Type 2)
Upside: Of the Christmas specials with a "better to give than to receive" sentiment, this one does it best, through truly magical stop-motion animation, the best song-and-dance numbers of any show on this list, Paul Frees as ten different characters, and, of course, the classic title song. Fred Astaire's original rendition is a fitting end to this 48 minutes of bliss.
Downside: "One Foot in Front of the Other" is either a really good song or a really obnoxious one, and the mythology surrounding how Santa came to be can cause debate. Otherwise, this is Rankin/Bass's best work.

2. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947 Theatrical Feature, Type 3)
Upside: The classic actors showcased in this 1947 black-and-white film are a spectacle, and Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his portrayal of Santa. The "believe" message sent Macy's on its way to become the department store most frequently associated with Christmas, and I think it's safe to say I'd have a much smaller portfolio if this film was never made.
Downside: Some things, though, are never quite explained, and the story is taken mostly at face value. Also, it takes some understanding to "get" the climactic scene in the courtroom, but other than that, it's a fantastic film.

1. "Home Alone" (1989 Theatrical Feature, Type 5)
Upside: Burglars. Booby traps. An escapade of a hilarious family that forgot its most hilarious member. And, of course, the magnificent music of John Williams. Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) is a memorable character that stays with you, and he's the closest thing to a real kid in anything on this list. I also especially like how loving and careful his mother (Catherine O'Hara) is, and their reunion is, in its own way, as good a scene as any slapstick this movie deals you.
Downside: There is none. Nothing wrong with this film at all when it comes to being a good Christmas show. It nails the concept. Unlike the fantasy installments you see on the list, this one is real and comedic at the same time and doesn't have any downsides to how real or fantastic it is.

So closes my list, and if this were a video, cue me falling over after getting hit in the head with a can of paint.


It's Finally Here - A Christian Version of "The Grinch" Story!

What follows is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss's 1957 book and Chuck Jones' 1967 NBC-TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas that does one thing the original did not - mention Jesus. This version goes out of its way (but not too far out of its way) to be a Type One Christmas Tale rather than the Type Two the original was.

But first a brief (am I lying?) retrospective on the piece of work you are about to read.

In 2011, my grandmother sent the family a Christian take on the Grinch poem. I reacted savagely to Gammy's work, first because my sister rather than myself taught the Grinch about Jesus; then because I thought my family had been incorrectly portrayed as one-dimensional, religion-crazed evangelists in the work. But the most likely explanation was that I just believed I could write a better poem.

I wrote several drafts of this Christian take on the classic Grinch story (one in which I cast myself as the Grinch), but finally settled on this one in the end. The final text does borrow some lines and plot points from several of the cheesy rehashes I blogged about on May 22.

An important thing to observe about this poem is that, unlike the cheesy rehashes which I wrote about, has a consistent rhythm. The rehash writers knew Dr. Seuss rhymed, but didn't realize that the rhythm of a Dr. Seuss text was as important as the rhyming aspect. So in a Christian "Grinch" rewrite like the ones I analyzed, there would be lines such as:

Then that mean old Grinch went to the altar and beside it he knelt,
And a strange feeling he felt.

Do the two lines rhyme? Yes. Do the two lines have a consistent rhythm? No!

Also, it's important to observe that I have not made this story too Christian, it's only about as Christian as A Charlie Brown Christmas. This story does mention Jesus, and the Grinch does learn about Jesus, but I have been careful to make sure that the story does not say that Christian = good (or, for that matter, non-Christian = bad - I would never write anything that does that.)

Final note before you begin reading the poem: The sentiments expressed in this poem do NOT reflect the sentiments that Leo Finelli holds. If anything, the sentiments expressed in the poem reflect those his grandmother holds. If you are here to see the Whos, please leave the site, for in this version, there are no Whos. The Grinch instead robs Faithville.

An audio file will soon be up with this post. Now, the poem.



Dr. Seuss once told a child's fable
About the Grinch, who was unable
To steal the cheer that Christmas brought
And about the lesson he was taught.
But if you'll lend an ear or two,
we'll tell a story fresh and new,
About the Grinch and his Christmas crime,
But a little something more this time.
It's an example of Christmas snobbery
That became known as....

"THE GREAT CHRISTMAS ROBBERY."

Everyone down in Faithville liked Christmas a lot -
But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Faithville,
Did not!

The Grinch disliked Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
But please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be his shoes were a wee bit too tight.
However, the most likely reason of all
Was that, without Jesus, his heart was too small.

And so, with a heart full of meanness and doubt,
he watched Christmas Eve as the people came out.
They set out their presents, they bowed heads in prayer,
Which made the Grinch happy that he was not there.
But tomorrow, he knew, all the town's girls and boys
Would wake bright and early, and reach for their toys.
And the noise! Oh, the noise! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the people of Faithville would kneel in their way,
And they'd pray! And they'd pray! And they'd PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!
Then they'd stand close together, with their church bells ringing,
They'd stand hand in hand, and they all would start singing!
And the more the Grinch thought of the town's Christmas Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
Why, for too many years I've put up with it now!
I must stop this Christmas from coming? But how?"

Then he got an idea.
An awful idea.
The Grinch had a sinfully awful idea!

"I'll pretend that I'm Santa and steal all their toys,
And steal all the joy from the girls and the boys!"
So he called his dog Max and he loaded a sleigh
With some bags and some sacks, and he went on his way.
With Max as his reindeer, he went down through the air,
And soon came to the first little house on the square.
Then, breaking the tough window pane with a rock,
He reached on inside, and he opened the lock.
"This is too easy!" the fake Santa hissed,
As he tiptoed inside with a curl in his fist.
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
He reached under the tree, and he took every present!
He took all the ornaments off of the tree,
And pitched the tree out with a smile of glee.
Then he made his way to the Nativity scene,
He smashed all the figures - and wiped the place clean.
He was just getting ready to smash God's own Son,
When he listened real closely - he then heard someone!

"Who's there?" he asked slickly, and spun with a whirl,
And there stood by the doorway a small Faithville girl.
"Santa, what are you doing?" she asked. "Who are you?"
The Grinch said to the girl, with no clue what to do.
"My name is Christina, and why are you taking
The sweet baby Jesus, whom you're nearly breaking?"

"He's coming apart," the Grinch said as a lie,
"I'm taking him back to my shop, and that's why.
I'm fixing him up and I'll bring him back here,"
said the Grinch to Christina, who slowly walked near.
So the Grinch pulled the wool over Christina's eyes
with his Santa Claus suit and his cleverest lies.
Christina came near, the Grinch patted her head,
but was taken aback at the next thing she said.

"Dear God, I am thankful that every year,
You send Santa to help us remember you're here.
And God, I am thankful for that night you gave your
Great Son and his light to become our great Savior."

And when she had finished, the Grinch was then crying,
And he sent her to bed, then he kept up his spying.
He took the Lord Jesus and smashed him to pieces,
He packed it all up, and he made his releases!
And the one piece of Jesus he left in the house,
Was his big toe, yet it was too small for a mouse.

Then he robbed all the rest of the small Faithville houses,
Leaving pieces too small for most all of the mouses!
Then, at quarter till dawn, he went up to Mount Crumpet,
With all of their stuff! He was ready to dump it!
When he came to the top it was getting quite light,
And he stopped his old sleigh and he hitched it up tight.
He jumped off the sleigh and he went to the ledge,
And stood looking expectantly over the edge.

"The people of Faithville," he said with a sneer,
"Know that Christmas will just not be coming this year!
They're wailing and moaning and shedding a tear!
That's a noise," said the Grinch, "that I wish I could hear!"

And he did hear a sound, rising over the snow,
It started in low. Then it started to grow...
But this sound wasn't tearful!
Why, it sounded quite cheerful!
Everyone down in Faithville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his feet very cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so?
They sing without presents! They sing without toys!
They sing, though I thought I had stolen their joys!
He puzzled and puzzed till his green fur turned red,
Then that old Grinch remembered what Christina said.

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe it's about Jesus, it's me he came for!"

And what happened next?
Well, in Faithville they say
That the Grinch's heart grew a lot larger that day!
He rode down to the square and brought back what he'd stole,
and he joined all of Faithville in praise as a whole!
Then he went to the manger and beside it he knelt,
As he praised the Lord Jesus for the peace he now felt.
He hugged young Christina (who'd known all along),
And he joined her in prayer, and in love, and in song.
And wherever he went, he repeated the call
That Jesus himself....
Jesus came for us all!


TIPS ON PERFORMING "THE GREAT CHRISTMAS ROBBERY"


  • As for performing "The Great Christmas Robbery", it can be done a number of ways. Playing the complete audio file, with people lip-syncing the dialogue as they act it out in mime, could work. Or you could actually act out and deliver the lines as someone else reads the narrator's part.
  • If you are having an actor play the Grinch, whether he is delivering his lines or merely lip-syncing to the audio file, you can address his motions in several ways: you could go all out and have a set, even with a sled and other props, or you could do it simply, and have the Grinch actor mime his motions. 
  • When you perform this, I believe the fact that Christina is a child is more important than the fact that she's female. Thus, if you have no little girls to portray the role, I'd rather you change Christina to a little boy than have an older girl (13 or older) portray the role. In short, Christina needs to be played by someone 12 or under, even if you have to change her to a boy. Her innocence as a child must show. Said actor can do their own lines as the act, or lip-sync to the audio file. They should come back to interact with the Grinch at the end.
  • As for involving more characters than just the Grinch, the narrator, Max the Dog, and Christina, you could: 1) Split up the narrator part between several people; 2) Have a large number of people act as the people of Faithville, singing; or 3) Have 1-4 angels come in and surround the Grinch as he is "born again". 
  • You could also involve children by having the story read from the script by a narrator who is sitting in front of a tree and telling the story to a group of children. Their imaginations cause them to see the action as it happens and the actors come out and mime the parts as the story is read to the children. There is no lip-syncing, but all the voices and parts are done by the person reading the story.
  • Earlier I mentioned that Christina can be gender-flipped if you have no girls 12 or under to play the role. The Grinch, too, can be gender-flipped into a female - all you have to do is change the pronouns.
  • As for costumes, the Grinch should be dressed like the Grinch, either the animated 1967 Grinch from the NBC-TV special or Jim Carrey's Grinch from the 2000 live-action Ron Howard movie. Christina should, however, NOT be dressed like Cindy Lou Who. Although her role in the story mimics that of Cindy Lou in the original, she and the other people of Faithville should not be dressed like Whos. They should be dressed like real people. This is what sets it apart from the TV classic. It represents human characters and what would happen if the Grinch lived on Earth instead of "just north of Whoville."
  • If you feel the need to change any of the passages, leave your queries in the comments.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Television Commercials

Since most of my screenplays are based on TV commercials, I figured I'd rank my top ten favorite TV commercials I've ever seen. Many, if not most of these, have made me cry, but very few seem to have the magic touch that results in a screenplay.

10. "The Camp Gyno", Hello Flo
This ad for women's hygiene products may be a little disgusting because it uses words like "vagina", "menstruation", and "period", but its unrepentant usage of those terms isn't what I like about it. It's the unstoppable girl characteristics and assertiveness the girl (Macy McGrail) shows in her leadership role. That enough sealed the deal.

9. "This Girl Can", Sport England
This ad is aimed at getting girls to exercise and, to an extent, avoid the false perceptions that come with their body's shape and size. Yet another emotional "femvertisement" that really made me emotional, yet I did not cry.

8. "Real Beauty Sketches", Dove
This ad was meant to show that a person sees themselves negatively and focuses on their flaws, while others are capable of seeing the good in them. It went viral in 2014 and is considered the first of the recent trend in "femvertisements".

7. "Imagine the Possibilities", Barbie
This ad asks "What would happen if a girl could be whatever she imagines?" and shows girls fantasizing about doing stereotypically male jobs. You're noticing a trend here, I'm guessing. It's hard to believe even Barbie, long considered an ambassador of negative female stereotypes, is getting in on femvertising.

6. "Daughter", Audi
This Audi 2017 Super Bowl commercial tells the story of a father who is worried that the skills of his daughter will be valued less simply because she is female, but sees his doubts erased when she takes the checkered flag in a go-kart race. There's a pretty big gap between those who liked and disliked this commercial, and I definitely liked it.

5. "I Will What I Want", Under Armour
Here, a young girl (Raiya Goodman) reads a rejection letter Misty Copeland, the world's most celebrated ballerina, got at age 13, while Copeland dances for the camera. The effect is astounding, and even boosted Under Armour's sales to women over tenfold.

4. "Inspire Her Mind", Verizon
Actress Reshma Saujani narrates this ad as a mother who wants her daughter to grow up to be "pretty". The girl is drawn away from a STEM career because of her mother's urging. This ad communicates a message of a field that needs more girls, and furthers the "future is female" mantra.

3. Any Target Christmas commercial from the past three years.
These commercials feature kids, talking Target toy aisle staples, and Twizzler octopi (occasionally), and I like them because the acting performances by the kids (Shiloh Nelson, Olivia Trujillo, and Bobby Sloan starred in the 2015 "Holiday Odyssey" campaign; Kylie Cantrall starred alongside John Legend, Isabella Russo, and Chrissy Teigen in the 2016 "Toycracker" campaign) are top notch - almost as good as the performances of the kids in "E.T." These kid actors are the kind you'd want in front of a crowd to deliver the right message, even if the message isn't "buy this at Target".

2. "Like a Girl", Always
Directed and voiced by my idol Lauren Greenfield of Chelsea Pictures L.A., this ad asks, "What does it mean to do something 'like a girl'?" To young girls, it means to do their best. To everyone else, it means to do poorly. You just have to experience it, the way I did on Super Bowl Sunday 2015 - and I ran into another room bawling and watched no more of the big game that year. This commercial also partially inspired my screenplay "Fearless Girl".

1. "The Wish Writer", Macy's
The ad that I adapted into a screenplay last year at Christmas. The ad that started my career as a screenwriter. The ad that tells the instantly classic story of a girl who acquires a magic pencil, uses it to do good deeds for others, and finds her good heart rewarded when her brother uses it to get her a gift she'll never forget. This ad stands out among other Christmas stories because it blends reality and fantasy perfectly and shows kids at Christmastime as they really are.

And it was an ad I'll never forget. This list may change, for as Master Yoda says, "Difficult to see....always in motion is the future."



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The LeoFinelli.com Most Influential Person of 2017

SHE ARRIVED ON A STRANGELY warm March evening in New York earlier this year. She was loaded off her truck and fixed opposite a thirty-year-...

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