Letters to the Editor 

Smoking mad

Re: "Smoked out" (June 10), I am weary of sorry little tyrants like Jack Lessenberry, who so eagerly wish to inflict the force of the state on those whose behavior they dislike. He apparently does not grasp the import of private property. If he does not wish to be bothered by tobacco smoke, then he should avoid the privately owned establishments that allow it.

The greatest burdens that all free people face are the cranky whims of angry, petty souls who exist to run the lives of others. Who wants to live in a world where your every action is subject to the malevolence of such sad people? Shame on you, Jack! Mind your own business. —Bruce Hoepner, Royal Oak

Light into him

It was nice to see Jack Lessenberry finally returned to form this week and stomp Mike Bishop's tiny balls for blocking the state smoking ban. He even (however more gently) mentioned the sham Detroit caucus and its complicit behavior bowing to the casino lobby.

His only mistake was mentioning, but not reporting, the amount "Little Mike" takes from the smoking lobbies. I understand Lessenberry is old as dirt, but that's no excuse for being lazy with the facts. Especially the public ones, which are easy to find. Please keep punishing these guys. —C. George, Royal Oak

Butt out for now

Full disclosure: I'm a smoker. I also support a smoking ban in bars and restaurants, but until that happens, I would appreciate it if the bitching stopped. Lessenberry, you know you will have your way eventually, and there is no reason to insinuate that people are dying unnecessarily because of a right-wing Republican conspiracy to allow smoking in bars. Unless, of course, you actually do the research to prove it and not just say, "It would be interesting to research whether the pro-smoking lobby has donated to [Mike Bishop's] campaign." Furthermore, it is irresponsible and manipulative to compare deaths from secondhand smoke to deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, even if you're just talking numbers. After all, you are the one suggesting that politics has no place in the discussion of a smoking ban.

That being said, I enjoy your column every week, so keep 'em coming. —Nik Wahi, Hamtramck

Playing for peanuts

I think it's marvelous that The Irishman will be "adding a cool $5 mil to local coffers" (Backlot, June 3). I think it would be even better if some of that cash was going to all of the people who'll actually populate the screen.

As you can see from the attached casting call notice (from a third party who acts as a clearinghouse for these sort of notices) those people who serve as extras will be compensated for their time (and providing their own wardrobe) by being entered into a raffle. Woo and, indeed, hoo.

This production isn't unique in this sort of behavior; it's an unfortunate effect of the Michigan Film Incentive as it currently stands. The intent of the incentive is admirable; encouraging people to make films here using the state's abundant resources and, in turn, bringing money to the state is a great idea.

However, as it currently stands, Michigan is a place some filmmakers can set up shop with the expectations that they will not have to pay people, except with "food, copy and credit" or the aforementioned chance to win a raffle prize.

All of which, minus the raffle, are lovely; who doesn't like food? And it's useful to have a copy of our work and a credit in the film. The problem is that it's difficult to persuade shopkeepers and landlords and the like to accept payment in the form of a copy of the last scene we were in.

Nobody expects acting to be necessarily the golden path to untold riches, and few of us look to acting solely for the money we might (possibly) make doing it. We do however, like anyone else, need to make money in order not to be destitute.

There are many productions coming to the state that are not cheap. It's a shame the film incentive doesn't stipulate that in order to qualify for the tax break, producers need to actually pay people. Actors have to deal with a host of issues from predatory "talent agencies" to never-gonna-be directors and producers, and it would be nice if the state would look out for them a little bit more. —Nick Rowley, Clinton Township

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