New Doc on Off-Track Betting Sells Out on Premiere Day, Encore Showing in NYC Planned for May 19


“Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting,” the documentary film about 70s New York fixture, Off-Track Betting (OTB), had its world premiere at the Workers Unite! Film Festival in New York City.

Directed by former OTB employee Joseph Fusco, the film offers first-hand accounts from the very people who were affected most by NYC’s controversial gambling institution. The Workers Unite! Film Festival screening was standing room only for the premiere.

For nearly 40 years, OTB parlors were on almost every corner in New York City. The smoke filled parlors were known for spilling out vagrants, gamblers, and old men. As a lifelong New Yorker, filmmaker Joseph Fusco remembers the OTBs growing up in the 70s and 80s. “I remember my mom instructing me to walk on the other side of the street to avoid the OTB,” Fusco, now 43, says with a smile. “As a kid, they seemed scary. But at the same time I was curious as to what was going on in there.”

What was going on in there was the only place for legal horse race gambling in New York outside of going out to the racetracks. But moms had a right to worry. The parlors were usually not a welcome sight in many neighborhoods.

“As fate would have it many years later, I was an employee of OTB,” Fusco says. “People don’t realize but OTB employed over a thousand unionized, city workers.” OTB collected billions of dollars in horse racing bets, earmarked to pay for city services such as hospitals, schools, and firehouses.

But then, almost overnight, the OTB parlors were gone leaving many New Yorkers wondering why. The film explores the key question: How does a billion dollar bookie go bankrupt?

“On December 7, 2010, OTB shut down quite literally in the middle of the day. Myself and a thousand other folks were thrown out onto the streets. I needed to find out why,” Fusco says.

Fusco joined forces with cinematographer Matthew Flannery and set out to document this lost piece of the New York experience, as well as to uncover the reasons why the OTB was shut down so abruptly.

According to Fusco, “When OTB shut down, people lost their livelihoods, their health care. What happened was criminal, and the reasons OTB closed were far more sinister and sickening than we ever imagined.”

The film will have an encore screening on Thursday, May 19.

Joseph Fusco’s interview on PBS’ MetroFocus:

The film’s trailer:

Film website:

The Workers Unite! Film Festival event page:

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Michael Kelly Honors Halcyon House Fellows at WHC Weekend Garden Brunch

Among the stars that gathered in Washington, DC for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this year, none were more in-demand than House of Cards’ Michael Kelly. In the show, Kelly plays Doug Stamper, President Frank Underwood’s right hand man, and the most ruthless operator in all of Washington. The real Kelly is anything but, of course. He was spotted at a number of White House Correspondents’ Weekend events including the HBO/Google party at the Renwick Gallery in celebration of the HBO film All the Way, which premieres May 21st, and the fabled Garden Brunch, the annual party that precedes the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Kelly addressed the crowd at the White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch, whose theme this year was “Starting Up, Starting Out”, and the fellows at local startup incubator, Halcyon House, which provides fellowships and housing to people with big ideas in business. The House is helmed by biochemist and philanthropist Sachiko Kuno, who was also in attendance. Kelly encouraged this year’s fellows at Halcyon House to follow their dreams.

‘Table for Three’ with President Barack Obama and HBO ‘All the Way’ Star Bryan Cranston

 President Obama with actor Bryan Cranston in the private dining room of the Oval Office in the White House. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

President Obama with actor Bryan Cranston in the private dining room of the Oval Office in the White House. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

President Barack Obama and Bryan Cranston, who reprises his Tony Award-winning role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the upcoming HBO Films presentation of All the Way, joined The New York TimesPhilip Galanes for a Table for Three conversation at the White House on the eve of the 2016 White House Correspondents Dinner.

The candid conversation covered topics from the impact their childhood has had on their roles as parents to the experience of being a celebrity and raising a family in the spotlight.

“It was probably our biggest worry before we came here. And it’s testimony entirely to Michelle and my mother-in-law that they’ve turned out to be such terrific grounded kids,” said Obama about raising children at the country’s most famous residence. “There was a powerful sense that I wanted to get this right. Not that I was going to be perfect, but that I was going to be there, and engage, and try to figure this out.”

Cranston agreed with the need to be present despite the challenges of balancing career and family: “My wife, Robin, was from a stable family, too. There was something so attractive about that. I thought, “This is what I want.” It’s still choppy waters raising kids, but I could never conceive of not being there.”

Galanes pointed out a scene in “All the Way” where LBJ comes out of the Oval Office and bumps into his daughter. Cranston explained that he “pitched that scene. It wasn’t in the play. I wanted you to feel the father’s love and his sense of regret that even though he’s so busy with the world’s problems.”

Obama and Cranston also discussed how the ability to tell a story is important to both of their careers. “When I set out to be an actor, I just wanted to tell stories. The fact that great fortune came and allowed me to become famous is almost a distraction from what I wanted to do,” said Cranston.

On going where people are to get the message out, Obama explained that, “when I want to sign young people up for health care, I’ve got to do ‘Between Two Ferns,’ which ended up being our biggest draw. Now, the flip side of this is the Trump phenomenon, where celebrity itself becomes a credential. If you are famous, then you have merit.”

Does playing a president qualify someone to be president? When Obama told Cranston it was too late for him this cycle, Cranston quickly replied, “It could be a brokered convention. You never know.”

Obama also gave Cranston and Galanes a tour of the White House grounds and Oval Office, a setting that is familiar to Cranston from his role as President Lyndon B. Johnson: “I’ve been in a replica of this room so much I feel like I’ve been here.” Obama noted that President Johnson’s civil rights laws are credited for “ultimately leading to the election of representatives who look like me.”

Read the full article on Barack Obama and Bryan Cranston on the Roles of a Lifetime

Sanders Campaign Manager Pledges To Continue Fighting For Every Vote, Wants Representation on Convention Committees

New Hampshire primary Bloomberg Politics pre-game briefing: Jeff Weaver, Symone Sanders, Tad Devine

New Hampshire primary Bloomberg Politics pre-game briefing: Jeff Weaver, Symone Sanders, Tad Devine

Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Manager, Jeff Weaver, told Tammy Haddad and Betsy Fischer Martin on Masters in Politics Podcast that “Secretary Clinton may wanna move on, but there’s certainly a contest going on and he (Sanders) is gonna fight for every vote and every delegate from now until the end.”

On the political revolution that Sanders has ignited, Weaver said, “you will see Bernie Sanders playing a strong national leadership role going forward…all of the work that has been done to demonstrate to the country that there is a huge part of America that wants to step away from establishment politics and establishment economics, I think he is playing a leadership role in the country.”

As plans for the Democratic National Convention evolve, the Sanders campaign “wants to make sure that the people that have supported Senator Sanders are represented on those committees and that we have the representation that is at least proportional to the delegate count he has.” He indicated that the campaign is currently not happy with where things stand, “but we’re hopeful that once there’s more of a public airing of it, that basic fairness will come into play.”

Weaver refuted the notion that Sanders voters would support Donald Trump in the general election. “I think that Trump’s message (of) lower wages, his outrageous bigoted comments, sexist comments, I just don’t think that Bernie Sanders supporters are going to move to Donald Trump.”

On what it would take for Hillary Clinton to gain the support of Sanders voters, Weaver said, “the Secretary has obviously moved to the left of this campaign substantially in an attempt to block out Senator Sanders, but as too-often happens, one worries that when the primary is over that candidate becomes much more centrist in a general election. And if that happens, I think you will see a lot of Sanders supporters just sit home, frankly.”

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Senior Trump Advisor Barry Bennett Floats Daily Trump Appearance During GOP Convention

MIPDuring an interview with Tammy Haddad and Betsy Fischer Martin for Bloomberg Politics’ Masters in Politics Podcast, Donald Trump campaign senior advisor Barry Bennett hinted at a “daily dose” of Trump during the Republican Convention.

“I think when it comes to the program, a lot of us feel that we could juice up the format just a little,” said Bennett. “More entertaining, more interesting. I don’t know why the candidate only speaks on acceptance night, why shouldn’t he speak every night from a different city?”

Bennett also suggested that Trump’s appearances wouldn’t be limited to network television time and may be supplemented by online events.

In response to Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement yesterday that he wasn’t ready to support Trump’s candidacy, Bennett admitted that the campaign was blindsided by the announcement but remains confident that Ryan will eventually support Trump. “We are for giving him whatever time he needs, but he will support the Republican candidate for president… By the time the two meet next week, they’ll be old friends.”

Bennett also believes the campaign will be able to raise significant funds and support through social media. “He’s got 16 million followers on social media, much like Bernie Sanders, and when we turn that on, you are going to see Bernie-Sanders like fundraising.”

On Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump, Bennett said, “we are going to have a campaign unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. We’ve got two people who both have negatives well into the 60s, and it’s not gonna be beanbag…they’re both going to throw everything they can.”

So how does the electoral map work for or against Trump? Bennett believes Trump will change the map, and feels “really good about places like Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania and Michigan and the Carolinas where manufacturing has really just been beaten to a pulp.” He also believes Trump’s candidacy will help the Republican Party to embrace new voters like union households. “We talk about big tent, but guess what – we just put an addition on the tent. And some people are going to have a hard time getting used to all these new people in the party. But we have to embrace more people of the party is doomed for extinction.”

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Read more via Bloomberg Politics: Masters in Politics Podcast: Adviser Says Trump Is ‘Very Much’ Like Bill Clinton

Garden Brunch Guests Share Their Advice For ‘Starting Out And Starting Up’

As guests arrived at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch, they were asked to share their advice for individuals who are seeking to launch a new career and change the world.

Scroll through the slideshow for insights shared by successful individuals from business, entertainment, media and politics.

"Be bold and be fearless!" - Sheila Johnson "World is Wide and Life is Long" - Dr. Sachiko Kuno "Life is about filling your plate with everything you want. Don't push your food around. Don't take less than what you need or more than you can chew. But definitely wipe it clean!" - Rosario Dawson "In the end it will all be okay. And, if it's not okay, then it's not the end. Onward and upward!" - Robin Bronk "Always say please and thank you." - Todd Harris and Ieva Augstums "Always do your homework - be prepared!" - Betsy Fischer-Martin "Always be a sponge for more info." - Ashley Graham "No job is too small not to do well!" - Heather Podesta "Discipline / Freedom" - Jeff Goldblum "Do not argue with your boss when u are drunk - even if u are right." - Joanna Coles "Have good real friends. Listen. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Reflect & learn." - Debbie Dingell "Work hard and follow your instincts!" - Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Don't be afraid of fear." - Helen Mirren "Don't forget who you are!" - Jazmyn Simon
"Dare to dream. Dreams do come true!!!" - Dule Hill "Work hard on yourself. Don't be hard on yourself." - Stephanie Ruhle "Perseverance!" - Sela Ward "Be yourself at all times." - Deesha Dyer "Keep your expectations high!!!" - Amy Klobuchar "Don't take no!" - Gayle King "Never give up, for every no you may receive there is someone who will say yes!" - Emma Dockery "Love God and Love One Another!" - Omarosa "Travel! See the world so that you know something!" - Greta Van Susteren "Find out if your product can sell!!!" - Kevin Plank "Trust your gut." - Bridget Moynahan "Be respectful and kind. We are all in this life together." - Jaimie Alexander "Be bold!" - Joy Behar "Believe and trust in yourself." - Anne V "Commit 100% to your dream. That will lead you to places you can't even imagine!" - Tony Goldwyn "Be a good writer. Travel. Get things done!" - Gary Knell "Remember failure is a stepping stone to success!" - Arianna Huffington
"You can bend reality but don't break it!" - Travis Kalanick "Eyes on the prize - never give up. Drink lotsa water!" - Guillermo Diaz "You may be smart, but other people may be smarter. Listen & take advantage & learn. Two heads are smarter than one." - Wolf Blitzer "Never compare yourself with the other girls (models) because like flowers we're all beautiful in our own way." - Daniela Lopez Osorio "Get up when you fall down!" - David Adler "Always say YES" - Jamie Stelter "Instead of competing with others, try to do 10% better than you did." - Neve Campbell "Embrace the moment!" - Jessie Usher "You do know that you are enough, don't you?" - Jeff Perry "It's only life!" - Scott Foley "You Are Enough!" - Constance Zimmer "Live with Love and Gratitude!" - Matthew and Renee Morrison "Don't wait for anyone to let you be what you want to be - just be it!" - Lisa Edelstein "Dream big. Pray harder!" - Candace Cameron Bure
"Life is about filling your plate with everything you want. Don't push your food around. Don't take less than what you need or more than you can chew. But definitely wipe it clean!" - Rosario Dawson

A special thanks to Microsoft for providing the interactive PPI board.

Political Power Players Attend White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch

Valerie Jarrett, Laura Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett, Laura Jarrett

Washington power players made an appearance at the annual White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch over the weekend.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, attended with her daughter Laura Jarrett. Other members of the White House staff included Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, and Krishanti Vignarajah, Policy Director at the White House. They were joined by Ellie Schafer, Director of the White House Visitors Office and The Most Powerful Person in Washington That You’ve Never Heard Of, according to Capitol File. 

Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20)

Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20)

Capitol Hill was also well represented at the brunch. Congressmen from all corners of the country were in attendance, including Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Representative Debbie Dingell (MI-12). 

Dozens of Hollywood Stars Make a Splash at Annual White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch

Kevin Plank, Daniela Lopez Osorio, Bryan Cranston and Jay Roach

Kevin Plank, Daniela Lopez Osorio, Bryan Cranston and Jay Roach

Some of the biggest stars in television who were in Washington for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner stopped by the annual Garden Brunch.

House of Cards favorite Michael Kelly, in a return appearance for Correspondents’ weekend, led the parade of TV stars along with co-star Neve Campbell who recently joined the cast of House of Cards for season four. They were rounded out by House of Cards alum, Constance Zimmer, who is also starring in the TV series, UnREAL.

'House of Cards' Star Michael Kelly

‘House of Cards’ Star Michael Kelly

There were three ‘presidents’ in attendance: Scandal’s Tony Goldwyn, Independence Day’s Sela Ward, who plays the first woman president, and Esia Morales from HBO’s The Brink.

Television executives were also on hand, from Nina Lederman of All3Media America, Deborah Turness of NBC News, Steve Capus, Executive Producer of CBS Evening News, and Chris Licht, the new Executive Producer of the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Besides all the TV stars, a few famous faces from the film word were also in town. HBO’s film All the Way, which was honored at the HBO-Google party at the Renwick Gallery (voted the best WHCD weekend party by Roll Call readers) was attended by star Bryan Cranston and his wife Robin Dearden, along with Director Jay Roach and HBO Films President Len Amato and Vice President Tara Grace.



2016 White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch a huge success!

Another White House Correspondents’ Weekend is in the books, and the 2016 Garden Brunch was one of the best yet!

Watch the video from this year’s brunch featuring Halcyon Incubator and Yellow Ribbons United’s #PlayfieldInThePark and pledge to do something.

The #PlayfieldInThePark initiative serves approximately 500 children and teens attending the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Good Grief Camp and Honoring Our Heroes Camp over Memorial Day Weekend. The program was created by Derrick and Emma Dockery, and has recently received the support of Constance Milstein, who was also a co-host of the Garden Brunch.

We ask you to visit to support the organization and get involved.

Also, a big congratulations to Dr. Sachiko Kuno who recently became a United States citizen! We were so honored to feature the work of the organization she founded, Halcyon Incubator, which is changing the lives of young entrepreneurs who hope to have an impact on the world with their innovations. To learn more about the program, or if you know someone who might be interested in applying to be part of a future cohort, visit their website at