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Happy ho ho and slappy new year!!

So I managed to see only 201 movies in 2001, just shy of last year's record. The year was quite busy, with very little time to relax, but overall, I'd have to say I had a good time, as always.

January arrived with a visit from Mom and some record snowfall. Shoots on my sketch comedy TV show "Shameless" continued, interrupted by a trip to visit my IU friend Milissa outside Baltimore and a trip to Colorado for the Sundance and other film festivals. My live-action puppet movie "H.R. Pukenshette" made a fine showing at three festivals there (and has since gone on to show at more than a dozen more around the world, winning the Highgate Festival in London, England), and Bill Plympton's "Mutant Aliens" (in which I voice several characters) screened at the Sundance Festival itself. The day I returned from CO, I had another film shoot (that project, "Get the Hell Out of Heaven," is also being very well received) and a taping for the Goldenbooks series of CDROM's (all of us probably remember the old tapes with the chimes to turn the pages, right?!). For the next six months, I worked at some acting activity virtually every day. Plus I started teaching two classes at The Cooper Union.

In February, I continued my 159 auditions for the year, taped another cartoon I have yet to see ("Talk Show Circus"), went to a George Carlin retrospective at the Museum of Television and Radio, and began working for an internet company as their resident puppeteer and voiceover guy (NeoEd.com- they have since lost their funding). I also booked another feature film ("Bridges and Tunnels"), shot in April, which should be nearing the end of post production....I hope.

We had a lot of snow in early March, and then a little on the 26th- the last snow we've seen here in NYC. I attended "La Boheme" at the Met with my friend Mandy (for free, thanks to my neighbor Matt!), saw my friend Greta's play, and shot another hilarious puppet movie ("The Ringing Phone") I have yet to see... I did forge a great relationship with the sound guy, who is also a director, and who chose me to be the subject of his documentary project for school in March, and who recently cast me as the lead in his thesis film. I also began meetings with the cast of Ionesco's "Bald Soprano" which we put on at The Flatiron Playhouse for a week and a half in May.

In March, I had shoots for "Shameless" and 2 features....one of these projects is going to hit, and then life will be very, very good. For the second feature, I had to look a little older, so I grew my beard back... directorial error led to an incomplete shoot, and due to other commitments, I had to shave and grow the beard back several times so I'd look the same! On the bright side, we were able to use one shaving as a BIG plot element on an episode of "Shameless"- the other characters think I look like a muppet and keep insulting me until I go nuts and shave it off! I'll have to put excerpts up on the web site sometime.

May was the play, and the start of night temp work for JPMorgan. As you know, I don't sleep much and like to stay up late, so three nights a week from 8PM to 4AM, I make Powerpoint presentations and design Word documents for investment bankers. It's good for a little extra cash. Also, the Smith family visited and we all saw "The Music Man" on Broadway. In the theater of the macabre, I took part in the Kellogg company's search for a new Tony the Tiger voice in preparation for the death of the elderly man who's done it since the 40's.

May 31st, I flew to Indiana to relax for a week, and immediately went to the acting workshop upon my return. Two days after that ended I took my first real vacation in years when the whole Kolack-Smith clan went to Mexico for Grandma's birthday. For the first time since 1994, I didn't wear a pager!!

July was filled with auditions and movies, and the end of the month brought a trip to Los Angeles by way of Indiana. I didn't get the big house rented out, so I put it up for sale, and am happy to report I've just accepted an offer on it. LA was great, and I'm seriously considering a move out there- or at least buying a new place there, rather than in NY. At the same time, things are going quite well here, and I really don't like pastels and stucco... So I haven't quite made up my mind... But it was really nice there, and my pal Mike is there and has been great helping me look at places from the opposite coast!

August was more "Shameless," another acting workshop, and the start of 2 more classes at Cooper. My friend Dave, the director of "Shameless," is also a pilot, and we got to fly around Manhattan in a little 2-seater, before that was outlawed... The flight paths for those little planes (the smoothest plane ride I've ever had!) were so low, we were well below the tops of the Trade towers.

We all know what happened in September. I really can't express the surreality of it all. The images from around the world at American embassies of people mourning America's loss of innocence really touched me. As I came home dirty and tired from helping down there one day, I was reaching for my MetroCard when the subway turnstile ahead of me flashed "go" before I got to it- I turned and the attendant at the booth just gave me a solemn nod, and I thought "I don't want to be let through- I don't want any of this to be happening." But it did. Now, tourists have returned en masse and there are the usual idiocies going on- people being paid overtime to clean it up when there are scores of people out of work and willing; people working without proper protection who are just future lawsuits that will bleed this city of money it needs elsewhere; and so on. And all because of an illogical hatred. As I have posted on my website, "perhaps we can get bin Laden and Jerry Falwell together and they can blow each other- they'll know the answer to "whose is bigger" and the rest of us can peacefully get on with our lives". My apologies for the crude wording, but I staunchly believe it's horribly accurate.

On a brighter note, my high school friend Elizabeth was in town in September, when I also got to make a quick trip to Boston to visit Justin and Mom, and October brought my shoot for a History Channel show (which aired in December) and tapings for a series of cartoons which should start airing soon (really- these people are established in Europe and are making a move on the US market). Stay tuned! I also got new headshots, also posted online.

November brought my friend Jennifer with it, along with a truly interesting audition for the creators of VH1's Pop Up Video....they were looking for Tom Cruise, Pamela Anderson, or Mr. T lookalikes, and not looking like any of them, I decided to audition for Mr. T (If Michael Jackson can be a white man, why can't Mr. T be one too!?). I was the only white guy with the audacity to try, and made some great connections with them. Following my hilarious audition, they offered me a role anyway, despite giving the Mr. T role to someone who really looked like him!. After the shoot, I made a trip to the Smiths for Thanksgiving. Mom missed it, but was in town for a week in December for the holidays, so I got to see everyone, and dragged them to some really bad movies! My commercial for the new Pokemon Center in NYC is airing constantly here, though probably not in markets outside the Northeast.

I hope that your holiday season was GREAT and that you have a truly amazing start to 2002!

Peace and love always,