Catherine Spencer talks about women’s sport and inequality

Catherin Spencer, the former women’s Rugby team captain has published an article in The Guardian on the subject of the inequality between men’s and women’s sport in general, and in particular about the huge investment gap.

She said that if she had been given a pound for the times she had been asked about the hurdles women in sport face, she would be a rich lady. As it is, she mourned, her bank balance is only that of a retired England Rugby captain – and a women’s rugby captain at that.

Women rugby players had to play for the love of the game

When Spencer held the captaincy, from 2007 to 2011, the players were expected to play for the love of the game. Her team included doctors, teachers, policewomen and veterinary surgeons who spent all of their free time training and playing without any financial reward – unlike today’s lady players who at least are given match fees on a match-by-match basis.

The ex-women’s captain mentioned browsing the BBC Sport website homepage recently. She searched out the women who were featured and came across Serena Williams, and the silver medallists from the British Winter Paralympian team, Jen Kehoe and Menna Fitzpatrick. These three sportswomen were amongst 33 photos of male sports athletes, which highlights the problem nicely.

Lack of media coverage for women’s sports events

Women’s sport doesn’t get anywhere near the same amount of coverage in the media that men’s sport does. The same problem occurs with sponsorships too. It creates a never-ending circle. To attract sponsorships, the sponsors want to know those they sponsor will get plenty of TV publicity. However, the TV companies don’t show much women’s sport because they maintain it doesn’t attract the same size of audience that men’s sporting events do.

Breaking the circle

Of course, from the audience’s side of the coin, they say that they can’t watch women’s sport because it isn’t broadcast enough. And so it goes – round and round in perpetuity. The chain somehow needs to be broken, but how?

Anything is possible given enough application. As Catherine herself reminded us, she captained her team in winning four Six Nations championships, plus getting to the World Cup final, all the while holding down a full-time job.

To break the underinvestment circle, all that is needed is the courage and some dedication. The recent spectacle in women’s international rugby was when France beat England. Not only was the game was seen by over 17,000 spectators (the most ever to witness a women’s test match) but more people than ever also got involved with placing bets on the outcome.

That same day 5,000 spectators watched Twickenham beat Richmond at the Harlequins’ ground. A British record.

Getting the message across

Catherine Spencer is determined to further the cause of equality for women’s sport, even though she has retired from international rugby. She is writing her own book, rather aptly titled, “Mud, Maul, Mascara.” She has also started her own agency and is getting in there amongst the almost men-only-world of after-dinner speaking.

She is doing her bit in an effort to show that women’s sport should be taken seriously and that it has much to offer; a sentiment more and more people are beginning to agree with.

Five Finger Death Punch’s Jeremy Spencer talks about his new biography and 2015 plans

Jeremy Spencer is the drummer behind the bombastic sound of the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch. In the past couple years the band has released two successful studio albums and performed to thousands of fans. To add even more to an already crazy schedule Spencer found time to pen his first book a biography titled “Death Punch’d: Surviving Five Finger Death Punch’s Metal Mayhem”. The book is a candid, no punches pulled account of Spencer’s life both in and out of the band. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Jeremy recently about the books creation as well as what the band has planned for 2015.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a little over view of the book and tell us why you chose now to the time to release a book like this?
Jeremy Spencer: It all sort of started around the time that I had just gotten out of rehab. I had started writing basically about my whole life as a way to process and get something outs. It was very therapeutic. Anytime I had some down time I would start writing. Once I had a large amount of stuff I started looking back over it and found a lot of it very interesting. I sent it out to my dad to get his take on it and he thought that some of the stuff I had written could be a benefit to people. He did think it needed to be edited down so I would be ostracized as it was very raw and real. (Laughs) He helped me with that and I ended up sending it off to our management and they loved it. From there they started shopping it around to the publishing companies. It wasn’t anything I was planning on but things took shape and we moved forward. Even though our band is still popular and on the upswing which is not when books from band members normally come out, but that ended up being all the more reason to put it out when we did. I think the story can help a lot of people and the positive feedback has been great thus far. This book has helped me with a lot of different things in so it just been a great experience so far.

AL: Being so fresh out of rehab was it hard to look back at some of these stories you put in the book?
JS: Some of it was horrifying! I wasn’t proud of a lot of it, especially when it was where I hurt someone. Those things made me sad. I have tried to work through things the best I can and I certainly wasn’t proud of who I was during those times. At the same time if I didn’t go through that stuff I wouldn’t be where I am now. I think by being a drug addict it forced me to look at things that I may not have if I was sober. Once you start dealing with the addiction side of things you realize that there is more deeply rooted stuff to also address as well. That for me has been a blessing.

AL: The books layout jumps back and forth between the past and present. Was that something that was a conscious decision or was that idea taken directly from your initial writings?
JS: That was something that happened during editing and was suggested by the book company. I am really glad they suggested that because it’s a bit different. I haven’t really read any books that do that. I wrote sort of chronologically and that has been done so much that we decided to change it up. I am really happy with how it turned out.

AL: Throughout the book you speak very candidly about the other members of Five Finger Death Punch. Was it difficult being that truthful knowing your still going to be working with them on a day to day basis?
JS: For sure. I definitely toned things down a bit as my intentions were not to throw anyone under the bus. I made sure to talk with the guys about anything I may have thought was questionable beforehand. I gave them a chance to read the parts they were in ahead of time if they wanted to just in case there was any worry or things like that. This project meant a lot to me and I didn’t want it to hurt anyone. I had to obviously pull back the curtains some so the reader could get a better feel for the story so if needed I changed people’s names or things like that. I was very cautious about all those things. Again there were a few things that got removed. Some of the things I found hilarious at first we decided to leave out after talking a little bit more about them because ultimately they didn’t fit well with the story. I think everyone was pleased with how the book turned out as no one was exposed too much.

AL: With the book having been out now for a few months is there anything that made it into the book that you sort of regret having in there?
JS: I am comfortable with. I don’t really want to change anything or wished I had done something differently. If that first draft I submitted would have come out it would have been terrible! (Laughs) The book went through a lot of editing. The whole thing was a process as there are just so many different steps you have to go through when writing a book. I have lived my several times over now.

AL: The band recently wrapped up a really great co-headlining run with Volbeat but, have there been any discussions about what the band will be doing in the coming year?
JS: The band has huge plans for next year. Once we get through the holidays we will be heading over to Japan for a run of shows there. After that we have a little time off and then we will be heading in to the studio to make the new record with hopes of a summer release. We also have some plans to do a few spring shows and a European run with Judas Priest. First thing first we have to get the new record done and out.


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Blu-ray Review “Meeting Spencer”

Directed by: Malcolm Mowbray
Starring: Jeffrey Tambor, Jesse Plemons, Melinda McGraw, Mark Harelik
Distributed by: Kino Lorber Films
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: March 6, 2012
Running Time: 88 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

When I saw that this film was starring Jeffrey Tambor, I jumped at the chance to see him take the deserving starring role. I have always been a fan of his work. Well, this film is fun but definitely not his best work. The film plays like a stage play and is not able to break out of its shell. It would make a great play but doesn’t work as a movie. It runs long at only 88 minutes and ends up going nowhere. I did enjoy the performances though from Jesse Plemons and Melinda McGraw very much as well though. The film overall though just never nails any jokes well and caused me to lose interest very quickly.

We met famed director Harris Chappell (Jeffrey Tambor), who returns to New York to have a comeback on Broadway after his career in Hollywood flopped. He is having dinner with his ex, Didi (Melinda McGraw) and unknown starting actor Spencer (Jesse Plemons) with hopes to plan his triumphant comeback. Of course the night does not go well when they are plagued by one issue after another at the restaurant. Hilarity is suppose to ensue but never really gets there.

The Blu-ray presentation wasn’t anything special. It was presented in 1080p transfer and looks good but not spectacular. Since the film is all dialogue, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesn’t really get to shine but it does work well with the score. The special features are baron like this film including only a photo gallery and the theatrical trailer.

Interview with Chaske Spencer

Chaske Spencer plays wolf pack leader Sam Uley in the blockbuster “Twilight” series films. Media Mikes recently caught up with Chaske to talk about his role in the films as well as some of the other projects he is involved with.

Adam Lawton: How did your role in the “Twilight” series come about?
Chaske Spencer: I auditioned for it through Rene Haynes who had cast me a bunch of other films. Everything really happened through her. They had the audition for all of the wolf pack members and I read initially for Sam and that was the role I ended up being cast for.
AL: Were you familiar with the story line for “New Moon”?
CS: I knew a little bit but not really that much. I had seen “Twilight” advertised around New York but I didn’t know too much about it other than it was about a vampire. After auditioning and getting the part I realized how big of a deal it was.

AL: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” will be your third time playing the role of Sam. Do you feel your portrayal of the character has evolved with each film?
CS: In “Breaking Dawn” you’re going to see a lot more of Sam as he is a very pivotal character in the series and he really comes out in “Breaking Dawn”. The previous films were kind of a build up for the Sam character. My favorite book that I went to for ideas about the character was “Eclipse” as it had a lot more of the back story.

AL: Have you been allowed to make the character more your own since “New Moon”?
CS: Not really. I came in after reading the books and doing my research and I had an idea as to how I wanted to portray the character. I just went at it and waited for the director to tell me if I was doing something wrong. According to him I was doing ok because unless they tell me I’m doing it wrong then I just keep going with what I got.

AL: What has been your reaction to the fans of the film and did you think the series was going to be as big as it has become?
CS: I kind of knew it was going to be huge especially after our first experience with the paparazzi. The U.S.A. Today article where they announced who was going to be playing the wolf pack along with me researching the first film I knew it was going to be big. I was expecting the reactions of it and the fans are great as they have pretty much given us a career. If it wasn’t for the fans of the books the studios would have never made them. The fans really give us a job and it’s been a snowballing effect through each movie. “Breaking Dawn” is going to be huge and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s a fun wild ride but I am ready to move on.

AL: What was it like shooting the last two films back to back?
CS: To me it seemed like we filmed “New Moon” and “Eclipse” back to back as there wasn’t much of a break between films. With “Breaking Dawn” it didn’t really seem too different. I enjoyed it and it made me work harder.

AL: Outside of films you do a lot of speaking and activism. Can you tell us what sparked your interest in that?
CS: I do a thing called “Be the Shift” which promotes youth to shift the systems that we have in place today. Most of those systems don’t work and we are trying to get youth to try and make a substantial change in those be it the actual environment or with their community. Any system designed to help people that isn’t working we encourage youth to help make it better and work for the people the way it was intended. I like to occupy my time and to give back plus I get a little uncomfortable with the spotlight so I use it to bring light to the charities I am associated with.

AL: Can you tell us about “Let’s Move”?
CS: “Let’s Move” is a great organization. I worked with the Obama Administration on this program and it’s informing people especially youth about the importance of exercising and to get up and move around. Childhood obesity is huge here in American and this program emphasizes the importance of exercising along with nutrition.  My part in the program is to help out in Indian country with the Native American population. There is a lot of malnutrition in these places so I am helping to inform those people about eating healthy and exercising.

AL: How did you get involved with the Obama Administration?
CS: They kind of came to me knowing I was very involved in my activism and me being in “Twilight” helped out a bit so it was really a no brainer. I guess we both found each other. (Laughs)

AL: Can you tell us about any other projects you having coming up?
CS: I start work on a film titled “Winter in the Blood” in a few weeks and I have another project that I am looking at as well. I can’t really say too much about it just yet but it’s a big one! I am really looking forward to it but we just have to finish dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Since “Twilight” has happened it has opened a lot of doors for my career and I am really happy that I can be working as an actor.