Across the Board (ATB) Talent, founded in 2008 by entertainment professional and entrepreneur Guy Kochlani, is a full-service licensed Talent Agency. ATB represents its talent "across the board:" theatrically, commercially, in print, hosting, voiceovers and dance. The limited client roster and staff of 10 enables ATB to remain committed to the goal of developing high quality talent while providing the personalized atmosphere of a management company.

Across the Board’s talent has been seen on numerous TV shows, films, commercials and theatre productions. Their models and photographers have been a part of major fashion campaigns and have been seen across the pages of domestic and international magazines.

ATB is honored to announce its move up into the big leagues. Using talent from across the board, ATB is currently packaging a major feature film as well as television series. As the client list becomes larger and more high-profile projects are being tackled, founder and CEO Guy Kochlani avows: “No matter how much we expand, our original business model will always remain on point. We provide one-on-one care and service to each client, no matter what.”

ATB represents talent and models in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, with offices in Los Angeles and New York-Times Square. There are plans to open offices in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

For more info, check us out at WWW.ATBTALENT.COM

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Ah, Oscar season: the only time of the year when “smaller, dramatic” films are able to claim the spotlight while the next round of summer blockbusters are on deck in post-production.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aims to highlight the most high of the highbrow, applauding only the year’s best films, and these nominations usually produce feelings of glee and disappointment as our favorite movies are either celebrated or snubbed. 

Award season is about honoring the craft of filmmaking; we are meant to see the absolute passion (the key word here) and love for the art projected on the silver screen.  When it’s clear that the filmmakers genuinely adore and believe in their product, it resonates with us.  We feel it, too.

How do this year’s Oscar nominees hold up?  Do they radiate of pure artistic joy, or are they “Oscar Bait,” corporate engineered investments designed to yield awards?

And how does Andy Serkis’ performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes fit into all this?

Best Picture
Easily the most prestigious of the group, the Best Picture award is also the one most open to criticism.  Previous years have seen major frontrunners lose in astounding upsets, often because the less popular film highlights acting rather than story (the majority of Academy voters are actors).  What’s the more memorable film, Saving Private Ryan or Shakespeare in Love?  Only one is played constantly on TNT.  Famous snubs include The Shawshank Redemption, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction and, most ironically since it’s considered one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane

This year’s nominees are fairly standard, with Oscar bait like The Descendants and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close laying claim in the nine Best Picture spots.  The films mostly range from “pretty good” to “good,” with nothing being The Godfather-like outstanding for my tastes.  Hugo is an okay script beautifully directed; The Artist is a risky film that actually works; Midnight in Paris is an interesting story with great acting (again, most Academy voters are actors); I didn’t see The Help, but apparently it’s a tearjerker with great acting (like I said: actors).  Then there’s The Tree of Life which is just a work of visual art rather than a real cohesive story, and War Horse, which is definitely my favorite of the previously mentioned films but in no way ranks with Spielberg’s greatest.

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And then there’s Moneyball…but I’ll get back to that later.  First, let’s take a look at the big snubs this year (though nothing on the monumental scale of the 2009 Academy Awards—I’m still reeling over no nomination for The Dark Knight). 

The most obvious is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is nominated only in technical categories, was fairly well received by critics and has Best Actress nominee Rooney Mara cheerleading for it.  I enjoyed it overall, but as an option for the best movie of the year?  I don’t think so.  Tattoo is an incredibly well made film with a great musical score, but I find that the source material sort of alienates itself from the older generation Academy voters.  They’re very old fashioned, and a dark film about computer hackers and rape probably didn’t sit too well.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a genuinely good movie with a fantastic ending that really adds some incredible momentum to the film as it sprints into that last fifty-yard dash for the finish line.  An ending can make or break a movie, and Tinker Tailor’s made me walk out of the theater absolutely loving it.  I’m a little surprised this film didn’t make the cut, especially with all the fantastic acting performances.

J. Edgar was an early Oscar frontrunner that ended up bombing with critics but managed to capture audiences with really compelling performances.  DiCaprio and Armie Hammer were pretty tremendous in their respective roles.  This looked like an early Oscar pick, filling the obligatory “biopic” spot.  I guess I was wrong.

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“But what about Moneyball?”  Okay, here’s the truth: I adored Moneyball.  The performances were spot on, the drama was there, and the comedy worked.  It’s a film that was everything it needed to be.  Moneyball tapped into me as a baseball fan, filmmaker and filmgoer by exhibiting true – and here’s that word again – passion.  I could sense the care the filmmakers and actors had for the text.  Every moment had nuance and purpose.  This is a film where the artists are so deep into the story that they lose themselves and become purely dedicated to producing a final product that can capture and engage the audience, allowing them to feel the passion behind the filmmaking.

And that’s why it’s great.  Moneyball reminds us why we even bother watching movies in the first place.

(For the record, my favorite film of the year was X-Men: First Class, and not one of these films can lay a finger on how awesome it is.)

Best Director
This is a category without any real surprises.  All the expected players are here and, based purely on the Best Picture nominations, I’d say they’re all equally worthy of the award…but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own ten cents to throw on the table.

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Right off the bat, it’s a bit surprising that David Fincher isn’t nominated for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Comments on the plot aside, Fincher’s directing is flawless as always.  The man knows where to point the camera.

What’s with the no Spielberg love?  War Horse is a fairly complicated story to film since, you know, the main character is a horse and all, but he pulls it off.  No matter how big or small the scale, one thing is evident throughout Spielberg’s work: passion.  This is the Master at work, giving it his all and taking us to school.  If you buy into the filmmaker buying into the story, it clicks.  Spielberg is a director of integrity—he believes what he films, and that unadulterated love for cinema translates to the audience.   

I think that’s more deserving of recognition than Woody Allen shooting Paris after dark. 

Best Actor
This is a tough category simply because all the nominees do their job very well…which is sort of the problem.  There’s no major standout performance, no Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.  Every actor is quite good in his role that it’s hard to pick a legitimate frontrunner, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  He offers a perfectly nuanced, subtle and tortured performance, and brings a constant electricity every moment he is on screen.

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I believe a great performance is one that is integral to the film.  Would Moneyball and The Descendants work without Pitt and Clooney?  Probably.  Gary Oldman is the heart of Tinker Tailor, pumping the film with life.  Even when he’s off screen his presence is felt.  The movie would not work as well with a different actor.  It’s a passionate, memorable performance, and it’s that sustainable quality that should be found in a Best Actor.

Best Actress
I only have one thing to say here: Meryl Streep.  Every time she does a movie it’s an automatic nomination, even when it’s something mediocre like Mama Mia!  Is she great in The Iron Lady?  Maybe, I don’t know.  I haven’t seen it, but probably.  I mean, she’s a fantastic actress.  But I dare the Academy to have some guts and not nominate her next year.  Make the lady really work for it, and force her to bang out something special like Kramer vs. Kramer.

Best Animated Feature Film
Where the heck is The Adventures of Tintin?!  Every frame of that film is filled kinetic energy and joy…it has passion.  In my opinion it’s better directed, plotted, and scripted than most of the other nominees…and it loses a spot to Kung Fu Panda 2?!  Not only is this snub is beyond ridiculous…but I think Tintin is worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

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Having said that, the rumor on the street is that Tintin may not have qualified for the Best Animated Feature category because it was a motion capture film (despite it winning the award at the Golden Globes).  I think that’s a load of malarkey—it’s all computer artists creating EVERYTHING on screen!  Granted, Avatar was a similar situation, but at least a portion of that film was all live action.  This is probably another case of the older Academy voters not totally knowing what to do with this new format.

Best Foreign Language Film
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Normally this is one of those categories that I just ignore, but this year brings it to my attention for two reasons.  Firstly, there’s a mini Mid-East Conflict going on as Israel’s Footnote goes head-to-head with Iran’s A Separation.  It’s like watching CNN at the movies!

What I’m a little insulted by is the Academy’s omission of the British film Attack the Block.  Not only one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films, Attack the Block is the rare action comedy that actually has something to say, offering up staunch political commentary and criticisms about lower class lifestyle that are expertly masked (there’s nothing worse than a film being overbearing with its politics).  Funny and touching in every way and produced by young, hungry filmmakers, Attack the Block effortlessly achieves the levels of emotionality that so many Oscar contenders strive for.

Best Original Song
I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t particularly care about this category.  Some critics have even been lobbying for it to be removed from the Oscars altogether.  Normally I’d agree, but this year there’s an exception!  Alan Menken’s fantastic “Star Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger didn’t make the cut!  What a load of bologna.  Granted, “Man or a Muppet” from The Muppets is pretty spectacular.

Best Supporting Actor
This essay has spoken a lot on passion, and I’ve made sure to save this category for last because this is where it all comes together.  A number of films and acting performances this year have showcased genuine love for the art and craft, but nothing and no one does it like Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Serkis’ portrayal of Caesar, the genius ape who starts the primate revolution against humankind, is brilliant.  It is everything an incredible piece of acting should be: in tone with the text, multilayered and resonant.  Serkis defines the film in much the same way Heath Ledger did as The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight.  He totally embodies the character, losing himself in the role.  What is on the screen is not an actor playing a script—it is a fully fleshed out, living, breathing unique character.  Serkis is the life force of Rise of the Planet of the Apes more so than Gary Oldman is in Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyApes co-star James Franco even wrote an open letter to the Academy, asking them to consider Serkis. 

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So what was it?  Why wasn’t Andy Serkis nominated?  The answer can be boiled down to one word: acting.  Some feel that what Serkis did is not “true, honest acting” because it’s a motion-capture performance (meaning that his acting is tracked into a computer and then a digital model is placed in the scene).  I beg to differ: Serkis was on set every day.  He interacted with the other actors, and they all fed off each other’s performances.  The only difference between Serkis’ performance and Charlize Theron in Monster or John Hurt in The Elephant Man is that the prosthetics in Apes were applied digitally; instead of spending hours in makeup, it’s a team of artisans working behind computers who transform Serkis.  What he does on screen is honest and true, speaking more to the art of film than most other performances this year.  Just watch this video:

Serkis as Caesar is pure artistic love.  The character has barely any lines, relying on physicality to convey the emotion and context of the scene, and that is achieved extraordinarily well.  He gives this role his all and it’s mesmerizing, resulting in the single best performance of the year.  Every actor should be as enthusiastic, and his devotion deserves to be emulated.  Despite not being nominated, I hope that someday the entertainment industry takes note of Serkis’ dedication to the craft and realizes that is takes genuine actors, filmmakers and films to remind us why we fell in love with movies in the first place.

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Filmmaking is a passion.  Greatness is achieved out of necessity and drive, not corporate greed.  A movie making $300 million at the box office does not make it great, but rather it’s the vision and energy of those involved translating their love of cinema into something the general audience wants to digest.

We as a viewership more often than not flock to “mindless” films that have little substance.  We sit there with our tub of popcorn and 32 oz. cup of Coke chewing and sipping away, let our brain go on a two-hour vacation.  It’s only when something unique comes along that we wake up.  We become emotionally engaged, laughing and crying along the way. 

Film has an incredible power to resonate with us, to stir up every ounce of hidden passion that may be locked away.  Let’s celebrate this.  Let’s award those movies, filmmakers, actors, musicians, and all else who lead us to imaginary worlds where dreams become reality.

Lights, camera, action.

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By Alex Tafet

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: Modeling, Acting and Jumping Out of a Helicopter with Donna Feldman

It’s kind of weird to think that an international supermodel doesn’t particularly like vegetables.  The cliché dictates that the model’s meal menu consists of a handful of almonds, three or four beans, celery and maybe, maybe, a raspberry for a dessert treat.  But to hear a model, especially one as eye-numbingly beautiful as Donna Feldman, utter the words “I don’t like vegetable juice,” well…I guess it’s okay not to finish my broccoli after all.

Somewhere deep in the heart of Woodland Hills, California lays a trendy, organic restaurant named The Juicy Ladies.  It’s the sort of place that sells tofu burgers and bean sprouts, special “full body detox” sets, and fresh juices.  I ordered the Love Juice, a smooth blend of ginger, beets, carrots, apples and lemon, because Donna said it came “highly recommended” from her trainer (she could’ve told me it proved fatal 80% of the time and I’d still get it).  I don’t remember exactly what Donna ordered, but she said it was fabulous, and it was the exact same shade of green as the Incredible Hulk.

“Like Winnie from The Wonder Years
One often expects celebrities to be these larger-than-life figures, towering over us meek pedestrians.  They’re the Godzilla to our fleeing Japanese.  Donna, with her 5’10 frame, has a personality that is anything but looming.  “Growing up I was really shy,” she laughs, flashing her office paper white teeth.  “I would hide behind my hair like Winnie from The Wonder Years.  I would be really shy in front of everyone else, but the second guests would leave my parents' house, the show would begin!  I’d put on a whole production for everybody and just be this other person.  Other people were surprised by it, because I was just so, so shy.”  Not exactly the type of personality destined to be in front of the camera in a bikini. 

During Donna’s college years at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, where she studied fashion marketing and business management, the thought of professional modeling crossed her mind.  But first there was breaking into the fashion industry, and she soon found an interesting opportunity to network with designers.  “I thought a good way to network with designers was to become a fit model for clothing lines, which is like being the mannequin for a clothing line.  Before something goes into production it has to fit that fit model.” 

It wasn’t long before Donna’s agent began having her audition for print advertisements.  “At the time I was also working at a men’s clothing store, and I sort of realized that I could make more money in one day of modeling than in, like, a month of working retail.  And everything just grew from there.”  Donna was soon booking ad after ad, which paved the way for her work as an Academy Awards “trophy girl,” and then national commercials.  “Every year there was more and more, and I guess this just became a career!  Everyone who knew me growing up was shocked.”

“I mean, look, I’m still shy,” she smiles.  “But when you’re in front of the camera modeling, you can be this other person.  You get to transform yourself and let go of whatever inhibitions you might have.  You’re acting, really, which is probably why my transition into acting was so organic.”

“The One Where Donna Jumps Out of a Helicopter…”
The sky is blue, the force of gravity is 9.8 m/s2, and every man wants to be James Bond.  These are facts.  In the world of female modeling and acting, the dream is somewhat similar: every model wants to be a Bond Girl.  They’re sexy, they kick ass, and, most importantly, they have hilariously suggestive names (Pussy Galore, anybody?).  Donna has the same dream, and she had the opportunity to live it…in a sense.  From Byron Bay, Australia to Monaco, she has had photoshoots in some of the most exotic locales across the globe.  Her appearances in Two and a Half Men and Castle have garnered national attention, and she was recently ranked at number twenty-eight on’s “The 50 Hottest Jewish Women.”  None of that makes a Bond Girl…but her Visa Black Card commercial does.

“I was in Thailand shooting a high-end calendar, and my agent at the time told me there was a casting for this Bond Girl-like role in a short for Visa Black Card, and he described it to me and I was like, ‘This is my dream role for a commercial!  I can book this!’  But I was in Thailand, what could I do?  I couldn’t go to the audition.  Oh well.”

Donna’s luck hadn’t run out.  “The director saw my photos.  He held a casting with a whole cattle call of different girls, and even afterwards said, ‘I think this Donna Feldman is the girl.  I think that’s our girl.’  So he waited for me to come back, and he met with me and did an audition and screen test.  They even had me try on this leather suit, which was already made before they picked the girl, which is kind of silly because you’re supposed to have your actors before you start making their clothes.  It was almost like a Cinderella story!  I swear it was like that suit was made for me.  It was like this $10,000 gorgeous leather catsuit was sewed right to me!”

That was before the helicopter.  Donna, playing a character that can be best described as a female Tony Stark, takes a flying leap out of a helicopter into the ocean.  Even a stuntwoman would balk.  “In casting, when a director asks you if you can do something, you learn to not say no.  You figure, ‘Oh, I’ll work out the details later.’  So when the director asked if I could jump out of a helicopter,” Donna bursts into uncontrollable laughter, interrupting herself.  “I’m like, ‘Sure, sure!  We’ll work it out.’”

She’s not totally lying, though.  There’s nothing stopping her from being able to physically jump out of a levitating vehicle being kept in the air by massive, spinning razor blades.  She can do it.  Survival, on the other hand…“I didn’t think I’d really have to, but I did!  And you know what, it all worked out.  Everyone on staff was incredibly helpful, and it was a great experience.  How many people get to say they jumped out of a helicopter?”  Just you and the Marines, Donna.

Donna Feldman, Inc.
“The goal is for Donna Feldman to be a brand.”  That says it all right there.  Donna wants to be a registered trademark, with a lingerie line at Macy’s, and she’s determined to make that happen.  “I want to be a part of products I genuinely believe in, not just ‘Oh look, my own stuff!’  I want to use the name to have my own business, in either fashion or cosmetics.  But I’m still young!  I have all these opportunities coming my way, and I’m taking advantage of that.”

There’s more to it than just that, I think.  Donna seems like she sincerely cares about her industry and its effect on people.  Self-image appears to be a big part of her methodology: she started off as a shy, unassuming teen and somehow blossomed into an international supermodel.  It’s an inspirational story.  But how many have starved themselves in order to achieve those “perfect” bodies?  How many horror stories are there?

I have to believe there’s more to Donna than she’s letting on.  She can be a symbol to so many.  Here’s a talented, beautiful woman with her head on straight, totally uninvolved in the crass Hollywood lifestyle the tabloids love to exploit.  I ask her, cautiously, what sort of advice she would give to a young girl looking to break into the industry.  How can they learn from her?

“I have girls emailing me lately.  I’m working with these sixteen year old girls, and they share stories with me that are really disturbing.  They’re insecure.  Their agents are trying to control their careers…you’re in control of your career.  You need to treat this as a business and can’t take it personally.  And as much as I’m a sensitive person, I learned that.  Just because you didn’t land this job doesn’t mean you’re ugly, fat, and not good enough.  You just didn’t fit that specific role, and let’s move onto the next one.

“Girls need to stay true to themselves.  This can be a very lonely business, and it can be very hard to be judged and criticized on a daily basis.  You walk in, and you’re judged, not by what a great person you are but on looks.  But in the end, it’s what’s inside that defines you.  This is a very unhealthy business.  I just want to do anything that helps make women feel better about themselves.” 

Donna doesn’t know just yet where she’ll be ten years from now.  After all, who does?  She knows what she wants, and will do whatever she can to turn her dreams into a reality.  I’d like to throw in one suggestion: motivational speaking.  Donna has somehow managed to maneuver through the modeling and acting world morally unscathed.  She sleeps well at night knowing that her integrity is intact, and that, in my opinion, is far more rewarding than anything a line of clothing can offer.  Hopefully one day she can help others feel the same. 

We all have ideas and dreams and the hard part is doing something with them.  Donna has.  What places her above the rest is the experience of having the opportunity to fulfill those dreams.  But what will define her?  The modeling and acting she does now?  Something tangible, like her future brand name?  Or perhaps it will be her affect on the future generations of models.  Her dream role is to play Wonder Woman, who is a humanitarian warrior and an inspiration icon of hope.  She can be that on both the screen and in real life.  Donna can be a symbol, something everlasting…something truly inspirational.

Donna Feldman is represented by ATB Talent and just booked a major supporting role in a currently untitled film starring Ray Liotta, Harvey Keitel and Christian Slater.  With an onslaught of upcoming acting and modeling gigs, 2012 looks to be an incredible year for Donna.

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By Alex Tafet