Veras Communications


Speakers Bureau

October 2001

Media Opportunities for the Athens 2004 Olympics

Good evening and thank you for having me here tonight as your guest, speaker and Greek family member. It has been my great pleasure to speak to many Hellenic groups, ever since I was President of my local Sons of Pericles in Cleveland in 1965. It has been interesting to me to see how the audiences have changed in some ways and yet remained the same in other ways. I am sure that after we entertain questions later, I will again be pleasantly surprised.

I debated changing tonight's topic in light of the September 11th tragedy. So many of our normal day activities seem irrelevant when we all feel part of a crises, and that is what everyone is feeling. Yet, another part of us says move on, don't be paralyzed or overcome by these events. New Englander Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Nothing is to be so much feared as fear". In the end, looking forward past the darkness and into the light is the only way to get through the tunnel. There is a great opportunity on the horizon for all of those of Hellenic descent.

The Athens 2004 Olympics looks distant in our rear view mirrors at this time, but it is fast approaching. In the year preceding the Games, for Greeks and Greek-Americans, there will be more media and worldwide attention paid to everything that is "Greek" then has ever been there in the past nor in the future. Combine all the print, radio and television coverage to date about anything Hellene and it will be draw fed by what is written, said and seen about things Greek from September 2003 to September 2004.

The question is how do we marshal our talents as Greek-Americans to put ourselves in front of this media onslaught! More than put ourselves in front of it, how do we present ourselves and get the word out there of what we are doing as a group?

There are many projects that are beginning to be developed in film, theatre, art, music, food, dance, sports, you name it, in connection with Hellenic themes and the Olympics. Here is an example of an animation series developed for use in commercials or short films [roll Katsos tape]. Here is another example of a radio campaign that has been put together with Bob Costas [play CD].

I have found out about these projects and many more through the informal Greek networking chain. For every ten that I hear of, there must be fifty others that I don't know about. That is one of the reasons that I am speaking with you tonight.

There has to be a way, especially in today's Internet age, to find and create a central information bank of everything that I going on, in and around the two themes of Greek and the Olympics. Then, after we create this information bank, we need to use it to initiate and activate other projects that we deem necessary to improving our profile and to helping solidify our identity and what we stand for.

This triple threat approach of collecting intelligence (information gathering), connecting the activities together (linkage) and then working together to let our media friends know it is coming, will enable us to get many more visual projects in front of America and the world.

Let me give you an example of three potential movies being developed for 2003, Alexander the Great, 300 Spartans and Running with Pheidippides. Alexander the Great has been languishing in the Hollywood movie development pipeline for years. Recently, due to the efforts of one of your local Hellenes, George Hasiotis, Variety announced the movie would begin production. At the same time, Fox Studios is looking to duplicate the success of "Gladiator", sort of, after the Roman Coliseum, what is next? What more heroic battle than the men of Thermapolyic, led by Mel Gibson? And finally a story dear to your community and dear to my heart, Stylos Kyriakides, Running with Pheidippides. Along with my partner, Dean Kyriakos, we have option of the Andy Dablis and Nick Tsiotsis book with agent, Susan Gates, for a documentary or movie.

What do these three projects have in common? The spirit of Hellenism, from ancient Greece to 1947, will be shown and highlighted worldwide in a Hellenic movie assault not seen since "Zorba", "Z", and "Never on a Sunday". Meanwhile, the entire world would be infused with images of Greece, and modern day examples with every announcement of a new venue build, a torch relay throughout the country or athletes preparing at pre-Olympic trials, all saying, "we are getting ready for Athens".

With the entire public's consciousness, raised about the physical beauty of country, the warmth of the people and this uprised spirit to achieve our full human potential. The public will be hungry for anything Hellene, whether an art exhibit by Christine Kondolean at MFA here in Boston, or modern mural work by Euripdes Katsoris in St. Louis or music by Yanni or a revival of ancient Greek language, a emphasis on mythology or a renewed interest in the works of Plato and Aristotle.

Hopefully, new ideals will emerge from how the Greeks host the 2004 Games. Filotime, which the tourism world knows well, will be extended to the athletes and more importantly, the full worldwide media crush. If both groups have seen and heard positive Greek related subjects in movies, TV and music in the year prior to the Games, don't you think they will be more receptive to receiving that great, Greek hospitality.

Anticipation is 90% of the receiving joy. We should not let this opportunity slip away. I am not sure how to bring it all together, but from my small media perch, I can tell you that I feel the volcano rumbling. We will build a new mountain or let the lava burn and destroy the old misconceptions.

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