Monday, October 18, 2010

Was Davis Guggenheim a Dupe or a Willing PARTICIPANT?

Is Guggenheim Leni Riefenstahl in drag?

Participant Media's CEO (maker of W4S).


Leonie Haimson

 to nyceducationne., P_A_A


See below; about Jim Berk, CEO of Participant Media who joined the company in 2006. Participant Media came up w/ idea for Waiting for Superman, helped produce it and is now running the “campaign” to promote its ideas to policymakers.

Berk used to be head of  Gryphon Colleges Corporation, part of  Gryphon Investors, a $700 million San Francisco-based private equity fund which operates Gryphon Colleges Corporation, which invests in and owns for-profit EMOs. 

In 2006,Gryphon Investors, through Gryphon Colleges Corporation, acquired Delta Educational Systems, which operated 16 for-profit vocational schools in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

See  for how Gryphon Investors has been recently sued by the SEC for scamming investors, and running “an Internet-based scam that lured investors into paying for fabricated stock market advice and investment tips from nonexistent “experts.”.

Gryphon Holdings publishes financial information, posting financial tricks and investment tips on the Internet under a variety of names, including “Wolves of Wall Street,” “Wall Street’s Most Wanted,” “Pure Profit,” and “Mafia Trader. The SEC alleges that these recommendations and expert tips were little more than a “vehicle to attract unsuspecting clients to pay fees for personalized investment recommendations, portfolio analysis, and money management services that Gryphon purportedly provided.” Investors, following the advice of these so-called “experts” at Gryphon Holding who were depicted as possessing “millions of dollars in trading riches as well as top-notch educational backgrounds and prominent experience at major Wall Street firms,” suffered significant losses. In at least once instance, an investor allowed Gryphon to conduct trades on their behalf.

Sound familiar?

Recently, Participant has entered into a number of business deals that allow the company to expand and increase its output through guaranteed financing and distribution for a slate of films over the next several years, beginning in September 2008 with its $250 million film financing fund with imagination Abu Dhabi and in January 2009 with its non-exclusive worldwide distribution agreement with Summit Entertainment. In February 2009, Participant Media announced an equity investment in Me to We, a Toronto-based social enterprise promoting a socially responsible, globally-focused approach to living for young people who want to help change the world through their daily choices.. 

From: Sasha Waters <>
Date: October 18, 2010 8:22:36 AM EDT

Below is from my comments post to AO Scott's article about documentaries in the NYT yesterday.  Just want to make sure you know about Participant Media's CEO Jim Berk's background in for-profit ed.  Guggenheim said in a recent article in Film Comment that Participant approached him with the idea and financing...and clearly, someone is spending a massive amount of money on this film's publicity.  

As with so many things: follow the money. Scott's discussion of form here while interesting is a distraction from a more urgent issue, which is slickly-produced, well-financed feature-length informercials masquerading as "documentaries" and being uncritically accepted by the establishment as such. Short example:

1. Participant Media conceived of & funded "Waiting for Superman," the popular infomercial for the privitization of the multi-billion dollar public education "market."

2. Jim Berk is Participant's CEO. From his official bio: "Prior to Participant, Jim was Chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, where he was responsible for the formation, platform acquisition and establishment of a private company operating FOR-PROFIT POST EDUCATION SCHOOLS." [Emphasis added]

3. Gryphon is a part of Gry
hpon Investments (see link) a private equity firm with $900 million assets under management.

4. This film has nothing to do with educating children, really, nor with documentary proper. Its social function - like many other recent so-called "documentaries"("Art & Copy," funded by the advertising industry to celebrate the advertising industry comes to mind) is much more sinister.

Sasha Waters Freyer
Associate Professor of Film & Video
Dept. of Cinema & Comparative Literature
Adler Bldg # e 210
Iowa City, IA  52242
# 319.353.2922

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