Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Quiet On The Set!

Southland Location Shoot
About 3 weeks ago I heard the bad news that NBC had canceled "Southland" one of last season's more compelling dramas and a favorite of critics. It starred .... from "The OC" and Regina King (Jerry Macguire, Enemy of the State, How Stella Got Her Goove Back)as LAPD's finest and it was one of the few shows I liked last year. Then last week I saw a notice of filming flyer posted in my neighborhood and guess what? It was for "Southland". I decided that I would hang around the set and see if I get lucky like I did for the Monk filming a few months earlier (see details). I showed up at 5 pm and was able to see a lot of production stuff including a new cube-shaped light that looked like an hot air balloon" and was hoisted into the air on tethered lines.

I was also able to see a few scenes as they were being shot which is always a thrill for me. I sat down at a table near a taco truck and talked with some of the people sitting there as we watched the filming. I was just about to call it a day when one of the production people asked us to be extras for the last scene they were shooting. I was stoked! I had been an extra in crowd scenes before but this time I would be in a group of 3 standing right behind the actors. I'll be honest, I did think "it's time for my close up, Mr. Demille" for just a bit and I tried to give the camera my best angle. However, as they did take after take, after take of that same one last scene for over an hour, I was over any lust for screen time I may have initially had. In fact, We all were actually tired of just sitting there trying to not look at the camera or spoil the shot. I realize that I love movies and I like being on set but I definitely want to be busy when I'm on set as otherwise it is very boring.

After the final take, the production crew hugged and said their good-byes to each other and some made plans to go out commiserate together over the final day of shooting. I told the crew how much I liked the show and I tried to encourage them to have faith that the show would be picked up by another network but they weren't too hopeful. Apparently 6 shows were ordered, 5 were already in the can and the final one was shot that evening. The crew gave away a few scripts and call sheets as mementos and then they started packing up all the lights and equipment.

As I was ready to leave, a black low-rider oldsmoble with glowing green headlights, blacked out windows, tommy guns mounted to the hood and riddled bullet holes drives sinisterly by. I did a double-take then I looked around nervously. "I hope it's not an L.A. style drive-by", I thought frantically. I calmed myself and figured that the car must be for the Southland shoot. Then an identical black car but with an array of interior gadgets passes by me and I gawk in surprise again. They could not be for the "Southland" shoot! Turns out the cars were for The Green Hornet movie starring Seth Rogen and filming about 7 blocks up the street. I was not too thrilled with the idea of a movie about this 60's TV show nor of Seth Rogen as it's lead but now I may have to check it out. Plus, they might discover a new Bruce Lee.

Another industry site is reporting that TNT has just picked up Southland but I don't know if they are ordering any new shows so the crew may not be back. I will keep you posted on if or when the episode will air.

Monk Location Shoot

AFI Fest 2009: DAY 1

Day 1: Fiday 10/30/09

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
God is great! I had a little medical set back this past week so I had to rest up a bit and I thought that I would miss AFI's Festival opening today. Thankfully, I felt better after a strong prayer from the pastor at church and the jacuzzi on Friday so I decided to brave it and go to the AFI Festival opening event, the red carpet movie premiere of The Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I didn't have a ticket so I had to stand in the rush line for tickets but, thanks to Audi, the events are all free this year so it was worth the wait. I also met some real nice people in line and we became fast friends over the hour or so wait. Luckily, the line wasn't too long and we all got in and got the best seats in the front row. I waited a bit then relocated to my favorite seat which put me next to some of some Fox studio execs. who talked the whole time about an upcoming movie from Fox Studios starring Julie Roberts. Then the movie's writer-director, Wes Anderson introduced some of the voice cast including Bill Murray, who took the stage to roaring applause and whistles.

Movie Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Though the movie used the old fashioned technique of stop-gap animation(my fav) and no CG it had great fresh dialog and a wonderful story line that both kids and adults could enjoy. I loved the movie and the entire audience and I laughed the entire time. I loved how the humans and animals spoke with different accents and I loved how the way the word "cuss" was used to substitute for every potentially offensive cuss word.

My view IMHO:
See this! See this! See this!

Post Prem:
Afterwards, I got to meet and talk with quite a few stars and industry insiders, including Bud Connor (Harold and Maude)and movie critic, Leonard Maltin. I missed taking a picture with Matthew Gray Gubler who plays Dr. Reid on Criminal Minds. He was carrying a stylish black and chrome cane (which I thought was a "pimp cane") and which matched his suit. My new found friends and I playfully chastised him for the cane but later, as he walked away, we saw that he had a definite limp and his right knee could not support much weight. It turns out that he had surgery for a dislocated knee cap before the start of the Fall TV season.

AFI Fest's opening event was a wonderful industry event but unfortunately, George Clooney did not make it to the premiere and many of the female fans were disappointed. Meryl Streep didn't make it either but I think both have a full slate of films in some level of production so their absences are understandable.

I waved going to the Roosevelt Hotel Entertainment Weekly Lounge and missed a possible meeting with the rapper, Snoop Dog(lol) and instead I hurried home after this event because the streets were filling up with 10 times the usual "holly-weirds" in freakish costumes, partying and already out of control although it was only October 30th. Not to be outdone, the Twilight/New Moon fans are camping out overnight in lines for autographs a week in advance. However, they are looking normal and sane in comparison to the wild revellers streaming by.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Movie Reviews 2009

Here are my film reviews for movies from SPRING, SUMMER 2009.
These reviews are long over due and many of the films are long gone or just about to head out of the theaters but here goes:

The Watchmen

X-Men Origin Wolverine

The Proposal


Paper Heart

500 Days of Summer

I loved the non-linear story telling and the song and dance sequences. I loved loved Joseph Gordon Levitt as the lead (yes, the little kid from 3rd Rock is all grown up). His take on the confirmed male romantic in rose colored glasses is so convincing it's both funny and sad and even the guys in the audience were groaning in sympathy. His best male buds were on point and no help as usual in figuring out the complexities of a woman's brain. I can't wait to fix him up with a real nice girl(lol).


I absolutely love sci-fi movies but after seeing the trailers for this one, I had a nagging feeling that I'd seen this movie before but done better. Maybe somewhere along the lines of I Robot (James Cromwell back again here as the inventor/doctor) meets The Matrix (characters live virtual reality lives plugged into "stim" or "neuro-interface" chairs and a resistance group lead by Ving Rhames as the prophet v.s. Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus). Is it just me? Needless to say I skipped this one, and by the box office tally so far, others did too.

Zombie Land

Fall 2008 Reviews
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The first hour: Spectacular! The science behind the sci-fi and the cgi was great!
I think all the actors did their jobs well especially Reeves, who often gets a bad rap.

Midpoint: Fair. I wanted more Gort v.s. the military action. I also wanted to spank Jacob/Jaden.

Ending: Weak with poor resolution. At 103 minutes, this movie needed another 10-20 minutes to it to affect a good resolution. Personally, I think they edited a lot out to appease the die hard fans of the original who seemed against the environmental slant. Example: The professor's scenes and argument's seem short and incomplete. I expect to see those deleted scenes when they release the DVD in 4 or so months

Overall, I gave it a 7.5 out of 10 but good fun for the Christmas weekend.
For Sci-fi fans: This movie is a must see if only to compare it to the original.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Come Holy Spirit, Come!

We had a lovely night at church last Friday as we sought the Holy Spirit through soul searching and joyous praise then we soaked in His holy presence. There was great praise and worship, beautiful singing and emotional walls crumbled leaving us thoroughly open to the Lord.

I built up to the night by praying and doing an "Esther fast" with the church that we had agreed to do on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday of this week. I also played gospel music like Martha Munizi's "Holy Spirit, We Need You" and Benny Hinn's "Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome", both of which helped cleanse my spirit and prepare me for the presence of the Holy Spirit. I thought of it like "spiritual" house cleaning before an esteemed guest visits.

Again, this night was intense! I have no doubt that He was present and it was and is so amazing. Imagine... such beauty, praise and faithfulness in a town such as this. God is great!

The Lord is My Shepherd!

Today at church we are focused on the promises of the Bible, specifically the 23rd Psalm, which is my favorite Bible verse. Everyone knows this psalm and some, like my self, can recite it from memory. But what do we really understand about the hopeful and secured message it reveals? At church we were charged to study the words of the psalm and search our hearts all week long. We then were asked to re-write the psalm and submit it with a list of "what was lacking" in our lives.

The pastor explained the importance of the Lord and "the Good Shepherd" and emphasized how every line of the psalm shows how God promises to provide for us.
At home, I read the psalm again and again and meditated on the words. Then I looked for musical inspiration by playing Jeff Majors rendition of this psalm sang by Don Jones(most memorably at the late Coretta Scott King's funeral) as I quietly meditation of the words again. As usual, this particular rendition of Psalm 23 leaves me undone, tearful and on my knees before God.

In doing this exercise of study and reflection of Psalm 23, I found new and great personal interpretations of my own that have helped cement my faith. Here are a few good interpretations and personal reflections I found from other Christian sites online.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall TV Season 2009

The Fall TV season has just started and it has a slue of new medical dramas(yippie for me) as well as old regulars like Grey's and Private Practice, some teen angst and vampire soaps, a slight bump in situation comedies, the requisite Law and Order series and the usual slate of reality shows with screaming diva housewives from where ever. Here are the reviews of what I watched and my "In My Humble Opinion"(IMHO) viewing score with *** for new/debut shows.

With stars like McHale from Talk Soup, a legend like Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong, M.D. (I loved him in Knocked Up)this might be a hit. I liked the first episode but need to see 2 more to be convinced.

IMHO Score: Tune in(warm)

Parks and Recreation(NBC):
This was a mid-season filler last year that showed some promise but now I'm really not liking it. It's not original enough and it's way too similar to The Office . I thought that they would spend the summer re-tooling it and punch it up a bit as the comedy writing seemed dry but I guess not. They are totally wasting Amy Poelers talent with this one.

IMHO: Tune Out

SNL Prime time(NBC):
SNL 2 days a week might be to much as they had been low on inspiration for a few seasons. The recent elections were a goldmine, though, and new political and celeb scandals are brewing so this might be able to do it for them in the ratings.

IMHO:Tune in (tepid)

Medical Dramas or Who will be ER's heir apparent?
Grey's Anatomy(ABC):
Intentionally missed Grey's season opener except for a quick glimpse of the elevator scene with Bailey and McDreamy. I guess George dies and Izzie lives? I really don't want to know as I think this show jumped the shark in season 4. I do have some spec Tv scripts of this show to showcase my writing abilities so I do hope the writers for the show recover from there "lack of originality" slump.

IMHO Score: Tuned out 2 seasons ago

A new medical drama about a nurse back from serving on the front lines of the Iraq War. I was trying to watch this just because of Delroy Lindo but I had to bail after the first 10-15 minutes. Mercy as a nurse is too pushy and openly rude to the doctors and she has way too much say and authority over her patients' management.

IMHO Score: Tune out!

***Three Rivers(CBS):
This another new medical drama that I am again watching just because one of my favorite actors is in it. This time it's Emmy winner, Alfree Woodard. I lasted about 10 minutes before I had to bail. The lead characters are weak and washed out with no reason to invest in their journey and wast an hour of your life. All except, Ms. Woodard of course; she knocks her scenes out of the park.

New medical drama #3 that I am again watching to support a fav actor of mine. This time it's Derek who starred in Antone Fisher with Denzel Washington. I spent the night at the Lions To Lambs after-party with Derek's mom and brother so now he feels more like family... like the little brother I never had. The show is very high octane probably trying to appeal to the male demographics and oppose the "night-time soap/chick flick" appeal of Grey's and Private Practice.

I was intrigued by the premise of this show and I watched about 10 minutes of the season opener. I don't think any of the characters I saw were interesting or compelling enough for me to tune in. I also don't know how long audiences will buy all the medical scenes being done in the pre-hospital phase though it is exciting to watch car crashes and explosions. I hope they do include some trauma doctor characters to balance this out and I also hope that they follow them a bit off shift so that we see a bit of their private lives.

IMHO: Tune in (warm)

Reality Shows:
The Amazing Race(NBC):
What a wonderful season opening! In this 2 hour episode 16 teams of contestants jet around the world to exotic locations following clues and getting out of "sticky" situations using their mental know-how, their physical muscle and relational compatibility. Of the 16 couples, 13 are actual couples either married or dating and a good number professed their Christian faith openly. I immediately started praying that the show wouldn't deteriorate to what happened on "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!" this past summer. 2 of the remaining couples are relative teams made up of a father and son duo and two brothers, respectively. The final pair are professional poker playing girlfriends who's "Vegas" ethics are showing through.

Grade: Tune In!(hot)

I can't watch this show-- Tune out!

Biggest Loser
I've been watching this show religiously for the past 3 seasons and still think it's a good show but I'm concerned about the medical stressors placed on these contestants and the frequency of near death events that occur within the first 48 hours on campus. Also, has anyone noticed the large amount of swearing that occurs on this show? Jilian is notorious for it but now Bob is no slouch and the contestants aren't far behind. They do bleep most of the profanity but recently the b**** word has been getting lots of airtime. It could be that their doing it for ratings but it's having an opposite effect for me as I am about ready to tune them out. I know it's hard to motivate people especially those over 400 pounds but come on.

IMHO: Tune in (hot, as burning tons of pounds of fat produces massive heat-lol)

Top Chef:
The chef's don't seem as inspired this year and they are pushing the gay agenda a bit again this year. The episode on cooking for the military was especially nice as it aired right before 9/11.

IMHO: Tune in (warmed up by stenos-lol)

Project Runway:
It's season debut and subsequent episodes were back to form, which is important after a turbulent year of lawsuits, change to a new network and delay of filming the show. In fact, in a fist for the show, they already know who won before the first episode aired and the undisclosed winner showed their garments at Bryant Park in New York City for Fashion Week. Week to week this remains a must see show for me and now they added a spin off...

Models of The Runway:

IMHO: Both are "Tune in- HOT!"

America's Next Top Model:
Tuned them out 2 seasons ago along with "Ugly Betty" due to the flagrant use of the b**** word on the show. I think Hollywood writers feel that if gay characters say the b**** word then it is not profane because that's how they refer to themselves. My response? I think, just like with the n word, this excuse is crazy. I reported both shows to the FCC for breaking profanity rules in broadcasting but no feedback
on it as yet.

IMHO: Tune out!

Dancing Reality Shows:Dancing With the Star: None of the contestants look interseting this year. Same for So You Think You Can Dance?
IMHO: Skip both

Night-time Talk Shows:
The Tonight Show:
I loved Conan years ago but now not so much as the earlier slot and sensitivities seem to be killing his game. I had thought that he was doing too many stunts on the show even before his bad spill so hopefully this will put an end to them. Also, he sucks as an interviewer and seems to fidget and has weird jerky movements during certain parts of the show. He also does weird voice parodies at inappropriate moments that aren't quite funny. Wait, I think he always did that and I used to like it but it doesn't seem funny now.

Tune in (tepid)

Jay Leno at 10 pm:
His first show was great but I've only tuned in half-heartily since. He gets better guests than Conan and is a better interviewer by far.

Tune in (warm-conditional on the guests appearing)

Late Night with David Latterman:
I've watched David Letterman for nearly 30 years but I've "Tuned out" after he said what he said about Palin's under aged daughter. It wasn't what he said exactly it was more the apology or lack of one. I and countless others signed an online protest and indecency complaint about this event and it was submitted to the FCC for it's opinion on the matter.

IMHO: I am so "Tuned OUT!"

Jimmy Fallon:
Jimmy Fallon's stuttering, quirky movements, incessant laughing and poor joke delivery during the monologue is very irritating but he is actually a fair-good interviewer. I really love the Roots band, though, as well as his "Housewives of Late Night" and his "Saved By The Bell" skit.

Day Time Talk Shows:
Tuned Out 2 seasons ago due to numerous infractions and needing to wash my mind after viewing.

Wendy Williams
Make it stop!

Tuned out 2 seasons ago. The list of "why"s is to long to go into just suffice to say I'm done.

Rachel Ray:
She talks real fast but she has a perky and likeable interviewing style. Plus, she cooks great food on the show... what's there not to like? I actually like her shows on the Food Network better.

I did sneak a peak at excerpts of Oprah's interview with Whitney Houston. Ms.Houston is one of my favorite singers of all time and she is a capable actress, too. I've been praying for Ms. Houston for years and I am so glad that she is out of her destructive behaviour and relationships. Whitney spoke very much about how God and her faith (and her mother's) brought her through and she inspired me to continue to believe God for the impossibles. I got her CD as a gift and I will play it often as I continue to pray for her as she fights day-to-day for sobriety. Some say her voice isn't the same but to me it now has a grittiness and deep hard-fought soulfulness that moves it beyond pop or rock, past soul to R&B and maybe more appropriately, Gospel music. Whitney, work on that Gospel CD next, girl!

I wrote my comments on David Lettermen before the current news broke about his admitted claims of consensual sex with his assistants and the subsequent extortion plot. I will leave it at that.

Update#3: 10/14/09
Mercy gets worse and worse. I know doctors may not be pleased by how they are depicted here but nurses must be absolutely livid.
Trauma doesn't deliver.
I caught half an episode of ATM Cycle 13 with petite models and it was terrible! It's like they've just plain out run out of ideas and I am doubtful if any of these girls can make it as a working model. Luckily, there was no swearing but still the obligatory man in drag. Still a "skip it!"
Community is growing on me.

Please keep these shows on their toes by reporting indecent or profane language or images to the FCC, especially shows shown from 8PM-10 PM, which is family viewing time. If enough of us do this it can turn around some of the programming choices by the networks. If not, then use your free choice option and... TUNE THEM OUT!

Contact the FCC at:

Variety article on new FCC crack down