Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Thanks to the global warming scare, going green has become a national craze. From President Obama's new green initiatives and Mrs. Obama planting an organic garden behind the White House, to first graders admonishing their parents to recycle, 'going green" is here to stay. It is also the cause celeb here in Hollywood. Big name stars like, Leonardo DiCaprio, are well known for their environmental activism and some have even been involved with the pro-environment movement by narrating documentary films. A documentary about the environmental plague of drinking water bottles is even making the rounds and it's getting great word of mouth.

All this Green talk is encouraging but talk is cheap, Hollywood! Los Angeles has the worst recycling percentages of any county that I've ever lived in. Here you see tons of plastic water bottles distributed at any of these red carpet or after party events and in an attempt to look fashionable, many of the starlets wear an item once then feel obligated to toss it.

Many actors smoke(a gross and dangerous habit,) which pollutes the air and adds to greenhouse gases and global warming. They also use tons of gas and jet fuel as they drive around in gas guzzling sports cars and travel constantly for film shoots. I know it would be a stretch to ask actors to take public transportation but at least they should buy a bike and ride it occasionally. Or better yet, buy a hybrid luxury car.

Also, most of the stars homes in Hollywood Hills have large lawns which require gallons of water to maintain in drought plagued southern California. Worse is that many do not recycle any of their household waste at all while I recycle almost everything! I even bought those spiral lights and use them even though their light is not as bright. I use public transportation (as bad as it is in L.A.) or car pool and I even recycle clothing by donating gently used items to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

My apartment complex is celebrating Earth Day by having us plant a tree for the environment. Well not a tree exactly but a small flowering plant. We had our choice of a pre-potted plant (Geranium or Impatiens) or to grow a plant from scratch with potting soil and wild flower seeds. The wildflower seeds were innovatively embedded in dissolvable paper discs in the shape of a flower and another shaped like a flower pot. I thought this was cute so I decided to try to grow the seeds. They had a big box of potting soil and a trowel and various pots so I got started. I liked the feel of the soil on my hands and I felt I was one with nature... until I remembered that I have no success when I try to grow things from seeds. I decided to take a small potted Impatient just in case(lol).

God's View on 'Earth Day':
Christians get a bad rap about going green as many do not believe Nobel Peace Prize winner and wanna be scientist Al Gore and the global warming data (which has proven to be sketchy). Personally, I choose to believe God's word. God has made us stewards of this earth and we must strive to be good stewards and that includes recycling. The Bible also states that no matter what else happens, "there will always be summer and winter" and "seed time and harvest". Our Lord (the Lord of the Harvest) often talked about the spiritual harvest fields being white(ripe) for the harvesting but the laborers are few. I'll think of this as I plant my wild flower seeds and watch them grow.

Update: Here are ways that Hollywood stars can help the environment.

1)Donate to Clothes Off Their Backs
Clothes off Their Backs is a non-profit founded by Bradley Whitford (The West Wing)and by Malcolm in the Middle's, Jan Kaczmarek. It gives stars a place to donate their red carpet duds and swag which are auctioned off to help raises funds for children issues.

2)Use The Subway:
I heard that a certain actor was spotted on a NYC subway proving that actors can use public transportation (at least in New York).

And of course


God Opens Doors!

As part of our Prosperity Monday prayer series at church, we declared that God opens the doors to the dream jobs and opportunities and then to our prosperity. We placed or dreams or business plans in gilded long canisters and held then up to the Lord as we walked through a large door installed on the altar. The pastors prayed for us as they anointed our heads to have the mind of Christ as we work and our projects were anointed also.

I walked through the open doors with the 11th draft of my new script titled, The Guild. I had had a bit of writer's block since January but that immediately lifted as I received my anointing and walked through the door claiming my victory- a sale of my script for a million dollars plus!

My computer crashed! I got it back up but now I can't use my scriptwriting software but I am not deterred at all. I just went old school and have been writing all the revisions down on paper. To tell you the truth, even in this high tech world, a pad of paper and a pen is still the most comfortable way for me to sort out plot points and dialog as I write.

And I'm not alone, I've met a few established writers here in Hollywood who write this way, too. Both Mark Ferguson (Children of Men, Iron Man) and Simon Kinberg, the screenwriter for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, have both admitted this to me during separate panel discussions held by the Scriptwriters Network. You could tell that both men felt a bit self-conscious confessing this, but no one can argue with the results (both men have written and sold scripts for $1 million plus)! See, I'm in good company(lol)!

Love Starts Here!

Romantic Comedies are on a resurgence thanks mostly to the success of The Proposal in 2009 and to a lesser extent Knocked Up in 2007, which combined gross-out boy humor and romance. Ad this to the Love Starts Here event on Valentine's Day at my church and you can see why romance is on my mind.

We had our ring fingers anointed at church and then we attended marriage classes where we read about and discussed Adam and Eve's marriage relationship(the book of Genesis)and our marital roles inspired by the word of God i.e. for men to love their wives, for women to submit to their husbands and men to be like Jesus to the Church9Colossians Chap 3, Ephesians Chap 5) and for a man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife(the Book of Genesis again). Then the next day, I heard that there are 7 new romantic comedies bowing between now and Christmas. So it would seem that both God and Hollywood are eager to see us all pair up(lol).

All the talk of romance was enough to inspire me to list my all-time top 10 romantic comedies. As, rom coms are just funny chick flicks, I will give the men 2 minutes to flee the room(lol).

The Players:
First a discussion about the actors and actresses known for their romantic comedies 1950's - the present.

Classic Old School:
Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn and Doris Day- these women practically invented the genre and became iconic figures from it. Now these women set the standard for the genre.

70's and 80's: The Time of Barbara, Bette, and Cher
Barbara Striesand, Bette Midler and Cher owned theses decades and they are amazing actors and singers (Oscars and Grammies) with great comedic timing and great romantic chemistry with their leading men.

Diane Keaton - her appeal has spanned over 3 decades and she can deliver the goods.

The Modern Era Women:
Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts - Girl next door-America's sweet heart types that everyone roots for.

Rene Zellweger, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Drew Barrymore - pretty, blond, quirky
These women rely on more physical humor and pratfalls in their movies.

Up and comers:
Vera Famigalia, Katherine Hiegel

Wanna-be's or Has Beens?
All the people up for this category are named Jeniffer and all are associated in some way with a TV show and with someone who shares the name of the youngest son of the Old Testament patriarch, Jacob (I couldn't resist throwing in a little Bible Trivia). Personally, I like all three of these women and hope that they get back on the top of their game.

Unlikely Leading Women:
Queen Latifah, Whoopi Goldberg - different sizes and races from the mainstream choices.

Now for the Men:

Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon

1970's -'80's
Gene Wilder, Dudley Moore

Billy Crystal and Mel Gibson had a nice ride but Tom Hanks is the gold standard of this era.

The Present Stars:
Hugh Grant(the Brit), George Clooney (debonair), Matthew McConaghey (the abs), Luke Wilson(the butterscotch stallion), Ben Stiller

The New Guys:
Gerard Butler- with The Ugly Truth (with Katherine Hiegel) and The Bounty Hunter(with Jeniffer Aniston), he's becoming the new go to guy for Rom Coms.

Ashton Kutcher - not my fav but he grows on you.

Out of the Box:
Jack Black - a surprise addition but women just love him! I saw him at the Iron Man premiere in '09 and everyone went wild for him. Plus, I loved him in Shallow Hal (see top ten list).

My Top Ten Romantic Comedies:

The Proposal
Meet The Parents
My Best Friend's Wedding and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (tie)
Something About Mary
40 Year Old Virgin
What Women Want and How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days (tie)
Somethings Gotta Give
Shallow Hal
Brigette Jones Diary
Moonstruck and The Mirror has Two Faces (tie)

Honorable Mention:
Arthur - a bit on the sad side for me
When Harry Met Sally - funny, if a little dated
While You Were Sleeping - a funny Sandra Bullock starrer
The Replacements - a goofy sport movie with nice rom-com elements
50 First Dates - I thought Sandler showed his dramatic chops in this one.
The Holiday - 2 rappers-turned actors but still good
WALL-E - a lovely but "nontraditional" animated rom-com

Despite all it's buzz, Knocked Up didn't make the list for me neither did The Ugly Truth... sorry if I offended any Katherine Hiegel fans. Notably missing from the list is anything with Bette Midler. I wanted to add The First Wives Club but it was far from a rom com... it was more a male bashing, dumped ex-wife revenge com(lol). Also, as gross-out boy humor goes, I think 40 Year Old Virgin works as a rom com but from a male angle so I included it on my list. Beware though, it's rated R for language.

Take the 'Top Ten Romantic Comedy poll and tell me what you think.

I realize that with the ties on the list, it's really a Top 13 list(lol).

Rom Com Star Sightings:
I've seen some of these women around town just going about their normal day or all decked out and walking the red carpet(see older posts).

Movie Trivia:
The hotel where Pretty Woman was filmed is just off Hollywood and Highland.

Note: I do not separate artists from their personal lives so there are certain actors, directors and writers etc. who will never be mentioned in this blog or if mentioned it's just very briefly for context.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Star Sightings: My Graham Beckel Encounter

I was leaving the Goldwyn building after the Acting in the Digital Age panel and I deliberated a bit on where to cross before crossing the street. I finally cross and as I did a big burly guy (40-50's)walks by talking to a 20 something woman. I looked up and recognized the face of the guy and I do a double take. I jab my finger at his chest and yell "Hey, I know you!" The guy stops semi-embarassed and semi-flattered I guess but obviously used to it.

"From where?", he asks gently.

"From the movies!", I yell. I practically man-handle him and grab his supple leather cloaked sleeve. I ramble on with my hands shaking.

"I just love your acting! You are the best!"

"Really?", he counters.

"Yes! I loved you as Duffy (Irish American pub owner and mobster collecting gambling debts from ) in Hard Balls, in L.A. Confidential as the crooked cop) and in Brokeback Mountain (the domineering dad of ... and father-in-law to Jake Glyenhaal's character)..." (As you can see Graham loves to play the heavy in films and he does it well).

I told him, "even the TV commercials you do you elevate to the best... like that car commercial when you thump the guy in his arm". I pretend to thump him in his right biceps and he smiles. Seriously, Graham is so good in commercials that he did that army commercial that increased recruitment despite the war in Iraq.

His companion agrees with me about how wonderful an actor he is.

"Why, thank you so much", he answers demurely and nods.

"I can't remember your name but you are the best", I say.

'My name is Graham and yours?"

I give my name and he asks if I enjoyed the panel. I said I did then I whoop and dance around- "I can't believe this, I yell! I can't believe I met you just by crossing the street! Only in LA!I've admired your work for years." "Look my hands, they're shaking," I say and I show my quivering hands to him.

He takes pity on how affected I am and all my compliments and he hugs me in a gruff bear hug and says, "thank you, you're so kind". I say, "I was just thinking about you last night on the treadmill when I saw the car commercial". I also say, "God bless you and I am praying for you". I get another big hug.

I pat his shoulder and say, "I know that you will get a big juicy role that wins awards and maybe one day I will write a nice role for you". He smiles at this and we wave good bye and I walk the next block or so in a fog of exhilaration then I remember that I have already written the perfect role for Graham as Thaddeus in The Guild! I want to turn back and find him but he is long gone. Despite the decidedly unCalifornia weather(temperature in the 40's), the lateness of the hour and the length of my commute, I smile all the way home.

Here's a link to Graham's website with all his film reels and stage, TV and screen credits--
He also offers an exclusive acting class which puts on a quarterly play. If I was an actor I would definitely sign up. I can only imagine the amazing acting techniques I could learn from someone at his level.

Hollywood Health and Society on Capitol Hill

Actress Mariska Hargitay and Executive Producer Neal Baer, M.D. both of Law and Order: SVU headlined a Hollywood, Health & Society's Global Health panel, held at The Library of Congress on March 24, 2010 in Washington, DC (see pictures of the event). Everyone knows Mariska Hargitay but many may not know Dr. Baer. Neal is a respected writer/producer in Hollywood who went through medical school and pediatric residency after writing for ER for many years. He is now the president of the board for Hollywood, Health and Society(HHS) and he is doing a magnificent job of educating TV writers on medical issues.

I got an invite to this event but couldn't travel back east for it but I was able to pass the invitation on to some of my colleagues in that area. HHS has a national and global impact but I love HHS because I get to meet many major TV actors and writers right here in LA. I am still amazed that I get to hang around with these people! Wow, my favs -- medicine and Hollywood combined! It's like a dream(lol)! God is so amazing!!!!!!

Acting In The Digital Age

Thursday, 04/22/10 - 08:00

I was eager to attend the ACTING IN THE DIGITAL AGE event sponsored by the Academy and held at the Samuel Goldwyn building in Beverly Hills. Andy Serkis (Gollum from "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy and Kong from "King Kong"), Peter Donald Baldalamenti who provided the body acting of young(old) Benjamin in "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Buttons" and Wes Studi, Joel David Moore (Matha, Father from Avatar) as well as legendary producer, Jon Landau, also from Avatar were all scheduled to appear.

CC Pounder sat directly across from me and I spoke to her before the panel started. loved her work in The Shield and I wanted to say that. She's from the Caribbean also, more accurately, she's from a Caribbean culture as she's from Guyana in South America and not from the Caribbean region itself. She heard my accent and asked me where I was from. I told her and it turns out that she loves the Virgin Islands as much as I do and has visited a few times. She especially loves the British Virgin Islands so I promised her that my family would show her the sites next time she visits.

She asked me how long I was in LA and I answered 2 1/2 years and she smiled and gave me a "you haven't seen anything yet" look with her eyes and said "you're fresh here". She asked me what I was doing in LA and I explained to her my medical background and my desire to be a writer. I asked about her husband's charity then we spoke about HHS and Neal Baer( her former writer, exec producer from ER) who is on the board of Hollywood Health and Society(see recent HHS post). She told me to contact her agent so that we can have a chance to talk in the future then I took my seat as the panel was starting soon.

The wide plume of ash in Europe from the Icelandic volcano prevented Andy Serkis from traveling from England so he stayed up (it was 3:00 am in the UK) and he spoke to us by skype(web camera). All the others made it in person and they were introduced one by one to the stage.

We were shown film clips of their respective films and each actor talked about their experiences with digital film making. The audience was mostly actors who were fearfully of being replaced by animated/digital actors. CC confessed that this was initially a concern for her but that she resolved it when she was on set. Serkis was really stoked about digital acting and kept the audience engrossed with his funny stories of behind the scene happenings on the two movie sets.

The animators shared with us the newest in digital animation and what can be accomplished with motion/performance capture. We were introduced to "Digital Emily"
and it was scary how well they could imitate a passable "live actor" with the computer program. The animators and the academy people assured the audience again that live actors would never be replaced as animators can only mimic the face or movements of live actors at this time and need live actors in the process so it can look real. But in the future? Who knows. As you can imagine, this was poor consolation for the actors in the audience.

CC, Moore and Landau tried to put a positive spin on the experience and likened digital acting to theater in the round as did Serbkis. Peter joked that if Brad Pitt had won, he would have to share the Oscar with him. They also joked about the discomfort of the motion capture suits and the numerous cameras that were trained on them during every second on set. Wes Studi seemed less enthusiastic than the others but he still said he enjoyed the experience of acting in Avatar and that he would gladly do digital acting in the future.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Resurrection Sunday!

I am preparing for this Resurrection Sunday by declaring that Christ's work on the cross was not in vain! I claim my victory through Christ and I leave behind all the pain and negativity of my life, as they are nailed to the cross(Colossians 2:12 15)!


Good Friday Healing Service

We had a beautiful Good Friday Healing service last night and I feel so blessed! There was strong prayer by our pastors, Pastors Daniel and Pastor Joel, and all in attendance received a blessed cross made of olive tree wood from Israel. At least 2 people besides myself had a wonderful healing breakthrough including a wheel chair bound gentleman with a spine problem. As a church disciple and assistant, I helped during the service and felt totally well for the entire service! The service was also videotaped so I will post a video of this miraculous event asap.

Thank You, Lord!

It's Holy Week!

It's Holy Week and my church has a schedule of events that will bring the week before Our Lord's Crucifixion sharply into focus for us.

Palm Sunday 3-28
Instead of palms, this year we returned our "Rose of Sharon" to the altar. These roses stayed in our respective homes for one entire week symbolizing how God works in our lives to defy negative things, spiritual darkness or evil.

Monday 3-29Drink the milk and honey

Tuesday 3-3-Anointing with oil

Biblical reference: The woman with the alabaster box of oil who anointed the Lord before He was crucified and the book of James says that all who are sick should be anointed with oil and prayed over by the church elders. I was first in line!

Wednesday 3-31 Washing of feet

Biblical reference: Christ washed the disciples feet as a sign of how we should be humble.

Holy Thursday 4-1 Blessing the bread

Christ sent the disciples ahead to prepare the upper room for the Passover meal where he broke bread and drank wine as a covenant with them. This year I baked my own unleavened bread for 18 minutes and then had to leave in a hurry to get to church.

Good Friday 4-2 Receive the cross
The Living Faith Church in Israel sent us lots of wooden crosses made out of olive tree wood. This is going to be a life changing event! I will not miss it!

Saturday 4-03 Anointing with perfume
Both Pastor Daniel and his wife, Angela, will anoint worshipers with perfumed oil and pray for our romantic and family lives. Again, I will be first in line(lol)!

Resurrection Sunday! 4-4
He is Risen!!!!!!