Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Discovery Building Hostage Situation

9/1/10 4:00 pm EST

Wow- Just heard the news. An armed gunman has taken hostages at the Discovery Channel Building in downtown Silver Spring MD. The building has been evacuated and the children from the company's pre-school were taken to a near by McDonald's until their parents can pick them up. There have been no reports of any injuries so far and I'm praying that it stays that way.

Meanwhile, the name of the gunman has been released as well as reports of his past activities and arrests. Seems he is from California and has a history of mental illness. He also has a history with the Discovery Channel Building as he previously protested environmental issues in front of the network building. Again, I'm praying that all ends well.

Deuteronomy 33:12
Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.

Prayer: Lord, keep the hostages safe within Your shield!

My Personal Reflections:
I'm very familiar with the Discovery Building, as I lived a few blocks away from it for nearly a decade and I still have friends and family in the area. The building houses the headquarters of the Discovery Channel's east coast operations and it sits just across the way from the AFI theater, its co-sponsor for the annual Silver Docs. I was glad when the building opened years ago because it made my dreams of a career in the entertainment industry seem that much closer. I even applied for a few jobs online with them but had no luck. I didn't get to see the inside of the building until the Silver Docs in 2006 and it was worth the wait (see 2009 post).

I have just as fond visual memories of the building too which always reflected the company's sense of humor. For example, the T-Rex that is housed in the lobby would be dressed up annually with a wreath for Christmas and, during Shark Week, they put a large shark on the building. So it's very sad for me to see news reports of scared Discovery employees running out of the building and police and armed S.W.A.T. teams racing about. More updates to come as more information is released.

Update: 7:30 pm EST
Police report that the gunman has been shot and killed and all 3 hostages released unarmed. They also confirmed that the gunman did have explosives. I'm so glad that all the hostages are okay, thank God!

Bill And Ted Q&A With Alex Winter

I had a blast at the Bill and Ted Double Feature at the New Beverly Cinema on Sunday August 26. They showed both Bill And Ted Excellent Adventure and Bill And Ted Bogus Journey starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Winter himself was there and he introduced and discussed the two films at a Q&A during each intermission. The theater was packed and I was lucky to get a seat when I did. The crowd ranged from a few kids with their parents, young adults and hippies in their 50's. Winter said that Reeves was filming on the east coast so couldn't attend to the disappointment of the crowd. Winter talked about the fun they all had making the films (seems they had some “help” having fun) and he tried to discount rumors of a Bill & Ted 3. The audience were clamouring for another sequel so I don't think many believed him.

I got to meet Winter after the first film and shared with him my fantasy pick for casting for Bill & Ted 3 (if they ever really do it). Funny but he actually agreed with my choices so I guess he's heard it all before. I also asked for news on the Ben 10 live action feature which Winter said is a go for 2011.

I did attempt to video tape the Q&A but my audio was out and all my pics of Winter are too dark (I so need a flash). Don't fear though as there's still a chance to hear Winters for yourself. Both Winter and the film's writer will be at a second showing and Q & A tomorrow night. Go to to get tickets. Also follow Alex Winter on Twitter or at

Update: 9/20/10
Check out this video of Reeves addressing a possible Bill & Ted sequel at the Toronto Film Festival last week

Kyra Sedgwick Wins!

Kyra Sedgwick Wins Best Actress in A Dramatic Series beating out Marguiles in a surprise win! It is Kyra's first win after 5 seasons of playing Brenda Leigh on The Closer. The win comes just 10 days after her birthday (see previous post) so I guess we should think of this as a great belated birthday gift and what a good gift it is! To be recognized in your craft by your colleagues in this way is a great accolade for any actor and Sedgewick is well deserving of this award.

My birthday is in exactly 2 weeks and, like Kyra, I am believing God for good gifts, too (though not the Hollywood metal award-type hardware just yet-lol). Here's what God says about good gifts:

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cirque Du Soleil At The Grove

Sun 8/22 Cirque Du Soleil at the Grove

It was way hot on Sunday but I headed to the Grove after church to see Cirque Du Soleil and to hang out with my cuz, her niece and the triplets. The show consisted of five 30 minute segments interspersed with the Italian-esque clowning of Luigi and his bumbling magician side-kicks. The best trick was when they made an audience member, pulled onstage for the trick, blushing and bra-less to the audiences laughter and delight. They raffled off a few tickets to see various Cirque De Soleil shows in Las Vegas (including hotel stay) but I didn't win any. They also played music from the Beatles and John Lennon during intermission and I danced as we walked along to "Hey Jude" then I held the hand of one of the triplets (can't tell you which one) as "I want to hold your hand" played over the loudspeakers. Good times.

For the adults:
The highlight of the day were short performances of the Asian martial arts-inspired Ka, and flaming-lasso wielding cow guys and flirty cow girls dancing to Elvis.

For the kids:
Especially popular was the face painting for kids up to age 14. The face painting was done by local artists and clowns who were very talented and patient, especially with the wee little ones. We tried to get them to paint our adult faces but they weren't having any of it(lol). The line for face painting was ridiculous though considering the heat but parents stuck it out so that their kids would be happy. There was also free photos and lots and lots of bubbles. The Cirque staff handed out fake clown noses, rabbit masks and pins of a variety of Cirque shows while performers demonstrated and taught juggling and gave balancing demos to the kids. All the kids were so happy and smiling from ear to ear. In fact, if smiles were gold I would have been rich(lol).

My knowledge and love of all things kids came in a bit handy in the huge throng of excited kids. There were so many people there that it felt like a zoo at times and I had to keep myself from getting sensory overload. I did great though and even helped one dad find his missing 5 year old son. I also helped prevent a few near falls, eye pokes and near spills of a few kids (you can't take your eyes off of them, folks). This was all funny to me as we came close to "misplacing" at least one of the triplets ourselves. By the end of the day, I found myself praying silently for God to bless parents of triplets because triplets are really a handful! However, seeing how happy and loving they can be confirms the Bible verse:

Psalm 127:3

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Yes, children (in any quantity or duplication) are definitely a blessing from God! It certainly was a wonderful day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Emmys 2010 and WGA's Sublime Primetime

Thu 8/26
I attended the Sublime Primetime panel discussion with the Emmy-nominated TV writers for this year's Emmys. The event was sponsored by the Writers Guild of America and held at their theater on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills. The panel included Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy of Glee, Rolin Jones of Friday Night Lights, Andy Richter of The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien, Mindy Kaling of The Office, Steven Levitan of Modern Family, Bruce C. McKenna and Robert Schenkkan of the mini-series The Pacific and husband and wife team Robert and Michelle King of The Good Wife. The panel was moderated by Carlton Cruse who is a writer and executive producer of Lost which concluded its last season on ABC.

Carlton Cuse got the ball rolling as he introduced Kaling with an over long intro of her credits then all the panelist feigned impatient, stormed the stage and took their places on stage. Cuse baited Steve Levitan jokingly with a bogus question but not to be outdone Levitan ripped him right back as the audience roared with laughter. Levitan has a great wit and beautiful comedic timing as I have heard is the same for his show, Modern Family. Though I don't watch the show, the buzz has them as odds on favorite to win best comedy this year.

Speaking of comedy, everyone knew that Andy R. would be hilarious with his wild sense of humor and he was true to form even doing a quick imitation of how Leno and the NBC suits will act when they meet up at this years Emmys. Then Kaling chimed in with jokes about paying her mortgage when asked about her concerns about a 10th season of The Office without Steve Carrel. The Glee guys joked about their show and their past work on Nip Tuck. The playwrights joked about making more cash writing for TV and paying the mortgage and Robert King joked about the benefits of working with your wife (or not as the panel chimed in).

The panel was too hilarious and the poor guys from the Pacific were pretty much straight men for the verbal gags and play on words of the others especially after Bruce said he went on his knees for the job (dirty minds think alike).

It wasn't all jokes as the panel tried to drive home some of the tools of the trade.

Topics discussed:
-Breaking into the biz
-how to get read and how a good agent works
-To spec. or not to spec.
-Ground breaking TV like Glee (TV musical)& The Good Wife(procedural/family drama)
I especially enjoyed this discussion as there has not been a good musical on TV (no Cop Rock was not good). I also wondered how the Kings balanced the procedural and the regular drama so well especially when it has not been done before. Their answer? Carefully. They said that they always intended the show to be like this and sold it to the network as is. The network did breathe down their necks a bit but apparently they left them alone after the first 6 episodes did so well. Now the balancing is less stressful and they are enjoying writing the back 13 episodes to complete the second season order.

The floor was then opened up for questions from the audience:

-How do you spec for such radical shows?
Ans: Write original pilots and get them read
-Ryan Murphy "Glee is looking for writers"

Any advice for actors turned writers?
Mindy and Ian -"Do what you love"

Writing v.s. Directing
Ryan Murphy who directed Eat, Pray, Love has no intention of leaving TV.

Working with child actors
Steve Levitan -- "the kids are the best"

Working for webisodes and Strike and youtube performances
Mindy Kaling - "do anything to get your work out there"

Writing for stage v.s TV
Rob Schenkkan "When you write for stage, you own your copyright but TV pays much better".

Features v.s TV or lonely v.s team effort
All agree that writing with a team or writers room has many advantages.

The Writers room. What's it like for each show?
Kaling--The Office has Carel and Rain Wilson who are great at ad libbing and improv.

Improvising on scripts on the other comedy shows?
Levitan "Yeah, lots on Modern Family
Ryan Murphy-- "J. Lynch on Glee is great at it"
Kaling-- again, Steve Carrel and Rain Wilson from the Office as mentioned but Mindy Kaling admitted to being a control freak and not liking improv too much despite doing it herself.

College v.s. No college?
Cuse - Harvard
Mindy Kaling- Dartmouth
Bruce McKenna- "Yes and with an advance degree" (he went to Wesleyan U. and did work towards a Phd. in Russian History at Stanford. Can someone say "student loans" --lol.
Rob Shenkkan - Harvard
Steve Levitan - said Harvard! then whispers "of Southwestern Wisconsin" real softly to many laughs. Give this man his own comedy variety show.
Rob King - Harvard
Michelle King - said "UCLA" to some whoops and hollers.
Brad Falchuk - AFI
Ian Brennan - Loyola U. in Chicago
and last but not least
Andy Richter - says proudly, "University of Illinois AND Columbia" ... "but I didn't graduate... "you don't really need to graduate". Again, the crowd erupts in loud laughter.

Any Job Opportunities for writers on your shows?
The 3 Glee Guys have written the first 2 seasons all by their lonesomes and they are looking to pick up 6 (yes, I said S-I-X new writers)!

To Murphy, Falchuck: How was it writing for Nip/Tuck?
Murphy -- To me, Nip/Tuck was about pushing the envelop just for the hell of it".

Aside: I must confess that I absolutely HATED Nip/Tuck and would watch it just to horrify myself as I drafted letters to the FCC that I never sent.

The last question was to Cuse who joked about the fans displeasure with how Lost ended then the panel concluded and we all rushed the stage to get a chance to talk and network with all the writers. I asked the Kings about their involvement with casting Marguilles in the lead for Good Wife. I spoke with Levitan about his comedic timing and suggested that he may have a great career doing stand up. I tried to get to Richter but he slipped out the side door. I approached Kaling to compliment her on the Niagara Falls Wedding episode but ended up just complimenting her on her cute outfit and gorgeous 6 inch heels (see my pics).

There were h'ordourves after mostly cheese, fruit and chocolate desserts and most of us stayed around networking and nibbling. I headed home at 10:30 pm and met a guy who is working with E! for the Emmy Red carpet and fashion coverage and he give me some insider scoop. We chatted a bit then he gets a text saying there's a murderer on the loose near Melrose Avenue. You can imagine we were eager to get home then. God send help!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Closer, Alice In Wonderland and the Sunshine Kids!

A Big Sunshine Kids Shout Out!!!!

Spent a delightful day volunteering with the inspiring kids and wonderful staff at the Sunshine Kids organization. Sunshine Kids is a non-profit that provides fun activities and outings for children affected by cancer.

The Sunshine Kids staff were totally welcoming and sweet, especially Natasha and Ron. First, they had a pizza party for the kids with great pizza and the most scrumptious mini cupcakes ever. Then we were off to a tour of the set of The Closer on the Raleigh Studios lot. Our tour guide was Andy Sacks (producer for The Closer)and Exec. Director of Sunshine Kids, G.W. Bailey. Bailey also plays Detective Lt. Provenza on The Closer and is also known for his roles as Rizzo in M*A*S*H*, and the Police Academy movies. I have been a fan of Mr. Bailey since my teens so I was too thrilled!

We got to speak with the entire cast and crew and we even sang "Happy Birth Day" to the petite, blond and lovely Kyra Sedgewick (Virgos rule!!!) Sedgewick plays Brenda Leigh Johnson on the show and she is the sweetest in person but sans the southern accent. She is excellent in The Closer and it is no surprise that she has been nominated for the 2010 Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series. She goes up against a group of strong actresses including Glenn Close for her work in Damages, Connie Britton for Friday Night Lights, Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife, Mariska Hargitay for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and January Jones for Mad Men. I hope Kyra wins but I think Marguiles may squeak by her and it is never wise to rule Glen Close out in any acting competition.

Kyra's married to actor Kevin Bacon, another of my favs. I really liked Bacon in movies like Foot Loose, Apollo 13, A Few Good Men, He Said, She Saidand Hollow Man but if you haven't seen Mr. Bacon act in a while just check him out in Taking Chance, wow! He is also rumored to be the villain in one of the new X-Men movies. Bacon also works with charities through his Six Degrees organization (named for the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon), which helps connect donor with worthy charities. I think Kyra may have been talking to Bacon briefly on her cell phone before she handed out pieces of her birthday cake to the cast and crew. This was an amazing insider moment and I'm still pinching myself!!!

I tell you, everyone was so great! Andy let the kids lift a large fake cement block and the actors who were dressed as police men let us touch their realistic looking prop guns and badges. The crew even treated the kids to craft service where the kids had their pick of frozen treats and chips. We also met the two ginger-striped cats who “star” as Joel, the Brenda's new cat on the show. The youngest of the cats (barely out of kitten-hood) is so easy to handle that he crawled on my shoulders then nearly stood on my head (to my delight). There was a big “character arc” in season 5 involving the previous cat being put to sleep so I am glad the cats are back on set.

The set is a mind boggling place with a mock up of a police station complete with fake badges and a wall of fallen police men, desks with fake computers with pop up screens and fake family photos, an “outdoor” patio area with fake bougainvillea bushes, a complete bathroom with a soak tub and tilt-able mirrors that do not reflect the cameras and crew as they film the show. They even had fake elevators that were so realistic that I was totally fooled and nearly stepped into one. Mind-blowing!

Speaking of lovely petite blonds, cats and mind-blowing set pieces, we left the set and went to The Grove for a showing of Alice in Wonderland as part of the Movie Under The Stars summer series. We sat on blankets on the grass in the outdoor plaza where a big screen was set up and we could see the bright crescent moon in the sky. Some people had brought picnic baskets while others ordered from the Grove restaurants (The Cheesecake Factory being the most popular). I lowered my creaky self onto one section of blanket, praying that I would be able to get up after the movie(lol). A radio DJ got the crowd going and handed out prizes for correct answers about the Twilight movies, Johnny Depp, Disney classics characters (Tinkerbell being one of our favs) and Alice in Wonderland, of course. We whooped and hollered as our favorite entertainers were mentioned then, to our surprise, they gave a big shout out to the Sunshine Kids!! Whoop-eee!!!!

The movie started and we snuggled under blankets and passed around every snack imaginable. The kids giggled and bonded with each other and we laughed and clapped during the movie. Alice is a very visually stunning movie (as Tim Burton movies usually are) so it never got boring and most of the adults laughed at some of the adult humor that went over the heads of the kids. The temp dropped so Natasha passed out lovely blue sweat shirts with the Sunshine Kids logo which were long sleeved and thick so that kept the cold weather at bay for a bit. The movie ended at 9:50 pm and the crowd gave the movie loud claps and cheers as the credits rolled. A father of one of the kids helped me up off the blanket (bless him!) but a serious temp drop cleared out the crowd quickly after the movie so we all called it a night. But what a night it was!

The kids had a great time and I certainly did too! The Sunshine Kids is truly a worthy cause and they are really making an impact. I've provided a linked to the Sunshine Kids website below, so please visit their site and make a donation if you can.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Summer 2010 Movie Reviews

Summer Movie Review (well sort of):

This has been a very lackluster summer for movies so I have not been overly motivated to go and see anything but animated films (go Toy Story 3!). Even though movie theater ticket sales are about the same on average as last years, recent surveys have shown that the down economy is driving the choices of movie goers nationwide. Personally, if I don't feel a movie is on target I won't go and see it at the theater for $12-14 but will catch it on DVD instead for as low as $1-2(thanks Redbox!). I do get free screening tickets to 3-4 movies a month and I am finding more opportunities to do so but I try to be budget conscious as well.

Releases: Friday August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim VS The World:
I did get free tickets from Cine Movie for a screening of Scott Pilgrim in Montebello but couldn't attend due to a prior engagement. SP is an adaptation from a comic series about a 20 something video gamer who battles his new girlfriends exes all with super hero powers. SP came out of Comic Con with lots of buzz and should do very well with fanboys and males in the 18-29 demographics.

Eat, Pray, Love:
This adaptation of the Elizabeth Gilbert's best selling book by the same title is a true story about the 40 something divorced author who leaves her successful life behind in search of something more fulfilling in Italy, India and Bali. EPL stars Julia Roberts (she of the big smile) and is expected to pull in women of all ages. It has also spurred an online war of sorts between EPL chick flick fans and Expendables testosterone fueled male action fans over who will win the weekend box office. Its funny that both films have a Roberts sib in the cast(Eric Roberts for the Expendables and Julia for EPL as mentioned)so its really a sibling rivalry of sorts or a "battle of the Roberts" (lol).

I'm certainly not feeling EPL so I probably will skip it as I did the book. It would have helped if the "pray" in the title was Judeo-Christian based prayer but I guess traditional Christian faith doesn't sell books or movies now adays. I guess I'll just have to "eat, pray, love" at home this weekend.

Older Releases:
I'm not picking on EPL though as I also plan to skip The Other Guys and Step It Up 3D (which I could see for free tickets). Both films were released on 8/6 and The Other guys is trending better than expected.

Upcoming Releases:
8/20 movie releases will include Piranah 3D (yuck), The Switch (yet another rom-com with Jeniffer Aniston and Justin Bateman), Nannie McPhee Returns (Emma Thompson) and Lottery Ticket(with Bow Wow). I have free ticket options to see all of these movies but none are grabbing me just yet. I'm so over terrible rom-coms (though I like Justin Bateman) and I'm definitely over 3D movies of any kind. I also didn't think there was much of an interest for a Nanny McPhee sequel here in the U.S. but apparently it made good money in Europe and Asia so there you have it. Lottery Ticket is looking like a younger Barber Shop only with a lottery ticket theme. I may hold out for The Takers with Edris Elba whom I just love. It also stars a slew of rap and musical artists (T.I., Chris Brown)in their first turn as actors in a feature film so it might be a risky choice.

Catch Me Bird Presents Iron

I won free tickets from the Campus Circle website to Catch Me Bird's performance of Iron at the Ford Amphitheater on August 13, 2010. I was really eager to attend this performance as the ads for it looked fascinating.

Catch Me Bird is the dance ensemble brain-child of dancers, C. Derrick Jones and wife Nehara Kavel, and they do a dance style that is a combination of lyrical dance on stage as well as aerial dance and acrobatics done in large hoops or on rope harnesses as the dancers are suspended high in the air. The night's performance is titled Iron, and it follows the reflections of the couple as they prepare to receive their guest at home for their 6th wedding anniversary, also known as the iron anniversary (think one part musical one part couples counseling-lol).

The event started with music from a 3 piece band and guests eating picnic dinners on the theater's beautiful grounds. Then we saw a pre-show performance where dancers, Rachel Lincoln and Mark Stuver, danced on air and repelled down and up the outer wall of the theater while singer Sara Stranovsky played a small yuke and sang a love song. What was fun was that Sara was harnessed also and she would gently tapped her feet on the walls in beat to the music as she was hoisted in the air just slightly below the dancers. Two young female apprentice dancers also danced and repelled down the water fountain within the theater grounds.

We were then ushered inside for the performance which began with the dance couple dressed in black leotards wrapped with lights that made them look like constellations in a futuristic interpretive piece aptly named Constellations. Then we see the couple on stage in bed as they do live close-up confessionals to a video camera as the other spouse sleeps. Especially cute was when Jones expressed hope that he would get some “cuddles plus plus” that night. The rest of the dance numbers are interspersed between them getting ready for the anniversary dinner including the presentation of their bad gifts to each other. All the gifts were iron-themed and some way too funny in a "women are from Venus, men are from Mar" sort of way.

My favorite moments were when Jones dances with abandon while singer and composer, Ry Welch, raps a bluesy rap song called “3 Hours 'Til Wifey Gets Up”. This was a real catchy tune and I was a bit surprise that a white guy in a nice white suit could rap as well as he did(lol). Another is when the couple prepares dinner but uses the pots and pans as battle armor until they learn to let go and trust each other. The couple had many spirited discussions as they danced including about current events (Obama in the White House, oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Prop 8 etc.) as they prepared the night's meal. Soon the guests, who are also dance couples, arrive. The first is Crystal and David Zibalese, married a week before Jones and Nehara and then arrives Mark and Rachel, the couple from the pre-show who are about to tie the knot. Both of these couples dance to their own love stories accompanied by the live band including 21 year old Joseph Quintilla on Sax. I sat next to Joe's proud mom and family so I have to give him a big shout out for his first gig since graduating from college with his music degree. Yeah, Joseph!

Soon the dancer couples sequester in male versus female battalions and do video confessionals while griping about their spouses. What was funny was that the women did so into kitchen pots and the men in to a bathroom toilet, respectively (I'm serious). During intermission, couples from the audience performed in a mock dance marathon with Ry Welch doing an 1950's American Bandstand type interview with select couples. I felt this part was a bit weak as the dancers were not professional dancers or actors. I felt this may have worked with amateurs if they were dressed in 50's garb (bobbi soxers, saddle shoes, A-line skirts), if nothing else.

The last performance of the night was after the couple discussed the pros and cons of having children then they climbed into large spinning metal hoops and they did a sensual dance, all in silhouette. Apparently the baby is a go as the next install-ment of Catch Me Bird is called "Conception".

After The Show:
I was lucky to have stood next to Jones' family during the pre-show (his mom was too thrilled) then I had a chance to meet Jones' sister after the show and to speak with her a bit. Later, I met Mark and Rachel who were very, very nice. I told them both how I wish that I could fly like they did. Mark explained the harness and pulley system to me and promised to give me my first "easy" lesson. Mark was also nice enough to introduce me to the gifted Mr. Jones himself. Jones was all smiles and energy and he took my compliments in stride. His wife Nehara was twirling around happily nearby, eyes sparkling as she chatted with a long line of friends and admirers. She wore a beautiful cranberry colored dress with a jeweled empire waist and looked quite the free spirit.

My Review: Loved it! Loved it!

This performance was awe-inspiring and freeing in a way that is hard to explain if one has not witnessed it. Some discussion of politics did sneak in but, as this is this couples story set to music and dance, it seemed perfectly understandable. With Jones' and Kavel's creativity and skill, it would be mind-blowing if Catch Me Bird ever does a gospel inspired performance with accompanied music and Bible scriptures. They never discussed religion per say, though Kavel is Jewish by heritage. From the show they seem more new-age in their style so I don't know how likely this is. I did read that Jones was part of the dance ensemble that performed "Creation" at the Crystal Cathedral years ago so there might be a slim chance for it.

IMHO Rating: See it! See it! A "must see" especially for couples!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rob Reiner Double Feature and Q&A

American Cinematique and the Egyptian Theater had a Rob Reiner double feature and Q&A on Thursday August 5, 2010. They showed my two favorites of Reiner, Stand By Me and Princess Bride so it was a must attend for me. Stand By Me stars great established actors (Richard Dreyfuss) as well as first time film actors and/or child actors who are still relevant today (Kiefer Southerland, John Cusack anyone?) while Princess Bride has swashbuckling fun and cute men (Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin) in tights (lol). Bride also had long term favorites of mine like Peter Falk (Columbo) and Billy Crystal plus wrestler, Andre the Giant(who can resist a movie with a real giant in it).

Both movies also happen to be adaptations from respected authors, William Goldman and Stephen King, respectively. Reiner gave little anecdotes about meeting each authors and their individual quirks. Reiner confessed that both Goldman and King are among his favorites and he was honored that both felt that he did a wonderful job with their stories. King's in particular as, The Body, the book on which Stand By Me was based, was a true story based on King's own childhood.

Reiner had us rolling in the aisles when he recalled behind the scenes stories from each movie set including how he got the child actors of Stand By Me to commit to the drama needed for that remarkable train scene. Or how he looked every where in England for a princess Buttercup with no luck only to have Robin Wright walk in to audition here in California and nail it. Wright's from the U.S. but Reiner felt she had the best "princess" look and accent combination (her dad's from England so that explains it). Reiner laughed when he recalled Jerry O'Connel's chutzpah when he was a child and he marveled at O'Connel's adult transformation and resulting marriage to sexy Rebecca Rominij. He also chuckled at the no-brainer choice when he was asked about casting Andre in the giant's role.

All wasn't laughs as Reiner got very sad during a touching retelling of how he gently helped then child actor, River Phoenix, to tap into his past hurtful experiences to get a difficult dramatic scene. Phoenix died of a fatal drug over dose in 1993 when he was only 23. His younger brother is actor, Joaquin Phoenix.

Reiner closed the Q&A with discussion of his new wonderful film Flipped which will be released at the end of August. Flipped is a companion piece to Stand By Me and should not be missed (see previous posts Jul 2010).

Update: 9/3/10
Warner Brothers is doing a poor job of promoting Flipped and I'm not sure if anyone will even know how good it is to go and see it. I'm going to have to start a prayer campaign to save this gem of a movie.

Expendables Movie Premiere

Expendables Hollywood Movie Premiere: Tuesday August 3, 2010
I hung out with a fun crowd at the Expendables Hollywood movie premiere yesterday in front of the Coffee Bean coffee shop on Hollywood Blvd. The actual premiere was at the Grauman's Chinese Theater across the street. My hanging buddies, Rory and Su, are from London and Rory is a former business partner of Sir Richard Bronson of Virgin Atlantic fame. Boy, Rory and I got along like gang busters! We discussed Necker island, the island Branson owns in the British Virgin Islands and where Rory has visited many times. Rory flashed me a cheeky smile as he recalls Branson in the early days("he didn't always have it like it is now"). We discussed hot air ballooning as well as the tragic death of millionaire, Steve Fossett in 2007. We also had many spirited discussions about the overly aggressive event security guy (who I nicknamed "little Mussolini”) and his "crowd control" antics.

Back To The Main Event:
In between the conversation, the stars of The Expendables would trot across the street to greet us cheering fans. First, Stone Cold Steve Austin came over then the movies's writer, director and '80's actor Silvester Stallone appears in a beautiful gray Italian suit to cheers of "hey, Rocky"! Then an excited Terry Crews flexes his muscles accompanied by his wife followed by Mikey Rourke and last but not least was Bruce Willis looking quite nice, I must say. We missed seeing Dolph Lungren who entered earlier and both Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger(the Governator) were no shows.

Su's Amazing Photos:
Rory, who is Irish and Greek is a burly guy with a square solidness to him and he would launch Su's petite frame in the air then grab her by the legs so that she could get a good shot. She took the best pics and I will post them as soon as she sends them to me. I e-mailed them like 3 times already saying that I can't wait for their pictures! The pics really look like those a professional Hollywood photog would shoot from the red carpet! I had a long discussion with them boasting that I don't need photos for my blog as words tell the story but I think I'm going to try to get the same Sony camera as Su has and hope my pics come out that good. I will post Su's pics on my blog in the reserve spaces as soon as she sends them. I also promised I would mention Rory and Su in my blog but only the good things... I promise;)

I swung back around Man's Chinese as the movie ended and saw Mickey et al exiting and to no one's surprise "little Mussolini" was still yelling at people and bossing them around(lol).

Check out that pic of Rory I found on the internet. Yep, he and Branson are preparing to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Expendable Movie Review:Expendables opened last weekend to fair reviews. I haven't seen the movie yet but this old school actioner starring a cornu-copia of action stars from the '80's and '90's and is bound to do well. Opening box office numbers of $32 million have been reported for the weekend.

My Night At The Charteau Marmont

The Charteau Marmont:

I had a late appointment with my dentist then a book signing at Book Soup to attend but first, four star dining at Chateau Marmont Hotel. The Chateau Marmont is a 63 room hotel and restaurant that was built in 1932 based on the Chateau d' Amboise in France. The Chateau has been a place where the who's who of Hollywood frequent (and carouse and indulge to excess, if all those rumors are true). The hotel's restaurant is also rumored to be excellent so it's no wonder that it had been on my "to do" list for some time. I was eager to have some company on my first visit to this legendary place but I ended up going solo. Still, I greatly enjoyed the ambiance of the place and I mean ambiance with a capital A!

Service, service, service!
From the groups of valets of every race at the Bar Marmont entrance and an older Asian gentleman who seemed to be supervising them. They welcomed me warmly and told me I was at the wrong entrance. The supervisor handed the nights tally to a courteous young black valet who then gallantly escorted me to the Chateau's entrance. The Chateau is located off of bustling Sunset Blvd. but it is hidden away from the world in the cut of the hill and by a wall of shrubs and ivy so it secluded (so much so that it is easy to miss). I walked up dark square cobblestone tiles up 4 stairs to a cabana like waiting area with dark wicker chairs and white cushions with black trim. I sat down for a bit and talked with a few guests then I moved into the lobby for a closer look. The lobby's entrance was dim with lighting provided by beautiful lamps which framed 2 large heavy mirrors and tables all in a heavy dark wood(maybe mahogany).

A beautiful rosette embossed settee and chair and worn antique carpeting lead to the old world elevators which rode surprisingly smooth. The restaurant is on the lower level but I accidentally pushed the up button and traveled upstairs and exited to see carpets of dark blue and matching thick velor curtains. The hotel's narrow dark corridors had old world architectural elements and housed numerous hotel rooms on either side with larger suites at the ends. I was totally lost but I was still hoping to see some famous movie star walking out of their room. No such luck, however, because all I saw was the maid who lead me back to the elevator.

I stepped into the elevator then I realized that I had lost an earring. Oops! The earrings hold great sentimental value to me so I retraced my steps and searched frantically. The helpful maid searched with me for a bit then she went along her way cleaning rooms. I retraced my steps further back to the cabana entrance where 2 helpful female patrons help me look then asked Vincent (a supervisor in charge of the garage) and his staff to report the earring, if found, to guest services (wow, they think I'm a guest!). After a few more worried moments I finally found the earring clinging to my knitted and bejeweled scarf(lol).

Relieved, I re-entered the hotel and passed though the 1st floor's wonderful layout and was greeted warmly by the Chateau Marmont restaurant reservation staff. First, a pretty brunette sporting a flawless complexion, perfectly shaped brows and dressed in form fitting black dress and heels and sporting a sharp Audrey Hepburn-esque hair cut. She asked very politely for my reservation then she checked the computer there are none.

I told her that I was a bit late then I looked around but didn't see any famous faces anywhere. I told her that I've never visited the Chateau before but I've heard raves about their patio dining experience. She kindly suggests that we go to the patio and look around so we walk to the edge of a beautiful courtyard. I could hardly see and I was embarrassed now because, due to vanity, I had my contacts in plus I had my false eyelashes on so I couldn't see beyond 5 feet and it was becoming dark out. I squinted and squinted but I didn't see any famous faces out there (they may have been there though and I just didn't "see" them -lol).

The hostess graciously suggests that I wait in the lounge until a table is available then she compliments me on my "most loveliest of skin" (thank you! it's so good to get compliments!-lol). The hostess told me that she used to be a make-up artist so we talked beauty secrets for a few minutes. I remarked about her lovely hair cut and she writes down the stylists info for me. All referrals should score her a discount as she is a walking advertisement for Sugar Hair Salon and her hair stylist.

The other hostess arrived and she wore an elegant ponytail and was also dressed in black. She is real nice too and smiles brightly as she checked guests in. The dinner crowd really started rolling in at about 7:00 pm but only a few people requested to stay inside. Instead, everyone wanted to be outside on the patio where all the action is but only a few have reservations so some are seated at tables in the lounge like myself. Luckily, they put my info in the computer so that next time I come I can easily get a reservation for a spot on the patio. Seriously, the people who say the wait staff at CM are rude are way off base as everyone was so nice. In fact, a leggy woman in her mid-late 20's wore a striped mini dress and heels and walked around helping the guests. To my surprise, she was not a hip uber-helpful guest like I thought but actually CM's head hostess(lol).

Chateau Marmont Review:

The Mood- Romantic!
Darkly lit interiors with the gentle flicker of candle light. Rich dark earthy furniture in a French provincial style. Some worn rugs but they only enhance the atmosphere not detract from it. I loved the furniture! A mohair bench, all buttery mustard colored in the lounge and the burnt velvet red rosettes on the beige settee in the ground floor lobby entrance.

A Happening Place!
Back to lounge. I enjoyed my spot near the reservations desk as it was a great vantage point for people watching and I enjoy people watching. Especially fun was watching women in 6 inch heels *cough* stilts trying to walk carefully on the well polished stone and wood floors. Surprisingly, there were lots of kids, kids, kids... 9 in total (yeah, I counted). Kids from infants to kids of about age 7 or 8... Kids in strollers or hand held. One adorable dark haired boy held an Elmo doll and his dad and him walked by me often, both speaking in French or speaking English with a French accent. There were also lots of dogs, dogs, dogs. One cute ivory colored foo-foo pom walked by on his tippy-toes like he was wearing high heels, too (lol). And, of course, there was more good service.

Here's my timeline:
6:00 pm --Patio tour
6:15 pm --Sit. Wait. Check the time. Speak with hostess. Repeat.
6:30 pm --Can I see an appetizer menu, please?

The Menu:
The menu items are basically trendy California cuisine and they looked good especially as the wait staff walked them by on serving trays. The wait staff is predominantly white males in their mid 20's with 2-3 Hispanics men sprinkled among the waiters and busboys. The manager as a very, very nice guy. He and the staff outdid themselves and bent over backwards to make me comfortable and at home. Tons of "Are you okay? Are you being taken care of?", "Can we help you with anything?"

7:00 pm -- Oh, Nuts!
I couldn't decide on what to order but I was feeling a little hungry so I thought I'd try the mixed nuts which the waiter brought to me in a lovey small white porcelain bowl. The nuts are mixed nuts and are salty but with a hint of sweet and are very scrumptious but the $4 price was a bit hard to swallow. I ate them very slowly, savoring all the flavors but no stuffed olives for me thanks (also $4)

7:30 pm-- Skip To The Loo!
I'm off to the facilities where I nearly bump a waiter on my way as the hall to the kitchen and the entry to the ladies' restrooms share a common corridor. Once inside, the intricate cut mirror design over the large mirror and the white wainscotings trim are lovely plus the antique looking sink and fixtures, fresh flowers and glowing scented candles really made a lasting impression. I met a nice lady from McLean, Virginia in there and we reminisced about our love for children (me for my patients, she for her brood of 3). We also talked about our love of the east coast especially DC, M.D. and V.A. and our concerns about the recent earthquakes, tornadoes there(can you imagine).

7:45 PM-- I'm late!
I was seriously late for the book signing and I considered leaving but I can't seem to make myself leave the deep comfy chair that I was melting into. This place really gets to you!

8:00 pm-- It's cold!
The temp dropped a few degrees than quickly dropped a few degrees more and I decided that I was skipping the book sign.

8:15 pm -- To the Patio!
It was still light enough outside to I walk about and so I circled the patio just to make sure I hadn't missed anything or anyone during my lengthy sojourn in the exquisite powder room. Luckily, my eyes are seeing better, too. The patio is gorgeous with small groupings of beige wicker tables and palm trees and tropical flowers. It was surprisingly romantic and I did get a stray thought of, “Who knows, I just might meet Mr. Right on this patio”. I shook off the day dreaming and warmed up under a blaring heat lamp outside. I did see a few people who looked kinda sorta familiar(maybe from TV or movies). Some people looked like if they were conducting business over their meals and others were looking around to see what the others were doing while others were there to be seen. I loved the atmosphere on the patio but, alas, I didn't spot any great loves(lol). I headed back to the lounge and the hostess tells me that she likes my purse. I told her my rule --”real or faux for $5” and how I actually pray for deals when I shop. She chuckled a bit then got back to work.

8:30 pm -- Relax and Reflect!
I think how it was worth coming to the Chateau as I relax and enjoy the atmosphere and explored a bit.

The Lounge:
The lounge is more Gothic + French provincial but just as welcoming. I grabbed the menu again but nothing inspired me then the temperature dropped so much that I have to put on my jacket and avoid windy cold drafts from the patio.

8:45 pm -- Just call me "Hot Chocolate"!
Later, mom and her 6 year old daughter exited the patio shivering and asked the waiter for suggestions on something warm to drink. He recommended the hot cocoa. I ordered myself one, which they served to me near a dark piano in the lounge area near a mohair chair. The hot chocolate comes in a white porcelain tureen with a lid. The $5 it costs is a bit steep but it was perfection! It was the best cocoa ever, even beating the Mexican-Mayan inspired cinnamon cocoa concoction I had at St. Michael's church's Christmas social years ago(good times).

9:00 pm -- If Only For One Night!
I sipped my chocolate very slowly and looked around then settled deeply into the settee like if I belonged. Seriously, I truly felt like I was in my own house... albeit a million dollar extravagantly decorated old french chateau. That's the charm of this place if I had $250-$350 for a room I would have stayed there that night. It just felt that right. Hopefully, I can stay there for my B-day one day(hint, hint).

9:15 pm-- Au Revoir Mon Ami!
It's finally time to go as an arctic winter is brewing outside. Side note: It's the end of July in L.A. And it's 65 degrees out. Imagine that. What happened to hot summer nights? Oh, that's only on the east coast(teehee).

9:30 pm-- Just Bill Me!
I motion for my bill and a friendly young waiter pops up. He's South African but has a strong British accent. So many people waited on me that he has trouble finding my tab so he had to go back and forth for a bit. He came back and said, "Did you have the olives?" I shook my head “no” and he scurried away mumbling to himself “No olives” . He returned triumphantly a few minutes later with my tab in hand. I tried to read the bill but the dark interiors + my contacts = can't see nada, so I leaned over to a nearby lamp and tried to make it out. I finally give up and handed over my credit card and signed off on the check, praying the whole time that I hadn't signed off on a $100 check.

The Bar Marmont:
I left the restaurant and headed over to CM Bar just to check it out. It was a bit loud with a young hip crowd and a night club atmosphere. It had an interesting layout and furniture but I was not loving it the way I did the hotel but it's definitely not a dive. Everyone seemed cool and they all spoke in an animated fashion. I did a quick tour of the facilities ('60's retro style loo) then I sat for a bit to let it all sink in. Then a nearby couple lit up a couple of cigs so I had to exit very quickly. Smoking is such a dangerous habit but I see more people smoking in LA than in any place I've ever lived across the U.S. To Smokers: It's really not cool folks so pick a stop date and just do it!

Sunset Plaza and iTVfest Opening night:
After leaving Bar Marmont, I crossed the street and headed pass Sunset Plaza mall and saw that iTVFest was having their opening night party in the entrance of the mall with a slamming DJ spinning some serious tunes (mostly rap and techno music). No one I recognized was there but there was some lively dancing by one pair. I stayed about an hour but was unable to score an "insider" admit bracelet so I sat or danced next to the insiders, divided only by a red velvet rope, a small divider and a potted plant. I met a few people along the way, notably Cedric Pendleton(from Tyler Perry's House of Payne) touting his new webisode series titled, The Best Green (think Weeds meets Barbershop). It was my first time at the plaza so I checked out the theater on the top floor and I checked out the veggie grill store. From the top floor of the mall, I observed party-goers from above, all from my own birds-eye view, then it got way too cold and so I left.

Update: July 30th
When I got home, I quickly took my contacts out and took a closer look at the Chateau bill. I was charged for the olives after all but even being incorrectly billed for olives was a fun memory(lol).

Book Signings At Book Soup:
I never made it to that book signing at Book Soup but the next one is The Last Hero a book about baseball great, Henry "Hank" Aaron, whom I met as a kid at my elementary school in the islands. He spoke with me and signed my baseballs then the assistant principals snatched the baseballs from me soon after. Seriously, I was always trotted out when famous celebs visited my school but I was never allowed to keep any of the memorabilia (I know I'll find them on ebay one day(lol).

Update: 8/15/10
Guess who I met at church? One of the hostesses from the Chateau Marmont! She and her husband have been members for a while and she told me that one of the other hostesses is a Christian, too. I thanked her for being so kind to me when I visited CM. She said that she was glad I decided to stay and have a good time and a meal despite not getting the patio seating. She also complimented me again, including me as one of the "pretty people"(thank you). Then she added, "who knows, you could have had a chance encounter with Mr. Right that night". (How did she know that that was exactly what I was thinking -lol.) It's so uncanny. God is amazing!!!

Update: Febuary 11th 2011
Academy award winning writer-director, Sophia Coppola, (Francis Ford Coppola's daughter) has a new Indie film out called Somewhere based on the Chateau Marmont. The movie's main character is an actor who lives at the Chateau and struggles to connect with his young daughter as his life and career spirals down. I have heard that Mr. Coppola owned the Chateau for a minute in the "80's so this adds another dynamic to this film. The reviews for this film have been mixed but I think the premise is intriguing. I missed seeing this film in the theater last week but I may catch it on DVD if just to see more of the Chateau.