Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The spirit of Christian giving was everywhere as annual Thanksgiving Day meals were provided for the homeless at numerous faith-based organizations along Downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row. The L.A. Mission had it's usual large showing of celebrities including regulars Kurt Douglas and his wife, Ann, who served up all the fixings to crowds of 2,500 or more. The mayor served up food at the Midnight Mission's Thanksgiving blessing and the Union Rescue Missionhad the Bold and the Beautiful cast and many other local or community players serving up or donating for the event.

I paid tribute to the memory of my late brother (a chef) by donating $2.03 to provide one homeless person a meal this Thanksgiving at the L.A. Mission. I plan to do the same this Christmas for all the Thanksgivings and Christmases to come. $2.03 is a small amount (the cost of a soda and a small bag of chips from the vending machine --my favs) so please consider doing the same if there is a local neighborhood food bank or charity that you can bless. See how to donate to L.A. Mission if interested but especially watch the videos linked below especially the one with the chef speaking about the empty food pantry as well as the video testimonials from the men whose lives and souls have been saved.
Considering the circumstances, the Bible verse below is very fitting:

Isaiah 25:6-10 (NIV)
6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;
8 He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

My Thanksgiving:
After Tuesday on Skid Row, I decided to have a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home just like last year. I added some seasonal decor to my apartment and cooked and baked but mostly I just spent time praising God and being thankful that I am truly blessed! I also played (quite appropriately) Mary, Mary's Thankful CD all day and I hummed and sang along as I cooked. Later, I took a brief break from the kitchen and headed poolside for a brief sunning as I listened to Rodrigo Rodriguez's flamenco gospel instrumental CD titled, Inspired By You. The sunning was truly brief as most of the time I was in a parka due to the unseasonably and unbelievably frigid conditions here in California. Again, spent a lot of time in the word seeking the Lord's view on thanksgiving and service to the needy and poor.

More good Thanksgiving Day scriptures:
John 21: 15-17 (Feed My Sheep),

Isaiah 58:10, Isaiah 14:30 (God's promise of provision for the poor and the needy), Psalm 126:3 The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy. AND

Proverbs 22:9 A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor

I also found a nice Thanksgivings Day Prayer

We Give Thanks
Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.
--Harry Jewell

Be blessed and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Shoes That Fit At CCCO

I volunteered with over 50 members of my church and over 200 total volunteers for the 12th annual Shoes That Fit event at L.A. Central City Community Outreach (CCCO)(6th and San Pedro) on Tuesday November 23rd. Shoes That Fit is held every year around Thanksgiving by CCCO, which is a Christian non-profit dedicated to serving the homeless or under-privileged in Los Angeles' Skid Row including an after-school program for children with mentoring. For this event, they provided shoes, clothing, entertainment, a quick meal of hot dogs and snacks plus boxed groceries for a Thanksgiving meal for the children and their families.

We started the event with a group prayer for all the volunteers where we sincerely asked for God's Holy Spirit presence so that we could do His work for the event then we were off. I was on face painting and entertainment duties outside and I met and greeted as much children and parents in line as I could. I spoke my version of Spanish and joked or sang with them until everyone smiled. My heart broke many times as the line was very long and it was so cold and blustery outside (made even worst by the wind-chill factor). Sadly, most of the kids were not dressed warm enough to be out in the elements but their parents were so desperate to get them some shoes, clothing and a meal that only 2 families actually left out of the hundreds in line.

The sun left at about 4:00 pm too so it got even colder and I had to keep running inside to search the donated bins for blankets and scarfs for the babies, kids and even for some moms who were outside. I also used the time inside searching for clothing to warm up my body and to warm up my heart and spirit through prayer and supplication to the Lord for the homeless and needy throngs outside. Although I have worked with kids and families in similar situations before, L.A. has the worst homeless situation I have ever seen ,and with the down economy, the problem just seems to be growing.

Still it was a very up-lifting event as every child left smiling and styling as they sported their new shoes, fly hoodies, princess or spider-man face paint and their plate full of goodies. I even got a few hugs from the pint-sized blessings! It really makes me reflect though on what being thankful and Christian service to the needy is really about and what God 's word has to say about it.

John 21:15 American International Translation

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs (spiritual babes)," Jesus told him.

I hope we did just that!

Learn more about L.A. Central City at and see video from the event at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Halle Berry At AFI Fest

I headed to the Graumann's Chinese Theatre on Tues November 9th to hear Halle Berry On Acting at AFI Fest. I arrived at the last minute and still got the best seats in the house. In fact, I was so close that I was where the official photographers sat...again (see video clip below). Halle was stunning in a black form fitting dress to the delight of all the men drooling in the front row (see pic). She seemed real down to earth and expressed surprised that the theater was actually filled to capacity just to hear from her.

The evening quickly got on the way and we got to hear Halle's thoughts on acting, winning the Oscar and her various and often, as she puts it, “tragic” movie roles. We saw many clips from her movies including her current turn as a strip club dancer with multiple personalities in Frankie and Alice, which is actually based on a true story. Sadly, Halle expressed that it is still hard for her to get roles as a black woman in Hollywood. She denied rumors that she had lots of movies in the works and lamented that things were still a struggle for her even after her Oscar win.

So it is no surprise then that Halle is now a strong proponent of producing her own film projects and making her own opportunities which she did by producing and developing Frankie and Alice. Her producing experience began when she brought Introducing Dorothy Dandrige to HBO as a TV movie over 10 years ago. She talked about the eerie similarities between Dandrige and herself (born in the same hospital, same birthday etc). Dandridge was also the first black woman nominated in the best lead actress category and Halle was the first to win same. I prayed a bit when she said that she and the crew for the Dandridge movie felt that Dandrige's spirit visited the set but it seemed to not bother Ms. Berry as she stated that it encouraged her and the movie cast and crew to complete the project.

After the talk, they turned the stage lights down and Ms. Berry sprinted off the stage as security surrounded her and blocked off any easy access to her. I had no need to fear as a gap opened right up in front of me allowing me to step up right next to her. She is a very petite woman, only about 5' 4” even in 4-5 inch heels and maybe a size 0 in her black designer dress. Her hair and make-up were also flawless but looked natural at the same time.

The fans were calling her name quite loud, pushing and begging her for autographs or for pictures, as light bulbs flashed all around us. Even though I was in this wild fray, I spoke to her very gently and referred to her only as “Ms. Berry” at all times. Security let me step closer and I shook her hand (“for my sister”) and she gripped mine back softly and moved closer to me as we talked like old friends for a bit. This happens to me a lot and I think that people most likely get mesmerized by my accent. It also may have helped that she has a sister, too (lol).

I loved the black Elie Saab dress Halle wore and, fashionista that I am, I was eyeing the beautiful jeweled bracelet that she was wearing with it. I love sparkly and shiny things and I was dressed in everything gold and shiny from my closet as well as my faux fur. Seeing Halle dressed so well made me very happy that I had made the effort to dress up also. It also almost made the pain from my beautiful but pinchy shoes go away(lol). I was elated but I headed home right after as the weather outside was decidedly Arctic. God is indeed amazing!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

AFI Fest 2010

I made it to the AFI Fest on Friday 11/5 for their L.A. Times Young Hollywood Roundtablepanel at the historic Egyptian Theater. The panel included young up and coming actors Carey Mulligan (An Education), Jesse Eisenberg (Holy Rollers, Zombie Land)and Andrew Garfield (The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus)who were interviewed by an L.A. Times entertainment writer. I was a bit late getting there and I took one of the last remaining seats on the lower level as the night quickly got started. As they introduced the panel, the panel quickly entered from the left of the screen and brushed right passed me as they walk onto a small elevated platform and took their seats.

There was many problems with the audio-visuals (causing the panel and audience to laugh many times) but I enjoyed the panelists POV. There was also some star vehicle and content over-lap as Mulligan and Garfield worked together on Never Let Me Go and Eisenberg and Garfield are now starring together in the David Fincher film, The Social Network but it made for a more interesting panel. The panel was asked many questions including: how they got into acting, how was their experience working with various actors and directors, and their acting methods as well as how they researched a role. They were also asked how Oscar buzz is affecting their careers and how their experience in Hollywood compares to home in New York City or across the pond (England).

Mulligan and Garfield (the 2 Brits), admitted to being painfully shy in front of the camera and confused about the Hollywood process of budding stardom. Garfield seemed especially and self-deprecatingly so which is understandable since he is Peter Parker in the new Spider Man reboot which starts principal photography next month. No shyness for Jersey boy, Eisenberg, as he zinged off one liners and worked the crowd. Eisenberg started acting earlier than the other two and is American so I think he has adapted to the process easier. He referenced advice from his father a couple times as well so I can tell that his family is very supportive.

The stars walked the red carpet and posed for photographers after the panel, too and I was right there next to the photographers and interviewers including crews from Extra and E! network. Then I headed to the AFI lounge at the Roosevelt Hotel until The King's Speech was over for more of the same. There, I ran into actress Edie McClurg(Ferris Bullers Day Off) and got pics of her walking AFI's faux red carpet in the Roosevelt's lobby. I've loved, loved, loved McClurg for over 20 years and it was no surprise to me that we finally met. Speaking of another "not surprising co-incidence", I ran into one of the few remaining costumed street performers since the big crack down this summer. Who was it? Good ole Spidey! Again, I had a great time all for free!
God is great!!!!!

AFM 2010

AFM is in full swing this year at it's usual site, the Loew's Hotel, Santa Monica. AFM has over 400 films from over 60 countries, showing in 16 area theaters and all the deal makers and film distributors you can handle. I headed there last Thurs to network with industry insiders and to people watch, of course. I met filmmakers and distributors from India, Hong Kong and Canada and many who are based in L.A. or New York. I also attended the wacky TromaDance press conference which promotes the film festival.

I didn't get into a single screening but I did get to see President Obama's Indonesian look-alike which was real fun. The guy actually looks a lot like the prez but he's only 5'6" max(see video). I also discovered the AMC Criterion 6 Theater along the 3rd Str. Promanade. It is an old 50's style theater that has been nicely refurbished and it sits across the street from a modern AMC 16 theater. Still, if given a choice I would choose the Criterion just for its nostalgia.