Thursday, January 31, 2008

In A Perpetual State Of Adolescence...

The other day on The View Joy Behar talked a little about how she thought a child’s personality was all set by the time he or she was ten years old and that whatever they said they wanted to do at that age is what they would be most happy doing. That was always my personal philosophy, too, and it got me to thinking: at age ten I wanted to be a writer—a novelist, actually. I spent high school detouring into screenwriting and the visual art of theatre (and some rinky-dink video production)… mostly because I liked the idea of working with actors, and I went to college for film rather than writing because I didn’t think there was anything to learn about a very creative, internal process. In the past two years, I’ve freelanced, or how I’ve recently come to call it “just plain d*cked around;” I deviated into things I “fell into”-- things I was good at but in which I didn’t particularly have a long-term interest. I allowed myself to get lost daydreaming about numbers and dollar signs (which really doesn’t even make sense since everything I’ve done has been so independent, low-budget, and not profitable!) rather than the intangible things that always used to make me happy. I got caught up in what my craft could get me without realizing that by doing that, I was worrying about it from the business side, and therefore I could no longer rightfully call myself an artist.

I don’t know how I got so off-track from the original dream. I don’t know if it was because I was chasing something I never thought I’d ever catch but felt I owed to the point of needing to try. I wonder now if these blogs can be used as writing samples for any journalistic endeavors I might decide to embark on in the near future because I certainly didn’t salvage any of my high school paper articles, and I never even thought about going out for the Daily Trojan…

I lost my way for a little while, but thankfully I’m slowly coming back…

Friday, January 25, 2008

You Know What Word Grown-Ups Don't Use? Grown-Up!...

It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up in the morning and not had to log onto one of the many So.Cal entertainment job boards (or in recent weeks, the So.Cal job boards in general). It’s a weird feeling not to have to, and it makes me realize there is far less to do on the Internet than I originally thought.

I am once again officially a contributing member of society. I will be working at TVN, a company that delivers all VOD programming to cable providers, changing content monthly, and I will be coordinating with outside clients to make schedules, keep deadlines of deliverables, etc. The women I met with liked my production qualifications because of how much coordinating (equipment rentals, site negotiations, hiring and managing crews, creating call sheets and production schedules, etc) I had to do there. It feels weird, and kind of scary, that I’m going to embark on a day job, where I will have to report for the same hours every day, to a desk, in an office, with all the monotony and tedium that might ensue. At least everyone I’ve met so far seem really cool and easy to work with (anyone remember the Trojan Vision stapler incident?). Believe it or not, a “normal” nine-to-five is what I’ve convinced myself I want of late anyway. I still want to be around the industry, but the dreams I had for my life in production proved to be just that: dreams.

I like the idea of having steady income and always knowing a next paycheck is coming and from where it’s coming. I like the idea of going into work in the morning and knowing exactly when I can leave, so I can actually make dinner plans. I like the idea of not paying for medical benefits out of pocket. I really like the idea of not paying for dental at all! I like the idea of paid vacations and being unafraid to call in sick so I don’t end up surrounded by a bunch of people hacking up a lung and sneezing green just because they couldn’t afford to miss one day of their rate. I like the idea of having time and energy to write (I do most of my writing when I first wake up or right before I go to bed anyway, so these hours are perfect). Most of all, I like the idea of growing up and joining the real world. I’ll still always be somewhat of a dreamer, but I’m doing it in much more realistic parameters now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't F With The Queen...

When I was in high school, I directed theater for a few years, and every fall when we would hold auditions for our new musical, kids would come in, knowing I was a huge Mariah fan, and sing one of her songs to try to engage me or ingratiate themselves to me in some way. More often than not they sucked, to put it bluntly, especially when attempting to tackle an extremely rare vocal range, and I took great pleasure in cutting their songs off prematurely and simply waving from the back of the theater: "NEXT!

All that being said, American Idol was classic last night, just for the nostalgia it evoked.

A Humid, Prepossessing Homo Sapien With A Full-Sized Aortic Pump...

This makes me rethink what I think of Jimmy Kimmel. I mean, I still don't find his show funny, but at least I no longer think he's just a sweaty, puffy, lucky douche.

(You must scroll down to the second CUT TO in the article to find what I'm talking about.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oy To The Vey... Cloverfield...

I thought long and hard for the past few days about whether or not I wanted to write this blog. At first, I thought I had to: that this movie made such a mockery of the intelligence of the general public—it’s a testament to what people won’t question—that something has to be said. However, another part of me felt that come Monday morning, there would be droves of blogs (hopefully) saying everything I was thinking, and that made me change my mind and decide I wanted to write the End All Be All on the subject... But I held off because there was no way in hell I would continue a debate about a movie that is not worth the effort. After reading so many of these blogs this morning, though (and thankfully agreeing with most of them, proving that the general public is not just full of CGI-loving drones who don’t question what makes absolutely no f**king sense!), I’ve happily discovered that it is quite the opposite, actually; with the increasingly available information about filmmaking, audiences are becoming much more savvy and with the accessibility and anonymity of the internet, they are able to engage in quite witty, snarky dialogues. How could I not want to be a part of that???

All that being said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw my two cents in… so here it goes… The first thing that struck me about Cloverfield was that it was supposed to be a love story set amid an inexplicable tragedy. That is set up from the opening frames of the “footage,” which feature a young man (is it a bad sign that some of the character names just didn’t stick in my mind?) and his girlfriend? one night stand? friend with benefits? waking up at the break of dawn in a ridiculously spacious New York apartment that overlooks Central Park. When the camera gets turned back on a month later, as the timestamp tells us, another man and woman are in possession of it (though at first glance, I admit I thought the new woman was the same woman, and I immediately went: “Uh oh, trouble in paradise.” Turns out I was right, but for other reasons) and planning a surprise going away party for the first guy. So that’s how we get introduced to all of the characters. Fine. A bit boring, but ultimately fine. That’s also when the chaos begins.

I can’t talk about Cloverfield and not bring up the unnecessarily spot-on parallel to the collapse of the World Trade Center. As the party filters down and out of the apartment building, we are given images of thudding feet down stairs, a giant cloud of smoke tumbling down the street, and scared pedestrians running from their lives, getting covered in that white ash. It’s a moment that is still so real from six years ago, that I dry-swallowed for a moment, hoping it would be fleeting. And it was. And PS: there was no reason for that first building to crumble the way it did but for the September 11th parallel, and that is a low blow to tug at our emotions. So then I just got mad.
Now, originally I liked the overall concept of seeing a monster movie from the perspective of those involved; they don’t know what’s going on, and neither do we: we’re merely experiencing everything with them. Unfortunately, the camera work is so extremely distracting, it almost defeats the purpose of a monster movie: seeing the cool CGI effects or giant robot or puppet or whatever the particular movie used for the creature. Here we have shaking from side to side so quick that the image is a complete blur, and we have to strain to see even the littlest of details at times. We also have the “I’m standing with my elbow resting on my hip because my arm is just too darn tired to hold up this camcorder anymore” tilting of the camera, which creates stylized, slanted images for no good reason.

I also understand there is a certain amount of leniency you have to lend to a monster movie, which by nature is a surreal concept, but there were just too many little things that all only added up to the laziness of the filmmakers, who assumed no one would ask questions, or if they did, at least they’d do so after shilling out their ten bucks to see the film. Little things like that aforementioned timestamp disappearing so that they don’t have to explain the ridiculous timetable of the film, even though we know the camera is not on the whole time (as evidenced by the gaps in tunnel walking or stair climbing, and we’ll get to that in a minute… and which explains how neither the battery nor the tape managed to run out). Little things like the fact that this guy doesn’t even blink when his brother gets blown up before his eyes, but when he hears a scared message from that possible girlfriend, starts in a panic to find her… and his friends, including Lizzy Caplan who seems to barely know them, all decide to follow him, despite the fact that there is literally a herd of people being evacuated behind them (I mention this because I know from firsthand experience that ‘follow the herd’ mentality during times of tragedy and panic, but following this Michael Vartan-wannabe was not their only option). Little things like how the Mama Monster looked like a T-Rex, but how all the little babies that jumped off her looked like crab-spiders; I know they're parasites and not literally babies, but it's still a weird jump in species. Little things like the fact that they manage to get cell phone reception… no actually I’ll leave that one alone because looking back, I had cell phone reception on September 11th, so maybe those satellites really are just surprisingly advanced nowadays. Little things, though, like the Army just letting them go back out even after one of their friends has just combusted in front of their eyes; no one even stresses the importance of checking them for bites or deep scratches. Little things like seeing Possible Girlfriend’s apartment building has turned into the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and they get the brilliant idea to climb 59 stories up the other building, jumping across the roof, and climbing down a slanted (there it is!) building to find a girl who, by all accounts, should be dead. Little things like that girl is not dead when they find her, and though she should at least be in shock and/or bleeding to death, she is perfectly able to scale the roof, fly down the 59 flights, and run out onto the street on her own two legs (yes, I know this is a common theme for Abrams, but the “Adrenaline!” excuse is just plain lazy!). Little things like turning these “average people” into Bionics when they survive a helicopter crash. Little things like how this footage and camera even managed to survive everything, and that in the end, someone was able (and cared enough) to sift through the thousands of pounds of rubble to find it.

In the last few moments of Cloverfield, when the filming dude finally drops the damn camera, and it lays sad and abandoned on its side in the grass, I started to smile a little. I saw the end in my mind, and it slightly redeemed some of the other crazy sh*t that had taken place. I thought for sure the camera would stay there, and from the only wide shot we were allowed, we would see these three survivors die in a blaze of fire as the military leveled New York, as they promised they would when that Army man let these crazies back out onto the street. Sadly, though, that was not the case, as one more “shock value twist” was thrust upon the audience, and then we were forcibly reminded that, at its core, Cloverfield is not about destruction but love, and we have to hear Crazy Man and his Possible Girlfriend say they love each other as the city implodes around them. Well, I’d probably tell whomever I was with in the last moments of the world as I know it that I love them, too, but it doesn’t make it real. It annoys me that movies never point this out. A similar issue occurred in the ABC Family Channel Original Film Lovewrecked, which I watched a few weekends ago. Chris Carmack’s character only falls for Amanda Bynes’ character because he thinks he’s stranded and very possibly might die. Then when she, too, gets placed in life-threatening situation, suddenly her eyes open to the best friend who’s always been there for her, and she decides she loves him. It’s just the adrenaline of the situation, if you will, and in the end it would never last.

Okay, sorry for the tangent. Rant Over. Thanks for indulging me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Just A Quick Thought (About TV, What Else?)...

Like most of their shows, Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County focuses on women who are exactly what the title says they are: housewives who live in Orange County, California. They live off their wealthy husbands or ex-husbands in ginormous mansions and spend their days teeth-bleaching, Botoxing, working with their personal trainers, blow-drying, and shopping. It pretty much showcases what The Hills girls will become in twenty years.

Their spin-off, The Real Housewives of New York City, which debuts in March, on the other hand, reads more like a real life Cashmere Mafia than anything else. All of the women hold real (and high-powered, I might add!) jobs in the corporate world-- from Jill, who is co-owner/operator of Zarin Fabrics and Home Furnishings, to Ramona, who owns and runs a jewelry line, a clothing line, and an upcoming skin care line. These women were clearly scouted by a reality Casting Director-- because how else would they have found a real live Countess for the cast?-- but I can't understand why out of the hundreds of wannabe actresses and/or models whose headshots they most definitely shifted through for this show, they would ultimately pick Bethany, who was runner-up on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. If she is recognizable enough for me to Google her after just seeing just one RHoNY commercial during a Project Runway rerun, she is most definitely too recognizable to lend credibility that these are just regular, "real" women.

Do I think RHoNY will be more interesting than its west coast predecessor? Of course I do because the cameras will actually have to capture women struggling to balance their professional and personal lives, and in this day and age, who isn't juggling small children, navigating the crazy public transportation of an overcrowded city, attending board meetings and school bake sales alike, etc?… but I still can’t help but feel a little cheated for being lied to in the title, and that’s not something I ever expected from Bravo, the only channel with consistently fresh, innovative programming with equally consistent, simple (but let's face it, slightly less innovative) “Says What It Is In The Title” titles. Think about it: the Top... series (Top Chef, Top Design, Top Hair... err, I mean Shear Genius) is so self-explanatory it's almost oxy-moronic for the sophisticated crowd to whom Bravo caters. Though I guess I can’t deny that all of that programming falls into the competition variety… so if they want RHoNY to be really successful, the women should be handed strips of fabric, a gift certificate to the PDC, a bunch of cabaret wigs, and ceviche, and be told to freaking make something!!! If their résumés are real, they should have no problems doing just that...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Get Outta My Dreams And Onto My TV...

27 Dresses is a typical post-millenium romantic comedy: there are elements of snark, but those are subdued compared to the overarching message that all little girls who dream of fluffy white wedding dresses and their perfect dark-haired, blue-eyed man ultimately grow into women who dream of fluffy white wedding dresses and their perfect dark-haired, blue-eyed man.… and in the end, they must get them. Despite polished lifestyles full of extremely well-tailored designer duds and an apartment with a closet the size of most New York City apartments, the women still pine the way those of yesteryear did, with bright, brimming eyes and a hopeful smile. Not exactly scoring one for feminism or independence… unless you consider who plays the supporting role of Jane (Katherine Heigl)’s best friend and co-worker: JUDY M***ERF***ING GREER!

Judy is the original Amy Poehler: she always plays supporting characters in big films or television shows, but she steals the show every time. Her impeccable comic timing is only enhanced by the fact that she is so consumed by her quirky characters that she believes them to be real and is able to deliver crazy one-liners with insane seriousness, eliciting even more laughs for it. Her “Say Good-Bye To These” line from Arrested Development is one of the most quoted from that show.She first blew onto the scene (well, onto my radar anyway) in 1999 with the cult teen classic Jawbreaker and then the war-caper Three Kings, and she has been a force to be reckoned with ever since, working consistently on both big studio projects (What Women Want, The Wedding Planner, The Village) and smaller independents that rival her characters’ quirkiness in their plots (I Love Your Work, Hebrew Hammer, The Amateurs). Often her performance is the only thing salvageable about a particular project, like the uber-schmaltzy 13 Going On 30, in which she was the only shining light but for Cutie McPretty Mark Ruffalo, or her two-episode stint on Two And A Half Men, where she was the only strong female guest star (until Jenny McCarthy in a later season) able to match wits with, and ultimately break into, the misogynistic, misguided boys’ club.

When 20th Century Fox announced their pilot season all those months ago, it was not a very exciting time. Not only are they known for not giving their shows a chance to find an audience, but their traditional comedies are notoriously full of canned laughter and just plain bad. However, they were offering one thing no one else could: a show with Judy Greer at the center (Miss/Guided: a story of a woman who returns to her high school alma mater to become a guidance counselor), and therefore, they had my attention front and center. Learning that the show was to be shot single-camera (ala Arrested…) and that Kristoffer Polaha (North Shore, America’s Prince: The John F Kennedy Jr Story) was also starring, I knew I had found my new appointment-viewing show. Unfortunately, TBTB at ABC (the channel that is supposed to distribute/air the show) decided to put Miss/Guided on the backburner, aka the mid-season replacement list… and even now, despite the fact that the strike has networks pulling out just about any scripted show they may have tucked away, even if it might mildly offend some (Bones’ Virgina Tech ep., anyone?), Miss/Guided is still oddly missing from the grid. Perhaps they are afraid of repeating an Arrested… pattern and not bringing in the BIG numbers; after all, some of the elements are the same, but it is my argument that at a time like this, when we are extremely hard-up for even remotely entertaining programming, this is the time when a show like Miss/Guided can shine, and a talent like Judy Greer can finally step out of supporting roles and into the spotlight where she belongs. Ironically, 20th Century Fox granted that same opportunity to the underestimated workhorse James Marsden with 27 Dresses, so it should only be the next logical step to duplicate such stardom for the incomparable Ms. Greer.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I Found My Future Husband...

His name is Perry. He lives in Los Angeles and works as a waiter/model/actor. He technically has a girlfriend already, but whatever. He managed to make a blue and white striped Speedo seem to be acceptable beach wear. Watch him every Thursday on Bravo's Make Me A Supermodel, and if he ever (God forbid!) falls into the bottom three, vote to keep him in the competition!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another Gem...

Delivering in a theater near you on April 25th!

(If the embedded video doesn't work, go here.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's The End Of An Era...

On June 1 2008, the lights of the Nederlander Theatre will go dark, signifying the end of Jonathan Larson's RENT's twelve-year run. RENT currently holds the record for being the seventh longest-running Broadway show and has had a touring cast in over ten countries through the years. It is the first Broadway show I ever saw, and it spoke to me in a way that no single piece of art ever did prior or since. I have written about Jonathan Larson and what his words and his life mean to me in the past, albeit not so eloquently, as I was overcome with emotions at the time, and to be honest, I'm not sure I could do any better now.

When I logged onto the Official Website for the play and saw that countdown clock, I could hear the empty theater echoing in my mind, and a tear slipped down my cheek. I never wanted to return to New York once I left; it was no secret that I wasn’t happy there—not in the city, not in my childhood—and I wanted to run as far from those painful feelings as possible. Friends have often teased me throughout the years that with my luck, my kids will someday want to visit New York and will fall in love with it, and I’ll be faced with going back and forth to the city often, just to visit them. I always said that if the time came when my kids did want to see the city, I would be a dutiful mother and take them. We’d take the bus up to 57th Street, and I’d show them where my mother used to work, at the building with the big red 9 on the street that classmates of mine would argue, when we rode by on a school bus out on a field trip, was actually just a lowercase E—a building featured in Sex and the City and Friends, an iconic part of the city to me at least. We’d hit Bloomingdale’s and the new F.A.O. and get a package of those roasted nuts that always smell ten times better than they taste. We’d walk 5th Avenue and pop into Godiva and the Disney Store, and I’d point out where the Warner Brothers store used to be. Maybe we’d lunch at Serendipity (oh wait, that’s closed now, too) and dinner at Carmine’s before taking in a riveting (no many how many casts it had been through by then) performance of RENT. But now there is no way that can happen. I am nowhere near where I wanted to be in my life-- kids, like many other things, are still a distant, slightly unrealistic dream. All those years ago, RENT showed me what my true dreams were, and perhaps I took them for granted, like I took the show itself for granted, thinking it would always be there. I now understand why so many people were upset those few years ago when “Cats” closed. To me, RENT was much more than just a part of New York history, but being that piece of history is enough for it to be missed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Surviving" The Strike...

The return of American Idol and the news that four of the major studios have pulled their contracts for production, ultimately ending this television season and seriously endangering next year’s, had me take a good hard look at the shows I currently Can’t Miss, and I was shocked to realize that (even before the strike) the list is dominated by reality shows.

In the past few months I have gotten back to writing creatively (not just these blogs). After getting positive feedback on my first novel, from both friends and strangers alike, and obtaining representation for my second novel quite quickly, I felt I was on a roll and began fleshing out two more stories that could live as chick lit or as chick flicks or both. That being said, I don’t suddenly think I’m the World’s Best Writer and that nothing currently on television could possibly live up to my incredibly high talent (though I do have incredibly high standards, and unfortunately most scripted programs, even those that I once loved and followed religiously, are falling well below that bar). I find I am turning now to reality television because of the challenge it poses: you really can’t write the sh*t that goes down (not on the shows I watch anyway, which are all talent competitions). Though with shows starting double-digit seasons, the contestants are all a lot savvier about playing to the cameras, creating a character, and overall just seeming interesting to get a lot of screen-time (and yes, most of them have been scouted out and cast because they have the right “look” or make an interesting press story), the shows themselves offer another element; the game becomes a character in and of itself—one which is often underestimated. Who would have thought, for instance, that the top three on this season on The Amazing Race would consist of not one, but TWO teams with a player over the age of fifty? Hell, even a player over forty would have been an improvement! It’s the little twists like that—just when you think you have your show all figured out—that re-pique my interest.

I haven’t watched Survivor since the early seasons, but this past one held its finale over the Christmas break, and my mom and I found ourselves home that evening with nothing to do and nothing else to watch, so I tuned in. I knew nothing of the players but couldn’t help but notice how sunken-in Jeff Probst’s cheeks had gotten in the past few years, wondering if some twist in their game had him camping out with the contestants now, too living off berries and fish. The reunion show came and went without validating that question mark in my mind, and I was all set to be done with Survivor once again and for good… until the preview for the 16th (yes, you heard me correctly) season, “Fans Vs Favorites,” came on.
Now, they had already done an All-Stars version years prior, back when I still knew some of the faces that re-claimed the Thursday at 8 spot on CBS, so this half-assed version normally wouldn’t even cause me to stop flipping channel long enough to watch the whole spot, and as they flashed the faces of the fans, or the “normal” people, I couldn’t help but exclaim: “These aren’t even real people! They’re all models or actors!” And yes, they all do have the shiny hair and bleached teeth look of anyone you’ve seen on a reality show recently (ahem, Big Brother, I’m talking to you!), but I hold out hope for one reason, and one reason only: my friend and ex-co-worker Alexis Jones (Doing It For Reel, Screen Test) is one such “fan.”

Picked out of thousands of possible contestants, Alexis is a force because she is the kind of girl everyone will gravitate towards and want to be friends with: she is genuinely sweet, caring, and down-to-Earth, but she’s also insanely smart, a trait that will most likely be underestimated due to her big smile and happy demeanor. When we worked together at TV8 (Trojan Vision), she often got the red carpet interviews because actors would want to flirt with her (anyone remember Ben Affleck at the Surviving Christmas premiere?), but once she had them in front of her microphone, she would ask the important questions, proving she wasn’t just another pretty face. At the Sky Captain… premiere, which she was responsible for booking, by the way, Angelina Jolie was rushing by the press line last minute and only stopped to talk to us because she heard Alexis yell out a question about her humanitarian work in Africa. Ops from Good Day LA and Access Hollywood quickly turned their cameras in our direction, seizing the opportunity to share our sound-bytes.

My friends give me a lot of crap for the amount of television-- especially reality television-- that I watch; in fact, my friend Tyler actually once commented: “the amount… you watch makes my eyes bleed,” so to me, it is really only ironically fitting that a friend should get me to tune into yet another reality program. I’m rooting for you, Alexis! Kick Johnny Fairplay’s @$$!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The One Where She's Up All Night, Part Two...

The walls in my apartment are not paper thin; I normally do not hear anything going on in the adjacent apartments except for a rogue hammering expedition. However, the window in my bedroom, even when closed, might as well just be a hole in the wall: every little footstep can be heard, and sadly, as I learned last night, that also includes the barking of a very sad little dog two apartments down. Poor Madison woke up to the sound in the middle of the night and jumped over me, stepping on my head in the process, waking me up, as well, to see what the commotion was. He sat on my pillow, staring at the window with a cocked head for at least an hour, while I struggled to fall back to sleep. I woke up a few more times during the night, still hearing the barking, and Madison was still sitting there, staring just as sadly. He’s such a sweet dog, he just wants to help whoever’s in distress.

So, Attention Pet Owners: having a dog is a big responsibility. It’s almost like having a child, in that the dog relies on you to feed it, walk it, play with it, and generally keep it alive. Yes, one of the perks of having a dog over a child is that you don’t have to spring for a baby-sitter when you want to go out on a Friday night: you can leave a dog alone in your apartment without being called an Unfit Doggy Parent and having the ASPCA come take your baby away. However, that does not mean you can leave it unattended all day and all night without some consequences, and it would be really, really nice of you to care about the dog as much as you care about yourself. You may be having fun club and/or bar hopping all f-ing night, but that little dog might develop some separation anxiety considering you have been gone gallivanting around L.A. all day, too. Show some consideration, not just for your own animal, but for your neighbors who actually want to get some sleep despite it being “party night,” otherwise the next time you come home, you might find a Danielle-shaped hole in your window and your dog mysteriously missing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mental Illness Is The New Black...

Kathy Griffin is my God now! I’ve seen her do stand-up before, and she rocks it every time, but tonight she was in rare form at the Kodak Theatre. You gotta love it when she starts off the show with a Golden Globes package that the general public won’t see until Sunday night’s episode of Dateline, but topping it all off with an intro of: “It’s Kathy, Bitch!” just took that bar and pole-vaulted it up to the third Mezzanine (and if you’ve ever been in the Kodak, you know that’s high up there).

Now, let me just say this: I don’t often get jealous when I hear people tell a story about a famous person they met. I don’t get particularly starstruck in general, and there are very few people I am just dying to meet (most of whom I have already met in one form or another). I find it much more meaningful to be able to sit down and have dinner with someone and find out real things about his or her life. That’s important to me, and the list of people with whom I’d like to share those moments is significantly longer and of course includes Ms. Griffin herself. Liza Minnelli, however, is not on my personal list, so when Kathy started her tale of how she was invited to be Mz Minnelli’s personal guest at a Vegas performance and then they went to dinner together, I was only along for the ride because I knew I would get a few good laughs out at the crazy shit Liza had to say. But then the kicker came when Kathy got to spend some time alone with Liza in her hotel room; they watched old movies, they sat in bed together, and Liza performed a few little songs for her. I about died. If Kathy replaced the name “Liza” with “Mariah” and “Kathy” with “Danielle,” she would have been talking about my perfect celebrity moment. No, scratch that, she would have been talking about my perfect moment ever, hands down! I don’t have kids yet, but I can safely say that would be even better than watching them take their first steps or say their first words (oh, don’t judge me; I don’t want them until they’re toilet trained anyway, and if they can do that, they better be walking and talking already!).

Kathy did two hours of new material—everything from announcing the births of Nicole and Christina’s babies, something which seemed to be news to many in the audience, assumedly because they were at real jobs all day and not at home, clicking refresh on the AP wire link like is my routine, to discussing those Spears’ girls (for which she had a spotlight put on her mother in the audience to weigh in, no less) to mentioning that she got re-banned from The View because of what she said about Barbara Walters liking AstroGlide in her last Bravo special (something which she only quoted Barbara for, so I don’t really see how TBTB over there can get mad).

She spoke openly about the new season of her reality show, which is taping right now, mentioned briefly how she used to date one of the *NSync guys (though she didn’t say which one), brought up her encounter with Steven Spielberg, and made fun of Oprah, Gayle, the favorite things episode, and the Osmond clan appearing on another very special episode, when Marie Osmond gave Oprah a slave doll. She did some political material, too, which I wasn’t expecting but welcomed happily, and she told this story about how HORRIBLE Patricia Heaton is, and let me just say this: the story didn’t make Patricia look bad in the way most of Kathy’s do, where she talks about how drunk, uptight, or self-centered a celebrity was at an event. No, this exposed her for the intolerant, self-righteous, conservative zealot she is. Finally, Kathy also candidly admitted she doesn’t understand half of the things her genius boyfriend Steve Wozniak (inventor of the Apple computer—quite a few steps up in the world for Ms. Griffin, I’d say) talks about because he doesn't watch TV, and when she imitated the way he talks, I swear it sounded like she was doing a male Paula Abdul.

The concert tonight didn’t have a fun name like all of her Bravo specials, so I gave it one in my headline, which is really just a line from her show. And it's true. A lot of the times she just says what you’re thinking, and you love her for it because finally you’ve found someone else doesn’t buy into the bullshit that is The Secret or someone who shares your profound hatred of Ryan Seacrest. Many may try (ahem, Good Day LA, I’m talking to you!), but I don’t know anyone else who could recap things you’ve seen on TV, like Marie Osmond fainting on Dancing With The Stars or some little girl kicking three other women’s asses on Bad Girls Club and put such a fresh, sardonic spin on it that you actually pay to hear her opinion. She is a genius—one of comedy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yet Another Casualty Of War... I Mean, The Strike...

Did anyone watch the clip-cast of the People’s Choice Awards this year? No? Yeah, didn’t think so… I’ll make this short.

I tuned in briefly to see how Queen Latifah would handle pumping her usual carefree energy into dry teleprompter copy when there would be no glossy, famous faces in the audience to cut to for reactions, however weird or uncomfortable they may be (I’m talking to you, George Clooney at the Critic’s Choice Awards, during every little political crack made by D.L. Hugley!). The show certainly was not as fun and unpredictable as it once was: the winners this time around didn’t seem like they were just the “it” people of the moment, so saturated in entertainment news magazines that the voting public had no other choice but them, even though next year they’ll barely be a blip on the radar… but they also appeared to be just the most accessible. Paparazzi camera crews had to go out and find the winners prior to the broadcast, and some, like Ellen Degeneres, were easy to get a hold of: just show up at their scab studio, still hard at work during the strike. But I digress. Sally Field, who was up for Favorite Female Television Star, and who should have won, despite the lame clip they chose that more showcased Dave Annable than her matriarchy on Brothers & Sisters, must be too hard to get on the phone, because Katherine Heigl, who was walking the red carpet at the 27 Dresses premiere the previous evening, took the trophy… and delivered her acceptance speech on said carpet.

In case you're like me, and you still want to know who took home PCAs this year but didn't want to devote two hours of your evening to a painful procedure, just go here.

Most award shows have become jokes in the past few years. They’re all about politics; they’re all fixed; and the so-called humorous banter written for the host and presenters is nothing more than filler. Through it all, though, the few I would never miss included The People’s Choice Awards (because I vote every year, regardless of who I know is going to win based on network ties and such) and The Golden Globes. Ironically, yesterday there was a press conference to announce that the Globes this year would feature a clip show of the nominees followed by a press conference announcing the winners, which is ultimately what CBS gave us with the PCAs, and the results were not good. If you thought the one good thing about the strike would be that there’d be no three-hour interruption of your regularly scheduled programming to hand pampered, privileged celebrities every more free stuff, you’d be wrong. The show may not be going on as usual, but it is still going on, and the only reason people even watch the Globes is because all of the attendees get drunk, and sometimes funny sh*t goes down. When you take that out of the equation, the show will not be watchable. Rumors are quickly spreading that the Oscars will soon follow in these footsteps, and that is one that is notoriously boring, even in it's original format, so if you thought award shows were bad before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Blame Osama...

Now another reason to say that: reports are spreading that Osama Lutfi, Britney Spears’ new “manager” is the reason she has been acting so erratically lately. Now, I had pretty much resolved never to write a blog about Britney because there is just SO MUCH ever-changing material that I’d have to sit on the web all day and constantly update… but this headline just screamed to be posted. I promise this is not going to become a habit, though! So, apparently both of her (estranged) parents have been trying to get her hospitalized for awhile now, afraid her habitual drug abuse has been worsening her already-existing mental condition. Whether she’s been diagnosed as bipolar has not actually been confirmed, but the Spears’ finally got their wish last week when Britney was checked into Cedars-Sinai. Unfortunately for them (and John Q. Public), their celebration was a bit premature because Lutfi showed up at the hospital. Papa Spears promptly threw him out, but his presence had already made an impact on Britney, who checked herself out only a day and a half later. She saw the face of a new enabler-- guns and drugs and vodka and cigarettes and Cheetos-- and that is Osama.

There's No Crying In The F.B.I...

When I was in elementary school, we had an assembly one day where they showed Bambi in the auditorium to the entire student body. I was maybe eight or nine. One of my friends made fun of me after that because I didn’t cry… not even when (spoiler alert!) Bambi’s mother dies. I always assumed I didn’t cry over things I saw on television or in movies because I could distinguish the difference between real life sadness and something that’s a sad story, sure, but ultimately just out of someone’s imagination and therefore not all that important in the end.

Nowadays, though, things have changed. Last night in fact, I cried for nearly the full two-hour run of The Biggest Loser: Couples. I teared up when they talked about what it meant to be there on campus with their partners; I cried when they cried about how painful it was to say good-bye to another team so soon; and I balled when the reward allowed a few of the duos to call home and talk to their kids. I was never so relieved for ten o’clock to roll around because my digital cable guide assured me that this week’s Law & Order: SVU would offer so many suspenseful twists (and yes, another dead jogger in Central Park), I wouldn’t have time to dwell on the tears drying on my face and what they meant for my sanity.

Now, usually I expect tears on such episodes of Law & Order: SVU: the victims’ families undoubtedly break down, usually in the company of Stabler because he’s just so darn cute behind (or because of?) that rugged gruffness that you want him to hug you, and sometimes even the those who know the suspects’ will show some remorse over what his or her friend or boyfriend or nephew has done, but the eyes of the detectives investigating the case are supposed to stay dry! Special Guest Star Erika Christensen broke this rule from minute one when she hijacked Mariska Hargitay’s original crime scene with her big round eyes brimming with liquid. That unprofessional demeanor, coupled with her young age, and of course the fact that she was by far the biggest name guest star in this episode, could only mean one thing: the big twist at the end would put her on the perp.’s side of the interrogation table.

This past season, SVU has been intently focused on trying to “trick” their audience the way M. Night Shyamalan does, and unfortunately for them, they are on par with his later films like Signs or The Village instead of his ground-breaking first feature, The Sixth Sense. In other words, they are working so hard to create little twists that they are losing sight of the big picture—the interesting crimes, which they were once known for “reporting.” The storylines start out extremely intricate, but lately, as in last night’s episode “Signature,” they are wrapped up by the half-time mark. And that no longer means that at 10:30 we are inside the courtroom with A.D.A. Novak, trying to make Benson and Stabler’s case stick because now that Diane Neal is pregnant, her screen time has been diminishing proportionately to her increasing waistline… but in no way am I trying to imply the show’s recent failures are her fault. In fact, she’s the one character that’s remained constant and true to herself, and therefore, anytime she is on-screen, it’s a breath of familiar, comfortable air.

Now when 10:30 rolls around, cue the twist… which is never nearly as nail-bitingly suspenseful as has been teased through countless promos for the past week. Said twist, and any subsequent one (as the show desperately tries to rope in the new A.D.D. generation), always comes as a complete and utter shock to Benson and/or Stabler, despite the fact that they are supposed to be the top sex crimes detectives in New York City. In “Signature,” the only thing that came remotely out-of-the-blue did so around 10:55 when Special Guest Star Erika Christensen shot herself in the head in front of Benson, who screamed and then ran off-screen to lean against a wall. The actual shooting was kind of ho-hum; as soon as she was revealed, sitting in her apartment with her gun and badge on the table in front of her, it was obvious what was coming. Her mentor, who she pointed out no less than three times was like a father figure to her, took his life the same way. Even when Benson successfully secured the gun on the table, it was obvious she was hiding another one under the table, and it was THE gun: the gun her mentor used to kill himself and the gun Special Guest Star Erika Christensen used to off the perp. Circle of life. The real twist here were the tears from Mariska Hargitay. They were a little too Clarice in Silence of the Lambs: something that maybe you’d accept from a rookie who has just experienced her first D.B., but coming from someone so seasoned, it was just completely out of character.

Lake tried to console her, but she just slumped, defeated, and sobbed silently and then stared blankly for a little while. It was like the “Mariska needs an(other) Emmy” campaign decided to try for one through a breakdown moment. It just didn’t work. And then there’s the shady portrayal of Detective Lake by Adam Beach: I keep waiting to see him in his personal life—something else the show has been doing more of lately—and to see him torturing a woman bound to his radiator… or at least a small cat. The sharks are circling, SVU; stay strong and tread water where you are. DO NOT JUMP!

While SVU struggles to get its luster back, something which will only suffer more from the hiatus its writers are forced to take now, just watch these to tide yourself over:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Everything I'm Not Made Me Everything I Am...

I had a mid-life crisis of sorts in junior high, during which I went on a quest to learn everything about myself that I possibly could. I greatly feared that if I didn’t know myself, I was destined to conform to one of the empty-headed, superficial masses that just blindly followed anything. During that time, I learned a lot of things on my own; I developed my beliefs on my own; and I pretty much figured out who I was… well, maybe not completely on my own. Some people try to find answers in the bottom of a bottle, some have an older brother or sister to look to; but for me, there were two women along the way whose words and lifestyles greatly influenced my own and what I wanted from this life.

I learned a lot from both of them—about life, about myself, and I even picked up some new vocabulary along the way (hey, I like to think most nine-year-olds have to look up “incessantly” and “reverie!”). I can’t pinpoint all of the reasons as to why, but their words gave me great hope. I used to say it was fate—that I happened upon them when I needed to believe in something more than anything, just to keep myself going. That was something a twelve-year-old would say, though; sometimes I’m not even sure I still believe in fate. But they both have something raw within them that makes them untouchable yet simultaneously seems to keep them grounded. I admired them both, in different ways, and for different aspects of their lives. One inspired me to be a writer. The other inspired me to be a mother. Both reiterated that no matter what, you never give up on your dreams; you do what you have to do to make them happen, because that’s the only way you’ll be happy in life. Satisfaction and contentedness are not enough. It's lessons like that which I still need to remember today.

They were my living examples that you can make the life you want for yourself, despite whatever you may have been through, despite the beatings and struggles you may endure as a young (female) artist. They both inspired me just to be me, even when everyone around me wanted me to be someone else. Sure, through the years, there have been others who gave me similar nuggets of knowledge from random print interviews and whatnot—a quote here or there— but for whatever reason, in no others did I see myself so reflected and/or want to be like when I grew up. To this day, I still hold them in high regard and put their God-given talent, coupled with their unwavering ambition and drive to succeed at any cost, on a pedestal. Maybe the reason is, as one of them would say (and I’ll let you figure out which one), a part of me is “eternally twelve.” ;P Regardless, their words still resonate and always will. It’s another new year now, but some things will never change…

Monday, January 7, 2008

Poor George Michael...

Does anyone else find it to be complete bullshit that Michael Cera was nominated for Best Young Actor for BOTH Superbad and Juno at the Critic's Choice Awards? He was nominated twice in the same category! Talk about splitting the vote! And in case you missed the ceremony, though VH1 will inevitably air it on a loop for a few days, I'll just tell you now that he was up against three other actors who have not yet hit puberty, and he did not win.

Please, Somebody Whack Them!...

Cashmere Mafia premiered on ABC last night, and since CBS stripped Sunday nights of Without A Trace once again, having nothing better to do, I tuned in, and let me just say this: while months ago I was all gung-ho for the camp that is Women’s Murder Club, not even my fellow Stuy alumn Lucy Liu or the hotness that is Peter Hermann could get me excited for the mess that unfolded over the longest hour of my life.

The title, first of all, does not fit the show. There is nothing scary about these women; even in the few moments we see them in boardrooms, they rule with watered-down iron fists and rely on their feminine wiles to get ahead in many cases… not exactly ground-breaking stuff here. The show centers on four uberly fashionable business brains in Manhattan (not unlike Sex and the City, but I’m going to skip all of those parallels because they’ve been done to death in previous issues of Entertainment Weekly).

Mia (Lucy Liu) works for a publishing firm and gets engaged to boyfriend-of-a(not of the)-year, Jack (Special Guest Star Tom Everett Scott, so we know he won’t be sticking around for long) in the teaser in a ridiculously cheesy way. They are walking through some park and bickering cutely about whether their anniversary is today or tomorrow when she spots the acoustic duo they danced to on their first date. When she turns around, he is on one knee with a be-a-u-tiful ring. Very quickly, however, they learn they will actually be competing for each other for the title of Publisher at their firm, and the loser will be fired. Naturally, this would make for some very competitive attitude for such high-powered people, no? Well, no, not at first. First, Mia feels the need to individually text all four of her friends to tell them to drop whatever important task they’re accomplishing and meet her for what looks like a very expensive and therefore lengthy lunch… so she can show off her rock.

Caitlin (Bonnie Somerville) has a small NY accent—something which none of the others do, so she drops it within minutes of appearing on-screen. She does something with art or design or sketching, it’s not entirely clear because instead the show focuses on her screwed up personal life. She gets dumped over breakfast and calls herself an “old maid” (I’m sorry I lied earlier about no SATC parallels: this one begs to hit up the A.C.!) when spying the glinting ring on Mia’s finger. She is also a bit clumsy; in her own office, she drops some paperwork off her desk and literally bumps heads with some woman who is there for a consultation or interview or meeting… again, it’s not really clear because suddenly there are bells (literally), and Caitlin decides she’s a lesbian.

Juliet (Miranda Otto) is COO of a hotel and seems to know Ev.Ery.One in Manhattan, which normally would excite me, but she plays every scene and reads every line with such dripping sexuality that it makes me uncomfortable, and I’m not sure why. She’s a pretty woman, but she squints her eyes like she’s sizing you up and purses her lips, dropping her voice, and I feel like any second her head will split open and reveal her true succubus form. It’s no wonder Davis (Peter Hermann) is cheating on her with that bouncy-haired dirty blonde who all the women seem to know, but probably only because Juliet knows Ev.Ery.One. She did earn points when her reaction to learning about said affair was to tell Davis she would “be taking a lover” in an icy tone, her squinty eyes never wavering from his face. The show itself wins points by not dragging out this storyline with a “Should We Tell Her?” subplot after Zoe, quite luckily, I might add, spies Davis kissing his tartlet.

Zoe, meanwhile, is a working mom (well, so is Juliet, but her kid is a teenager, and she’s only in one brief scene to roll her eyes and pretend to be scarred at walking in on her parents kissing) who works with a lot of numbers and figures and things, and she has a personal assistant I would have fired from minute one. Apparently, she has a problem with younger women, because her nanny also quits on her in the first episode to go work for a family who lives across the street. I must mention that NY is not all that small, but Cashmere Mafia makes you think it is with how all of the characters are in such close proximity all of the time. They never leave their Upper West Side bubbles (well, we never see street signs, but they certainly feel like those types of women). Anyway, the nanny left for six-figures, two months vacation, a car, and a clothing allowance… um, can I be someone’s nanny? I mean, I like kids, and I have my own car! So Zoe jumps into hiring someone else because her two kids under ten are such terrors they’re running around and not wanting to eat breakfast so she hides in a closet to make her phone calls, and gasp! her daughter actually wants her to attend one of her recitals! Blasphemy! It doesn’t work out with this girl, either, though, because despite her husband pointing out how demanding she seemed in the initial interview, Zoe was so desperate to get someone to do her mommy duties (and she actually used the term: “I have to do my job, and now I have to do the nanny’s job, too,” but who wouldn't notice that the nanny’s job really is a mother’s job) that she overlooked the need for nine-hundred a week, a Metrocard, and a room in their apartment, but she couldn’t forgive her for drinking some of her good wine.

Cashmere Mafia creates a web of women who are not all that likeable; they treat their men like second fiddle, and yet when they are wronged (like when Jack takes back his proposal after Mia gets the promotion), the audience is asked to feel badly for these workhorses who put so much effort into seeming like they have it all. Yes, they have a strong camaraderie, and the friendship they share is sweet, genuine, and relatable, but with so many similar shows on the grid, that relationship is not enough to save Cashmere Mafia. Like most in the mafia, the show is expendable.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Guys, A Piece Of Advice...

Now, let me preface this by saying that I know the Apple Store tends to be an abnormally friendly place. When you walk in, you’re automatically greeted by a team member whose name you will find out by glancing down and reading what is printed on his or her press badge-like ID. As you navigate your way through the store, undoubtedly weaving around the dozens of interested consumers (and more who are just interested in killing some time in the mall by surfing the web or checking out what has already been randomly downloaded onto display models), you will be approached by at least one or two more employees, all bright-eyed and big-smiled, eager to help you spend at least one hundred dollars in their establishment.

What you never expect from an Apple Store employee is anything less than the utmost professionalism, whether it’s telling you specs on a new MacBook or restarting your iPod to figure out why it randomly freezes while you’re watching Mean Girls. That probably explains why I was so taken aback when one such employee spotted me holding a Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock box and decided to double-back and pull out his iPhone to begin showing me what I assumed would be the awesomely cool features of a piece of technology he didn’t know I had clipped to my belt at the moment. But no. That was not the case at all. Instead, he began scrolling through his own private photo albums with a: “So, you like Guitar Hero, huh?” His cocky smile was offset by his deep Napoleon Dynamite accent, which I wanted to tell him was never cool-- not even when that movie seemed to be. Scrolling through the photos with an expert flick of his thumb, he added: “Then you should stop by my church. We have tournaments every other Friday.” My own Sales Associate, Jeremy, had gone off to get the credit card reader, and I could do nothing but contemplate just tearing ass out of the store until he returned. But the thing of it was, I did really want the game. So I stood and smiled patiently and couldn’t help but notice that not one of the guys in his photos was cute… yet they were all still cuter than this guy in front of me.

So the lesson here, boys, is that yes, Guitar Hero is a cool game, but it's not going to get you laid. No videogame will. And unless you can teach me how to permanently unlock all songs in Quick Play Mode or successfully calibrate the video lag in Career Mode, even when I’m running the game on a system whose video card isn’t supported by the platform, please don’t use it to hit on me!

Friday, January 4, 2008

This Is Going To Be The. Best. Movie. Ever!!!…

2008 is looking up!
Spring Breakdown: The vacation adventure of three thirty-something best friends who’ve always dreamed of being fabulous, but never grew out of being geeks. So when one gets the opportunity to unofficially chaperone her boss’ daughter to the college spring break destination of South Padre Island, the ladies decide to try and turn their tragically un-hip lives around and party with the beer and bikini set. Through keg-stands, hook-ups and foam parties, these women are about to discover that it’s better to stand out, than to fit in.

Cast: Parker Posey, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Leslie Grossman, Missi Pyle, Jane Lynch, Mae Whitman, Lorette Devine, Amber Tamblyn, and Will Arnett.

March 14th can’t get here fast enough!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Sports Entry? What The...!?

I'm not usually one to believe things the tabloids say, but considering OK! Magazine got the Jamie Lynn scoop right, now that they have the exclusive news on Reggie Bush's recent proposal to Ray J's ex, I have to assume they're moving up in the ranks of trusted, legit entertainment media.

Until now, the Bush/Kardashian duo has just been speculated on sites like and Hell, they haven't even been given a cute nickname like Brangelina or Bennifer yet! He has also been paired with Ciara, and she has been paired with Nick Cannon. So if they've been together this whole time, they've done a good job at keeping their private lives... private (a surprise given her very public intimate tape with aforementioned ex Ray J). Until last night's New Years Eve party in Miami Beach, the twosome hadn't even been seen together in public since the first quarter of 2007.

Now, I'm not one to follow the hockey (or the volleyball or baseball or any sport, really), but this news saddens me. I don't think her appearance in the stands will suddenly ruin his record ala Jessica Simpson (nor do I even know what his current record even is), but it saddens me nonetheless. Just look at him, and you'll see why.At the tender age of twenty-two years old, the only man who could possibly get me to enjoy watching football (even for the rare chance he'll pull a Brandi Chastain after a touchdown) is off the market. If his fiancee's track record proves to repeat itself, though, the good news is that it's most likely not going to be permanent.


Oh, and while we're on the topic of weddings: Eric and the Dinosaur are engaged, too. Eat, Drink, Re-marry! I'm officially depressed.