This is Madison's Everest:
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Dear Publicists From All Walks:
Last night I had the pleasure of attending an advance screening of Showtime's new summer series The Big C, starring Laura Linney and Oliver Platt, as well as Shameless, an intense family drama starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum that is yet to be set on the premium cable network's schedule (expect reviews as it gets closer to their premiere dates).
All of the buzz about The Big C has thus far been great: the caliber of actors they have on the series are strong on their own, but added to smart writing and the quirky approach to a serious and sad topic (cancer), and there really wasn't much question that it would be a success. But Showtime didn't get cocky. They didn't sit back and fold their arms and smirk that they knew they were the sh*t and we should just be grateful to be in the presence of such creative material. No, they treated us to cocktails, a gourmet buffet, and and executive-style leather armchairs in our intimate screening room. In other words, they treated us like respected members of the human race, let alone the media. And admittedly I was a bit tongue-tied at the treatment!
I am used to scraping the bottom of the barrel as a blogger who writes for small, new, and "up and coming" sites. I am nowhere near the "top tier" of media in the hierarchy old-school publicists have set up. Often I end up attending such events only when "bigger" reporters turn them down and spots open up. But that's okay. Because really I'm just happy to get to do what I do; I would watch these shows just as religiously, and just as actively, even if I wasn't writing about them!
I consider us bloggers pretty savvy people, though. We have managed to turn our snarky commentary on guilty pleasures many would normally watch in the shame and privacy of their own dark bedroom into a paying position. So therefore, it is easy to see through being plied with swag and lots of drinks as bribes before events that are about to blow. You know, so that we will still have some enjoyable part of our evening and not completely pan what is about to be presented to the world.
So last night when walking into the Showtime offices, I admit I was a bit worried and taken aback by not only the warm welcome from the team but also the very well-planned, classy evening. I became a bit worried that the shows wouldn't hold up to the standards the network has set with previous hits like Dexter and Nurse Jackie. I was nervous it was about to be a pretty silent, stodgy, tense hour and a half! Luckily, though, my fears were unfounded as all of the pre-screening festivities proved to be just a bonus-- not unlike the mini buffet of desserts that surprised us as we walked into the screening room-- to the top-notch quality we have come to know, expect, love, and respect.
In my experience, products that publicists know are amazing usually don't have them going above and beyond. Hell, when I went to a press screening of Toy Story 3 they didn't even offer free popcorn or a small soda! They must have figured getting an advance look (and for free) at a completely unique 3D IMAX movie was enough.
And they were right. The truth is, bloggers don't really need all the freebies. I mean, no one needs them when they're random hats with show names embroidered on the front or tee shirts that get sent in Large when you're a Small and always in Extra Large packaging! How many Sigg water bottles does a person need, after all? And don't even get me started on the ABC Family geniusness behind stuffing a box full of dirt so that critics nearly ruin their laptops!!
But there is still something to be said for showing one's appreciation. When it's done right, it makes you feel like someone, finally, in Hollywood is putting you on an even playing field with themselves and saying that your job is just as important as theirs. When it's done right, it makes putting up with all of the little annoyances of the gig worthwhile. When it's done right, it doesn't feel like an after-thought but rather something they genuinely want to do because they're excited about their work and want you to be, too. And it works because good, positive energy is a key element to this industry.
I won't name names, but let's just say that most networks would benefit from taking a page out of Showtime's book!!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This may be the single most important poll of your lives! Okay, well, it may be the single most important poll of mine, anyway. The design proofs for my pop culture memoir have come in, and as of the readers of this site, upon which the book is partially based, I need your help to pick which one I should choose!
Don't let the fact that this was based on my design idea sway your vote in any way. I was going for the "animated credits of late-eighties, early-nineties live action films like Troop Beverly Hills or Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead" look. Only a moment of unintentional narcissism had me inserting Baby Me into the fray...
The graphic designer I am working with came up with this cool and simple design based on the content of my book and the demographic for which I am going.
Neither of these are exactly as the final product will look anyway. Both require some tweaks in my opinion before it is ready to be viewed (and hopefully purchased) by the public. But take a look and tell me which one you'd be more inclined to pick up!
Let me preface this entry by saying that nothing in the official character breakdown explicitly requests a hunk. The character in question is actually being written as "calm under pressure and very good at his job." Not exactly specific in any way, let alone of the physicality. But the character, being called "Christian," also has to have a specific connection to the Winchester boys. Is he another long-lost brother? Or perhaps an uncle or cousin? Since the news that presumed-dead Grandpa Samuel (Mitch Pileggi) will be returning for a recurring arc in season six broke this morning, fans are speculating that this other new character will have major ties to their past, as well. And let's face it: if it is someone from their bloodline, then whoever is cast is going to have to live up to the chiseled good looks we have come to know from Dean, Sam, John, and even Samuel.
My top pick? Once again, it is Eric Winter. As I said when throwing out names for the newest Desperate Housewives hottie, I just want this guy back on my TV!
Like Jensen Ackles, Winter got his start on soaps-- on Days of our Lives, specifically-- and won me over due to his resemblance to the star who came before him. They have similar build and hair, and even though Winter is a bit more "smiley," he is an actor, and he can easily tone that down to match the brooding nature of these boys!
Or what about skewing a little older-- not to completely replace Papa Winchester (because now that Jeffrey Dean Morgan's film career isn't as hot as maybe he thought it would be by now, he's available to come back from the dead, too)-- but to supplement his demo? Patrick Fabian would be the man for you! He went salt-n-pepper a bit early in life, but it has made him seem so much more distinguished than anyone he shares a scene with. But he has stolen scenes in cult hits like Veronica Mars or Valentine for many more reasons other than just his looks. He can do the snarky wit with the best of them (and Ackles is the best of them!), after all.
Jason Dohring-- Admittedly, I never fell in love with his Logan Echolls the way so many did (and are now trying to convince me I should, too), but I can see where the actor himself would be charming enough to win over his audience. He can do the bad boy thing; he can do the puppy-dog eye "I made a mistake and I'm gonna make it again but love me anyway" thing. He may even be able to out-Sam Sam in that regard!
Jon Foster-- I watched Accidentally on Purpose simply to gaze at his scruffy face! But I would love to see him attempt to prove the range of his brother by taking on a more dramatic role.
Brian Hallisay-- He guest starred in an episode of Cold Case just about a week apart from guesting in an episode of Without a Trace. Ever since I saw those two, I knew he could do pretty much anything, and I would watch him in anything. But unfortunately the roles that came his way were pretty one-note (the pretty boy), and the projects were so lackluster they got canceled quickly. Just once I would like to see an up-and-comer I'm rooting for make it onto one of the already established shows I've been rooting for, in order to really prove ability but also gain maximum exposure!
Another pick would be Grant Show, who I also tapped for the Desperate Housewives spot. What can I say? I'm still Team Jake! Plus, rumor has it Supernatural does want a late-thirties or early-forties actor for the spot.
These are just a few of the names that came to me off the top of my head, but feel free to sound off in the comments about who you want to see fighting demons alongside the Winchesters!
Monday, June 28, 2010
My Blogger friend Jim Halterman (who I believe I've only actually met in person once but feel like I know intimately from Twitter-- and the fact that we share so many of the same pop culture loves that he may just be the male me!) spent the past few weeks asking his readers, fans, and followers to weigh in on the ultimate conundrum: just who are the top male primetime hunks of all time??? This is a question I wrestle with often because, for me, it really is often "out of sight, out of mine," and I'm inclined to forget some I loved for a long time...just a long time ago.
Those his readers chose are worthy, don't get me wrong (and you can see the full list of his Top Ten Primetime Hunks over on his website), but I have to counter a few points. After all, a few on this list appear to be more "hot right now" than "have always been hot." Or at least, some are "new hot" because they're newer to the medium in general. It's like new money versus old money; it's still money, so it still counts, but it's not the same.
So without further ado, I present to you My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture's Hottie Awards, featuring my personal picks for The Top Ten Hotties of Primetime TV (in the order of their influence on me):
10. Esai Morales. Look, if I knew they made them like this in Brooklyn, I may not have left so quickly! There has always been something very distinguished about this gentleman-- even years before he started developing the salt and pepper around the temples! I have loved him as a professional in the workplace on NYPD Blue and the family man at home in American Family. He is serious about his craft and can do the mysterious thing which makes him even hotter than anything else!
9. Shemar Moore. To be fair, I knew him from Young & The Restless first, but I'm glad to see he has broken out into more mainstream success. This guy is the definition of hot. Between his soulful bedroom eyes, his chiseled cheekbones, his boisterous laugh...where was I going with this again? All I know is his abs still look too perfect to be real (so much so that I wasn't going to post a picture of them here...but you try finding a shot of him with his shirt on)!
8. Matthew Fox. He will always be Charlie Salinger to me! As much as I hated the character of Jack on LOST, I couldn't tear my eyes away from him (or fast-forward through his scenes) because of his portrayer. He is best when he is scruffy, but let's face it, he always looks good! I wouldn't mind being grounded in a house-- or being trapped on a desert island-- with him!
7. Kristoffer Polaha. Though many are just getting to know him now as somewhat hapless new dad on Life Unexpected, I have been singing his praises for years, screaming at my TV for him to take his shirt off more on North Shore (hey, they were set in Hawaii!) and feeling the heat rise during this guest appearances on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Better Off Ted. I even tuned into Hot Properties for this guy! What makes him hot is not just his build or face (though they help :D), but also the fact that he's a genuinely nice, good-hearted guy.
6. Chris Meloni. I don't know if it's his piercing eyes or tattoos or "bad cop" attitude, but he is big and gruff, and I just want to give him a hug! Maybe it's the family man in him; he plays it well on television and is it real life, but you just get the feeling (or at least I do) that he's a big teddy bear underneath the tough guy persona. Either way, you know he can-- and will-- protect you in a heartbeat. He's confident, too, but not to the point of arrogance.
5. Grant Show. I was Team Jake well before Twilight took over (and in my opinion, bastardized the meaning!). I was even willing to look past the ridiculous mustache of Swingtown and terrible sitcom patter of Accidentally on Purpose to catch glimpses of him. He somehow manages to ride the cute-hot line, which is a really hard thing to do! With big eyes and a wide smile, he's the boy-next-door-cute (even now, nearing age fifty) but then he lowers his voice and smirks a bit crookedly and he's downright smoldering hot!
4. Jesse L. Martin. I like the cop thing. Or at least a guy in uniform. Sue me. I grew up knowing him as a serious, rough-and-tumble cop on Law & Order but as I got a little bit older he was also the somewhat silly, fun-loving Tom Collins in RENT. His range as an actor makes him hot. I honestly can't decide if I like him better buttoned-up in suits or just wearing a big grin.
3. John Stamos. Yet another man who looks even better with age! But more than the "tall, dark, handsome" thing he has down, he's also good with kids (Full House taught us that!); he's sensitive (General Hospital taught us that!); and he's a healer (ER taught us that!). But he's also a musician, and let's face it, that's pretty hot, too!
2. Mark Paul Gosselaar. I thought he was hot when I was nine, and he was a teenager, bleach-blond and in acid wash jeans. And I'm pretty sure I'll think he's even hotter when I'm twenty-nine, even if he is wearing his hair long again. He has great eyes, a great smile, and a great butt (remember NYPD Blue? Rumor has it we will be seeing more of that side of him on his new TNT show!).
1. Jensen Ackles. Was there really any wondering about this one? He fits into the Top Ten Daytime Hottie Awards, too, if I decide to do one of those (and I just might since my recent stint with Days of our Lives made me realize how much I missed the crushes of my youth, like Austin Peck, Bryan Dattilo, and Roark Critchlow!). What else is left to say about this one? He has physical hotness, of course, but his talent makes him even hotter. He managed to steal the show from two strong women when he guest starred for one episode in nineties sitcom Cybill. But today he takes a pretty "out there" show (Supernatural) and grounds it in realism with his oftentimes heartbreaking portrayal of Dean Winchester, who is a guy's guy but a little boy lost, too.
But remember: these are just my personal choices. I will open the comments up to my readers! Who did I leave off the list that you feel should have made it? Sound off below!
"You can go to bed tonight knowing this problem is solved."
"Maybe. Or Maybe you just opened the door. Or the gate, as it were."
Bah duh bum!
I can admit when I'm wrong. And two weeks ago I wrote an editorial called "Why The Gates May Be The Breakout Summer Show," but after last night's episode-- which was only the second-- I am unfortunately second-guessing myself and what I am now thinking of as a snap judgment.
You see, I am one of the few who are still happily on the Desperate Housewives bandwagon, so adding some supernatural elements to it to form The Gates gave me the impression the summer show would be just as fun, if not a little campy, and I was eager to be along for that ride. But sitting down to watch last night's episode I was struck by just how uneven the episode was between pacing, plot, and even the level of acting. The "older" generation of actors know it is best to take pauses for character moments while the kids move about their scenes fast and intense, as if they just want to get them over with. And that's how I feel about watching the show: I'd much rather see what's going on in the new police chief (Frank Grillo)'s office than in Skyler Samuels' bedroom. She was born in 1994! That just makes me feel old!
The first half of the episode felt like it was just comprised of random scenes strung together in no particular order, for no particular reason. I know the characters needed to be "reintroduced" in a way, to some who missed the pilot or those who screened it awhile ago. I, for one, didn't watch when it aired last Sunday since I had seen a screener a couple of weeks prior. But the distance didn't make me forget; it made my heart grow fonder! And I didn't feel welcomed back; I felt like one of those outsiders-- someone who had been banished to the outside of the gates and forced to be a voyeur from a distance. Which is the exact opposite of what their promos seem to be saying: the gates open at the start to allow the audience in and then slam shut behind them, as if saying: "You're one of us now." But the show doesn't make you want to be one of them anymore; it is really saying "You're stuck here now." But thankfully I'm not. Because I have a remote control and a thousand other channels with my Time Warner HD Cable service!
I will say that last night's episode showed some potential, so I don't believe all is completely lost. However, there was a major drop off from the pilot, which scared me because usually it's the other way around. Pilots are rough because writers and producers have to cram so much information about who characters are, what their relationships are to each other, what the conflicts are, and sometimes (and in this case) what the mystery is. The second and third episodes, then, are the true test of whether or not a show has staying power and which actors really shine, promising growth and development for their characters.
Last night's episode of The Gates did have a little of that: Chandra West's spa/tea shop owning witch threatened Claire (Rhona Mitra), the vampire who suffers from cravings so bad she killed a guy in the pilot. She lied to the police and may even be "turning" citizens of their so-called idyllic community. She definitely is someone to watch. Unfortunately, she may be the only one.
There are a lot of characters on this show. So many that poor Kyle Secor who finally made this entrance as a young succubus' dad got relegated to quick shots of his puppy dog eyes, sadly staring at the child who doesn't know what's happening to her. Maybe they can pull it together. Maybe they'll pull a Community, start to see where their true strengths lie (in West, in Mitra, and not in that creepy yellow-eyed and yellow-haired teen stalker werewolf), and play to them. But I'm already so much more emotionally attached to a handful of this summer's reality shows (Losing it with Jillian, Last Comic Standing, Bethenny Getting Married?, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List) that it doesn't much matter. I wish I hadn't vowed not to write about reality on this blog anymore because I should have picked one of those as the "Breakout" summer show for sure!!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
You guys know I love Jensen Ackles and a good fan campaign, and recently I learned of one that brings the two directly together. In honor of his directorial debut (with episode 6.03 of Supernatural, which is currently in production up in Vancouver), fans from the LiveJournal community are getting together to flood the production office with congratulatory cards for the star.
Ackles has wanted to jump behind the camera for a long time, but time (nor the perfect project) did not present itself. He has made it a point to study the camera crew on Supernatural as a way of learning the technical side to the business, as well as prepare him for the day he would finally take the director's chair. And that day came on his long-running genre show for The CW, most likely as a part of negotiating him to renew his contract. His episode is up first on the production schedule for season six, shooting out of order, to allow the star ample time and focus on pre-production.
Cards can be sent Ackles c/o Supernatural Films Inc, located at 8085 Glenwood Drive, Burnaby B.C. V3N 5C8. If you are mailing a standard postcard from the United States, you will need seventy-five cents worth of postage. However, you can always send a traditional greeting card, as well.
The campaign would like to remind everyone that these cards are being mailed to a place of business. Basically, be respectful and only send well wishes! And do not expect a response. Campaigns like this often see thousands of replies, each of which actors cannot personally answer, especially considering the rigorous shooting schedule upon which Ackles has just embarked-- and he's pulling double-duty on this one, too!
And if you plan to send a card, consider including congratulations for Ackles' May 2010 nuptials, as well!
Those of you who choose to purchase the book I have recently completed and am in the process of self-publishing based closely on this blog (and let's face it, I hope "those of you" are "all of you" because my laptop is dangerously close to just dying on me!) will read all about how I spent my formative years searching for the meaning of true love and depictions of happy couples within pop culture. But the truth is I leaned on the superficial, fictitious medium for oh, so much more! I didn't just gravitate towards shows like Days of our Lives, Friends and Melrose Place for their super couple but for the hodgepodge, unorthodox families created. Above all else, and certainly before I could ever even begin to think about a romantic relationship of my own, I wanted to find a place in which I felt like I belonged. I wanted my own little hodgepodge family unit-- or at the very least, the kind of "where everybody knows your name" community.
Since my aforementioned book looks very closely at the first two examples already, let's use the latter of Melrose Place, shall we? Some may say the community they created was a bit twisted. After all, there not only did neighbors know each other's names but also their bed sizes! There was a lot of backstabbing, stalking, and even attempted murder going on within the confines of the 4616 courtyard. Still, when the going got tough, they could turn to their left-- or to their right-- and knock on a door for a favor...and usually one much bigger than borrowing an egg or cup of sugar, too!
Growing up in a big city, even though my parents had lived in our apartment building since they got married ten years before they even had me, we didn't know our neighbors. We barely even made eye-contact with them if we passed them in the hall or shared the elevator with them. Sure, we knew the two families that lived in our immediate nook, but that was one out of three per floor, with six floors, and two sides to the building. Even I can do that math and what it equals to is a sense of isolation even while being (literally) surrounded.
And that's how I always felt about New York: you can never have true privacy (because the walls are paper thin), but you can never have true camaraderie, either. You are forced to live in this odd little purgatory, as if you're all moving along in enclosed bubbles, seeing each other's business but only as a voyeur.
As a kid, I found I felt best-- and thrived-- when I was the big fish in the little pond because then I was always coming out on top. I probably got the biggest taste of this when I was in junior high. Between the creative writing class that allowed me to really explore my passions, being on the yearbook staff, and chatting up teachers about our shared love of specific television shows to the point where it got me out of assignments, I wouldn't say I ran the school, but I certainly got away with a lot! I had my first taste of what it was like to be small town royalty, and I loved it. Unfortunately from there, things could only go down-hill, as I was thrust into a high school that had 750 in each graduating class and in which I had no desire to shine because it's math and science base was, I felt for my chosen profession, unnecessary and a waste of my time. I began to fear that I was truly a small town girl at heart, but having never actually lived in a small town, I couldn't prove such a statement.
When I left for college, I found myself not moving to a Carolina or Tennessee (because let's face it, even if I wanted to learn to slow down and get to know those around me, I needed the option of movie theaters, coffee shops, and shopping centers just right around the corner!) but instead out to sunny Los Angeles-- the home and heart of the relationships of Melrose Place and (I hoped) the answers to my desires.
See, from the very first Christmas episode (1.18: "A Melrose Place Christmas"), where the tenants stood outside by the holiday lights-wrapped banisters and pool in short-sleeves, sipping egg nog and toasting their friendships and the new year that would lay ahead, I knew that was what I wanted. Like Matt and Jo, I was trying to shrug off somewhat unapproving parents and some negative memories of holidays past.
In my house, the holidays were always small and somewhat solitary. My mother had this habit of putting the wrapped presents under the tree as she bought them, often weeks before I would be allowed to open them on Christmas Eve. As I came home from school to an empty house-- or to my father snoring in their bedroom-- I would sit by myself and carefully peel back the tape to peek at the gifts that lay inside. I knew, oftentimes for weeks, what I was getting ahead of time, so I would always tear into them on Christmas Eve when my mother was distractedly looking for a garbage bag for all of the paper or trying to focus the camera. That way I wouldn't have to feign surprise at what I got. I never was a good actor.
Some years I would attend holiday parties of my friends' families since my own, in our cramped one bedroom apartment, never did that sort of thing. Through no fault of their own, though, I often stood off to the side of adult conversations, shoveling in cookies while eavesdropping on others' family business. I always felt somewhat out of place among people who didn't quite know what box to put me in. I wasn't the girlfriend of someone's son or an adopted niece or cousin; I was simply the kid who wasn't satisfied with what she had and wanted to infringe on others' time. And I felt increasingly guilty every time a friend's family member gave me a stocking of my own, too!
But it wasn't just about the holidays. I loved that on Melrose Place everyone found each other intertwined in their lives-- work, home, love, and all! Sure, I knew it was written that way for maximum drama, but I loved that it meant they wouldn't just be flitting in and out of each other's lives. Sydney started off just visiting her big sister in the big city but ended up moving in-- as permanently as one could on such a melodrama. The building appeared to be the magnet that pulled people back together. No matter who left for marriage or a beach house in Malibu-- with the exception of Rhonda and that southern actress woman-- they couldn't quit each other forever! And the idea that people would stick with you, through the good times and the bad, was quite refreshing because (as you'll learn if you read my book), I had made a habit of immaturely screwing up relationships. But so did Alison, Jake, Michael, Sydney, Jo, and Billy, and they were functioning okay and learning together from their mistakes.
When I moved into my first apartment, I picked one with a courtyard, still influenced all those years later, though admittedly the pool was not in the center. And I quickly came to learn that the building was full of families and older professionals, so I pretty much kept to myself the way I had while living in New York. It was disappointing, sure, but I was still in college, so I was building my own little community through people I met there. I even began hosting my own hodgepodge Thanksgivings for those of us who didn't have family in the area.
It's five years since I graduated from college, and I'm still living in the same courtyard apartment. A lot of change has come and gone: the color of the building and our patio fences have been rejuvenated; I am on my fourth building manager; dogs are allowed here now. And a lot of change has come to me, as well: I have gone from being a student to a Script Supervisor to a Producer to a Writer; many of my little college family have left the state; I have lost my mother but become one to an awesome little dog. These might not be as drastic as bombs exploding in 4616 or the quickie marriages and divorces of one infamous doctor, or even the career advancement of a cabbie to advertising exec (Billy) or hooker to art dealer (Sydney), but it still counts. And that's why I stay. Because those of us who are still here are closer because of all we went through together.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I am a sucker for a good reunion show. Of any kind, really; I don't discriminate! When I was a kid, I lived for things like the Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Vegas, because I knew it would reunite the good friends who went their separate ways for college. These days I tune in eagerly, with a bowl of fresh popcorn, and Twitter on refresh whenever MTV or Bravo airs an interview-style show asking it's Challenge and Real Housewives (respectively) stars to comment on the drama we watched play out on-air all season. I tuned into the new Melrose Place mostly to see the original stars return and share a few scenes on-screen. But furthermore, I even wrote my own draft of a Dance Til Dawn reunion made for TV movie-- one that takes place twenty years after the original and features the Hoover High Class of '88's reunion accidentally getting double-booked with the Class of '08 (which just happens to feature a few of the originals' kids)'s prom. Nothing ever came to fruition with this project, but it was a fun little piece to write because I have been so obsessed for so long with the original. But this fall on ABC, my pleas for a reunion show of some kind will be answered when the network premieres it's new one-hour drama, My Generation.
My Generation reunites the Class of 2000 from a fictional high school in Texas in a faux-documentary style project that takes a look at where these kids-- all who had lofty dreams and a very specific confidence that their lives would be amazing no matter what-- are now. Of course, real life got in the way in many cases, and plans were changed accordingly.
When I first heard about My Generation, I admit I feared it would just be twenty-two weeks of American Teen on television. American Teen, for those of you who have never heard of it was a documentary from Nanette Burstein that followed five seniors from the Warsaw Community High School Class of 2006. It set out to choose one student from each "clique" to follow, including a jock, a geek, an artist, and the rich and popular. But while My Generation does feature a smorgasbord of characters, it goes beyond the stereotypes to show how historical and familial events effected the paths they chose for themselves.
The cast is a diverse group of TV vets, including Michael Stahl-David, Mehcad Brooks, Daniela Alonso, Julian Morris, and Jaime King. All of the actors play themselves in both "archived footage" from their high school days, as well as "modern day," as the documentary cameras return to their hometown. Some have been living there this whole time, like Kelli Garner and Keir O'Donnell's characters who dated in high school but are now just living together platonically as her husband (Brooks) is overseas. Some moved away and returned, like King, who tried her hand at Hollywood before settling down. And others moved away and were never planning to look back (Stahl-David and Alonso), but their plans were thwarted once again. You know what they say: you make a plan and God laughs! That appears to be the motto of this show.
My Generation doesn't force the whole group back together uncomfortably and unrealistically in its pilot. Instead, it shows each person as they catch up in small clusters with those they were closest to "back in the day." Of course old feelings return with the camera crew, as these young adults are forced to confront issues-- and people-- they thought they had pushed out of their minds, along with their lives.
Morris' character, for example, is still in love with his high school girlfriend, though he has married someone else-- someone his family thought he "should" marry. Stahl-David learns he can't just forget his prom night one-night stand because he has a child that has been born out of it. And O'Donnell, who desperately wants a family of his own, is treading a dangerous line of playing house with someone who's baby will never be his.
Pining for old loves may have an undercurrent of soap opera style melodrama, but the weight of what they would lose if they choose to follow their hearts now grounds the characters and keeps their situations very relatable.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
When I was a kid, all I wanted was to share my birthday with a cool celebrity. I think it all stemmed from the fact that I was born during a summer month, so in elementary school, when we'd have a birthday month party, I got lumped in with the Julys and Augusts, too. It felt less special. And that meant planning my actual birthday parties was always a little rough because we had to schedule around camp and travel schedules if we wanted to ensure all of my little friends could come.
The one actor on the list I recognized when I was young was Selma Blair, who, let's face it, I wasn't entirely fond of due to roles in movies like Cruel Intentions. But I grew up, and she took a role in one of my favorite guilty pleasure chick flicks of all time, The Sweetest Thing, so now I'm happy to share the day with her.
But these days, with my much more in-depth knowledge of all things pop culture (and the fact that new celebrities emerge every year!), I have added quite a few more recognizable names to those to whom I raise my celebratory cupcake when celebrating today:
So here's wishing a very Happy Birthday to Frances McDormand, Joss Whedon, Duffy, Jason Mraz, the late June Carter Cash, Martin Klebba, Paul Wesley, David Kelley, the late Bob Fosse, and Randy Jackson!
...Out of respect for all of us adding another year, I have refrained from listing what years we were born, though!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This is a scene from today's Days of our Lives when the Horton family gathers in Alice's kitchen to make her famous donuts one last time. Remember to tune in the whole rest of this week when the family gathers to memorialize their beloved matriarch.
The women on Bravo's The Real Housewives franchise (pick a city, any city; it's all the same!) are so stick thin I often find myself wanting to force bacon cheeseburgers through my television just to attempt to get them to eat something. You'd think they would inspire me to strap on a pair of stilettos and hop and skip around shopping areas for some exercise. But no. Instead I find myself devouring bowls of kettle corn, half an ice cream cake in one sitting, and bags (yes, plural) of mini Oreos. You see, I eat when I'm stressed, and watching The Real Housewives is quite the stressful occasion!
In fact, I have actually had to stop watching the New Jersey incarnation of the series because I couldn't take the petty, high school style drama overshadowing an attempt to raise money for a baby with cancer. However, last night I tuned into Watch What Happens Live because I heard through the grapevine (aka Twitter) that Danielle Staub would be debuting her single "live" on the show. And that I just had to see. Or hear. Whatever.
Unfortunately after only the first segment I was squirming in my seat and reaching for the chips and dip. As I was stuffing my face, craving a peach but going for the gross, greasy comfort food instead, I actually mumbled that I was quite literally "eating my feelings."
The reason I first fell in love with this franchise was because it showed that no matter the women-- in geographical location or age range-- just because they had monetary wealth did not make their lives better than mine. Sure they most often lounged around "designing clothes" or hitting the spa or a restaurant in the middle of the day, but the problems they obsessed over were so just so ridiculous and unnecessary. It would make me laugh, sitting in my one bedroom apartment that these grown, ten or fifteen year older than me women didn't have their sh*t together more than the average teenager.
More recently, though, as seasons and new cities kept coming with no growth or maturity in sight, I have kept watching out of loyalty and feeling the need to be a "completionist" and see it through even though week after week I get an almost heavy feeling in my chest when I flip on Bravo to see the latest drama go down. I suppose that heaviness could just be my arteries clogging, though. I literally can't remember the last time I watched without a snack in hand.
And at first it wasn't so bad. At first it was once a week when I'd eat later than usual, eat consistently through the hour, just to keep myself too busy and preoccupied to yell and throw things at the crazy on my television. But then they started putting two seasons on at a time. So I was watching Kelly Killoren Bensimon break down on Thursdays and Danielle Staub embarrass her daughters on Mondays. And in the last week there was even some overlap with the New York reunion show being three parts. Let's just say I went to sleep with a rock in my stomach and a wee touch of acid reflux for a couple of days...
I'm really not sure why I watch at all. I grew up watching people fight night after night. Sure, those people were my parents, while now they're women of no relation to each other, but fighting is fighting is fighting after awhile, you know? And after awhile watching their problems doesn't make you feel better anymore because you're so immersed in their lives that they are a part of yours. And you just feel crappy and weighted down from all the negativity. And then you-- or at least, I-- eat to forget or suppress or whatever the reasoning (Jillian Michaels would have a field day with this, I'm sure!). And then you wake up the next morning feeling crappy and literally weighted down from all the extra calories you consumed the night before. Rinse and repeat.
...By the way, I just did a YouTube search for Staub, trying to find her performance from last night, but all that came up was her "leaked" sex tape. You would think that would make me too nauseous to think about food for awhile, but no; that's not how my mind works. It's become a reflex now, and I reached for vanilla pudding. But at least this time I went for something sugar free and low fat. Maybe there is hope for me after all!
Monday, June 21, 2010
EW announced earlier today that Desperate Housewives is looking to cast four new characters for it's seventh season-- well, okay technically it's three new ones and a recast of Tom and Lynette's tween daughter, Penny. But let's face it: only one casting breakdown caught my eye! That of the new thirty-something handyman who EW tells us to "think Mike Delfino, fifteen years ago." Guaranteed he is bound to have some sort of secret, but while the writers are still fleshing all the details out, you know what he will be in the meantime: new eye-candy!!
EW has selected , formally of Viva Laughlin & Moonlight as their frontrunner, and I'm inclined to agree simply because I want him back in my home every week! But just in case they can't meet his quote, here are a few other suggestions:
Greg Vaughan-- another former soap star who took a small primetime stint on 90210 last season. He has the bright, piercing eyes, pronounced cheekbones, and chin dimple that will capture eyes-- and hearts-- of viewers young and old.
Patrick John Flueger-- a young actor who looks similar enough to both Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) and Sam (Sam Page) that he could be caught up in the "swapped baby" melodrama promised for next season. He may currently be starring in another ABC drama, but so far the forecast isn't looking so good for a return on that one. Rather than lose a bright new star for the network, they can easily move him over to Wisteria Lane.
Francis Capra-- Playing Weevil, the on-again-off-again "bad guy" in Veronica Mars means he has the "dark and mysterious and sometimes even brooding" thing down. But you just know he has a softer side, too, and could add a nice flavor to the series, which has grown a bit more stereotypical over time.
Grant Show-- a former primetime soap star twice over who still looks as good as he did during his stints on earlier shows. He may be outside of the requested age from the show and the network, but what actor doesn't submit for younger roles, knowing that hair, make-up, and wardrobe can do wonders? He's still hot, and it would be a nice bonus to see him play alongside former co-star Doug Savant again!
Bryan Dattilo-- a soap star who was recently, and suddenly, fired from his long-term gig. Getting a new acting gig would revitalize his career and image the way the show will be revitalized with the new blood. It's a win-win for both, and he even has the real-life experiences to draw from, as he has been working in construction since leaving Days of our Lives.
Trying to pick one hot guy in the veritable sea of them in Hollywood is nearly impossible (though a fun task to attempt!). These are just the few that came to me right away and off the top of my head. Who would you put in the running?
Sooo a few years ago while I was working on a craft show for the DIY Network (and I am sure I've told this story before so please just feel free to skip this paragraph if you know it so well you can recite it back to me!), one of the producers looked me dead in the eye and told me that he predicted 2010 was going to be my year. I didn't know if I should be flattered or insulted; at that point 2010 seemed super far (like three or four whole years!) away. I was impatient; I wanted things to happen for me now. I mean then. Whenever. I also wasn't sure if he was being funny or not. He never claimed to be a psychic or anything and I wouldn't be surprised if he had just gotten annoyed with my incessant talk of all of the things I had "in the works." To get me to shut up about pilot scripts or manuscripts, he could have just given me a deadline far away enough that I wouldn't bring it up for awhile-- until long after the show we were working on ended anyway. I mean, that's what I would have done!
Still, I wrote down what he said and every time I got another rejection letter from a publisher or a publicist told me "my client doesn't have time" to conduct an interview for my little blog that could, I kept telling myself that everything was a stepping stone, and when things finally did happen-- in 2010-- I would be all the more humbled by and grateful for it because of what I had went through to get there. It would be my very own "They like me! They [finally] like me!" moment.
Don't get me wrong, nothing has drastically changed...yet. But I am not just sitting around and waiting for something to magically fall in my lap, or into place, just because someone once said things would all work out within this calendar year. You actually have to buy a ticket if you want to win the lottery, after all! And I am buying many, many tickets.
But above that, I am also making things happen for myself by self-publishing my pop culture memoir that is partially based on this blog. I'm going to take advantage of the "dating memoir" craze that is so popular now, especially with tote-bag sporting beach-goers, and I am going to utilize the followers and fans of this blog (and my Twitter account). I know that I won't hit official NY Times Bestseller status with something I've self-published, but if my story can reach an audience, even if it's a small one, make them laugh, make them think, and maybe even make them relate, then I'll be happy.
I have put the finishing touches on the manuscript and submitted it for formatting and interior design with a company called CreateSpace, a division of Amazon.com. I have also forwarded a cover concept to a graphic designer to get the ball rolling on the total package. With all luck on my side, I will have finished books ready for purchase by the end of August. And with a little help from some other blogger friends, I will be spreading the word around the interwebs about my little book that could as a companion piece to this website. I promise it's as chock-full of television references and Jensen Ackles anecdotes as these articles, even though it spans the course of my formative years.
So hey, things can still all happen for me this year; after all, there's still a few months left in this bitch!
Actors who start working when they're kids are more likely than others to burn out before they hit middle-age. This is not something I have proven though a scientific study of any kind, but rather it is something I have deduced based upon knowing kids and knowing kid actors and seeing how so many of them rebel in their teenage/early 20s years because they finally realize all they missed out on, being stuck on set all day, every day, through weekends, holidays, and summers. However, actors who start working when they're kids are more likely not to know any other way of life than the opportunities that Hollywood can offer them, so even when they're "over it," as Kelly Killoren Bensimon likes to say, they inevitably find their way back, even if it's slinking back in with their dark glasses on and tail between their legs, walk-of-shame style. Therefore, when Amanda Bynes announced she wanted to retire from acting (via Twitter, no less!), I wasn't entirely taken aback. But for the actor who is finally able to pick and choose her projects for ones that really speak to her, it did come as a bit of a surprise. Why leave the profession altogether? Why not just take a break!? It was good enough for Natalie Portman, after all!
Bynes got her professional start at acting at age ten, on a Nickelodeon show called All That (RIP) that showcased her ability to slip into various types of characters and situations. Since then, she has starred in her own television show, appeared on the big screen in romantic comedies, remakes, and musicals, and even begun a fashion line. Her most recent project, Easy A, a comedy about a girl whose high school reputation gets forever changed after a kid lies that she slept with him just to protect his own reputation, hasn't even come out yet. There is always the chance that she may change her young mind after some time away, but Bynes insists she is done, even though she acknowledges that "twenty-four is a very early age to retire, but I stop doing something when I don't love it anymore." Fair enough.
But what about other child actors who come out of the gates strong when they're tiny and adorable but maybe don't even have a real say in the matter? When big bucks and bright lights are all they know, do they truly burn out and decide to give up the life-- at least temporarily-- or are they forced out, their precociousness worn off and their adult sass just not that appealing?
Everyone from my generation remembers little Raven Symone as the wise-beyond-her-years little girl with the big, bright eyes who could go head-to-head with patriarch Bill Cosby in his show and still steal the scene. But a contract with Disney allowed her to expand into music and starring in her own show, all while she was still appearing as a guest star on other shows and in films like Dr. Doolittle and its subsequent sequels. The twenty-five year-old campaigned for the role of Effie in Dreamgirls but didn't get it (the part went to Jennifer Hudson who ended up with an Oscar for her performance). She didn't let that stop her, though she began to take more and more voiceover work (American Dad, the Tinker Bell films), which is a great way to split off from the scrutiny that so-often comes from being in front of the camera but still be around the creative energy of the industry.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse got their start at the tender ole' age of one as the youngest son on Grace Under Fire. Just like the Olsen Twins before them, they split the role to help production around child labor laws and went on to share roles until they were around twelve years old and "finally" got their own show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, that was created specifically for them, and in part, based on their lives. Though their credits include working with greats like Adam Sandler on Big Daddy and the sitcom phenom, Friends, as Ross' son Ben, the guys are eighteen now and ready to move on to college. Their futures are still pretty up in the air, but Cole has been quoted as saying "When I think about our careers, I don't really look at it as fame and fortune; I look at it as fun. I'd rather have a good time on set, have fun and mess around." So it's probably safe to say that just like Bynes, if they suddenly get bored or don't like the roles coming their way, they will up and quit, too.
The disenchantment with the work should be expected. After all, when you're young and cute, your only job is to be young and cute and deliver lines correctly and on time. When you're an older actor, if you want to stay in the business you have to work a little harder, and some find they just can't cut it...or they just don't want to cut it. Child stars like Macaulay Culkin,Michael Fishman, and Taran Noah Smith went through public battles to get emancipated, and after seeing their names dragged across tabloid headlines, decided to leave this industry behind. Though the latter are raising families in "the real world," neither could stray too far from their roots. Smith is still living in L.A., owning and operating a restaurant that many "it" stars (just like he was once) probably frequent, and Fishman works in Art Department and Set Design on other film projects.
Culkin's outlook on the industry was soured by his parents' ugly fighting over him and his other actor siblings. Allegations of stolen money were involved. But even he finds he can't quite quit indefinitely. Literally coming up in such a specific, addictive way means it's in his blood. He has recently been found voicing characters in Robot Chicken and appearing on the NBC seriesKings.
So though Bynes' intentions are good, chances are she will find herself back at work in Hollywood within no time. Maybe she really will opt not to act any longer (though she would be one of few who can shake that bug entirely), but she'll probably end up behind-the-scenes, then, as a writer and/or director. What we see growing up is often all we know, and what she has seen, known, lived, and loved, is Hollywood.