Break out the Butterbeer, amigos! Word on Diagon Alley is that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is finally coming to Universal Studios, Hollywood! Hooray! Now we won’t have to fly all the way to Orlando to check out the awesomeness of the beautifully-designed theme park for ourselves. The park isn’t due to open till 2015 (at the earliest!) but that gives us plenty of time to get Greta up to speed on the books. So, coolness all around…
Tag Archives: Hollywood
My brother, the photographer, has always told me that the late, great Richard Avedon was a much more diverse photographer than he was given credit for. See, like most people, I always thought of Avedon as a sort of predecessor to Annie Leibovitz, someone who took really famous pictures of really famous people. Well, I was wrong. Kind of.
It’s true, Avedon’s body of work was much more diverse than I’d expected. But, it’s also true that he shot some pretty iconic celebrity portraits in his day. Take, for instance, these two gorgeous shots he took of the late Elizabeth Taylor.
From what I gather online, the pic with Avedon’s red editing marks on it is from 1958 and the very dramatic, feathered headdress portrait is from 1964.
My apologies for geeking out over Miss Taylor again, but, I had never seen either of these pics until today, and, they kinda knocked my socks off. So, here’s hoping you guys feel the same way…
How boring was last night’s Oscar telecast? So boring that I couldn’t even stay awake to blog about it afterwards…and, trust me, I stay up late up all the time, so, that is really saying something.
Long, strangely-paced, badly-produced, hosted and directed, I gotta tell ya, last night’s show was probably the worst Oscar telecast of my adult life. And, yes, I’m including the David Letterman and Rob Lowe/Snow White fiascos.
The thing that really kills me is that I was so excited about the hosts this year. I love Anne Hathaway to death and James Franco is great in everything I’ve ever seen him in…but, together, wow, they were like, epically bad.
I know most of the blame falls at the feet of the lame-brained writers and producers — did we really need those hideous “Gone With The Wind” and “Titanic” graphics projected in the background? And don’t even get me started about that freaky Bob Hope hologram…yikes! — but Hathaway and Franco were so boring that you could practically hear viewers switching the channel. Urgh…
To her credit, Hathaway at least tried to keep things lively, but the dead-eyed Franco looked like he needed a nap most of the night. Watching Hathaway desperately flit around the stage last night while Franco half-napped at the podium reminded me of those old elementary school group projects where one person on the team always worked harder than the other. As a team, they failed, but, I think I’d give Annie an “A” for effort!
Not helping the overall yawn-factor last night was the fact that almost everyone who was predicted to win, did. Which is cool for the very-deserving winners (way to go, Queen Amidala!) but makes for really boring television. Thankfully, “Inception” cleaned up in the technical categories…so, that was fun to watch, even if Christopher Nolan was denied his Oscar (again!).
Dying to hear what you guys thought of the show, and if you have any suggestions for better hosts for next year — hell, that Bob Hope hologram would be better than Hathaway and Franco! — I’d love to hear them too…so, fire away!
Well, so far, the only comment I got about the launch of Trailer Thursday were in regards to the name. So…I’m guessing you guys aren’t as excited about “Never Let Me Go” as I am. And that’s totally cool…see, the best thing about a regular weekly blog post about movie trailers is that eventually, you will be excited about one of my choices. Um…I hope.
That said, this week’s offering is the trailer for the upcoming film “Somewhere”. Written and directed by “Lost In Translation” Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola, “Somewhere” stars Stephen Dorff as an actor who’s life in the fast lane is thrown off course by a visit from his daughter, played by Elle Fanning. Hmmm…kinda makes you wonder if Sofia making a movie about Daddy, doesn’t it?
Well, even if it’s not a big old juicy expose about Papa Coppola, it is definitely a movie about fathers and daughters, and, as you can imagine, I’m all over that shit lately. So, sign me up!
And on top of all that, the movie looks absolutely gorgeous. Great new music from Phoenix, loads of hipster Hollywood locations, and Stephen Dorff finally getting a chance to prove he was worth all that early-career mega-hype…what’s not to love? Oh, before you answer that…Elle Fanning looks great too.
But more than anything, I just really dug the vibe of this trailer. Even in her lesser efforts, Coppola has always had style and mood to burn in her movies and “Somewhere” looks like it’s cut from the same dreamy, effortlessly-cool cloth. I mean, shit, even the poster is cool.
So, again, I cannot vouch for the movie itself until I see it this December, but, judging by the clip, I’d say the Oscar race has just gotten a lot more interesting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Greta and I are gonna try and sneak into the pool at the Chateau Marmont…this heat is killing us!
I know our regular Flickr followers might have already seen most (or all) of these pics online, but, since I never officially blogged about it here, I now bring you back in time to August 1st, 2009, opening day at the groovy new Madame Tussauds Wax Musuem in Hollywood.
Located next to the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd., Madame Tussauds is the newest must-see attraction in a city full of them. And while many Angelenos worried at first about this newer, grander museum slamming the final nail in the coffin of the aging Hollywood Wax Musuem up the street…rest assured, amigos, there is more than enough room for both houses of wax on the boulevard.
For one thing, that old-ass Hollywood Wax Musuem is scary as shit. I mean it, we went at night one time and just about jumped out of our skin in the horror film wing. And though the Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter statue at Tussauds is incredibly unnerving — especially if you stand, Clarice-like, on the marked dot on the floor! — overall, the newer museum is pretty much scare free.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t rock, because, well, it totally does. Not only does Madame Tussauds have the most lifelike statues I’ve seen anywhere, but you also get to do all kinds of goofy stuff with them.
That’s right, every statue at Madame Tussauds is there for the fondling. And while the hair and the eyes are strictly off limits in the touch department, everything else on these statues is fair game…and I do mean everything.
Yikes…my brother and I got so raunchy with that poor Halle Berry statue that I’m surprised she didn’t come to life and slap us silly. But tastelessness aside, touching and posing for endless cheesy pics with the statues is part of what make the experience so cool in the first place.
And if you run out of ideas for pictures, each wing of the museum is equipped with props to help you out. Wanna pose as a “Sister Act” nun with Whoopi Goldberg, grab a habit. Feel like chilling with Butch and Sundance, slap on a cowboy hat. And though I think some of that stuff might get kinda gross and germy over time, on opening day, those props were spotless!
My only complaint is that the bathrooms are located in very weird places. One on the top floor and one on the bottom with nothing in between. I had to take the elevator down to the lower level and exit through the gift shop, then reenter through the main lobby to get to the bathroom from the second floor with Greta.
Even worse than that is the fact that the lower level restrooms have no diaper changing stations for babies…not even the women’s! Lame, huh? I realize that not everyone needs these things, but, come on, you spend a gazillion dollars on this joint and you can’t slap up some changing stations in the can? Please…
But other than that, and the slightly highish price tag — same day adult tickets run $25 a pop! — the musuem is a very cool place to visit. And seeing as they have plenty of room to expand and loads of new figures on the way — I think they added a Michael Jackson right after our visit — the museum should do a pretty killer job of getting people to come back for repeat visits down the road.
Hell, I’d go back for Halle Berry alone!
OK, normally, I am not the kind of person to gloat when bad things happen to jerky people (even if they totally deserve it!) but when I heard that NBC Universal’s much-maligned entertainment co-chairman, Ben Silverman was fired today, I gotta admit, I kinda cheered!
That’s right, amigos, the man who brought you such immortal classics as “My Own Worst Enemy”, “Kings”, “Crusoe”, “Kath & Kim”, the crazy-expensive (not to mention totally unnecessary!) remakes of “Bionic Woman” and “Knight Rider”, and Survival Sunday cheesefests like “Meteor” and “The Storm”, has finally been shown the door. Hooray!
In his defense, Silverman was a well-regarded producer of such hit shows as “Ugly Betty”, “The Office”, and “30 Days” before taking the reigns at NBC, so, when the network brass hired him to lead NBC out of the crapper in 2007, he seemed like an inspired pick.
But it was soon clear to everyone involved that Silverman was not the “rock star executive” he promised to be. Not only were many of his big ideas just plain lame — hello, “Rosie Live!” anyone? — but by making crass product placement a way of life at the network, greenlighting expensive duds left and right, and calling writers “the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school” during the dark days of the WGA strike, Silverman really was his “Own Worst Enemy”.
In fact, at one point, there was talk of staging a Ben Silverman prom in honor of his statement about us “ugly writers” trying to “cancel the prom” when we threatened to bring down NBC’s telecast of that year’s Golden Globes. And though we never held the actual prom, we did get the Globes downgraded to a “news event”, and, as you can see, we crafted some pretty cool paraphernalia in preparation for it…so, suck it Silverman!
But prom or no prom, the good news today is that the cheesy-ass king of all things crappy at NBC is finally gone. Yay! Now, if we could just do something about those annoying “Jay Leno at 10PM” commercials…yikes…
She may have missed the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, but Greta got to stick it to the man anyway this week at her first official protest rally! That’s right, amigos, our little red-shirted cutie joined Mommy and Daddy at the “Hole in the Heart of Hollywood” rally in support of saving the beleaguered Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.
For those of you who might be unaware of the situation, the MPTF Hospital has been a Hollywood institution since the 1940’s and a place where elderly actors, directors, writers and other film industry veterans can retire among their peers. Set on a sprawling campus in Woodland Hills, the home is now in danger of disappearing forever sometime very soon.
The bigwigs at the Motion Picture and Television Fund are crying poor and saying that in today’s economic climate, they just don’t have the money to keep the home open. But the problem with that claim is that when the families and supporters of keeping the home open approached the MPTF about starting up some possible fundraising efforts, the board declared that no amount of money could keep the home open. Huh?
If the problem is money and you won’t let anyone from arguably one of the most creative communities in the world help you raise it, then what is really going on here? My guess is that the MPTF has already sold the land — which they own outright, by the way! — to some developer and therefore has no real intest in keeping the home open.
But no matter what the back-all shenanigans are here, the situation for the folks still living in the home is dire to say the least. Of the dozens of residents who have already been “removed” from the home, 18 have died within a matter of weeks due to something called “transfer trauma”. WTF, man?!!
These people paid their dues, worked for years in “the biz”, prepaid for their care and are entitled to live out their golden years with their peers. I don’t pretend to know all the details on this one, but what I do know is that if there is a way to keep this place open then we need to do it! If for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.
I mean, seriously, the motto on the sign out front says it all “Taking Care of Our Own”! So, come on, guys, let’s put the greed aside for a change and get back to the business of doing just that.
For more information on what you can do to help save the home, please visit SavingTheLivesOfOurOwn.org. And to see more pics from Greta’s first protest rally, including many more shots of the celebrity guest speakers, John “Dukes of Hazzard” Schneider and Frances “Titanic” Fisher, click here.
And in the meantime, que viva los viejos a la casa de MPTF!
Friday night was the Hollywood premiere of my new movie “Not Forgotten” at the Mann’s Chinese and let me tell ya, it rocked! We had an awesome audience, great food and drinks at the after party at The Grill, and best of all, the movie played to packed houses all weekend long. Yay!
No official word on what that means for future distribution plans, but according to the fine folks at BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Not Forgotten” did manage to beat the pants off heavy-hitters like “17 Again”, “Hannah Montana” and even “Wolverine” (again!) on a per screen average, so, I’d say we kicked ass!
In the meantime, back to the premiere! After mingling with the cast and crew in the lobby, I walked the press line outside the theatre for a few pics and then Christine and I headed upstairs to our sweet-ass leather seats in the VIP section. Yep, I said leather seats, amigos. Honestly, I didn’t even know the Mann’s had a VIP section, but it was awesome.
The funniest thing was that Christine and I — who have both seen the movie a gazillion times — were completely freaked out by the kidnapping stuff this time around. I know it sounds crazy, but we both kept looking at each other like: “Should we call home just to make sure Greta wasn’t taken by Santa Muerte?” Wow, I guess that’s what being a parent is all about, huh? Weird…
Without giving too much away, all I can say is that if any of that spooky shit ever happens to my daughter…I might just go “mental” too. Yikes!
Immediately following the screening there was a super cool party just around the corner at the swanky Hollywood Grill. In keeping with the Tex-Mex setting of the movie, the food was all Mexican — right down to the never-ending bottles of Corona with lime! — and though the chicken tostadas were kinda weird, the carne asada was out-of-this-world fantastic. My brother, Ryan, and I went back for that like, three times. Awesome!
Of course, the company was even better. Although neither Simon Baker or Paz Vega could make the premiere — she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant and lives in Spain, and Simon is supposedly filming a movie in Australia, although he appeared on both “Regis & Kelly” and “Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night, so, who knows? — the rest of mi buen amigos from the supporting cast were there in spades and we had a blast.
And though there were several cool celebrity sightings — Marion Ross from “Happy Days” came with her son, Jim Meskimen, who is the nicest guy in the world, even if he plays a child molester in our movie! — my favorite had to be Oscar-nominee and 70’s icon, Karen Black.
Miss Black was supposed to appear in an AFI student film of mine, “The Lone Star Letters”, way back in the day and I had always wanted to meet her in person. So, when I saw her noshing on tacos near the bar, I stumbled over. Being the geek that I am, I started with: “Are you Karen Black?” Lame…I know, but I was completely starstruck.
She was beyond cool and of course had no memory of my nerdy student film or why she couldn’t appear in it, but really, who cared at that point…I mean, I was talking about my movie with Karen-freaking-Black, how cool and totally Hollywood is that? Crazy!
Anyway, we all stayed way too late and drank and ate way too much, but, wow, what a party! Thanks to everyone who came to the premiere to party down with us and most of all to those of you who went out and actually paid to see “Not Forgotten” on it’s opening weekend in Los Angeles. My Aunt Linda and Uncle George actually drove down from the Fresno area to see the movie on Sunday afternoon. Wow!
So, thanks again for all the “Not Forgotten” love, amigos. You guys rock!!
OK, I know I probably sound like the world’s most self-involved goober right now, but after doing some business in Hollywood yesterday, I actually drove around looking for “American Mall” billboards.
I had heard from my brother Ryan and my friend Patty that there were several buses driving around greater Los Angeles with “American Mall” posters on them — Ryan said he even had the oddly surreal thrill of seeing my name scroll into view outside the window of the El Pollo Loco where he was eating breakfast! Ha! — but until yesterday I had not seen any of these posters for myself.
So, like all first-time screenwriters, I cruised Sunset Blvd. stalking buses and looking for billboards for my new movie. And to my amazement, I actually found three gigantic billboards within a few blocks of one another in the heart of downtown Hollywood.
The easiest one to spot was towering over a shockingly-clean Mobil gas station on the corner of Sunset and LaBrea. This was also the easiest billboard to take pictures of as they had a parking lot…yeah!
Next up was a billboard perched way up high on an office tower near Sunset and Las Palmas. This one was harder to shoot as I had to hurriedly park in a red zone, ignore the glaring Cholo gangbangers at the bus stop nearby and snap away. Yikes…don’t try this at home.
And finally, the last billboard I found on my adventure was placed right on top of a really lovely little “rooms-by-the-hour” motel about half a block from Las Palmas. Kind of a seedy locale for a squeaky-clean poster like ours, but hey, at least they had a parking lot!
So, as the mumbling homeless couple on the corner stared at me like I was crazy, I just smiled and thought to myself…hey, if you squint real hard, you can almost see my name! Yeah!
Located just around the corner from the Cinerama Dome, the Cabana Club on Ivar has a really cool “old Hollywood” vibe that I kinda love. There’s a little swimming pool-like water running through the place, bridges to the bar, and crazy cool cabanas everywhere you look. I swear to God, this joint is so retro, you half expect to see Louis B. Mayer boozing it up Errol Flynn in the corner.
Christine and I had been here once before, for the WGA’s post-strike “Contract Celebration Party” in March, but obviously, this party was a lot more fun. And unlike the WGA bash where the bar was only halfway “open”, on Monday night, the free drinks were flowing freely, amigos!
And though most of the food was delicious, I’d have to say the highlights were the “American Mall” cookies and the Ben & Jerry’s booth — there is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cart prominently featured in the movie — that came stocked with five yummy flavors of ice cream.
There was also a hugely popular Sears Arrive Lounge photo booth near the dance floor (we took two sets of pics) and an area where people could spread out and play MTV’s hit video game “Rock Band” — which is also featured kinda prominently in my movie. I know, I know…product placement much? But, hello, this movie is set in a mall…so, what better place to, um, place some products?
Ooo, speaking of branding. I know they probably do this at all the Hollywood premieres, but another thing I totally loved was the fact that they slapped “The American Mall” logo on EVERYTHING. Napkins, the food trays, cookies, a super cool neon sign over the bar, hell, even the wait staff and bartenders wore “American Mall” t-shirts. It was awesome!
But the highlight of the evening was really just chilling with the cast and crew from the movie. I had met all of the core cast members when I visited the set in Utah back in February, but Christine was meeting them all for the first time and had a blast. Everyone — and I mean everyone — both in front of and behind the camera was crazy nice! Seriously, it was like old home week…
I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the more famous guests at the party — Jai Rodriguez from “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” told me he loved the movie as did the super cool African-American chick from “High School Musical”, Monique Coleman — but, mark my words, the rest of the “Mall” cast is gonna be huge. And they deserve it, because, in my totally unbiased opinion, they really rocked that mall hard, baby.
So with Christine’s feet ready to fall off — those heels were high, yo! — we stumbled back to our car just before midnight and hurried home to open our gift bags! Sadly, no “Rock Band”, but we did get some cool guitar string bracelets like the one the Ally character wears in the movie, “American Mall” t-shirts, stickers, a CD of the soundtrack and loads of Clean and Clear products…so, hey, not a bad way to end the night.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to rinse off my new deep-cleansing acne mask and go to bed. Que viva la Mall!
OK, the big story here is…free popcorn and soda! Yay! Sure there were some awesome finger foods at the premiere after party at the Cabana Club — I’ll post some pics of those amazing “American Mall” cookies very soon, I promise! — but Christine and I were probably most impressed with the tables and tables of free popcorn at the Cinerama Dome.
And this is no ordinary movie popcorn folks, this is Arclight Cinema popcorn and it’s fantastic! I guess it should be considering how expensive movies are at the Arclight, but wow, this stuff was so good we didn’t even share it. Nope, it was his and her’s popcorn all the way, baby!
I don’t think they did anything fancy to the free sodas — or even to the popcorn for that matter, maybe it just tasted better because it was free! Ha! — but after working up a sweat walking that half-a-block long red carpet, trust me…Coke never tasted so good!
So after mingling around a bit in the lobby with some of the rocking cast and crew, Christine and I took our seats — which were perfect, thank you MTV! — and watched “The American Mall” for the first time on that big-ass Cinerama Dome screen. And, whoa…let me tell ya…it looked and sounded awesome!
Christine and I have already watched the movie several times on DVD, but it looked pretty freaking incredible on that gigantic movie screen. Everything was so damn big that I noticed tons of stuff I’d never caught before, and watching it with an audience that laughed, clapped and cheered at all the right places was pretty groovy too.
All in all, it was kind of a magical night…and best of all, after the movie ended, we still had the after party to look forward too! So, yay!
No film studies class I ever took at San Francisco State or AFI could ever have prepared me for how totally insane it is to walk down a red carpet at the premiere of your first movie. Not only is it totally intense and nerve-wracking, but it is also one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done.
Christine and I likened it to our wedding. You spend all day getting ready — and in Christine’s case, several days as we had just returned from a work trip/shoe shopping expedition in San Francisco — worrying that you might be late or that you might die on your way to the event (I’m not kidding, I actually worried about that on Monday) and then you get there and are forced to smile your ass off for the next couple of hours.
I’m not complaining, because it was totally fun, and, frankly, as glamorous as life as a grubby old screenwriter gets, but wow, that shit is just not normal. Crazy…
On our wedding day I remember my cheeks actually hurting at the end of the night from smiling so much, and to tell you the truth, smiling on that red carpet was pretty much the exact same way.
You never knew who was filming what and which picture or live interview you might be stumbling into, so smiling was the only safe way to walk.
And even though the folks from “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” never asked us who we were “wearing” — or asked us anything for that matter — Christine and I smiled like movie stars (or, you know, a screenwriter and his wife from Burbank) the whole way down the red carpet.
And only at the very end of our jaunt down the plushly-carpeted sidewalk, as I paused to snap a quick pic of Christine’s super cool new shoes (thank you, Michael Kors!) did I stop to think about how very cool it was to be there.
I mean, wow, strange as it all was, it was still some kind of thrill! So, rock on, “American Mall” red carpet!
Surreal as it may sound, tonight is the red-carpet premiere of my MTV musical, “The American Mall”. Wow, just typing the word “my” and “red-carpet premiere” in the same sentence is so totally bizarre. Crazy…
And to make matters even more surreal, the movie is screening tonight at the historic Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. If you live in the L.A. area and haven’t been to this theatre, you are seriously missing out, man. Housed in a giant geodesic dome, the curved screen is crazy big and the sound is incredible.
Ironically enough, the last movie we saw at the Dome was also a musical. We saw “Evita” on New Year’s Eve back in 1996 and I swear to God, Madonna’s face was so gigantic on that towering screen that I almost threw up. Of course, we were sitting in the front row, so that didn’t help.
But wow, what a screen! The Cinerama Dome was built in 1963 to screen the studio’s burgeoning library of sweeping, wide-screen epics in all their glory. And though it has come close to closing a few times, the recent addition of the adjoining Arclight Cinemas guaranteed that audiences will be enjoying the enormity of the Cinerama Dome for years to come.
So, as Christine and I run out the door to do some last minute errands before the premiere — actually, she’s the only one with “last minute errands” like getting her hair done and stuff — and I practice not tripping over myself in my slippery-ass dress shoes, enjoy these vintage pics of the Dome…
This Wednesday, the Writer’s Guild of America launched its first ever “American Idol Truth Tour” with a fiery press conference at WGA headquarters in the Fairfax district. Designed to promote awareness of the gross mistreatment of workers on Fremantle Media’s top-rated “American Idol”, the Truth Tour will follow this year’s “Idol” auditions from city to city to promote the cause.
And what a cause it is. Since “Idol” is a defiantly non-union show, the producers routinely break California and Federal labor laws by forcing many of their workers to pull 36 hour shifts with no breaks, no overtime and worst of all, no health benefits or residuals for the work they do on the show.
One former “Idol” production assistant revealed to the crowd on Wednesday that after factoring in all his time spent working on the show, he averaged about $4 an hour. That’s less than half the California minimum wage!
And as several of the Teamsters in the crowd pointed out, “Idol” is also one of the only shows in Hollywood to use non-union drivers. I think WGA Vice President David Weiss said it best when he scolded Fremantle for preying on the starry-eyed new-to-Hollywood crowd when hiring and then systematically using these people up and spitting them out at the end of each season.
Not only is this practice morally wrong, but it’s also illegal and with scores of pending lawsuits and labor board cases against Fremantle and several other producers of so-called “reality shows”, the heat in this kitchen is about to get pretty damn unbearable.
I guess the thing that really galls me — and I am a huge “Idol” fan by the way — is the fact that Fox and Fremantle spend so much time and money touting their massive “Idol Gives Back” charity each year, while at the same time denying their own workers the most basic of benefits. It’s just kind of mind-boggling that the same people that raise millions of dollars every year for charity could be so goddamn greedy when it comes to paying their own workers. Insanity!
So, though I did not get my act together in time to get on the Truth Tour bus to San Francisco — the site of this year’s first round of “Idol” auditions — my friend Patty and I did attend the early-morning press conference on Wednesday to show our support for our WGA brethren.
And I mean to tell ya, that crowd was fired up, baby! Slipping on our new Truth Tour t-shirts, swapping war stories with my fellow WGA strike veterans…man, it was like old home week at the WGA. And even though I didn’t bring much more than a camera with me to the press conference, I have to admit, I was pretty tempted to jump on that bus at the last minute and call it a day.
But to the hardy souls who did get on the bus and staged a rowdy protest at the “Idol” auditions yesterday at the Cow Palace, I say, rock on, writerly soldiers! Here’s to showing the world what really happens behind the scenes at the top-rated show in America!
All we can hope for now is that the press actually covers the Truth Tour events — stories about the press conference were virtually non-existent on the local news last night — and that maybe, just maybe, the soulless bastards at Fremantle will do the right thing and go union.
I know it’s a tall order, but hey, sometimes a little bad publicity is all it takes to make these corporate robots quake in their boots…so, for now, que viva la WGA Truth Tour!
The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild might be saying publicly that talk of an impending actor’s strike is a “distraction” during their difficult ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, but if you ask me, SAG created this distraction on their own, and they are loving every minute of it.
But if the rumors are true, and SAG truly is readying their troops for war, then why not just call a spade a spade and get on with it. Ain’t no shame in your game, SAG, just come out with it already!
Sure, another major strike right now would suck, but if you ask me, I say burn that mutha down, actors! After watching the DGA, my beloved WGA and even SAG’s crazy-eyed sister-union, AFTRA literally take it up the ass from the studios, I’m aching for someone to take a real stand against those greedy bastards.
And who better to do it than the biggest guild out there? SAG has 120,000-plus members, which is like ten times the size of the WGA. That is some serious union muscle, baby! And while the studios are always quick to undercut writers and directors, if they skimp on actors, well, they’re gonna feel that burn pretty quick.
With the ratings for last year’s TV season pretty much demolished by the WGA strike, I’m guessing the AMPTP might actually give this guild what they want this time. And, if it takes a strike to do it, then strike away, amigos. Like I’ve said before, I know a lot of writers who will be out there supporting your pretty faces on the picket lines every day, and, trust me, we have plenty of red t-shirts.
So, do what you gotta do when that deadline hits, Mr. Rosenberg — SAG’s current deal ends at midnight tonight — and know that whatever happens, we got your back! Go, union!
Several of our east coast friends have complained over the years about the lack of truly great 24-hour cuisine here in L.A., and though old stand-by’s like Canter’s Deli and The Original Pantry are good in a pinch, we usually end up at Bob’s or one of the two “homeless Denny’s” in Hollywood.
So, when we heard that a spanking new all-nite eatery called Kitchen 24 was opening in the heart of Hollywood’s bustling “Cahuenga corridor”, man, were we excited! Unfortunately, Kitchen 24 leaves much to be desired…
Sure the über hip dining room is cool — those crazy silverware lamps (below) are worth the price of admission in my book! — and the service was great, despite the fact that they had been open less than a week when we ate there, but some of the food we ordered was just plain bad.
My Ruben sandwich (below) was kind of skimpy on the meat, but decent, and the Seasoned French Fries were amazing, but Christine’s Turkey Pot Pie was straight-up disgusting. It might have looked awesome on the outside — pot pie served in a miniature cast iron skillet, ingenious! — but the inside of that pot pie looked and tasted like dried clay.
I’m not kidding, it was so bone dry that every bite was a chore. It was almost enough to turn you off pot pies for life…and if you know me at all, that is really saying something! Yikes…I don’t care how cheap that shit is, you can get tastier pot pies in the frozen foods aisle at the 99-cent store. So, I’m warning you now, avoid this culinary train wreck at all costs!
That said, the drinks were very good — they have a full bar in the rear of the restaurant — and the location could not be cooler. Surrounded by scads of hip new clubs on Cahuenga and neighboring Hollywood and Sunset Blvd., Kitchen 24 is literally walking distance from Amoeba Records and The Arclight.
So, at the end of the day, even though our food mostly sucked, Kitchen 24 is so cute and charming that I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this time and try them out again in a few months. Christine wants to try breakfast next time, and to be fair, the breakfast menu sounds way better than most of what ate. And Lord knows it can’t be worse, so…I’m game.
Until then, see ya at Bob’s…
Woke up this morning at 5:30am to the sound of several loud pops, like someone slamming their car door shut over and over again. Figured it was the Times’ delivery dude making his usual racket, and though I was tempted, I somehow resisted the urge to throw open the window and bitch him out.
Then, a few minutes later, I heard helicopters. Circling. Overhead. Forever! I’m not kidding, it sounded like they were landing in our front yard. Realizing that the last few hours of my Sunday slumber were completely shot, I opened the blinds to see massive plumes of dark smoke swirling skyward.
In my groggy state, I actually entertained the notion that my “Lost” obsession had really gone too far this time and that the island’s black smoke monster was coming to take me home. But NBC4’s trusty Ted Chen quickly put those concerns to rest when he reported that a massive fire (of unknown origin) was roaring through the Universal Studio’s backlot.
And the footage he showed was insane! Flames and red hot ash shooting into the air at Universal City — which is like, minutes from our place — it looked like a Goddamn volcano! And it smelled — and continues to smell — like what it really was, burning sets, props and scads of videotapes from the Universal vault.
I know it’s terrible, but at least that big old fire on Barham last year smelled organic, you know, like trees and shit. Everywhere we went in Burbank this morning — still looking for that elusive Wii Fit — smelled like burnt plastic. And with no wind in sight, I think it’s gonna stay that way…
According to Ted Chen — who referred to the Universal-backlot-shot “Bruce Almighty” as a “classic” in his frantic, man-on-the-scene reportage this morning — the Universal videotape vault is completely backed up elsewhere, so nothing truly valuable is gone forever. That goes double for the film archive, which was nowhere near the fire. So, whew…
But, man alive, that backlot tram tour is gonna be real short ride in the next few months. With almost all of New York Street and the “Back to the Future” town square set leveled, the aerial shots look like a war zone.
Seriously, that backlot is totaled. And with the fire contained, but smoke still billowing skyward as I type, I don’t imagine there will be much to salvage anywhere on that lower lot.
But there is some good news in all this…according to the last thing I heard from my boy Ted, the MTV Movie Awards will still be taping live tonight from the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal, and despite the fact that the “King Kong” attraction was burnt to the ground, the theme park will be open for business as usual today starting at noon.
Hooray! Nothing says summer theme park fun like riding “Jurrasic Park: The Ride” with a damp towel clutched to your nose and mouth the whole time.
So, while we desperately try and make up for lost sleep — the fire is over, go home helicopters! — wanted to thank the firefighters for putting that thing out hella fast, Universal Studios Theme Park for bravely keeping your doors open to tourists (even during the worst of times!), and most of all, thank you, Ted Chen for making this morning’s chaos so, well…classic!
After all the Indiana Jones build-up last week, you’d think I would have written at least something about the experience of seeing the actual movie by now, right? Well, as much as I’d like to say that I loved “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” so much that I’ve been busy hurrying back nightly to see it again…sadly, that is not the case, amigos.
The main reason I haven’t written about the movie yet is that there is practically no movie to write about. No there…there, so to speak. More of a preview for what I’m sure will be some very cool video games and theme park attractions than an actual movie, “Crystal Skull” is everything I hoped it would not be.
After the movie ended, while stumbling numbly to the parking lot…wait, I take that back, “numbly” would imply that we actually had emotional feelings about this crapfest, I think a better word would be indifferently. So, while stumbling indifferently back to our car I said to my brother: “Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as “The Phantom Menace”, right?”
Shaking his head, Ryan pointed out something surprisingly wise considering the late hour. He said that while “Menace” was a huge disappointment, it at least had the promise of two other movies to come. And, the artistic value of the subsequent “Star Wars” prequels aside, that is totally true.
I mean, love it or hate it, “Menace” did have Darth Maul and the fascinating — and up to that point, never before mentioned! — concept of midi-cloriens: the little unseen mystical thingies that make up the Force.
And not only did Anakin Skywalker have a buttload of said midi-cloriens flowing through his body, but it was even alluded to that the annoying little “chosen one” from Tatooine was born of the Force itself. Wow! Now that is cool idea. And though he tried really hard at every turn, even musty old George Lucas couldn’t make that shit boring!
Unfortunately, “Crystal Skull” has none of those elements. And worst of all, it is really, really slooooow. At least “Raiders” started out big with the whole imploding temple bit. And that rock rolling after Indy? Kind of an iconic moment! But this movie opens with a groan and just keeps getting worse as it goes…
Of course, there were a few bright spots. Karen Allen looked great and it was really awesome to see her in a movie again. I thought Cate Blanchett was entertaining and despite the hisses from the rest of our party at her vicious scenery-chomping, it was very clear to me that she was having fun. And, hello…isn’t the queen of doom and gloom Oscar-bait allowed to have a little summer movie fun now and then? That’s right, you rock that crazy “Rocky and Bullwinkle” Russian accent, chica!
Speaking of over-acting, John Hurt — who I usually love — is also very strange in this. But hey, the summer blockbuster brigade isn’t exactly pounding on his door all the time either, so I cut him some slack.
On a positive note, Shia LaBeouf’s character, “Mutt”, didn’t totally suck. His Marlon Brando routine was lame and the fact that he had his name embroidered on his leather jacket was, well…kinda gay, but LaBeouf’s a great actor, and his chemistry with Harrison Ford was pretty nifty too, so it worked.
And while Ford still managed to work some of that Indiana Jones magic in spots — particularly during a scene involving Allen’s character and some quicksand! — overall, he felt more like a cartoon character than a real man.
I know, I know, the series isn’t exactly realistic, give Dr. Jones a break. But hey, realistic or not, audiences made some pretty big leaps of faith in the earlier movies too…I mean, come on, do you think anyone but Indiana Jones could hang onto the top of a Nazi submarine all the way to a secret island hideout? Please. But we were so into the movie back then that we bought it!
That is not the case in “Crystal Skull”. Here, the leaps of faith just seem bigger and way too hard to swallow. I won’t spoil it for you by going into detail, but there are at least two things that Indiana Jones does in this movie that defy the laws of physics in such a huge way that the audience actually laughed. And no, it was not in a good way.
Anyway, love to hear what the rest of you thought of the movie, so comment away. In the meantime, enjoy these pics I took of some of the cool promo posters and props they had strewn about the lobby of the Arclight. I know it’s hard to tell from the picture, but those giant banners above were actually draped down the entire length of an office tower on Sunset, cool, huh?
So, my advice is that if you live in Los Angles and you’re itching to see “Crystal Skull” on the big screen, see it at the Arclight. That way if you totally hate the movie — which you will — you can drown your sorrows by snapping some fun pics of Mutt’s groovy motorcycle in the lobby on your way out.
Hell, it worked for me…
Replicating the strategy they used with us writers last year, the cheap bastards at the AMPTP have walked out of the negotiating room (again!) eighteen days into their negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Claiming that SAG’s “unreasonable” demands for modest increases in payments for DVD sales and online downloads has left them with no other choice but to discontinue talks “at this time”.
And so, true to dickhead form, the AMPTP abruptly suspended talks with the actors, even after SAG announced on the website that they were willing to “work around the clock for as long as it takes to get a fair deal” and “keep the town working”. Sounds kinda familiar, huh?
Reverting to their union-busting handbook once again, the AMPTP is rolling out the old “unreasonable” bit in the media — which they totally own, by the way — and playing up the fact that they are also calling off talks to focus on their upcoming negotiations with SAG’s trouble-plagued sister union, AFTRA, which are set to begin today.
Hmm…kinda reminds me of that time the AMPTP abruptly called off talks with WGA leadership to focus on their upcoming negotiations with the Director’s Guild. And if I remember correctly, the AMPTP forged a quickie deal with the DGA and then left us looking like total jerks until we caved — Yes, I said “caved”. God love ya, Patric Verrone, but we totally caved — and took their lousy deal.
Complicating things further for SAG’s rocking negotiating committee — led by bad-ass actor/studio ball buster extraordinaire, Alan Rosenberg — is the fact that SAG and AFTRA had been at war with one another for years.
From what I’ve gathered, the feud centers around the fact that SAG feels they should have more of a say in their wobbly, co-union existence with AFTRA since SAG has more members who contribute more money to the union’s coffers. The far-less-powerful AFTRA — whose members work in such areas as radio, TV news, talk shows, and several soap operas — feels the decision making should remain 50/50 as it has always been. And therein lies the problem.
Many of the SAG members I met on the picket line — several of whom are members of both guilds — have a deep-seated mistrust of anything AFTRA does. And tensions grew so strained a few months back that AFTRA decided — for the first time in 27 years! — to break off from SAG and negotiate a new contract with the AMPTP on their own. Hmm…as Yoda would say: “Unwise this decision was.”
What really sucks for the actors is that now that talks with the AMPTP have predictably “stalled”, the studios are going to use their negotiations with AFTRA — as they so masterfully did with the DGA — to show how quickly the process can work when so-called calmer heads prevail.
Of course, AFTRA is so weak — with their concerns literally light years away from SAG’s — that they’ll probably take whatever crappy deal the studios shove down their throats. And if recent history repeats itself, I foresee the AMPTP joyously announcing a finalized deal with AFTRA in a week at the most. Hell, AFTRA hates SAG so much at this point, they might even take a shitty deal just to spite them!
Either way, SAG will be left looking like the “unreasonable” jerks the AMPTP is already painting them as, and they will more likely than not take a crappy deal to save face. I say, screw that! Whatever happens, in the next few days, I urge you, Mr. Rosenberg, to learn from our mistakes and stay the course!
To quote from an impassioned e-mail you yourself sent out to the entire WGA membership during the heat of battle last December: “…we know that this fight is for the rights of all creative artists, and our collective future is at stake. We share your sound and reasonable goals for fair compensation for new media formats and we believe you are doing the right thing by taking a stand.”
Of course when you said “we”, you were talking about actors. But those same words could just as easily apply to writers now. As the pictures above illustrate, you guys were out with us every day during our strike, so, no matter what happens in the coming weeks, know this…we got your backs, man. Seriously, I got a couple dozen red and gray shirts just itching to come out and play!
To paraphrase the finale of your rocking e-mail, Mr. Rosenberg, the WGA “will stand with you for as long as it takes”. So, keep on keeping on, actors…and remember, we’re all in this together!
Oh yeah, and for the record, that’s “Thirtsomething” icon David Clennon with Patty and myself in the first picture; “Freaks and Geeks” star Dave “Gruber” Allen in the second shot; and the fetching Penelope Whidmore from “Lost”, actress Sonya Walger in the final pic. I should also note that I saw all three of the SAG actors above on the WGA picket lines many, many times, so, gracias amigos!
Wow…this week just keeps getting worse and worse for NBC. Not only are they not televising an award show — crews are actually tearing down the set for the show as I type — but they have also lost exclusive rights to their fake-ass “news conference” they were going to hold on Sunday! And that means, no picketing for us…yeah!
It seems the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the entity behind the Golden Globes, has re-assumed complete control of the press conference and decided that rather than give exclusive rights to the show to NBC, they’d open the event to all media outlets!
Wow…I guess NBC’s plan to reclassify their fizzy awards show as “news” actually worked. The show has become news and as such, is open to all. In the words of “The Simpsons” Nelson Muntz: “Ha, ha!” And while I think NBC can only blame themselves for the enormity of this clusterfuck, I gotta say I feel a little bad for this year’s Miss Golden Globes, Rumer Willis (pictured in the bizarre dunce cap get-up above and a more normal pic below).
For those of you not familiar with the tradition, Miss Golden Globes is the pretty young thing chosen each year to hand out awards onstage. The HFPA usually choses daughters (and sometimes, sons) of Hollywood celebrities. For instance, last year’s Miss Golden Globes was the daughter of Jack Nicholson, the year before that, it was the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.
Sadly, this year’s pick, Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce and Demi) will now go down in the Hollywood history books as the Miss Golden Globes that wasn’t…
Sorry, Rumer. But who knows, maybe if you’re lucky they’ll let you hold some of the awards at the news conference!
Found these hilarious “Missing” posters of the six major Hollywood CEO’s — who pretty much control the AMPTP — last night on UnitedHollywood.com and had to share them with you…
My favorite is the scary-ass picture of Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone seen below. As if that fossil wasn’t freaky looking enough already, this “artist’s rendering” of him is downright horrifying!
Oh yeah, and just heard today that the WGA may NOT be picketing the Golden Globes “news conference” after all. Things are still up in the air, but if and when we picket, you can bet your ass I’ll be there in my red or grey shirt, camera in hand. Until then, enjoy this rogues’ gallery of “Missing Moguls!”
With the WGA strike entering it’s seventh week today, I was pleased to find a really rocking e-mail of support from Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Alan Rosenberg (“L.A. Law”, “Chicago Hope”, “CSI”) in my inbox this weekend.
I shouldn’t be surprised by the e-mail, as SAG has been a huge supporter of the WGA since even before the strike began, but the fact that their membership continues to stand beside us during this difficult time is really impressive.
I’ve met slews of SAG actors on the picket line in the past few weeks, some famous, some less so, but all of them have been ready and willing to stand with us in our fight for a fair deal from the AMPTP.
So, in honor of our super cool allies in the Screen Actors Guild, I’ve decided to post some of my favorite pics of my new BFF’s — seriously, that one-legged dude who won the first season of “Big Brother” (Eddie, McGee, pictured below) and I are like peas and carrots these days! — accompanied by the full text of the rousing e-mail of support sent out by President Rosenberg tonight. Enjoy!
Dear Writers Guild of America Members,
I am writing to you on behalf of 120,000 proud members of Screen Actors Guild who stand with you in solidarity as your strike continues. We believe that now more than ever, we must remain strong and even more committed to achieving our common objectives. We are proud to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you and SAG will be there for as long as it takes.
Your fight is our fight. Our National Executive Director Doug Allen and I are working around the clock with Patric Verrone and David Young to coordinate our strike support efforts. I’m sure you have seen some of the thousands of Screen Actors Guild members who’ve been walking the picket lines in Los Angeles, New York and around the country for the last six weeks.
I and other Screen Actors Guild representatives have attended your negotiations and your negotiators have been reasonable and professional. The AMPTP put draconian rollbacks on the table, wasting months of negotiating opportunity. The AMPTP walked out of negotiations twice…most recently after an unreasonable ultimatum that WGA withdraw six key bargaining proposals including several relating to new media compensation.
It is time for the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table.
I salute the cast members and rank-and-file SAG members who are so much a part of this struggle and have made their opinions known to the press, the public, and our employers. As most television shows and motion pictures have shut down, actors are not working. But we know that this fight is for the rights of all creative artists, and our collective future is at stake.
We share your sound and reasonable goals for fair compensation for new media formats and we believe you are doing the right thing by taking a stand.
As 2007 comes to an end please be assured, Screen Actors Guild will stand with you for as long as it takes. I wish you and your families peace, perseverance and patience during this difficult time.
President, Screen Actors Guild