Saturday, May 30, 2009
On the other hand, you can relive the classic year of 2007 – and its most surprising movie: The Hammer – written by and starring one of my heroes, Adam Carolla.
It premieres on HBO late Tuesday/early Wednesday at midnight. I promise you’ll love this romantic comedy, so catch it. Then return to your regularly-scheduled cultural activities.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I pull the same move these days in casting workshops. I always step right up and perform after weak actors have botched their scenes.
The theory can work against you if you follow a talent, which is exactly what happened when I went to see a couple of comedians perform at a club the other night. One of their warm-ups was John Tole, the guy above. His jokes were smart and hilarious, and he killed. The two headliners followed him and bombed like hell. It was uglier than a Vassar glee club.
Feel free to apply my theory to all sorts of talent-centric situations. And If you’re an actor reading this, and suddenly realize that I’ve followed you in a workshop, my apologies – my apologies that you suck so damn bad. And my utmost thanks. Look for that Christmas card come December.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I bumped into this fella outside the FOX studios, where he was very much interested in garnering the attention of Seth McFarlane. He told me in a British accent (naturally) that he was part of a charity aiming to increase awareness about prostate, testicular and bowel cancer. Over the weekend, he ran the LA Marathon in this getup, and finished in 6 hours, 26 minutes. Which is both way impressive, and oddly reminiscent of my nightmares during puberty.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Seth actually doesn’t work out of these studios, but much respect nonetheless, Giant Pair of Balls.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I’m not sure what materials are used to create Charleston’s film awards, but I’m hoping they’re the same stuff that make up their chews: luscious nougat covered in chocolate.
Today’s Beneficiary tidbit features prolific actor John Kapelos. If I weren’t already jealous enough of John’s resumé, he made me want to eat my liver when, as we shot at a state park north of L.A., John needed to get to an audition for “CSI: NY.” He patiently shot a scene for my film, then raced to a casting office in Hollywood and was back shooting his next scene for me within an hour. Later that day he found out he got the TV role.
John invited me to hang out with him on the set of CSI, and I had a great time. He had his own bungalow dressing room, and in between his takes – he was playing a lawyer – he taught me as much as he could about shooting TV shows.
As we make our way through this business, the majority of my actor friends and I may as well be gathering in a church basement for a support group, huddled around the cookies and the coffee urn, easing each other's frustration. Meanwhile, it’s nice to know one guy who’s a damn rock star.
But so far this year, I can’t name one movie I’d recommend. Plenty of overrated stuff, but no winners.
I realize many more films will open this summer, and the Oscar-contenders are often reserved for December, but at this rate, scrounging up a top-ten list at the end of this year will be damn near impossible
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the last two years, which were arguably two of the top film years ever. Here are a handful of classics from ’07:
3:10 to Yuma
Gone, Baby Gone
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Lars and the Real Girl
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
And from ’08:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Bank Job
Pictured above is the poster for Away We Go. It opens next Friday, and I’m hoping very much that it’s going to be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine/Juno. It has everything going for it: a great cast, led by John Krasinski from “The Office”, and director Sam Mendes, who hasn’t made a bad film yet (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Jarhead and Revolutionary Road.)
Come through for me, Away We Go. Or I may have to become a cutter.
Monday, May 25, 2009
My top five favorites from the last 100:
My Namesake. The dog eventually had to be given back. But he served his purpose by inspiring a blog entry. Grab a catcher’s mask and click here.
Changing A Diaper: My Own Private Viet Nam. This sums up my life so perfectly, it should be read aloud at my funeral. Grab a hazmat suit and click here.
Suffering For My Art. I sacrificed like hell, and all I had to show for it was a lousy cotton ball. Feel the lethargy here.
Festivus, Part XI. What could be more American than baseball and filmmaking? Plenty, since I seem to be bigger in France. Dig in here.
That’s A Wrap. My reign of terror was over. Let us never speak of it again – right after clicking here.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Sure, I can drain a 40-oz. on Dolla’s grave, but where will I purchase him a nice leave-behind? Plus my mom’s birthday is coming up, and Petey is rather partial to top-notch stuffed animals.
Oh, the humanity.
Friday, May 22, 2009
But before you lose the skivvies, I need one last opinion. You might remember that a couple months back, journo/photographer Julieta Sans interviewed me and took photos of Petey and me. Yesterday, she sent her favorite, above.
She also and a cropped a B&W version. Not sure which I prefer. Any thoughts?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
#16 on The Beneficiary International Tour is the Breckenridge Festival of Film, which was kind enough to offer the free digs, along with a liaison who'll guide me throughout the weekend, introduce my film, then talk me up before I participate in a Q&A.
So I’ll be there, next month, pimping it up where the deer and the antelope get processed into nifty reading lamps.
Between Cannes and this, I’d better not get too used to the good life. So pardon me for a second while I take a look at my Wells Fargo statement….. ah, there is – I’m back down to earth.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
It’s Wednesday, and I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays.
Maybe it’s post-Cannes depression. It’s been tough weaning myself away from that place – the baguettes at Circle K just don’t quite cut it.
I do have a shot at getting over this, and if you click above you can join me. I use these clips from Team America: World Police whenever I need a genuine laugh for a role I’m playing. I watch them once, and I’m set. The only downside is that I wind up quoting it out loud for about a week. Trust me – do not call/hang out/text me until next Wednesday.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Here you go:
• With so many foreign stars converging on the town, it’s difficult to determine each one’s level of fame. A good barometer: if a person in a tux is eating in McDonald’s – probably a low Q rating.
• While it was easily the nicest cab I’ve ever been in (gorgeous Mercedes with rear, leather, reclining seats), it’s smarter to schedule a flight from Nice for after 8 a.m., when the 14-dollar bus is running. Otherwise, you’ll pay for the nicest cab you’ve ever been in with something to the tune of 95 Euro ($129 American.) Sucked.
• The French – at least in Cannes – are super pleasant and helpful. And for the most part, they speak English, which is great when the extent of your French vocab comes via episodes of “The Benny Hill Show.”
• The flash-drives I brought stood out from all other swag. People instantly lit up when I handed them out. I hope everyone I gave them to plugs them into their computers on their flights home and gives the film a gander. I, for one, could have used a timekiller while being crammed between Fatty Arbuckle and his sidekick Smelly McGee for 12 hours on Air France.
• My film didn’t take home any prizes, but it got a great response at its screening. At least I think so, since the Dutch, Japanese, and Ukranian dudes were smiling when they patted me on the back. There were more countries represented there than the Inglewood unemployment office (my Q rating is super high there because I speak English.)
Let me just take a moment to kick the extra point in honor of getting to go to one of the most prestigious film festivals on the planet. It was outstanding, rewarding, exhilarating. I came back to LA more raring to go than ever. I’m in the process of figuring out what I’m going to write next to further my acting career, and it won’t necessarily be a film. It won’t be a crummy blog, either. I've got that covered.
Monday, May 18, 2009
As for my wish list, in what is now an official tradition, I ask that you watch some films that I love. And once again, feel free to comment:
1. Away From Her
2. The Believer
4. Bottle Shock
7. Catch and Release
8. Cry Freedom
9. Citizen Ruth
10. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
11. In the Valley of Elah
13. The Kite Runner
14. Mean Creek
15. Moonlight Mile
16. Murder in the First
17. North Country
19. Owning Mahowny
20. Permanent Midnight
21. Something the Lord Made
22. Shattered Glass
23. Suburbia (the film, not the documentary)
24. Tell No One
25. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It’s been exceptional. But it's time to go back to work.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The red carpet. I felt like the male version of Ryan Seacrest.
Whatchoo talkin’ about, Guillaume?
Key to the city. 50% more likely to get you laid than the credentials for Comi-Con.
100% guaranteed to get George laid.
When the window's closing, a handy time-saver: street-corner condom vending machines.
A barnacle stuck on the bottom of one of these is bigger than my hotel room.
Nipple-hardening moment: three years ago, I watched a truck cut off my friend in Hermosa Beach, and a premise for a screenplay popped into my head. I had no idea where it would take me.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Pictured above, a party they threw for me here. Or maybe it's actually a happy hour for filmmakers. You say tomato, I say screw you.
Thoughts on day two:
Went for an early run around the city this morning. Really love it here. It has all the charm of a thousand-year-old European villa splashed with Hollywood cool… When my hotel Internet isn’t working, I found a spot down on a corner with free wireless late at night. As I stand there, juggling my Mac, I keep thinking two dudes on a scooter are gonna careen past and yank it out of my hands… I don’t speak a lick of French, but I strangely dig when people here begin speaking it to me, and assume I’m not American. It's happening a lot, but my cover gets blown the second I say something like "bon jour" to a guy walking away from me off an elevator… Toured around the festival palace and met people from production companies from all over the world. They don’t just set up booths here; they create fully functioning, furnished offices. Some small country had a film starring both Big Pussy and Phil Leotardo from “The Sopranos.” It looked horrendously perfect… Euro dollars look way too much like Monopoly money, rendering them easily spent. And since I normally put everything including a stick of gum on my credit card, I’m not a fan of the $1 and $2 coins. Too bulky. Plus, 1¢ and 2¢ coins? Please… The French believe that if you slap the word “mister” in front of a food name, Americans will partake. They got me twice today: Mister Pizza for lunch, Mister Sandwiches for dinner. Bastards.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Had to take a pic with my Mac tonight, as I’m having camera issues (just one issue really – I left the camera on my kitchen counter in L.A.) Tomorrow I’ll decide if I want to take it in the ass and buy an overpriced digi camera here.
I'll paint a picture with some random thoughts instead:
The city is really alive with colors and energy. Lots of people in the streets in tuxes and fancy dresses. Flash bulbs pop everywhere for celebrities, half of whom are foreign stars I don’t recognize... Hundreds of outdoor cafés, and when you walk past them you’ll hear conversations in seven different languages… Bunch of white dudes in the streets breakdancing for cash… Very walkable town, though you gotta use extreme peripheral vision as the locals don’t pick up after their dogs. I escaped unscathed… Incredible promotions for films everywhere, including a gigantic water fountain display off the coast, with movie promos projected onto it while music blares… My hotel is a very convenient walk to the Festival Palace, and my room is nice and cozy but has iffy Internet and one TV channel in English, featuring some British dandy who rattles off top stories in order of search popularity on the Web. Europeans really digging some dude who can ride a motorcycle lying down today. They’re a cultured folk.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I’ve been thinking about everything that brought me to this day. My desire to not just be one of a hundred actors who shows up for every audition, but to create my own vehicle. The decision to invest in myself and spend my entire life savings on this film. I lost a day job over this film. I struggle to make ends meet over this film. My car is costing me 100 bucks a month in duct tape alone over this film.
I’ve realized you don’t just find out who your true friends are when the chips are down. My friend Jeff, who broke his ass helping me with the flash drives, put it eloquently: “We’re excited for you, and want to be a part of it.” Jeff went out of his way. My mom was overwhelmingly generous with her birthday gift. So were my friends Mark and Michelle. And Jenn, for offering airline miles and cash. My big brother asked twice if I needed any money for the trip. Failure isn’t a possibility with this kind of support.
Stop by, and I’ll keep everyone updated about my trip right here. Until then, I’ve packed five days worth of Speedos and berets. Wish me luck.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Let’s go with John’s first thought, because I could use your assist today. A company called Killer Films is seeking pitches from screenwriters for an upcoming short film. It’ll be developed entirely by the winner of the pitch – from concept, through production, cast, crew, post and everything else. If I win, I have a certain verbose fella in mind for the leading role.
The screenplay I entered is called Great Grandfather. Log on here and you can watch my pitch, and if you like it, give me an extra high rating. In order to rate me, you have to sign up on the site, which in their words, “only takes five seconds.” Which is no time and all (though enough time for me to have foreplay, sex and three seconds of cuddling. I’m a giver.)
It’s up to you. No worries if you’re not the signing-up type; I would never hate you with a white-hot intensity seven times the sun. Not ever.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
So I had a nice meal at the Ivy, but missed out on the ultimate opportunity: a chance to fill the Colonel with enough mint juleps to pry the secret 11 herbs and spices out of him.
Next time, I make reservations for dinner at 2:30 p.m., and accommodate the old man.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Pictured above is what’s coming with me: credit-card sized flash drives that have my film downloaded onto them. I’ll hand them out to anyone with some pull, and these industry hitters can plug them into their computers and watch The Beneficiary on their plane rides home.
The idea to create these was a crapload easier than the actual execution, and for that I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to my friend Jeff Nicosia, who not only took his time crushing the movie down to a downloadable size, but came over to the Studio Apartment and spent a half a day designing the artwork. Talk about a sharp design – when I received them yesterday I got so much wood I could have punted with my peep.
In a way, it doesn’t surprise me that Jeff would be this outgoing – it’s his M.O. When my big brother got married, Jeff, sensing the bride and groom may need a little help with the ceremony, took it upon himself to show up hours early to the outdoor setting in Beverly Hills. Dressed in shorts in sweltering heat, he directed the hired help, spiffed up the podium, and made the whole setup look amazing. Then he changed into a suit and performed wedding usher duties. Who does that?
Jeff is an excellent creative director/copywriter by trade. Wanna pull your company out of the depression? Go to his website and hire the man.
Meanwhile, prepare yourselves, studio execs – I got a fistful of flash drives and I’m not afraid to distribute them.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
This is the point when irate lovers of The Secret pound out an email to chastise me, arguing that the universe rewards those who ask for what they want. To them I say, tell it to your bong, hippie.
If you want to be a working actor, learn your craft. And learn it from the greatest. I’ve talked about Annie Grindlay, the best teacher in this city. Well now now Annie’s opening up her own acting studio, teaching her way at a price that’s cheaper than her old place.
Take her class, and you’ll work. Work as an actor, that is. Unless you prefer to wait tables for the rest of your life. Which is fine – there’s no shame in schlepping food.
Actually, yes there is. Because you have to serve people like my friend Mike, a guy who never settles for the first table you give him, blames you if the veggies were sautéed and not steamed, and manages to somehow be both too hot and too cold at the same time. He’s the biggest heterosexual bitch in the southland. Enjoy your 5% tip. And salud.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
There’s a nice positive in this S-storm: the recession is starting to separate the wheat from the chaff. There are so many actors playing at this business and getting in the way of those of us actually pursuing it. And those pikers are leaving town because they haven’t got the guts to ride it out. Good riddance.
Even if I have to resort to vending Granny Smiths and looking like Sigmund Freud’s stand-in, I’m here for the duration as an actor. Let’s be honest – besides programming my DVR during sex, it’s the only talent I have.
Monday, May 4, 2009
So when my friend Mark sent this pic from his trip to Belize over the weekend, I didn't know what it meant, but it was kinda funny.
Should I be expecting this in France? If so, memo to the folks over there: I like my anti-Semitism like I like my women: hateful and direct.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
I was going to be without a car for over a week, but I wasn’t without good fortune: I found the cheapest car rental place on the planet.
$6.99 a day. Featuring all the dashboard cigarette burns and coat-hanger antennas a guy could ask for. Plus freeway traffic is a breeze when you crank the Bible talk on the A.M. radio.
So if you live in LA, or plan on visiting here on the shoestringiest of budgets, check this joint out.
Gotta run. Signing over the stimulus check to McDonald’s for 49-cent Friday.