Monday, August 31, 2009
Either way, over the weekend, The Beneficiary, the film I wrote, produced and starred in, won the “Special Jury Award” for Best Short Film at the Action/Shorts Festival. How ‘bout that?
Not only is it an honor, but it’s nice to be in front of a jury that doesn’t have the power to send me to Chino for five to ten. I’ve seen “Lockup Raw” on MSNBC, and I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to join the Aryan Nation. Maybe there’s an Aryan reserves. I'll have to check.
My utmost appreciation, Action/Shorts.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The last time I spent this much time in the Bronx, my mother was giving birth. But there are two great reasons to return here two days in a row: new Yankee Stadium, and it’s a great place to see old guys dressed like Morty Seinfeld.
Two games in less than 24 hours, and now I can truly assess the place – it’s a monument to detail. I can’t get enough.
And yet I pry myself away. Vacation over, time to get back to work.
It’s gonna be a helluva big TV season. You keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.
Your mom been hinting about a right-centerfield wall from the old stadium for her birthday? Now’s your chance.
A Tommy Bahama’s bar? At a ballpark in the Bronx? Well, then. (Sound of me walking frantically away.)
Beers of the world. If your “world” consists of only 11 countries. Actually, make that eight – three of the beers were German. I do dig the reversed-out Yankee jerseys all the vendors wear, though.
New York’s Lobel’s Butchers has a shop in the stadium. This kid will always remember the first time his dad took him to a game. And he watched a chicken get disemboweled.
No detail was spared in the food court, with nifty food-related pics of Yanks above the counters. That’s Derek Jeter in the middle, pouring milk into a Seinfeld-sized bowl of Jeter Flakes, and Mickey Mantle eating a hot dog while sporting a “Yogi says Yoo-Hoo” t-shirt. I’m not sure which is less appetizing, however: the name Boar’s Head for lunch meats, or Ron Guidry’s jock showing while he gnaws on a post-game rib.
A farmers’ market in the ballpark? The east village is that way, ya hippies.
On display: a baseball signed by every guy that ever played for the Yankees. It’s an undertaking I found utterly amazing, seeing as I’m getting as fat and lazy as Bookman from “Good Times.”
In the tan shirt is Paul McCartney, who caused quite a stir when he entered the ballpark and sat next to Jack Nicholson and Lorne Michaels. The White Sox advance scouts sitting behind me were pissed that the standing ovation caused them to miss two pitches. Cool guys, nonetheless.
If you thought his head was an XXL in real life, you oughta see it on the jumbo-tron. Rest in peace, Teddy.
The place was gorgeous and perfect and the way it should be for the best sports franchise on earth. Well done, Yanks.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I do love me some good physical comedy. And last night, I saw a world-class example of it in a Broadway play called The 39 Steps. It’s a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s films, as if it were being produced by a small theater company, rife with flaws and no budget.
Ads for the show claim that four actors play 150 different roles, but the the truth is, one of the four actors plays one role, another plays three, and other two guys split 146. They often play three and four characters at once, switching from policeman's hat to derby to bowler, as fast as they can move their hands. It was awesome.
I luckily saw the show on a Tuesday night, and after Tuesday performances the actors – see above pic – answer questions from the audience. They were dead tired.
2009 had been shaping up to be a cultural dud, but all of a sudden I’ve seen the best film of the year and one of my favorite plays ever, all within five days. This is a record that’s gonna stand like Bob Beamon’s long jump record. Sweet.
My mom’s various collections include what she refers to as her “mammies.” They’re still displayed in her kitchen. Feel free to click on the pic and blow it up for the full cultural effect.
Monday, August 24, 2009
My flight to New York was delayed, so a massive shout-out to my mom, who began her birthday picking me up at 2:30 a.m. I’ll make it up to her by letting her buy me dinner tonight. It’s the least I can do, Sheila… Sitting next to me on the flight was an Asian couple wearing surgical masks. I was mildly offended… Hey, United Airlines: join the 90s and let’s get some TVs on the plane. I missed most of the Yanks/Sox game thanks to you. And do it soon, or I'll flush a tissue on my next flight… Also, with no food, and the in-flight movie being Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, the “Economy PLUS” sticker you slapped on every tray table is a real head-scratcher… Okay, enough airline jokes. I’ll end this before this blog turns into a bad open-mic night.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Kidding – sorry mom. Actually, I’m going for something even more enjoyable: a game at new Yankee Stadium. I can't wait.
I’ll keep writing while I’m there. It’ll be good to have a humid, angry, overcrowded point-of-view for a few days. Talk soon.
(Side note: Inglourious Basterds is gripping and amazing and the best film of the year. See it tonight. I'll write more about it next week.)
Friday, August 21, 2009
But I felt great about my audition, and I fully subscribe to a theory held by a big TV producer I know: in any audition, you’re not there for that role, but for the next one. In other words, you have to know going in that the part will go to someone else – a cousin, friend – chick the director’s banging – so all you can do is be memorable, and the producers will think of you for a future episode.
Yes, this sounds like the mantra of the desperate, but I’m an actor. Desperate is listed on my résumé under “special skills.”
In a thank-you note I sent over to the casting director, I wrote that getting to audition for her was the complete antithesis of a crowbar to the face. It really was.
Inglourious Basterds tonight at the ArcLight. Have a kickass weekend.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A.K.A., my niece and nephew.
Whenever I’m around those two, I break out the A material, and it always kills. So when I went into the Hallmark audition with two young kids, I was in the zone.
The director asked the girl to create an animal out of Play-Doh, and wanted the rest of us to figure out what she'd made. The second her hands went to work, I rapid-fired guesses at her: “Fish! Sheep! Platypus!” She laughed so hard she could barely finish. It was a bear, by the way. Some shoddy work. She didn’t get the role. Tough town.
Then it was my turn, and I kept riffing as I molded a dog, then a monkey (natch.) I was so proud of the monkey that I turned it to camera and made them get a close-up. The ad people in the room loved it. The role was mine.
Okay, it might have helped as well that I was wearing a wedding ring (I keep one in my glove compartment – strictly for professional reasons) to enhance my fatherly aura.
Also, I happened to drop by my agent’s office before the audtition, and she now thinks she’s my good luck charm. You would, Laura. Don’t spend that 20% in one place..
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Hallmark commercial was so much fun to shoot that it should be illegal to accept money for it. But I will. Commence residuals.
Not exactly sure how my waspy wife cranked out a kid with such tremendous Jew-fro, but I like it. My son, by the way, thought it was an incredible hoot to stick his smelly feet in my face all afternoon. I owe him a wedgie.
Good cast. Good crew. Good craft service. Great day to be living the dream.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Instead, I was given the official outfit of dads everwhere: khaki pants, cardigan over an oxford shirt. The second I put on this getup, I felt an overwhelming desire to pull crabgrass and not have sex.
Luckily, the khakis are roomy, because I’m damn excited. Recap tomorrow.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The first step is admitting I have a problem, so with that out of the way, on with the festivities: I got into my 26th festival. Yahtzee.
Here’s the best part, for me, shallow guy, received via congratulatory email from the Cinema City International Film Festival:
“The festival takes great pride in honoring our country’s military men and women and their families by allowing all our events’ proceeds to be donated to charities for severely burned and injured American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Hopefully this brush with goodness will help me avoid the Eighth Circle of Hell when it's my time. Instead, I'll wind up with a more mildly irritating eternity, in which I share a room with Nicole Ritchie.
I just swallowed back a little vomit. Worth it.
Thanks, Cinema City.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
I’m going to play a young father in a commercial for Hallmark. It shoots next Wednesday, and runs for three years. Hell yes.
Who wants a can of beer?
Thursday, August 13, 2009
But if I were a guy who fretted over looks, I’d still be fine when it came my character in my film, The Beneficiary. That’s me, above, in a scene in which I purchase a handgun. Who would’ve thought me, a confirmed wuss, could pull off tough?
Apparently, Mateo Londono, the cinematographer, did, and he deserves a medal. Or better yet, an award. And he got one, last weekend, at the Oxford Film Festival, for Best Cinematography. Kick ass.
It was no surprise that after the big premiere of my film, most of my cast mates wanted me to point them in the direction of Mateo. The man’s a beast.
Oh, and now that I’ve thought about it, I’d like to retract my “confirmed wuss” statement. I’m not averse to danger. I’ve ridden the New York subway on St. Patrick’s Day. Twice.
Well done, Mateo.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
But have faith, fellow actors, and take another toke off your asthma inhaler. It’s August. Which means the promised land of milk and money is just weeks away.
First sign of goodness: I have a callback today, for a commercial.
Though I really don’t believe in luck or karma or vibrations (I do, however, worship an almighty being each Sunday) I ask that you all think positively and help the universe pull for me this afternoon. I can still write funny blog entries when I’m happy. I swear.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The other night, playing before my film at the Laemmle, was The Small Somewhere. It’s one of the best short films I’ve ever seen.
Above on the left is Eric Giancoli, the star of the film. He plays a gung-ho security guard with a toughness and knuckleheadedness that gives Patrick Warburton a real run for his money. I told Eric he’s going to star in his own TV series soon. He humbly disagreed.
On the right is Kumar Pallana, who you might recognize from Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums. Kumar has played a guy named Kumar in no less than six films, which I believe makes him India’s answer to Tony Danza.
Most impressive was director Nikolas Smith, who along with a partner wrote, cast and shot this gem in just two weeks. They’re going to sweep festivals in a way that will make me feel like Tony Dorsett when Eric Dickerson was breathing down his neck for the rushing record.
I’ll milk my run while it lasts. Then shamelessly beg these guys for a role.
See this film.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I spent all day Friday doing more work on my acting reel with my friend Bru and Loren the Editor. It couldn’t have been a more testosterone-filled afternoon. There was show-and-tell, featuring Loren’s .9mm shotgun, and the sharing of personal exploits so blue I can’t even restate them on the Internet. It was degenerates’ delight. And yes, they’re single, ladies.
Afterwards I did some writing while I watched ARod hit a two-run blast in the fifteenth to beat the hapless, lifeless, run-less Red Sox in game two of the four-game series. Give that man whatever he wants, Kate Hudson.
Saturday morning, the second round of an an 8-week workshop with big-time casting directors Rick Pagano and Russell Boast. They’re really helping me reach my full potential as an actor. Then raced home to catch CC shut down the tainted-title-winning Red Sox. Soup to nuts. It’s good to be the king.
Later, I went to the HollyShorts Film Festival, where my film was closing out the night. It was nice to get the band back together (above, is director Ted Melfi, cinematographer Mateo Londono and me.) Seeing my film on the big screen at one of my favorite theaters in L.A. – the Sunset Laemmle – was a real thrill, and Ted and I did our best to handle a post-screening Q&A (I’m battling laryngitis.) We then hit an after-party at a sushi joint. The hits just keep on coming.
Sunday, the Yankees make it a four-game sweep of the mystery-supplement-taking Red Sox with a come-from-behind win. I bar-hop on Sunset afterwards and wonder is there any guy on the planet more on top of the world?
Then my little brother sent me this shot from his $1250 seat at Yankee Stadium. I love him, and I hate him:
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
But let's face it: death is undefeated, so I'm a goner. And I often wonder about my legacy. I’d like to hope it’ll amount to more than just a crummy blog.
John Hughes, who passed away yesterday, is one man that is sure to be remembered.
His films weren’t just entertaining; they defined a generation. Here are a few he wrote and/or directed: Vacation. The Breakfast Club. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Sixteen Candles. Weird Science. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Home Alone. Mr. Mom.
That’s one hell of a slugging percentage. For over a decade, John was the best at what he did. How many of us can say that?
I left a voicemail for my friend John Kapelos, who had roles in The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science. I’m sorry about your friend, Kap. Actually, I’d say everyone who grew up in the 80s feels pretty bad as well.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Yes, you idiot NFL players who defend him, Vick did pay his debt to society. But that doesn’t mean he deserves to be back in the league. Let him get a menial job, like digging trenches, or working in advertising.
Forgive me if I have a low tolerance for a guy who, when faced with Pits that showed no taste for blood, killed them – by gunshot, electrocution, drowning, hanging or, in at least one case, repeatedly slamming one against the ground.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Diane Pucin of the L.A. Times had to say:
Your head says Michael Vick has served his time, has suffered some punishment for his horrific involvement in a dogfighting ring and that people who have committed more serious crimes are allowed to leave prison and go back to work.
Your heart, though, remembers a May day in a large and airy kennel at Best Friends Animal Society, and Georgia, one of the unlucky members of Vick's Bad Newz Kennels, where she was taught to fight and then, because she was so good at that, had all her teeth pulled -- by a veterinarian. That way she could serve her time as a breeding bitch, whether she wanted to or not.
Your head says from a legal standpoint it is wrong to keep Vick from playing football this season for an NFL team if a team wants him. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last Monday that Vick is immediately eligible to practice with an NFL team and can play in the final two exhibition games, with the idea that he may be fully eligible to play in the NFL by mid-October. Otherwise, your head says, what's the point of thinking our justice system works?
Your heart, though, remembers listening to John Garcia, Georgia's main trainer at Best Friends, talk about the worst parts of life for Georgia and her Bad Newz Kennel mates. About how some of the dogs were swung around by the neck and killed for not fighting or not fighting well enough. About how they were beaten and forcibly bred on something called the "rape stand."
Think about that.
Your head says, these are animals after all, not humans, and pro athletes and others in our society have killed humans -- by accident or with malice -- were imprisoned for their crime, served sentences and came back to society.
My heart, though, is at home with a dog named Dillon, who has cancer, who is undergoing experimental chemotherapy and whose spirit and happiness and daily anticipation of the good things in life put a lot of humans to shame, even as he suddenly loses a little hair around the ears.
That's what the sweet Pit Bull named Georgia teaches people who come to see her.
Georgia, with her toothless grin and her wiggly butt and her desire to kiss anyone and everyone (that’s her, with John, above), has become a goodwill ambassador. She puts on a bejeweled pink collar, is hooked on to her pink leash, and Garcia takes her around the country to show how even the fiercest fighting dog can be taught something else.
All Georgia wants is to please people. When her people wanted her to fight, she did. Now when her people want her to make kids giggle and to have adults marvel at her capacity to enjoy life, she does.
Outspoken Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens has the right to his opinion given to reporters in Buffalo over the weekend.
"I think the way the commissioner is handling it is unfair to Michael Vick," Owens said. "I think he's done the time for what he's done. I don't think it's really fair for him to be suspended four more games. It's almost like kicking a dead horse in the ground."
Did anyone else's stomach turn at that phrase?
At Best Friends, Garcia sat on the ground in Georgia's kennel and spoke eloquently about Vick's dogs.
"How they were treated," Garcia said, "humans shouldn't be capable of that."
Garcia said his head told him Vick should one day be able to have a job.
"But is it his right to make millions of dollars?" Garcia asked. "I guess it is."
While he spoke, Georgia had run to the far end of her kennel, under a shady tree. She shook her head as if to signal John and a visitor that they should come to the cool place. So we did and she settled down for some petting time.
Should Vick play in the NFL again?
This heart says no, which makes it much less forgiving than Georgia's. She most certainly would give Vick a second chance. She's given all of us humans one. In that way, I guess, she's better than many of us.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
I’ll take it. Thanks for the sentiment, Chem-Dry of Santa Clarita.
Number 25 is The HollyShorts Film Festival, located right here in SoCal. Lately, with each festival acceptance, I’ve been paying tribute to the city in which the fest takes place with a little good-natured bashing. But what do I do when it’s my favorite city?
Not to worry – fair is fair. Commence fire:
• There’s no change of seasons here. I miss New York’s winters, what with its zero degrees and high winds, followed a few months later by 100 degrees and all five boroughs smelling like a cab driver’s armpit.
• There’s no culture here. Culture, as in the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan. You know, rapes were down 12% at this year’s celebration. I’m just saying.
• The ratio of women to men in Hollywood is just too lopsided. Four women to every guy? Horrible if you hate making a decision. Or having to change your sheets often.
• Too many people with aspirations in this town. Unlike Pittsburgh, where I spent 13 months listening to people bitch non-stop about their lives, their jobs, their families, the city, the state, the galaxy – and not do a damn thing about it. Now that is real.
• The traffic here is terrible. Eh – I’ll take a little snarl on the 110 Freeway over getting raped at the Puerto Rican Day Parade (it is one bottomless well of punchlines.)
• We’ve got earthquakes. Yeah, but no hurricanes, floods, mosquitoes or tainted Boston Red Sox championships. In fact, nine out of ten plagues skipped over this city.
How cathartic. HollyShorts Film Festival, you rock. See you next weekend.