Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 10: This Is The End.

People often ask me why I don’t stay in New York for New Years Eve, and the reason is simple: Times Square is what would happen if a spam filter came to life.

So by the time you read this, I’ll be clean shaven and on a flight back to LA. Time to go to work.

Happy Amateur Night. I urge you not to drink and drive, but by all means, feel free to drink and text me. Talk then.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 9: A Walk Down Incident Lane.

While in New York, I’m staying in the house I grew up in, which I know like the back of my dad’s hand. Here’s a tour:

There used to be a large cherry tree in the spot where this lawn jockey now stands. When I was 12, I fell out of the tree, and was sure I broke my arm – to which my dad, a doctor, said, “Eh – we’ll save the X-rays for the paying customers.”

I was so excited for the arrival of my little brother that my parents used my suggestion for his name: Trevor. Two years later, Trevor and I were jumping on his bed when he fell into the wood shutters and came within a half-inch of losing an eye.

My mom, an antique dealer, cornered the market on ashtray “butlers” – wood cutouts that cover every inch of our home. What she didn’t factor in was that with three boys and a dog, these things didn’t stand a chance. We each became de-facto master craftsmen at gluing them back together.

East-coast basements are known for their rainy-day flooding. The week I moved to LA, a big storm hit New York and my mom tried to dry the carpet down here (where this de-humidfier now stands) with space heaters, and the house almost completely burned down. My parents moved into a hotel for over a year.

In some sort of childhood fit, I hucked a baseball at my bedroom door and left an imprint here, stitches and all. It was eventually filled back in (poorly), but message sent, mom.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 8: I T♥lerate NY.

Manhattan, if only you could provide a few more things as gorgeous as the tree in Rockefeller Plaza, my days of not taking you seriously might just come to a middle… It’s been rainy, but I’ve tried to find the beauty in the city. I even stopped to catch a raindrop on my tongue, but evidently that’s some sort of signal in Chelsea… I feel like the M&Ms store in midtown, and its $9 per pound, is a clear example of the Mars company’s arrogance run amuck. A dare in a meeting: “Oh they'll buy ANYTHING we sell”… Sketchy beard update: I’ve now progressed to Sly Stallone in Nighthawks.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 7: Gettin’ Theatrical On My Ass.

With an inability to string together more than three paragraphs at a time – and a proclivity for cursing – I don’t pretend for a second that I’m any sort of skilled writer. (But hey – I could do worse.)

Last night, I saw the play Seminar on Broadway. Alan Rickman stars as a fiction workshop teacher who earns an obscene amount of money by beating the living shit out of his students’ confidence.

Note to Broadway producers: if you want to earn your money back and then some, simply cast Alan Rickman. It felt as if it didn’t matter how good or bad this play was getting reviewed (it was great), the theater was jam packed with people wanting to see Rickman, and they applauded the second he appeared on stage. He didn’t disappoint, especially during a long monologue in which his character spills his guts about his slimy rise and fall as a novelist.

P.S. to Broadway producers: it seems to me that the seats in your venues are becoming increasingly narrower as you try to sell as many tickets as ergonomically possible. My little brother and I were collectively able to fit about half a butt-cheek onto our seats last night. This trend has to stop now, producers, before my anti-Semitism reaches new heights. You’ve been warned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 6: Stew Leonard’s: An iPhone™ Photo Gallery.

In California, eating healthy is a way of life. But here in New York, it’s a completely different world – a world where orange soda is a totally acceptable replacement for breast milk.

And when in Rome… my mom and I crossed the border into Connecticut and went food shopping at Stew Leonard’s. It’s like a farmer’s market meets amusement park meets military operation, with food so amazing and fresh you can’t help but fork over a few hundred bucks for a few thousand calories of goodness.

In front of the store, a full petting zoo.

Instead of aisles, customers follow a maze-like path through sections, each one more magnificent than the last. Here’s the XXXL seafood department.

And a bakery department that would make Willie Wonka’s head explode.

Along the way, mutant animatronic foods (like these tranny-looking sticks of butter) keep you entertained while you shop.

Perfect for interfaith families to celebrate both holidays.

I call this “Chinese Torture.”

If that cow could read, he’d wipe that smile off his face, pronto.

Our purchases, pictured clockwise from left: sliced Rye bread, assorted cookies, kettle-style potato chips, two full slabs of Chinese ribs, apple cider, cranberry-grape juice, OJ, strawberry Greek yogurt, chocolate/vanilla swirled ice cream, fried rice, two quarts of wonton soup, clam chowder, red grapes, organic carrots, sushi, lobster rolls, vegetable egg rolls, chicken pot stickers, four-flavor cheese cake, pumpkin pie, Maryland crab cakes, turkey/swiss-cheese croissants, chicken parmesan loaf.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 5: Stereotyping.

I don’t believe in God, the Torah or any other Jewish horseshit, but I fully get behind tradition. So Christmas night I dined on Chinese ribs then saw a movie… That said, the new Sherlock Holmes is kickass. Even better than the first… Progress of my beard: it now resembles Justin Timberlake’s chinstrap in “Dick in a Box”… Looking through old photo albums, I’d forgotten how much our dad took us fishing – and how much fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, only I still get to kill something.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 4: Happy Holidays…

…is what the terrorists say. I say Merry Christmas.

My dog Petey is unfortunately no longer around, so I wasn’t able to take our annual pic with him and Santa. Instead, I present plan B: a Christmas puppy placemat, angrily colored in by my nephew at Cantor’s kosher deli.

Christmas. F yeah.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 3: No Time For Backup.

Apparently, my big brother and I were buddy-cops/detectives back in the day, and had the keen duds to prove it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 2: Take The Cannoli.

Sure, snapping this pic of a table of goombas at Patricia’s in the Bronx could get me whacked, but I want you to know my level of commitment to this blog… The good news about getting away from LA/auditioning: I have no need to shave. The bad news: so far, my facial growth makes me look like Johnny Cakes from “The Sopranos”… Watched 50/50, and it’s amazing. Definitely one of the top ten movies of the year… Posting this at 3 a.m. For a city that never sleeps, there sure is a lot of shit closed right now.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 1: Holiday Rerun.

If this LAX shoeshine guy’s autographed pic hadn’t been under protective plastic, it was gonna be flying back to New York with me… Why is it when I'm in a TSA line I’m always behind the person that has never left their house?... While my flight was delayed on the runway, I took a page from what you chicks do with your purses and kept my phone inside my messenger bag while I played Words With Friends. And that’s how it’s done, Alec… SkyMall item that made me do a double take: a Jewish star Christmas tree topper – “Perfect for interfaith families to celebrate both holidays”… After a teenager decided to keep his iPod on while the plane was in the process of landing, his dad cracked him in the back of the head. I greenlight that style of parenting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York, I’m Gonna Be Inside You Tonight.

It was foolproof: put Jennifer Lopez in a Fiat on the streets of the Bronx, and that little automotive biscotti would just fly off the shelves. But then it was revealed that Jenny From the Block used a body double to shoot her ads – so she wouldn't have to actually return to the icky old Bronx, where the commercials were set.

Well I’m a braver man than you, JLo, and flying to New York this morning to stay with my mom for the next ten days.

I’ll be taking the blog with me, so you all can drop by every day and catch up with me in the city that always reeks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Week In @mattshevin Tweets.

  • (ABOVE): Food 4 Less. Serving unsuspecting dyslexic customers since 1977.
  • Marry, F, kill: Kobe Bryant caught cheating “again,” Jerry Sandusky’s “hygiene” defense, Ryan Seacrest possibly hosting “The Today Show.”
  • A UPS guy came to my door in long pants. I almost called Homeland Security.
  • My neighborhood smells like fresh-baked bread. Do I have a brain tumor?
  • I cut my tongue eating Cookie Crisp. Great injury – or the GREATEST injury?
  • Hey Lexus, you do know the only people who receive cars as gifts are strippers, right?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Recap: An iPhone™ Photo Gallery.

I thought I was excited when I pulled up next to Al Pacino in Beverly Hills, but then I saw Joe Pesci at an In-N-Out Burger, and let me tell you – that dude can cook.

Proof that deaths really do come in three: Christopher Hitchens and Kim Jong Il, then the 19-year-old microwave I inherited from my sister-in-law finally met its match in a turkey lasagna.

At our friends’ annual Chrishanukah party. my niece, nephew and I took a timeout from the wet willies, waffle bellies, rat tails and atomic wedgies for a holiday family photo.

Barbecued octopus – it’s a Chrishanukah delicacy.

For the first time since Michael Vick shot, electrocuted, drowned, hung and, in at least one case, repeatedly slammed Pit Bulls against the ground, my Jets faced him and lost. Sorry, Petey.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cars I've Considered Running Off The Road: A New Series.

The license-plate holder reads: “The vehicle carries a Queen and her Prince.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Real Casting Notices I’ve Seen This Week.

  • Looking for a dark featured Santa. You will be shirtless, playing the hot fun Santa.
  • For this role think your stereotypical Italian pizza guy--mustache, very Italian. Does not have to speak Spanish.
  • Hot girl in a button up top and boy shorts. Face will will be made up to look like Hitler.
  • Casting 1 professional female GoGo Dancer to dance in GoGo Club outfits and bikini also to perform short Shakespearean monologue.
  • The film requires a guy who is in underpants and socks only. The job is mostly lying in bed ‘asleep.’
  • I am looking for hot models who are interested in being a part of a shoot consisting of them taking many shots of alcohol.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 32: Not So Fast, Colonel.

There are understandable mistakes, and then there are flat-out embarrassing ones. Like the time the Kansas City Royals were left off the MLB schedule.

And in auditions, perfection matters. I’ll preface the following don’ts with the understanding that I’m no casting director, but I have written and cast a thing or two, and sat through hundreds of casting workshop scenes. And besides, I don’t have to put my hand in a fire to know it’s hot.

Keep them fingers dry. I saw this just the other day – an actress licked her finger to help her turn the page of a script. I immediately went from believing she was the character to knowing she was an actress. And a mistake-prone one at that.

Keep your feet on the ground. Sometimes, when an actor is sitting down in a scene, he’ll have a tendency to go into a default position and do the cross his legs thing in which one ankle goes on top of his other knee. People don’t do when they’re at a dinner table, being interrogated, or for God’s sakes, driving. Stop it.

Repeat after them. After you perform a scene a first time, a casting director may redirect you to try it a new way, and if your head is spinning in the middle of this big audition, you won’t hear the new direction and wind up performing it the same exact way. Instead, repeat the direction out loud back to the casting director so you hear it as well. Thank me later.

Stay in your lane. When you do get a scene in which your character is driving, just hold your script like it’s the steering wheel, and keep your hands low and the wheel still. So many actors move their hands constantly and wind up doing a whole Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane thing.

Use your damn script. Some acting teachers would rather you not worry so much about saying the words exactly as they’re written, so as not to affect your performance. But as a guy who’s written and cast a bit, take it from me: say the words exactly as they’re written. Writers HATE when you change their words, so get them right, and you will be very much on like Donkey Kong.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Sixth Best Film Of 2011.

Vacation destinations aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Have you been to Florida lately? It’s essentially a criminal population. It’s America’s Australia.

And then there’s Hawaii. In the opening scene of The Descendants, George Clooney’s character criticizes the view taken by most mainlanders that to live in Hawaii is to spend your days drinking Mai Tais and waxing a surfboard, free from the troubles of the world. According to Matt, this is absurd, as pain follows us wherever we are.

This grim view of paradise provides for the best acting George Clooney has ever done. He’s incredible, showing a range of every emotion.

Alexander Payne, one of my favorite writer/directors, likes to show that life can suck sometimes, and did it really well with Sideways and Election. Combine Payne with my favorite actor, Clooney, and the planets have lined up for what is arguably the best film of the year.

The Descendants is awesome. See it – preferably somewhere on the mainland, in one of the 48 good states.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It’s Funny Because It’s True.

Women get the good looks and the good smells, and men get the bald gene and a shorter lifespan. It’s true – God hates us.

I say that to hopefully ease what may seem like an insulting video, but it’s really done out of love by the guys behind the Twitter feed “Shit Girls Say.” It’s so good it’s making me feel pressure already to step up my Valentine’s Day blog in two months. Click above, then forward it a lady you love.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Recap.

Yesterday, my friend Jeff asked me to be the PA announcer for his sons’ flag football league’s championship game. I loved it. But there were a few things I never thought I’d witness at a football game: 1) Timeouts on the field because a player is crying. 2) A football player being picked up, hugged and carried by his coach to the sideline. 3) A fan in the stands calling a play “cute”… Sorta related: for me, the craziest thing about the Youtube video of the chick at Cal State Northridge flipping out in the library is that she has calves the size of an interior lineman’s… Also sorta related: awesome that Robert Griffin III won the Heisman trophy and didn’t do the played-out thank Jesus thing once. The guy’s a stud. If anyone can pull off the socks he was wearing, it’s RG3.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We’re Not That Different, You And I.

According to the analytics for my blog, someone in the United Arab Emirates googled “HOT SEX PORN” and was directed toward this entry about Charlie Sheen.

There were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish when I began chronicling my life, but helping ease the sexual tension in Abu Dhabi is an unexpected bonus. And if hot, sex and porn can bridge the gap between us, that, my friends, is winning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kickass Q&A.

The screening of Drive I attended was followed by an interview and questions with the film’s director, cinematographer and Albert Brooks. I was so happy I could’ve burst into blogging. Here are a few interesting notes:

1) While Drive features lots of cars hauling ass, Director Nicolas Winding Refn is a bit of a European flake and has a phobia of cars, so he doesn’t drive.

2) When Ryan Gosling initially had dinner with Refn to talk about making a film, Refn had spent the day battling the flu while shooting a film with notorious stoner Harrison Ford. Harrison gave him special flu “medication” that made him so stoned he lost his hearing and ability to focus, and asked Ryan to just drive him home. Sitting in the passenger seat, tripping his balls off as Ryan drove, he had the idea for the film’s premise. (He then had the novel Drive adapted.)

3) Refn claimed Albert Brooks was his first choice to play the mob-type character Bernie Rose (take that with a grain of salt – directors always claim their stars were their first choices) but was slightly worried about Albert pulling off the physicality. So as he left Refn’s home after they first met, Albert suddenly turned and slammed Refn up against the wall. The role was his.

Everyone have a great weekend. I’ll be shopping for a new vacuum. Going by myself, but I really wish I was going with YOU.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 31: They Don’t All Terk Er Jerbs.

You’re up for a guest-starring role on a hit TV show. You learn your lines, make your choices, arrive early to the casting office, knock the audition out of the park, then tune in six weeks later and find out an A-list celebrity was given the role. And all you can think is, “I shaved my balls for this?”

It’s called “stunt casting,” and it can make regular actors frustrated to the third decimal. But I’d argue it’s really not as egregious a problem as many of us seem to bitch about.

I had the benefit of learning this early on, in my first meeting with my first commercial agent. He wanted me know the cold hard truth: there weren’t going to be many roles available for me because stars were going to take all the parts. Yes, apparently Matt Damon and Brad Pitt would be gunning for that home refinancing commercial I booked soon afterward, in which I acted opposite a guy dressed as a big, fuzzy house. Thanks, agent. Good pep talk.

Police procedural shows like “Criminal Minds” have up to 20 guest and co-star roles each week, and multiplied by 22 episodes each year, that’s over 400 roles. Let’s say one or two of them go to name actors – that’s 398 for the rest of us. (You need a lot of cops and eyewitnesses to help comb crime scenes for semen stains.)

And that’s the math for just one show – there are dozens of dramas on dozens of channels on network, basic cable and pay channels. Even MTV is back to doing scripted programming. This creates stats that would have been science fiction two decades ago, when they were only four networks on the air.

I write about getting your butt to LA because I firmly believe in anyone who pursues a dream, and you’ve got the talent and Hollywood has the roles. In other words, you’ve got it up there, now snap it off.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Fifth Good Film Of 2011.

After my second girlfriend shot me the second time, I realized that love is the most important thing in the world.

And speaking of violence and romance, I saw a screening of Drive last night and loved it. It has Ryan Gosling, cool cars (plus great chases through the streets of downtown LA) and lots of blood. It’s easily the coolest film of the year.

Meanwhile, Albert Brooks plays a really bad guy really well. Oh, to have lived ‘til such a day when a movie could make Albert Brooks seem so convincingly evil that I’d be afraid to meet him in person. Top that, Spielberg.

You’re going to see this when it comes out on DVD, right? Right.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My 1200th Entry.

Shout-out to my nephew for taking time out of his busy football-watching schedule to congratulate me.

I really can’t believe this is my 1200th blog entry – it seems like only yesterday was my 1199th. As is customary, every time I reach a set of 100, I choose my five favorites of the batch:

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 28: Featuring Visual Aids. If I can help one actor, and offend one senior citizen, I’ll have done my job. Enjoy the senior abuse here.

California Penal Code Section 538d: Impersonating A Peace Officer. With the exception of my third cousin, a commander in the CHP, I’m really not a fan of cops and their chickenshit tickets. Get a dose of self-hatred here.

Meanwhile, On The Best Coast… Asking me to pick my favorite New York-bashing blog entry is my version of Sophie’s Choice. Pile on with me here.

The NFL on FOX Commercial Shoot: An iPhone™ Photo Gallery. Over the weekend, my friend Jennie, a ski instructor to the stars in Park City, UT, asked JB Smooth about me and he said very nice things. I can die now, and you can revisit my favorite shoot here.

If Kanye Was White: Sometimes all a blogger has to do is drive down Santa Monica Blvd. to get an early Christmas gift thrown in his lap. Check out what I got back in September.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Recap.

If a guy who’s possibly armed and dangerous walks past you and you live to blog about it, that’s a good weekend… My gym suddenly switched from being Bally Fitness to LA Fitness, which significantly lowers my risk of contracting a staph infection… Watching football at Sharkeez yesterday: a black guy wearing a Tony Romo jersey. Is that on my oddity scavenger hunt? Why, yes it is… I feel like all the wind in LA lately was in no way intimidated by my nylon windbreaker.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ship His Fat, White Ass Back To The Homeland.

The always informed Piers Morgan, paying tribute to “female” comic Patrice O’Neal.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Get Your Butt To LA, Part 30: Watch Your Tone.

I love Pulp Fiction. I saw it on a plane, and it was really cute. It’s a thirty-minute film about a group of friends who love cheeseburgers, dancing and the Bible.

Wait – what’d I miss? Oh….

Okay then – let’s talk tonality. It’s one of the most important aspects of an audition. I recently attended a workshop in which a casting director from “NCIS” was nice enough to pass around a set of rules (pictured above) for auditioning for her show.

It was amazingly helpful. You see, auditioning is kind of like a helicopter: 1000 parts all working against each other to kill you. So it’s incredibly important, especially in TV auditions, to know the tone of what you’re auditioning for.

For instance, a program like “Bones” seems like a serious procedural show, but if you watch an episode you’ll see it’s actually playful, with a flirty vibe between the two leads.

Meanwhile, sitcoms come in two varieties: “multi camera,” which has a live audience and a heightened sense of stakes – like “The Big Bang Theory,” or “single camera,” shot more intimately like “The Office.” “The Office” is also included in a subsection of one-camera sitcoms which are mockumentary-style, like “Parks & Recreation” and “Modern Family.” And then there’s the improv-based “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Here’s the bad news and the good news: the bad is you have to know the tone of every single show on TV or you just won’t book any roles, and the good is you have to know the tone of every single show on TV, so you have to watch them all. Is there any career on the planet that has a more laid-back research method? You can do this one while stuffing your face with Cool Ranch Doritos.

So get crackin’. It’s Thursday – best TV night of the week. And “The Mentalist” ain’t gonna watch itself.