Friday, May 31, 2013
• The Ron Burgundy-style jazz flute in this on-hold music is soothing enough to make me not want to bitch about my premium being raised. Well played, Aetna.
• Thanks to the new, violently high-pressure head I installed, I’m no longer showering – I’m delousing.
• Can anyone recommend a good CrossFit for me to drive past?
• Sure, we killed the second-most wanted terrorist on the planet, yet Steven Tyler’s stylist roams free.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Okay, I can probably raise the bar. A few months ago I mentioned that when the writing assignment I’d been working on ended, I was going to write seven short films in seven days, and then produce and star in the one I liked the most.
Well, the assignment was extended and is still going on, which is terrific, but it delayed my film-writing goal. So I decided to go ahead and write the shorts anyway. They’re comedy sketch-based, and I’m in the middle of rewrites on my fourth one.
Turns out working from another location can be very advantageous. The IT department at my home office really needs to start blocking access to porn sites.
I’m very happy with the scripts so far and find myself actually planning to shoot a few, most likely this summer. It’s a lot to wrap my head around, and I’m busy as shit, but who isn’t? I mean, unless you’re doing laundry naked, you’re already behind. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Tonight, Bravo is airing a special 250th episode of the show, featuring moments chosen by guests and viewers. I’m very much looking forward to it.
By the way, 250 is remarkable, but this is my 1660th entry. Just saying.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
The cool thing was that scenes that took place in Liberace’s Beverly Hills old penthouse were shot in his actual penthouse, which was one floor above the acting class I took with Annie Grindlay. Fond memory: the rooftop pool occasionally leaked into our class.
I blogged about the elevator in that building once before. Click here for a gander.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
But if you’re my friend Chris Berry, you’re in luck. Chris receives email occasionally from some dopey broad who works for another guy named Chris Berry, and thinks my friend Chris’ email address is her boss’.
The other day, Chris decided to respond – as her boss. First, he chastised her choice of font in her email (to which she begged forgiveness), and then he sent her this:
“I have put some thought into this. Please send out a company email letting everyone know Fridays are now Hawaiian Shirt Fridays! I think this will boost company spirits. I think we should also start using #2 pencils more efficiently. I see a lot of waste in that area.”
After careful consideration, and apparently a very embarrassing chat with her boss, the lady finally caught on, and sent my friend an angry email asking if he really thought it was funny to jeopardize her job.
Actually, it’s hilarious. Get your shit together, dummy.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
In his defense, fatherhood is no piece of cake. Just ask my friend Ted Melfi. Ted directed the movie I wrote and starred in, (above, that’s Ted on the left, Mateo Londono, our director of photography in the middle, and me at a film festival for my film) and it was his incredible effort that made it something I am so happy with.
Just after we wrapped my film, Ted’s brother suddenly passed away at age 38, and Ted and his wife didn’t hesitate and selflessly adopted his brother’s 11-year-old daughter. The awesome sense of parenthood and responsibility set off a chain of events, in which Ted’s wife reconciled with her father and Ted was inspired to write a screenplay. It took a couple years until he was fully satisfied with it, and then he attempted to get it into the hands of some big people.
I’ll let Ted describe what happened next: “I’m driving one day, the phone rings and it’s Bill Murray, and he says, ‘Ted Melfi, I don’t know who you are, but I love your script.’ He asked me to meet him at LAX and go for a ride as he returned home from a golf tournament. I met him in baggage, we got in a town car. He pulls the script out of an attaché case. It’s dog-eared and there are notes all over it. We stop at an In-N-Out Burger, and spent a three-hour drive to I don’t know where discussing the script. He understood everything about the character, and his notes were simple, direct and to the point. He said, ‘This character is who I am at times, and this is how I talk, at times.’ It was one of those days where you think, if I died tomorrow, it would be okay.”
The film, called St. Vincent de Van Nuys, is in pre-production, and will star Bill Murray, Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd. (The Irish cop from Bridesmaids.) Don Cheadle is one of the producers. Ted is directing.
Ted, I have never been more proud of you. Outstanding.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
It’s also a great place to see an interesting piece of Hollywood history. Yesterday, before the final episode of “The Office” aired, Rainn Wilson posted the above pic, with this caption:
“This is the original sign-in sheet for the first day of casting for The Office given to me by Allison Jones, our incredible casting agent. I was the very first person to audition for the series, 11/06/03. Notice all the amazing talent on the sheet, including the amazing #13! This is perhaps the greatest Office keepsake I have. So grateful for the best job I will ever have.”
I think it’s interesting as hell. And with one unfortunate exception, each actor who didn’t book the show went on to do just fine:
- Rainn Wilson, who was just coming off three years on “Six Feet Under”
- Adam Scott, now starring on “Parks and Recreation”
- Mary Lynn Rajskub, who at the time was already starring on “24”
- Hamish Linklater, who went on to star on “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
- Ben Falcone, who at the time was a regular on “Joey”
- Alan Tudyk, who now stars in “Suburgatory” and the movie 42
- Matt Besser, one of my favorites (he co-created UCB, where I trained in improv)
- Matt Price, who went on to star on “Men of a Certain Age”
- Jarrett Grode, from one of my favorite TV shows ever: “Undeclared”
- Ever Carradine, who also went on to star on “24”
- Jim Zulevic, who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 40, a year after “The Office” debuted
- Bill Chott, who starred for three years on “The Wizards of Waverly Place”
- Jenna Fischer, who booked the role of Pam
- Anne Dudek, who starred on “Mad Men,” “Big Love” and “House, MD”
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
On the other hand, give me a perfectly-told drama with symbolism and tension and I am hooked. Mud is the story of two teenage boys who stumble upon Matthew McConaughey, a fugitive hiding from both the authorities and contract killers, who asks them to risk everything to help him. Matthew is a phenomenal actor unfairly judged for his southern drawl and bongo incident, but this is his best role ever. As the title character Mud, he’s strange and dangerous and absolutely authentic, and he’ll get an Oscar nomination. And giving him a run for his money is Tye Sheridan, a 14-year-old actor in only his second film, already able to own the screen.
The movie is about fathers and sons and love and fighting for a woman, and it’s amazing. And it’s in rarefied air on Rotten Tomatoes, with a stellar 97% rating. (Argo, last year’s Best Picture, received a 93%. My favorite, Django: Unchained, got a 77%.)
See it. You will love it, and it will stick with you.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
On my birthdays in the past, I’ve asked that instead of gifts, everyone rent or download 25 great but underrated movies or TV series from lists I created. That way great work will be supported, thus paving the way for me to create my own or be cast in them.
This year, I’m listing my 25 favorite Los Angeles restaurants. I love to eat out (my fridge has basically become an experiment in how lonely mustard can be), and the dining business can use all the support it can get. If you live in LA, frequent them; if you don’t, hit ‘em up next time you’re here.
I’m not getting older; I'm getting fatter.
- Bread and Porridge
- Brick + Mortar
- Chan Dara
- Fat Cow
- Hinoki & the Bird
- House Café
- La Poubelle
- Le Pain Quotidien
- Metro Café
- Napa Valley Grille
- R+D Kitchen
- Red Medicine
- Son of a Gun
Monday, May 13, 2013
six facts about Mr. Rogers… Hope you ladies had a great Mother’s Day, because being a mom is really hard; you have to take care of your baby and feed your baby and upload every single moment of it to Facebook.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I would rather experience the baby scene in Trainspotting than have to untangle Ricky from the barrel planter in front of our house one more time.
Friday, May 10, 2013
But then I saw “Parks and Recreation” was in the news, and it was the best news of all: NBC decided to bring it back next season. The show is arguably the most consistently funny, best written show on TV, which made it all the more disconcerting it was in jeopardy of going off the air. But NBC came through. Network of heroes.
The weekend’s here, and we’ll have a can of beer.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
• When it comes to public policy and gross immigration reform, I’m a TOTAL Samantha.
• Who do you think is watching “Dancing With the Stars?” French nerds, JetBlue passengers who fall asleep with the TV on, pets whose owners have died and idiots.
• At this point why don’t they just open a separate school for kids that don’t have a peanut allergy?
• I’ve seen more formal wear at a Verizon store.
• Three minutes. That’s the average time from when I start trying to do something on Facebook until I’m seething with anger.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
And if you mess with the Greeks, they will hand you your ass. My friend John Kapelos asked me to join him and a stellar cast of Greek actors for a table read last week for a film called The Greek Battalion. (Eva Tingley and I were the token non-Greek actors. New goal: become the Greek James Caan.)
John, pictured to my right, just finished a great TV season, playing Stavros the florist on “Modern Family” and Picker on “Justified.” You can view his updated acting reels here.
The Greek Battalion script is a true story, adapted from a book written by a WWII hero named John Giannaris, who led a troop of undermanned Greek Americans commissioned by FDR to kick the Germans out of Greece. The read went really well, and we may run through it again as we’re building up to a big stage reading on the 25th at the Huffington Center for a large group of Greek business types who might finance the film. My motivation: sell this thing and celebrate by smashing a shitload of plates.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Even Tony Stark, who ignores his chick a little too much while he tinkers with new Iron Man prototypes. And then he says some threatening shit to a very scary terrorist and all hell breaks lose and damn if this isn’t one of the best superhero movies ever made.
Iron Man 3 is really, really good – maybe the best version yet – though it’s kinda not a surprise. I remember going with my mom to see the first Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr. The theater was packed, and my mom wondered if it was because it was the classic Sherlock Holmes character or because Robert Downey was playing him. No doubt it was Robert. The most charismatic actor alive.
Combine him with co-writer/director Shane Black, and it’s a grand slam. Shane created the Lethal Weapon franchise, and when it comes to making a script as funny and cool as possible, Shane does it like a boss. You know a movie’s good when leaving the theater, you have the urge to fight the first man, woman or child who so much as makes eye contract with you. I would have, but fear of incarceration is kind of a buzzkill.
See it this week.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Friday, May 3, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I’ve written about these shows dozens of times. They’re cheap, scripted and take thousands of jobs away from actors and crew. They’re about as “real” as a leprechaun. Or a unicorn. Or Jesus.
My friend Ariel was approached by a producer this week to possibly star in a reality show about his life. He’s a very good Latino actor, with an interesting day job – he’s a mercenary car spokesperson who spends his weekends flying around the country helping car dealerships conduct weekend sales. He’s married with two kids, and asked me what I thought about him doing a reality show.
My advice to him: run. Run ‘til flames shoot out of his ass.
One check on IMDb, and you’ll notice all these “reality” shows have casting directors. I see casting notices daily for all the big shows, looking for actors to come on and pose as mail carriers or a waiters, or friends or love interests of the stars. I’ve mentioned before I know a woman who was on “The Bachelor,” portraying one of the single chicks, even though the network knew full well she was living with her fiancé in real life. They paid her to keep that secret. She is, by the way, horrified that she made out with the bachelor.
I was watching the prison show “Lockup” on MSNBC, which I thought was a very real docudrama, until I realized in one episode they filmed master shots, then over-the-shoulder close-ups, which meant they shot conversations several times over. They asked prisoners to repeat conversations after turning the cameras around. Reality.
What Ariel also has to realize is that his life is interesting, but not interesting enough for ratings. So the “producers” (writers) of his show will step in and stir up shit. They’ll add controversy and racism if they have to. They’ll turn his trophy wife into an atrophy wife. And it’s quite possible he’ll be saddled with the stigma of no longer being an actor but a buffoon on some piece of shit show.
Ariel, I know you love a challenge, but I hope you just turn this down and keep adding to your already super impressive acting résumé. Remember: it’s not so much a challenge as it is a suicide mission. And reality TV ain’t Private Ryan, and you ain’t Tom Hanks with the shaky hands. Hard pass.