Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year Thoughts

The holidays were very low-key for me and HH this year. We noticed many people were keeping their celebration fairly scaled-down with fewer extravagant gifts, and those aimed mostly at the children in our lives. I disagree with people who claim Christmas is for the kids only. This holiday season is for all of us to enjoy and appreciate what we have and if that means sending a token of our esteem like a hand-knit scarf or a plate of sugar cookies shaped like snowmen, then great. I think the presence of children make us remember the holiday; they remind us to express our love and joy when we might otherwise just hole up in our houses.

This year I have been solely focused on writing - and when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. So the celebration part of the holiday kind of got away from me. We had but one string of lights in the window and a tiny fake tree with one ornament on the coffee table. We did enjoy time with friends and for that I am grateful but we didn’t do much gift exchanging. Maybe you kept things low-key like that too.

So before the year ends, I’d like to give my friends a gift of memory. I have some old friends, people I’ve known for years, which in itself is a major accomplishment for me, seeing as how I have moved and replaced people in my life so often. I plan to send each of them an email with a single memory of when we first met: words they spoke, a joke they told, an impression I had of them. And I hope this recalls for them a time in their lives when we were perhaps less encumbered by responsibility - or simply younger. And I will send a link to this blog post so they understand why I am doing it. They will know how much I appreciate their friendship.

You’re welcome to do this too. I don’t mind. And maybe if you’re an old friend of mine, you’ll want to send me a memory too. I’d like that a lot.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Project 2 Status: Complete!

Another very awesome pair of leg warmers is finished, but this time I'll be giving them away to a friend. But before I do that, I will post a photo on the blog. These took me slightly longer to finish so I might not be as inclined to make many more pairs but if someone really wanted them, then yes I would do them. Again, price of yarn and shipping will determine the price. I will try to get my Ninja Webmaster to put the pictures up asap.

I also started a very cool little knit cap which should be finished momentarily. Here in LA we actually do wear hats but not usually in wool. It's more likely to be in cotton or a nylon blend. But it gets cold enough for them, that's for sure!

As for my other projects...let me tell you, the knitting ones are going a lot faster and seem to be more satisfying sometimes. I hope to be able to take a breather soon for a couple of weeks and then plunge back in. (I'm still being cryptic, aren't I? Perhaps my new year's resolution should be to stop worrying about jinxes...)

Should we call them New Year's Revolutions instead?

Your Hollywood connection putting her nose to the grindstone,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Getting Focused for 2008

Do you set New Year's resolutions? If so, are they they kind that you can't possibly keep (like quitting smoking on January 1st) or are they realistic (like adding a walk to your routine)? Do you choose specific numbers (fifteen pounds, one month) or general (new job)?

My resolutions fall between the realistic and completely out-of-there categories, between general and specific. I claim to want to be a better person or a kinder stranger or a more committed friend but I don't always have the particulars to back it up.

How exactly does one become "better" in one's personage?

I need to become more focused in my resolutions and in my resolution-making. So right now I resolve to come up with more specific and achievable goals for the new year. Not sure what they are yet but if I'm focused, I should figure them out.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, December 28, 2007

Project 1 Status: Complete!

The knitting project, that is; the writing projects are still going on and unfortunately, I have no idea if the first one is actually completed. In fact I know it's not because even if it's accepted by certain persons, it will still need more work and if it's not accepted by certain persons, then it definitely needs more work.

And if it seems like I'm being cryptic about my new story, then yes, you got it exactly right. I am one of those people who thinks discussion about a good thing will jinx it.

And why wouldn't talk about a bad thing not jinx that? I have no idea how the universe works.

So the first knitting project was a pair of bright white, super soft leg warmers. They turned out to be fantastic and way easier than I thought. I have already worn them twice and gotten many compliments and an offer to purchase a pair. Someone actually wants to pay me to make them a pair! Which gave me an idea...

I will soon post a photo of me wearing the leg warmers on the blog and if anyone would like a pair, I will be happy to make them and to negotiate a price based on the cost of the yarn (one skein is all it takes) and where it needs to be shipped. If you give me a color range, I will pick the yarn since it needs to be a particular type in order to knit up fast but there are many, many colors available. I will also post a link to the pattern if people want to make them on their own.

Sounds fair, yes?

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa Claus Came to WeHo!

Ho Ho Ho!

Santa must have thought Head Honcho and I were good this year because he brought us the best gift ever: a renewal of our Netflix subscription! With the WGA strike still going on and no end in sight, this is truly a wonderful gift.

We used our subscription so much last year, I was afraid they would try to curb our rentals. Many people claim they slow down your delivery when they see you're renting too many DVDs...check out some opinions here. Honestly, tho, I doubt we rented that many. And I have to admit they were good to us: they sent a replacement DVD for The Wire right away even tho we already had 3 DVDs out.

Altho it's sad that the year is nearly over, you know what's great about it being December 26 already? It's one day closer to Lost being back on the air.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Writing a Merry Christmas

For those of you who enjoy the wonderful movie, "A Christmas Story," I just want to remind you that it was based on a novel by the marvelous Jean Shepherd (who also wrote the script and narrated the film) called "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash."

And for those of you who think "It's a Wonderful Life" is the epitome of the Christmas spirit, it too was based on previously-written material, a short story called "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern who sent it out with his Christmas cards.

And all those incarnations of "Scrooge"? Yep, a classic Charles Dickens story called "A Christmas Carol."

You know when you write a line or a paragraph that it's the exact right thing, that it's a sentence to be proud of - and often that makes the difference between a sucky day of writing and a good one. You may have spent six straight hours churning out junk that you know will have to be trashed but if you get that one line right, it makes the whole day worth the agony.

I wonder if the writers of those magnificent stories knew they were writing classics that would last long beyond their lifetimes. I hope they felt that "rightness" of their lines.

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Celeb!

If you thought I was taking a break from my job as your Hollywood connection, you are sadly mistaken. I am always on the lookout for you because I know you are counting on me. If there are celebrities around, they need to be noticed. And let's face it, they want to be noticed. That's why they became celebrities.

I have to admit I don't have a heck of a lot of sympathy for celebs who pretend to be shocked by the attention they get, the paparazzi who surround them, and so on (not that that is any excuse for invading a person's privacy or for putting a person or his family in danger) when the very actions they do...Britney and Jamie Lynn, I''m looking right at you...make them a magnet for photographers.

It's similar to American Idol. In the first season, people had no idea what they were up against with those 3 judges and so, if they were teary or upset or angry with the reactions they got, fine, I'll give it to them. But now, after six seasons? Come on, people. You know what you're getting into here. This is American Idol, not American Bandstand.

So as much as I respect celebrities and want them to be able to lead normal lives, I'm just saying I think certain celebs (Lindsay? Paris? Are you listening?) deliberately draw attention to themselves and then seem totally disingenuous when they are ambushed by photographers.

That being said, get yourself over to my website and check out the newest celeb sighting listing. Ninja Webmaster should be getting that up soon if it's not there already. (A hint: he has helped people make their homes better - extremely. And no it's not Ty.)

Your Hollywood connection never taking a day off,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Die Hard 2 is Also a Christmas Movie!

What was it with Bruce Willis and his adventurous Christmas tales?

Okay, here are a few more holiday movies I love to watch and hope you do to:

"Trading Places" - Dan Akyroyd and Eddie Murphy (back when HE was funny) switch places as fortunate and less to prove to 2 old codgers the nature vs. nurture theory. Never has an Intro to Sociology lesson been so amusing!

"Elf" - Some cute moments when Will Ferrell plays an adopted elf who looks for his real father. You can skip most of the movie that Ferrell is not goofing around and still enjoy the movie.

"Nightmare Before Christmas" - I love Jack Skellington and I love the animation. Tim Burton is an amazing filmmaker and every shot of this movie was lovingly designed. If HH would let me, I would own this movie and watch it every year.

"Miracle on 34th Street" - more of a Thanksgiving movie, don't you think? Still, it's a classic and young Natalie Wood was adorable without being annoyingly precocious.

Bonus Treat: This is a fun little thing to do, if you're not quite sure which Christmas movie your life most resembles:

Christmas Movie Quiz - According to this, my Christmas is most like "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Ha! So true! Every year, HH and I always look for the saddest trees on the lot- the small, misshapen ones that no one will buy (but the lot owners still charge big $$ for!). Yeah, I guess that's accurate. Which movie are you?

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Writers Read

I am always wary of people who claim to write but don't read. They say, "Oh I don't have time to read" or "I don't want to be influenced by other people."

Writers read. Stephen King devoted pages to this subject in his wonderful memoir/inspirational guide, "On Writing." (Well, he has a tendency to devotes pages and pages to lots of things which is probably why his books are so darn long.) I'm re-reading his book now, having first read it years ago when it came out. Now that I have published a book and have been through that particular process, I find I am reading it with different eyes, a different head.

I find the same thing to be true when I re-read children's books that I loved as a kid. Now that I am an adult, I get a completely different feel from the read. As a writer, I see the story structure better; as an adult I see the character development more; and as a reader, I experience the pleasure of a great book in my hands. (It's rare that I re-read a beloved book and wonder why I loved it - which is certainly not true of movies!)

The writer who, when asked for a favorite book title, does not produce a huge list, is no writer. One title should lead to the next should lead to the next and so on. I can't get out of a conversation about books without mentioning fifty titles in half a dozen genres. "Here, let me send you a list," is how I usually conclude such a discussion.

No, I don't trust those non-reading writers.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, December 21, 2007

3 Things I Didn’t Know About Publishing…

…that I have since discovered and am now passing on to you.

1. Just because something is being distributed by Amazon Japan does not mean it’s been translated into Japanese.

The same holds true for all of those websites that are in Chinese or German or French. Much as it would be way cool to have my books translated (and someday I hope for that to happen!), these are just sites that are in different languages but are still selling the English language version.


2. You can include a dedication page in your debut novel.

I can include a dedication page in my debut novel?

Yes you can include a dedication page in your debut novel.

I didn’t realize this when I was writing my first book and thought only famous authors could do that. I assumed I would have to wait a bit, for my third or fourth novel, to actually dedicate it to someone. I had hoped the people I wanted to dedicate my books to would still be alive by the time that happened. So I only included an acknowledgment page in LOVE, MEG. When VEE came around, I asked about including a dedication page and was met with a, “Yes, of course,” from my editor.

“Yes, of course”? I had no idea I would get “Yes, of course”! Had I known, I might have asked about MEG. So I included a dedication in VEE. Can you guess who I dedicated it to? Go on, guess.

3. You will not actually die if your Amazon rank drops.

When your book first comes out, you check that number ten times a day. It’s up! Now it’s down! Someone bought five copies! Oh no, they just returned them all! After a month of this agony, you stop checking multiple times and settle on just once every day. After several months of this, you often forget to check at all.

That is a good day.

I have not reached that day yet.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another Thing People Don’t Know About Me

I am a knitter. I knit. I am not a good knitter. I can only knit baby blankets and afghans and scarves. I knit a purse once which I thought was kind of cute and I did a whole bunch of baby caps as part of the Save the Children’s “Caps to the Capital” project last year. But I don’t know how to cable. Circular needles scare me. And I still don’t hold the yarn in my hand properly.

Still, there is something extremely satisfying when you finish a project that is useful.

Knitting is the complete opposite of writing a book. When I finish a book, it sits on my computer until I buy the toner and paper to print it out. Then I have to give it to people to read and critique. Then I have to rewrite it a zillion times. And then I have to cross my fingers that someone will buy it and make it into an actual book that other people can read.

When I finish a scarf - or a blanket or (hopefully soon) a pair of leg warmers - it’s a done deal. I can give that item to a friend or relative or I can wear it myself. No one needs to do anything to it in order to use it. No one has to pray that many other people will okay it before it can be worn.
It just is.

And that “is” is very cool. That “is” is a wonderful moment. I love that “is.”

I know I won’t ever be a great knitter. Not like my mom or my friends whose knitting skills are highly refined. I will probably always be clumsy and more likely than not knit when I should purl and leave big gaping holes that have to be sewn up or ripped out. But that’s okay. It’s still a lot easier than writing a book.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finding Friends

I have noted before how awesome the internet is when it comes to looking up old friends. I love to google old boyfriends and college friends and just random people whose company I used to enjoy but with whom I have lost touch. (That's what happens when you move around a lot as I used to.) Recently, I heard from an old friend and former co-worker who had himself moved across the country. I was thrilled to hear the update on his life and to offer up my own - and come on, who wouldn't want to be able to tell someone they were now a published author? I gotta admit, that has to be the coolest thing I have ever been able to say, aside, I'm gonna be a published author?

Anyway, his name is Marcus and I always wondered what happened to him and now I know. So hey Marcus! Stick around and stay in e-touch!

All of this gave me a neat idea: I thought it might be a cool thing to list some people's names who I am dying to hear about. I figure if they google themselves (we all do - it's nothing to be ashamed of!), they might see their names listed here and contact me and let me know they're okay and they're doing some amazing things in their lives. The only question is where to begin...high school? college? grad school? all of my various jobs? dance buddies? It's quite an overwhelming list.

So I'll start small with some high school people:
Liz Losty, Jennifer Murphy, John Taylor, Jane Betz, Peter Schilling, Sue Lawshe, Michelle Lussier

If any of you are out there and want to contact me, please do! I'd love to hear what you're up to! Next up will be college friends. (How cool would this be if it works?)

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Die Hard is a Christmas Movie?

It sure is! Just ask my Ninja Webmaster who insists that the explosion extravaganza is one heck of a happy holiday film. Not the kind you'd sit down with your young 'uns and watch with a cup of egg nog (maybe if it was spiked) and I suppose he's right. It begins with our hero in town to visit his estranged wife and family for the holidays and he ends up saving a building full of people from Euroterrorists hellbent on...what was it they wanted again? Money? Weapons? Does it really matter when Bruce Willis is on the case?

A perfect holiday film.

Other movies I like to watch during the Christmas season:

"It's a Wonderful Life" (of course) - HH and I will watch on the eve after a delicious meal of sushi, which is our favorite holiday tradition

"A Christmas Story" (at least twice) - already seen once while we addressed cards

"Christmas Vacation" - anytime is the right time for this classic Chevy Chase flick (back when he was actually funny) - who doesn't laugh hysterically when he flips out in front of the family after he gets a fruit basket instead of a Christmas bonus?

"Scrooged" - don't own this but wish I did - Bill Murray is a riot as a modern day Scrooge working in, of all things, television! Carol Kane is fab as the wacky Ghost of Christmas Past

I prefer my holiday movies to be funny (except for "Life" which is a sentimental fave) instead of sappy. Sappy movies just make me wish I was back on the east coast with my family...oh now, stop. I don't want to be sad that I'm not there this year! It's snowing and icy and all sorts of yuckiness and travel is horrible this time of year!

There, that's better.

Your Hollywood connection staying in Hollywood,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Congratulations Yooli and Billy!

Today I just want to say congrats and best wishes to my friend Yooli Pak who married Billy Ryoo on Saturday afternoon in a beautiful ceremony in LA. The church was splendidly decorated for the holiday season, with red velvet ribbons everywhere and wreaths hanging from the ceiling. And she was gorgeous in her cream taffeta dress!

Yooli had told me that she thought her wedding and reception would best resemble the episode from Gilmore Girls when Lane Kim got married so I was really looking forward to that, with people rushing to get in the buffet line before the couple had made it down to the reception. And I was not disappointed! We waited to greet our friends and to get a picture taken with them but fully half the guests (a staggering 400+) were already downstairs eating. Many of them left without seeing Yooli and Billy!

By the time they got to the very intriguing and funny and beautiful formal ceremony in which the traditionally dressed couple attempts to catch dates in the bride's apron (a fertility symbol), pretty much everyone except HH and our friend Patricia and the family members were gone. How sad that the rest of the guests missed this! It was amazing and beautiful - and did I mention funny? My friend (just like Lane Kim) had to be helped up and down in her very heavy and uncomfortable traditional dress.

The lesson? Television has much to teach us if we are only willing to learn.

Your Hollywood connection finding the silver lining everywhere,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Celeb Update

Would that I had actually met Will Smith at the screening of his new movie. Sadly, I was only able to add Doug Savant who plays Tom Scavo, Lynette's husband, on Desperate Housewives to my list of celebrity sightings.

(Check out the listing at my website. If it's not there now, it will be shortly - as soon as my Ninja Webmaster posts it for me.)

OMG, this guy was soooooo handsome. He's another example of how people who look conventionally attractive on television are totally hot in real life, which makes me wonder if people who are seriously sexy would just blow me away in the real world. For instance, someone like Patrick Dempsey from Grey's Anatomy - I think we can all agree he's massively good-looking on his show - would he be so fantastically hot in person that you couldn't take your eyes off him?

I guess I'll just have to hope I run into him at Trader Joe's someday...

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Will Smith is Legend

Let's get this straight upfront: "I Am Legend" is a fantastic movie (kudos to all involved) but it's not Richard Matheson's "I am Legend." It is based on the source material, as was "The Omega Man" with Charlton Heston but it is not the book. Which is okay. That means there's still the opportunity to make the right movie.

Anyone who knows me - and I mean really knows me, not the ones who look at my book jacket and think that blonde chick is really me because I don’t even have blonde hair anymore - knows I adore Will Smith and “I am Legend” was, without question, one of the most anticipated movies of the season for me.

The first 2/3 of the movie in which Will roams the city with his dog and experiments on the zombie/vampire creatures, convinced he can cure them, is brilliant, absolutely fascinating. I totally bought Smith in the role of virologist Robert Neville and I really wanted to see him succeed with the creatures. His interaction with the dog - the last living connection he has to his dead wife and daughter - is touching. The CG effects were amazing. The filmmakers turned NYC into a wasteland in a most beautiful and intriguing way. The attention paid to detail was inspiring.

That being said - and make no mistake, Will is wonderful in this movie - the story takes a turn from a dark post-apocalypytic flm into Hollywoodland the moment the woman and the boy show up. Until then, I was with Will and his plight; honestly, if they continued making the movie as it had been written in the book, Will Smith would have been a shoo-in for Oscar. Not that he won't be - they will probably nominate him and might even give it to him to make up for "The Pursuit of Happyness" being overlooked.

In an LA Times article, Akiva Goldsman, the movie's writer-producer, said he didn't believe in totally hopeless endings which is, I believe, the reason for the unlikely uplift at the end. I don't mind keeping things on the positive side but not at the expense of the story. Maybe the movie just needed to be longer so that Smith's Neville could have grown into the hero he suddenly becomes instead of instantly being self-sacrificing. I would have bought that and heck, giving Will Smith more screen time is always a good thing.

It won't be much of a surprise to see this movie hit the top of the charts worldwide; it absolutely has a universal appeal,. For anyone who ever doubted it, Will Smith has officially succeeded Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and all the other massively huge actors out there. He is the new face of megastardom. And I couldn't be happier.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Reality Wrapup

Sadly, my three favorite reality shows are off the air as of Wednesday night. BATG left last week and this week Kid Nation and Kitchen Nightmares both ended. Although why does Ramsay’s show ever have to end? Couldn’t he be doing this indefinitely? There are how many restaurants in the country? Thousands! He doesn’t need to do that other Hell’s Kitchen show anyway - or run his 4 star restaurants…j/k!

So how about those $50,000 gold stars on Kid Nation? Wow! I definitely agreed with the choice of Sophia and Morgan getting the stars, even though they already received stars earlier. Those 2 girls were the backbone of the town, both morally and emotionally. They kept the kids on track and out of trouble. I was so thrilled for Sophia when she made the right decisions during her week as sheriff - she kept the town in order and kept the kids happy with the choice of a balloon ride. I will miss this show. I will miss those kids. I really hope CBS gives some follow-up info on them all. I would love to know how and what they’re doing, if this gave any of them the incentive or support to try new things at school, to be a leader or speak up in class, or if they’re more tolerant of their younger brothers and sisters and parents.

As for Ramsay’s season ender, wow! What an ego on that French chef! He and Gordon butted heads from the moment Gordon walked in. In fact, for 59 of the 60 minutes, I was convinced Ramsay had a dud on his hands, that this was one place he simply could not work his magic. Finally, for that guy’s sake, he listened - only when he saw the money coming in and heard all the compliments on the new menu. Stubborn mule. Still, I would check out that restaurant, even though I’m not a big fan of French cooking. The new menu with its lighter salads and that yummy looking asparagus tart could win me - and Miss California - over.

So that’s that. I think all of my shows are officially finished for the season. We saw the final Journeyman on Monday, the final reality stuff, the last DH, etc. I think Simpsons is still new since that is done so far in advance. I guess we have a few shows to look forward to trying: Medium and Lost if they come back, the Terminator show on FOX looks interesting, and Idol, of course. HH can’t wait for American Gladiators but I think I will sit that one out. I have a lot of reading to catch up on!

PLUS: A very happy WHOO-HOO!! for Nikki Blonsky' nomination for a Golden Globe for "Hairspray'! That was one of my fave movies this year.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, December 13, 2007


As Anonymous noted below in the comments, Terry Pratchett announced yesterday that he is in the beginning stages of a rare form of Alzheimers. What an odd coincidence to read that on the same day I posted about Discworld. It must have been something in the zeitgeist, as they say. True to his tongue-in-cheek author persona, Pratchett wrote that his statement should be interpreted as he is not dead yet "although someday he will be as will all of us."

For all of his readers -and those of us who want to become his readers - I hope he continues to live a long time and write as much as he can.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

Presents, anyone?

Aside from world peace (which I ask for every year and have yet to receive) and infinite time (ditto), I would love some books!

Last night I saw a bit of "Hogfather," which HH and I discovered was a British TV production based on Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books. Considering the man is as prolific as Stephen King, John Grisham and James Patterson combined, I have only read one of his books: "Good Omens," which he wrote about 15 years ago with Neil Gaiman. However, considering my memory is like a sieve, the fact that I remember this with such clarity means it made an impact. I usually have a horrible memory for books I've read and movies I've seen.

"Hogfather" was fascinating! And now I have to check Netflix to see if it's available. And "Discworld" sounds fascinating too; sadly there are about nine million books in the series which means, unless I get that gift of infinite time, I won't get around to reading many of them.

Normally, I don't care for fantasy. Too many people want to be Tolkien (who was difficult to read anyway) or Rowling (for whom the right elements combined at the exact right moment) and create massive worlds with all sorts of wizards and magic stones and hobgoblins and they all take themselves so darn seriously. But I recall what I liked about Pratchett was his sense of humor. I like a light touch in both my sci-fi (see Douglas Adams) and fantasy. And for this reason, I am really excited to get into a new series. Besides, sometimes you just get tired of reading - and writing - realistic stuff with realistic characters and situations.

So I'm looking forward to gifting myself with either Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy or a couple of the Pratchett novels and have myself a "fantasy-tastic" new year!

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In the Year 2000...

Quick: how old will you be in the year 2000?

I know, I know...that was seven years ago. But I knew since I was in grade school how old I would be in that milestone year. Everyone in my class did, probably everyone in my generation did. We all learned it in math class as part of addition and subtraction lessons. And it was an easy number too, for my class (no, I won't tell you what it was).

2000 was such a grand, turning point of a year, it seemed back then. When you're a kid you really do believe there will be flying cars and monorails in your future (just like Disneyland!).

The reason I mention this is that I was thinking about end of the year stuff as I usually do in December and beginning to wrap my head around the year 2008. And I remembered that 2000 thing from when I was a kid. Now, I wonder, what sort of milestone year is there for children? 2010? 2020?

It was kind of cool to have the turn of the century looming ahead of us. It felt like a year that held so much promise which was something really important to kids of the 70s who were growing up with the tail end of Watergate and a disgraced president, sky high gas prices and rationing (remember odd/even days at the gas stations?) and an unstable economy.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Anyway, the title of this post brings me back to television: to Conan O'Brien's "In the year 2000..." bit he used to do with Andy Richter. Ah, late night. When will you return, my old friend?

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, December 10, 2007

No More Drama-mas

Too little, too late, I discovered Wikipedia has an entry titled, “List of Christmas Specials” and it includes a ton of dramas and sitcoms, both American and British, as well as celebrity hosted specials, children’s specials, and special movies. Why did I not know this, considering my love of all things Wiki-related?

I’d like to say my work here is done but sadly, none of the dramas listed were ones I watched or even liked much, except for Little House (I LOVED the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a girl!!), so I had to do my own research. Which led me to a whole bunch of websites devoted to 80s television shows - both dramas and comedies - which, in turn, led me to become all nostalgic about shows I used to rush home to watch including 21 Jump Street (omg, a very young Johnny Depp!), Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (can you say “Ferris Bueller” rip-off?) and the Dallas-Dynasty-Falcon Crest triumvirate.

Oh yes, 80s cheese. It was fat-filled and creamy and very, very bad for you. I feel my arteries clogging just thinking about all those shoulder pads and big hair. I was a lot taller with that hair.

Love it!!

And as a great 80s song goes, "I have too much time on my hands..." except I don't. Not really. I am desperate to finish writing the draft of this book before the end of the year so I can finally move on and read some of those books on my list. All writing and no reading makes Leigh...something, something...

(Simpsons reference there...everyone catch that? Good.)

Today's research: chocolate candies.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, December 9, 2007

8 Days of Sitcom-mas

It was not nearly as easy to come up with a top ten list of favorite Christmas episodes of comedies. It might have been easier if I could repeat myself, like with multiple episodes of Friends or The Simpsons. The fact is that most holiday episodes are lame. They end up being "VSE" (very special episodes) where people learn Life Lessons and everyone sings "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or something nondenominational.

In other words, many comedies completely forget they're comedies.

So here are my Top 8 instead in no particular order:

1. The Simpsons - Bart accidentally burns down the tree when he gets up early to sneak a peek at his gifts and then blames a burglar
2. Bewitched - Samantha brings an orphan to the North Pole to convince him Santa is real
3. MASH - Hawkeye operates wearing a Santa costume
4. Mary Tyler Moore - Mary and the gang get snowed in at the office so Sue Ann makes an impromptu Christmas with food from her show
5. Bob Newhart Show - the group is snowed in (again with being snowed in!) and want to celebrate the holiday but Bob is desperate to get home to Emily so he walks home in the blizzard
6. Seinfeld - what else but the Festivus episode!
7. Happy Days - Fonzie is alone on the holiday so Richie invites him even though his father only wants the celebration to be family

8. Friends - Phoebe finds her father but decides she isn’t ready to meet him

I'm not sure about the dramas. I thought for sure this would be a piece of cake which makes me think dramas will be even harder. And you know I hate to do things that are difficult.

Hey, did you realize yesterday's post was number 100? I guess if you were counting them all or maybe using the column on the right hand side to add up all the posts in each month but I certainly didn't! So I guess that's a milestone of some sort. Yay!

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Spirit

Did anyone else watch Frosty the Snowman last night besides me and Head Honcho? No? I can't watch the entire show, just as I can't watch all of Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Charlie Brown Christmas. I don't need to. I watched them so many times as a kid that my brain fills in the rest of the story, which is good because that leaves me free to watch...

...The Wire Season 4! Yes, thanks to the power of Netflix, we received 3 discs of the newest season on DVD. This has to be the most underrated show on television. Sure, gritty cop shows like The Shield get the kudos and the Emmys and the big name movie actors deigning to take roles for one season, but The Wire is consistently good. Excellent storytelling, wonderfully realistic dialogue and characters. The camera work is nothing out of the ordinary, nor are the sets particularly special (some of their locations, I have to admit, look like backlots instead of Baltimore), but unless you're talking about a show like Heroes or Supernatural which relies on special effects, you don't need great cinematography. Strong narrative and 3-dimensional characters are what make a drama like this great.

The season started out like all the rest - with a bang - and I was pleased to see a lot of my favorite characters are back: Bodi and Bubs and Omar on the street, Keema and Herc and Carver on the force. I will miss Stringer (RIP) but he deserved his fate and I really hope we will see Avon out of prison again.

Even better and more promising, the show has added a group of young characters (played by very talented young actors) who are the next generation of gang members. We will see them in school and out, interacting with each other and the older gang members like Bodi and Marlo who are vying for their loyalty. Fascinating. Already we are 3 episodes in and we are hooked like fish. This is yet another show where you feel a very strong writing staff behind it. Don't tell me they don't deserve more money for their efforts!

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, December 7, 2007

Local Talk

Around here (LA, that is, not the blogoshphere ((btw, I hate that word)), talk revolves around the WGA strike. Now, this is not talk among professionals or even wannabe professionals. These are regular folk - young, old, in and out of the business - and it makes me wonder if this is the talk across the country. Or do we talk about it here because we see the picket lines, we know people on the picket lines, we are affected by the picket lines? In other words, when Detroit autoworkers strike, is the talk the same in Detroit as it is in Des Moines or Denver?

My family on the other side of the country also talks about the strike - with me, so that's not a completely realistic picture. And when they do ask, it's mostly about the individual shows as opposed to the deal the writers are trying to make because the way it affects them is what they see on their television,:

Do we have to step up our Netflix?

Will Men in Trees be affected?

Will you be home for Christmas?

(Yes, no, and uh, that has nothing to do with the strike. I've already been home twice this year and it's kind of late to even think about getting a ticket and geez, why are you asking me this now?)

I'm very curious about the local talk in the rest of the country. I think we are unusual here in LA, but I could be entirely wrong.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Books, Books, Movies and Books

Beside my bed is a table and on that table are, currently, 5 novels I want to read (e.g. "Someone Like You," "Waiting for Normal," "This Lullaby").

In my living room is a bookshelf and on that bookshelf are, currently, 10 novels I want to read and/or reread (e.g. "Lisey's Story," "Prey," "Stupid White Men").

And in my brain is a list of at least a dozen more that I still have to purchase, borrow from friends, or take out on loan from the library. Some of these are based on movies that have come out or will be coming out soon (e.g. "I Am Legend," "No Country for Old Men," "The Golden Compass"). Some are just books I've heard about that I really want to read (e.g. "13 Reasons Why," "The Luxe," "Wicked Lovely").

As you can see, they range from mainstream commercial fiction like Michael Crichton and Stephen King to YA like Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher to literary fiction like Cormac McCarthy. I don't know what category Philip Pullman falls under but I am dying to read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Fascinating concepts and a series I wouldn't normally touch due to its high degree of what I call "black cover fantasy," that is, those books that usually have black covers with raised lettering, usually in gothic script, and have a complex, highly detailed visual image.

I usually don't like those at all.

I thought for sure I would have time to read a lot over the past few months but the thing is I have been writing and I can't write and read at the same time. Not that I get influenced by the style or stories of other writers; I just get depressed. I am usually reading excellent material and I think "oh god, I can't write nearly as well as this" and "my story and characters are totally stupid compared to this" so it's best that I leave the reading to the rewrite process when I can become inspired to improve rather than dump my book.

Remember that wonderful yet oh-so-sad episode of The Twilight Zone where Burgesss Meredith is a voracious reader who survives a bomb blast because he's reading inside a bank vault and he finally has all the time in the world to read - and then he breaks his glasses and can't see? (The classic O. Henry twist ending.) Love that episode. I sometimes feel like that.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

America Chooses Wisely

Last night on the season finale of BATG, America voted Dave and Jasmine the winners! Yay! Ya know, most of the time on shows like Idol America always picks the wrong people, IMNSHO. But this time, they got it right. The super couple, the couple who epitomized the social experiment of the show, were the big winners.

And how awful was it that they had to wait 4 months to find out? Most reality show participants know the outcome of their shows long before the country does because they are shot so far in advance but in this case, they had to wait along with us.

Not too many revelations in the show. It was nice that Will apologized to his castmates for being the loudmouth center of attention all the time; he seemed sincerely sorry. On the other hand, William's proclamation that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover was way too little, way too late. His partner - who will be taking her Realtors exam - go Jen! - missed out on a fine opportunity to grow and that was his fault.

Does anyone else besides me think Rebecca and Sam are not gonna continue their relationship? Not for nothing, but Sam looked almost shocked that Rebecca was even there! He has probably gotten a new girlfriend or 2 in the time they were apart. Rebecca (fabulous in dark hair) looked like she would hook up with him again in a heartbeat. Poor thing.

I do hope Sam and Natalie go to college like they said they would and that Natalie studies anthropology (a subject very near and dear to my heart). That would be the ultimate win.

So another season done...I would love it if they could start up a new season while the writer's strike is on but who am I kidding? It takes a while to get it going plus there are writers on that show too!

For some winter holiday fun, come check out my elfishness on my website.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Don't Need Another Hero

But we're gonna get one anyway. [SPOILER ALERT] I thought for sure the Latina with the black eyes and killer power was gonna bite the dust on Heroes last night. After all, getting shot in the chest usually means death.

Not on this show! People die and return to life with remarkable frequency. I actually don't have a problem with that. It's all part of the comic world that I love. In fact, I liked just about everything in this episode with the exception of one or 2 things:

1 - yep, you guessed it: the inaccurate promo! All week we kept hearing two heroes will fall. Now, it wasn't the Latina with the black eyes and killer power and dead twin since she came back to life. Does Adam buried alive in a coffin deep underground count? (Way to go, Hiro! Way to save the villain so he will be even more po'ed when he does get out - very comic book!) Okay, I guess I'll give 'em that one. "Fall" doesn't have to mean death. So who is the second one? Nikki? She was in the burning building when it exploded but we didn't see her die which doesn't necessarily mean she's dead (although Ali Larter has been doing more movies so she's probably out of there plus there was the whole blood thing that she needed to be saved from the virus so it's just as well she's gone). So once again, the show doesn't live up to the promo hype.

2 - the cruddy comic book expository dialogue: Peter knocks Hiro out in the Primatech warehouse and when Adam is released from the time stoppage, Peter tells him Hiro froze time, etc. It's nitpicky, I know, but when you're dealing with a show like this, not one frame of film should be wasted and that was wasted film. You don't tell a character what just happened when a) WE know what happened b) Hiro told Peter that Adam knows all about him and c) Adam ain't stupid. Things like that bug me when this show is otherwise fantastic.

Question: did the show's producers anticipate the strike and coincide the "finale" with the last episode? Did they skip stuff they were gonna show us in favor of ending the season neatly? They had a mini-ending last season too (I think) which makes me think no, this was strictly a coincidence and they never intended to air anymore shows this year.

Tonight: season finale of BATG! Yay!! Go Dave and Jasmine!

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Tornado Takes Down Fairview

One of the things I hate most about promos (those little trailers the networks use to tease you into watching their shows during the week) is that they aren't always truthful. I have been seeing the Desperate Housewives promos with Lynette screaming right after the VO guy says lives will be lost - which infers that one of Lynette's kids or husband will die - and was anxious to see the episode (last one until the strike ends!).

Spoiler alert! In case you have DH on your Tivo and haven't watched yet...

We knew - as soon as Victor showed up with a gun - that he was the one to go. It couldn't be Carlos or Tom and it shouldn't be Orson and Susan was in the hospital w/her husband (oh and how soap opera-ish would it have been to have her lose the baby because she fell down the stairs? So glad they didn't do that!) so who could it be? The only expendable one, of course! And there was no way that the mayor of a town w/political aspirations was gonna be caught trying to kill someone else long Victor!

Hopefully that actor, whom I loved in the short-lived Jack and Bobby, will go on to better, more permanent things.

As for Lynette's scream? Her entire house was torn up by the tornado. Okay, that's cool but um, in the first season, Edie lost her house and had to stay w/that old lady. Now, are Lynette and her family gonna do the same? Sheesh, talk about jumping the shark.

Today's research: donut-making.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Lists

I love lists. Lists of all kinds: favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs, favorite barbecue restaurants in Tennessee, favorite NFL quarterbacks. Lists I have absolutely no opinions on and will never use. Somehow they seep into my brain and get spit out at various times when they're needed.

Q: I wonder which Hollywood actress is the highest paid.

A. Reese Witherspoon.

See? I read that somewhere and it stuck in my head and now when someone casually asks at a holiday party, I'll have the answer. Lists are also good topic starters for when you're at that holiday party and the only person you know is the hostess and she's busy greeting guests or beating back the fire in the kitchen from the overcooked crab cakes and you're all by your lonesome. What do you do? Bring out a list!

You at party: Did you know that Caprera Island in Sardinia is considered the world's best beach?

Party guest you don't know: Really? I had no idea.

You: Yes, and South Beach in Miami is number 7.

Guest: Um, er, that's interesting.

You: I love Miami. Did you ever watch "Miami Vice"?

Guest: I, uh, have to leave you now.

What's the lesson we've learned here? Never mention old 80s cop shows at parties.

So now that it's December and the Christmas tree lots are up around the city, I've started to think about Christmas shows I like. Not movies like "A Christmas Story" or "It's a Wonderful Life" or perennial TV faves like Charlie Brown or Rudolph but episodes of my fave shows that revolved around Christmas. So I think I'm gonna compose my list - and check it twice - and then post sometime soon so I can get those episodes from Netflix if possible.

Your holiday Hollywood connection,

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Netflix Queue Redux

When you let Head Honcho dictate the queue, you gotta be prepared for surprises - and inconguous trios of DVDs. You just never know what you're gonna get from week to week. I had to comment on this week's DVDs cuz they're such a strange combination.

1. The Odd Couple Season 1: this is one of my ninja webmaster's very favorite shows. He claims to have watched the late night reruns when he was but a babe on the sofa. I do recall watching some of them although I was not as big a fan (he quotes entire episodes from memory). I always thought Felix and Oscar were much too old to live together and I never bought into the conceit that these two guys would get a lot of girls. Did I mention how old I thought they were? But now, years later, watching with someone who has such an affection for the show, it's been way fun.

2. Sliders Season 1: continuing with my plan to catch up on TV shows I never watched or always loved and miss, is Sliders with Jerry O'Connell and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from "Lord of the Rings"!!). We saw the 2 hour pilot and the first couple of episodes and all I can think about is Quantum Leap and Journeyman, both of which are far superior shows. Not that this isn't fun but I can see now why I never watched it. I was also a big Trek geek so I had pretty high standards for time travel and sci-fi-ish stuff. Still, I'll watch a few more eps and give it a chance.

3. Blades of Glory: this is on the schedule for tonight. Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler! What a cast! I love all of these actors and can't wait to watch it. Why didn't we watch in a theater? Who knows? Sometimes studios crowd the theaters with good movies and you can't watch all of them so you pick and choose. Sometimes you think a movie will be stupid so you don't bother. And then sometimes you just don't want to spend the 15 bucks on it and figure you'll Netflix it. That's probably what happened here. It's not a movie that really needs to be seen on a big screen. The smaller screen, with the cheap snacks and the clean bathroom, will do just fine.

It's always a surprise with the queue, thanks to HH's quixotic choices (how's that for an SAT word??).

Your Hollywood connection,