Sunday, September 30, 2007

West Hollywood Book Fair Today!

Today's the West Hollywood Book Fair in West Hollywood, CA. I'm so excited because I've been planning for this day since March. I have attended this festival every year since it began and I'm thrilled to be a participant this year.

There's lots of great stuff going on: booths and panel discussions and performances on the Kids Stage. Gore Vidal will be there to sign books and so will Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold and Algonquin Prize winner Mark Salzmann.

Our event is called "Gen Z Reads YA" and will be on the Robertson Theater Stage toward the back of the fair (when you get there, you'll know what I mean) from 2:30 to 3PM. I'll be reading from "Love, Meg" and YA authors CG Watson ("Quad") and Shan Serafin ("Seventeen") will be reading from their books as well. And if you raise your hands, we'll answer your questions! What a deal!

And it's all free!

So come on down if you're in the area of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards at the West Hollywood Park. Free parking across the street at the Pacific Design Center (a bonus if you know how hard it is to find free parking in this town where they have valet parking for Koo Koo Roo!). Hours are 10A to 6P.

Hope to see you there!

Your (West) Hollywood connection,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Even More New Shows!!

Okay, have to mention just a couple of more shows I found this week that were way fun: Kitchen Nightmares with Chef Gordon Ramsay and Dirty Sexy Money with Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland (love him!!).

Ramsay does a version of Nightmares in Britain which I’ve caught a few episodes of on those rare occasions I’m in front of a television that has cable. In those shows, he’s extremely entertaining and generous and thoughtful and he doesn’t yell profanity at everyone like he does in his American Hell’s Kitchen show.

The American version of Nightmares is not as genteel as the British version, which is kind of a bummer, and you can see that Ramsay’s being prodded by off-camera producers to push the buttons of the restaurant owners and workers (at least in the premiere episode he did). There’s way more cursing for us Americans (just what does that say about us?). Still, it’s great to see him whip a restaurant into shape.

Kind of like Extreme Makeover: Restaurant Edition. With Cursing.

Dirty Sexy Money has a fantastic cast and a so-so premise. Very influential attorney dies; extremely wealthy family with wacky personalities tries to hire the decent son who turned his back on the trappings of his dad’s work to represent people in need. Eh.

But when you examine the characters: oldest daughter marries man after man who is just after her money and she’s still in love with our hero; youngest daughter is daddy’s little girl who has to have stage roles purchased for her; middle son is a minister with an out-of-wedlock child and major anger issues…and on and on. They are very interesting.

And just to keep our hero, Nick, involved even more, he finds out his father was probably murdered.

All this and more in one episode…I’ll stay tuned for at least a few weeks.

Today’s research: Mahican Indian names.

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Show Addendum

Ready for a shocker? Kid Nation is far more entertaining than I ever could have imagined.


I followed the controversy about this new reality show all summer. Among the media charges:

--The parents had to sign a confidentiality agreement which essentially prevented them from saying their own names or risk being sued for everything they owned.

--The kids were used as slave labor.

--The kids were coached by off-camera producers to repeat certain lines or events that may not have been captured on-camera.

--The producers did not comply with New Mexico child labor laws.

Honestly…who cares? Is there a person out there who believes reality shows reflect reality? Sure, as the producers want it to be reflected. In every single reality show there are a team of writers. What do you think that team of writers writes? Intros from the host? Of course not. They write the scenarios that will be enacted by the participants. They write the games. They write, in some instances, actual scripts that are used.


Okay, they write the scripts that are suggested to the participants.

Child labor laws? Those laws were designed to protect children from being exploited. Sorry to be so cynical but the exploitation began with the parents signing their kids up for this thing. Besides, where there were cameras, there were grownups. These kids were never far from adult supervision and aid.

As for confidentiality, well, that’s SOP for the biz. Like all shows, these things are filmed long before they ever air and it’s important to keep it as far under wraps as possible. Inevitably, in this age of the internet and 25 hour a day news--

Yes, I said 25.

--it’s not surprising that stuff gets leaked and the general public finds out just barely enough about the situation to get upset.

The truth is never as interesting. Believe me.

Kid Nation takes a group of 40 kids into a deserted cowboy town and asks them to set up a government and businesses seemingly of their own making. Through various (scripted) games, they are helped by the producers to divide themselves into teams and then into laborers, council members, merchants, and cooks.

At each meeting, the four council members are asked to choose the recipient of the gold star, which translates into $20,000 for the lucky winner to spend with his or her parents however they choose when the show is over. Also, at each meeting, the host asks if anyone wants to leave. At the first meeting, an eight year old boy - who, in a surprisingly reflective grownup moment, said he was much too young to participate - asked to leave.

A reviewer in the LA Times said he would much rather watch a reality show in which children acted like adults than one in which adults acted like children.

I couldn’t agree more. And the second episode last night was even more entertaining than the first.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Shows!

Gotta admit, I didn’t want to add a new drama to my schedule. I don’t have Tivo and it’s too hard to find the time to watch everything I tape when I’m at class or watching a movie or you know, living my life. Still, Journeyman hooked me. It was smart of NBC to show it after Heroes so all of us superhero/supernatural/sci-fi junkies can stay tuned and sample it. We actually saw the frst episode while on a plane to the east coast (another smart move, NBC) so we watched Monday night to remind ourselves how much we like it. I do like it. I like that it’s smart and a little confusing and it doesn’t dumb down the twistiness of the time travel stuff. And I do LOVE time travel.

Another new show I am debating about is Gossip Girl. It’s from the same people who brought you The OC, which was also super soapy so I expect no less from this GG (not the old GG which meant Gilmore Girls, a far superior show). This GG has all the requisite beautiful people - impossibly gorgeous cast of characters with impeccable clothes and tons of money, exactly what the books are all about. Someone told me Cecily Von Ziegesar , the author, refused to make the books into a movie, that she envisioned a TV series or nothing at all. Good for her. I like hearing that an author put her foot down; so few have the power to do so. It’s not that I didn’t like the show - I did - but again, I have just so many hours in the day to watch TV and I already have a lineup of shows I watch. So I may not stick around for the whole thing.

Aliens in America is another new show I’ve heard a lot about but I haven’t seen yet. The first episode aired on Monday and I completely forgot about it! Supposed to be very funny and comedy is so hard to do right. I might sample before Heroes but only if I remember. I don’t usually think of TV until 9PM.

Have you seen promos for Reaper? The kid’s parents sold his soul to the devil when he was born and now he’s 21 and the devil is collecting. Great cast. First episode was very funny but…a little too self-aware. The actors are fun and smart but they need to relax a bit and enjoy themselves. They seem to know they’re acting. This could be the direction and it could be the scripts. I hope the show mellows out in time. I MAY watch this more since it follows Beauty and the Geek. Maybe. Depends on what kind of mindset I’m in. And if I remember.

This is why people have Tivo.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Premiere Week!

The Simpsons: great guest voices (Stephen Colbert and Lionel Richie!) and finally, some laughs. Best episode since two seasons ago. The writers are back!

Family Guy: Star Wars parody was hilarious but not enough. I expected more skewering of the iconic film. The fact that it was Lucas-approved probably meant it was tamer - and nicer - than it could have been.

Heroes: Awesome! Loved it! Will Hiro become the Japanese warrior, Kensei? Where is Peter? And can Claire ever really be a normal girl? Can’t wait for next week!

Beauty and the Geek: a guilty pleasure. What a cast - I can’t decide which team is my favorite yet. I love them all! How can you not love the Betty Boop girl?

Some of my favorites have not premiered yet but will soon: The Office (Jim and Pam! Michael and Jan!), Earl (is it the prison blues for our karmic dude?) and Desperate Housewives (someone has to be dead or pregnant in the opening episode). My all-time favorite show, Lost, doesn’t return until February so all of these shows are merely filler until that time arrives. Like American Idol - we’ll be watching that - and some other comedies like 30 Rock and Scrubs.

Anything I’m missing?

Next: new shows...

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I have an addiction...

To Wikipedia.

I know, I know. I should just shut the internet connection off and only use it for writing and the occasional Amazon purchase but I can’t help it! It’s right there, everything I need to know about everything in the universe - including the Universe! (The summation of all particles and energy that exist and the space-time in which all events occur.)

Need to know what George Clooney’s parents names were? Use Wiki. (Nina and Nick.)

Settle a bet about the World Series? Use Wiki. (From 1949 to 1966, every Series involved the Yankees, Dodgers and/or Giants.)

Can’t remember the year The Ramones broke up? Use Wiki. (1996.)

Granted, “wiki’ing” something does not roll as trippingly off the tongue as “googling” it. Which in itself is far superior to “yahoo’ing” it. But Wikipedia has the advantage over Google of gathering material and resources in a single entry and hyperlinking it to various other entries for a more thorough understanding.

Honestly, it’s really good for you. You learn stuff and learning’s good!

In hindsight, I never should have started on Google; it was a gateway search engine, I realize that now, and led me straight to my addiction to Wiki. But when you’re a person who needs to know stuff - right now! - you’re so susceptible.

“It’s a tool!” you tell yourself over and over again while you’re searching for the inventor of the name for Spam (Kenneth Daigneau). “I can quit anytime! I don’t need to know this now or ever! I can live my life without knowing which state consumes the most Spam.” (Hawaii.)

But you can’t. Not really. You’ll go for an hour, a day at most, without looking anything up and then it hits you. You have to know who mentored Claude Monet! Right this very second! (Eugene Bodin.) And then you’re back in the grips of it again. You’re looking up Impressionism and Renoir and “en plein air” painting and you’re done for. Five hours will pass before you come up for your own “plein air.”

I’m not proud of my addiction. I know it fills my brain with useless information. Cells that could be used for better things are being used to store the original cast of “Bewitched” (Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York; there were 2 Darrins, 2 Louise Tates, 2 Gladys Kravitzes, 2 Tabithas, 3 Enchantras and 5 Hagathas).

One day, I hope to be rid of this cruel attachment to Wikipedia. I’m sure another, better search engine will come along soon enough.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, September 21, 2007

A virtual tour of Leigh's home

Well, hello there! I'm so glad you stopped by! Can I offer you some cookies and a pot of coffee - warm chocolate chip with walnuts and a rich house blend? I just made them this morning.

No, no, they were no trouble at all.

Let me show you around the place. That's the living room you're in now and to the left is the hallway to the bath and bedroom. It’s a little messy in there. I still have to make the bed from this morning. Didn’t think you’d be here so early!

Up here is the kitchen area (mind the steps) and this is the dining room which I have turned into my office space. Computer (obviously), chair, (again obviously). Space heater is under my feet for the cold mornings. And it does get cold here in LA. We’re a desert, you know.

Of course you can have another cookie. Help yourself.

I know the computer is very close to the television which is a distraction but then again, so is the computer. There's always something I need to look up or an email comes in that has to be responded to right away and then the next thing you know, an hour has passed and I have written, "The girl combed her..." And nothing more.

The cream is in the fridge behind you. More sugar?

Actually, "The girl combed her..." is not a very good beginning for a sentence at all. So now I have to go back and edit that because what good is a sentence beginning with "The girl combed her..."? We all know what one combs: hair. How boring. I hate boring sentences.

That spill was nothing. Don't worry about it. I'll clean it up. Honestly, it's fine. I spill things all the time.

Writing is rewriting, as the masters say. Which means I have to get back to work and see what I can replace that combing business with. Something startling would be nice, something adventuresome. What else might the girl do to her hair? Ignite it? Talk to it?

Well, no, I hadn't planned to have the girl talk to her hair. Not really. I was using it as an example. Unless that was something you’d like to see? A girl talking to her…no, no, that’s silly. Perhaps you'd better go now. I really should get back to work.

Thank you so much for coming. Do stop by again. But not too early, okay?

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thematically speaking...

I really admire people who have themes to their blogs. I’ve seen some good ones: movie and book reviews seem to be pretty popular, technology talk is also big, as is food, be it diet related or discussions about great recipes. Lots of writers have themes because their books do: fantasy, sci-fi, vampires.

I never thought about writing to a theme, either to my stories or to my blog. I simply started writing stories that I liked with characters I wanted to listen to and hang around with for a while. Perhaps that’s why my blog theme is nonexistent (some might say lame).

Blogging is definitely a craft that one has to master. It’s not simply writing down one’s feelings like a diary or cataloguing the day’s events as in a journal. People who do that are either a) just keeping a diary online or b) big name celebrities whose every movement is interesting to us peons. The rest of us who fall in the middle? No one wants to hear about that junk.

And this is where I find myself. I’m not Perez Hilton. I’m not TMZ. I don’t have access to big names although I did have an awesome new celebrity sighting yesterday (check out the listing on Lite Snacks). I am your Hollywood connection because I am here, in Hollywood, trying to make connections. And I’m yours because I’m well, who else would I be?

All this to say, the blog is still a work-in-progress. I don’t have it absolutely settled yet what I want to say and how I want to say it. I think I might do some short stories on these pages and hold a contest or three that would tie into my website. For the people who have stuck around so far, thank you very much for your patience and please let me know if there’s something you want to know about specifically. Like, should I do writing tips? Reading tips? Author tips? Audience tips? No tips at all? I am open to suggestions.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Emmy loses

I watched the Emmys on Sunday night; did you?

You did? Well, we were the only ones, apparently. It was the lowest rated Emmy telecast in the show’s history and I’m wondering why.

These are the reasons I came up with for the terrible ratings:

1. Everyone assumed The Sopranos would sweep and the show would be boring.

2. Most of the shows and people nominated were the same as they always are, also making the show boring.

3. Lost was not nominated for best drama.

4. Ricky Gervais didn’t show up.

5. People are tired of prepared statements of lists of names no one in the audience knows or cares about.

6. Lost was not nominated for best drama.

7. The show was on Fox.

8. People saw Ellen DeGeneres riffing and realized she was a much better host than Ryan Seacrest could ever hope to be.

9. No one understood why the Frankie Valli impersonators, the Jersey Boys, were singing to The Sopranos montage.

10. Lost was not nominated for best drama.

If anyone has any other reasons aside from the above, I’d love to hear ‘em.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Things My Parents Misplaced

While in Hawaii this past week, my parents misplaced a number of items from the moment they arrived, inspiring each of them to exclaim at various opportunities, “Where the $@#* is my ----!” This resulted in all four of us taking up the search…

Herewith, a list of said items:

1. Digital camera
2. Lipstick
3. Brand new perfume
4. Cash
5. Hotel room key
6. Hotel room key
7. Bottle of water
8. Hotel room key
9. Billfold
10. Hat
11. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts
12. Debit card
13. Costco card
14. Driver’s license

(To answer the inevitable question, no, numbers 9, 12, 13, and 14 did NOT occur in the same instance; those are four separate occasions.)

(To answer the next obvious question, yes, all items were recovered without incident.)

Friday, September 14, 2007


What an amazing trip…my new favorite place in the world is Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii. There’s a beach at Lydgate State Park which has a section closed off for swimming and snorkeling (gotta be careful of the waves on Kauai - very dangerous surf) and we swam with the fishes - which is WAY better than sleeping with the fishes…

And my new favorite way to spend my time is drinking coffee on the lanai and staring out at the ocean as the sun comes up. It’s awkward trying to do that here in LA, since I a) don’t have a lanai and b) don’t live on the ocean. Yeah and c) would never manage to arise early enough to see the sun come up. Not a chance.

I ate the best pineapple from the Costco in Lihue which is a giant store - much larger than any I’ve been to - and before anyone tells me how blasphemous it was for me to eat pineapple from a Costco, let me tell you: this was so delicious I don’t care what you say.

We had fantastic sushi (not the fish we swam with as far as we knew) and amazing fruits like papaya and mango and guava, as well as the aforementioned pineapple. We visited waterfalls and a coffee plantation and Hanalei where Puff the Magic Dragon lives and we saw thousands of red dirt chickens which are not endangered but are protected and if you do anything to them and get caught, it will cost you five hundred bucks. These things are everywhere! At first it’s funny and cute but after a while, the whole “why did the chicken cross the road joke” gets way stale…

So mahalo for your patience while I treated myself to an ocean vacation. I signed some stock at the Kauai Borders which was also amazing. The fantastic Eleanor helped me, although they wouldn’t allow us to take photos inside. So exterior shots will have to do. I’ll get those (and more) up soon.

Oh yeah, and the Honolulu Borders was sold out of my book! How awesome is that? Mahalo to the readers on Oahu!

Your tanned and rested Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor = Work?

Yesterday was Labor Day, a day off for all the hard-working people in the land. And how did most of them celebrate? By barbecuing and taking the kids to the beach and on picnics. In other words, by working!

I think Labor Day should be marked by everyone getting takeout. Of course, then the people making the takeout would be working so that wouldn’t be fair to them. Hmmm…I’ll figure that one out, don’t you worry.

I will be taking a brief respite from the blog (have you gotten used to my “every other day except when I can’t think of anything” posts?) for a week or so. Here’s a hint for where I will be…aloha!

In the meantime check this out. Love, Meg on You Tube!

See you soon!

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, September 1, 2007

6 Degrees of Celebrity Sightings

Your Hollywood connection has been falling down on the job.

Admittedly she has been holed up in her cupola, working super hard on her latest tome, so she hasn’t been out and about with her eyes peeled for celebs. The farthest she has traveled from home has been to TJ’s, for fresh fruits and veggies and her beloved Peanut Butter Puffins, and to her dance classes, for mind and body enrichment.

And so, she must rely upon others for their celebrity encounters, thus inspiring the above and the lame blind item in the other day’s post. [The correct answer was Owen Wilson. Winners receive a lifetime supply of self-satisfaction, courtesy of Yours Truly.]

Good friend WVH had the door held open for her by none other than Matt Damon in a building where she works. She also shared an elevator with Zac Effron whom she says has the most amazing eyes and is definitely extremely polite and sweet in real life - just like the Disney version! (And we know how much we love Zac around here!)

Former supervisor and friend PGD once saw Crispin Glover, wacky actor/director and George McFly (hello!), at the Burbank Airport. Did you know they kept his character suspended upside down for the duration of BTTF2 because they had to replace Glover when he wanted too much money? True story.

But hands down, Head Honcho, my Ninja Webmaster, is the celeb magnet. He has seen the likes of Danny Devito wave to him from a passing car and a perambulating Christopher Walken (twice in two days while both were out walking and sporting devil-may-care Gilligan hats). He saw Jack Black during a late night Ralphs run and the very funny Michael McDonald from MadTV in the same store (it’s known as the Rock n Roll Ralphs in these parts because it’s on Sunset Blvd and draws a lot of musicians, wannabe and otherwise). He also loaned his Ralphs card to none other than Leeza Gibbons who he said was gorgeous in real life and had a shopping cart filled with kiddie foods.

And I must confess to having met Selma Blair when she stopped by a meeting I was having with my manager. She was on her way to Prague to shoot “Hellboy” (which I recently saw and enjoyed, by the by). I never included it in my own personal sightings because it was a work related encounter and I vowed not to include those. However, as my pickings are slim lately, I will have to fall back on whatever I can.

I promise to try harder. Honest. If I have to track them like animals in the wild, I will find celebrities for you.

Your Hollywood connection,