Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Catching Up with TV

…because seriously, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? What’s happening in the world of television?

Well, I’m behind by a day because I have been trying to a) work on a new book b) edit another new book and c) get my Google sidebar up and running. Right now, I have my Google calendar, an analog clock because I need to see a physical representation of time, the local weather (complete with little graphic design that changes as the weather changes) and the Buddhist Thought for the Day, which is usually pretty challenging to me at 7 in the morning.

But there are so many things I could put up there! Blog links, a calculator, my horoscope…I was overwhelmed by the choices! Seriously I sometimes wish we had like, three choices for everything. It’s like when I go shopping, which I can’t do and be swift about it. There are so many options: shoes, pants, tops, underwear - I always need something and each something has about fifty choices. I long for the future when we will all wear jumpsuits. I mean, isn’t that what the Star Trek universe is all about? When do we get to wear the jumpsuits and black boots? I think I would look way cool in an outfit like that.

Back to television…is everyone loving Heroes these days? I love the new characters and their awesome powers (sadly, I don’t know their names because there are so damn many of them) but how about the girl who can watch something and then do it? That’s the power I want! I could watch a gorgeous perfect ballerina like Gillian Murphy and then go to class and do fifteen turns perfectly. That would be awesome. I don’t know how far it would go in my writing because that’s not about muscle memory. But maybe if I did cool stuff, I would have more to write about.

Today’s research: Mexican pastries. (Yum!)

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Superbad is Supergood

Lest you think I only appreciate political documentaries and obscure British costume dramas, I have to recommend "Superbad," which I finally saw this past week. Hilarious from start to finish! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard in a theater.

The two actors, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, are soooo good together. It really feels as if they’ve known each other their entire lives. Great casting, great direction. Profane in all the right places, it has the feel of an early 80s movie, like “Porky’s” but with more heart. There is a definite sweetness to this movie as there was to Judd Apatow’s and Seth Rogen’s other films, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” although frankly, I didn’t find those two films as appealing as this one.

Head Honcho and I have loved Michael Cera since he charmed us on Arrested Development, the late great series from FOX.

Dang, there I go…crying again.

Anyway, check it out. It’s Superfun, Supercool, Superprofane…"Superbad." And it kind of reminds me (in a good way) of that MasterCard commercial with the 3 little boys doing the robot to “We Want the Funk.”

Your Hollywood Connection,

Monday, October 29, 2007

A few additions to the Top 10 books-to-film list…

I want to include a few more good ones:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, based on Jack Finney's book
Time After Time, based on the novel by Karl Alexander
Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton's bestseller

And ones I'm really excited about:

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (to be directed by Rings’ Peter Jackson)
I am Legend, by Richard Matheson (starring Will Smith)
Love In the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (with Javier Bardem)

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

God Grew Tired of Us

The most uplifting moment of this documentary comes not during its run time but in one of the special features. It’s there we learn that the filmmaker, Christopher Quinn, was the catalyst for getting these “Lost Boys” to the US. He was visiting the African refugee camp and decided he wanted to help; he also wanted to film it all but his primary motive was altruistic.

I hope more people will Netflix this or find it at their local video store. It opens with the story of the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan, thousands and thousands of boys who left their homes during the Sudanese Civil War in the late 80s. The government was systematically killing all boys in southern Sudan. The ones who did escape traveled thousands of miles to safety, first to Ethiopia and then to Kenya. They took care of themselves, providing each other with family and support and love. They had no idea if any of their family members were still alive. Most missed their mothers terribly.

Quinn and his co-director, Tom Walker, follow three young men who are sent to the US to go to school and earn money with the help of various Christian organizations. Two, Daniel and Panther, are sent to Pittsburgh while a third, John, is sent to Syracuse. Their initial reactions to the plane, to electricity, to trash cans and toilets and dish soap - and to the vast array of foods in a market - are hilarious and touching. In three months they learn an awful lot, although they are very homesick. They do what they can to provide a family and to maintain their culture here in a very weird place.

All three end up pursuing very different paths but with a similar goal: to make the world a better place. They are such strong individuals, such tremendously positive role models for all of us. They could easily have given up or become selfish after all that happened to them but they felt personally responsible for helping their families and the other refugees back in Africa.

I consider myself fairly well-read and well-informed politically but I knew nothing of this story. I wish I had known about these boys a long time ago.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bad Bad Movies From Books

While I may not be able to come up with a full ten, I have to mention one movie that would be on my list of worst books-to-films: Dune, directed by David Lynch, based on the novel by Frank Herbert. This book was one that I loved to death…I mean, I LOVED this book, although not all of the sequels that followed were as good.

I knew exactly what the planet looked like, what the characters looked like, what all the weird and wonderful things were that Herbert described. Lynch’s film took all of that and tossed it out the window. The casting choices were bizarre: Sting? Kyle MacLachlan? Come on, people! I was horrified, to say the least.

Aside from a few Philip K. Dick short stories that have been turned into some…let’s call them “interesting” movies, I think Hollywood doesn’t do sci-fi books particularly well. And I don’t know why. It’s all there, isn’t it? All the description of future worlds and such? And even in the sci-fi that we call “soft,” there is less futuristic stuff to screw up; yet they screw it up. Take Dick’s “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale” (which became Total Recall) or Asimov’s I, Robot (which is the classic among classics). How could Hollywood mess these up? It’s all on the page for them!

I know I sound like a total geek when I say this but…I could do a much better job! LOL!

Your (not so humble) Hollywood connection,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kids Will Be Kids

Last night on Kid Nation, Taylor showed herself to be the real drama queen that she is - and she dragged poor little Leila around with her. I applaud the older kids for tempering the younger ones' anger with her, especially DK, the deserved winner of the gold star. Unfortunately, these kids learned that you can't make someone do something - can't make them work or be part of a team or even contribute in a meaningful way. If they want to deal with Taylor, they will have to use other means besides yelling and punishing her (neither of which work - they're kids! They should know that!).

I continue to be impressed with the choices the kids make. Even if they fall now and then, as we all do, they ultimately make the decisions that are best for them and for the town. I think that says a lot about how they were raised and who their parents want them to be. As much as teachers and other classmates can be a positive influence in kids' lives, it's up to the parents to be the primary role models. Look at a kid like Guylan who is homeschooled. He has shown himself to be a hard worker and a team player, respectful of others and kind. He's obviously getting that from home.

I have heard from just one friend who told me she watches the show. She doesn't have kids either. Wonder if that means something.

I am 2 episodes behind on Dirty Sexy Money. I have to catch up on-line. Erg.

Today's research: 80s Rock Bands

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jesse & Erin are Gone!

My fave couple in BATG lost last night and I'm completely bummed. I loved Erin the Beautician! She began the show a little snotty with a sort of "whatever" attitude toward the geeks but she quickly came around and loosened up. By last night's show, when they were all at Comic Con, she was actually a little geeky herself!

The fact that Nicole and Sam won again - because Sam was basically being himself with a bare chest and tight shorts - really cheesed off the rest of the couples. I could kind of see how the Comic Con judges picked him (he was really funny and the idea of a superhero using a special tanning spray to ward off evil was very clever) but he's just such an egotistical clod. Head Honcho is convinced Sam chose John and Jesse to go to the elimination room because they were the next 2 best-looking men in the house. LOL!

As for the remaining groups, I do still love Jasmine and Dave the Larper - they have defnitely learned from last week when Josh called them out on their lack of growth - and I adore Josh and Shay who seem to work well together. But William has got to go! He was so rude to Jen when she made her superhero suggestions. He is supposed to be this big time comic book collector - couldn't he be a little nicer and say, "Okay, let's think about this suggestion that your character hypnotizes people with her boobs. Can we go for humor or maybe do something else?" He has been so anti-Jen from the get-go, it hasn't been fair to her to have him as a crappy partner.

So now we're down to 5 couples. A trip to Mexico is next - troubles ensue. Hmmm....

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Books Becoming Movies

So many times, too many times to count, filmmakers ruin books. They think they know the essence of the novel but instead, they merely take a few scenes and put them up on the screen. Part of the problem lies in the fact that films and books are completely different animals. Books are all about internal stuff (many times) while films are completely external (most times). It’s very difficult to take the inner monologue of a narrator, complete with flashbacks and flash forwards and weird dreams and so on and make that visual without it looking like an avant-garde French film.

No offense to the French filmmakers, e.g. Francois Truffaut and Michel Gondry.

In rare instances, books have been successfully turned into movies. I think this happens when the writer is directly involved in the translation for the screen and/or the filmmaker really “gets” the material and knows what will work well and what won’t. Sometimes a novel simply has too much material and needs to be pared away; inevitably this disappoints the book’s fans who were waiting for certain scenes to be brought to life.

Here are my top ten books-to-movies and you are welcome to disagree with me or suggest other titles:

1. Lord of the Rings trilogy
2. Harry Potter books
3. Flowers for Algernon (Charly)
4. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick-directed version)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird
6. The Godfather
7. Misery
8. Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa (Field of Dreams)
9. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner)
10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Should there be a companion list to this - a top ten worst books-to-films?

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, October 22, 2007

My List of 10 Favorite Books for TRW

Okay, this is the list I gave the audiences up in Chico but as I mentioned before, it can change AT ANY TIME! Tomorrow I might include some Steinbeck if I’m feeling classic or maybe some King or Koontz to get into the scary Halloween spirit.

You just never know…

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
2. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
3. Rules of the Road, Joan Bauer
4. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
5. Fade, Robert Cormier
6. White Oleander, Janet Fitch
7. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
9. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
10. Elsewhere, Gabrielle Zevin

See, now I’m looking at this list and it’s reminding me of all sorts of other books I like, including other titles by these authors. For instance, I also love Adam’s “Dirk Gently” books and I love Anderson’s “Prom” and all of Bradbury and Cormier too.

I think the next list I put together will be favorites within genres, like sci-fi and horror and chick lit. Okay, more work to do. But first, a list of books-to-movies that I love. You’ll see that next. Because I am--

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Closing Teen Read Week

CG and I had a blast this week visiting high schools and the local library and Barnes & Noble. We even held a raffle at the Butte County Library where we gave away one copy each of “Love, Meg” and “Quad.” Congrats to Chrissi and Kathryn and special thanks to Joel Watson for selecting the winners! I’ll post some photos as soon as I can get Head Honcho up and at ‘em.

One of the things we talked about with the audience was a list of our favorite books but for CG and myself, our lists are only temporary. If you ask us five minutes from now, we might pick an entirely different set of ten. That’s how fluid our “favorites” are and if you check out my website, you’ll see that I have a huge list of favorite writers, all in different genres because there are just so many that I enjoy.

Which reminds me that I should update that list too…hey, thanks for making me do extra work on my day off.

Ah, who am I kidding? It’s not work and I never have a day off…

Okay, so here is CG’s List:

1. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
2. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
3. Seventeenth Summer, Maureen Daly
4. Feed, MT Anderson
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
6. Wringer, Jerry Spinelli
7. Inexcusable, Chris Crutcher
8. Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
9. Fat Kid Rules the World, KL Going
10. Looking for Alaska, John Green

Boy, do I have some reading to do! Hey, I just noticed something and CG, you can tell me if you saw this too…of this list of ten, three of the authors use their first initials only -just like you! Is that a reason you are drawn to them?

Hmmm…the mystery deepens. Tomorrow, my list.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, October 19, 2007

On the road again...

Hi there from Chico, California! I have been upstate doing some way cool book stuff with my friend and fellow YA author, CG Watson who wrote an amazing theiller called "Quad." It's a very timely novel about a high school shooting - and a terrific whodunit!

Yesterday we visited with about 400 kids at Chico High School! Wow, were they a great audience. Attentive and generous with their time, they asked super intelligent questions which really kept us on our toes (this was really hard to do considering we began our day at 8AM and didn't have much coffee!).

Then in the afternoon we went to Barnes & Noble where we had another great audience. Special shoutout to Kimberlee at the store who was SO fantastic to us!

Today we're going to Chico's rival school (uh-oh!) so I don't know what to expect. J/K!! That'll be fun too. And then in the afternoon, we finish up at Butte County Library.

Whew! A whirlwind adventure. Then it's back to LA for the Head Honcho and me, a day long drive down the I-5. Man, there are a lot of cows in this state! Drink your milk and keep those farms in business!!

I think Sunday will be a treat to relax - and get back to work!

Your Hollywood connection a long way from home,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dali & Film

This past weekend, the new Salvador Dali exhibit opened at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and I was privileged to attend a reception and pre-opening viewing of the magnificent works. It runs from October 14th through January 6th and if you're in the LA area or have any plans to visit during that time, do yourself a favor and check it out.

The Times writer Richard Schickel wrote in the Sunday edition that the exhibit was tired, that Dali was hopelessly commercial and that his film endeavors never amounted to much but I have to say, ya know, whatev'.
I'm not an art historian or film critic, nor am I terribly knowledgeable about art history or film criticism (my degree is in the actual production of films and I retained virtually nothing from most of my film studies classes), so what I believe is strictly my own opinion. I thought it was cool.
And I was mesmerized by "Destino," the animated film which was based on an original idea by Walt Disney and Dali and used sketches created by Dali. Roy Disney, Walt's nephew, spearheaded the project long after his uncle's and Dali's deaths. LACMA is showing the short film along with all of the beautiful images Dali rendered. I would love to own a copy of this film.

Dali's most notable involvement in film was with the Marx Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock (his dream sequences in "Spellbound" really brought an otherworldly quality to the Hitchcock movie) and of course, the short film with Luis Bunuel, "Un chien andalou,"which brought both of them notoriety.

I highly recommend checking out this exhibit and then playing around with the lobster telephone in the gift shop next door.

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, October 15, 2007

That’s So Funny!

The whole LOL theme of this week has gotten me thinking about comedy. Whether it’s funny stuff you write for television or movies or books, it’s simply very hard to do. Funny is so subjective and when I see how popular Adam Sandler movies are, I realize how very differently we all define the term.

I, for instance, love quirky Monty Python-esque humor, like Douglas Adams wrote. On television, I love Steve Carell’s and Ricky Gervais’ brand of uncomfortable comedy and the irreverence of Conan O'Brien and Matt Groening and “The Simpsons.” In movies, I think the bizarre minds of Terry Gilliam and Michel Gondry and Tim Burton can come up with truly wacky stuff, although lots of people might think their material is not particularly light.

I have tremendous admiration for people who can make other people laugh.

(You gotta check out Jerry Seinfeld’s documentary “Comedian” following him for a year as he develops a new stand-up routine - very enlightening and, yes, very funny.)

Lots of times I write stuff I think is hilarious but other people kind of go, “wha…?” when they read it. Head Honcho is the only person I know who thinks I’m wicked funny but then, he kind of has to.

When you're a writer who’s trying to make someone else laugh, the most disappointing thing is to see a joke fall completely flat. It’s miserable and really makes you question whether you have a sense of humor.

On the other hand, when someone does laugh or they tell you something you wrote was funny, man, that is a great experience.

Your Hollywood connection,

Sunday, October 14, 2007

SoCal Meets NoCal

To celebrate Teen Read Week, on Thursday October 18th, CG Watson, whom I adore and who wrote a fantastic and timely novel called “Quad,” and I will be reading and signing our books at high schools in Chico, which is in Northern California. From 5-6:30 PM we will be at the Chico Barnes & Noble so if you’re in the area, please come by and say hello. We’ll be answering questions too (no math or Latin, please) so come armed with your best stumpers.

On Friday, October 19th, we’ll be bringing the show to the Butte County Library at 3:30 PM so swing on by and (very quietly, since this is a library) say hello.

And in honor of TRW and the LOL theme, I’d just like to mention two of my all-time favorite funny novels, John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” and Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy” (all five books of the trilogy). These are must-reads for anyone looking for something to make them laugh out loud.

So far no one has made Toole’s masterpiece into a movie and I’d just as soon not see them try. It was so wonderful as written that I fear what a filmmaker might do. As for Adams’ series, the BBC did a radio show and a TV show (eh) but I do confess that I loved the 2005 movie version starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent and Mos Def as Ford Prefect. I think it helped that Adams wrote the screenplay for it before he died (way too prematurely). It also helped to have the absolutely wacky Sam Rockwell play Zaphod Beeblebrox. Not perfect but some brilliant bits.

Your Hollywood connection,

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Teen Read Week!

Tomorrow is the official start of Teen Read Week. All across the US, there will be lots of very cool programs for, by, and about teens at libraries everywhere. The theme of this year’s TRW is LOL…Laugh Out Loud. So grab yourself a book and read and laugh and cry and then vote here for the ones you think are most deserving.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who Watches What I Watch?

Sometimes I think I am the only person who watches the television shows that I’ve been blogging about, like Kid Nation and Kitchen Nightmares and Aliens in America and Dirty Sexy Money and BATG. I have talked to friends and relatives and NONE of them watch any of these shows.

What does that say about me? My choice in TV shows reflects my personal tastes so is it strange that I don’t have anything in common with people I love and care about, television-ly speaking, that is?

Only one friend of mine has a similar love for The Simpsons as I do - and even waited for me to return home from the east coast in order to see the movie with her in August (thank you, Algie and happy birthday tomorrow!). And my mom does watch Desperate Housewives, although she likes it for the soap opera stuff and I like it for the mysteries. And my brother watches Heroes and Journeyman too but he’s not a dishy kinda guy. He doesn’t talk about stuff.

But these are all established shows. It’s not hard to jump on board a show that’s been popular for a year or more. It’s harder to start with a show that you’re not sure will make it past the first half-season (and we know the networks have shows waiting in the wings to replace anything that’s not a hit out of the gate). I can’t tell you the number of times I have started a new show only to have the network pull it after a few episodes! It’s so upsetting! And these are good shows too, not the crap they should be pulling.

You’d think “once burned, twice shy” but no, I get back on the horse each season and hope that the shows I like are the ones that stick. Hence my initial comment about people not watching what I watch: I don’t know if that’s a bad sign that my new favorite shows won’t last…boo-hoo.

Thank goodness for Netflix.

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Power Couple is Gone on BATG!

Thank goodness Will and Rebecca are gone from the mansion. As much as I liked them (before they kept winning and before Rebecca was involved with Sam), I was glad to see them go. They were the root of too much tension among the couples.

Now I have to say, I think it was a bad decision to bring Sam into the fold. He’s not there to learn or win or even work with his partner. The show used to be strictly about learning from each other and growing as individuals and with the presence of Sam, the girls (and guys) tend to return to their catty ways. Who needs that in yet another reality show?

I’m not a fan of reality shows where people make alliances and get other people kicked off simply because they don’t like them. I like shows where people win or lose because of their own skills. This is why I can’t watch Survivor. Even Idol gets on my nerves like that sometimes when America is voting (and America is not known for getting its votes right).

More reality tonight: Kid Nation and Kitchen Nightmares. Wednesday is turning into a good TV night. And here I thought I would have nothing to watch until Lost returns in February.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Desperate for Answers

You got Desperate Housewives questions? I certainly do. Check 'em out:

1. Since when did Susan stop trusting her unbelievably trustworthy daughter? She’s the only character in the entire show that I would trust with my life.

2. Why would Lynette confront Gaby about not coming to visit her during chemo? She had a whole room full of women who wanted to be with her but Gaby was the first choice? Really? Gaby??

3. Why is Bree’s husband Orson suddenly so bland? When you have someone as attractive and interesting as Kyle Maclachlan (come on, the guy starred in “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” for pete’s sake!), why are you wasting him? What happened to his awesome story from last season?

4. Why didn’t any of Susan’s friends give her a hard time about marrying Mike in secret? And she’s pregnant? Are you serious?

5. Totally loving Dana Delany’s new character!! What a great role for her, as a foil for Bree! But please do not give her daughter the traditional soap opera-y trauma-induced amnesia. Okay this is not a question. This is a plea to Marc Cherry. This show is way better than that.

6. Is Carlos really going to have Edie bumped off? Just because she knows about the off-shore account? Gosh, I hope not.

7. Can we bring back Andrew as the show’s only gay character? I admit I have had issues with this show due to its lack of diversity (don’t talk to me about Gaby and Carlos - they are just as white as Bree van de Camp - or the Applewhites who were around for the bad season and got sent away mighty quickly). We know Fairview is pretty Stepford-ish and we accept that but this is television, people. We can do whatever we want!

Okay, that’s it for now. I promise to return to book stuff soon - or at least to mention it every once in a while - but the new TV season has me hooked for the time being.

Today’s research: how to create a black-and-white photograph.

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, October 8, 2007

Obscure British Television Shows

Why, oh why, would we watch The House of Eliott, a BBC costume drama that aired for three seasons nearly fifteen years ago?

How could we possibly have been sucked in by a show that has no profanity, no sex, very little violence - and not one chase scene! It’s just a soap opera, after all, one that takes place in the 1920s right after World War I in London. The Eliotts of the title are two attractive sisters whose widowed father dies in the first episode and leaves them penniless.

Whatever will they do? They have been sheltered all their lives, have neither attended school nor been trained to do anything useful at all. They’re too uppercrust to take in laundry or to work as someone’s personal assistant, although the older sister does indeed take such a job with the man who will eventually become her husband. Coincidence? I think not.

All the sisters know is how to design dresses. Cooped up inside their family home, they’ve done nothing but draw pictures and make their own clothes, which are fairly haute, considering they don’t know much couture.

Compelling? Not from that description, no, but in practice, this show captivated us from the very first episode. We couldn’t wait for Netflix to deliver us the discs. We tried very hard to avoid learning anything more from the web about the show, preferring to discover it as the Brits did over a dozen years ago.

We laughed and cried, were outraged and thrilled. We fell in love with Miss Bea and Miss Evie. And when it was over, when we had watched the final episode - crestfallen that there would be no more - we went through massive withdrawal. We scoured the web and found a British show called “French and Saunders” had done a few very funny parodies of the show, calling it the “House of Idiots.” We sighed, loving the parody despite the good-natured ribbing the comediennes gave our precious Eliott sisters. Even this satisfied our craving.

But now, there is truly no more. And we miss it ever-so-much.

Your Anglophilic Hollywood connection,
Miss Leigh

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Issue Movies

I don't know about you but I have this thing about movies that everyone wants me to see.

"You have to see ----!"

"You'll love -----!"

Trust me, I won't.
"------ is such an important movie to watch!"

Doubt it.

Ugh, no thanks. That's like telling me to eat my vegetables (especially since I'm a vegetarian). I don't want to see any movie (or watch a TV show or read a book) that's supposed to be good for me. Who wants that? When I watch movies I want to be entertained. If there's any learning to be done, I want it to be purely accidental, like when I find out that the veggie burrito I just ate and loved was made with a whole wheat tortilla and no lard. You mean I loved it AND it was healthy for me? Awesome!

But don't do that to me with my entertainment.

Okay, got that straight? Perf. Now, what I hate next is when I finally do see that movie that everyone has wanted me to see or watch that critically acclaimed TV show or read that Pulitzer Prize winning book and it's good! Oh boy, do I hate that.

Example: "Brokeback Mountain" - I was told by about a million people to see this movie, plus it won a ton of awards and was breaking all sorts of boundaries and such and I kept putting it off and putting it off and finally, I saw it this weekend. And it was amazing. The actors were fantastic and the love story was so haunting that I woke up the next morning sad, just thinking about it.

It tears me up that this was as good as it was.

Another example: "The Kite Runner" - a good-for-you book that deals with modern day issues of class and politics and there was NO way I was gonna read this. I did. Eventually. And couldn't put it down. It was a total page-turner and I learned a lot about history and culture that I didn't know but I did it without realizing it! I was eating spinach thinking it was a veggie burrito, you know?

Maybe it's the rebel in me that hates to do what everyone else is doing. Maybe it's the child in me that hates to be told what to do. Maybe it's the laziness in me that can't get my butt in gear to do things in a timely fashion.
Every once in a while the mass media gets it right and they promote the good stuff instead of the usual junk. Separating the wheat from the chaff, though, is ultimately up to us.

Your Hollywood connection,

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Duarte Festival of Authors Wants You!

The 5th Annual Duarte Festival of Authors is tomorrow from 10A to 4P in Duarte, CA. That's just about ten minutes east of Pasadena for those of you in the area. I'll be at Table 19 with my friend Liane Bonin, the author of the very fun book, "Celebrity Skin." If you don't have a copy, be sure to stop by and pick one up.

At 2:30P we'll be on a panel with other Children/YA authors. Ask us anything! Seriously, anything you want. Like, what's our favorite color (pink) or how many times we've seen "Lilo and Stitch" (about fifty).

There'll be lots of really great things going on: panels and wine tastings and antique appraisals and Ray Bradbury! How awesome is that! You gotta come down even if it's just to see him. I certainly would!

Hope to see some of you there!

Your Hollywood connection,

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Catching Up With Reality

First things first: who’s number one on the Forbes Celeb-sell list? That’s right: Jennifer Aniston. Turns out we’ll buy anything with her face on it.

2nd BATG Pair Gone

When Rebecca picked Hollie and Josh because the beauty was already geeky and the geek was pretty charming, she got it absolutely right. In other words, they had learned all there was for them to learn. They didn’t need to be in the house any longer. I respected that she didn’t choose them for the elimination room because they were a threat to her team.

On the other hand, Will's choice of Erin and Jesse because he didn’t feel they interacted with the other teams was ludicrous. Will has been lording his wins over everyone and he really ought to take Rebecca’s advice and work on his humility. At least Rebecca recognizes that she’s been distracted by the good-looking and unintentionally hilarious Sam. (How about his comment that he needs good abs because you never know when a girl is going to pull his shirt up? LOL! Love it!)

Kid Nation

Taylor has got to get a grip on herself. The former beauty pageant queen has been yelling at everyone to just “deal with it” whenever she tells them something they don’t want to hear. Sophia tried to get the town to hold an election to replace the young Town Council member but poor little Taylor cried and swore to do better so they gave her a second chance. From what we can see in next week’s previews, though, she doesn’t take that to heart as she should have.

Gold star winner Mallory from Indiana has got to be the cutest thing around. I love her spunky attitude! Because of her sister, she won the star on her 9th birthday which was a sweet gesture for the kid (who wouldn’t want to win $20K before they hit double digits?) but was a poor choice by the Council who really should have chosen Greg (again) or possibly Morgan. The Council - led by Taylor - also made a huge mistake when they picked a microwave over pizza. Those kids needed to eat! The Yellow team fell down on the job for two weeks and the kids really needed a pick-me-up. What on earth will they microwave?

Kitchen Nightmares

Got to love Gordon Ramsay. I just do. I love him in this series. Again, the manager is underworked and overschmoozing. Where do they get these guys? Mike, the manager of a small restaurant in Long Island, is an emotional lazybones who takes half of the waitress’ tips and thinks a giant orange sign will bring in customers - a real class act. But Gordo whipped that place into shape with new d├ęcor and a health-based menu, reinvigorating the sadsack chef/owner who finally spoke up to Mike, although being the nice guy that he is - and Ramsay isn’t - he gave the guy a second chance.

Love it.

Today’s research: Foo Fighter lyrics

Your Hollywood connection,

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Aliens Walk Among Us

Did you catch the premiere of Aliens in America on Monday night? I have to admit I was not expecting much. Comedies are so hard to do and lately, not one network has come up with one that I like, except for NBC and its Thursday night lineup and honestly, only The Office is must-see-for-me and that’s based on a British show anyway.

And now here comes the little Frankenstein network - the blending of two small networks to become one, a two-headed freak that gets picked on by the big nets - with a very funny, very sweet, very smart comedy about a family in Wisconsin (love the mom’s Frances McDormand in Fargo-ish accent) who take in a foreign exchange student.

In the first episode they try to send him back when he turns out to be, not from London, but from Pakistan. A Muslim! Who wears traditional clothes! And prays to Allah! Of course, they all think he’s a terrorist but gradually he changes their minds as they get to know him and by the end of the half hour, no one wants him to go back.

I highly recommend this show (and it follows Everybody Hates Chris, another underwatched show but very funny and smart too). Set your Tivos, people, or watch these shows before Heroes, which is what I plan to do.

Your Hollywood connection,

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

People are Talking About Me

Actually, people are talking to me…just one person, really, and to be absolutely truthful, she didn’t talk to me so much as she emailed me.

Over at the Book Divas blog, Christina posted an interview she conducted with me via email. There’s a picture of the book and a really awesome interview.

I imagined whipping through the interview at lightning speed. You know, I expected the typical “Where are you from,” “What school did you go to,” “What’s your favorite Simpsons character” kind of questions that I could answer in no time flat. But Christina posed some very thought-provoking questions which you’ll see when you check out the blog. Did I give you the link? Here let me give it to you.

I love the Book Divas! I first came across their website when I was searching for YA book lovers. I wanted to get an idea of who was out there and what they were reading, their likes and dislikes, and so on. And what a treasure trove of information I found there! Loads of reviews and interviews and their blog, of course, where they have a review of the new Gossip Girl series.

I’d love to know what people think about books to movies and books to TV. Those are subjects I’m immensely curious about, seeing as how I adore movies and TV but I love books way more! Plus, I always envisioned my books being turned into movies. Could you imagine if Jennifer Aniston really did star in it? Oh my gosh! That would be amazing! Surreal! Art imitating life imitating art!

So hie thee to Book Divas and check out all their fab stuff! You’ll never want to leave! Maybe you’ll become a book diva yourself.

Your Hollywood connection,

Monday, October 1, 2007

Full Disclosure

I was a network censor.

Now, first things first: we don’t call them “censors” in the business. That’s what people in the regular world call us. We call ourselves “broadcast standards and practices editors,” shortened to BS&P or just “standards.”

We are the people who tell producers they can’t use the “f” word no matter how important they think their program is.

We are the people who tell writers they can say “g**” and “d***” but they can’t say them together.

We are the people who decide how much skin is too much and how many times a hip may thrust.
We are the protectors of the airwaves, the defenders of American values, the keepers of the morals.

We tell producers when they have to say “Wal-Mart” instead of “department store” - and vice versa. We ask them to cover up logos of products that are not advertised on the network or products of network-supported advertisers - or when the Sales department is in a snit because the advertiser hasn’t purchased enough time during upfronts.

We encourage safe sex messages in storylines. But we won’t advertise condoms.

We are NOT the supporters of free speech or the First Amendment.

Anyway, that’s my past, who I used to be. For seven years, I worked in standards for a broadcast network. I won’t tell you which one but I’ll give you a hint: it was a pretty hot network with lots of innovative, fun, and critically acclaimed shows. It used to exist and then it became something else. You know the one I’m talking about. Sure you do. Just think a moment.

Yes, that’s it. That’s the one.

So when I talk about television, I’d like to think I learned a thing or two or five. I hadn’t wanted to mention it but you know, I’m not ashamed anymore.

Your Hollywood connection,