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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First Look at Dark Knight Trailer, Low Quality but you get the idea.

Fango-Con in Los Angeles

I headed to the Los Angeles Convention Center with Victor Garcia on Sunday to hit Fango-Con. I was actually just at a brunch meeting when I spoke to VG, and he told me he was meeting his manager Will at Fango for the event. Not having much planned for the Sunday, and given my well-known predilection for horror, I decided to join him.

The Los Angeles area Fango was held in Burbank last year, and I think the move from the Valley to the City didn’t serve the event well. The kind of suburban dwellers, the folks who fill up the multiplexes on the weekend, that love what Fango serves up, are much more plentiful in the Valley, and I think on a warm Sunday, the extra distance of a trip to downtown LA was really not on the menu. In addition, the spread out feeling of the convention center made the crowds seem even sparser, and the lack of electricity that it created definitely had its affect on the audience, and how long they stuck around. Walking from table to table, it seemed like there were more people selling something than buying something.

The event did have its charms though. While walking around, had a nice chat with William Forsythe, a terrific actor who’s work I’ve admired since Raising Arizona. Younger Grumpophytes may know him better from The Devil’s Rejects and from the Rob Zombie Halloween. He lamented the location and staffing of the event himself, as well as the turnout. He was sitting next to Andrew Divoff, lately of Robert Kurtzman’s The Rage, and Lost, but perhaps best known for the Wishmaster movies. He was extremely friendly, and knew Victor from some work that they’d done together when Victor was working on FX crews for movies. Andrew, who was born in Venezuela, and Victor were going on in Spanish, so unfortunately I didn’t get the whole scoop. That was OK though, as it gave me more time to talk to Bill Forsythe.

The undisputed highlight of attending Fango was meeting one of the legends of Horror. We’d seen George Romero signing autographs, and he walked around a bit, with that long gait of his, and I knew that Victor wanted to meet him even more than I did, but didn’t want to just wander up. At one point, when he stepped outside for a smoke, I told Victor to grab his cigarettes. We went outside and I introduced myself and Victor to Mr. Romero, who was super cool and friendly and asked about what we were working on. We chatted for a bit, and then escaped with our dignity still intact.

We only stayed a bit longer after that. Victor bought an Body Snatchers t-shirt with a picture of Donald Sutherland on it. In the auditorium, was a Feast 2 and 3 panel going on, with the cast and director and writers, and we said hello to the Feast writers, Patrick and Marcus, who are best known for their Project greenlight appearances and for writing the next two Saw installments. Will is their manager as well, this small world of Horror in which we live.

Anyway, a fun way to pass a few hours on a Sunday, and then we were off. I hope, for everyone’s sake, though, that they move the event back to Burbank next year.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Airplane Bloggin’- End of April Edition

Headed back to LA on a fine Saturday morning, I haven’t really had my fill of New York since returning maybe three weeks ago. Seems like such a short period of time to spend in my New York home before returning to my LA home (aka the “hovel”), where I spent two months after Sundance.

Im headed out for a number of reasons. I have an interview for a production attorney position on a movie, and the producers on this particular movie insisted on a face-to-face meeting. I am not sure why, as its definitely not typical for lawyers to be interviewed in person, and even more so, at the prospective client’s office. But as money has been tight and this job pays decently, its certainly worth the trip. I am told I have the inside track because the line producer recommended me. I hope so.

Scott (The Insurgents) Dacko has been in LA for most of the week, staying in the hovel in my absence. But he’s just rented an apartment a few blocks from my place, and he’ll be vacating my place and taking up his new digs. He’d been spending money on hotels etc with his trips to LA, which were quite frequent, and so for the same economic reasons as me, he’s now a semi-resident of Los Angeles.

The other reason why its good I am making the flight involves Scott. Scott’s new screenplay (newish, I’d read a draft perhaps five months ago when we were in hard prep on Slaughter) has been optioned, with him attached to direct and me attached to produced, by a heavy hitter exec producer. They are putting up some decent money for Scott to do a script polish and for the option itself, and they’ve invited us to lunch to discuss moving forward, I suppose. I might not have been able to have made the trip just for the lunch, but I am glad I’ll happen to be in town for it, and get to meet another big time producer. This guy has had his name of lots of genre hits, and he’s exec producing a Will Smith movie at the moment – no small thing these days.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum though, Jet Blue, old faithful, changed their website. Not only was it two pains in the neck to book reward travel because the interface to do so was almost hidden, but also, I wasn’t able to choose my seat online. The function wouldn’t work on either of two browsers. So I didn’t have a seat assignment until I checked in this morning at the airport and of course, ninety minutes before flighttime there were only middle seats. I’ve been crunched between two large guys for the past five hours-not so much my idea of fun, and its been tough to sleep, even though I had both Valium and Tylenol PM before I got on the flight. I probably got two to three hours of fitful sleep in, mostly at the beginning of the flight. I didn’t take my normal 6AM flight, as I thought, hey, its Saturday, what’s the hurry, I will take the 9AM instead. In retrospect, however, when taking a flight where you cannot chose the seat, take the flight most likely to be half empty (the 6AM).

Had a great time with my brother Scott and friends (Dave, Mari, Adi, Lali) doing karaoke on Thursday night, which made it even a little more painful leaving New York early. But fun is fun and work is work, so here I am, crunched in coach.

Anyway, we’re beginning descent, so gonna wrap this up. Talk to you from the City of Angels (or, um, Dodgers).

Grumps.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Request (Updated)

My sister is having thyroid surgery tomorrow. Drop by her blog and give her your best, I am sure she'll appreciate it. And since I typically get readers from her and not the other way, I am sure she'd appreciate the additional traffic.

UPDATE
Steph is home resting comfortably. Everything went smoothly and she was vigorous enough to debate with me on the phone today.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Life's great mystery

One of those weird things. It happens from time to time, without explanation.

I met this woman, D, last week. We were both drinking when we met, at Sway, a nightspot close to my place. We flirted, and yes, then we “made out” a bit in the bar. She gave me her number before leaving.

I called her this week, on Tuesday, and we talked briefly and she told me to call her back a bit later. I did so, and we chatted pretty pleasantly for twenty minutes or so. She had a gallery opening or something on Thursday, and we discussed getting together after that, if it wrapped up early enough. She’d call me if it did. She didn’t call Thursday.

Our alternative plan was to get together this weekend. I called her early this evening, and the evening passed, and I haven’t heard back.

This of course doesn’t mean I wont. She very well may call me tomorrow. Then again, perhaps she won’t. If that’s the case, it will be pretty much a surprise given our meeting and our conversation and our plans, however tentative. Its not something that hasn’t happened before, and its something that’s likely to happen again. Its confusing because there seems to be some kind of disconnect, and I know that there are a million reasons why I might not hear from D again (I won’t call again, I think). I am also pretty sure that I have probably, myself, at some time, been the source of this confusion when not following up with someone who expected me to call.

Any number of reasons, right? Boyfriend, multiple dating, personal google issues (who knows). It is just one of life’s great mysteries. And it annoys the hell out of me, more than if she’d never given me her number, or never took my call when I called her.

Probably should have gotten married when I was 29.

Thoughts?

Free Drinks

A lazy Saturday afternoon. I am watching the Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. Its background noise, except for the annoying commercials. I cancelled all the premium cable channels yesterday, and so I am watching network stuff and basic cable.

Went out again last night. I hadn’t expected to go out, but then there I was, getting dressed and tromping down to the subway to meet some friends in the 20s. We met at a strip club, but stayed only momentarily whilst the group assembled. One of the guys in the group owns the club, Tens, and so we got together there to meet.

I was connected to the group through my friend Yuson, who is town because he’s a talent manager for Columbus Short, who I’ve spent some evenings out with in LA. Columbus was the lead in the movie “Stomp The Yard,” and has a bunch more coming out. He came out, with his co-star Jeffrey Wright, the amazing actor who is in tons of movies, like Syriana and recently, Casino Royale as Felix Leiter. They are both working on the same movie. Jeffrey lives here though. We’d never met, but he seems to be a good guy as well. Certainly no airs about him.

Assembled, I had made arrangements because of our celebrity companions to have comped table and bottle service at Marquee, which is a New York nightspot. We first headed over to Kiss and Fly, making the second time this week I’d been there. Jeffrey knew one of the managers, Randy, who is an icon on the New York club scene. I’d met Randy through my friend Ryan, who is my oft club companion, and who had arranged our table for us at Marquee.

Kiss and Fly was OK, though and they kept bringing bottles of champagne. Now I always think about New York being expensive and Los Angeles being cheap, on a relative basis. But actually, I always forget to factor in how rarely I pay for drinks in New York. Since I am currently on a pretty tight budget, I think about these things. But it occurred to me last night that I’ve been out, pretty hardcore, twice this week, and haven’t spent a cent on drinks. Which is nice, no?

Anyway, we lasted at Kiss and Fly for a few hours, I chatted with some ladies (a Charlotte from Norway, and a Flavia from Brazil, by way of Miami, cha cha cha). Got a message from Ryan that Marquee wasn’t worth the trip, but that he would meet us at The Box instead if we wanted to. But Jeffrey and Columbus wanted to go to Bungalow 8, so we headed north out of the Meatpacking district upto 27th street. They knew these folks at the door, so despite being very guy heavy, it wasn’t a problem (being with movie stars helps I guess).

More free drinks would be forthcoming at Bungalow, but frankly, I wasn’t into it. I’d had enough, and drinking at four AM pretty much makes me think that I would just be adding to my potential hangover. So I made my stay brief, said my goodbyes, and made my way home after an evening’s free entertainment.

If only I could get the cabs for free now. Hmmm.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Club

I’ve been going to clubs for over twenty years in New York. When I was young, I would head into Manhattan with high school friends from Queens, and we’d go to the Tunnel, to the Palladium, to MK and to the Underground, among others. I had this Willi Wear suit that my brother had given me, I’d slick my hair back and don a tie, and tell everyone that I was 23. I was 16. I never needed ID, because one of my friends was a promoter and everyone thought he was 25 (he was 16 too).

Last night, I went to the newest incarnation of the New York club scene, the very exclusive 1Oak, which is a pseudo-acronym for One of a Kind. It’s a kind of a super-club, having been created in partnership by some of NY’s biggest club promoters, the guys who own Butter among them.

We were out for my friend Ryan’s birthday. Going out with Ryan typically is a good time, because (1) he is always in a group of a few guys and a dozen or more beautiful women, and (2) because of his relationships at these clubs, like 1Oak (which is supposed to be the hardest door in NYC), we rarely if ever pay for a drink. I’d met him a bit earlier at Bagatelle, in the Meatpacking district for a dinner for his birthday with perhaps ten or twelve friends. After some drinks (I didn’t eat but it looked tasty), we stopped by Kiss and Fly (which occupies the old Aer space) next door, having been escorted through the Bagatelle kitchen (Goodfellas Henry Hill style) and through a door that led into the club from the restaurant (next door) to the KNF VIP area. We guzzled some Veuve Clicquot for half an hour, and then were out the door and over to 1OAK. In tow at this point, jammed in a few cabs, were perhaps five guys, maybe ten or fifteen girls, and a huge mammoth of a fellow that turned out to be Michael Olowakandi, former NBA center and number one draft pick. I didn’t let him know that he’d been a bust pick for me in a fantasy league years back. Doubt he would have been interested. Nice guy though.

We met a bunch more people inside 1OAK, and went to a table next to the DJ booth. There was more champagne, more women and some very good spinning going on. It was one thirty when we got these, we didn’t leave til perhaps four fifteen, and after some drama, I didn’t get home til five forty five AM or so. Outside of the enormous Michael O. and a little end of the night fisticuffs (which I helped break-up), the night was pretty standard. The place is nicer looking that many clubs, more interesting design-wise, but like I said, I've pretty much seen it all over the last twenty years or so. But its really all about the crowd, and beautiful russian models sitting on my lap and asking me if I mind. This place did fine with both, so I was OK.

I have to admit I am a little worn out today, and depending on her schedule, I may be meeting a photographer, D, who I’d met last weekend out at Sway, tonight for a drink (she has an opening so it’s a play it by ear thing for tonight). I like her fine, but I think I’d be just peachy to meet up over the weekend instead.

Nice to be back in NY, at least for a bit.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bare Faced


Been thinking about it for a while, and just did it. Lost the goatee. I've had it for years (either that or a beard). Had a mustache only for a week or so when I'd played a country cop in "Hot Baby" but other than that, its been pretty hairy (sorry).

Feels weird to be bare-faced, but I think I definitely look younger without the mostly-pepper with some salt goatee. For whatever thats worth.

BTW, I am not stoned in this picture. Not a dear in the headlights either.

That Personal Connection

OK. So I am so over Tony Parker.

I realized over the weekend that over the past six months of agony or so, agony which I cannot really write about directly, professional agony which has crept into most every aspect of my life, personal, financial (especially financial), that I’d become boring. A boring blogger. (More boring?)

A blogger friend, Rachel, who likely always has been more entertaining than me in print (is online print?, I digress), because she is a better writer, had posted recently about dating someone who read her blog. When I’d read this, it sent me back to look at my blog, to a period of blogging in Sept-Oct. 2006 when I was dating, briefly, someone who was reading my blog. (You can search "Curly" in this blog and find the string of posts if you're curious - they go from hilarious to awful, especially the comments). I was also reading hers, and it got messy.

But when I was sending Rachel specific details about the perils of this situation, and went back into my own blog to determine the dates of the posts relating to these dangers, I discovered specifically something that I knew unconsciously. I used to be funnier. I used to be more entertaining (Again, online, I won’t say that this fits my in-person persona).

I did some reading, going through past posts. From a year ago, from longer ago. It was more interesting back in the day. I think part of the reason is that I took a little more care with the posts. I also think that to some degree, the posts had a continuity, a storyline that flowed through posts over time. Not every post, but touchstone ideas to which to return as a reader. It was more a story of my life, and less a collection of unconnected crap.

But in that last thought, though, is perhaps the biggest difference, I think. I post movie reviews and obits and other entertainment related tidbits and oddities, but I’d lost more of the personal side of my blogging. It wasn’t about me (not that I am so wonderful and everyone wants to know about me). And I imagine a decent portion of the folks who wander by here wander by because of the contents’ relationship to the movies and the business of which they are a part. That’s fine.

But perhaps why people read blogs like mine, the biggest reason, is it’s a connection. Its not the closest connection, to be sure, but it is one, to people who you can learn something about at a distance. And it’s the personal stuff that draws us. Proof? I’ve always had more regular readers when I blogged about my personal life. Actually, I’ve gotten the very most readers when I’ve blogged about bad things happening in my personal life (I think misery definitely attracts attention).

So, with my previous entry as proof of my intent, I am going to do my best to include more of myself in my blog. And maybe, if I can, to blog a little bit more. We shall see how it works out.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I hate Tony Parker.

I hate Tony Parker.

Unbelievable. I am in a fantasy basketball league (that’s the dorky, perhaps, yet not unbelievable part). I make it all the way to the finals for the first time (I’ve been to the finals multiple times in baseball and football leagues, which are equally dorky- although like ten million Americans play fantasy sports so I am not alone in my dorkiness). And then, I’m beset by unexpected injuries. One player sits out the whole week. And another misses a game, and yet, halfway through this afternoon, Sunday, I am in a great position to win.

And then, Tony Parker. Yes, Eva Longoria’s husband, has an impossibly bad game (at least according to the rules of our league). If he had even had a game halfway decent, half his scoring average, I cement a win first place, bragging rights and an additional four hundred dollars.

On top of that, even so, my opponent is having a somewhat dreadful Sunday himself, and so it comes down to Allen Iverson. I am clinging to a small lead. Iverson is facing one of the worst teams in the NBA, a team his should blow out. Instead, he plays the whole game and as regulation winds up, I still have my lead. But the Nuggets cannot put away the Sonics, and the game ends regulation in a tie. And sports fans, you know what that means? Overtime.

They go to overtime, of course he scores some more, and I’m in second place. No extra 400 (I did win 850 or something like that) – no passing go.

But wait (Live bloggin here), the punishment continues. The first overtime has just ended in a tie, sending the game into double overtime. Now I should point out, a player can actually lose points by missing shots, so that he could end up with less points after second overtime then he had after the first. Right now I am still in second. He’d have to miss a few shots in 2OT and then I’d have a chance. Basically, what wounded me when they tied after the regulation has just wounded my opponent when they were tied after the first OT>

He just missed another one. It’s a virtual tie now. But I know this. I know how its gonna end. Its just a tease. If the game ended right now, its my win, by .25 points. Now realize that this is a two week playoff. And it we’ve both scored 2000 points or so (each). And its down to the end, and a quarter of a single point. In the 24th week of the season. So its that kind of tease.

He’s just missed again. I cannot believe I’d have a chance. This is a loss. It’s a loss until its game over. And now, he’s just missed two free throws. That’s another minus two.

I cannot believe that this could possibly go my way. Down to 1:19 left (unless they end in a tie for the third time). I’m still ahead. Barely. One basket by AI and I’m behind again.

As a good friend of mine says, “Sucks balls.” She means it too. Its gonna suck balls for one of us. Probably me.

Down to 16 seconds now. And it’s a five point game so it looks like this is gonna be it.

Down to 10 seconds now. A missed shot by Denver, Seattle going to the line. And Iverson just scores a layup. See – always fucks you in the end. That last two pointer, unbelievable. I am now behind by .25. Gonna lose on the shitty meaningless two pointer with five seconds left.

This is the worst loss – so much worse having witnessed the whole thing. I should have just turned it off. This was like watching someone taking your fingernails off.

Looks like that’s it. Unless the box scores are revised – Im losing by a fucking quarter of a point.

Like I said, I hate Tony Parker.

Charlton Heston, 84

Charlton Heston, the square-jawed movie star who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ben-Hur and was famed for a number of other epic films, died Saturday night at the age of 84. Though an official cause of death was not initially released, the actor had announced in 2002 that he was battling Alzheimer's disease, and had withdrawn from professional appearances after the diagnosis. An actor at first well-known for his portrayal of historical figures -- in addition to his role as Ben-Hur, he also played Michelangelo, El Cid, Moses, and John the Baptist -- Heston's fame later in life was highlighted by his polarizing views on gun control, as the actor was elected president of the National Rifle Association in 1998 and vigorously defended the rights of gun owners throughout the country. Indeed the role of political activist, which he embraced throughout his life, almost overshadowed his impressive acting career, which started in theater and television before graduating to the silver screen.

Born in Evanston, IL, Heston was the son of a mill owner who found his life's ambition in acting and found his first big breaks on the Broadway stage and in the nascent medium of television. He made his debut in the 1950 film noir thriller Dark City, and within two years headlined (alongside established stars Betty Hutton and Cornel Wilde) the 1952 Best Picture Oscar winner, The Greatest Show on Earth, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Though he continued to work in a number of lower-profile films, including Ruby Gentry and The Naked Jungle, it was DeMille who in 1956 gave the actor one of his most iconic roles, that of Moses in the Biblical epic The Ten Commandments, a sweeping, captivating, over-the-top film that pioneered cinematic special effects with its parting of the Red Sea, and in its depiction of the turbulent political lives and love lives of its stars -- Heston, Yul Brynner as the Pharoah and Anne Baxter as the woman torn between them -- became the quintessential studio epic of its time, favored as much for its close-to-camp emotional broadness as well as its impressive scale. Heston did a 180-degree turnaround from that statuesque role with 1958's Touch of Evil, the Orson Welles thriller that remains a classic to this day in which he played a Mexican narcotics officer drawn into a lurid drug ring. Heston won his Best Actor Oscar in 1959 for another lavish, larger-than-life historical epic, Ben-Hur, which with its famed chariot race and story set against the backdrop of ancient Rome won a record 11 Academy Awards, a feat not equalled until Titanic's similar win in 1997.

After Ben-Hur, Heston's status as a star was firmly cemented, and throughout the 1960s roles in such films as El Cid, 55 Days at Peking, The Greatest Story Ever Told (where he played John the Baptist), The Agony and the Ecstasy (his Michelangelo going up against Rex Harrison's Pope Julius II), and Khartoum followed. He found another legendary screen character in 1968's Planet of the Apes, as an astronaut who finds himself on a futuristic Earth now populated by evolved simians who have enslaved the human race. As with his other roles, Heston perfectly balanced the camp aspects of the story with a gravitas that helped ground the sci-fi thriller with a modern-day resonance that helped audiences identify with the hero's plight. (Heston briefly reprised his role in the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes). The 1970s saw the actor again in futuristic roles in The Omega Man (based on the same story as last year's I Am Legend) and Soylent Green, as well as the disaster epics Airport 1975 and Earthquake. Heston's later film career was made up primarily of thrillers (Gray Lady Down, Two-Minute Warning, The Awakening), television appearances (most notably in Dynasty and its spinoff, The Colbys), and cameos in a variety of high-profile films (Wayne's World 2, Tombstone, True Lies, Hamlet, Any Given Sunday, and the remake of Planet of the Apes, among others). By 1978, Heston had received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild; on the down side, he also regrettably won a Razzie award in 2002 for his supporting performances in Cats & Dogs and Town and Country.

Heston's film career often became overshadowed by his political activities. In the 1960s he was an early, vocal and visible participant in the Civil Rights movement; joining Martin Luther King's march on Washington. In the 1980s and onward, as the former president of the Screen Actors Guild and onetime chairman of the American Film Institute he championed conservative causes and campaigned aggressively against gun control, becoming president of the National Rifle Association in 1998 and speaking out against then-President Bill Clinton on the subject. Becoming yet another icon, Heston found himself revered and reviled by supporters on both sides of the issue and became the surprising center of a highly emotional culture war, using his fame to speak out in favor of a number of conservative issues (he changed his political stance from Democrat to Republican in the late 1980s). Using his position as a Time-Warner stock holder he castigated the company for profiting from the sales of an Ice-T album which included the song "Cop Killer," reading the lyrics to the song aloud at a stockholder meeting. His career as gun-control opponent reached an apotheosis with his appearance in 2000 when he vowed that they could take his guns when they pried the weapons "from my cold, dead hands." Later, in Michael Moore's 2002 Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, a visibly diminished Heston refused to answer Moore's barrage of questions regarding gun deaths, particularly for the callousness of Heston attending an NRA meeting in Denver shortly after the nearby Columbine school massacres. A year later, Heston received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and he officially disclosed that he was battling Alzheimer's; he consequently withdrew from public life.

Heston is survived by his wife Lydia Clarke, to whom he was married 64 years, and their two children, Fraser Clarke Heston and Holly Heston Rochell.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

LA Splash Magazine

David Rabadi's interview with me, at LA Splash Magazine...

here

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Am Legend

Just a few words.

Many of you have already seen this (584 million worldwide) so I may be preaching to the choir. But I am not writing for those of you who obviously would have been attracted to something like a Will Smith action apocalypse zombie movie. You know who you are.

I am writing to those of you who would never consider seeing a movie like this based on the seven to ten word blurb that is used to market a movie like this in 110 countries around the world.

THIS MOVIE IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS.

What it is, is an intriguing character study of a man's reaction to isolation. What it also is - an amazing performance by a leading man who just seems to get better with age, and like Pursuit of Happyness, one that is not a simple extension of his prior, enjoyable but less impressive work. Will Smith is amazing in this movie, playing a role that you've never seen him play. There are two moments of emotional performance that are just classic (legend?) - I wont mention them so as not to spoil them, and you'll know them when you see them.

There isn't a lot of blood (very little actually), but there is a lot of story telling, and a lot of surprises, and pathos, and emotion.

See it. It really has something for everyone, and is one of few recent blockbusters (Ratatouille, being another) that really deserves that big an audience.