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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Airplane Bloggin’: Too Tired to Name This Edition

Whirlwind?  Well, its been more methodical, more drudgery that that would imply.  Yes, the word whirlwind has a nice romanticism, but it doesn’t convey the coach class compression that has defined my flights bookending the last twenty four hours, or the schedule compression that defined the time between.

I woke up early this AM (well, early for me) in Las Vegas, where I’ve been for the past (I have to look at the calender to know how many) ten days.  Went to the airport (thanks, Angela and Eric for the lodgings yet again, and for the ride to LAS) so that I could fly back to Los Angeles on the 8:40 on the Grumpster’s favorite airline, the egalitarian and efficient SouthWest. 

On the ground before ten AM, I said hello to my home, which I haven’t seen since the Monday after Thanksgiving.   Unpacked a bit, returned some correspondence via email, and jumped on a conference call with two scientists and a high level manager of a multinational conglomerate.  I could tell you what the call was about, but then I’d have to kill myself.  Or at least delete this entry.  So I won’t.

That was followed by a meeting with my newest clients, Green Planet Productions, the folks behind the film, Fuel, and their recent entry, The Big Fix, about the BP oil spill, the damage it has done, and the subsequent cover-up by one of the world’s most profitable companies.  Love those green signs at your gas stations, boys.

After the Green Planet meeting, I headed over to Tunnel to finalize some paperwork for another client’s new venture, before meeting Mario the composer at an Irish Pub for a happy hour dinner.  Mario had some things he’d wanted to discuss, I hadn’t seen him as I haven’t been in LA to see him (and I thought I could co-opt this into a ride to LAX, something Mario was more than happy to provide).  He’s been doing the score for Lee Daniels’ follow-up to Precious, a thrilled called The Paperboy,  which stars Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Zak Efron and Matthew McConaughey.  I was glad he was able to make time.

I spend a good deal of time these days thinking and talking about environmental technology and the environment in general.  One of the books that I am currently reading is Greg Palast’s Vulture’s Picnic. It’s investigative journalism, with a Sam Spade wink, from a truly entertaining and informed writer who is looking very hard at the world’s petrofinancial industry, with a focus on the BP Gulf Deepwater Horizon disaster and its historical precedents in Alaska and the Caspian sea.  I mention this primarily because I am most of the way through a redeye flight (yes, this is all one day) to Miami from LAX, on a ticket I booked when I thought I’d be much less busy.   Its so rare that I fall asleep cramped in a coach seat, particularly when I am stuck in a row with two big guys (don’t get me started on the perverse humor that must, I swear, must exist, when seat assignments are made).  However, I did fall asleep, only to wake up, look out the window hours into the flight, and see the lights of boats and other structures (oil rigs, couldn’t say) in the Gulf.
I am still wiped out regardless of the three hour snooze, and I am looking forward to getting into the guest bedroom at my families’ place in Miami Beach and making a full morning of catching up on the missed sleep.  When I booked the ticket, I hadn’t expected to have been in NY eleven days prior, but its still nice to see my folks the extra time (they just arrived in Miami today, er, yesterday, I don’t entirely know what day it is).  I didn’t get even a single night (or a nap) in my own bed in  the twelve hours I spent in LA, but that’s OK.  What I am doing has meaning, I like for the most part all of the people with whom I am spending my time, and the future is exciting. 

Wonder if I can get back to sleep for the last forty minutes of the flight. 


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Airplane Bloggin’ – Back to Sin City

What a long strange trip its been.   

Not so long, actually, but I enjoy the reference.  Over the past week, I’ve passed through Pittsburgh to visit with a multinational corporation’s physicists, then onto DC where I met with, among others, Clinton’s Secretary of Agriculture, visited the Indonesian Embassy (I missed the Ambassador but others from our group had an audience), and saw out mission reach the House of Representatives and the Senate.  I spent a full day at Jones Day, the preeminent intellectual property law firm (OK, well, maybe that doesn’t sound so exciting, though they did take us out for drinks after) and drank Russian vodka in a Dupont Circle bar, poured by a drop-dead Meryl Streep look-alike (when Meryl was 25).  Notably, I met the mistress of the blog Diary of Why , and we shared an evening bloggin’ in person, over beer (and champagne).  I assure you all, there is a good reason why. 

I’m currently on the plane back to Vegas, to company HQ’s, with the man I’ve coined “the real most interesting man in the world,” an appellation to which the Mistress of Why agreed after a brief interview with him.  The world’s most interesting man is actually asleep in the window seat (to my aisle), and so I can describe him with no fear of intervention :P. 

Charles is a blue blood scion of American corporate royalty, coming from the Pan Am legacy.  He is a former (well, not so former sometimes, like at the Mint a month ago) rockstar, an expatriate on the run for twenty years from charges against him (now expunged), a boat captain, an airplane pilot, a technical Flir photographer of much merit, the true producer of the movie (and the daredevil therein) The Cove (and if you haven’t seen it, see it, immediately – no excuses, it streams on Netflix), and a magnet for all global environmental issues.  His rolodex includes other rockstars, heads of state, billionaires business magnets, world renowned scientists, royalty and Johnny Depp.  He can outdrink you, outsmoke you and play a blistering guitar.  He lives the life of a 1 percenter on the income of a 99 percenter.  And he doesn’t want anything from you except perhaps friendship and a shared point of view.

In NYC, which we reached via Acela from DC, just in time for The Big Fix premiere (please google and check it out, very important doco about BP’s continuing destruction of our environment), I had time to see my parents, some close friends (like Ibo and Elicia), to take in with Newman the most exciting football game I (and probably most of the crowd) have ever attended, even though my Giants lost to the Pack), and dine with a quite charming member (a friend of Charles, of course) of the royal family of Monaco, all in a seventy two hour period.  I spent a few hours with one of the top lawyers in America, a bit of time on the phone with another with whom I used to work, and even more importantly, got to see Drew’s lovely, brilliant young daughters, a sterling reminder of why I am doing what I am doing. 

Also, I’ve heard several times over the past few days from my EX (capitalized to emphasize that she’s the only one I’d refer to in this capacity).  The tumultuousness of that relationship still well, in mind, it appears that détente may be on her mind.  Ambivalence is what is on mine.  Hold fast.

And now, back to Las Vegas, where this journey all began just a few short months ago (not surprisingly due to Charles’ introduction).  Its not full circle, as the journey has hardly begun.   Lots of travel appears to be on tap, a tremendous amount of safeguarding and business development to be done.  Stops in Monte Carlo, Guadalajara, and Switzerland loom on the horizon.   What a long strange trip it promises to be.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Airplane Bloggin’: The World’s An Open Book.

Flying at the moment from LA to Pittsburgh for meetings with a big company, on behalf of my newest client.  An inventor.  Truly groundbreaking stuff that I cannot yet disclose.  Let’s just say that, if everythings works according to plan, the world could potentially be a very different, better place in the not-so-distant future.  Hoping to see that happen, and I may have as much work as I can handle as well, which will be nice after a slow work year. 

After said Pittsburgh jaunt, off the D.C.   While I haven’t ever been to Pittsburgh (though I have heard nice things from my friends who’ve visited), over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Washington.   However, I haven’t been there in perhaps ten years or more (honestly, I can’t really recall when I was last there).  When I was with Cadwalader, I spent a fair amount of time in DC as one of the partners for whom I worked was based in DC.  Before that, I’d progressed pretty far in a job search with another firm in DC, Miller & Chevalier, and before that, my brother Scott and good friend David had lived in Alexandria, and I’d been down to visit more than once.   It was also a frequent stop for tax conferences (exciting, yes, I know, please calm down) and training seminars.

Back then, D.C. had the reputation of being a very female-laden, centric, heavy, I don’t know.  Lotsa girls.  And lots of gay men, which helped the “ratio” even more.  Guys know what I mean, its how many of us picked the colleges we attended.  For real.  Hehe.

So wondering, after speaking with a friend this AM about how DC has changed over the last ten years, gentrified and become more broadly inhabitable, how much the city has changed demographically.  Not that I’ll necessarily notice in two days, but we’ll see.  I will be seeing my close friend, Drew, who works in some kind of high finance job splitting time between DC and NYC.  He’s getting us in, it seems, on a corporate rate at the Mandarin Oriental, so thanks for that, Drew. Nevermind that, I just checked prices on DC Hotel Rooms, and the prices are extraordinarily low for decent hotels within the district.  $67 for a room in Dupont Circle?  Hard to believe.

In any event, I am looking forward to seeing D.C. again, and to move this client forward.  Exciting things going on, for me, for you (though you don’t know it yet), and I hope to be able to share more in the near future. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Repost - Interesting on Blogs

Walt Disney Co. has acquired New York-based Babble Media Inc., a parenting site that features advice about pregnancy, child development and related topics from some 200 mommy bloggers.
The Burbank entertainment giant has been acquiring family-focused websites in recent years, as its struggling Disney Interactive Media Group seeks to build out its online offerings for parents.
Babble, launched in 2006 by husband-and-wife team Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, attracts about 2.1 million monthly visitors -- about 483,000 of whom are women with children ages 2 to 17, according to Nielsen.
Blogs have become a vital source of information for women with children. The research firm EMarketer estimates that 54% of the 32 million mothers who go online in the U.S. every month visit blogs.
"This is an audience where there's a lot of loyal, faithful readers," said Debra Aho Williamson, an online analyst for EMarketer who wrote an October 2010 report about moms who blog. "People tend to gravitate towards certain bloggers ... and comment regularly on what they're reading. It's a very tight-knit community." 
Major media companies have been in hot pursuit of mothers. Nickelodeon plans to launch NickMom, a nightly block of programs aimed at parents, late next year. It will be accompanied by a website, Nickelodeon's, to dispense parenting advice.
Disney has been assembling its own collection of mom-focused websites for years, to bolster its network of family-oriented Internet offerings. It acquired iParenting Media's collection of websites in late 2007, and two years later paid $23.3 million to buy Kaboose Inc., a Canadian family-focused media group.
"Disney is all about moms and kids. It's a great place for them to 'play,'" said Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors consulting group.
The latest deal, for which terms were not disclosed, Disney gains a site that was named one of the 50 best of 2010 by Time magazine. Its stable of bloggers write on a range of parenting topics. Recent contributions include "I'm Jealous of My Nanny," "20 Sleepover Party Recipes" and "How to Buy and Use a Family Camera." 
"With more than 3.9 million mom blogs in the U.S. alone, Disney Interactive recognizes and values the important and powerful role moms have taken on in new media," Brooke Chaffin, senior vice president of Moms and Family for the company's interactive media group, said in a statement.
Disney declined to comment. Babble did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cold Weather In California and Other Non-Sequiturs

This just in. Venice is cold.  And I've become a warm-weather wimp.  Its still September, I am all-ashiver about how cold I'm going to be come winter-time.  I actually can see wearing some of my heavier NYC wardrobe.

Its been overcast and in the mid-sixties for the past week, and I'm bundled up like a grandmother.   Been out and about just a little bit, headed to Gold's Gym, which I joined because it was close and much nicer than the terrible and depressing LA/Marina Fitness in Marina del Rey.  Back to yoga, cardio, weight-lifting.  Slow-going getting back into shape...Also (and not helping the getting back in shape thing) went with Mike K., my neighbor and a friend from high school, to the newly-opened beer hall on Lincoln, Wurstkuche (umlauts omitted), for some snausages and litres of beer (they come in litres?? (obscure tweaked movie reference, five movie geek points for getting the reference).  It was fun, and we ran into the managers of Baby Blues, the BBQ joint across the street, checking out their new neighbors, and bought them a round for making some really wonderful BBQ very close to home.

Work has been slow this month, so I am spending too much time netsurfing and not enough time being productive.  Sound familiar.  Things have seemingly started to pick up though, and its not like I don't have things around the house (still no maid) that I could be doing more productive than playing stupid games on FB.   The games aren't even that much fun, they just provide something to do.  I had an invitation to head back to Vegas for another four or five days, but I passed, as I should be looking for more lucrative opportunities, regardless of missed fun.

Been quiet - and hence, boring blog entry.  I'll try to be more fascinating next time.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I'm Watching

Netflucks (the moniker that seems to be sticking to this pr-deprived enterprise) certainly makes it easy to remember - they give you a list of everything you've watched.  Without further ado...

Q&A (Sidney Lumet, amazing performances, which tends to go without saying in a Sidney Lumet movie) (not netflix btw)
Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press) (excellent doco on NYT street fashion photog.)
Still Waiting (Jeff Balis) - cause I liked the first, your fairly standard gross out comedy, not bad, not the first though, though far better than say the Harold and Kumar sequel.  Balis, an indie producer based in LA, was incidentally the guy fired off Season two of Project Greenlight (the one with Shia LeBeof)
The Expendables (Sly Stallone) - have a client who may be in the new one, due diligence, not without its entertainment value, not exactly a rumination on existentialism, and in fairness not trying to be
Alice In Wonderland  (Tim Burton) - no doubt I am the last person in the US on the planet to see this and you all have your own opinions, but I found it pretty breathtaking, and Helena Bonham Carter rocks it out
Running the Sahara (James Moll - doco) - not bad.  Incongruous Matt Damon narration.
Hobo With A Shotgun (Jason Eisener) - Not bad, worth the watch, I think this director has a future.
Bronson (Nicholas Winding Refn) - Really knocked me out, as did Tom Hardy, who I met right after this film came out in the US at a pool on the roof of some WeHo hotel.  (Nice guy, wasn't very happy about how Bronson got treated by its distributor, or how he got treated.  He was already hanging with Leo and the Inception crew by then, so I imagine he got over it soon enough).  So Kubrick-like thats both its most amazing and probably most attackable attribute.  I was pretty much stopped in my tracks.  A must see.

Monday, September 19, 2011

And the Emmy Award Winners (Cave-dweller, pt. 2)

* Modern Family (ABC)The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Glee (Fox)
The Office (NBC)
Parks & Recreation (NBC)
30 Rock (NBC)
* Mad Men (AMC)Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Dexter (Showtime)
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Wife (CBS)
* Downton Abbey (PBS)
Cinema Verité (HBO)
The Kennedys (Reelz)
Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Pillars of the Earth (Starz)
Too Big To Fail (HBO)
* Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Diane Lane, Cinema Verité (HBO)
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey (PBS)
Taraji P. Henson, Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story (Lifetime)
Jean Marsh, Upstairs Downstairs (PBS)
* Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Tom Wilkinson, The Kennedys (Reelz)
Brian F. O'Byrne, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail (HBO)
James Woods, Too Big to Fail (HBO)
* Barry Pepper, The Kennedys (Reelz)
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos (Sundance)
Greg Kinnear, The Kennedys (Reelz)
Idris Elba, Luther (BBC America)
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood (HBO)
William Hurt, Too Big to Fail (HBO)
* Brian Percival, Downton Abbey (PBS)
Olivier Assayas, Carlos (Sundance)
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, Cinema Verite (HBO)
Todd Haynes, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Curtis Hanson, Too Big to Fail (HBO)
* Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Melissa Leo, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Mare Winningham, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Eileen Atkins, Upstairs Downstairs (PBS)
* Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey (PBS)
Todd Haynes and Jon Raymond, Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Steven Moffat, Sherlock: A Study in Pink (PBS)
Peter Gould, Too Big To Fail, HBO
Heidi Thomas, Upstairs Downstairs (PBS)
* Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Michael C. Hall, Dexter (Showtime)
Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)
Hugh Laurie, House (Fox)
Timothy Olyphant, Justified (FX)
* Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law (NBC)
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Mireille Enos, The Killing (AMC)
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men (AMC)
* Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Jeremy Podeswa, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Neil Jordan, The Borgias (Showtime)
Tim Van Patten, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Patty Jenkins, The Killing (AMC)
* Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age (TNT)
Josh Charles, The Good Wife (CBS)
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife (CBS)
Walton Goggins, Justified (FX)
John Slattery, Mad Men (AMC)
* Margo Martindale, Justified (FX)
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)
Michelle Forbes, The Killing (AMC)
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC)
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Archie Punjabi, The Good Wife (CBS)
* Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
David Benioff, Game of Thrones (HBO)
Veena Sud, The Killing (AMC)
Matthew Weiner, Mad Men (AMC)
Andre Jacquemetton, Mad Men (AMC)
* Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Jerry Foley, Late Night With David Letterman (CBS)
Gregg Gelfand, American Idol (Fox)
James Hoskinson, The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Chuck O'Neil, Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
* The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Conan (TBS)
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
* The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Conan (TBS)
* The Amazing Race (CBS) American Idol (Fox)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
Top Chef (Bravo)
* Michael Alan Spiller, Modern Family (ABC)
Gail Mancuso, Modern Family (ABC)
Pamela Fryman, How I Met Your Mother
Steven Levitan, Modern Family (ABC)
Beth McCarthy-Miller, 30 Rock (NBC)
* Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly (CBS)
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey, 30 Rock (NBC)
Laura Linney, The Big C (Showtime)
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope (Fox)
Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation (NBC)
* Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock (NBC)
Louis C.K., Louie (FX)
Steve Carell, The Office (NBC)
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes (Showtime)
Steve Levitan, Jeffrey Richman, Modern Family (ABC)
Louis C.K, Louis (FX)
Greg Daniels, The Office (NBC)
Matt Hubbard, 30 Rock (NBC)
David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes (Showtime)
* Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)
Chris Colfer, Glee (Fox)
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family (ABC)
Ed O'Neill, Modern Family (ABC)
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)
* Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC)
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock (NBC)
Jane Lynch,Glee (Fox)
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Some TIFF Awards Stuff (in case you live in a cave and only have this page bookmarked)

Toronto Winners

Cadillac People’s Choice Award
Nadine Labaki-directed Where Do We Go Now?
Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Documentary
Jon Shenk-directed The Island President
Cadillac People’s Choice Award For Midnight MadnessGareth Evans-directed The Raid
City of Toronto and Astral Media’s The Movie Network Award For Best Canadian FeaturePhilippe Falardeau-directed Monsieur Lazhar
Skyy Vodka Award For Best Canadian First Feature FilmNathan Morlando-directed Edwin Boyd
FIPRESCI Prize For Special Presentations SectionGianni Amelio-directed The First Man
FIPRESCI Prize For Discovery ProgrammeAxel Petersen-directed Avalon (Sweden)
Best Canadian Short FilmIan Harnarine-directed Doubles With Slight Pepper

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ahhh, (Back In) Venice

And boy are my arms tired.

OK, sorry.

It's nice to be home.  But home is a serious mess.  To housekeeper, or not to housekeeper, that is the question.  Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of multiple dust-bunnies...

You get the point.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Airplane Bloggin’: Winds of the North – Air Canada Blows

(posted from the ground)

After an eventful weekend at the Toronto Film Festival, I am approximately five and a half hours into my purportedly five hour trip back to Los Angeles (read: Venice). Air Canada, hospice to surly flight attendants and a bulwark against oppressive airline Wi-Fi, kindly let us passengers on the 10:25 flight back to LA that the flight would be “en retard” (I am not making this up, nor is my command of Ontarian French strong enough to disregard the obvious synergies) for an additional deux heures. Of course, it might have been more helpful to let us know this most valuable information more than five minutes before the original boarding time for the flight. Hey, well at least Pearson had wi-fi, Starbucks and multiple other diversions, like Woody Harrelson walking around in an orange t-shirt (inadvertently?) promoting some kind of fresh fruit juice.

Yeah, I know.

After getting in on Friday, Mario Grigorov (composer and pianist of much ability, and famed thanks to his memorable scoring of the terrific academy-award-winning Precious) cabbed it downtown to the Metropolitan, which is not to be confused with the much more tony Soho Metropolitan. Our Metropolitan was the relatively-low budget version of a downtown Toronto hotel, serviceable and residing in the less than luxurious range north of a Best Western, and well south of a Hilton, not to mention the Hyatt Regency, which serves as TIFF’s headquarters. Livable, a bit scabrous, perhaps a tad bit far from the festival’s headquarters at the Hyatt, but with running water, wifi and mostly free from (i) pests, (ii) excessive street noise and (iii) recently-updated lobby furniture (honestly, I had a nicer couch in law school). Still, they make a mean Maker’s Mark Manhattan (neat, thanks) and I ran into the ever-cool Bill Duke (Predators) in the lobby. So I’ll assign a passing grade and presume upon some lobby improvements.

After getting to the hotel and grabbing a shower, we met up with the Tunn3l team for whom I am consulting these days and headed over to Queens Quay for a beer at a nice outdoor bar, before the Brooklyn Brother’s (a TIFF title) party. Mario, Kyle, Jay, Matt and I rolled into the place where we were literally inundated with free shots, drinks, pretty decent-yet-low-cholesterol-diet-breaking-appetizers, and a live music show featuring the eponymous Brooklyn Brother’s band from the movie, led by Ryan O’Nan on guitar and guest performances by Arielle Kebbel, Jeremy Renner and Jason Ritter. Ryan directed Brooklyn Bros. as well as starred in it, and posted it at Tunn3l’s post-facility in Santa Monica. Coincidentally, he is starring in and co-writing Life, an upcoming film that was co-written by one of my very closest friends, who also happens to be named Ryan.

The sound system at the party venue was screwed, or the mixer was on two tabs of acid, I couldn’t tell which. Regardless, it made the acoustics, shall we say, challenging, and Ryan, though a gentleman, seemed rightfully frustrated. Riding on fumes by about 2AM, and despite having been playfully accosted by a cute, green-card seeking blonde Canadian waitress with a longing for Orange Country, CA, I was more than ready when we grabbed a cab back to the hotel.

Saturday morning, the Tunn3l guys (OK, I am not writing it like that anymore, fair warning) headed over to a breakfast morning. Mario and I ventured over to the Hyatt to check out all things “festive” and catch up with the guys after their breakfast. They had additional meetings and then had to deal with sleep deprivation, so Mario and I padded down some Toronto thoroughfare with a unintelligible and clearly memorable (not) name like Spirudana or something, and headed into Toronto’s very fine Chinatown. Thirty one Canadian dollars (an even swap for the greenback these days) of dim-sum later, Mario and I had to walk off the starch, sodium and various mystery ingredients, so we waddled our way back to the hotel. Mario then departed for a screening while I grabbed a nap, despite gorgeous Toronto afternoon sunshine. Plans for later were still being formulated.

Saturday night the guys (sans Mario, who attended some chic private dinner at a restaurant called Crème in Yorkville with Rob Lowe) hit the ICM party at a chic little venue, newly-opened and with the filmic name, F stop. The name made me wonder if it was a venue temporarily opened for TIFF, but apparently that’s the somewhat unfortunate name of this nicely-appointed spot. With a well-appreciated open bar and no shortage of cocktail waitresses who easily could have passed as the next crop of ICM starlets, we had a good time for a few hours enjoying the buzz of vodka and bourbon. Ryan O’Nan showed up and spilled some background on his directing debut. We made a pit stop with Jay’s friend and sometime-partner, Pat Murphy, at a middling French bistro next door before calling it a night at around 2AM once again. The Malbec was good, at least.

Sunday morning, Mario and I, reunited, headed out to find repast, with the Tunnel guys at yet another breakfast meeting. We discovered a Torontian version of Eggs Benedict, which used shrimp rather than ham. I actually ordered it inadvertently, but happily survived the experience without complaint.

Sunday, being the first full day of American football, yielded a quick stroll through the Hyatt lobby, where I reencountered a group of friendly rfilmmakers at TIFF in support of their well-reviewed South African film, Lucky. Congrats to the British director and the film’s Rochester-based producing team on their very impressive Hollywood Reporter review. I look forward to talking with them soon, as well as seeing the humanistic Lucky.

This peremptory stop didn’t last long, as kickoff loomed for the 1PM NFL games (being on EST definitely has its benefits – watching football at 10AM in California still seems an awkward endeavor to me). We headed to that bastion of American football, Wayne Gretskies (o.k., well, maybe not, but they had every game on), congregated with other American’s jonesing after the interminable NFL offseason. Even Mario joined us, though I can’t say that his Iranian/Bulgarian/Australian upbringing made him particularly interested in the outcomes of the games or in the Bloody Caesars, which I learned from another cute, California-lovin’, green-card seeking, Canadian waitress (not making this up, truly, and a brunette this time) is considered by some to be the national cocktail of Canada. After a lifetime without Clamato (best I can recall), I’ve now had a Bloody Caesar twice in the last two weeks (the first was courtesy of Cove producer Charles Hambleton in Las Vegas). The largely TIFF-laden American crowd included Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content, Kevin Kasha (Anchor Bay) and Michael Roban (IM Global). I wouldn’t have been surprised if a few acquisitions were made right there at Gretskies back tables, amongst the poutine and the hockey sticks.

We hightailed it after the early games (sorry about your Browns, Matt, no doubt you’re sorrier about my Giants) back to the Metropolitan to prepare for Kyle’s film’s premiere, the Marc Forster-directed Machine Gun Preacher. I got stuck waiting outside for Matt Berman, producer from Brooklyn Brothers, who arrived quite late after ending his screening for his movie at another venue. We made it to our seats just before the lights went down, though, so no harm, no foul.

The movie was really well-done, with Gerard Butler going above and beyond, Michael Shannon excellent as usual, a great supporting cast and nary a dry eye in the house by the end of the screening. A packed Roy Thompson hall gave an extended standing ovation to the film at its conclusion. Congrats to everyone involvd are in order.

From there, Matt, an investor-client of his, and I killed some time at a pub near the theater before heading to meet Kyle and Jay, who had been attending the private dinner for the Preacher cast and producers. We met them outside the CAA party at bungalow 8 in some semi-seedy neighborhood on Queens W, but as I am apt to do in the event of potential door drama, I left the group rather than wait outside with the maddening throng. (I was informed this morning that I really didn’t miss much, in any event, which I’ll happily accept as the truth.) The idea of yet another party full of Hollywood agents seemed less attractive than a few additional hours of shut-eye in advance of an early morning trip to the airport for the flight home. If only Air Canada had let me know that I could have slept an additional two hours in the morning before heading to Pearson. En retard, indeed.

In any event, I’m halfway back to Los Angeles, I have an empty middle seat next to me, Mario’s wife is picking us up from the airport, and there is more NFL tonight (though my fantasy league match-up is looking less than promising after a middling-at-best Sunday). Perhaps I’ll at least get a valuable draft pick, and I will happily sleep in my own bed. It’s been a busy month or so of travel after jaunts to NYC, Vegas and now Toronto, and I am more than ready to be back in Venice by the beach for a while.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Airplane Bloggin’: TIFF and the Return of Grumpy O’Selznick

Well, its obviously been some time since I last wrote this blog about my experiences in the film industry and the accompanying issues in my personal life that arise out of these choices I’ve made for myself. Too much water has passed under the bridge since my last writing to really give any kind of comprehensive view of my life and work (note that life and work are, and continue to be, separate words and distinct concepts). A very brief summary of the last eighteen months of so since I posted:

• Closed up and gave up the NYC residence for good (at least that residence).
• Worked for a foreign sales company for a year, as a head of business affairs, during which time I had to deal with a manic company president and four wolf hybrids (the president often acted more like one of his wolf-pets than a person).
• Produced a family comedy I’ll refer to as “Romeo” in California, where I met a beautiful young single mother (and her infant-turned-toddler), a close friend of a now-formerly close friend-turned-enemy??, that I…
• Dated and then lived with in West Hollywood and then in Albuquerque, NM for six months (where she worked as an actress). At various moments, wonderful, awful, and almost always tumultuous, with a very bitter ending, when we split, and I …
• Moved to Venice, California at the beginning of summer, and have begun adjusting to my recovered singledom on the Westside, a very different life experience that living in Hollywood or West Hollywood.
• Traveled to India to prep a romantic drama, for which the financing fell apart, which negatively impacted a number of relationships I have in the entertainment industry, most of which hopefully can be repaired (in the business where a new paycheck fixes everything, for the most part). Thankfully my hands are clean.
• Took a consultancy with a newly-formed company doing film investment, technology development and investment, and film production, headed by a friend of mine, Kyle, in whom I have a good deal of faith, in the role of running operations and business affairs, which leads me to…

Toronto, in my capacity of a yet-unnamed position with this new company. My friend Mario is accompanying me to Toronto for its opening weekend. We’re staying at the Metropolitan Hotel and should be in the mix for a lot of interesting screenings, parties and hopefully some fun over the next three days. Mario is a well-known composer, having scored a number of well-known and award-winning films, including Precious and Taxi to the Dark Side, both of which won Academy Awards. He’s also one of the nicest people you’re going to meet, and he scored two films for me, Scott Dacko’s The Insurgents, and Lev Gorn’s short film, 10:31.

I am still a bit under the weather, having caught some bug in Las Vegas over the past week I spent there. I went to Vegas with a new friend, The Cove producer Charles Hambleton. We went to help organize and promote the Las Vegas demonstration for Celebrate Dolphin Day Japan, which was being simultaneously being recognized in fifty cities around the world. September 1 is the day that the dolphin slaughter begins again in Taiji, Japan. If you don’t know what I am talking about, I suggest you sit down and watch The Cove on Netflix and find out about this important issue. And the film, which won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2009, is simply unforgettable and amazing.

The demonstration in Vegas was run by another new friend, Angela Shih, with her partner, Eric Conner, lending a significant hand. In true Vegas style and tradition, Angela, a server at the Wet Republic Dayclub, recruited a crew of beautiful girls from the hospitality industry to stand, bikini-clad, on the walking bridge between The Cosmopolitan and The Planet Hollywood hotels, and draw attention to the signs and the literature and well, the cause. They did a terrific job attracting attention, not surprisingly, and did so in a manner that was truly appropriate for their home city. Here are some pictures of Charles (the only guy in the posted pics) and the Vegas team. The photographer that was arranged unfortunately didn’t show, but I’d brought my camera as a back-up, and I ended up standing in for him. It was a fun assignment, and the results were passable. Angela is in the front row of the first picture, far right. More on facebook if you go to the page for Celebrate Dolphin Day Las Vegas 2011.

Pic 1

Pic 2

After the demonstration, we spent some time scouting for Charles’ upcoming television show. I won’t give away what its about, but we snuck into the restricted land controlled by the Water Authority to obtain samples for testing. There are a lot of water issues in the City That Shouldn’t Be, and we spent a few days working on that. On the last day, Angela somehow magically got us comped at Wet Republic, and we spent most of the day there being introduced to the staff. They all had a lot of respect for what Charles has achieved. Watch The Cove and you’ll see why too.

So that’s the recap, and the plane is angling down, which means we’ll be on the ground shortly, and I need to sign off. Grumpily yours (still), and welcome back.