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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.