Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Porn Star Karaoke

There’s a bar tucked away in a Burbank strip mall between a cleaners and donut shop that on Tuesday nights presents “Porn Star Karaoke”. My friend Kevin and I checked it out and needless to say it was a classy affair. Laminated signs listed the rules, one being “No oral sex in the bathrooms”.

I knew we were in for a great evening when I saw the “Porn Star Karaoke” banner on the stage next to a menorah.

The adult world’s elite showed up – twenty gum popping smoking bimbos in halter tops and hot pants, raccoon make up and (as Kevin said) enough silicone in their bodies to be legally considered a Mattel toy. They were accompanied by the usual assortment of buff porn kings who dyed their hair even though they're 25, and fat middle aged guys in pony tails and billowing Hawaiian shirts. They were probably the girls’ dads.

The stars started filing in around 10. Ron Jeremy was there at 6.

The D.J. set the elegant tone for the evening by saying to the first porn crooner “You’re not allowed to talk about how hot your pussy is”. She took it in good spirits and mimed choking on the microphone. It’s how I always pictured the Rainbow Room.

Musical ability is not why these girls are known as Golden Throats. Not one of them could sing a note. But they did find other ways to bring home their songs. One did Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back” and demonstrated by dropping her pants. If Diana Degarmo did that she’d be an American Idol today.

Two more made out with each other on stage (how else are you gonna fill that instrumental bridge?), while a porn king who looked like Eric Roberts in "Star 80" only sleazier walked right up to the stage with a digital camcorder and filmed extreme close ups of their breasts ("someday I hope to direct").

I was disappointed none of the stars sang Janis Joplin’s heartbreaking classic “Down on Me”.

The place was rocking and yet there was some guy at a table just reading a book. That must've been a helluva book.

They gave away prizes and I won one! It’s the first time in my entire life I’ve ever won anything. How fitting it should be a porn DVD -- the 2 disc collector’s set of ETERNITY starring Stormy Danials, Jessica Drake, and a horse. Plus, it comes with a director’s track. ("I began by shooting extreme close ups of breasts".)

Unfortunately, we had to leave before I could get up and do my medley from “Fiddler on the Roof”. But there’s always next week…and the following week…and the week after that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Omid Summer Night's Dream

The Omid pilot was loved by everyone at HBO and Fox except the one person making the decision. It died. But here's a scene from it. The set up: Omid (picture an Iranian Danny DeVito) is manager of a TGI Fridays type restaurant. Eager and gung-ho, he decides the place could use more lighting. So he goes to Home Depot to pick up the items the electrician said he'd need.

Good afternoon. I wonder if you could help me?
Sure. What can I get you?
Copper wiring, cables, solder, duct tape, and a timer.
That's a lot of stuff you need.
Yes, I'm going to light up the city of Redlands.
Right. So... how long you been over here?
Not long. I had a big job fall through and now I'm coping with my extreme disappointment. But with God's help the people back home will remember my name. (OFF THE CLERK'S FROZEN LOOK) Are you okay?
Yeah, fine, just a little hot in here.
(CHUCKLING) Oh you don't know what hot is, my friend.
Uh...okay...where you from?
Iran. But if everything works out the way I hope, I'll die in Redlands. (THEN) How reliable is that timer?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Meet the Rokers

Thanks for finding my blog. There are a few postings now so you can get some idea of the nonsense you’re going to find here.

Random thoughts for the day…

PRISON BREAK – great show if you can suspend belief. I mean, in reality a pretty boy like Michael would never get out of his cell. There would be a line of guys wrapped around the cellblock. Prisoners would waive early release to get their chance.

And my friend Ian suggests that if his brother were on death row and he had designed the prison, instead of robbing a bank and getting incarcerated himself, he might just CALL his brother and say “pull your sink out, there’s a vent, get to the infirmary, make a left…”, etc.

THE APPRENTICE – Are you like me and now just fast forward to the boardroom? Who gives a shit how well these Ivy League idiots do setting up a lumber display at Home Depot?

HOUSE – (BECKER meets CSI) Okay, last week Cameron learns she might have AIDS, so what’s the first thing she does? What any respectable doctor would do – experiment with meth and sleep with a co-worker. So now HOUSE is BECKER meets CSI meets GREY’S ANATOMY.

As someone once said, there are only two reasons why STACKED is on the air.

Who says the Hollywood community is insulated and never strays from LA? There are Academy screenings in Maui and Aspen this year.

KRTH – LA’s longtime oldies station can’t find a program director. You’d think SOMEONE would want that job? I guess sitting in your office and having to listen to “Pretty Woman”, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, and “Rescue Me” on an endless loop is enough to turn any competent radio person into Ted Bundy. PLAY MORE SONGS!!! PLAY FEWER COMMERCIALS!!!! RE-HIRE ROBERT W. MORGAN AND THE REAL DON STEELE EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE DEAD!!!!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has just announced its class of 2006. Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynrd, Blondie, the Sex Pistols, and Miles Davis. Huh?????? That’s like the Baseball Hall of Fame inducting John Rocker, Billy Ripken, Rafael Palmiero, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Good news for advertisers. A recent study showed that, contrary to popular belief, Tivo viewers DON’T fast forward through commercials. No sir. 58% watch the commercials and 53% have actually gone back to watch an ad that interested them. Who commissioned this study? Why the six broadcast networks of course.

One of those networks, NBC, is making a pilot called MEET THE ROKERS starring comic genius Al Roker. I hope Anne Curry plays his zany neighbor. Anne: “Al, help me! My foot is caught in this chimney!” (laugh) Al: “Anne, for Pete’s sakes what are you doing on the roof wearing only your bathrobe and a football helmet? (laugh) Don’t you know it’s supposed to rain?” (huge laugh) And they say the sitcom is dead.

Good news!!! DEUCE BIGALOW; EUROPEAN GIGALO is now out on DVD. So many unanswered questions from the first DEUCE BIGALOW.

“Tonight on a very special episode of MEET THE ROKERS, guest star Katie Couric has another colonoscopy and when the doctor gets sick Al has to perform it. Followed by JOEY”.

England Swings

Hi new visitors. From time to time I will post past travelogues, originally just emailed to my friends. Here's one from June when my writing partner, David Isaacs, and I went over to London to work on a pilot. The fate of that pilot tomorrow. I wish I were you and didn't know how this ends.

David and I are very excited about the new pilot we’re writing for two reasons. 1) It will star the brilliant actor-comedian Omid Djalili, and 2) (even more important) we got a free trip to London to go over the script with him. Omid is British-Iranian (he was a regular on the “Whoopi” NBC sitcom last year which explains why you’ve never seen or heard of him). It’s a little early in the season to be writing a pilot but we wanted the script in before our country attacked Iran. You might be thinking: “is this guy a terrorist??” No, and believe me we know the difference. We’ve worked for Mary Tyler Moore.

Flew first class on United. You sit in these big Capt. Kirk chairs as if on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Conveniently, they transform into recliners, beds, and traction racks. I found it quite comfortable to sleep on once I took a horse tranquillizer.

Everything in London is so steeped with history. Our hotel, the Dorchester, for example. That’s where Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O’Toole had a sordid affair while she was still with Richard Burton. It might have even been my room although I couldn’t find any empty gin bottles behind the couch.

Do English subjects ever go to the dentist? I swear, most of these people could eat an apple through a tennis racket.

I spent my entire time in London apologizing for our idiot President.

Bush is only the third most hated American in England. Second is Malcolm Glazer, the guy who bought the Manchester United football team, and first (for the 40th year in a row) – Dick Van Dyke. Folks here just can’t get over that bogus cockney accent in “Mary Poppins”.

The BBC news department is on strike. But no one knows because no one’s there to do the news.

Besides, everyone’s watching “Celebrity Love Island” and “the Farm” instead. These reality shows feature marginal British celebrities --and by marginal I mean that Lulu is too big – embarrassing themselves in bikinis on Fiji or milking cows on a farm. In the latter show I thought the cast was dressing a wart hog before I discovered it was fellow cast member, former American-porn star-now-pathetic-figure, Ron Jeremy. Gone are the days of Shakespeare and Dickens.

The real breakout hit at the moment is “Hell’s Kitchen”, a reality show featuring an angry crazed chef named Gordon Ramsay. During the course of an episode he’ll say “fuck” so often you’ll think you’re watching “Deadwood”. The public and the censors have no problem with this. But he caused a huge flack recently when one of his rants included the word “Jesus”.

London weather: cold, windy, gray, raw, rainy. Summer has finally arrived.

On the first night we ventured to the Comedy Store to see Omid do his stand up act. Our cab driver begin reciting JFK’s inaugural address then followed that up with the script from “The Sting”. It turns out he’d been in a movie himself, actually several of them. He was one of the kids in the Michael Apted documentary that began with “7 UP.” He too was too big a celebrity to qualify for “Celebrity Love Island”.

Omid’s stand up was hilarious. He is indeed Iran’s funniest comedian.

Went to dinner in Chinatown. I asked for tap water and the waitress shot me a murderous look. They were probably cooking a dog in the back but my not ordering Perrier was a real affront.

Tracey Ullman is a looker in this country.

The U.S. dollar is worth I think less than a peso here. It’s like being trapped in Gelsons.

David and I headed for the Underground to do a little sightseeing. We were side by side on the down escalator unknowingly blocking the path. A gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be pedantic but can I pass?” Can you imagine the same scene in a New York subway? “Hey, shithead, move your fuckin’ ass!” New Yorkers hate it when you’re pedantic.

Went to Baker Street to see the Sherlock Holmes museum. A number of American tourists were upset because they couldn’t get into the house to see where he actually lived.

Next to the museum was an Elvis store and a Beatles store. Both were disappointing. No black velvet paintings in either. What’s the point?

There’s also a CHEERS restaurant in London. You can sit at the bar with Norm, Cliff, and Field Marshall Montgomery.

Back on the “tube” to see Big Ben and Parliament Square. We asked a policeman where Westminster Abbey was and he didn’t know. It was across the street. We stopped in to see some of our favorite tombs. I meant to check if there were any open slots. It might be kind of fun to be the only AfterMASH writer in Poets corner.

There’s actually a gift shop in Westminster Abbey. I was sort of hoping Woolworth’s tomb would be there.

There’s not a single person in this entire country that has a tan. The only people with color are drinkers.

The Queen Mother passed away in March of 2002. Out of the many thousands of messages left on the Queen Mum’s Board of Remembrance:

“She was a marvelous woman, and a wonderful lover”. – L.J. Worthington, Penrith.

“She was one of the old school, all the remaining royals are shit.” – J. Clement, Granthom.

“I was absolutely devastated, at least we could have got the day off”. – S.Wilson, Bristol.

“How refreshing to be able to mourn the death of a member of the Royal Family without being accused of being homosexual”. – J. Fletcher, High Wycombe.

“Her death should act as a warning to others who think it is cool to experiment with drugs”. – E. Franks, Cheshire.

“Perhaps if we automated her old golf buggy it could still drive around The Mall on its own and bring pleasure to the tourists”. – Y. Howell, Slough.

I can honestly say that I have met Prince Charles. True story. He came to visit the MASH set when I was working there. We writers stood in a receiving line and when it was my turn I couldn’t resist. I asked him “what advice would you give young people thinking of getting into your profession?” He laughed politely then I believe he said to his handlers “This isn’t ‘Charlie’s Angels’. What the hell are we doing here?”

You can get hot tea, high tea, a spot of tea but no iced tea.

Saw Goldie Hawn in the lobby. She looked quite amazing. Of course it could just be that I saw her in England. Ruth Buzzi would look good in England.

Actual log line to a BBC2 sitcom: “The Robinsons” 5-26-05 9:30 p.m. – The family are amazed at what Ed’s new girlfriend does to his nipples.

Restaurants proudly offer something called “salt meat”. And they say you can’t get a good meal in London.

Never has there been a more apt title for a tabloid newspaper than THE LITE STANDARD.

All you need to know about the London theatre scene is that “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is a smash hit. (I have a friend in the Broadway version and he’s so mortified he can only refer to the show as C2B2.)

But thanks to Omid and the BBC pulling some strings David and I were able to see “Philadelphia Story” at the Old Vic starring Kevin Spacey. It was quite wonderful but I felt cheated that he never sang “Mack the Knife”, not even in the wedding scene.

From there we went to a pub to watch Liverpool defeat Milan to win the big European soccer cup. The town went nuts. “Good show! Good show!” There were celebrations in the street and unlike America, no cars were turned over or storefronts set on fire. These people are amateurs!

At Heathrow airport, the United ticket clerk, the First Class lounge receptionist, and a flight attendant all recognized David’s name as a writer from “Cheers”. None recognized me. Which was the point of the gag our friend Dan O’Day had set up. Dan is a neighbor who happened to be on that flight. He pre-arranged the whole thing. Here’s how unusual it is for one of us to be recognized. From the first time we were suspicious.

As I write this I don’t know if it’s 6:00 tomorrow or 4:00 yesterday. But it was a jolly good trip and hopefully we’re on our way to a hit TV series. I sure hope so because I would hate to come back to London in a year and see Omid on “Celebrity Love Island”.


Ken Levine

Turning to Baseball...

Hot Stove League musings:

Convict Milton Bradley for convict Urgeth Urbina.

Grady Little is a managerial candidate for the Dodgers. The man the Boston Globe said was “dumber than Jessica Simpson” might be GM Nick Colleti’s first hire. If Little had trouble deciding when to pull Pedro Martinez imagine his inner strife when Odalis Perez is on the mound.

Kim Ng would have gotten the Dodger GM job if anyone could pronounce her name.

Why hasn’t Boston gone out and hired the best GM still out there – Dan Evans?

A lot of big names have already changed teams. And the Yankees haven’t gotten any of them. Are they hoping that with enough “Red Bull” Bernie Williams could go another year?

If the Mets get closer Billy Wagner to go along with Carlos Degado they’ll have one of the best teams in baseball. And will finish second to the Braves.

And watch out for the Toronto Blue Jays. For only $47 million they got ace closer B.J. Ryan and are looking to land A.J. Burnett. Add a healthy Roy Halladay, and the rookie that all of Canada has taken to its bosom, Gustavo Chacin, and that’s some pitching staff. They’ll finish second to somebody. But a close second.

By signing Josh Beckett the Red Sox now have two World Series MVP’s…who beat the Yankees. Jesus, Boston, this obsession is bordering on Captain Ahab.

The Mets may also get Angels catcher Benjie Molina and Rafael Furcal (who’s either 19 or 28). They’ll still finish second. But even closer than the Blue Jay’s second.

Best acquisition so far: The Cardinals getting broadcaster John Rooney.

Remember when Bud (I can’t believe he’s Jewish) Selig promised a decision on the Nationals ownership would be made by last Labor Day? Now he says a decision isn’t close. Watch, after five years he’ll finally give it to some group headed by former FEMA director, Michael Brown.

Does anyone in the world care about the World Baseball Classic? It has that “Battle of the Network Superstars” feel to it, doesn’t it?

Instead of Frank Thomas breaking down in May, the White Sox now have Jim Thome to fill that role. And all it cost them was an All-Star centerfielder. Jim Thome will be the new “Big Hurt” but for a different reason.

Best name in baseball: Cocoa Crisp.

Only two more days to vote for Seattle broadcaster Dave Niehaus for the Hall of Fame.

How do you pronounce Ng???

Sunday, November 27, 2005

And they say LA has no theatre...

Some weekend theatre reviews:

I went to see THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at the Ahmanson Theatre. This is a frothy goofy send up of 1920’s musicals, stopping in LA on its way to Broadway. The reviewers have raved. It was cute but to fully appreciate the satire you really had to know and love ‘20s musicals. In other words it was SPINAL TAP for gays.

Meanwhile, my writing partner David Isaacs went to see CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the new Geffen. Here are his thoughts (on what he called FAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF):

If the actress who plays Maggie the Cat is not sultry, sexy, and does a bad shrill accent to boot, the play works just as well with Harvey Fierstein in the part.

The guy who played Brick was a few short of a load.

Big Mama was played by Brenda Fricker with her accent from somewhere between Mississippi and Darby O' Gill and the Little People, Ireland.

The best part of the play was when John Goodman made his entrance and blocked out the other actors.

And without question the worst direction and staging of a play I've ever seen and that includes Russell C. Blum. *

The writing was good though. Let's hear more from this author.

* director of Levine & Isaacs one acts…a career ender for all concerned.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving leftovers

General Thanksgiving weekend musings:

The Macy’s Day parade is fun to watch only when it’s raining, snowing, windy, or five degrees. Otherwise, what’s entertaining about Al Roker interviewing second bananas from the NBC “hit” comedy, THE OFFICE, a production number from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, guys on unicycles, marching bands performing Sondheim, Wal-Mart 5 A.M Sale commercials, the Scooby Do balloon, and the phrase “for children of all ages”? And now, even when there IS a balloon accident they make no mention of it.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Santa Claus Lane Parade, once a proud LA tradition, is now pathetic. And it’s not even because it’s no longer safe to go to Hollywood at night. Gone are the days when TV stars like Lucy and Jack Benny would be in the parade. Now they don’t even get Gypsy Boots, lasso expert Monty Montgomery, and Iron Eyes Cody hawking his new line of jewelry. Today it’s the disc jockeys from KTNQ and maybe Santa Claus if they can pour him out of the Frolic Room.

I WALK THE LINE is RAY with white people.

Oh God, holiday music begins. The only Christmas songs I like are “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Linda Eder and the Chipmunk Song.

And then there are the Christmas themed episodes on sitcoms. These stories all ran out in 1957. What to buy? I forgot to get a present for X. Oh no, I have to work, etc. All episodes end in a living room in front of a roaring fire or at the homeless shelter. And everyone learns a lesson they should have already known since they were five.


Since they always SAY the day after Thanksgiving is the worst shopping day of the year, with the biggest lines, why do people go????

What’s harder to find – Osama Bin Laden or a parking space at the Grove?

Gift suggestion: XM radio. Or any box set season of CHEERS or FRASIER that features episodes David and I wrote.

This is the one weekend a year when those idiots who never take down their Christmas lights are the smart ones.

No one other than Tommy Lasorda wants the Dodgers manager job.

Blog suggestions: And Both far better than mine.

I wonder if JACK-FM will be playing Christmas music. Why not? It fits well with their format of playing bad songs you haven’t heard in years and wished you never heard again.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is getting too Jewish even for Jews. It’s become SEINFELD meets the CHABAD TELETHON.

I see that Shutters at the Beach is offering an 8 course gourmet Hanukah dinner on the 25th. So after their big gourmet Christmas brunch they’ll have three or four hours to junk all the Christmas decorations, put up a couple of menorahs, and throw around some dreidels. I want to see the look on the faces of the hotel guests who aren’t Jewish and just happen to stumble in there that night for dinner. “Kugel? What the fuck is kugel?”

Friends I know were cooking elaborate Thanksgiving dinners. My mother makes Stove Top stuffing and uses Heinz gravy, and you know what? I don’t care. I love it. And if some year I’m ever on the road, as long as there’s a Safeway I can have a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

The worst part of the holiday is putting your kids back on airplanes when it’s over. No, even worse is that SPANGLISH is on HBO every time you turn it on.

“Potato latkas? What the fuck are potato latkas?

First Post

For everyone who has said to me "you should start a blog" here it is. Now what?

So until I figure that out, I thought I'd post the kind of stuff I have been writing -- namely humorous travelogues and award show reviews that up until now have only gone to those unfortunate souls in my address book. As I learn how this works and come up with original thoughts I shall add to it. Or take requests. Or go on to podcasting.

Interests will include pop culture, show business, baseball, radio, the 60's, the theatre, baby boomers, bragging about my kids, hawking my various projects, and general bitching.

But for now, here are examples of what I've done should anyone care what I do in the future. And if you're reading this, congratulations, you're probably the first to ever log on to this blog site.


November 2005 -- Halloween in Frisco

I hope you’ll bear with me. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. That means more travelogues. The good news is more material for a possible book. The bad news is you’re hearing more from me than the prince of the Contonou-Benin republic and he at least has a fabulous business opportunity. So at the risk of becoming spam, here’s another travel report. This is actually a compilation of two recent trips up to the bay area to visit my son, Matt. Enjoy….or delete.

As part of Debby’s social work doctoral program at the Lilith Sternin Institute she had to attend a convocation the first weekend of October in beautiful Emeryville, nestled cozily between the hills of Berkeley and the gang wars of Oakland. We decided to fly up to San Jose, hook up with Matt, and continue on to the Baghdad of the East Bay.

First stop was the Apple campus for a tour from Matt. As opposed to the last time I was there I thought I actually saw a pretty girl. Probably 600 engineers have taken secret pictures of her with their cellphone cams and now use it as their screen saver.

Debby got her first look at Matt’s apartment – the New Dehli Arms. He is the only resident of the building not named Kumar and not living with eight people in a one-bedroom unit.

On to San Francisco but veering off to Emeryville. That’s like bypassing New York City to vacation in Yonkers.

Emeryville is merely a collection of airport hotels without the airport. Why anyone would stay there that doesn’t have a 5 a.m. flight is beyond me.

While Debby spent the weekend listening to lectures on dementia Matt and I went to Berkeley to see the effects of it. The 60’s are alive on Telegraph Avenue. It’s as if a retirement village put on a production of HAIR. Tie-dyed shirts, head shops, hat shops. What better father-son bonding experience than shopping for bongs together?

I hate to tell these people but the Janis Joplin look did not even look good on Janis Joplin.

A panhandler went up to Matt claiming to be Jerry Garcia. (True story) But when Matt didn’t give him enough change he proved to be a member of the Un-Grateful Dead, or at least the Not-Sufficiently-Grateful Dead.

Bumper stickers seen: “Clinton lied but nobody died”. “Impeach Bush”, “FUCK LBJ”.

The Krishnas have a copier service. Considering they chant the same thing over and over it only makes sense.

But Berkeley does have Amoeba Records, the mecca of music stores. Now in three California locations, the Telegraph Ave. Amoeba was the first. And it’s still the best place to replace your Moby Grape and Joanie Sommers albums. Only drawback: Everyone who works there is weird. And by that I mean Manson Family with a knowledge of showtunes and the entire “Biff Hitler and the Violent Mood Swings” catalogue. Dress code consists of mohawks, tattoos, turquoise hair, tongue studs, nose rings. What kind of sex life can they have when the only person who will ever touch their genitals is the one doing the piercing?

Telegraph Avenue was quite a contrast to University Avenue in Palo Alto, the Stanford equivalent, which Matt and I visited last weekend. Upscale, yuppified. The funkiest thing you can buy there is relaxed fit jeans at the Gap. Their sports bar has a wine list.

We were there to see the big Stanford-UCLA football game. Bad enough the UCLA marching band tried to do a salute to Queen, but the team itself played like crap. And the stadium with its backless aluminum benches could not be more uncomfortable if it was designed for Al Queda prisoners. So with Stanford humiliating UCLA 24-3 with less than seven minutes to go we did the smart thing and left. We beat the crowds, we beat the traffic…and we missed UCLA’s stunning 30-27 miracle comeback win in overtime – one of the most dramatic finishes in the school’s history. What a couple of SCHMUCKS!!!

For the rest of the weekend we did nothing but bang our heads into walls.

Meanwhile, Debby went into San Francisco. At Golden Gate Park she stumbled onto the “Wonder of Cannibis” festival. Everything you wanted to know about marijuana but had no more brain cells to ask. I’m sure a lot of former comedy writers had booths.

Stayed at the Galleria Park Hotel in the city. Charming or musty depending on whether you’ve been to the Cannibis festival. Our room was the inspiration for the Sam Spade pistol whipping scene in Maltese Falcon.

There’s not one radio station in town that will play Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. But six will play “Gangsta Sh**” by Lil’ Eazy-E.

And no longer will the bay area be blessed with the rich vocal tones of Bill King. The longtime voice of the Raiders, A’s, and Warriors passed away recently. You gotta love a sportscaster who was an aficionado on opera and ballet, a history buff, lived on a houseboat, never married the woman he was with for well over thirty years, turned down numerous lucrative network TV offers because he didn’t want to shave, never wore socks, and never paid more than $300 for a car. And was by far the best overall announcer in the country.

Hit the Original Pancake House in Cupertino. Try their famous German apple pancake. It’s the size of a manhole cover and one would give the entire Von Trapp Family diabetes. For something less sweet you could order (and this is true) clam pancakes.

How could we leave that game early? What were we thinkin’????

Halloween weekend in San Francisco. You can imagine the costumes. It reminds me of the time I was announcing for the San Diego Padres and we were in town to play the Giants. The team bus headed from the hotel to the ballpark but took a wrong turn and wound up in the Gay Pride Parade. The team couldn’t understand why everyone was cheering. What a good sports town San Francisco must be.

For Halloween Matt plans to hand out “Slim Jim” beef jerky sticks. The Kumar kids should love that.

Side note – Halloween: Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in it. So the one night of the year when people would open their doors to them they stay home.

Must be sweeps. News4 at 11 on Monday night begins a five part series on gang members now in the army. Will they return home and use their military tactics on YOU? And by that do they mean you might catch them sleeping under your jeep?

Even though it was Halloween weekend I did not make it out to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Built by some insane woman in 1884, this Victorian mansion has staircases leading to walls, hallways that go nowhere, fireplaces every which where, dead ends left and right, windows in interior rooms, etc. The Haunted Mansion meets the United Airlines Terminal at O’Hare. If they held the Cannibis festival there no one would ever or could ever leave.

Happy Halloween. And once again, how could we leave that game??????

Next stop New York and that’ll be it for awhile. I promise.

Ken Levine
November 2005 -- New Yawk, New Yawk

Back from Gotham where I helped out on a musical going into workshop production called THE 60’s PROJECT. It’s a fun and poignant journey through the decade, complete with all the music and assassinations you remember. My main contribution was getting them to take “Who Put the Bomp?” out of the Tet Offensive section. But it’s a terrific show despite the fact that an audience member called it “important”.

Stayed again at the Shelburne Murray Hill. But no Diane Lane this time. They should tell you that when you make your reservation. Seven whole days I stayed in that dump!

The tree is back! The world’s largest Christmas tree was delivered to Rockefeller Center this week. It was their second attempt. The first time no one was there and they had to leave a note. Usually city workers decorate the 75 foot Norwegian Spruce, adorning it with 25,000 lights. This year the task goes to Martha Stewart’s APPRENTICES.

Big Broadway show in town is the revival of ODD COUPLE with Matthew Broderick, and inexplicably, Nathan Lane as the slovenly “guy’s guy” Oscar Madison. I know it’s stunt casting but Jesus. Why not just go the whole way and cast Carol Channing?

Best panhandler: the guy at Broadway and 42nd holding a sign that reads: “YOU CAN YELL AT ME FOR A DOLLAR”.

Close second: The Naked Cowboy. This skeesix has long blonde hair, wears nothing but a Speedo and a guitar. I would still believe him as Oscar Madison before Nathan Lane.

Had a meeting at NBC at 30 Rock. The security has gotten ridiculous. They now even take your picture for a visitor’s pass. If they were really worried about someone bringing down their network they should just keep the producers of FEAR FACTOR out

There is barbed wire around the Plaza Hotel. It is being converted to condos. But the Oak Room will remain. The city was able to get its upscale hookers at the bar registered as historical landmarks.

Had breakfast at “Friend of a Farmer”. New York has officially run out of restaurant names.

The best pizza in New York is no longer Ray’s. It’s now John’s. So expect “Original Johns”, “John’s Original”, “Jon’s”, “Original Jon’s”, and “Jon’s Original” to pop up all over the city.

There’s a Home Depot on Lexington Avenue in Midtown. How do people get anything home? They have to lug their new garage doors or Jacuzzis or lumber on the subway?

Went to Carnegie Hall for the first time to see singer Linda Eder. Both were quite spectacular . (Andrew Carnegie, for those who didn’t know, was one of those American robber barons who made his fortune in fatty corned beef.) Linda received a standing ovation the moment she appeared. Very different from her July performance at an outdoor venue in San Diego when the only person who stood was a guy in a Hawaiian shirt trying to flag down the vendor for his fifth pina colada.

There are five balconies. The top one is above the timber line. Scalpers could easily sell $35 top balcony seats for $2000 saying they were the only Barbra Streisand tickets still available.

The only weird moment of the concert was when Linda said “Judy Garland had a huge influence on my life” and I was the only man in the audience who didn’t say “me too”.

The after-show party was fun. And when people asked what I was working on now I was able to say Broadway musical instead of failed Fox pilot.

There is a strange woman who always makes and hands out commemorative Linda Eder refrigerator magnets. Mine will be proudly displayed next to the Clippers 2003 home schedule.

You are no longer allowed on Avenue of the Americas unless you have a Blackberry. There are checkpoints.

A hotel was bombed in Jordan so currently there is extra security and SWAT teams at certain NY hotels. (Nothing at the Shelburne. They don’t even provide valet service). So now for your $700 a night at the Parker-Meredian (actual charge this week) you are in the heart of the theatre and terrorist target district.

Debby flew in just in time for the best sidewalk food vendor announcement. A bratwurst hawker on Broadway who was presented his award and arrested for not having a permit.

Cathy Rigby is doing her final performances of PETER PAN at Radio City. Next year she segues right into ARSENIC AND OLD LACE.

Meanwhile, Nathan Lane is segueing from THE ODD COUPLE to PETER PAN.

With all the amazing Italian restaurants in New York there is an Olive Garden. And it was packed. This is why “three card monty” takes in more money annually than the Statue of Liberty.

Languages spoken by my cab drivers: Urdu, Russian, Czech, Farsi, Klingon.

Forgot to set my alarm (all five days) for 5 a.m. so I could stand in the window of the TODAY SHOW, wave my arms like an idiot, and hold up a sign that says “HI JANE! HI BRYANT!”.

Now that all hotels employ recorded wake up call messages, this should be the one they use: “Good morning. This is your wake up call….(beat) Hey, fuck you too. You asked to be called.”

A street vendor on 6th Avenue was selling one of our SIMPSONS scripts for $15. Linda Eder magnets were going for $20.

Went to my favorite museum – the Margo Feiden Gallery, home of the glorious Al Hirschfeld collection. I was there so long I counted 4,362 Nina’s.

Latest fashion trend: kids wearing Yankee baseball caps two sizes too big. They all look like Sluggo.

Actual radio station press release: Clear Channel Urban WWPR (Power 105) and PREMIERE syndicated morning duo Star & Buc Wild have replaced newsman “Crossover Negro” (Reese Hopkins) with “Chris the Queer” (aka Chris Hart).

Bring back Dan Ingram!!

The MET LIFE building will always be the PAN AM building.

Annie flew in from Chicago for the weekend. First stop was Long Island and a big gathering of Debby’s relatives. We all met at an Italian restaurant on Queens Boulevard (Friend of an Undertaker) and had lunch. Just like a Sunday dinner scene in the SOPRANOS except Tony and the family never said “No cheese, I just had meat”, “what comes with that?”, “are the capers fresh?”, “I can make the same thing at home for fifty cents,” and “the last time I had cannelloni I went into labor”.

Stephen Sondheim came to our show on Sunday. And wound up sitting next to Annie. She’ll be dining off that story for years. The performance went very well until one of the leads, in the middle of “Sugar Sugar” broke into “Being Alive”.

If you put a Linda Eder refrigerator magnet together with a Barbra Streisand refrigerator magnet would they attract or repel?

JFK has been remodeled and refurbished, now sporting humongous Tomorrowland-like terminals and a monorail system. Once Zagat rated the worst airport in America, now with all the improvements it’s rated even worse. Instead of building bigger terminals how about providing more than two ticket agents at 6 pm on a Sunday?

Spending a week as part of the New York theatre scene was very heady indeed. Everyone was so friendly, so gracious. All of that will end of course when they find out I write for TV. But at least I met Stephen Sondheim. And he and Annie are now exchanging recipes.

Thanks so much to Janet, Richard, cast & crew, Dave, Ronni, Linda, and the Naked Cowboy for everything. I feel very lucky.


Ken Levine
Oscars 2005

Welcome to my 7th annual bitchy Oscar review. Where has the time and my feature career gone?

Hiring Chris Rock to host provided the only buzz and suspense of the show. His piece at the Magic Johnson theater said it all. No one outside of LA or NY has SEEN these films. It’s the Tonys but for two cities instead of one. And we’re supposed to watch to see stars? The nominees were Imelda Staunton, Sophie Okonedo, and Catalina Sandino Moreno. It'll be 2016 before any one of them appears on INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO.

The pre-Oscar coverage is always amusing. Most inane (as always) was Hollywood tool/footstool/bootlicker Sam Rubin and his co-host this year, the brainless Toni Senecal (who I assume is Sam’s gushy sycophant counterpart in New York) on KTLA. Sam to Catalina Sandino Moreno: “Did you spend a lot of time getting ready?” Has he ever actually talked to a woman?? Toni then asked her: “It’s your first movie, you’re the first Columbian to ever be nominated – call me crazy – how do you feel?” Toni asked Sophie Okonedo what was the best gift she had received.

Nominees I never heard of or recognized were blowing them off. Maybe if they weren't trying to lure them with Tic Tacs.

The KTLA fashion expert said about Hilary Swank; “It’s a surprise to everyone. She looks fantastic.”

Sam to P. Diddy: “People watching at home, having an Oscar party, what can they learn from you?”

There should be a spam blocker on my TV to save me from ever seeing Joan and Melissa Rivers. This year they’ve been relegated to the TV Guide channel which answers the question “what could possibly be less entertaining than a 24 hour program guide crawl?”

Chris Rock was as funny as he could be under the circumstances. Certainly they didn’t need the five second “dull-ay”. But when he went into the Bush bashing you could hear a loud collective CLICK as 49% of the nation turned off the show and went bowling. Expect this to be the lowest rated Academy Awards show ever. ABC will wish it showed DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES instead.

Everytime they came back from commercials you saw a stagehand running for backstage. For about an hour that was the only amusement.

Paul Giamati was robbed. He should’ve been nominated.

Thomas Hayden Church was nominated for being himself. The rest of the WINGS cast has been on suicide watch since the announcements.

The set looked like THE WEAKEST LINK.

Halle Berry now has a rival for most beautiful – Beyonce. Wow! And such an amazing singer. I could almost sit through all three of the nominated songs she sang.

I hope Natalie Portman enjoyed her nomination. She’s sure not getting one next year for STAR WARS VI: ENOUGH ALREADY.

Kathryn Hepburn wins Academy Awards even when she’s dead.

Adam Duritz from Counting Crows looked like a bottle washer.

Thank God the Pope didn’t die. The “In Memoriam” tribute is always dicey. I’d hate to see his photo followed by Russ Meyer’s.

And by the way, they forgot Sandra Dee.

Scarlett Johanson’s dress was a work in progress.

Steven Spielberg was a no-show. Guess if he’s not nominated there’s no need to come and support “the community”. I’m sure he’d say “why sit through an excruciatingly boring three hour show?” and I would say “how do you feel the rest of us felt watching TERMINAL?”

Drew Barrymore came as Morticia.

Selma Hayek and Penelope Cruz are stunningly gorgeous. But presenters have to actually be able to pronounce names.

The three trophy models (now there’s a job that requires an advanced degree) were all 6’ because as director Louis Horvitz said “the stage has a lot of verticals. I wanted them to be very tall and thin so in the wide shots they blend in and become almost architecturally pleasing.” Mr. Horvitz, ‘Now’ on line three for you.

$20,000 goody bags were given away again this year…as if Thomas Hayden Church or Sophie Oronedo wouldn’t have come otherwise. And KTLA was offering Tic Tacs.

Just remember – Cher has won an Oscar.

This just in – the Red States have voted and CATWOMAN is the best picture of the year.

As long as Robert DeNiro continues to do movies like MEET THE FOCKERS Thomas Hayden Church will have a better chance at getting future nominations

Laura Linney looked like a raccoon.

I loved the Johnny Carson tribute. Were the Academy Awards ever better, ever classier than when he presided over them?

I’d like to thank the academy for honoring Sidney Lumet.

And for showing his Jessica Rabbit daughter. Or at least, I think that’s his daughter. She was very architecturally pleasing.

It’s bad enough to be nominated and lose but to be on stage when it happens? Yikes. Talk about pulling the rug out at the last second. I wonder if the losers then got to go to the backstage interview rooms and not be allowed to speak.

When the winners were announced from the audience I thought I was watching “Stump the Band”.

Mike Myers is never funny. Robin Williams used to be.

Where else can you see Mickey Rooney and Prince in the same audience?

For best song why not just use anything from RAY?

Johnny Depp came as Alfalfa this year.

What could the fun motif be for the HOTEL RWANDA after-party? Hopefully they consulted P. Diddy.

Boy, I bet Kevin Spacey was surprised when he wasn’t nominated for best actor, director, producer, writer, art director, hair stylist, and Gene Hersholt award for BEYOND THE SEA. Maybe if there was a category for largest ego, best mimic, and creepiest 50 year old playing 20.

Every academy member who received a screener tape of SPANGLISH gave it to their housekeeper.

Annette Bening should have been in the AVIATOR since she is married to Howard Hughes.

My vote for movie of the year: THE INCREDIBLES. But in all fairness, I haven’t seen WHITE CHICKS.

Of the 28 billion people who supposedly were watching I was the only one who appreciated just how good the off-screen announcer, Randy Thomas, was.

If you have Tivo I bet you zipped right through the Gene Hersholt award. And every non-actor acceptance speech. And the last twenty minutes of Jaimie Foxx’s.

Prince and Rene Zellwegger had the same hair style, used the same motor oil.

I don’t care what Sean Penn says. Jude Law was in every bad movie. And contributed to each of them.

Okay, now that Hilary Swank has thanked everyone in the world let’s give the award to someone else.

My son, Matt, is convinced that Hilary Swank is a man. So he was less impressed with her performance since it was a man portraying a woman acting like a man.

Leave it to a writer, Charlie Kaufman, to make the most refreshing speech.

If ever there was a lock it was Jaimie Foxx. No way he’d be singing “Cryin’ Time” tonight.

Julia Roberts looked pretty good for a new mom. Assuming she wasn’t wedged into that dress like a sausage.

Poor Martin Scorsese gets shut out again. And he talks fast. At least his speech would be quick even if he thanks a hundred people.

Clint Eastwood’s mom is still alive? I thought that was Warren Beatty.

Barbra Streisand is fast turning into Lainie Kazan. And seeing like Ray Charles.

The theme for the Best Picture nominees seemed to be “guy looking to cheat on his wife or girlfriend”. All except MILLION DOLLAR BABY. At Clint’s age all he can lust after now is pie.

I was happy MILLION DOLLAR BABY won….I guess. Oh hell, I didn’t care. And I’m sure at the Magic Johnson theater ticket sales for it won’t go up by one.

At least Jim Carrey wasn't on the show. See you at the DVD rental store.

Ken Levine

Okay, that's me and what you'll get.