Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where can a guy get some immune globlulin in this stinkin' town?

Jesus Christ, can’t I even ogle a few swimsuit models for ten minutes without being involved in a Hepatitis scare?

As noted in yesterday’s post, one of Wolfgang Puck’s cooks who catered the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model party two weeks ago came down with Hepatitis A and all guests were advised to get an immune globulin shot…by TODAY. Nice warning – 24 hours.

Okay, a couple of thoughts:

1) This wouldn’t have happened if SI had Art’s Deli cater the damn affair.

2) Anyone who ate uncooked food needs a shot. How many of the models think they’re not exposed because they threw up the food within an hour?

3) Shouldn’t Wolfgang Puck reimburse everyone who needed a shot?

4) The food wasn’t even that good.

5) No newscaster could report the story last night without snickering.

6) Why couldn’t it have been the Governor’s Ball at the Oscars instead?

7) These models go to Bora Bora and all these bizarre exotic locales and are fine. One night in West Hollywood they may come down with Hepatitis.

There was another problem. Very few doctors and medical clinics even HAD immune globulin shots. There are not a lot of raging outbreaks of Hepatitis. It took me about an hour calling around until I found a place. If I wanted to score crystal meth I could probably do it easier. I saw there was a clinic in the Antelope Valley and the Public Health Center in Monrovia was lousy with the stuff. But even my GPS system couldn’t find those places. And there’s the Central Public Health Center on Figueroa. Oh yeah, I want to see all those slicksters drive their Beemers and Porsches to the heart of downtown L.A. Plenty of free street parking, guys.

So I finally found a place. Had to tell them “Lil’ MoFo” sent me but they gave me the shot (and took my $115). And now I can eat my Chinois chicken salad again without fear of yellow jaundice.

The good news was that the shot was in the arm. Didn’t used to be. Years ago I had to do this and at that time it was a horse shot in the ass. Thank God no one does that anymore, making you drop your pants. Although, if I were Beyonce’s doctor…

Next year I think I’ll skip the party and just buy the magazine. No danger of Hepatitis...or even Glaucoma.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Murphy Brown's Law

Every year around Oscar time there are articles bemoaning the fact that today we have so few legitimate “movie stars”. Don’t tell that to the actors themselves. As far as they’re concerned they’re bigger and shine brighter than ever (even while in rehab). They’re also under the delusion that their stardom will last. Approach one of these thesps to star in a television series and they will take it as an insult.

Well, guess what – sooner or later you’re all coming to us little people of the little screen. That’s right. You may have your Oscar and religion and entourage. You may have your vanity production company, a little yapping dog that you always carry in your purse, and star on Hollywood Blvd in front of the Museum of Bras – but sometime in the future you’re ours.

If there’s such a thing as “Murphy’s Law” I call this “Murphy Brown’s Law”. Candice Bergan, Whoopi, Bette, Geena, Spader, Spade, Field, Close,Sutherland, Caruso,both Sheens …. The list goes on and on.

This pilot season Parker Posey and Carrie-Ann Moss have joined the club.

Movie people consider television the Fredo Corleone of entertainment even though most movie stars today made names for themselves by originally being on TV.

What usually happens is this: their career starts going south. Three straight flops, age catches up (29), a new Flavor-of-the-Month arrives, having a kid by Billy Bob Thornton – these are just the common reasons.

Your agent starts getting inquiries. Instead of laughing in your face he says “she’s not ready yet but maybe in a year”. This means the only offer she’s received in the last few months is the PROJECT GREENLIGHT movie and they want her to read for the 14 year old director. Check back in a week.

The next step is the agent informing the networks that their client “might” be available for someone to build a show around them. This list is distributed to studios and producers. I’m always amused that on this list are always two or three who include the condition “will only meet with A-level writers”. Invariably, these are actors who have never received higher than seventh billing.

A year later they’re in – starring in pilots, reading for pilots, doing a four show guest arc on a prestigious series, joining the cast of an established hit. At first it’s hard, a come down. But then they discover something – television is a great life! Big money, major recognition, steady work, three to six months off – all the things that were there the first time they were in TV and couldn’t wait to leave.

It turns out Fredo’s not so bad after all.

Jack Black – see you in five years. Jennifer Aniston – welcome back in three.

Turning to another subject:


This news release:

Officials say the employee helped prepare food at four events between February 14th and February 20th, including the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue party at the Pacific Design Center on Valentine's Day.

Anyone who ate uncooked food at that event is advised to get an immune globulin shot by Wednesday to prevent development of acute hepatis A.

As if being shunned by supermodels wasn't enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More Oscar snark...

Because I just can't help it. One more day. That's all. I promise.

But in the meantime...
Yes, people recognize Ennio Morricone’s music but I don’t think the majority of the Oscarcast audience knew his name. Here’s what’s sad – I bet most don’t know Henry Mancini either. And forget about Jerry Goldsmith. But Morricone’s body of work is impressive.

Still, is it too much to ask to give your speech in English? Or at least have someone translate who knows what the heck you're saying? I have the strong feeling Clint Eastwood was making up the translation. The tipoff was "Whenever I need inspiration I always re-watch THE UNFORGIVEN, available on DVD."

Let this be a lesson to Danny Elfman when he's honored by the Italian Film Academy. Take a Berlitz course, Danny.

Forgot to mention how much I hated Anne Hathaway’s gown. It’s like she wore this beautiful white dress then dipped her breasts in the La Brea Tar Pits.

TV icon, Lloyd Thaxton had a great observation: Best Actor, Forest Whittaker played a king, and Best Actress, Helen Mirren played a queen. They truly are Hollywood royalty.

You know it’s Oscar time when there’s a shortage of Botox in LA.

The Celine Dion song was more depressing that the “In Memoriam” segment. Speaking of which, a commenter pointed out that Barbara McNair was omitted. Okay, she starred in CHANGE OF HABIT with Elvis but she was also in THE ORGANIZATION.

Nifty line from commenter, Patrick Walsh: Those dancers forming objects was reasonably neat. I kept wishing it was 1997, the year Boogie Nights got some nominations. I'd love to see twenty ballet dancers form a 13-foot penis.

Read the comments, kids. There are usually some gems.

But here is my favorite one, perhaps ever. Received on Monday.

You say some stupid shit but I still enjoy the blog.

One thing I really missed this year was KTLA Channel 5’s red carpet coverage with sycophant supreme, Sam Rubin and glamour sock puppet, Mindy Burbano (see photo). But it turns out KTLA was covering the event – for webcast only. Considering they had to bribe mid level celebrities with Altoids to talk to them when they were on a nationally syndicated actual broadcast network, I imagine keeping stars from blowing right past them was like trying to hold the Pacific Ocean back with a broom.

I love how Ryan Seacrest kept asking every celebrity if they were staying for the whole show. Guess in the case of loser, Eddy Murphy the answer was no. He was in his limo zipping down Highland before Alan Arkin finished his acceptance speech.

Ten year old Abigail Breslin handled losing with more maturity and class than Eddie Murphy.

And by bolting from the Oscars, I think he can guarantee he’ll never be nominated again. Not even for DR. DOOLITTLE 2.

When Ryan commented that Jodie Foster’s dress matched her eyes she said, “I had them dyed.” Score one for Jody.

In reading other Oscar reviews, for everything that someone loved, someone else hated it.

A caller on KNX asked me Monday if Robert Redford could get a ticket to the Oscars if he wanted one. Yes, but only if Sally Kirkland agreed to give up hers.

Ratings were so-so but still three times the audience of the Emmys. Hell, the Grammys beat the Emmys. You'd think television would know how to draw people to the television.

For all the red pins promoting awareness of diamonds mined by children in war zones, there sure were a lot of diamonds dripping off of those gowns.

Peter O’Toole was campaigning so hard for that Best Actor Oscar that he even appeared on THE VIEW. That’s even sadder than the KTLA webcast.

Did anybody at home actually run a stopwatch to see if the get-off-the-stage music really always began at 45 seconds? Or was producer Laura Ziskin sitting off stage going, "Uccch. Boring. Cue the music. Get 'em off. "?

Despite the florid stage directions read for the Best Screenplay nominees, keep your stage directions short and simple.

Daddy Warbucks Nicholson was always good for a reaction but next year – more Emily Blunt (whether she’s at the awards or not).

I've gotten a lot of comments from young guys who thought Helen Mirren was hot. Substitute "winner" for "mom" and you have a definite WILF.

Is anyone surprised the Michael Mann montage was long, lugubrious, and indulgent? I bet it was over budget too.

Was Jerry Seinfeld just auditioning for Ellen’s job? By the way, he was pretty good.

I didn’t see the show in HD. I imagine it was REALLY rough on some of those actresses. No wonder Sharon Stone stayed away.

I’m sure you people on the East Coast don’t think the Oscars finishing under four hours was a big achievement. If you want to know who wins Best Picture, you have to stay up after midnight. And I can just imagine your kids. “Oh please, Mommy. Can I stay up at least through Best Sound Mixing?”

There’s only one aspect of the Oscars no one in Hollywood is talking about today: what CAN we do to stop Global Warming?

So let me be that one person. Create a neat pin for next year.

Oscar review

Okay, wrong Oscar. Sorry.

The 79th Academy Awards were all about prestige and elegance. On the same stage that crowned Taylor Hicks AMERICAN IDOL (and will do the same later this year to Antonella Barba – the finest singer since Linda Lovelace) Oscars were awarded Sunday night to Martin Scorsese and a bunch of other people.

It’s the Superbowl of entertainment except when your favorite team wins there’s a big parade in your city, when your favorite movie wins there’s a big party you’re not invited to.

Little surprise that THE DEPARTED won. More people will see WILD HOGS than BABEL, THE QUEEN, and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA put together.

Part of the fun of Oscar night is the insipid red carpet coverage. It’s the only time you will ever hear the question: “Who are you wearing?”

Not only did E! do a red carpet show. They did a COUNTDOWN to the red carpet show. I only caught the last seven hours, hosted by Ryan Seacrest (isn’t everything?) and the bimbolicious duo of Giuliana Depandi and Debbie Matenpoulos (the Romy & Michele of E!). Those two are always good for some stupid remarks. Debbie said Kate Winslett has been married for quite a while now. Five years. Giuliana asked Michael Buble how much he charged to sing at weddings.

And there was ABC’s red carpet coverage with Action Central News anchor, Michelle Tuzee serving as fashion “expert”. She’s at home in Iraq or Milan.

I never watch Joan & Melissa Rivers. Even FEAR FACTOR contestants who eat their weight in dung beetles would cringe at how humiliating they are. At what point does protective services say enough and finally take this daughter away from this woman?

The real pre-show suspense was: what was this year’s cause? Every year there has to be some cause with a colored ribbon or pin to show that Hollywood “cares”. This year was red teardrop pins for International USA and Global Witness to raise awareness about diamonds mined in war zones and their effect on child soldiers. There were better pins and causes but they didn’t go as well with the outfits.

The tone for the show was set right away by Oscarcast producer, Laura Ziskin, who said, “This year I’m in a party mood. Not that the world is perfect, but I’m the producer and I get to decide and I’ve decided we’re going to have a big party.” With Best Picture nominees like BABEL and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, why not?

Ms. Ziskin went on to say she thought the show had 12 acts and wanted “a wowee in every act.”

The only “wowee” in the first 55 minutes was the iPhone commercial.

The nominees film montage was the world’s longest Gap commercial.

Ellen “you know” DeGeneres stammered through a “you know” opening monologue that was mostly flat but still had a couple of great jokes. And her chats with Scorsese and Eastwood in the audience were hilarious. I say bring her back. Hell, considering they brought back Whoopi Goldberg for Godsakes, they should give Ellen a ten year contract.

Be glad the telecast wasn’t on Fox. “Welcome to the 79th annual Academy Awards, with your hosts, Mike & Julliet!”

Nicole Kidman IS Jessica Rabbit.

I love how Maggie Gyllanhaal described the non-televised awards ceremony of the science technicians as a “wild night”.

Al Gore finally won! Except in Florida where JESUS CAMP got the Oscar.

Sorry Will Smith. But you’re still closer to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air than Sidney Pottier.

Penelope Cruz (as gorgeous as she is) looked like she shot a bear, gutted it, and was walking around in its carcass.

Who cares if DREAMGIRLS didn’t win Best Picture? It won Best Sound Mixing! That $25,000,000 the studio spent on its Oscar campaign really paid off.

I stood up and cheered when Alan Arkin won. That was a legitimate “wowee”!!

And don’t worry, Eddie Murphy. You’ll be back next year for NORBIT.

I cheered even louder when Mike Arndt won Best Original Screenplay for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE because (a) it’s a comedy, and (b) it’s a script that got terrible coverage.

The show was weighed waaay down by film montages (most featuring familiar cliché clips and none showcasing my only movie, VOLUNTEERS). Producer Ziskin said, “Using filmmakers is a no-brainer. We’re celebrating movies. And what was interesting to me was that when I reached out to those people, everybody wanted to do it.” Hunh. Filmmakers who want their work seen by 8 billion people? Amazing. Who knew? She really owes them one. But that’s what Hollywood is all about. Coming together to support each other. The red pin was for what again?

J-Lo came dressed as Cleopatra. All that was missing was her asp.

The big complaint of the Oscarcast is always that winners never get to thank enough people. That’s the real excitement – to see how many pilate instructors and dog walkers are recognized. Well, to rectify that, party girl Laura Ziskin instituted the “Thank You Cam” where winners got to acknowledge people interminably but only on the internet. Early reports say the webcast of art directors thanking Home Depot and the man who invented the lug nut still had a far greater audience than STUDIO 60.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ziskin advised winners to use their 45 seconds “to entertain, or to enlighten, or move us.” For editors, make-up artists, sound guys, and costumers that was right in their wheelhouse.

The only one who really delivered on that score was Jennifer Hudson. Her speech was heartfelt, emotional, and genuine. That’s why we sit through these four hour ordeals (excuse me – parties) to share wonderful moments like that.

Fantasia is hitting the Ben & Jerry’s today in a big way.

Happy for Forest Whittaker but I consider this a make-good for not winning an Emmy on THE SHIELD.

Every time APOCOLYPTO lost I cheered.

Tom Cruise giving Sherry Lansing the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was a nice touch. They were both fired by Sumner Redstone (who will probably win it next year).

My favorite rumor did not come true. Michael Jackson did not sing one of the songs from DREAMGIRLS.

I’d be outraged that PAN’S LABYRINTH didn’t win Best Foreign Film if I had seen any of the other nominees.

The Rorschach Dance Troupe was kinda fun. How many screwed up Hollywood people in the audience saw those shapes and kept thinking it was “mommy”?

Just to clarify because she made such a big stink: DREAMGIRLS was not based on Diana Ross. VENUS was.

Whoever made Cameron Diaz’s gown specializes in napkin folding.

I miss Randy Thomas as the booth announcer.

Okay, so George Lucas hasn’t won a Best Director Oscar like co-presenters Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. It was still more prestigious having him up there than Kevin Costner.

At least no Debbie Allen SHINDLER’S LIST choreographed production number this year. (Producer Ziskin was not in a party mood that year)

Great bit, having the get-off-the-stage music interrupt Al Gore when he was about to make his “major announcement”. No one cheered louder than Hillary.

Ben Affleck was introduced as an Oscar winning screenwriter. To most WGA members, that’s more disturbing than the possible strike.

Nancy Meyers, a notorious writer-killer and credit-grubber, did a lovely piece on how writers were depicted in films.

Tom Hanks and Al Gore are starting to look alike.

The Best Short Documentary category always has four grim films and one about dance.

Where were the Price-Waterhouse guys?

Every song Celine Dion sings sounds the same. Which would be fine if I liked the song.

Since it was a formal affair Quincy Jones came dressed as Pagliacci, the sad clown. Where do I get a jacket like that?

Step aside Halle Barry, there’s a new most beautiful woman in the world and it’s Beyonce. WOWEE!!

The show could have easily come in under three hours if they only cut every montage in half, dumped the Will Ferrell comedy bit (the woman who won for costume design was funnier), lost the special effects chorus (what the hell was that??), jettisoned the Chris Connelly backstage statistic nonsense (no one cares what kind of night BABEL was having), and limited the tribute to that composer no one ever heard of to only one hour.

But all in all it was a pretty good night. But I do feel a little sorry for Peter O’Toole. He was probably thinking, “Why didn’t I play the Queen?”

See you at the mailbox exchanging our Netflix.

Join me at 11 a.m. on KNX 1070 in Los Angeles for my Oscar autopsy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Antonella for president and other stuff...

My 10th annual bitchy Oscar review will appear shortly following the ceremony. Or during the ceremony if you live in Hawaii where they tape delay it. Ever since their AMERICAN IDOL contestant Jasmine was booted off a few years ago it’s like they just stopped caring about what happens on the mainland.

Jasmine could have won. Antonella Barba knows the secret. Keep reading.

Spring training games begin this week! Leave it to Kerry Wood to be the first player to bruise his chest in a hot tub accident.

What felt longer, the baseball offseason or the time it took to bury James Brown?

Britney Spears is looking for a drive-by rehab center should you know of any.

If you like 60’s music you MUST check out Unlike oldies stations that play the same six records over and over until you crack and name names to the Germans, this station has a deep playlist brimming with great variety and forgotten treasures. Return to a time when we were hiding the pot from our parents.

DANCIN’ WITH THE STARS should be renamed DANCIN’ WITH THE MOST PATHETIC LOSERS WHO WILL DO ANYTHING FOR NOTARIETY. Clyde Drexler? Clyde the Glide? That breaks my heart. And golddigger supreme, Heather Mills? Let the “stump casting” jokes begin! All that’s missing is Melissa Rivers.

There will be a GREY’S ANATOMY spinoff centering on Dr. Addison (Kate Walsh). Tentative title: GREY’S ANATOMY SVU MIAMI. Although I say don’t get fancy. Just call it FRASIER.

Ray Liotta slammed his Cadillac Escalade into two parked cars last Saturday night in Pacific Palisades. Liotta is the honorary mayor of Pacific Palisades and there is now concern this DUI will hamper all of the honorary programs his administration hopes to institute.

Okay, AMERICAN IDOL contestant Antonella Barba can’t sing worth shit but now that pictures of her are circulating the net showing her topless and perfecting her "mic technique" on some lucky guy (which is probably why her throat is a little scratchy). I think she’s a lock for finishing in the top two. Simon always advises that contestants need to “stand out”.

See you after the Hollywood love fest.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Best actor & actress

Your faithful Oscar tout now weighs in with who will win Best Actor & Actress.



Why he’ll win – Pity. The guy is practically begging for the award. If this doesn’t work next year expect him to put on a wig and take whatever part Meryl Streep turns down.

Why he’ll lose – If he was so great an actor he could at least “act” like he wasn’t an Oscar grubber.


Why he’ll win – He’s pulled the child of every Oscar voter out of a burning building.

Why he’ll lose – To be nominated for a movie no one saw truly is an honor. And I think he knows and appreciates that. Unlike Will Smith, I don’t think he’ll dissolve into tears when he loses.


Why he’ll win – He consistently turns in great performances. He has the blessing of the twin Godfathers of Hollywood – Spielberg and Scorsese.

Why he’ll lose – People still think of him as a semi-regular on GROWING PAINS.


Why he’ll win – An amazing performance and it’s time this under-appreciated fine actor finally gets his due.

Why he’ll lose – The Academy is afraid if he wins Will Smith will kill himself.


Why he’ll win – Overdue. Makes funny speeches. Looks 80 but is only 37.

Why he’ll lose – A very large “ick” factor in the character he played in VENUS.



Why she’ll win – She always wins.

Why she’ll lose – Helen Mirren. And there’s always the next 26 times.


Why she’ll win – She gave the performance of the year. And showed incredible courage by making herself actually LOOK like Queen Elizabeth. She did everything but sing “And I’m telling you…I’m not going.”

Why she’ll lose – It’s revealed she’s really the leader of Al Queda. Otherwise, she’s a lock.


Why she’ll win – The voters are all teenage boys.

Why she’ll lose – Helen Mirren. Meryl Streep. Judi Dench. Kate Winslet.


Why she’ll win – Best performance of her already Oscar recognized career. Best crazed stalker since Kathy Bates in MISERY, and that’s what all actors strive for.

Why she’ll lose – Helen Mirren. Some voters may be put off by her stalking. Maybe if she stalked Peter O’Toole both would win.


Why she’ll win – Enough voters will say, “Jesus, if Kim Basinger has one, Kate Winslet certainly deserves one.”

Why she’ll lose – Helen Mirren. And she’ll eventually win for a lesser role but it will be a make-good for this one. Y’know, like Paul Newman finally won for the COLOR OF MONEY for Godsakes.

My yearly Oscar review follow shortly after the ceremony unless I fall asleep during it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What will win Best Picture?

My bitchy Oscar review will appear shortly after the ceremony Sunday night. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? It's time to enter that office pool or parlay your winnings from the Daytona 500. So who will win Best Picture? Allow your humble blogmeister to handicap:

Why it will win -- It’s daring. Imagine, a comedy without Will Ferrell. It’s the Cinderella story of the season and the only nominee you can watch without wanting to kill yourself.

Why it won’t win – it’s not “important”. Spielberg is still crying that SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE beat SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Wait’ll you see all the bad LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE clones the TV networks are currently developing. One grandfather is wackier than the next. The movie will be appreciated much more in a year. But it’ll be too late.


Why it will win – CRASH meets the AMAZING RACE. Lots of scope and intricate stories. Oscar loves what he can’t follow. Makes him seem “deep”. And it’s a “cause” movie.

Why it won’t win – Not sure it’s the right “cause”. Plus, a large number of people despise it. That’s generally not good.


Why it will win – Clint Eastwood could direct RENO 911 and it would get nominated. World War II is still hot. Politically correct. A Hollywood make-good for PEARL HARBOR.

Why it won’t win – Only seven people have seen it. And three of them thought they were going to see LETTERS FROM A KILLER starring Patrick Swayze and Gia Carides.


Why it will win -- It’s Scorsese’s year. Great to see all those big stars together in a movie that’s not OCEANS WHATEVER.

Why it won’t win -- GOODFELLAS it ain’t, and that didn’t win. Not great to see all those big stars shot to death in a movie that’s not OCEANS WHATEVER.


Why it will win – Thoroughly engrossing, pitch perfect performances, and name me a single filmgoer who isn’t completely obsessed with the Queen of England?

Why it won’t win – Some voters may perceive it as just another mother-in-law from hell flick. Others think it’s a downer and question whether Princess Diana had to die.

So what movie do I think should win Best Picture?


Tomorrow: Best actor and actress handi-capping. Hint -- don't put a lot of money down on Penelope Cruz.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Travel tips for winter fliers

In light of all the recent flight cancellations and JetBlue passengers stranded on the tarmac for ten hours here are some travel suggestions for would-be air travelers.Check the weather forecast. If it’s not 72 degrees and clear EVERYWHERE in the United States, reschedule.

Do not call the airline for a weather update. You’ll learn it’s cool and overcast in New Delhi.

Allow two hours before the flight, ten hours for the tarmac, two hours for the unscheduled fuel stop, and two hours to retrieve your luggage. And if you’re flying from LA to San Francisco, 45 minutes for the flight itself.

If you print your ticket on one of those self-help stations realize that the chances of it working are the same as five cherries coming up on a slot machine.

Best to print your ticket at home the night before along with the flight schedules of every other airline going to your destination, airport shuttle schedules, Amtrak schedules, and the 1-800 numbers for Ramada, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott, Quality Inn, Best Western, and the YMCA.

Never turn in your rental car until it’s the final boarding call on your flight.

Never fly to, from, or around Chicago.

Always use skycaps. And if you choose to ever see your luggage again, tip.

Remember: “the white zones are for assholes in SUV’s only”.

You are allowed several little three-ounce bottles of something but not one three-and-a-half-ounce bottle of the same thing.

You might want to put that Astroglide into a non descript little bottle.

Have extra zip lock bags that you can sell to clueless travelers for ten dollars apiece. If they haven’t gotten the word by now they deserve to pay ten bucks. And tell them FAA regulations are one item per bag.

You can usually tell who these nimrods are. They’re the ones who booked connecting flights in the winter. And buying furniture off the Sky Mall.

Don’t have children if you plan on flying anytime in the next fifteen years. Even if it’s one trip.

If they announce they’re overbooked and are looking for volunteers to take a later plane for free trips take it. The flight is going to be cancelled anyway. And you’ll have a jump at getting reservations at the airport Hilton.

Have your laptop, ipod, cellphone, Gameboy, pager, Blackberry, camcorder, transistor radio, electric razor, hand held fan, and pacemaker fully charged. Ten hours on the tarmac is a long time.


Before you get on the flight take Airbourne, water, Xanex, Oscillococcinum, Clariton, Ambien, and tequila.

Fake a limp so you can pre-board and guarantee there will be room in the overhead compartments for your stuff.

Bring your own DVD’s, music selection, food, blankets, pillows, reading light, water, magazines, newspapers, coffee, toilet paper. And just to be on the safe side, your own oxygen masks and floatation devices.

But it’s not a good time to catch up on the first season of LOST.

Play the drinking game. Take a swig every time you hear “we apologize for the inconvenience”. Not recommended for those unwilling to get completely shitfaced.

Drinking game #2: “We thank you for your patience.”

Don’t kid yourself. EVERYONE is flying “stand by”.

The scary part used to be the landing. Now it’s pushing off from the gate.

Beware of free WIFI hotspots in airport terminals. Hackers use these to break into your computer. Not a joke.

It’s quieter and smoother in the front of the plane. And screw what they say, if you’re in Coach and you want to use the bathroom go to the ones in First Class.

And finally, always remember: it’s NEVER the airlines fault. It’s the weather, air traffic controllers, mechanical problems, baggage handler strike, FAA rules, homeland security, airport restrictions, lawmakers, the billy goat curse, lunar eclipses, and most of all -- the media.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I was kicked off the Dating Game

I mentioned in passing in a recent post that I was booted off THE DATING GAME. A number of readers wanted to know the details.

It was in the late 60’s, I was in high school, and someone recommended I try out. I was a wise-ass even then. So I called the show, was given an appointment to audition. The first thing I said when I got there was that my father worked for ABC radio and if that was a conflict let me know now and save us all a lot of time and trouble. They assured me that was no problem. In fact, they said members of their own staff have had to go on in emergency cases.

So I went through the audition process. They put 40 of us in a room and asked us random DATING GAME-type questions.

A week later they called and invited me to be on the show. Everyone wonders if bachelors are given a preview of the questions or get to see the girl in advance. The answer is no. They filmed three episodes at a time so nine of us reported to an assigned room. We were briefed, then ushered to the stage for a rehearsal. They walked us through it, where we sat, what to do after the girl made her selection, etc. Then it was back to this waiting room until we were called for the show.

I didn’t give a shit about winning the date. I just wanted to score. And I was lucky. Got some good questions, had some funny answers, called one of the other bachelors a blimp, just wreaked as much comic havoc as I could. Big surprise, I wasn’t selected. As a result I missed getting to go on a little cruise boat around the Newport Beach harbor with the Turtles. (I’ve since become friends with Howard Kaylan and he can’t even remember that event).

Two days after the show aired I got invited to go on again for their alumni show. Again I was apparently funny. I just remember doing an Elvis impression and trashing the institution of marriage. This girl didn’t pick me either. Instead I went home with 50 pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses or something useless like that. I think the date I missed was to the Lancaster Date Festival. I’ve since gotten over my disappointment.

After that show aired they invited me to be on the night-time version. Now that was big stuff. Winners got trips to Europe and Hawaii, not Orange County. Oh yeah, and you’d be on national primetime television… but it was really the prizes.

Unfortunately, there was an engineers’ strike at ABC at the time and management had to man the cameras. During the rehearsal, one of the cameramen recognized me and mentioned casually that my father worked for ABC radio. Chuck Barris went ballistic. I was immediately thrown off the show. I said, “But what about when your own staff has to sub…?” Their answer was, “Get out!” So that was that. I was bumped from the show, they grabbed a guy in the audience who was wearing a suit, and he went on in my place. The selected bachelor got a trip to Paris. I got a roast beef sandwich at Arby’s.

A few years later I was working as an intern at KMPC radio in Los Angeles. Jim Lange was hired as a disc jockey. He spotted me down the hall and amazingly, remembered me. Even rattled off my blimp quip. Two days later at the station I get a call from THE DATING GAME. All was forgiven. They’d love to have me on again. I said, “Is this the night-time version?” They said no, I’d have to go back to daytime. So I told them to stick it. And thus ended my storied DATING GAME career.

Do I have regrets? Yes. I wish I had some of those sunglasses today. I could get a FORTUNE for that crap on ebay.

Channel surfing

Some random thoughts on what’s currently on TV:

What a break for February sweeps – Ana Nicole Smith and the astro-nut!

LOST – Unlike a lot of fans and critics, I’m still on board. I love the fact that I just can’t out guess them. And it’s worth tuning in just for Elizabeth Mitchell’s eyes.

24 – So far so good but a higher body count this season than the population of Iowa. Jack has now faced every villain but Goldfinger and Snidely Whiplash.

GREY’S ANATOMY – What happened to the humor?

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – let it serve as a lesson to all shows in trouble: hire FRASIER writers. And the best writer of WILL & GRACE.

PRISON BREAK – I miss the days when it was just wildly implausible instead of ridiculous.

HOUSE – Great except for the episode where he and Ms. Snotty Teen 2007 discussed the meaning of life for an hour. If someone doesn’t bleed out of their eyes I feel cheated.

THE COLBERT REPORT – I know I’m going to get letters but it’s starting to get tedious. Meanwhile, THE DAILY SHOW continues to sparkle each and every day.

1/2 HOUR NEWS HOUR – Fox News’ lame attempt at the DAILY SHOW. Y’see, comedy is funny when you lampoon the establishment, not funny when you lambaste the anti-establishment.

AMERICAN IDOL – Open auditions are fun for maybe two nights. Maybe next year hold them in Utah. It would be fun to see what Paula Abdul is like sober.

They all come to television sooner or later. Parker Posey is in a new TV pilot called THE RETURN OF JEZABEL JAMES. You’ll be back Jennifer Aniston. You’ll be back.

STUDIO 60 – Off the NBC schedule indefinitely. America, I hope you’re ashamed. You have let Aaron Sorkin down!

So does that mean that Sorkin is now just a disgruntled unemployed writer???

CBS EVENING NEWS – When Katie start running “here’s what’s good about America” features you know the news division is being run by the research department.

JUDGE JUDY, ALEX, BROWN, FRED, WHOOPI – I dunno. I can’t keep track. There must be seven of them. Every Judge but Reinhold has a daytime show.

THE SARAH SILVERMAN SHOW – best new comedy of the year. Sarah is the girl you want to bring home to your parents to watch them have heart attacks.

DICE UNDISPUTED – Premiering March 4th, VH-1 unveils a reality show following Andrew Dice Clay around. If a show I pitched to VH-1 was rejected and I read that they picked up an Andrew Dice Clay series I think I’d kill myself.

HEROES – I hate the narrator and all his profound bullshit commentary. I wish one of the heroes had the ability to bring Rod Serling back from the dead.

I’m rooting for the new Andy Richter show, ANDY BARBER P.I. I hear good things. And Jane Espenson is writing on it.

Saturday night has just become a dumping ground for rerunning shows – the Nordstrom Rack of network television.

There is still a network that believes in sitcoms – TBS. Although, in my heart of hearts I believe they’d dump them all in a nano-second if they could show 150 Atlanta Braves games again.

Tomorrow: how I got thrown off the DATING GAME.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

SI Swimsuit party

If there was ever an example of “what’s wrong with this picture?” it was me last week at the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT MODEL party in Los Angeles. It was held on the night of my birthday and I went because, well…because I don’t feel old ENOUGH.

A good friend of mine works for SI and invited me. I figured, what the hell? Free drinks and maybe I could get a few of the swimsuit models to be guest bloggers (movie reviews, Iraq war analysis, Lisa Curran vs. Vix swimwear)

The bash was held at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. If the nearby Beverly Center indoor mall is known as the “gray whale”, the Pacific Design Center is the big blue box it came in. A giant tent was set up (or, in this case – “erected”) in the courtyard and carpeting was set down (or “laid”).

Wasn’t sure how to dress for this. Decided against the suit I donned for the Rosenstock bat mitzvah. Settled on the slacks and sweater I wore to the FX pitch meeting. They’re a hip network, right?

Still, I felt out of place. Was it my shoes, my leather jacket, or the fact that I was the only man there who brought his wife?

But at least I didn’t have a pony tail.

Big surprise: the party was 75% guys, all preening like peacocks, all trying to look so cool, all hoping no one would notice that it was Valentine’s Day so how well could they be doing if they were alone at a party to ogle supermodels? Dead giveaway #1: the posturing dorks who were on their cellphones. Like they could be heard over the music, which was played at the threshold of pain. Dead giveaway #2: the losers who brought cameras. Pictures for their wallet to go along with the condom that’s been in there since the Clinton administration.

At one point each swimsuit model was introduced. There were little escalating pedestals set up around the tent, a la Gold Medal ceremonies at the Olympics. Every girl was named Fernanda or Daniella. “From the Brazil shoot – Fernanda Motta, Fernanda Tavares, Daniella Sarahyba!” One by one they took their places, squeezing onto the small disc shaped platforms, each wearing a sheer gown that proclaimed in its elegance, “a thousand dollars an hour”.

I was expecting a tasteful moment of silence for Ana Nicole but alas, none was observed.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the SI swimsuit edition cover girl – Beyonce. The digital cameras were a’ clickin’, the pony tails a’spinnin’. Beyonce was beautiful and charming and had that fetching look of “get me the fuck out of here!”

A few former swimsuit models were also in attendance. How tragic must it feel to be over by 29? However, their shame and heartbreak was relieved somewhat by every guy in the tent hitting on them.

I’m actually friends with one “hall of famer”, Stacey Williams. Okay, maybe not close friends, but she knows me well enough to confuse me with someone else she sort of knows. Seriously, Stacey’s a sweetheart and now doing quite well as a consultant for environmental concerns. There IS life after Tahiti. We chatted for about ten minutes. She told me what she was up to, I bragged about creating SEINFELD, 24, and FAMILY GUY.

None of the Fernandas or Daniellas would agree to guest blog for me. Even after I offered them candy.

After about an hour we decided to leave. Stepped outside and was just about to walk the red carpet back to the valet when a huge gust of wind blew the red carpet away. The metaphor did not go unnoticed.

Try topping this casting story

Worth repeating, with producers scrambling to cast their pilots, here's a true story that happened to us:

In 1993 my partner David and I were casting a pilot for CBS called BIG WAVE DAVE’S. One of the parts was for Jack. If you haven’t already, read yesterday’s post with a description of Jack and the sides we used for the audition. And now prepare yourself for RC. That’s not his real name but will do for our purposes.

Our office was on the Paramount lot. Our first floor window looked out at Gower Avenue. To set the scene, we were on the couch. To our left was the window to Gower. To our right was Sheila Guthrie, our casting director. Directly across from us was a chair for the actor and the door to our outer office where our assistant and other actors waited. That particular day we were seeing Jacks and Karens. The Karen role would eventually go to Jane Kaczmarek but that day there were maybe six other talented actresses set to read.

Normally the casting director goes out into the waiting room, brings in the actor, and introduces him. When it was time for RC, Sheila went out and came back in alone. She said he wanted to make an entrance. Uh oh, we thought. That can’t be a good sign.

A moment later the door bursts open and this fat sloth bursts in. He’s wearing just a t-shirt and shorts and carrying a large garbage bag over his shoulder (a la Dave). Oh, and he’s SOAKING WET.

We were a little startled but kept it together. He began reading with Sheila and then peeled off his t-shirt. Why we don’t know. He continued reading but now, for some inexplicable reason, he dropped his shorts. All he was wearing was his tighty-whities. And since they were soaked they were completely transparent. In other words, little Willy had now joined the reading.

Amazingly, Sheila managed to keep reading with him. David and I tried to remain composed but the absurdity of this was just too much. We both started laughing.

RC came to the Kampua’a, God of rain speech. He crossed to the window, stood in front of it, rattled the blinds (to represent thunder) and bellowed out his speech. At the same time a young couple, probably tourists, were walking down the street. We could see them from our angle. The couple turned to the noise and the girl went bat shit, screaming in utter terror.

By now David and I were rolling on the floor. RC must’ve felt he was KILLING. He did the last few lines with even greater panache. We’re now on the floor, tears streaming, sides hurting from laughing so hard. What do you say to this guy? We managed “Well, okay, we haven’t seen that before.” He thanked us for his time, gathered up his clothes and the garbage bag. We told him he could put his clothes back on but he said, “No no, I’ve taken up too much of your time already.” With that he walks into the outer office. Now we hear six actresses scream at the top of their lungs. We’re rolling on the floor again.

RC goes out into the hall to dress. The CHEERS offices were at the other end of the hallway. The CHEERS writers came out to see what was going on. From our office we heard those screams, which set us off for another twenty minutes.

Obviously, RC didn’t get the part. But for five minutes I must admit we were considering bringing him to the network.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The infamous Tim Hardaway post

It bothers me that people have misinterpreted my Tim Hardaway rant as racist. People, come on! That was not my intent. So to avoid any further misunderstanding I've decided to just junk the post.

Moving on to new less controversial topics....

Friday, February 16, 2007

I've been tagged...

One of those dumb personal quizzes circulating the net. I'm admitting things here even my shrink doesn't know. Of course, he doesn't care.

• A-Available/Single? Not according to my wife
• B-Best Friend? My partner. I'd be a lot poorer emotionally and financially without him.
• C-Cake or Pie? I'll have to go with Elvis and say cake.
• D-Drink Of Choice? Makers & ginger ale but only after 7 a.m.
• E-Essential Item You Use Everyday? My Pocket Fisherman.
• F-Favorite Color? Green. They asked me this for the Dewar's ad, too.
• G-Gummy Bears Or Worms? Whichever one is not banned from commercial flights.
• H-Hometown? Los Angeles
• I-Indulgence? Irene Jacob movies even though I can't understand them.
• J-January Or February? February. Pitchers and catchers report.
• K-Kids & Their Names? Matt, Annie, and maybe some in Bakersfield.
• L-Life Is Incomplete Without? Laughter.
• M-Marriage Date? July 8. Same date that crime boss Soapy Smith was shot to death in 1898.
• N-Number Of Siblings? 1
• O-Oranges Or Apples? Apple, if we're talking pies or computers. Orange if we're talking Bowls.
• P-Phobias/Fears? Mimes.
• Q-Favorite Quote? Enough is as good as a feast to an idiot.
• R-Reason to Smile? Linda Eder singing
• S-Season? Bob Gaudio
• T-Tag Three or Four People? I don't know four people.
• U-Unknown Fact About Me? I was kicked off THE DATING GAME
• V-Vegetable you don't like? Pat Robertson
• W-Worst Habit? Sweating the small stuff
• X-X-rays You've Had? Teeth, chest, and what kind of stupid question is that?
• Y-Your Favorite Food? Lobster...but must not still be alive.
• Z-Zodiac Sign? Aquarius man.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Even I don't have an agent

The difficulty in securing an agent is not confined to those writers just starting out. I tried to get a theatrical agent when I wrote my play a few years ago and hit a brick wall, even with my resume. And I didn’t list AfterMASH so I know it’s not that.

The Hollywood literary agency that represented me did not have a theater department so when I wrote my play a few years ago I decided to get a second agent to handle that facet of my career. Unlike these major conglomerates with three letters that handle screenwriters, theatrical agencies are all boutique. Going down the list it seemed every Jewish girl who wouldn’t go out with me now has an agency.

I made a few calls and found no one was interested. The fact that (a) I wasn’t 25, and (b) they couldn’t cash in on movie rights made me persona non representita. And this was before anyone even bothered to read my play.

Through a playwright friend, I was referred to one agent – we’ll call her Beth B. I had a nice conversation with her, she said she really wasn’t looking to take on new clients but wanted to read my play. So I sent it along with a resume. Two weeks later I get a letter from her. The first sentence was “Ohmygod, I had no idea you co-created ALMOST PERFECT!” She went on to say it was her favorite show, the writing was brilliant, she wrote a letter to CBS complaining when they cancelled it, it was like we were in her bedroom, and she was often confused for our star, Nancy Travis. I thought – I am IN!

Next paragraph – pass. Okay. Whatever.

A few months later I was in New York and decided to call her again. Sometimes when people meet they click and who knows? Maybe she’d have a change of heart. She agreed to meet with me.

It took three trains to get down to her agency. Every other agency was in mid-town, in the theatre district. This one was in the land of discount sneakers and checks cashed while you wait. Once there, after waiting a good half hour, Beth B. finally appeared and ushered me back to her office. My first thought upon seeing her was – Nancy Travis? The only thing she had in common with Nancy Travis was that they both breathed air. Beth B. was large, horn rimmed glasses, and had giant frizzy Carole King hair.

After the pleasantries, she explained that she liked to represent hot young playwrights who lived in New York. The key to her was they’d be able to go to openings and readings and be seen in all the right places.

I said, “what if I produced my play in LA and it got good reviews?” She said that would be disastrous for it ever getting mounted in New York. I suggested that maybe the New York theatre scene was a tad elitist, fully expecting her to back off and say “No, no, not at all.” Instead, she said proclaimed, “Yes, that’s right.” I was a little thrown and wondered if New York had the theatre to support it. “Suessical? Thousand Clowns with Tom Sellick? Annie Get Your Gun with Crystal Bernard? There weren’t exactly new Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams pieces starring Brando or Burton coming in this season.”

It was clear we were not “clicking”. So finally, I asked Beth B. what advice she could give me? She thought for a moment and finally said, “Write”. I said, “Excuse me?” She repeated it. “Write. I find that the first play is an introduction, the second gets a reading, the third gets a workshop, and the fourth maybe gets a production. So just keep writing.”

I nodded and finally said, “Beth, that’s great advice. In fact, it’s the same advice I’ve been giving young writers… for THIRTY YEARS. But since I’ve had more of my work produced on a national level than all your clients combined times ten I think I can SKIP A STEP.”

Beth B. was not on the invite list for my reading last Monday.

I know it’s discouraging when an agent doesn’t want you, but always remember, there are plenty of agents out there that YOU don’t want. If it takes more time to find a better match it’s worth it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The BIG frozen APPLE

For all you relatively new readers to this blog, whenever I travel I file a travelogue. Just back from a trip so...

Went to New York for a reading of my play, UPFRONTS AND PERSONAL on February 12th. I figured, what better way to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday than at a theater?

Brought my long underwear. Okay, I looked like Mr. Incredible but no one saw me other than the maid who didn’t knock. On Fox5’s five day forecast for Tuesday it showed a low of 13 and described it as “chilly”. CHILLY??!! Are they kidding?? I’m here to tell you, it was downright “nippy”!

Actually, on Tuesday the low was 8. It’s the coldest weather they’ve had in two years and it lasted all week. Forget “nippy”. It was on the “cool” side.

But at least you can finally get a ticket to THE PRODUCERS. Of course, it now stars Tony Danza. (I wish that was a joke but it’s not.)

It was “Fashion Week” in New York although I obviously didn’t get the memo (wearing a stocking cap that someone affectionately likened to a condom). The world’s most successful bulimics converged on Manhattan to show off clothes only Nicole Richie could wear.

Taxi fares have gone up. And worse, some feature TV screens where you can watch NY10: Taxi Entertainment. Why look out the window and thrill to the sights of this vibrant city when you can watch STUDIO 60 promos and horseracing bloopers?

And now cabbies are all on cellphones…arguing… in languages only Borat could understand.

New hope for troubled marriages – there’s now a trapeze school on the Hudson River.

Stopped by Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a 50’s themed Times Square malt shop where the waiters and waitresses all hope to be discovered by singing “Suddenly Seymour” on a constant loop. Please stop long enough to take my order!

Ellen’s is the G-rated version of Lucky Cheng’s where all the waiters are drag queens. “Suddenly Seymour” has a whole new spin.

There’s one stretch of Madison Avenue where there’s no Starbucks for two whole blocks!! Oh how I miss the days of Chock Full o’ Nuts and Nedicks. I also miss musicradio 77WABC but every Saturday night they revert back to their heritage days. It’s audio bliss. All that’s missing is Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie having an orgasm every time Gimbels has extended store hours.

It’s worth seeing THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED at the Cort theatre just for Julie White. She was hilarious as the flamboyant easy-target Hollywood agent. For the specific jokes, see any FRASIER episode where Harriet Harris guest-stars.

Isaiah Thomas’ Knicks continue to struggle. Papers are calling it the “Thomas Clown Affair”. Since they were playing my beloved Clippers I had to swing by the Garden and check it out. I did not let my Clippers allegiance be known, not for fear of getting beaten up but because I don’t like being laughed at. A couple of idiots actually wore Clippers jerseys. Turns out they were players.

I should have gone the following night when Justin Timberlake performed. Or the night after when crews were preparing the hockey rink.

Speaking of hockey, how popular are the New Jersey Devils? Their televised game Saturday night drew 736 households. Out of 7.4 MILLION. I think even the CW would cancel a show that bad.

Nice try. There’s a “Cheesesteak Factory”.

Britney Spears was in town. Thought I saw her but it was just some other tramp throwing up in the street (or maybe a supermodel?). Note to Britney: Stop wearing the Star of David! Jews have enough problems.

Tony Danza in THE PRODUCERS?? David Hasselhoff wasn’t available? Oh that’s right. He’s starring in THE PRODUCERS at the Paris Spa in Las Vegas (sadly, also not a joke).

Near Soho is a hotel called the Rivington. From nearby roofs you can see right into their bathrooms and watch people taking showers. Inside the showers it must appear there’s one-way glass. There’s not. But to protect the all-important privacy of the guests, the hotel guarantees that no one can hear them sing.

Only in New York: A home-instruction schoolteacher billed the city for $5,864 for a 15 year boy who died six months earlier. Her justification: “I teach dead people”. Where she’s going she can tutor Al Capone.

A move is underway to ban ipod use on city streets. Crossing Lexington Ave. is not the time to catch up on last week’s DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

One “chilly” night I asked my cabbie to drive right into the lobby and leave me off by the elevators. Cost me an extra buck but it was worth it. Although, whatever the Khazakstani word for “pussy” is, I think he called me that as he sped away.

Does anyone other than coat check girls love this weather?

The NBC Experience store sells THE BIGGEST LOSER t-shirts. They know their clientele. I asked if there were any 20 GOOD YEARS mugs left. Seems they’re out. Same with their KIDNAPPED action figures.

Restaurant recommendation: “Il Cantinori” at 32E. 10th St. The guy next to us eats there five times a week. Okay, that’s nuts but the food and atmosphere are really terrific. It’s in the Village where funky local shops meet the Virgin MegaStore.

Tried to get a tour of Sirius Radio. Despite my twenty years of major market broadcast experience I was still deemed “just another schmuck off the street” so my request was denied. Reason #2877 why XM is better.

Ted Turner has a new restaurant – Ted’s Montana Grill in midtown. He has a huge buffalo head mounted and you just know he’d like one of Jane Fonda to go along with it.

Even Filene’s Basement has a great view!

The play reading went great. And I can’t wait to dive back into the script and make it greater. Thanks to my amazing cast (Chip Zien, Joanna Gleason, David Schramm, David Rasche, Andrew Rannells, Malcolm Gets, Nell Teare, Jonathan Todd Ross, Mike McCann), director (Janet Brenner), and everyone at CAP-21. So now I can say I’ve had a play off-Broadway that closed in one night!

Another perk: getting to meet a few of you readers. Thanks for coming out and laughing. Any chance any of you have a few million dollars you'd like to invest in a play???

A giant snowstorm was burying Buffalo and Syracuse (11 feet!) and was scheduled to slam Gotham the exact minute we were due to depart. So we managed to hop an earlier flight to Burbank. Of course we were still delayed due to weather. And that would have been okay except the flights to Buffalo and Syracuse left right on-time.

Didn’t make it to everyone’s favorite Indian fast food joint, “Curry in a Hurry” this trip. Maybe next time when Tony Danza is playing Frankie Valli in JERSEY BOYS.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Most guys don’t love Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday designed to trap them. If you’re dating more than one woman, you’re dead. If you get the wrong gift, you’re dead. If the gift is too cheap or too elaborate, you’re dead. If you get her a humorous card with Bush on the front you’re dead (although in that case you deserve to be).

Or worse, they love the gift and card too much. Then you’re REALLY dead.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is that it’s also my birthday. Try going out to a nice celebration dinner when every restaurant is packed, all the prices are jacked way up, and everyone is trying so hard to create a “romantic atmosphere” that when their date isn’t looking they’re popping Lexapros like Tic Tacs.

Still, not to be a cynic I would like to offer an explanation for what love really is. It comes from that font of romance -- an episode of TAXI (written by Ken Estin).

Louie is trying to win back his girlfriend, Zena. He asks if she loves him. She says she doesn’t know what love is. He tells her she’s in luck because he does. And he’s the only person alive who can say that. He’s read what everyone else says love is and they’re always wrong. She finally asks him what it is, and Louie says:

“Love is the end of happiness!

The end. Because one day all a guy’s got to do to be happy is to watch the Mets. The next day you gotta have Zena in the room watching the Mets with you. You don’t know why. They’re the same Mets, it’s the same room…but you gotta have Zena there.”

That to me expresses more heartfelt love than any bouquet or bling or blowout dinner. Maybe you should change your plans and just get together in her apartment. Especially since I still don't have dinner reservations and would prefer not celebrating my birthday at Taco Bell.

Thank you and happy Valentine’s Day.

A writer's handiest tool

The reading went well. I'm still alive. More details later but thanks again to all the incredibly talented and dedicated people who made it happen. One was Mike McCann who read the stage directions. I felt bad because before the reading I cut half his lines. Here's why:

There was an organization in New York a few years ago that held screenplay readings. They provided the theatre, casting director, publicity, and audiences. Okay, it was in a neighborhood that gang members wouldn’t enter, but still. I submitted a spec I had written and it was selected. They also provided an editor who would thin out stage directions if I was agreeable. Long stage directions read aloud bogged down the readings. The editor’s cuts would be merely suggestions. I said, “Sure, bring it on”, knowing full well that my stage directions tended to be lean and mean and he would find very little to trim.

A week later I received his draft. Holy shit! There were cross-outs EVERYWHERE. Page after page, lines drawn through my well chiseled stage directions. What the fuck?!

Then I started going through it carefully. And damn, he was right!! Redundant, unnecessary words and sentences were flagged throughout. I wound up keeping 90% of his changes. And now when I write stage directions I always think of him. Would he cut this?

I can’t state this strongly enough – less is more. Get out your samurai sword and CUT.

I know, I know. You’re going to say that film is a visual medium. You need to describe settings, create moods, convey the excitement of action scenes. And words are your only tool. That’s true, but here’s the thing…

Readers don’t read stage directions.

Even the ones who say they do, don’t. If they see a big block of direction they skip it. (Writer/director, Billy Wilder was once asked if a director needs to know how to write and he said, “No, a director needs to know how to read.”)

It’s up to you to find clever super economical ways to convey your mood, world, action, etc. And here’s the good news. It’s often easier than you think. You just have to be in that mindset. Instead of…


Jessica enters, puts her hands to her mouth, and staggers two steps backwards when she sees the condition of the apartment. There is clutter everywhere. Soiled laundry strewn about the floor that’s under an inch of dust. Remnants of take out Chinese dinners and boxes containing half eaten cold pizzas are piled high on a coffee table already littered with magazines, unopened mail, and random CD’s separated from their jewel cases. Jackets hang on every chair. Filled ashtrays provide a stale aroma.

…what about??


A disaster. Jessica enters, stunned.

The reader gets it. Remember, this is not a John Updike novel. Think in terms of words like “upscale, lived in, boyishly handsome, bookish, early Ikea”.

If you do have an action sequence, break it up into short paragraphs. It’s easier to read and helps create the flow and tension.

Another trick I use is to sprinkle a joke or two in the stage directions as an incentive and reward for reading them (kind of like what I’ve done in this post).

Finally, when the script’s all done and the stage directions are air tight, I go through it once again and thin the hell out of them.

That's what I did with my play. But what Mike did get to read, he did beautifully.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tonight's the night

Monday night is the reading of my play, UPFRONTS AND PERSONAL at CAP 21 in New York. I’ve got a great cast, great director (Janet Brenner), and great venue. So what that means is: if this play bombs I have NO ONE to blame but myself. I can’t pin it on the network, or the studio, or the editing, camera angles, sound, whatever. So I’m mostly very excited, but there’s a part of me that’s saying “Am I nuts? What the hell am I doing this for?” I’ll let you tomorrow how it went.

But for those of you not attending, here’s a small portion. It’s late in the second act. Gary (Chip Zien) and Beth (Joanna Gleason: pictured) are long time writing partners who have to come up with a new direction for their show by a 4:00 meeting with the network. They’re under tremendous stress and Gary hasn’t slept in two days.


Okay, I’m ready. Let’s get something down. It’s always better to have something so at least you have something to change. It’s almost nine now. Let’s say by eleven we have something. Anything. Doesn’t have to be great. But at least it’ll be a start.

(yawning) Get out the pad.

Great. We can do this. You’ll see.




Okay. Let’s make a vow. By 1:00 let’s come up with something.



Gary, stop that!

It’s 2:30.

We’ll get it.


I don’t know. Did you ever think that maybe there is no solution?


That we’re just flying up our assholes with this thing?

That’s not what’s holding us back! I know exactly what’s holding us back.


We’re totally washed up.

Oh we are not.

Beth, get real for Godsakes. You reach a certain age and it just goes. You dry up, lose it, have nothing left. It’s over. You kind of hope it’s gradual and not as of 9:00 one morning but that’s the hand we were dealt. See you on the faculty of the DeVry Institute.

Are you taking that Prozac the staff got you for Christmas?

No!!! Jesus. Come on. Any idea. It could be crazy. It could be horrible. I dunno. They become superheroes, they sleep together. Anything.

That’s not bad.

Yeah! They have magic powers. How ‘bout this? She can turn people into sheep.

No, you idiot. They sleep together.

Huh? Oh.

Yeah. I think that’s it.


It changes the relationship. Can they exist as partners and lovers? There’s a lot of fun we can have with that.

‘Y’know, in many ways I think I’ve actually gotten better with age.

And 94 other pages. Here we go…

Steve Allen: Super Sleuth

Steve Allen created THE TONIGHT SHOW. He was an enormously talented man. Additionally, he was an accomplished musician and as if that wasn’t enough, a frequent game show panelist. He wrote numerous books on comedy. He won Emmys and God knows what else. He was one of my idols growing up. And one of my comedy writer heroes was his head writer, Stan Burns. But sometimes talent is not limitless. Mr. Allen could do a lot of things but solving crimes wasn't one of them. Among his many endeavors, he wrote several mystery novels in which he and his wife Jayne Meadows were the two master sleuths. Needless to say there’s just a touch of grandiose ego in these unfathomable tomes. My favorite is MURDER IN VEGAS. Steve and Jayne go to Las Vegas. Steve performs in a big hotel showroom. And the bodies start to fall. The police are baffled. Ah, but not Steverino. Master entertainer by night, dynamite detective by day, Steve Allen does it all. Here are a few ACTUAL hard boiled excerpts. Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler – eat your heart out.


The first thing I did on coming off stage was to remove my formal dinner jacket and throw it on the couch in my dressing room, picking up a tan windbreaker in its place. From my dressing room closet, I also grabbed a tropical straw hat with a wide brim and a pair of dark glasses: private eye Allen was about to go incognito.
In the dream, after having erotic, but unfulfilled designs on an unidentified but highly desirable woman, I was suddenly swimming in an ocean at night…

(There’s an image I could live without – Steve Allen seducing a hot babe. Yikes!)
Jayne reached out once again and felt the leg, a towel-covered thigh, and slowly her hand traced upward over the unconscious form, until coming to a cord wrapped tightly about Christie’s neck. It had been pulled with such vigorous force that Christie’s neck seemed broken, with her head lying to one side at an impossible angle.

Jayne loosened the cord, though she knew it was too late. Her heart was racing. “Oh dear!” she said. It was impossible to fool herself any longer into thinking this was a faint – Christie Hamilton had been murdered.

I cannot claim the distinction of being Jewish, but a whispered “oy” escaped my lips at that moment.
“Mr. Allen… there’s a phone call,” said the pretty slave girl in a pale lavender mini-toga.
As for young women, some of them seem to feel that since men are titillated by the revelation of a bit of kneecap, breast, shoulder or navel it logically follows that to quickly proceed to a state of either near or totally nudity is a wise course. They are quite mistaken in this. Or, to put the matter in simpler terms, one Sophia Loren is worth a thousand Madonnas.

(And finally, I kid you not….)

And this young woman too, was obviously trying to sound as if she had spent her early years in a black ghetto. There’s something dumb about that, ladies and germs.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'M the father of Anna Nicole's baby!

I didn’t want to admit it before but I am. I just assumed I would get the $474,000,000 and go on with my life. Oh right. And I’d get the baby. And now with these three other imposters laying claim I have grave fears that if we’re not careful, this could turn into a circus.

I also resent that I have been accused of merely trying to get publicity. All of this comes at a bad time because I’m currently in New York for the reading of my play, UPFRONTS AND PERSONAL Monday night at 7:30 at CAP 21 at 18 W. 18th Street, call 212-352-3101 – and I don’t need the distraction.

Just let me and my family live in peace (and prosperity).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I see where a judge might allow the Phil Spector murder trial to be televised. He certainly has the perfect look for TV. Considering OJ tried to peddle a book on how he would have committed those murders IF he had done them, maybe he could start a trend. Beginning with Spector and filling the remainder tables, here are a few more IF books:

IF I SHOT SOME GIRL WHO HAPPENED TO BE IN MY HOUSE by Phil Spector, he guesses he would've used the loaded gun he always kept handy on his person, instead of how it really happened with her taking it out of his pocket and shooting herself.

IF I WANTED TO KIDNAP AND KILL THAT NO GOOD BITCH WHO STOLE MY BOYFRIEND by Lisa Nowak detailing all normal items needed to pull off such a plot -- black wig, dark glasses, trench coat, folding knife, steel mallet, pellet gun, 4 feet of rubber tubing, garbage bags, latex gloves, and of course (the kidnapper's best friend) an adult diaper.

IF I BET ON BASEBALL by Pete Rose, speculating how on July 8,1977 IF he bet he might've put $20 on Cincinnati over Pittsburgh and double down his winning yesterday on the San Francisco-Atlanta game, going with the Giants.

IF I DIDN'T PAY MY TAXES by Richard Hatch who imagines it wouldn't be worth the effort unless he could withhold oh...say a million dollars.

And to fill out your library:

IF I DIDN'T PAY MY TAXES by Wesley Snipes (six yearly volumes)










How to avoid a strike

The WGA announced its fifteen member negotiating committee for the upcoming contract discussions with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. Talks begin in July. It’s an impressive group of writers who will face an incredible uphill battle despite merely wanting a deal that is both fair for its members and beneficial for the industry.

The big issue will be all the new alternative forms of entertainment. Ipods, the internet, video-on-demand, cable repeats of first-run episodes, and God knows what else that hasn’t been invented yet. I myself am working on a video straw. You suck on it and the show goes right into your brain. I haven’t gotten it to work yet and have had two hernias but nothing great comes without failure.

The point is the Producers will claim these issues are too complicated. How can they negotiate untested marketplaces, new formats, new delivery systems, and video straws that may seem stupid today but are the future of entertainment tomorrow? They need years of careful study and market analysis.

Well the truth is there IS an easy solution. Easy and simple and fair.

For every dollar the Producers make from a film or TV product, no matter what the means, just give the writers an equitable percentage. Same with directors. Same with actors.

Easy. Done. Let's sign it and all go out for a pizza.

The Alliance could of course play hardball. Who can hold out longer, a writer with two kids in private school or Sumner Redstone? But the Alliance also has to take into consideration the possible irreparable damage a long strike might cause. Breaking unions, demoralizing artists – at the end of the day if you don’t have the people to make the product then what do you have? Is 1 or 2% more ownership of pie-in-the-sky formats worth that risk?

This is crucial time in our industry’s future. Please let it not be destroyed by greed. There’s enough to go around. There really is. Even if no one knows what they’re selling.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Memories of Lateline

Still in frigid New York. I am reminded of the month I spent here directing a sitcom called LATELINE for NBC. It starred Senator Al Franken and aired in the late 90’s.

The show was filmed in Queens at the Kaufman-Astoria studios. Next door was SESAME STREET and it was not uncommon to see guys walking down the hall with Muppets on one hand and cigarettes in the other. I hung out one lunch break there with Big Bird and guest star, Peter Jennings.

We filmed on Tuesday nights and began rehearsing the next show the following day. In LA, after the show wrapped on Tuesday night, crews would strike the swing sets and start setting up the new ones. Not in New York. They would strike the sets on Wednesday when we were rehearsing. As inconvenient as this was I was told this was still far preferable to the all-night crews. I don’t even want to know why. But that meant in order to wheel out the big unwieldy set pieces they’d roll back the huge stage door that opened right out onto a city street. So anyone walking by could just stop and watch us rehearse. Also, since this was November, the open door permitted the first blast of winter to enter the studio. We all rehearsed in parkas.

There aren’t too many multi-camera shows filmed in New York. So there aren’t a lot of cameramen familiar with the form. Of our four cameramen, two primarily covered Mets games on Channel 9. If a character reached for a phone they zoomed in on his hand. I had to tell them, this was an actor not a shortstop.

But my favorite times were the studio/network runthroughs. These occurred after the third day of production. In order for execs back in LA to see the rehearsal a satellite hook up was employed. LATELINE was a behind-the-scenes look at late night news program a la NIGHTLINE so our main set was this huge honkin’ newsroom. The satellite feed was hooked up to one camera. This poor cameraman who looked like Don Knotts only more frightened, had to just follow the action the best he could. And of course he would miss lines, be fishing around looking for people, crash into desks, etc.

After one such ragged runthrough we got this network note: How come there are no close ups?

How do you even begin to answer that?

The DVD of LATELINE is available and worth checking out. Some very funny episodes. One in particular with Allison Janney and I’d like to think her performance was what first caught NBC’s attention. The next season she was cast in THE WEST WING. But on LATELINE she was hilarious! And thanks to that network note, there are quite a few close ups.