Saturday, August 19, 2006

An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp


On August 2nd, I had the privilege of spending an evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp at Radio City Music Hall. Despite the fact that the event was sold out, not many people know what I'm referring to when I speak of it.

Let's say that when we arrived, there was a line of muggles wrapped around the block to find out if their favorite author might tip her hand and give us a peek into the highly anticipated and final book of the Harry Potter series.

Oh yes, Stephen King and John Irving were there, too...

The evening was a fundraiser for The Haven Foundation and Doctors Without Borders, two organizations I have no issue with supporting. And, hey, how often do you get to see three of your favorite authors reading excerpts from their own work? Given the fact that Ms. Rowling hasn't been to the States in five years and she really does need to get crackin' on Book 7, I'm going to guess the answer is "not too damned often!"

Whoopi Goldberg's introduction was well-written and well-timed as she praised King, Irving and, most especially, Rowling, for getting kids reading. We're not talking Hardy Boys mysteries here, we're talking tomes. Remember IT in hardback? Kids devour books rivaling the longest Irving novel in length and in half the time.

Tim Robbins introduced Stephen King with a monologue about the origin Shawshank Redemption's name - sparking a litany of wordplay on the name but, alas, no answer. Stephen read an excerpt from Different Seasons, which gloriously detailed the blueberry pie eating contest that became a scene in Rob Reiner's Stand by Me. I, personally, was looking for something more along the lines of Misery or Carrie but I'm sure he had to mindful of the young audience. And, really, who doesn't like a good barfing story?

Stanley Tucci introduced John Irving, who read a very entertaining passage from A Prayer for Owen Meaney, which was the inspiration for Simon Birch. I'm not sure of the Tucci-Irving connection there but I'm sure there is one. Mr. Irving, like King, read from manuscript pages typed in large font. His squeaky retelling of the pageant scene was very entertaining and also select for the kids. I had hoped for a little Garp - you know, like the title suggested? - but I'll settle for Owen Meaney.

Of course, despite the tremendous successes of Stephen King and John Irving, they really were a warm-up act for Rowling. Jo, as her contemporaries called her, slinked out on serpentine sandals, sat in a throne and placed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on her lap. She promptly informed us that she was only going to read a short selection because she found that fans preferred Q&A, a statement that was met with anxious applause. Of course, my first thought was: "I hope she doesn't tell us who died because I'm only halfway through Order of the Phoenix.

After reading about the intial meeting between Dumbledore and Tom Riddle the feeding frenzy began. An 18-year-old fan, a scholar if you will, had a subtext question. Did the fact that Aunt Petunia became flushed upon hearing that Harry would only be returning for one more summer mean something. Rowling's response? "There is more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye." And, as she spent most of the evening emphasizing, all will come to light in Book 7.

Then a young lad asked her how she could kill off Dumbledore, when Harry was so loyal to him? Jo clutched her hand to her chest, clearly distraught by this young reader's concern. I turned to my husband and uttered something like, "Well, I know who dies now."

After Rowling told the audience not to expect Dumbledore to pull a Gandalf, Salman Rushdie and his son stood at the mike and asked essentially the same question. Rowling explained to the esteemed author that she could not be any more explicit - Dumbledore was dead.

Rowling teased the audience by telling them that she thought she was certain of the title for Book 7. However, she came up with another title during her shower that morning and may well of changed it. Of course, she didn't tell us. If she had, it would've been CNN Breaking News.

Then Soledad O'Brien asked the authors if they could have dinner with any of their characters, who would they be. Stephen quipped, "Any five characters from one of my books? Honey, I'm eating alone!"

Rowling struggled a bit before stating she would take Harry, Ron and Hermione. The reason? She knows who is dead. So she was granted a little reprieve and was allowed to bring dead characters to dinner. She then quickly rounded out her dinner guests with Dumbledore and Hagrid.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening and I feel I'm a bit in the know. I guess I had better hurry up and read Book 5 before the movie comes out...

To see a replay of An Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp, click here.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

As Summer Winds Down

For those of you kind enough to have a feed for my blog, I am sure that you are still in shock that you saw the (1) appear after my blog name. I'll give you a moment to recover...

For those of you who are occasional or first time readers, I have returned after a brief hiatus. Based on the date of my last post, I guess you could say it was a summer "vacation" of sorts.

Damn Yankees at
Musicals at Richter, which consumed the better part of my early summer, was a wonderful experience. Of course, the long hours of stage managing a show are much more taxing when you are the mother of three approaching 40. However, the creative experience always outweighs the long hours and the hassles (missing costume designers, missing master carpenters, missing actors...). The run was also, of course, constantly threatened by rain and showers. So much so, I affectionately refer to the show as Damp Yankees. If you live in the Fairfield County/Litchfield County area, I urge you to make a point of coming down to see one of our productions next year. With any luck, my name may appear on the playbill as director next season.

So, my creative spark re-ignited, I have now submitted to direct at a few area theatres. I had vowed back in 2002 that I would never direct again. Of course, my state of mind was quite fragile then (I was pregnant with twins and Billy was still recovering from his NF). I've not made any commitments yet but I will be certain to limit myself to two, and hopefully that will include Richter. I will provide more details on my directing quest in another post.

I would like to, if you wouldn't mind, take you back in time - December 16, 1995. A twenty-something Alicia was appearing in A Christmas Twist at Danbury Actors Repertory Theatre with her new boyfriend, Billy. Under the patient direction of Rich Pettibone, the cast frittered and frolicked through this well-known (not) Christmas comedy. That day, also, marks the last day anyone has seen me onstage. (NOTE: I do not include the reading of Harvest Home as a performance.)

I've been to a few auditions over the years but nothing that suited. Most of my theatrical experience since that snowy December has been focused on directing or stage managing. Oftentimes, some of those commitments would overlap with shows that had ideal roles for me. I am pleased to inform you that on September 15th, 3,926 days following my last stage performance, I will be appearing in Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at
Brookfield Theater for the Arts.

My fondness for
Sondheim runs very middle-of-the-road. I appreciate the genius that he is but I'm not a fan of some of his more popular shows. However, Assassins, is different. It's edgier, more powerful. I don't know. All I know is that I'm loving it. And, like everyone, am both cursing and singing his praises while learning those crazy rhythms and disonant, awkward notes.

I am happy to report I am not one of the assassins (which means I don't have to touch any guns). Instead, I get to do a fabulous scene as Emma Goldman (whose history links with McKinley's assassin, Joe Czolgosz). I also get to perform in the Quintet in a song that was added to the revival, "Something Just Broke." It is a very powerful song about the effect that assassins have on the country. In this particular instance, the characters are recalling where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was shot.

That is, essentially, how I've been spending most evenings. Days are either spent toiling away at the ol' day job (worthy of its own post, I assure you) or doing the typical suburban family weekend stuff (birthday parties, BBQs, home improvement projects...).

I'm starting to get into Oscar mode and need to make some updates to my Release Radar. There are some good films premiering at the
Toronto Film Fest in a few weeks. I'm particularly intrigued by Emilio Estevez's Bobby. For Your Consideration, Christopher Guest's mockumentary about the independent film scene will entertain, I'm sure, and Paul Haggis could surprise with The Last Kiss. I am hoping to see World Trade Center sooner than later. The trailer is so moving and powerful, that I can only imagine the impact the entire film will have.

As far as the writing goes... We just won't go there right now. It's in my head, just need the uninterrupted time to get down. We all know how that goes, right?

And then there was my
Evening with Harry, Carrie and Garp! Another post for another day.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Alicia - The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Blogger

I regret my minimal posts of late (and my minimal comments). I am knee-deep in Damn Yankee waters and am about to move into waist-high waters. We pretty much have a 4-hour rehearsal, 5 times a week until the show opens on June 22nd. Unfortunately, with a set number of hours in the day, something's gotta give and the luxury of blogging is one of them.

The show promises to be a lot of fun but it certainly makes me long for my college days, when the hours not spoken for by rehearsal were spent in a classroom. And I think that might have amounted to 5 or 6 hours a day. Oh, yeah, I was 12 years younger, too. My husband is one of the ballplayers and he has spent several nights dancing, quite rigorously... so I can't complain too much! I'd probably keel over and die...

Needless to say, the spare moments are few and far between... But I'm still here and the film projects are simmering on the back burner. If only every day were 30 hours long, right?

If any of you are in the area and would like to see a quality production of Damn Yankees, please do come by. Musicals at Richter is set beneath the stars in a lovely, New England setting that was actually referenced erroneously in "The Baby Shower" episode of Seinfeld. For further information and tickets, go to the Musicals At Richter site. You can dine locally or bring a bottle of wine and a picnic to enjoy on the lawn. And, if you're lucky, you might see me there, too!

Here is a picture of our hapless, albeit determined Washington Senators (minus a couple unable to attend photo call):


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Sunday, May 14, 2006

A Cool New Thing To Love About Me

I am thrilled to announce that I am co-producing a film with Kevin Bacon and Charlie Kaufman. In fact, this project has earned me my first credit on IMDb!

Absolutely shameless, I know... But a great conversation starter, don't you think?

In fact, my association with The 1 Second Film has also made it possible for the following statement to be true: "Part the time I spent being involved in this film was spent with Mark Ruffalo on top of me!"

This is not a complete untruth. Just locate my name on the list of producer credits posted on the film's Web site.

All kidding aside, I think this is a brilliant fundraising plan. Wish I had thought of it...

Happy Mother's Day to the mommies - and a special shout out to the spec mommies! Part of my Mother's Day treat was an evening at a grown-up movie. We saw United 93 and I promise to share my reaction in another post.

For now, it's back to the drawing board. A few Damn Yankees tasks to tend to and prep for a meeting-heavy week at work that will likely be stressful and exhausting. Oh well - c'est la vie, these days!

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Delicate Balance

I'm a busy person. Those who know me will agree. There a couple of reasons for this. But I'll save that for another post...

Because I am busy I am able to juggle and balance a lot of things. Sometimes things tip the balance and it can be unsteady going for a bit but I'm usually able to right myself and stay the proper course.

At the moment, the two factors that are tipping the balance are the changes at work and the beginning of Damn Yankees. It is going to be an exhausting couple of months but this is where the theory of convergence kicks in: while the commute at $3+ a gallon is a PITA it is a lot of fun doing a show again. So, be forewarned, you will probably hear a bit of geeky theatre talk from time to time and the occasional gripe about work. It's just something you'll learn to love about me. Or something that will provoke you to remove my name from your sidebar links.

So back to movies...

As far as movies go, I don't think I've been to a grown up movie at the theatre this year. We've seen Nanny McPhee, Aquamarine and Ice Age 2 but nothing with a rating above PG. It has been discussed that we might be going to see M:I:3 for a team outing at work and there is a chance that my husband and I might get to have a grown up night next weekend (Happy Mother's Day!). Maybe we'll spend the afternoon at the movies! :)

We did watch a couple of DVDs this weekend (which is how I see most of my movies):

History of Violence: Good film overall. The story was compelling and told succinctly. Maria Bello was definitely deserving of her nomination, William Hurt not so much. Viggo Mortensen was great as the Midwestern everyman with a history. I found the nature vs. nurture subplot interesting, too.

The Family Stone: Enjoyable but not one I feel the need to run out and buy. It has a nice ensemble cast and I find Diane Keaton to be absolutely charming. Found it to be kind of predictable but nicely told. Sarah Jessica Parker should definitely stick to comedy, she does it well. I'll never forget that episode of Sex In The City when she fell down on the runway! Classic!

As for Reality bites: I've given up on on virtually all of them with the exception of American Idol. I was disappointed that Mandisa didn't make it further. I think it will be between Chris and Taylor. If I had my choice, I'd pick Taylor. But it looks like the producers a skewing toward a "rocker." Chris has proven that he has that genre locked but is versatile enough to make any genre his own. But Taylor has charisma and passion that just resonates. I love that! Kathryn McPhee is lovely but it's just not the year for a torch singer. Elliott sings well but he is sooooooo boring to watch. He's next to have a "bad day."

Oh - by the way - I am hoping for a Big Brother All-Stars! I can't stand Julie Chen but I love that show. That is probably my guiltiest pleasure when it comes to reality TV.

As for the writing... well, you know how that goes. The cup-half-full view of the new commute situation is that it gives me time to think about my stories and characters. Now I just need to find some uninterrupted quiet time to write the short that I'm working on. I've also got an experimental idea for a script that I will be posting about soon. Stay tuned!

I'm catching up on blogs as time permits and have a few more postings that I am anxious to put up. However, I now have a 3-year old on my lap that keeps saying: "Are you done yet?"

And we all know what the response to that should be.

So I bid you adieu until it be morrow (or naptime!)...

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Have Not Ceased To Be

I can't believe it has been almo a month since I've posted. I feel that I have been neglecting my friends. :) I will be succinct...

  • Changes at work - (1) learning about them and (2) implementing them
  • Taxes... UGH!
  • Car repairs for both cars (not cheap repairs, either!)
  • Eldest twin daughter suddenly has a lazy/crossed eye -- strabismus (accommodative something-or-other). Hopefully drops will do the trick.
  • Car rental to replace aforementioned ailing car - required for trip to TN. Rental costs us ~$500 and then GAS GOES UP to OVER $3.00 a gallon!!!
  • Vacation (which was lovely, thank you!)
  • The beginning of Damn Yankees rehearsal (both Billy and I are doing it - it's going to a lot of fun but a lot of work!)
  • Two trips to the ER: the youngest of our twin daughters required 3 stitches and then an evening with a ruptured cyst for me! Everyone is fine.
  • Rob's shoot of This Won't Hurt A Bit gets postponed due to some funding issues. :(

As the director of Damn Yankees said recently, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?" For some reason, Daniel Powter's hit comes to mind...

I had a bad month
We're in a big slump
I sing a sad song and I hit a speed bump

...Horrible! Just horrible!

I will post again soon on something moderately relevant. And I hope to catch up on the latest in the Scribosphere! Missed y'all!

Asta la pasta!

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Friday, April 07, 2006

How Many Have You Seen?

WGAe has announced the 101 Greatest Screenplays! How many have you seen? I'm going to do a count later (after I've run some errands)... I know that it will be embarassingly low.

Here are the Top 10:

1. Casablanca
2. The Godfather
3. Chinatown
4. Citizen Kane
5. All About Eve
6. Annie Hall
7. Sunset Blvd.
8. Network
9. Some Like It Hot
10. The Godfather II

I've seen 4 of the top 10... Pathetic!

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Peeling Back The Layers

If you don't watch Lost on ABC, I'm telling you now to get your hands on the first season (available on DVD) and watch the entire season in time to begin watching Season 2 reruns come June.

Give it a chance! If you are underwhelmed by the 2-hour premiere, I implore you to stick with it. It is worth it! This program demonstrates to me what good writing is all about. It is a breath of fresh air in a sea of reality.

What does it have, you ask?

Layers Characters and stories that are complex. Built in such a way that you want to keep peeling the layers back to find something new, different and magical. Bit by bit we see the "why" behind the actions and events and, more importantly, we care.

Details. Every single detail is thought out and planned with such precision. Are you one of the viewers that made the map the most TiVo'd moment in Lost history? There is such creativity on this show and it is a great feeling when a viewer catches a detail and realizes it was intentional. It's like a brotherhood...

Interdependencies. Every interaction and every experience has purpose. In a good story, you see how these interdependencies connect us. And connections run amok in Lost.

What If? Factor Monsters, voodoo, phantom airplanes dropping food, disappearing soccer players, horses, polar bears, mystery hatches, man of faith vs. man of science... These writers take thinking out of the box to a new level.

Don't be afraid to peel back the layers - it could be hot molten lava, sweet creamy pudding or just plain onion breath - but it's our job as writers to take that risk. It's the only way that we can really bring truth to our characters and to make the viewers care.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

When Change Disrupts Your Flow

"I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don't know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish I could work out some schedule." - Diane Court, Say Anything
I've always felt some kind of connection with Diane Court. Of course, she is the glamorized, Hollywood version of me and her story has a few twists and turns very different from my own, but I relate to her. And I often find myself thinking about this quote, more when things go wrong than when they go right. Thanks, Cameron, for the inspiration!

There are days when I have a very difficult time seeing the good things. Please understand, I know there are those omnipresent good things: a wonderful family, a good job, a roof over my head and food on the table. I also know that having these things makes me better off than a large portion of the world. Like most people characterized by obsessive compulsive tendencies, I don't spend nearly enough time appreciating these gifts.

At the end of the day, that's what it all boils down to: time. The fact is, there isn't enough of it. Nonetheless, the expectation to do more with less remains and you damn well better smile while you're doing it!

For the past couple of years, I have had the good fortune to work for a company that has supported a telecommuting culture. This has worked out tremendously well for me because the office is an hour and half commute each way. Days that I was able to work from home gave me an extra three hours in my day. Those of you that work full-time, have kids, a life and a household to manage understand how valuable three hours can be. Fortunately, my cubicle was recently relocated to an office site that is just under an hour away. While the commute is much less painful, I would still telecommute a few days a week primarily for efficiency. Sadly, the company culture is changing and telecommuting is to become a thing of the past.

Gone! 15 productive hours from every week. The pressure continues to grow as I try to figure out how to do it all with less time. I feel like that girl in the anti-drug commercial who looks like she's been compressed by a trash compactor. I suppose the solution would be to do less but then what gets sacrificed? It's not such an easy choice to make.

I'll adjust, I know. My life has always been about shifting and accomodating to change and, in the grand scheme of those changes, this is a minor adjustment. As my sister pointed out, most people have to schlep into work to punch their card. And she is right.

Thank you. Consider this the end of my rant as I suck it up, spend an extra $40 a week in gas money so I can rejoin the commuting ranks and punch my card for "the man."

That is until Diane's theory of convergence is proven and I sell a screenplay and become "the man."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Productive Couple of Weeks

Good day to you all (or evening, if that be the case)!

I wanted to start today's post with this very important picture. On Sunday, we were watching Star Wars. My oldest daughter, Sabine, saw it once a year or so back. During this particular viewing, the first thing she said when she saw Princess Leia was, "that's (Luke's) sister." Her retention, if just astounding. The picture to your left is what she drew while she was watching the duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. She, as would I, would like to draw your attention to the color of the light sabres. Of course, this piece of art makes me proud for so many reasons: her letters, her attention to detail, her artistic ability and it's Star Wars! Need I say more?

From time to time you will have to allow me to indulge in a little bragging about my girls. Having passed these three children through my loins earns me the right to an occasional indulgence. Trust me!

So, what's been going on lately?

The weeks are busy, the weekends busier, and the "to do" list grows ever longer. However, I do manage to cross a couple of things off from time to time. And these past couple of weeks are no exception:

I met with my friend Brad early in the week. He is the President of Musicals at Richter, an outdoor summer theatre just down the road from me. He is a very accomplished theatre professional in the area who has literally done it all: directed, choreographed, performed, composed, arranged, designed... you name it. I am very excited to be working with him this summer as his stage manager for Damn Yankees, which is a favorite show of mine. During our meeting, we discussed Harvest Home and I asked him if he would do an original composition/score for the film. After telling him the story (the rewrite), he said that he was interested. Of course, there are logistics to work out but I'm thrilled that he is willing to be part of the project.

I also met with Liz, the production designer for This Won't Hurt A Bit. While she took measurements of the rooms that we are using for the shoot, we discussed the logistics of the various rooms and things that we will have to do prior to the load in. Overall, I think we are in good shape for the shoot, which is happening in just under 2 months now! I will also be running the craft services for the shoot, which will give me the opportunity to hone in on one of my other talents: cooking! I'm really looking forward to meeting Rob and watching him work. As so many have said, every set provides a learning experience.

As I have mentioned before, in addition to Harvest Home, I've got several ideas cooking in my brain. As Scott Sniffen said to me once: "It's always about getting the next film made." So, I have put a couple inquiries out to publishers, authors and songwriters requesting information about the availability of film rights.

Two of the inquiries have been going on for a couple of months. However, I just received word from both of them with the appropriate contacts and believe I will have an answer for those endeavors quite soon. I am looking forward to each of these projects because I believe they are ideally suited for the screen.

The third inquiry was to a songwriter who I'm quite fond of, Richard Berman. I am hoping to shoot a short film this summer and I would like to base the script on one of his songs. Richard has responded and said that he would grant the rights to the song as a basis for the film. So, this project will be moved up the priority list. In addition, I asked Richard about writing a song for Harvest Home and he seemed open to further discussion. If you are familiar with his work, it is ideally suited for this film.

There was definitely a lot of traction on some film projects in the past couple of weeks. It really is rejuvenating to make steps toward your dream when you are finding yourself lost in the doldrums of the day-to-day routine. Nonetheless, the "to do" list is still there and I continue to tackle it.

I know that a lot of people look at me and think I'm crazy. Many think I do too much. My boss once introduced me to a colleague as someone who can fit more things into one day than any other person she knows. I suppose I do. But for as long as I am able, I will continue to plan and aspire and cross things off the list. I appreciate the precious commodity that is time and I will not waste it.

And if that makes me crazy, so be it.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Quick Reaction Post

A "reaction" post... And just what is that? Basically, it's one of those posts where you see something in the media and you just want to say, "#@?!"

FIRST... Randy Quaid suing Brokeback's production companies for $10M because he was told that the movie didn't have any prospects of making money? Come on! Does the man actually live on a ranch in Wyoming? Had he never before heard of Ang Lee, Anne Hathaway, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and/or Larry McMurtry (be honest - you never heard of Diana Ossana before this)? Does he not have attorneys? Does he not look at the budget for a film before signing on? Give me a break!

SECOND... Shame on Morgan Spurlock for his behavior during a speech given to a high school student body in Pennsylvania. The question is - why is this the first time he has offended his audience? Speaking as the sister of a woman who overcame traumatic brain injury to teach special needs high school kids, I can safely say I'm offended. Sad thing is that it will likely boost the sales of his documentary DVDs, increase viewership for his series and bump up his notoriety (see Michael Moore's baffoony Oscar acceptance speech).

Sometimes I just wish people would engage their brains and look at the big picture!

And I thank you for the opportunity to vent. Another, less incensed post to come... Lots of project updates!

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Serious Alicia

This will likely be a short post, as the twins are already up and the rest of the family is due to arise any moment. At which point, chaos ensues.

Until naptime.

I have several ideas for posts at the moment but they are all quite "heavy". I think it's just a mood I'm in of late. I suppose if Fun Joel is at one end of the fun spectrum, then I think my current list of blog ideas would make me look like Serious Alicia. Most people would probably say that the moniker suits. I'm okay with that. It is just how I am. It is my nature.

However, I would guess that 9 out of 10 readers will probably choose fun over serious. Life is already too serious to be serious about it. And I do have to remind myself of that from time to time.

I do have some film project updates that I will try to post at naptime. Given the fact that it was a night of restless sleep for most of the household, I'm counting on a couple hours of peace later.

By the way, have I told you how much I LOVE the singing pig that my brother-in-law sent? It sings "My Girl" over and over and over and over and over... Sigh!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sometimes You Just Gotta Laugh

In my last post, I mentioned that I was a compulsive list maker. The paper scraps that litter our home are proof of that. These little gems are usually scripted by multi-colored pens and are literally just random thoughts that need to be jotted down, lest they be forgotten. And that is why I like a good meme (I like the "archaic" e-mail versions, too). When I face facts, it's sort of a "get out of blogging free" card. Fun to do, interesting to read but not too much creative thought required.

So I took a photo of some of my lists. Below you see a segment of my home workstation...

It's sort of a window into my life, if you think about it:

  1. The Bubble Gum tape confiscated from my oldest 3-year-old after I heard, "Mommy, Isabelle just ate some of my gum."
  2. A Barbie hairbrush. If you have 1 or more girls, you probably relate to the gazillion plastic hairbrushes that accompany EVERY Barbie, Princess, doll, etc. You can really never have too many of these.
  3. A paper, yellow gingham shirt from my eldest's new paper doll book.
  4. The Mini DV tape featuring my oldest daughter's 6th birthday party from this past weekend.
  5. The corner of my IBM laptop that I use for my day job. The job that often runs into the night.
  6. My stack of lists containing work related notes, reminders to send a few e-mails, a film idea, phones numbers, etc.
  7. Pens. Indelible ink and gel.
  8. Burt's Bees Lip Balm that has been mauled by our stupid dog, Shakespeare. His personal ad would would read something like: "Likes wet washcloths, dirty Kleenex and lip balm..."

Yep, that's my life in a nutshell. It is what it is.

Oh yes, the aforementioned multi-colored pens... There is a similar batch on my desk at the office. I like pens. What can I say?

I would like to call your attention to the mug. As you can see, the front is emblazoned with the words "yada, yada, yada". I purchased this mug at the NBC store the year that Seinfeld ended its run. My husband and I are huge Seinfeld fans. I was even quoted on the front page of the local newspaper when the last episode aired. It was the end of an era resulting in a gaping hole in our Thursday night line-up. Yes, we missed Jerry and his friends.

So, as any sitcom fan will tell you, you really hope that the spinoffs rightfully succeed and give you the opportunity to continue to see some of your favorite comedic performers. And the Seinfeld spinoffs came and went.

- The Michael Richards Show (2000) - Didn't watch it.
- Bob Patterson (2001) - Didn't watch it.
- Watching Ellie (2002) - Watched it. Didn't love it.
- Listen Up (2004) - Watched it. When there was nothing else on. It was okay.

But now we have The New Adventures of Old Christine. And it is funny. I don't often laugh out loud at the TV but this one makes me laugh. More than a "heh-heh" or a "ha". I have officially abandoned "The Donald" for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and this strong ensemble piece. Julia has the same great comic timing she had on Seinfeld but it is applied to a more mature and softer character. Clark Gregg plays her ex-husband and he has a lot of credits, including the screenplay for What Lies Beneath. He is one of those "I've seen him somewhere" actors. There's a cute kid and strong guest stars - Wanda Sykes, Andy Richter and others I can't name off the top of my head (the "I've seen him somewhere" actors).

Bottom line: sometimes you gotta laugh - and this show makes me laugh.

Furthering the Seinfeld connection, I received two e-mails from a good friend of mine from high school. The first was with the sad news of the death of a mutual friend's father. The second was with the news that Andy Robin and Gregg Kavet, former Seinfeld writers and writer/director team for Live Free or Die, won the jury prize at SXSW Film Festival (down in MaryAn's neck of the woods). Andy Robin played Jonathan Harker to my gender-bending Dr. VanHelsing in our high school's production of Dracula. See? It's that 6 degrees thing again. Click here to view the BBC's featurette on the making of the film.

And finally, in an effort to level the playing field (see Sanctum of the Scriptweaver or Could You Describe The Ruckus?), I'm providing the X-chromosome view of some of Hollywood's powerhouses...

Ahhhhh... As Anna Nalick and Drew Barrymore say, "just breathe."

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Overdue Meme

Reading the back-posts of some blogs I visit regularly and I spotted that I was tagged for a meme by Christina over at Development Hell. Being the compulsive list maker that I am, I have to chime in. My apologies for duplicate "tags" and to those that haven't the inclination to respond.


Four Jobs I've Had
- Burger Flipper/Fry Girl at Wendy's
- Bag Girl at Albertson's
- Retail Manager at Video Store/Hair Salon/Waldenbooks
- Secretary/Temp

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over Again
So unfair to narrow down to just four. Of course, there are movies I love that I don't watch over and over, or ever, again (e.g. Shawshank Redemption, The Hours, Boys Don't Cry, ad infinitum). But since the key phrase is OVER AND OVER, here are four I watch often - I call these "background" movies:

- When Harry Met Sally
- Love Actually
- Say Anything
- The American President

Perhaps the better question is, what screenwriters' films can/do you watch OVER AND OVER again?

- Cameron Crowe
- Richard Curtis
- Nora Ephron
- Susannah Grant

Four Places I've Lived
- Titusville, PA
- London, England
- Deerfield Beach, FL
- Stamford, CT

Four TV Shows I Love
Another unfair question to ask someone who watches as much TV as I do.

Currently Airing:
- Lost - all about the ensemble and great writing with limited bounds
- Boston Legal - aka The Practice, David Kelly is a genius IMO
- King of Queens - another great ensemble piece
- Two and a Half Men - I've loved Jon Cryer since Pretty In Pink and of Charlie Sheen since Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's a John Hughes thang. And Angus T. Bone, err Jones, is perfect, as is the rest of the ensemble.

Gone, But Not Forgotten:
- Friends - welcome to my 20s
- Everybody Loves Raymond - welcome to my 30s
- Yes, Dear - underrated and underwatched, and cancelled. I think Anthony Clark is a genius
- Brady Bunch - it's a formative years thing

I won't even list out the reality shows, which are my guilty pleasure.

Four Places I've Vacationed
- Edinburgh, Scotland (school-related trip with some vacation days appended)
- Sydney, Australia (work-related trip with some vacation days appended)
- Paris, France
- Barbados

Four of My Favorite Dishes

Ummmm, platter, soup tureen, gravy boat and mug (heh, heh). But seriously, folks...

- A good spicy tuna roll
- Steak with Mom's marinade/spice mix
- Homemade cappellini pomodoro
- Oysters on the half shell

Four Blogs I Visit Every Day
- Adventures In Storytelling - I'm helping out with one of his film projects.
- Could You Describe The Ruckus? - tells it like it is, through his eyes, with perfectly chosen turns of phrase.
- Fun Joel - my first and, hey, he's fun!
- One Slack Martian's Screenwriting Blog - has a clever sense of humor with insightful, and often amusing, anectodes about life and screenwriting.

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now
- Sitting on the patio of a Tuscan villa, drinking wine and writing a screenplay.
- Laying on a beach in Barbados, making dinner plans with my husband.
- Getting a full body massage.
- At the movies.

Four Five Bloggers I'm Tagging
I'm tagging five, since this meme is almost a month old...


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Six Degrees

For as long as I can remember I've had a passionate love affair with words. I am, in fact, a third generation word lover. My grandfather and father were both English professors at Midwestern universities. From childhood I've adored good stories peppered with words that just take your breath away. Those words that are so great and so significant that you remember exactly who or what you attribute learning that word to. Some that come to mind are:

paroxysm: My father once used this expression to describe someone we both knew. Not sure who, specifically. We've each known a few fit-prone people in our time.
necrotizing fasciitis: The clinical term for "flesh-eating bacteria." Learned this one when my husband contracted it in Nov 2001.
ubiquitous: Learned from the same doctor that introduced necrotizing fasciitis to my vocabulary. The bacteria that causes it is ubiquitous. I had to ask him what that meant. Now I know.
misogyny: A woman who sat across from me when I was temping in a Greenwich insurance company's claims department in the late 80s. I distinctly remember a discussion about how there was no equivalent word in the English language for hatred of men.
quixotic: This one was a Reader's Digest word, recently used in a post by Josh Friedman. Good word.
comeuppance: One of the great romantic classics, Wuthering Heights
serendipity: This was a 7th grade vocabulary word that I learned in Language Arts. I was going to school in Ohio whilst my father was looking for a job in Florida.

Serendipitously enough, I was reading a post from Rob over at Adventures In Storytelling about one of his current projects. Being the alumnus of a university in Ohio, the state where Rob is from, I was intrigued by his travels East for the filming of This Won't Hurt A Bit, a family comedy short. When I discovered that he met with one of his actors in a Starbucks in Danbury, I offered to PA on the film. As coincidence would have it, Danbury is my current city of residence. Rob's subsequent search for a shooting location has let Fade to Blue Productions and the cast and crew of This Won't Hurt A Bit to my home for a weekend in May. Serendipity.

I truly believe that every decision we make and every action we take is for a reason. I also believe that we are separated from every person in this nation, nay world, by only six degrees. Not just Kevin Bacon!

It truly is a small world, this world of film, and I love it so.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Talking Italian

People are staring and following me.
This is my only escape from it all:
Watching a film or a face on the wall.
Robert DeNiro's waiting,
Talking Italian.

All right, my friends. The twins are tucked in their beds "sleeping", hubby and eldest are shopping for shoes and I am sitting at the computer drinking a glass of wine, listening to the Bananarama song captioned above. Inspiration for a fairly uninspiring story.

So, one of my greatest brushes with fame was when I met Robert DeNiro and a subsequent phone call placed to my house in September 1986.

The story goes like this... My father worked for a New York advertising agency that had "client" tickets for Cuba & His Teddy Bear, a Joe Papp-produced drama starring Mr. DeNiro, Ralph Macchio and Burt Young. The agency had extra tickets, so my sister, a couple of our friends and I went to fill what would have otherwise been empty seats. We all took the train into the city and went out to dinner. This was the first time that I had sushi, I remember that factoid VERY distinctly. My friend, Amy, was able to procure a very nice glass with a Japanese beer logo on it. My sister made a perfectly timed comment about a teapot and I snarfed in my bowl of noodles because I was laughing so hard. From dinner, we raced toward the theatre.

We moved to Connecticut in the Fall of 1985, so I'm quite certain I had seen a couple of Broadway shows by that point. I believe, however, this was my sister's first. It quite possibly could have been her first trip into Manhattan. The whole time she kept asking everyone if we were going to see any stars. Ironically enough, it must've been opening night or a special event of some sort, because it was a star-studded evening. As we arrived at the theatre, winded by the run from the restaurant, a white stretch limousine was pulling up in front of the theatre. From the limo emerged Sylvester Stallone and a towering, pre-Surreal Life, Brigitte Nielsen. My sister began to jump up and down: "It's Rocky! It's Rocky!" And Sly smiled, which was cool. Other celebs that we spotted that night were Robin Williams, Richard Chamberlin and Albert Finney. I think that those are the others we spotted. Williams I know for certain, because my sister, always the charmer, managed to procure a kiss from him. He wasn't doling out autographs that evening because if he gave an autograph to one person, he'd have to give one to everyone. It think this right before Dead Poet's time.

So, I went to see the show a second time. This time I sent a message to Mr. DeNiro that contained an invitation. Youth has no fear (and I hadn't seen The Untouchables or The Godfather: Part II yet). After the show, the guy at the Stage Door said that Mr. DeNiro was not seeing anyone that was not on the list. So I waited on the "other side" of the police barricade with other eager fans, watching the celebs exit the stage door, jump into their limos and take off into the concrete jungle of Manhattan.

My father's career at the aforementioned ad agency was what put food on the table. At heart, my father was, and continues to be, a writer. During the Summer of 1986, my father was working on the production of Occam's Razor, a play that he had written. It was being produced in Manhattan by the Seventh Sign Theatre. I thought that it would be really cool if Robert DeNiro saw the play, as my guest. So, being the ballsy, 17-year-old that I was, I invited him.

So the limited engagement of the show was coming to an end. One Saturday, I went into the city with my father, who had to work on the weekend in a time that preceded telecommuting. As an aspiring actress, I would often stand on line and get half price tickets from the TKTS booth. This particular wait resulted in tickets to the final matinee performance of Cuba. Again, preceding the performance, I sent a message backstage, inviting Mr. DeNiro to attend Occam's Razor. As luck would have it, the person that I sat next to knew someone involved with the production. So, simply by virtue of proximity, I was able to tag along back stage. We stood waiting in the inner sanctum outside the Stage Door, where the guests/groupies were corralled. DeNiro came downstairs with the others and spoke to those that had assembled there. When he turned in my direction, I explained who I was: "Hi, I'm Alicia Burtt. I sent you a message." I handed him my program, eager for an autograph. This man was a film legend, after all.

He took my Playbill and scrawled his name across the front. "Oh, you're here! I just took care of that upstairs." And he glanced upward in the direction of the Long Acre dressing rooms. He said, "Just send me a program for the production and I will get in touch with you. If I'm not otherwise engaged, I would love to attend." And with that, he, the Karate Kid and Rocky's manager headed off. To somewhere more exciting than Grand Central, I'm sure. Which was where I was headed.

I met my father in one of the no-longer-there bars in Grand Central. I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Robert DeNiro, acting legend, was willing to accompany me to a production of my father's show. I sat down at the small table where my father was waiting and said, "I'm glad you're sitting down. You'll never believe who may be accompanying me to Occam's Razor!"

And he replied.

"I'm glad you're sitting down. You'll never believe who called the house looking for you."

Apparently, taking "care of that" upstairs, went something like this:

DENIRO: Hello, may I speak to Alicia, please?
MY SISTER: Ummm, she's not here right now.
DENIRO: When do you expect her return?
MY SISTER: Dunno. She went to New York to see a show.
DENIRO: Okay. Well, I will call her back later then.
MY SISTER: Could I tell her who called?
DENIRO: Bob. Bob DeNiro.
MY SISTER: Okay. (pause of realization). OH! OKAY!

And that was that. Because he talked to me live he did not call back. But I got to speak to him live, which was very cool.

He never came to see Occam's Razor. I never sent the program and I don't know if my father ever did. So, I don't think he ever received one. He was also filming The Mission at the time. So, it is likely that he would not have been able to come anyway. Perhaps, someday, Bob and I will get together after a screening of my award-winning film at the TriBeca Film Festival and I will say, "Remember back in '86 when you did that show?"

Hey. It could happen.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Light Reading

I've been told that with each film you make you should be thinking about the next one that you want to make. It is like that, too, with screenplays. While I continue to work on Harvest Home, I have a list of ideas for screenplays that I want to write. If only the day were not filled with so many other obligations. I feel for ScriptWeaver when he laments having an 8-5 non-screenwriting job that takes him away from screenwriting activity. I certainly do envy those individuals who have both the time and the dedication to write. Something that I tend to struggle with. Oh well, c'est la vie, n'est ce pas?

Again, I find myself off track... But I always find my way back.

One of the things you'll learn to love about me that hasn't made the list yet is that I am the penultimate multi-tasker. I very rarely find myself doing only one thing. Very rarely. Just as I'm thinking of multiple screenplays at once, I find similar tendencies to be exhibited in my reading patterns. I am usually reading several things at once - a couple novels, magazines and several non-fiction books. Most often, the non-fiction is research of some sort - not always about screenwriting or filmmaking - but lately, that has been the focus.

There are two books that I have lying around the house that my husband must scratch his head and wonder about...

The first is a book called The Bastard on the Couch. It is a collection of essays by men on various topics - being a father, being a son, being a husband, being a man... you get the picture. Anyway, there is an essay in the book that I saw in New York Magazine a couple years back and it struck me as being so honest. That article and this book have inspired some similar topics that are addressed in Harvest Home. But from the woman's perspective. The author's name is Sean Elder, who I find to be a very insightful writer. Last week I was thinking about the article (entitled "The Lock Box") and thought - he seems to be just the type to have a blog. And I was right! See my sidebar for the link.

So, not knowing what the actual book is about, I'm sure my husband sees it lying around and thinks: "Oh great, some feminist rah-rah book. I liked it better when she was reading Our Bodies, Ourselves."

And the other book. I checked it out from the library last week. It was one of those books where you wonder what the librarian is thinking when she passes the bar code under the scanner. I did have two books but put one back after thinking: "I don't want anyone thinking I'm a weirdo." and had it on my bedside table for a few days, wondering if my husband would comment. Nothing.

Last Friday night we were watching some magazine show about some guy who killed his wife and the ensuing mystery (a unique premise for a magazine show, I know). There has also been a lot of coverage about the Internet and the different types of people that frequent it, more specifically Internet predators. I was listening from the other room andcould hear the journalist saying something to the effect of: "then it was discovered that he conducted the following Google search - "how to kill someone and not get caught". I started laughing and said something to my husband like, "Yeah, that's never good." When confronted with the evidence, the accused alleged that he was conducting research.

So a day or two goes by. I'm out in the kitchen doing dishes, getting dinner, feeding the dog. You know, the usual evening routine. My husband comes into the room and looks down at the floor and says: "Um, I have to tell you what a warm fuzzy feeling it gives me to see that my wife is reading a book about female serial killers."

I chuckled and said: "It's research for one of my screenplays." He just shook his head and walked out of the room. How he puts up with me I'll never know.

I know you're wondering now, aren't you? Honestly. Research. And it is very interesting, too. As you will see when I someday sell the screenplay.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's Time To Change

When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
Move your heart to what you're gonna be
Sha na na na na na na na, sha na na na na na
Sha na na na na na na na, sha na na na na na

Ah, gotta love those Bradies, don't cha?

Taking the lead from Christina at Development Hell, and upon a suggestion from David Anaxagoras, I am changing the name of my blog to Things You'll Learn to Love About Me. The new title is based upon a posting I did a few weeks back. One that I have been extremely remiss in adding to daily. There is also a Robert DeNiro post that is long overdue. I'm just waiting for a sound byte for that one.

Also, I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this whole RSS feed thang? I see it on my Safari browser and it looks like it might be something that could make life in the Scribosphere a wee bit easier. If there is a blog that's covered this already, just point me in the right direction. I seem to remember seeing something, somewhere...

Hope everyone is enjoying V-Day. Quite honestly - I'm not a real fan of this holiday. For a girl that spent most of her life as a four-eyed geek in Husky jeans, a holiday about boyfriends and candy wasn't a chart-topper. Now it means addressing Valentines (complete with candy) for three girls, finding red and pink clothes to wear, dealing with aforementioned girls as they sustain a sugar high during bathtime and, somehow, managing to let my husband know that he is my Valentine (although I believe we've rescheduled that for this weekend).

But for those of you who are hopeless romantics out there and get a kick out of today... Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Capote and Cocktails

Sometimes you see a film and something about it stays with you. Oftentimes, for me, it is dialogue. Last night, my husband and I were watching the Bueller... Bueller Edition of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and I found myself doing that annoying thing I do: uttering the line seconds before the actor. I have pretty good recall. Not 94% like Truman Capote but pretty high up there. It is a talent I don't put on my resume but one that makes for a decent tip when you are serving a drink order for 20 taken without a notepad.

Then there are those movies with stories and characters that forever remain. They serve as a frequent reference point for how you relate your own life to others. They are the stories and the people that strike a chord. As I mentioned in my previous post, I did not know much about Truman Capote before seeing the recent biopic. There was something about Capote - that story and that man - that just sat with me. I was struck not only by the situations that he found himself in but the way he handled them, things he said, the life he led - so very flawed and so very real.

It also struck me how much he drank. I find it interesting that they are so many revered authors that had drinking problems or struggled with some sort of addiction or depression: Capote, Hemingway, Williams, Poe, Woolf... the list goes on. Of course, when you look at their collective lives, the tragedies they endured would surely move one to seek any means of escape. War, lobotomies, suicide, abandonment, sexual identity issues - I mean really, do you blame them?

Then I wonder, are these precisely the tribulations that one must suffer through to become a great writer? Must you feel to the point of detachment in order to create something that connects? Perhaps such intense experiences drive a writer to the darkest places, where escaping the shadows is not as easy as shaking off a bad day.

There is a reason that we are writers. Because we feel the story, we live with the characters, we are the witness to their greatest joys and deepest sorrows. And once we've lived the story, it is our duty to tell it. Quite honestly, I don't know what is more maddening for a writer - telling the story or not telling it. I suppose there is a strong argument for both.

As for me, I've lived for so long without telling the stories, and I know how that has affected me. Telling them may bring exaltation or it may just begin the descent into madness. I suppose it is a risk that all writers take. And, really, what would life be without a little risk and adventure, eh?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Reactions, Reviews and Reverie

Well - I certainly have been a naughty blogger... I've not updated or read in over a week. There are a few things to blame... Our crazy life, work, the Screenwriting Fortnight and, the biggest reason of all, the delivery of the new iMac to our house. The hugest injustice was that the computer was delivered Monday AM, so the opportunity to play during the week was at a premium. I absolutely love it! The girls love it, too! They run to it when they get home and want to play. As for my husband... he hasn't even had the chance to explore. He's going to love it! Of course, we now have to find Mac compatible software and transfer all our files, which is a project in and of itself.

A brief reaction to the Oscar nominations, which no doubt have been discussed ad nauseum, but I have to react anyway: I am extraordinarily happy that Brokeback received so many nominations. I really enjoyed that film (as I might have mentioned a few times). I'm also happy that Crash was well-recognized. I feel Capote deserved the nominations it got all-round. I understand Match Point is excellent. And politics in Hollywood got its fair share of recognition thanks to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Clooney. I think George Clooney's triple-nomination is such a wonderful accomplishment. Overall, I'm quite happy and look forward to a good race. Don't feels any of the top "snubs" were really snubs -- Russell Crowe deserves to do a little time for being a brat, Scarlett Johanssen has had and will continue to get her fair share of nominations and Maria Bello will has some choice roles on the horizon that will get her a nod in the future. OK - that's enough for now on that.

As for the Screenwriting Fortnight, I've been working the rewrites for Harvest Home and continue to do so. I'm hoping to have 120 pages by the end of next week. I've finally got all of the necessary software installed so that I can actually get everything synched up. While it is a chore, it is well worth doing. I will be happy to have that rewrite completed. I've been living with the characters long enough. Plus, I've got some new ones creeping into my noggin' and they don't belong in this particular story.

My husband and I saw Capote last weekend. I found it to be a fascinating performance and an interesting story. I think it is absolutely staggering that Harper Lee and Truman Capote lived next door to each other as children. What serendipity! To Kill A Mockingbird is actually one of the books that I was required to read in the substandard secondary school I attended. The book is a favorite of mine, as is the film. It will be interesting to see them again with the knowledge that Dill is said to be based upon Capote and that there are allegations that Capote ghost-wrote some of it. I am also inspired to read In Cold Blood. I remember watching a portion of the film my senior year of high school in a Law & Government class. The teacher was so overwhelmed by its violent nature that he shut it off. Of course, I know how it ends now. Odd, yet distinct, In Cold Blood memory, such as it is.

Oh, and my husband's reaction? "I don't understand why all of the Oscar nominated movies need to be these depressing, true-story types of movies." My husband, you see, is a glass half-full type. :)

So, there you have it... I will try to catch up on some reading to see what's going on in the Scribosphere and will be back sometime soon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Noms Are Coming! Noms Are Coming!

I begin this e-mail less than one hour before the announcement of the nominations for the 2006 Oscars. God, this is without a doubt one of my top 5 favorite days of the year, probably top 3. A posting with my reactions, opinions and other blah-dee-blah is, of course, to be expected.

I also saw Nanny McPhee over the weekend. It was wonderful. This sweet story about doing what you are told was penned by the flawless Emma Thompson, whose bulbous-nosed nanny joins fellow Love Actually alum Colin Firth and Thomas Sangster. Angela Lansbury, Imelda Staunton and Kelly McDonald round out a cast with quite long and impressive resumes. Definitely a "Recommend" for those of you with children. I think we need Nanny McPhee because our eldest, who went with us, has not yet mastered all of the lessons.

SAG Awards? Ho hum. I thought Sean Hayes was funny. I don't think Joaquin Phoenix ever smiles. I would like to know what Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger found so funny. Guess I'll find out next year during the "what-ended-up-on-the-cutting-room-floor moment". I disagree with whatever online article claimed that Brokeback was snubbed. I don't really think it is an ensemble piece and, without a doubt, Crash is.

I saw Brokeback Mountain again last night. I guess there is some sadistic part of me that enjoys the sad torture of witnessing that journey. It was definitely a different experience this time. Since I was more familiar with it, having seen it, read it and listened to it, it allowed me to focus on other aspects of the film. Seeing it on the big screen, as I anticipated, made a difference. I'm definitely anxious to get my hands on the DVD and see the special features for this one.

A bientot!

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Man's Hollywood

If you are reading this blog you are likely someone who has gone to film school, has an English degree, works in the film/entertainment industry or is just plain passionate about film. So I am going to open the Scribosphere up to a debate, if I may be so bold.

First, the backstory...

When browsing through the documentary section in Netflix I stumbled upon a series done by AFI called "The Directors." Over the past decade the American Film Institute has been adding installments to a series called "The Directors". As the name implies, the series profiles well-known directors and their contributions to film. Below is the list of directors that are featured in the series, followed by the number of movies for which they have a director's credit list on IMDb: Adrian Lyne (10) * Barbra Streisand (4) * Barry Levinson (29) * Clint Eastwood (29) * David Cronenberg (36) * Garry Marshall (24) * James Cameron (15) * Joel Schumacher (27) * John Frankenheimer (50) * John McTiernan (12) * Lawrence Kasdan (11) * Martin Scorsese (42) * Michael Mann (19) * Milos Forman (19) * Norman Jewison (37) * Rob Reiner (18) * Robert Altman (85) * Robert Zemeckis (23) * Roger Corman (55) * Ron Howard (28) * Sidney Lumet (64) * Spike Lee (38) * Steven Spielberg (48) * Sydney Pollack (27) * Terry Gilliam (15) * Wes Craven (29) * William Friedkin (30) * Wolfgang Peterson (34)

This list made an impression upon me for two reasons:

The first is the obvious omission of some very notable directors. The first that come to mind are Alfred Hitchcock (66), Stanley Kubrick (16), Mel Brooks (12), Francis Ford Coppola (29), Oliver Stone (23), Peter Jackson (13), Quentin Tarantino (13), M. Night Shyamalan (7) and Steven Soderbergh (24). And then there are the actors turned dirctor: Robert Redford (7), Mel Gibson (5) and Kevin Costner (4). (Author's Note: I know this list is not exhaustive... just bear with me).

The second reason is that of all of the directors listed above, only one of them is a woman. Also, coming up with other female directors is a bit more challenging: Nora Ephron (7), Penny Marshall (10), Kathryn Bigelow (12), Jodie Foster (5) and Sophia Coppola (4). Funny, how none of those women have resumes as lengthy as most of the men.

The question I have is: Why?

I posed this question when I took my week-long intensive course at New York Film Academy (remember, I work full-time and haven't been to film school). The response I got was: "It's a man's world."

Yes. I suppose. And, as a woman, I am very aware of this so-called man's world. I also know I have a lot of opportunities that were not afforded my female ancestors. Thank goodness for suffrage, women's rights and this progressive nation that strives for equality. To be honest, until men are able to get one or more degrees and work full-time PLUS give birth, manage a family, cook dinner, do laundry, pay bills, be a chauffeur and clean the house, will there really be equality? And why is there not an equivalent word for misogyny when expressing feeling towards men? But I digress... That's a topic for another day.

So, my question is: Why is Hollywood and filmmaking so dominated by men? Are men, in fact, the better filmmakers? If so, why? This is not meant to be a battle of the sexes but a provocation. My husband thinks that it is because men dominate the corporate world, that women choose other things over career, that men are workaholics and that women don't want it as badly.

I have my own opinions but I am going to withhold sharing them for a few days... What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back To Work

Well, my sabbatical has ended much too quickly and the nose is back to the grindstone. It will be good to get back into the routine of things, I suppose. Overworked and underpaid is better than no work and no pay. I wasn't able to cross half as many things off the "to do" list as I had wanted and that irks me a bit. I feel like I should have added a few extra days. Oh, well. C'est la vie.

I was able to get some work done on the screenplay/film project but not half as much as I had hoped. I will probably make that my project for the Screenwriting Fortnight - to complete the rewrite. If I have the script completed by the end of February it will be a very good thing. Maybe I'll take a couple of days off around that time...

I have also made a very big step this week. I did something that could potentially alter my life as I live it now. I am abandoning all things familiar and taking a big bite out of a Macintosh Apple. Yes, it's true! The Dempster household will now be bicomputer - PC and Mac! We ordered the new iMac with the Intel Core Due processor, which apparently is a big thing. For me, as long as it's fast and I can write and edit my films on it, I will be happier than a pig in poop. Unfortunately, Final Cut Studio won't be available for it until Spring but it will take me that long to discover everything else that's included on it. I am sooooo excited!

OK - time to punch in... Stay tuned, there is more to come.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wit: My Husband's Keen Sense Of It

I have to agree with Patrick that the Golden Globes were slightly less than spectacular. There weren't any real surprises.

I've always enjoyed the Golden Globes because it moves along and the actors are given a little more time to be creative and entertaining - whether scripted or not. It also helps that most of them are knockin' back the vino with gusto. The Oscars, being the creme de la creme, should allow its recipients more time to bask. Way too much time is devoted to montages and bits. I think my favorite moment of the evening was after Hugh Laurie accepted his award, immediately following Geena Davis' win, and my husband said:

"Who ever would have thought that Stuart Little's parents would win back-to-back Best Acting awards for a dramatic series?"

Who indeed? I love that my husband loves movies.

Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in 20 years. I had braces put on my teeth. Let me tell you something. They freakin' hurt! There's a vicious wire that needs to be covered with wax to protect my cheek and everything aches. So, when I returned from the orthodontist, the phone rang. It was my husband, who asked:

"Do you sound like Jack-Jack's babysitter from The Incredibles?"

I clenched my aching teeth and smiled. Yes, I love that my husband loves movies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

2006 Release Radar

Taking the lead from Scott the Reader, I've decided to post the 2006 releases that are on my list to see, thus far. Of course, we still have a few festivals to get through, but overall it looks like there are quite a few offerings that will keep my cinematic hunger sated.

A few more family movies/animated features on this list... Remember, I am the mother of three (hence all the family movies that are included!).


16 BLOCKS. Action-crime movie with Bruce Willis as a cop and Mos Def as a fast-talking witness. Complications ensue when a routine trip to the courthouse gets sidetracked. Also features David Morse, an actor with whom I have always been impressed. Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Alfre Woodard. Release Date: March.

39 POUNDS OF LOVE. Man with Spinal Muscular Atrophy outlives doctors' predicted life expectancy. Release Date: January. Link to 39 Pounds of Love Trailer.

A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS. Sting and Trudie Styler co-produce this Sundance Selection about a boy who recalls his youth spent in 1980s Astoria, NY and the "saints" he left behind. Robert Downey, Jr., Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest. Release Date: TBA.

AKEELAH AND THE BEE. Another Bee Season? Perhaps. Great cast. Angela Bassett, Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne. Release Date: May. Link to Akeelah and the Bee Trailer.

ALL THE KING'S MEN. A remake with a stellar cast. Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins Release Date: March. Link to All The King's Men Website.

AMERICAN DREAMZ. American Idol satire? You bet! Hugh Grant spoofing Simon Cowell is perfect! Dennis Quaid, Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore. Release Date: April. Link to American Dreamz Website.

BARNYARD. Animated movie where cows strike back, with Kevin James leading the pack. The trailer looks cute - love the "boy tipping!" Kevin James, Courtney Cox, Danny Glover. Release Date: October. Link to Barnyard Website.

BOBBY. Emilio Estevez writes, directs and stars in this film about Bobby Kennedy's assassination and the guests that were staying at the Ambassador Hotel at the time. Phenomenal cast joins Estevez: Anthony Hopkins, Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood. Release Date: August.

BREAKING AND ENTERING. Minghella and Binoche reunite. About an architect and his relationship with a young thief. Directed by Anthony Minghella. Juliette Binoche, Jude Law, Robin Wright Penn. Release Date: August.

BUG. Based on a play by Tracy Letts about a war vet who sees bugs cooped up in a motel with Ashley Judd. I liked Harry Connick in Copycat - he does psycho well. Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd. Release Date: October

THE BLACK DAHLIA. The story's been told before (as recently as 2005). But not by Brian DePalma and the strong cast that's assembled. Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank. Release Date: TBA

CARS. Same reason as Scott - because it's Pixar. Release Date: June. Link to Cars Website.

CHARLOTTE'S WEB. Live action/CGI version of the classic. Everyone and their brother is in it. Dakota Fanning, Steve Buscemi, Julia Roberts. Release Date: December. Link to Charlotte's Web Website.

CLICK. Adam Sandler seems to be doing all right with the dramedy genre and it has a great supporting cast. Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsdale, Christopher Walken. Release Date: June. Link to Click Website.

CURIOUS GEORGE. Will probably see it because it's Will Ferrell, a classic story and one of my daughters proclaimed, "I love George!" Release Date: February. Link to Curious George Trailer.

THE DA VINCI CODE. I haven't read the book. But my husband has. I've always loved Ron Howard, too. Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Ian McKellan. Release Date: May. Link to The Da Vinci Code Website.

DELIRIOUS. Offbeat dramedy about a photographer, a homeless person and a pop star. Steve Buscemi, Elvis Costello, Minnie Driver. Release Date: TBA.

THE DEPARTED. Martin Scorcese directs remake of a Hong Kong film. Boston State Police vs. Irish mafia. Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson. Oh yeah, and Martin Scorcese directed it. Release Date: August.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Based on the novel, Andrea chronicles life working for a demanding NYC magazine editor. Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep. Release Date: June

DREAMGIRLS. Based on the Broadway musical about a 60s musical trio, we'll get to see more of Jamie Foxx's musical talent. Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson (American Idol contestant). Release Date: December. Link to Dreamgirls Website.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Newest Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis project about the six men that raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Cross, Barry Pepper. Release Date: TBA.

FLICKA. Based on My Friend Flicka, family movie about a girl and a wild horse. Tim McGraw plays father to a young girl who yearns to someday take over the family ranch. Allison Loman, Maria Bello, Tim McGraw. Release Date: July.

FLIGHT 93. A real time account of the events on United Flight 93. One of three 9/11 films so far (see WORLD TRADE CENTER, WTC VIEW) Release Date: April. Link to Flight 93 Website.

FLUSHED AWAY. The story of an uptown rat that gets flushed down the toilet from his penthouse apartment, ending in the sewers of London, where he has to learn a whole new and different way of life. Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Iam McKellan, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy. Release Date: November.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. Christopher Guest ensemble satire about actors' reactions when their film starts getting awards buzz. Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Clair Forlani. Release Date: September.

FREEDOMLAND. A woman is carjacked and he son is in the back seat. Crime-thriller with racially charged subplot. Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore, Edie Falco, Ron Eldard, William Forsythe. Release Date: February. Link to Freedomland Website.

FUR. A chronicle of the life of Diane Arbus, 1960s photgrapher who, following her suicide in 1971, was American photographer to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey, Jr.. Release Date: October.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD. One man's tale of early life in the CIA. Matt Damon, Robert DeNiro, Angelina Jolie, Joe Pesci. Release Date: December.

HAPPY FEET. Animated tap dancing penguins! Release Date: November. Link to Happy Feet Website.

HARD CANDY. A 32-year-old man meets a 14-year-old on the Internet. The trailer is chilling. Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh. Release Date: TBA. Link to Hard Candy Website.

IN THE LAND OF WOMEN. Lawrence Kasdan's son, Jonathan, writes and directs a movie about caring for his ailing grandmother and forming life-changing friendships with the family across the street. Adam Brody, Olympia Dukakis, Meg Ryan. Release Date: May.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT. A father and son try to escape the hold of the Brazilian sex industry. Brendan Fraser, Mos Def, Scott Glenn. Release Date: April.

LADY IN THE WATER. I'm always willing to give M. Night Shamalayan another chance because I loved Sixth Sense. Paul Giamatti, Bryce Howard Release Date: July. Link to Lady In The Water Website.

LENINGRAD. Journalists fall in love during WWII battle. Gabriel Byrne, Mira Sorvino, Armin Mueller-Stahl. Release Date: November.

LITTLE FISH. A recovering addict gets embroiled in a drug deal. Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill. Release Date: TBA. Link to Little Fish Website.

LONELY HEARTS. Crime drama based on the true story of "Lonely Hearts Killers" who enticed their victims through the personal adds. John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Laura Dern. Release Date: March.

MARGARET. A young woman witnesses a bus accident and its aftermath. Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo and Matthew Broderick. Release Date: TBA.

MARIE ANTOINETTE. Sofia Coppola biopic about the woman who said "let them eat cake" and then lost her head. Love the trailer set to New Order. Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn. Release Date: October. Link to Marie Antoinette Website.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III. Because it's Mission Impossible and its Memorial Day blockbuster time. Even if Cruise is a fruitcake. Tom Cruise, Keri Russell, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Release Date: May. Link to Mission Impossible Website.

MONSTER HOUSE. Animated feature about "the scary house" in town that comes to life. Release Date: July. Link to Monster House Website.

NANNY McPHEE. A warted nanny whips a bunch ne'er do wells into shape. Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Imelda Staunton, Angela Lansbury. Release Date: January. Link to Nanny McPhee Website.

OPEN SEASON. A pet bear journeys into the wild with his deer friend during hunting season. Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise. Release Date: September. Link to Open Season Website.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN - DEAD MAN'S CHEST. Because the first one was awesome and the originals are back. Johnny Depp, Orland Bloom, Keira Knightly, Bill Nighy, Geoffrey Rush. Release Date: July. Link to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Website.

PUNCHCARD PLAYER. A 20-something guy deals with post-graduate debt and adulthood. We've all been there. Brian Napolitan. Release Date: TBA. Link to Punchcard Player Website.

PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. Will Smith does a dramatic turn as a salesman who gets custody of his son. Will Smith, Thandie Newton. Release Date: December.

R.V. Dysfunctional family road trip. Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels. Release Date: April.
Link to RV Trailer.

RESCUE DAWN. Vietnam War flich about fighter pilots. Christian Bale, Steve Zahn. Release Date: March. Link to Rescue Dawn Trailer.

RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR. This Sundance selection about bombings in LA is generating some good buzz. Release Date: TBA.

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. Based on the bestselling novel, an adult man looks back on his childhood with his bipolar and self-centered mother. Another all star cast, led by Annette Bening and Joseph Cross. Release Date: September. Link to Running With Scissors Website.

THE SENSATION OF SIGHT. A middle-aged English teacher sells encyclopedias door-to-door. David Straithairn, Ian Somerhalder. Release Date: October.

STAY. I'm intrigued by Bob(cat) Goldthwait as director/writer in this Sundance-selected RomCom. Release Date: TBA.

STEPHANIE DALEY. A pregnant psychologist is hired by the prosecution in a case against a girl who has killed her baby. Another Sundance selection. Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn, Timothy Hutton. Release Date: TBA.

STRANGER THAN FICTION. IRS auditor is subject of a narration that only he hears. Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Kristen Chenoweth. Release Date: November.

SUPERMAN RETURNS. Yes - I will probably be there, too. Brandon Routh looked great at the Golden Globes when he sported the Clark Kent glasses. Release Date: June. Link to Superman Returns Website.

TAKE THE LEAD. Remember Music of the Heart? Same idea - ballroom dancing instead of violins. Antonio Banderas instead of Meryl Streep. Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, Rob Brown, Dante Basco. Release Date: April. Link to Take The Leade Website.

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. Upon Scott the Reader's suggestion, I've added it to my list. Looks good if you appreciate dark humor. Release Date: March. Link to Thank You for Smoking Trailer.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Remake of Wes Craven movie. Trailer is creepy. Kathleen Quinlan, Ted Levin, Emilie de Ravin (Lost). Release Date: March. Link to The Hills Have Eyes Trailer.

THE LAKE HOUSE. Reminds me of Somewhere In Time. Reaves and Bullock team up again in a RomCom about pen pals separated in time by two years. Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock. Release Date: June.

WINTER PASSING. Went a looked at the trailer after reading Scott the Readers list. Totally up my alley! Robert Duvall, Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel. Release Date: February. Link to Winter Passing Website.

WORLD TRADE CENTER. Oliver Stone's 9/11 film about the last two survivors pulled from the rubble at Ground Zero. Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Release Date: August.

WTC VIEW. A SoHo resident places a classified ad on September 10, 2001. While he searches for a new roommate, he struggles to hold it together in the aftermath of 9/11. Release Date: TBA.

ZODIAC. Remeber seeing a casting notice for this and thinking it sounded interesting. I like true-crime thrillers. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards. Release Date: Fall.

And there you have it... Alicia's 2006 Movie Preview. I'll probably link this on my sidebar and keep it updated. Once I've seen them, perhaps I'll add a review section, too!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

One Liner

Perhaps not my best but one I'm fond of. From Harvest Home...

Stop trying so hard to be what everyone else wants you to be. Otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to figure out who the hell you are.
OK - I've risen to the challenge of the meme and the one-liner. Now the question is: do I have what it takes to commit to the Screenwriting Fortnight? Hmmmm.....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Things You'll Learn To Love About Me

True Facts About Me

  • I am an old soul with a young heart who is trapped in a middle-aged body.
  • I stage managed Valguse Poik for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play was written by the Cultural Minister of Estonia.
  • I performed selected scenes from a new work by Edward Albee. Afterward, I dined with Mr. Albee as he critiqued both our performance and our interpretation of the text (favorably, I might add!).
  • I love rare and raw foods -- sushi, carpaccio, steak tartare, seared tuna.
  • I climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia.
  • I informed Michael Crawford (the original Phantom in Phantom of the Opera) that I would be playing the role of Christine Daae in a couple of years. Ummm... yeah... I never performed on Broadway and only dream of being a coloratura soprano. Oh to be 18 and fearless again!
  • I lived in London for 3 months in 1979 while my father was on sabbatical from the University of Pittsburgh.
  • I've gone for a flight on the Millennium Eye.
  • I have been to Paris four times in my life: when I was 10, 24, 27 and 36.
  • I am the only student in the history of Ohio Northern University to direct a mainstage musical.
  • I applied to be on The Apprentice: Season 5.
  • I am a mathematics moron without Excel. The highest level of mathematics that I took was 1/2 a year of Algebra II. Twice.
  • I bleached my hair blonde for the role of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • I broke my collarbone twice (climbed out of crib and rolled off changing table), my arm once (fell off bicycle) and my foot once (fell off balance beam).
  • I am petrified of rats. I, like Professor Henry Jones, would have never made if past the rats.
  • I received a telephone call from Robert DeNiro when I was 18.
  • I won the Carver Middle School Typist of the Year award when I was in 8th grade.
  • I am married to a man who survived necrotizing fasciitis, otherwise known as flesh-eating bacteria.
  • I hate feet.
  • I have never been to Los Angeles.
  • I like virtually all foods and will try anything once. As a result, I have learned that I do not like passion fruit, mangos, yams or sea urchin. And because I once ate too much plaki, I absolutely cannot stomach the taste of fresh parsley (which also ruined tabouleh for me).
  • I had teenage crushes on Donny Osmond, Shaun Cassidy, Erik Estrada, Rex Smith, Rick Springfield and Simon LeBon.
  • I am a former smoker. I started when I was 14 and quit 12 years later.
  • I interviewed Tim Daggett, Olympic gold medalist, for my high school paper.
  • I played Dr. VanHelsing in a high school production of Dracula opposite one of the writers from Seinfeld. Wonder if he remembers me...
  • I was in a sorority when I was in college. (Delta Zeta for those Greeks that are curious)
  • I am a New Year's baby.
  • I didn't lose my virginity until I was 25.
  • I soared above Hunter Valley vineyards in Australia in a hot air balloon.
  • I have been to two Women's NCAA Final Four Championship games - St. Louis and San Antonio. Go UConn!
  • I had an emergency appendectomy one week after the birth of my eldest daughter.
  • I wrote a "coming of age" novel when I was 17.
  • The first concert I attended was in 1990 at the Broward Country Fair - Rick Springfield.
  • I think the process of growing bangs out has to be one of the most irritating, frustrating and humiliating things to endure.
  • Whenever I order a sandwich, I am compelled to reconstruct it so that all of the accompaniments (e.g. lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, etc.) are evenly distributed across the sandwich.
  • My favorite drink from Starbucks is an iced Caramel Macchiato with extra caramel drizzle. On tired days it's a triple and on cold days... it's still iced.
  • I have flat feet.
  • I have known three people who have died by gunshot - two homicides, one suicide.
  • I wear glasses/contacts. I am VERY nearsighted.
  • I can do calligraphy.
  • I worked at a video store with Dennis Dunaway, original bassist for Alice Cooper.
  • I hate the telephone. Please don't call me, unless you really need to. E-mail me, IM, snail mail me... But don't make me make small talk.
  • I am thought of as a Martha Stewart of sorts... I should've applied for that version of The Apprentice - before she and Donald had their falling out.
  • I am not good at New Year's Resolutions - so I try not to make them.
  • My parents were divorced when I was 6. My sister and I were raised by our father in the 70s, during a time when dads didn't get custody.
  • I am the mother of three girls, including twins. And, no, twins don't run in our family!