A Moment of Peace in the Morning

It’s a glorious and terrible feeling to be so busy these last couple of weeks. Thankfully, it’s a different kind of busy one feels when he or she is busy at “work” or “with the kids”. This is the kind of busy that feels wonderful, because it’s for oneself and therefore isn’t wasted on someone else’s goals. On the other hand, I’ve been pulling 3 a.m. bedtimes this whole week and have lost track of the days of the week. The final sum, however, is positive, because I haven’t felt this alive in a long time.

This morning is overcast outside as I peek through the blinds of my bedroom window. A bird is chirping just out of view. When I went outside to throw away some trash, the air was very still and the environment quiet. I felt like an intruder in nature with my flip flops flapping away and scraping against the cement, so I walked as quietly as I could to preserve the moment.

In the overall sense of well-being, I feel pretty good. Physically, I think I might be coming down with a cold – or Swine Flu. I can feel a certain amount of thickness in my lungs when I breathe. I’m hoping that it’s just a residual outcome to my horrible bout with allergies yesterday. I couldn’t stop sneezing. It was terrible. Typically, I wouldn’t worry about Swine Flu; it’s just that my coworker likes to keep me apprised of the body count his friends are racking up due to H1N1. Every time his phone rings someone else has died. I told him he could save a lot of lives if he just stopped picking up his phone, but what do I know?

Anyway, despite still being buried in articles – I still can’t see daylight – I feel like I’m making pretty good strides in my entertainment career. I’m starting to get publicists and PR reps coming to my site asking me to review their event or show for Working Author. I really think that I can start making a name for myself as a recognizable brand; I just need to keep pumping out articles. It’s amazing what a well-designed Website can do for you. In fact, Bai Ling’s publicist was impressed enough to start feeding me a couple of stories. I’m going out to “What’s Up Tiger Lilly” at the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill tomorrow to check out Melinda Hill’s act. If you’re in the area, stop by and keep me company. From what I’m told, there’s no cover charge and there’s free parking. The show starts around 8 p.m.

Working Author business cards hot off the presses!
Working Author business cards hot off the presses!

I Love Hollywood Professionals, I Hate Hollywood Posers

I’ve been feeling disenchanted with Hollywood for a little while now. Everyone seems to be a little too self-absorbed. On the other hand, the professionals – the people who actually have jobs in the industry – have been pretty cool. On the third hand – if you’re a mutant – I haven’t run into a surly celebrity yet. When I do, I may be soured on the industry as a whole, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I came to this realization when I was at the Family Guy pre-Emmy party. Seth MacFarlane got onstage with his friend Ron Jones and his 44-piece orchestra and he starts crooning awesome Jazz standards, Sinatra style. MacFarlane even looks the part – decked out in an all black suit and fedora, brandishing a cigarette and cocktail. At that moment, in that club Seth MacFarlane was a god among men, performing an awe-inspiring show that should have commanded the attention of every person in the room. Yet after he finished his set, there was only a smattering of applause. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. If I want to be charitable, I can assume that the audience was just full of people who constantly see this kind of thing, being from Los Angeles and therefore aren’t impressed. The cynic in me falls back on the thought that Hollywood-ites think a little too highly of themselves.

From the few moments I had to interview him, I’d say that Seth MacFarlane is pretty cool. Just keep in mind that I didn’t sit down with the man and interview him over coffee or anything. I had maybe a full minute with him in the loud club before my interview was interrupted by (presumably) some industry folk who wanted to glad-hand. You can imagine how silly I felt, being interrupted mid-question and then just standing there with my recorder held out, being completely ignored. After a few moments, I killed my recorder and started to walk away awkwardly, but MacFarlane stopped me to tell me to enjoy the party, which is more than I expected. After all, he’s a high-profile industry professional and I’m a no-name reporter. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. I’m just stating the obvious. One day, the roles will all change and I’ll be the guy interrupting the no-name reporter as I glad-hand the likes of Seth MacFarlane.

One other thing I’d like to note about my moment with MacFarlane and then I’ll move on: I still felt a little nervous talking to him. I thought I was over that fear of talking to industry people ever since the Catch Boutique event, but apparently not so. To be fair, there was more than the gravitas of MacFarlane that had me a little shaky. I was also surrounded by a lot professional journalists. You know, people who do this full-time, have enough questions for a fifteen-minute interview and have camera crews. There I was, with a spiral-bound notepad I picked up from the supermarket and only a handful of superficial questions since I don’t watch Family Guy. Nevertheless, I think it can only help me to exude confidence regardless of my preparedness and I think I need to work on that for these high-pressure situations.

Trendy haircut!
Trendy haircut!

I definitely perform much better when the environment is a little more controlled. My interview with Bai Ling was pretty good despite plans changing last minute and having done near zero preparation. The plan was to meet at Mr. Chow’s – a high-end Chinese food restaurant in Beverly Hills – and then possibly go clubbing afterward. The day before, I got my hair cut in what the girl at the salon said was a “trendy” style, bought a serviceable club outfit and settled in for the evening to prepare my interview. Around 8 p.m. or so, Bai Ling’s publicist called to find out if we could meet that night instead. Apparently, Bai Ling had just flown in from Toronto and had an unexpected meeting with a director the next evening. So after sorting out the details, we agreed to meet at 10 p.m. at a Thai restaurant in Thai Town. If you haven’t already, check out my interview with Bai Ling. I was completely relaxed during the entire thing. I’m just glad Bai Ling likes to talk.

I also got to sit down with Jason Ritter – the late John Ritter’s son – and Jess Weixler. They’re in the new film Peter and Vandy, which I recommend everyone watch. Anyway, this was my best interview experience yet. Before I walked in, I saw that they were ordering lunch so I asked them what they were having to ease myself into the interview. From there it was pure relaxation the whole time through – almost like talking with friends. We even got into a friendly argument over how many knives should be used when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (It’s related to the movie. I’m not insane.) At the end of the interview I felt comfortable enough to ask them how well I did as an interviewer, which caught them by surprise, but they were very supportive in their feedback. Jess Weixler said, “You have really cool glasses.” Before I left, I stood up to shake hands with the actors and Jason leaned back and raised his hands away, warning that he had just coughed into them a few minutes ago.

“I don’t care,” I said and we shook. Then I shook Jess’ hand and reflexively said, “He (meaning Jason) just coughed in my hand!” Jason suddenly laughed and childishly pointed at Jess who punched him in the shoulder. Then I pulled a George Costanza and exited on a high point. Now that I think about it though, I may have Jason Ritter’s cold.

The long and short of all this is to say that despite being overwhelmed with work, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with where I am in life. I think I’m making pretty good strides toward my ultimate goal, which is to become a working screenwriter. Unfortunately, someone is squatting on that domain. 🙁

One Final Anecdote

When I screened The Informant! at the Arclight I got to sit next to a PR rep with Warner Bros.  She was a living brunette goddess. I love girls who are very feminine in the right context – whatever the hell that means. I know that last bit sounds sexist, but I’m just going to hang it out there and not try to defend it. Anyway, you know how girls know how to get comfortable wherever they sit? They put their feet up on the seat and bend their bodies this way and that and just know how to “get snug.” This girl does that and I couldn’t take my mind off her! At one point, she practically had her head on my shoulder she was leaning so far over. I breathed in the fragrance of her shampoo. After the movie ended, she stood up and I stood up, hoping to have that post-movie banter where we exchange opinions and hope to see each other at another screening. Instead, she immediately left, making Herculean efforts to get through the feet and legs of the people still sitting.

On the other hand, she may have been a studio plant sent in there to influence audience opinion since she did laugh a little too hard at gags that weren’t that funny.