It was something we (no pun intended) bonded over.
It wasn't the plots so much as the movies' tongue-in-cheek cool-dude vibe: the gorgeous women, silly double entendres, the fun spy gear supplied by MI6's tech genius, Q; those psychedelic opening credits—
Not to mention the wonderful songs that came with the opening credits.
And of course, there were all the great opening capers.
I borrowed that concept for the Housewife Assassin series. Its first chapter always begins with Donna in a compromising situation. I want readers to gnash their teeth in fear of what could happen to her, just like we do for James Bond.
Sean Connery passed away this week. He will be sorely missed. Besides bringing the consummate spy to life, he embodied a character grounded in emotional depth, grace, and humor. He is the reason James Bond is still loved by millions.
The real spy business is not so glamorous and much more deadly. Still, it's always fun to imagine what we'd do if we were faced with such danger; if the fate of the free world depended solely on our actions.
I'm also a VERY big fan of Renee's. As Roxie Hart in the musical movie, Chicago, I thought she knocked it out of the park: she was THE triple threat: singing, dancing, acting.
And it's because of Bridget Jones's Diary that I write humorous women's fiction. (By that I mean the novel, by Helen Fielding, albeit the movie version reinforced my love of romcoms.)
I was NOT disappointed. If you go to see it, I don't think you will be, either.
Can she sing like Judy?
I'll answer that with a question: Can anyone?
What you'll appreciate about Zellweger's performance is that she captures all the gestures, the vocal inflections (Judy's resonance and vocal depth was incomparable), the timing, and the pathos of one of the greatest performers to grace the silver screen, or for that matter a live stage.
I'll be shocked if she doesn't wind the Best Actress Oscar for it.
Garland once famously said, “If I'm a legend, then why I so lonely?” This is aptly illustrated in the movie. One of the most touching scenes in the movie is how Judy asks two fans to grab a bite to eat with her for just this very reason: with celebrity comes awe, which creates a crevice between the famous and those leading normal lives.
I saw this first hand, when interviewing celebrities for feature articles.
Debbie Reynolds came to San Francisco, to make the movie, Mother, written, directed, and co-starring Albert Brooks. At that point, and that time in her life, movie roles had essentially dried up for her. She realized it was a great break, perhaps even a comeback role. In fact, it garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.
At the beginning of our interview, she was nervous enough that her hand was shaking as she sipped her coffee.
When she heard that, as a little boy, my son insisted on watching Singing in the Rain over and over again, she kindly replied, “Did you bring a cassette tape? I'd sign it for you.”
Silly me, I didn't even think of doing so.
By the end of the interview, she hinted that she'd like company for a meal. Again, I was so stupidly awestruck that I didn't say, “Sure, let's grab a bite.”
Darcy and Bingley banter about the pressures on single men–particularly wealthy single men–to marry. But while Darcy is disgusted by it, Bingley's attitude is more benign–perhaps because he is already in the throes of enchantment with one of the local beauties, Jane Bennet.
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 978-0-9740214-0-9
l love this article, from the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle. Brings to mind one of my favorite Judy Garland classics, "The Trolley Song," from the musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis:"
Love this lyric: "I went to lose a jolly".
I'll just bet you did,
"Cable Car Nymph"
"San Francisco's Top 10 Sex Scandals" Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle Published 4:00 am, Thursday, May 28, 2009
It was supposed to be a routine trip on the Hyde Street cable car in 1964, the 29-year-old woman said. But when the car lurched and she was heaved against a pole, the collision "somehow unleashed emotions hidden deep in the dark closet of her mind," The Chronicle reported – and thus was born "The cable car nymphomaniac" who took a trip on the "Cable Car Named Desire."
The woman sued Muni for $500,000 six years later, saying her injuries had triggered an insatiable sexual desire that drove her to take 100 lovers, leaving her perpetually unsatisfied. Reporters left her name out of news accounts, to protect her privacy, referring to her instead by her nickname, or as "the buxom blonde" from Michigan.
She was awarded $50,000 by a jury, whose members said they hoped she would use it for counseling.
I'm a total Woody Allen fan, and even had a Woody sighting myself, when he was filming his latest flick, "Blue Jasmine," here in San Francisco.
I think the trailer looks great. I love seeing all the San Francisco/Marin County shots, including a scene on the Muni F Line (the 1947 Philadelphia trolley car); several locales in Belvedere, California, across the Golden Gate Bridge; the bar, Aub ZamZam, in the Haight; Market Street; Geary Street; the Sunset District–
And of course, Ocean Beach.
Hey, even the quaint Mount-Tam-hugging town, Larkspur, California got into the picture.
Seduction and intrigue are rampant on the campaign trail when a political campaign adviser discovers that Washington's power broker elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an act of terrorism on US soil…
Democratic political campaign consultant Ben Brinker can’t remember the last time he was excited by a candidate’s vision. He feels he’s lost his way, both emotionally and professionally. Worst yet, his show-me-the-money policy seems to have finally caught up with him. Two of his recent clients have been disgraced in one way or another: a senator is caught in lurid sex scandal, and a congressman is indicted in a kickback scandal. In no time at all the political pundits are calling Ben a "candidate cooler." Now Ben is desperate for any campaign gig he can get.
As luck would have it, Andrew Harris Mansfield, the charismatic junior senator from North Carolina and former Marine pilot, asks Ben if he wants to run his soon-to-be-announced campaign for president.
Little does Ben know what's in store for Andrew, or their country–
Nor does he realize that the key to saving both have been placed in his hands.
Hey, if it happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald, it can happen to you.
One of America's most celebrated authors died penniless, his greatest opus, The Great Gatsby, nearly forgotten…
Except by Hollywood.
Since his death, his book, has been adapted for the screen an extraordinary five times.
It's also been an opera, a ballet, a musical, a straight play, and get this: two video games.
Can you increase the odds that your book will find its way onto the silver screen?
Is a novel an alternative route to get your screenplay into the hands of producers?
The answer to both these questions is a resounding yes. To find out how, join me in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 1, 2013, where I'll giving a workshop with the incomparably divine Laurie Scheer at Pitchfest called, "Adapting your Screenplay as a Book" .
So, you’ve pitched your screenplay and a few agents have said, “I could sell that idea if it were a novel.” Know that you’re not alone. So, what should you do? Josie Brown, best-selling novelist and Laurie Scheer, d-girl extraordinaire and publishing mentor, guide you through a workshop presentation that includes in-class exercises, tangible examples, and an extensive Q&A segment to help you determine how your screenplay will look as a book. With the majority of studio projects being produced from existing properties and franchises (books, comics, games, apps, etc.), adapting your screenplay into book form is an option many screenwriters have found success doing—and many others are considering it. Before you begin the process of writing prose vs. script, there are a few elements you need to know.
If the film is as good as the trailer,Baz Luhrmann, the director of the cinematic musical Moulin Rouge (talk about a fully encompassing cinematic experience, despite the tongue-in-cheek pop music mashup) may very well consider this his masterwork.
"You've got a book that won't be putdown – so go pick it up now!" — Cat's Thoughts
"As a housewife myself, this book was a fantastic escape that had me dreaming "if only" the whole way through. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes for the perfect combination of mystery and humor…" –Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
Sotheby's has just auctioned off Elizabeth Taylor's treasure chest (no pun intended) of jewels.
The booty (sorry!) fetched $117 million, including a necklace that features a 16th Century pearl, La Peregrina, which had was once painted by 17th Century Spanish artist Velazquez.
That alone sold for $11.8 million, which is a record for the gem.
Also on the auction block was the actress' infamous 33.19-carat diamond ring, which was given to her by her twice-spouse, actor Richard Burton.
Despite all her great movies — National Velvet, Giant, Splendor in the Grass, Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf – here was a time in Elizabeth Taylor's life when she was better known for what she wore around her neck, or on her fingers and ears, than her acting.
Personally, I think that's a shame, because I think she was an arresting actress. When she was on the screen, everyone else (well, except Montgomery Clift or Richard Burton) disappeared into the background.
But she was an even better celebrity. In that stellar firmament, everyone's got a gimmick.
Taylor put it this way: "I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can't possess radiance, you can only admire it."
If only one of her earliest suitors, Howard Hughes, had known that. His way of courting was to wear down the prey-du-jour by offering a role in a movie at his studio RKO, cold hard cash–
None of which worked with Taylor.
In fact, he stalked her to a gal pal's hideway in Palm Springs. There she was, soaking up the sun poolside when Hughes, piloting one of his helicopters, landed on the lawn. His greeting — to sprinkle her with diamonds — didn't get the result he wanted:
She ran away, giggling.
I guess she meant it when she said, "I have a woman's body and a child's emotions."
Novelist Helen Fielding is hard at work on the third installment of Bridget Jones's Diary. That's fine with me. I loved the first book, and its movie version.
Not to mention that enough time has passed to make the sequel's rushed-to-cinema-in-a-mere-three-years-I'm-joking-folks mistakes a passing memory. I have no problem revisiting enjoyable characters. Just be sure to give them a dash of realistic conflict, and sprinkle scintilating dialogue liberally throughout. Helen and her gang (director and gal pal Sharon Malone, screenwriters Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis) are great at that.
This time around, however, Renee Zellweger, the actress who's name is synonymous with the lead role, has begged off packing on the pounds to play up Bridget's renowned weight issue. "I had a panic attack with all the specialists talking about how bad this is for you long term, putting on that much weight in short periods of time," the London Daily Mail quotes her as saying.
She's absolutely right.
But does that make for good cinema?
Granted, we love Bridget because she is us: lovable, albeit flawed. But let's look at it another way: it's been fifteen years since the book hit the shelves, and ten years since the first movie was released. I'd like to think that a smart gal like Bridget would have grown in so many ways–
Not necessarily around her waistline.
Perhaps she'd have finally conquered that issue. Or maybe she's traded it in for the stress that comes with balancing a relationship with a career, not to mention aging parents and the desire to have children.
As it turns out, that just so happens to be the hook for the new movie's plot: that Bridget can't have children with Mark…and turns to Daniel.
But Renee already has her Academy Award: for her best supporting actress turn in Cold Mountain. That was payback for passing her over as best actress in Rob Marshall's brilliant adaptation of the musical Chicago.
Those roles were golden. Bridget is just (nonfat) icing on a great slice of life. What a wonderful body of work
What a wonderful body, period,
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.
This side of the pond may know Daniel Craig as 007, but our British cousins have had the good fortune of seeing him in a variety of great roles that show a softer/more vulnerable/much more ironic side of the actor.
I'd read some fairly great reviews of his 2004 movie Layer Cake, so I decided to check it out. It did not disappoint. Craig plays a bean-counting cocaine middleman who wants to retire from the dirty biz, but gets suckered into doing one last "favor" for the drug kingpin running him.
Lots of plot twists: not everyone is whom they portend to be. Great cinematography, too, and a superlative sound track. The bad guys are complex characters. If it reminds one of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, that's because the movies share the same producers.
'Flix it. You won't be disappointed. Daniel Craig is more than eye candy. He's just desserts, too.
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK
Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.
I was (as we say there) born and raised in Atlanta. I grew up in the Atlanta of the 1960s. Back then, the mayor, a progressive-minded man named William Hartsfield (and back then, "progressive" wasn't a dirty word) made our slogan, "The city too busy to hate."
I was a child of the sixties. I remember segregation and integration, which happened while I was in elementary school. I also remember Dr. King's assassination, in Memphis. At my school in DeKalb County, as we watched the funeral on television, I remember our teacher's prediction: "You will always remember this day."
She was right, although we were too young to understand what it meant.
At one time, it had also been the home of the Klu Klux Klan. In fact, it once stood on what is now the grounds of one of the three elegant churches that grace Peachtree Street at the southern apex of Buckhead known as "Christ Curve." The biggest irony is that the church is a Catholic congregation: a religion that the KKK hated. That the priests decided to invited the Klan's Imperial Wizard to the dedication is proof positive that any piece of land can be sanctified.
First, does it vilify its Caucasian characters? And secondly, does it correctly represent the African-American dialects of the time? And finally, do the African-American experiences ring true?
My own opinion: I loved the book. And my personal take on the first is that Ms. Stockett has been true to the South we both grew up in (albeit a few years, and miles, apart).
Before integration, there was a difinitive separation of classes. Whereas some of it was based on "breeding." (Who was your daddy's daddy, and your mama's people?).
Certainly religion played into it. But mostly, it was based on color.
Integration was resented by most of the Caucasian population. No one who lived through it can deny that.
In many ways Hartfield's Atlanta was a bubble of positive race relations, but no one who lived there during those tulmultious times cannot deny that it had its fair share of racial violence. The 1958 bombing of the Jewish Temple on Peachtree Street in Atlanta's Brookwood neighborhood was one very sad example.
My parents had moved to Atlanta in the mid-fifties, from Manhattan, because of a transfer that my father had agreed to. My maiden name is Martinez, and both my parents had been born in Puerto Rico, albeit raised stateside. Like them–and unlike my older sister–I had thick, curly dark hair and an olive complexion, but also light eyes. I remember a little boy in my class asking me, "What are you?" The question stumped me. I didn't know how to answer! I mean, I was a girl, of course. Wasn't that obvious?
His next question shamed me, because I interpreted it as a slur: "Are you a nigger?"
That was a word we never used in my house. Ever. I had no right to feel ashamed.
I wonder if there was a time, even later in life, where he grew to regret his own use of it.
Had I grown up in the North, I'm sure I'd have heard another taunt: "Spic." But since we weren't the predominant minority in Atlanta, that word wasn't as well known back then. I guess we skirted by. Sure, our name was inevitably mispronounced ("Mart-TEEN-ez" became "Martin-EZZ"). That is a small price to pay for the privilege of being allowed to "pass."
To answer the second question: yes, the South has many dialects, for both the predominant races. When I lived there, I could tell if the person speaking to me was from Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina or Texas by his or her "twang." Then again, I could also tell an Aussie from a Kiwi. I guess I have an ear for dialects. It got me into radio. (The need for sanity got me out of it.)
I moved from the South after marriage, to the San Francisco Bay Area. I married a Yankee: a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx, who had moved to Atlanta after college. As much as I loved Atlanta and had grown up around Southerners, I never got over the presumption that I might be too exotic for any man who drank rum and Cokes, had gone to UGA (University of Georgia, but pronounced "ugga," like the infamous mutt mascot for that grand institution school) and aspired to a partnership at King & Spalding.
So, yep, I can certainly relate to The Help's heroine, Skeeter. The world is a very big place. That's a good thing for those of us who must question the local customs, or who refuse to conform to society's current norm.
I take it as a good sign that some people who have seen the movie or have read the book are truly appalled at the class divisiveness portrayed in The Help, and the cluelessness of the cruelty demonstrated by some of its Caucasian characters.
They should be. That goes for all of us. Especially those of us who lived through it.
When my daughter was in the fourth grade and studying the Civil War, she chided me for my Southern roots. "Mom, how could you have lived in a place where Eva and I could not have been friends?" Eva, her BFF, is African-American.
After reminding her that I was born more than a century after the Civil War, I had to agree with her, and break the news to her that some people still judge others by their skin color.
I will always consider Atlanta my home. I am very proud of my hometown, as I am sure Ms. Stockett is of hers, Jackson, Mississippi. The reality is that neither of us can change its history. Our memories, our perceptions and our interpretations of the places we grew up — as well as those of others who also grew up in that time and those places – are ours own.If they don't reflect that of others, so be it. The South can be charming. It can also be provencial and cruel.
When we were little, we all played dress up in our mother's clothes and makeup. I don't know a mom who doesn't enjoy acting as her daughter's makeup artists and and wardrobe mistresses. Live Barbies are more fun to play with, right?
The stylists and editors of fashion magazines get to do it for a living, with some of the most celebrated personalities of our time. Talk about fun!
Just ran across the September 2011 cover of W magazine, which features the hardworking, no-nonsense actress Kristen Stewart. Unless you've been underground for the last five years (werewolf in a cave, vampire in coffin, hint hint…bad analogies, I know) you'll recognize her as the female lead in the TWILIGHT movie series. What I love about this video interview (to learn the exact questions she was asked, click through to the text version as well) is how unassuming she is. There is no "playing to the camera", but an honesty and forthrightness about her background and her craft. She makes it sound as if she's an "accidental" actor. Having seen her in several non-Twilight movies over the years – Panic Room, Into the Wild, Adventureland, andThe Runaways, where she played musician Joan Jett – I think she has aptly proven that this is so not the case.
W used that renowned photographic team of Mert & Marcus show us a side of Kristen we've never seen before: a throwback to 1960s Bardot/Fonda sex kitten sensuality, giving her blown-out-to-there hair and real cheekbones. It may not have been her typical demeanor, but she certainly went with it: more proof that she's a great actress — and good sport to boot.
No need to pout when you can purr,
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK Murder. Suspense. Sex. And some handy household tips.
They auctioned off Marilyn Monroe's iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. You remember the one: as she stood over a subway grate in front of the Trans-Lux Theater, it billowed up around her thighs. The way it was written into the movie, the object was to keep her cool–
Or was it to make every guy watching her get hot under the collar?
That was the case with her husband at the time: Joe DiMaggio. Afterward they had a shouting match in the theater lobby. She filed for divorce soon afterward.
The dress went for $4.5 million. It was sold by actress Debbie Reynolds, who, besides starring in several Hollywood classics herself (Tammy and the Bachelor, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) has a true appreciation for Hollywood lore. For years, much of her collection was kept at her hotel in Las Vegas, where she performed. A bad real estate investment forced her to sell off various pieces. This time around she also sold Monroe's red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (it went for $1.2 million, albeit it was projected to bring $200,000 – $300,000), and another of my favorites, Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress from My Fair Lady, which sold for $3.7 million.
Other pieces sold by the auction house, Profiles in History included:
– Grace Kelly's rose crepe outfit from To Catch a Thief: $450,000 (estimate: $30,000-$50,000);
– Marlon Brando's elaborate coronation costume from Napoleon Bonaparte: $60,000 (estimate: $60,000-$80,000);
– Claude Rains' ivory military suit from Casablanca: $55,000 (estimate: $12,000-$15,000);
– ElizabethTaylor's brown period dress from Raintree County: $10,000 (estimate: $10,000-$15,000);
– Madonna's black evening gown and shoes from Evita: $22,500 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000);
– Mike Myers' swinging '60s suit from "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: $11,000 (estimate: $6,000-$8,000); and
– A high-school graduation dress of Natalie Wood's: $4,250 (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Reynolds a few years back. In fact, it was my very first celebrity interview. I remember her as gracious, witty, and vulnerable: she is every inch a star, but a sweet human being as well. I could have hung with her all weekend, if she'd have let me. Seriously, she is that much fun.
And so candid. She answered all my questions, even the sticky ones. If I find that interview, I'll be sure to post it here.
As I was leaving I mentioned that my favorite of all movies was one of hers: Singin' in the Rain. "I'll sign the DVD, if you have it," she offered.
Stupid, stupid me! Why didn't I think to bring it? I never made that mistake again!
Oh, well. In hindsight, I should have asked her if I could try on Marilyn's dress, just once!
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Just watch the video clip below…
This year, when Natalie Portman gets her shot at Oscar gold, her very visible baby bump will be there, front and center–
And swathed in some sumptious designer couture.
That ain't no OshKosh B'Gosh.
As it should be.
Portman won the Golden Globe for her terrifying performance in THE BLACK SWAN, and she's considered the frontrunner for the Best Performace by an Actress Academy Award as well.
Even if she doesn't win, what a memorable experience she'll have, sharing this wonderful accomplishment with your soon-to-be-born child! The paparrazi will capture her pregnancy glow. The gown she chooses will have been perfectly cut to enhance her beauty (if not her bounty). She'll be able to show her child the pictures from that magical night and say, "See, honey? You were there with me, too!"
I wasn't fond of him as a man, but I appreciated him as a performer.
If you haven't yet seen the documentary created about his rehearsals for his last tour, THIS IS IT, you're missing something spectacular. Definitely go rent it.
It's odd, though that one of the theories being floated at the hearing regarding his death was that it was a suicide. Yeah, any drug overdose can be considered a slow path to quick death, but come on already. This documentary proves he was a hard worker, a creative genius, and a consumate performer.
“Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in the bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly entertaining reading.” –Jackie Collins, Hollywood Wives
Here is a clip from the documentary on how they created this scene in the show: