Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Short Film Contest

Entries accepted until April 13 for Amazon's short film contest. Co-sponsored by the Tribeca Film Festival.
Starting April 18, the top films will be available for voting on Amazon's website. Winners announced the end of May.

Details here:
Amazon Short Film Contest

posted by Donna Grayson  # 10:28 PM (0) comments

Win a $1,000 Shopping Spree is giving away a $1,000 shopping spree of Beauty Products.
Contest ends April 30.
Sign-up here :
Amazon Beauty Shopping Spree

posted by Donna Grayson  # 10:23 PM (0) comments

Boo.....The Ring Two

Ring Two


A coworker was offered free passes to see The Ring Two , Wednesday, the day before it opened. She doesn't like scary movies, so she asked me if I wanted them. I said Yes. Scary movies about ghosts and space aliens and such don't really bother me. As long as it is not realistic then I can deal with it. Now, if it is about some mass murderer or something, then thats what scares me and I don't like those. But the ghost of a little girl at the bottom of a well.... piece of cake.

The screening was hosted by KLSX FM. I got in the really long line. Dern, I haven't been in a line where practically everyone was smoking cigarettes in such a long time. I don't know if its the Horror Movie fans, or the KLSX listeners that are the chain-smokers. But I am somewhat allergic. And since having the walking pnuemonia over the Christmas holidays, my lungs are still pretty sensitive. So whenever one of the people in line lit up, I would start coughing.

Somehow my friend flaked out on going with me. I called him on his cellphone. He muttered something about his cellphone not working and not being able to call me. Great...I would have to go to the screening alone. Just then, a coworker from
a different department joined me in line, and soon a third coworker joined us.

We sat in the very first row of the theatre. But this is good. At The Arclight, the first row is still way far back from the screen. So actually the first row is the best row - at least in the theatre we were in.

What can I say about The Ring ? Its ... the Ring. This second installment is alot more scarier than the first one. And the special effects are alot better than the first one. There were quite alot of moments where I was covering my eyes, hiding from the terror. But the other thing I like ... it is so unrealistic, that I don't get to scared. Just enough scared.

Naomi Watts is great as the mother trying to save her some from the evil ghost.
And Sissy Spacek is great as the mother locked away in a mental institution. (Even tho the LA Times review said she resembled Michael Jackson in her wig.)

The audience viewing Horror movies are the interesting bunch to watch. The strangers sitting next to me just absolutely howled with laughter at all the scary parts. It sounded to me that they were thoroughly enjoying being frightened.

Control ... and young chicks in movies

Mid-week, I caught a free theatre screening of the movie "Control", which is coming out on video.
I was really anxious to see it because both Ray Liotta and Willem Dafoe are in it, and I think they are great actors. They both are really good in this movie.
Ray Liotta plays a death-row inmate who is given a second chance by a pharmaceutical company, who has their scientist played by Willem Dafoe, give Liotta drugs to chance his personality and turn him from being a criminal into being a "nice guy".

The story line and script were really great. I thought the concept of the story was fascinating.
This story would have made an outstanding psychological thriller. Afterwards, The director spoke and mentioned about how the studio he was working with wanted more of an action movie, and added car chases to it. So it was kind of a cross between a thriller and an action movie.

The only thing that got to me was the age differences between the actors and actresses. For example, Ray Liotta is 50. Michelle Rodriguez is 27, and I felt to young to play his love interest. I hate when movies do this. Maybe they were trying to appeal to the younger male crowd and not only did they add the car chases, but they chose young actresses. But it really sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when I thought everything else about the movie was so good.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Real Movie Premier - Stars and Everything

Well, I started my Sunday sad and down about all the things I went through with the rock video I was supposed to have been in. (See
previous post.) But by the end of the day, it was up there in the "Top Ten Best Days of My Life". Here's what happened.

I managed to get tickets to what I thought was going to be a regular preview screening of Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher's new movie "Guess Who".
I went to church Sunday morning, attending the Bible Study afterwards, went home to have lunch and get on the computer.

But I was feeling really tired, and I kept debating about going to the movie. I was tired. I had things to do. The friend who was supposed to go with me had decided to go on a picnic instead, even tho it was over-cast and cold out.
I finally figured "Well, its free", and pulled on some blue jeans and a sweater. Jumped in the car and headed down Hollywood Blvd to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

When I got there, I couldn't believe my eyes ! This wasn't a "preview" screening. It was the Premier ! I had totally mis-read my ticket !

All along Hollywood Blvd, there were Limos lined up. There was a red carpet and cameras and lights.
As I drove around the street to get to the parking lot, I called my friend and got his voice mail. I said "If you can still get here, you better hurry - the tickets are for The Premier ! There will be stars ! Oh, no - I'm in jeans, I wonder if they'll let me in ?"
Well, it turned out alot of people were wearing jeans. This is casual Los Angeles after all.

When I got inside the Chinese, I went to the counter and asked for a water. Ok, wow -its free. The movie studio is paying for my water.
The seating was assigned. I was on the right side. I sat down, looking around to see if I could see anyone. It was then I realized "oh, the snacks are free - I might as well go get some popcorn".
As I walked back to the concession stand, I tried to look towards the middle of the theatre. All I could see were rows of body guards where all the movie stars were sitting . I couldn't see anyone.

There was so much excitement in the air ! The place was buzzing ! It was fun just sitting there in thrilled anticipation with the rest of the audience. The theatre was filled to capacity.

I loved the movie. It was very funny. Touching at times. And even though it was humorous, it had a really good message. I was really glad I went to go see it.

After the movie, the lobby was packed. I saw alot of actors from current movies. The little girl from The Pacifier was at the bathroom sink - we were washing our hands at the same time. That was kind of funny, since I had just seen The Pacifier the day before.

As I had headed to the bathroom, the woman in front of me squealed. I looked to my right and there was Bruce Willis giving an interview.
I saw Amber Valletta
who is in Hitch. I saw Sherri Shepherd from Less Than Perfect. I saw so many people that I recognized but I did not know their names.

The lead actress who plays Bernie Mac's wife in Guess Who, Judith Scott , was in the lobby. She looked gorgeous in a dress with a light plaid pattern, but was also sparkling. It was very much in wonderful taste. I thought it was the perfect dress for the Star. She looked perfect.

I walked around the front of Graumans Chinese where the foot-prints are, and looked at all the people coming out of the theatre to see who else I could see. People Watching in all the excitement.
As I walked back to my car, there was a beautiful blond women in front of me with her friends. We walked past a group of young guys sitting at a table having coffee, and I watched as their mouths all fell open. I guess they all knew who the pretty young actress was.

In all my excitement, I forgot to get my parking validated. $10, oh, well, I was in a joyful fog and didn't mind.
As soon as I left the parking structure, I called my friend "I can't believe you missed that !"

Well, for a day that started out awful and sad (see earlier post), my evening sure was filled with excitement. This was one of the best events I have been to, and I am so glad I got to be at a movie premier. For me, I would have much rather have had
the chance to be a movie premier, than filming an indie video where I wasn't even getting paid. So it worked out perfectly.

I just have to remember in the future, to read the tickets closer so I know what I am going to !

Here are the links at of the Premier:

Arrivals Page 1

Arrivals Page 2

Official Guess Who Movie Website

Rules for Being in Indie Productions

I learned some valuable lessons about acting in independent productions this week. And I mean, the really independent ones, the kind that don't pay but you act in for "meals, credit and copy".

The lessons I learned:
1. Don't agree to be in a production unless you have been properly interviewed or auditioned in person.
2. Be careful if no one is giving you telephone contact numbers. A legit production is going to want you to be able to contact them if you have questions or if there is a problem. Email is not good enough, because they can just delete it without responding.
3. If you get emails that the Casting Director was fired, or of some other turmoil that really isn't about you as the actor - figure this is really going to be
a bumpy road, and there are some serious issues going on. Even if someone else got fired, there really isn't a need to involve the actors in it.
4. Always be respectful of people and their time. If you aren't going to use them after all, tell them. Don't let them think they are being held to a commitment while you are making other plans. Treat them how you would want to be treated. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future I might cross paths with these people again, and they will be the ones who are embarrassed.

I had decided to do more of these indie things, because I haven't been getting alot of the "paying" gigs, and what I really want to do is film or television, not stage.
So I figured doing some more freebies just might be the way to go. But I forgot about how unprofessional and disorganized some of these teensy weensy production
companies can be.

Over one month ago, a Casting Director had emailed me right from my picture and resume on LA Casting . She wanted to cast me in a role for a rock video. She said since there were no lines, she didn't need to audition me, or even meet me. Well, right away that should have been a huge red flag. I mean, even if there are no lines they should still want to meet with you. I happen to look like my 8x10 headshot - but many actors don't.
But I still agreed to do it, because I was just antsy to get back in front of the camera - even though this was a glaring red alert about how unprofessional this was
going to be.

Over the next few weeks, I got a few emails about my sizes for the wardrobe people. I responded, but I also emailed them about the actual dates of filming. I didn't want to take a day off from work for something I wasn't getting paid for. When the wardrobe person emailed me again, I sent them another question about my filming dates and let them know this was my third time asking the question. The wardrobe person emailed my back and said yes, I would only be needed on Sunday 3/13.

A few more weeks went by, and I was starting to wonder. Finally I got a few email from the director giving me ideas for the character he wanted me to play and the background for my scene. Then in one email he sent us his biography, and said since he didn't have time to meet the actors before the shoot to please send him our information. I really thought this was strange, but ignored the red flags and responded with links to my website and my LA Casting page.

Still no major information, and I was starting to get alittle worried.
Less than a week before the filming, I get an email from the director. They fired the Casting Director. She was doing a terrible job, they had problems with her, she was incompetent. Oh, dear... this is really weird, I thought. He assured the actors that an Assistant Director would be contacting us with our call times. Then he gave us the phone number of the Wardrobe person, so we could go over what we needed to bring to wear. To wear ? Why did they ask for our measurements and sizes to begin with ? They had lead me to believe that they were providing the wardrobe, thats why they wanted our measurements.

Well, at least now I had somebody's phone number. Usually a contact phone number is the first thing they will give you because they want you to be able to get a hold of
them in case something comes up. In everything else I have done, I've always had the Director's or Producer's Phone number. Oh, well, at least now I had the Wardrobe Lady's.

So I called the Wardrobe lady and she said she wanted me in a suit for the filming. I said all I has was a black suit, she said fine.

Two more emails from the Director. One with a list of the days we need to be available to shoot. On it he said an Assistant Director would be contacting us with
the exact call-times and locations. Now, its only a few days until filming, and I have been "cast" for a month in this, and I'm getting worried. All of my worries were
valid when I noticed they were expecting me to film on Sunday and Monday. I quickly emailed the Director back and also sent him a copy of the email from 3 weeks ago saying that I was only available on weekends, and the response had been that was fine.

Now, another email from The Director. They "forgot" that they needed us to film the following week as well. And this time they wanted us to lay in a tub of water for
an artsy effect. In same clothes we wore on the first day of filming. Okay, now I was getting ticked off. Get my business suit wet, and you aren't even paying me ? Not to
mention they were requiring an extra day which I never agreed to. I got the impression that they "forgot" to tell us about this day of laying in water because they didn't think anyone would want to do it and they were trying to sneak it up on us. I for one thought the water thing sounded kind of fun - if I had known about it, and didn't feel like I was tricked into doing it.
At this point, I decided to be alittle more difficult. I emailed the director back, and said on this extra day of filming, I was not available until after 1pm, which was true, and I wasn't going to change my plans for them. I said I would film the shot anytime after 1pm. And that I had a question about the costume if I was going to be laying in water all day.
Well, since the only phone call I had was the Wardrobe Lady's, I called her back. She said she understood if I did not want to lay in the water in my business suit and would work out
something else.

Just a couple days before the shoot, and still no call from the Assistant Director. And no one has given me any contact phone numbers except for the Wardrobe Lady's. I call her again.
She assures me the Assistant Director will call me. And said that she talked to the Director, and they would go with a "Suburban Mom" look for me. I agreed that would be easy, and could come up with some polyester material things to wear which would be fine on the day I had to lay in water. This time she said, no Black.
I ended my conversation with her trying to verify my filming location, trying to get a commitment on the area of the city it was in. I was like, "We are filming in the Los Angeles area, correct?" (The way it was going, I was not driving a long distance for this thing.) She swore we were....

No phone calls, no phone calls, no call sheet, no location times, no location.
Saturday morning at 10 am, I call this poor Wardrobe Lady again. I was starting to feel sorry for her because she got stuck with the sucky job. I leave a polite message, "It Saturday at 10 am, and I still have not received a phone call from the Assistant Director with my location and time for tomorrow. I'm getting the feeling maybe since I couldn't film on a Monday, that you looked for another actress. If thats whats happening, thats cool. But I would appreciate just knowing if you are going to need me tomorrow, so I can plan my day". I sent the Director an email with the same message. I knew from one of the emails they sent to me that they were filming on Saturday, but I figured maybe I would get a call on their lunch-break.

No one responded. Not with an email. Not with a voice mail. (I checked my emails a bunch of times while I was out seeing The Pacifier.) I never heard from them again. I was never "fired" straight to my face. Well, heck, they didn't hire me face to face - so what can I expect.
I am sure part of it is that probably the Wardrobe Lady and the Assistant Director, aren't getting paid either. And no one wanted to take the responsibility for hurting the actresses feelings. Especially if the Director wouldn't do it, and he's the one in charge.
But just an email saying "We won't be needing you for this after all" would have been polite. For all I know, something happened and they weren't even going
to be filming. But if this is the way they are, it is a good thing that I didn't waste my time filming with them.

To think, its usually the Actors who flake out and don't show up. And here I am trying to hunt these people down on Saturday morning to get my location and call time for Sunday.

Well.. all in all, after getting over my feelings of rejection and anger ... my Sunday ended up being absolutely Wonderful. I am glad I wasn't filming. I will post more about that later because it turned into a Wonderful and Exciting Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Pacifier - Adorable Family Movie

I saw The The Pacifier on Saturday.
Its playing at The El Capitan , right across from Hollywood and Highland .
Believe it or not, in the five years I have lived in Hollywood, I have not been to The El Capitan. I had always heard it was really expensive. I guess because sometimes they have pre-show entertainment, organ music and birthday party events for the kids. But it turns out that if you go to a show before 6pm, you can get
your ticket for $8.50 - these days thats such a deal.

After buying my ticket, I had lunch at Hamburger Hamlet just a block west. They have a really great tasting Salmon Burger. Then I walked around Hollywood blvd for a bit, and stopped into Hollywood and Highland.

When I got to the El Capitan, I went up to the balcony section. In the balcony lobby, they have the great pictures of the El Capitan back when it was built in the 1920s, and with some of the stars who have been there the decades gone by. I made a point to look at all the pictures. It is just wonderful to see the pics from Hollywood's birth and Golden Era. Not to mention, how beautiful the restored Theatre of the El Capitan is.
The balcony stairs are small, and alittle difficult to maneuver. Sitting in the balcony, the ceiling is just absolutely gorgeous - all golden decorations. We had not pre-show entertainment. But the Curtain Show in itself is beautiful, different colored lights and glitter. The El Capitan sure does know how to present a performance.

I have to say, that I love good family movies. And The Pacifierwas really fun. And very funny.
Vin Diesel really made a wise career choice in deciding to make a Comedy his next film. And he does an excellent job portraying a Navy SEAL who is required to guard a family of children while their mother is away. Not only that, but he looks very sexy holding a baby. What is it about caring for a baby that
makes a man look extremely attractive... The scenes he has with the Firefly Girl Scout troupe are hysterical, and very cute.

Carol Kane is also outstanding as the foreign Nanny - what a great character actress she is. This woman simply needs to be in more movies.
Brad Garrett is wonderful as the mean assistant principle of the school. As is Lauren Graham who plays the principle and Vin Diesel's love interest.

This is all-around a fun family movie. You can always tell how much I like a movie, because I usually put the Official Windows Wallpapers on my Desktop. And You can find those on The Pacifier Official Website .


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