Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Preservation Follow-up

There is big news in The Los Angeles Times today about The Ambassador Hotel being spared from demolition for the time-being.
The LA Unified School District wants to demolish it to build a school on the site. The Los Angeles Conservancy got involved in the situation.

I wonder if part of the problem is that the building needs earthquake retro-fitting and it would cost to much. Because I have seen the Ambassador Hotel , and it is HUGE. And the lot it is on is huge, with plenty of land around it.
I don't understand why they can't use the actual building for a school. And build more modern structures around it. It is probably the cost of restoring it and bringing it up to current building codes with all the earthquake precautions it takes these days. I am sure large school buildings with lots of children in them must have really strict earthquake building codes to follow. That would be my guess.

Check out The Ambassador Hotel Website . The pictures are stunning. And the UK website tribute has great pics as well. And this Ambassador Tribute page has great info.
This is such an important historical site, I hope they can do something to keep the building, and make it useful at the same time.

posted by Donna Grayson  # 5:35 PM (0) comments

Friday, April 01, 2005

Preservation, Conservation and Shiny New Buildings

Spring has Sprung in Los Angeles - and The Los Angeles Conservancy has decided to Spring into the season with a tour of Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles . The tour includes the Alexandria Hotel from 1906, the El Dorado Hotel from 1913, the Los Angeles Times Building from 1935, in addition to other great locations of historical significance.

In other historic news around Los Angeles. - the MTA was digging around doing things for the Gold Line - when they uncovered a Historic Aqueduct . The Zanja Madre was the city's primary water source from 1781 to 1904. The city plans to examine it, photograph it, then cover it back up and then continue what they were doing with the Gold Line. I guess
the area isn't really accessable for the public to visit it safely.

Other conservation efforts going around the city - one being the place where the church I attend meets - The Florentine Gardens Nightclub . The city wanted to build a firestation there. People protested because this is a building from Hollywood's great era. Marilyn Monroe
used to hang out there.

A recent Conservation effort with a wonderful outcome was The Fox Theatre in Fullerton
. Supporters saved this historic theatre and it looks like restoration is going to being soon.

A huge controversy was just resolved about the Hollywood Bowl . They wanted to remove the old orchestra Shell from the 1920s , and replace it with a
a more modern shell . In this case the need for better acoustics won out over preservation of the original shell.

The Hollywood Hetitage website has some interesting info about other Conservation / Preservation issues in the Hollywood area.

Personally, I have to admit I sometimes get torn between both sides on the whole Preservation / Conservation issue. I like shiny new buildings with fancy places to shop and drink my half-caf soymilk lattes . And I totally understand that it stimulates the economy and creates new jobs.. er, oh, what the heck - I really like the pretty new places to hang out. All clean and modern with fancy ceilings. Peaceful and serene and completely brand new.

But I also understand the need to remember where we come from, and to honor our history. In in Hollywood and Los Angeles there is a ton of history. Okay, maybe not as much as London or Paris - or even Boston or Philadelphia for that matter - or any of those really really old places where we get all our great historical personalities from.

In Los Angeles and Hollywood our history is relatively New. I mean in Hollywood, our history seems to only go back to the first movie ever made. (I know, our history dates back even further than that. I said "it seems".)
California was "discovered" by the first Europeans in 1542. (There were already plenty of people here so I guess "discovered" isn't really the correct word.)
California became a state in 1850. Los Angeles became a City roughly the same time.
In 1886, Hollywood got its name. I read somewhere that Mrs. Wilcox just overheard a stranger say the name "Holly Wood" on a train, and she liked it, and thats how it all came to be.
The first movie company started in Hollywood wasn't until 1907 .
In 1908 the first film made in Los Angeles was Francis Boggs' and Selig's The Count of Monte Cristo. It was made on what is now the cross streets of Sunset Blvd and Gower - two blocks away from where I have my day job.
However, moving pictures go back to almost the begining of humankind .

Oh, all this history is giving me a headache. Lets go back to shiny new buildings .....

But seriously, I think this is why some of the modern buildings in Hollywood are so very popular. They kept a piece of our history with them.

The Sunset and Vine complex built their new shiny building around what used to be the front of the building for Schwabs Drugstore - where Lana Turner was discovered. They kept the facade up, and built around it. They even made a nice new modern restaurant and called it Schwabs . Its not the original Schwabs at all - just the name makes us feel good.

And the most popular place of them all .. The Grove put a fancy mall with a fancy movie theatre and fancy stores and even fancier restaurants, right smack-up against The Original Los Angeles Farmers Market . And the combination of the two made it way more cooler and hip than anything else in Los Angeles. Not to mention you can see a movie, shop at Nordstoms and do your grocery shopping in one trip.

On the other end, is that not so great building Hollywood and Highland that looks like a piece of Las Vegas barfed on a section of Hollywood Blvd. No history. No warmth. No character. Even the Elephant Replicas from the Ten Commandments just don't work.

What works is a part of history, and piece of the present... and it all makes for a great scene in Hollywood.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Grocery Lists of All People-kind

The Grocery List Collection

So this guy started to collect disgarded Grocery Shopping lists back in 1996.
Now he has 800. And they are all posted on the website for your viewing pleasure.
What a fun look at people's shopping habits - and bad handwriting.

My most recent grocery list ? I was making Roasted Vegies again. Not very exciting ....
1 onion, 1 red bell pepper, 3 carrots, broccoli, celery, chopped mushrooms
Tums (not because of all the vegies)
Paper Towels

Thats it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Artist with Ideas

You hear of thieves stealing art from museums. You never hear of someone sneaking artwork into a museum.
An artist named Bansky had a an amazing idea. He went to some of the most famous museums in the world. When the security guards weren't looking, he hung up his paintings.

He's put his painting up at New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art - even the Louvre in Paris.
What a fresh and new way of getting your art shown to the people who would most appreciate it.

There is a news story on Yahoo Arts News
His official website is Banksy
Also info at: Wooster Collective

I say More power to him ! A struggling artist must do what they must to - to get their art appreciated.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chaos, Classes, and Call-backs

So I had a Learning Annex class on Monday night. It was called "Associating With People Out of Your League". I kid you not. That was the name of the class.
The teacher is one of the Producers of the Master Storytellers Series at the Arclight Cinema.
The only thing was that I had to drive from Hollywood all the way out to the
Holiday Inn near LAX. So basically I had to leave the office at 4:30. To get there by 6:30.

In the middle of the afternoon, the lady from the Spec Commercial called me and asked me to come in for a Call-back.
I was so excited. I got a Call-back ! Even if it doesn't pay.
The Call-back is tomorrow afternoon. One hitch, they want me to bring something sexy to wear - lingerie, silky night gown type of thing.
I kind of panicked and said "I don't think I have anything like that". She was saying they wanted to see if I was comfortable wearing lingerie in the commercial. Well.... I wasn't sure I'd comfortable wearing lingerie in the commercial myself - but, oh well.

So this means I have to high-tail it out of there at 4:30, and stop at a store on my way and run in and grab a silky pj thing.
So as I am going down Sunset, turning left in the left lane, traffic behind me - what happens ? A police car with sirens needs to get through. Over the loud speaker we hear "Pull to the Right". But I am in the left turn lane. Doesn't matter..... I have to go all the way to the right. This now means when the Police pass me, I have to go all the way around a huge city block to get back into my left turn lane.
I was like "Am I even going to make it out of Hollywood?"

Well, I did - and I stopped off at TJ Maxx in Culver City on my way. Ran in. Grabbed a silky satin pajama, and a silky satin robe. Hey, and the total only came to $30. Such a deal. And I made sure it was something I would want to wear, because there is no reason to buy something for an audition if you can't use it again.

All that - and I manage to make it to class on time. An Angel must have been pushing my car along.

The cool thing about the class was that there was another actor sitting in front of me. He is in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous . He plays an FBI Agent. He was addressing post cards to mail out announcing his role in the movie to other casting directors. I though of all the times I have done that exact same thing, sitting at home watching TV. It takes a long time to address 300 postcards.

The class went really late. And I woke up the next morning, on Tuesday, it was painful. Not enough sleep. On top of that, I work in accounting and Tuesday was our end-of-month. Oh, boy - what a day it will be.

I run out of the office at 11:30. I get there with the other Call-back actors at 12:00 noon. And guess what, the Casting People aren't ready for us. They are still setting up the cameras. We all just sat there waiting. And I hated to tell the Casting Assistant that I was on my lunch break from the office, but I had to. I felt bad about scooting ahead of the other actors auditioning, but I had to - we were already there One Hour and 15 minutes.

Then it turns out that I didn't need to change into my sexy silky pajamas. They just wanted to see what I owned for wardrobe.
And they changed my audition. For the first audition they had me read the lines really mean and nasty and obnoxious. Now, they wanted me to do the same scene - but all sexy and hot. I'm like 'huh?"

I welcome the challenge to improvise on the spot. It makes me feel like I am really "working". Almost like an acting class, when they change things up and try different things. But I know the reason they called me back was because my obnoxious act is really good. My sexy act, not so good. So I don't expect my Call-back to go as well.

On top of it, in the confusion as we are leaving - the actor who was in the scene with me starts to leave and starts to shake all the Casting Directors hands. I got confused. You are never ever supposed to shake the Casting Directors hands because it spreads germs. It is really a BIG rule of auditioning. But I get confused because the actor I am with is shaking hands - so I start to shake hands,
not realizing what I am doing.

I rode down the elevator with the actor who played my husband in the scene. He was a "Jerry Seinfeld" type. As we talked I mentioned that I really could not be extremely late getting back to my job, especially for an audition for something that did not pay any money.
He was shocked "This isn't paying ?!?!". Oh, I felt bad I said anything. But he should have read the Casting notice more closely.

On the drive home, I think about the $30 worth of lingerie that I bought but didn't get to wear. And I start to think of the whole audition.
All of a sudden it hits me "Oh, no - I shook their hands! You are never supposed to do that !" Oh, bummer.

I run to Vons to pay my phone bill because it is on the verge of being disconnected. Try to run into El Pollo Loco ,
but the drive through line is way to long. I end up driving through Burger King . Only to discover when I get back to the office that we got free pizza for lunch because today was month-end closing. No one saved me any. I got some of the left-overs that were sitting out on the table in the employee lunchroom and heated them in the microwave.

The Casting Assistant was nice enough to leave me a message (very unusual in this business) telling me that they were going to cast someone else, and maybe they would be able to use me in the future. I just think "$30 of lingerie that I didn't wear".

Then I ended up staying at the office until around 7:30 to make up for my 2 hour lunch break. I ate my cold Burger King food for dinner while I was working away on the office computer.

And I bet you thought being an Actress was glamorous ?

Whats On My Desktop Now ???

Beach Windows Wallpaper
Because Spring is here, and I can't wait for Summer.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter Sunday with Robots

For Easter Sunday, I wore my orange flowered dress to Church. I had just bought this cute little orange flower pin and earing set from Avon . It matched perfectly. I even painted my nails orange.

So all the fancy dressing up for Easter Sunday did make me run late. But not that late, I swear. I needed to be there at 10 am to help with ushering. "Ok, I can make it" I told myself. Well, instead of running late and rushing... I should have left at least 15 minutes earlier. Because I forgot about all the people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. I think they are called "Cheasters". And their cars were all in the parking lot. With no where for me to park.

The parking lot guy said "Just wait 15 minutes, spots will start to open up" (from the earlier service in another building letting out). "No" I frantically replied, "I am late for ushering !!!" He just shrugged.

So I go burning rubber around the church building. Up Gower, down Franklin. Trying to find a side street with parking. Everything is taken. I finally decide I will just try the other side of Hollywood Blvd. And where do I see plenty of opened parking ?!? Right smack in front of the building on Hollywood Blvd. I never saw it before. But it stuck out like a sore thumb. Right in front of the flippin' building where the church meets. I tore my tires up for nothin' .

Easter Service was wonderful. I actually like directing the parishioners, and helping people find a place to sit. No one likes to sit in the front. But the back fills up quickly, so you have to lead them to where the seats are. I like being helpful when I am there. And not letting big groups of people clump up in the back of church.

I was feeling alittle guilty about giving into my movie addiction on Easter Sunday. So I decided I would compromise, and just not see anything to out of sync with the holiday. So I decided to see Robots .
At least it wasn't a slash 'em up blood and guts movie. I was choosing a nice clean Family film for the holiday. Okay, and it was just that. It was cute. It was enjoyable. Now, I remember when I saw Ice Age and Shrek both those movies moved me in some way. I remember holding back the tears during Ice Age - didn't some little penguin lose his mother, or die or something ? It made me cry. And then just the entire message of Shrek about beauty being skin deep, left me feeling so wonderful inside. Robots was cute. It was enjoyable.

Rude Person of the Weekend #2 :
So towards the end of the movie (when you really don't want to get up and leave to find an usher), there is a woman - a total stranger - sitting to my right with one seat between us. She puts her left foot on the seat, drapes her right foot over her knee. And starts to massage her foot. No shoes. No socks. Big stinky foot. One seat away. After the movie is over, she puts her socks and shoes back on.
What is wrong with people these days ? This is Hollywood - have some class. And get your stinky feet out of my face.
And what is wrong with me ? I worry if I move over another seat or two, I will offend the women with the big stinky feet.

Okay, so after the movie is over - I discover that I can't find my parking ticket. Its vanished. I retrace my steps. Check with Lost and Found. Check with the ushers at the theatre. No ticket stub anywhere. It probably fell while I was getting my caramel corn. $6 for parking for one movie. Six dollars. So be a Dear and click an Amazon link and buy a book, dvd, or CD ... and help me pay for my parking cost.

Oh, and.... Happy Easter to All.

Returning to Childhood Daydreams

So I was somewhere out here in Los Angeles, and I was walking back to my car. (Notice how I am not giving to many details, huh?) Right behind me are some people - and I wasn't eavesdropping, I swear - they were just talking really loud so I could hear the entire conversation. I guess one of the guys had just been on an audition and was going to film a TV Pilot. And he was saying that the executive producer and writer of the pilot was Shaun Cassidy. Wow, remember him from The Hardy Boys ?!??! They were talking about the TV show Pilot and what it was going to be like and what his role on it would be. (I won't say - since this might be considered eavesdropping, and I don't want to get this actor in trouble, I'll keep the details confidential.)

I guess it just still fascinates me that the hub of Hollywood is so close to me. And its hard for me to believe that there I am in a place I normally hang-out and I am hearing stories about one of the teeny-bopper stars that I was really into growing up. Its like: here I am in my 40s and a piece of my starstruck childhood daydreams just jumped up and bit me on the nose.
Not to mention how this appeals to me as an actress - that I have some kind of insider information. Not that I would be doing anything with it, or am even able to do anything with it, or would even know what to do with it - but it is fun to know.

So, I get home and do a search on the internet. Shaun Cassidy has written and produced a bunch of TV shows. Both TV Tome and have a list of the TV shows he has been involved with. The most popular being Cold Case and The Mountain.
There is an interview with him on the Writers Guild Website. He talks about writing for TV, there are some interesting comments about "The Agency".
When you are done reading the Shaun Cassidy interview, I suggest you go to the Writers Guild Craft page and check out some of the other interviews with more TV and Movie writers. There are alot of interesting stories, with lots of useful information.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Saturday and Melinda and Melinda

I went into the office on Saturday to work... again. By the time I left I had somewhat of a headache, and my blood sugar was low. But I still wanted to see a movie in spite of how lousy I was feeling.

So I ran over to Arclight Cinema . I ended up eating one of their Apple Sausages with Watermelon BBQ Sauce. Not the healthiest choice for raising ones blood sugar, but it was the best I could think of considering my options.

"Melinda and Melinda" was okay. It is an interesting story concept. Two different stories going on at the same time. One told from a comedy writers perspective and one told as a drama from another writers perspective.
I recommend it mainly for Will Ferrell. It is really refeshing to see him do something that is mellow-er and more realistic than the movies he normally does. He is actually a pretty dern good actor.

Directed by Woody Allen , you can definately know what to expect. This definately has the "feel" of a Woody Allen film. And even though I like him as a director, I have to say its great to see him not be in this movie. I guess the role that Woody Allen normally would play went instead to Will Ferrell - and I think that is a very wise choice. Will Ferrell is perfect for it, the perfect age and everything for the character.
So for that, I found it enjoyable.

Rude Person of the Weekend #1 :
Here is a note to the guy in the row behind me (who I guess didn't like it) : Why are you going to hiss at the ending ? Come on, you looked like you were in your late-40s. Act like a grown-up when you are in a public place.


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