Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Day in Hollywood

Today was somewhat the kind of day I wish I always had. Hanging out in Hollywood, enjoying the atmosphere.

It started out with a free seminar that LA Casting organized. It was right on the corner of Las Palmas and Franklin. So I parked in the lot near the Egyptian Theatre and walked up.

The seminar was with Casting Director, Patrick Baca . I always enjoy listening to an entertainment professional talk. I have a tendency to be a sponge, and just listen and absorb what I am hearing.
I also sat next to a nice guy and there was a nice lady across the aisle - and we got a chance to chat before the seminar started.

During the seminar, I took lots of notes, and wrote down lots of the things that were discussed. I kind of felt that what was discussed is so farther advanced than where I am right now. But it is good to know for the future. They talked alot about going to The Producers for a TV Show. And I learned alot about how people are cast in major movies and TV shows. So many times the person making the final decision about an actor is the actual President of the Movie Studio or Television Network.
Wow, can you imagine ... Auditioning in front of the President of a Network and wondering if he will select you to star in the TV show ?
Wow again.
(Note to Self : Start researching the Presidents of the Movie Studios or TV Networks. Look up their pictures on-line so I know what they look like. I mean who knows, I could be sitting right next to one at Coffee Bean and never even know it.)

I ended up walking down Las Palmas, back to the car with another seminar student. Gee, everyone who attended this event was really friendly. We talked about how neither one of us really chatted with the Casting Director because he was surrounded by others who wanted to talk to him. And we both thought it would be nicer to just send a note in the mail in a few days.

Back at my car, I grabbed the book I am reading, "Parasites Like Us" by Adam Johnson and walked down Hollywood Blvd to the Hollywood and Highland Complex. Mainly just to use the ATM and get some cash. Guess what ??? There is a Virgin Megastore
going in right on the corner. No kidding. They have decided to add a store that the citizens of Hollywood can actually shop at.
Alittle funny, considering that there is already a Virgin Megastore at Sunset and La Cienega. You could shop at one, then put on your sneakers and hike on over to the other. Its not that far.

I then walked passed the
Star Wars Fans who are waiting in line in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre for the opening of Star Wars. Funny thing is, the movie is premiering over at Arclight Cinemas on Sunset.
They decided to wait at the Chinese Theatre since that has always been their tradition for every other Star Wars movie. Even tho its the wrong theatre. And yes it does sound alittle silly, but people are donating money to charity for the amount of time the Star Wars Fans wait in line - so thats a good thing. Details are on the website at .

I had a nice quiet lunch at Hamburger Hamlet surrounded by the tourists.
I read my book, and had a Marilyn Monroe Burger.
I felt very much "At One" with Hollywood, and enjoyed the surroundings and ambiance of being right at the center of Hollywood.

Then I headed back down Hollywood Blvd to The Egyptian Theatre to volunteer for the evening. I basically had to sell Memberships and help with the Mailing list.
The movie showing was "The Blues Brothers."
Believe it or not, this was my first time ever seeing this movie. I don't think I even saw it when it first came out. I especially loved Dan Aykroyd's authentic Chicagoan accent. He sounded perfect.

I was shocked and floored when in one of the first lines of the movie Dan Aykroyd
says to John Belushi something about buying the car he is driving in Mount Prospect .
Well, guess who grew up in Mount Prospect ? Me, thats right.
Lived there from 3rd Grade until I was a Junior in High School.
Another actor from Mount Prospect is Bruce Boxleitner . He graduated from my high school the year before I started as a freshman.

So the movie had special meaning to me, since they mentioned my hometown. And once again, I found myself looking at the background and the area they were shooting - and trying to see what I recognized. Except this time it was for a completely different reason.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Star Wars V- The Empire Strikes Back

After work was over, I ran over to The Egyptian Theatre to volunteer. It was still the weekend for movies from the 1980s.
And tonight was Star Wars Episode V the Empire Strikes Back .

The most fun thing was seeing all the people who brought their Light Sabers. (Is that how its spelled?) They lit up in blue or red, and people were giving little shows on the side. One little kid had a Darth Vader mask - when he talked he sounded like Darth Vader.

It was great fun to see the Star Wars movie on the big screen. I ended up sitting in the very front row because the show was almost sold out.

It brought back memories of when I drove out to Hollywood by myself for the first time. I think I was renting a room in Lakewood. I had just graduated from High School a few months earlier. But I came to see R2D2 and C3PO put their footprints (or wheel-prints) in the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
I thought it was such a huge event. I was in awe watching the TV cameras and seeing all the excitement. I met a couple of kids about my age, who told me they actually worked for the newspaper - I believed them. How naive I was back then.

That was a very memorable event.
UPDATE 4/19/05 ... The California State Lottery now has Star Wars Scratchers. I think they are $2 each. Good luck ..

Audition and Muffins

This was one of the days that I am happy that I live and work smack-dab in the Big City of LA.
I took a very very late lunch... at 4:30 .... because I had an audition for a indie film.And the best thing was .... the audition was only two blocks away from where I work. So I didn't have to deal with trying to find a place to park. I walked the two blocks.
I don't think I can say much about my audition, because they had me sign a paper about "confidentiality". Thats the first time that anyone has asked for that.

One thing struck me though .. and this isn't the first time this has happened. The audition script in usually called a "Side".
After you sign in, they usually give you a copy of your Side. On the top of my side was written in heavy marker "Heavy-set Woman". I saw it and just thought "Oh, well'. Then I looked at the lady next to me who was auditioning for another role. At the top of her side was written in heavy marker "Old Woman". She was probably in her 60s and she was dressed really nice and was presentable. I felt kind of sorry for her, having that label. But then I thought "Well, give me a few more years, and I will be auditioning for "Old Woman" instead of "Heavy Set Woman".
You have to have alot of strong self-confidence to be an actress.

I will say that I thought my audition went well. The casting director was very nice, and complimented me on a couple of things that I did well. So I was happy with how it went.

Then I headed out the door, to walk back to the office. I decided to grab a Muffin from Coffee Bean before I went back to work.
I got in line behind the most spacey airheaded couple I have ever seen. Maybe they were on drugs and were trippin' while ordering their coffee. But I was getting really impatient. I had to really concentrate on not making irritated facial expressions.
First, they had to sample some of the different flavored teas. The woman couldn't decide what she wanted, so she was taste testing.

I think the Barista felt bad for me, and took my order while they were still dilly-dallying. But I still had to wait to pay for it.
Finally, the Barista gave them the total of the bill. And the man just stood there, with his rolled up money in his hand starring off into space, past the counter - a glazed look in his eyes. The Barista repeated the amount to pay about 3 times before the man finally snapped out of it and turned over the money.
Then the Barista asked "Name?" to write on the coffee cup. The women said "Sierra". I thought, "Oh, thats proves it, they are trippin."

In spite of the spacey couple ahead of me in line, I still made in back to the office within an hour and a half. The benefits of living in the City.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Glendale and Personal Stuff

I had to drive out to Glendale today. Its a little north, and alittle east of Hollywood. I needed to drive out there for of all things, a doctors appointment .
Like I don't have enough stuff to do already ....

I tried to wait until I had more than one illness to actually justify driving up to Glendale, and paying my $25 co-pay to see the doctor.
(ha ha ha, she said only half joking.)
I still have a cough that acts up now and then, from the Pneumonia I had in December. The doctor just took another chest x-ray. I guess these things take a while to go away.
And then I had to talk to him about how yucky I feel sometimes. I mentioned the word "Prozac" a few times, and he didn't fall for it. He said it was just the you-know-what that women in their Late 40s start to experience. And he said to eat moreSoy Products . And try Black Cohosh , which is a herb. Try those before he will prescribe anything. I finally decided to try Estroven .
(If you are wondering what I am talking about, you are probably way to young to be reading this. Skip down to the movie reviews.)
Oh, alright ... Menopause.. There I said it.
So it looks like I have alot of excitement to look forward to for the next few years. Oh, joy ....

It is always strange going to Glendale. It seems like so many important things happen for me there.
Years ago I lived way south in Redondo Beach , and usually never traveled farther north than Santa Monica . So I had to drive up to CDSG to get my self-produced CD duplicated. I had no idea where I was going, but somehow I managed to make it up there.
After I moved to Hollywood, and I was looking for a doctor - the fact that the offices were just a few doors down from the CD duplicating place, Well, I took it as a good sign.

A few years later, when I had my first agent - she sent me on my first really big audition at the Barwick Studios in Glendale.
It was for "Old School" .
I was thrilled to be auditioning for a huge movie. With Will Ferrell and Luke Wilson in the movie - wow.
I had to do some kick-boxing moves. And I was doing really well, and the casting director seemed really pleased. And then she asked me to swear and cuss. Which I don't normally do unless my computer acts up or some one cuts in front of me while driving. And I could not bring those "sense memory" experiences up at that particular time for some reason.
So the kick-boxing and cussing really did not go that well. I had to rack my brain to think of cuss words. The casting director just looked perplexed.

So when Old School came out in the movie theatres. I ran to see it. And you know what ? The part I auditioned for - I couldn't find it anywhere in the movie. Maybe its on the cutting room floor. Maybe they didn't film that part at all. I just looked at the movies screen, well, perplexed ....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sahara - The Movie

I also saw "Sahara" over the weekend as well.
If you are counting, that means I saw a total of Five movies in one weekend.
Then I wonder why I don't have time to post to the blog.....

I really liked "Sahara". I thought it was a fun action adventure movie.
Steve Zahn added lots of laughes as Matthew McConaughey's side kick.
Penelope Cruz and William Macy add to a really talented cast.

Its a great "Treasure Hunter" action adventure movie with plenty of laughs. Very enjoyable, and very "clean". I mean no excessive nudity, blood, or even bad language. But still very action-packed, and very funny.

If you are able to pick up Venice Magazine this Los Angeles entertainment magazine has an interview with Steve Zahn in it. The Steve Zahn Article is also on the website - but it is in "pdf" format, so you need the "pdf" reader.
Venice Magazine always has lots of interesting entertainment industry interviews. In parts of Los Angeles you can pick it up for free. But they also offer a subscription.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Miss Congeniality 2

I am behind on posting my movie reviews. I know I haven't posted, and I want you to know that I feel very guilty. I am busy in "real life" and all I can think is "Those poor people who read my Blog - I haven't updated for them." So don't ever think I have forgotten about you. You are always on my mind. Even if my fingers are on not my keyboard.
I saw Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous at the Mann Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Complex on Saturday 4/9. For those of you who are counting, Yes, that means plus the two Film Noir movies that I saw at the Egyptian Theatre on
Saturday - I saw a grand total of 3 movies in one day. I didn't get much else done though.

I enjoyed Miss Congeniality. It is not a knock-down side-splitting funny movie. I would describe it as more Cute and Adorable and Humorous. You kind of smile all the way through, with a few chuckles here and there.

Sandra Bullock is great as she always is - her and her snort.
I also really enjoyed her FBI Partner played by Regina King . She does such a good job with anger. And it is great to see her in another role after she was so outstanding in "Ray"

And anything with William Shatner in it, has my vote for a good movie. He is just great fun to watch. And an inspiration to all the rest of us old-folks. To think he's on a hit TV show Boston Legal , and he had the time to do this movie. And he was in Star Trek ... in what year was that ? oh....I'm to old to think about it.
( The weirdest think just happened. As I am typing this, a commercial just came on the TV. With Captain Kirk himself in a grocery story. How funny !! )

Pay really close attention to the "rescue" scene in Miss Congeniality . Vic Chao , who plays one of the FBI officers assisting in the rescuing - was in the Learning Annex class I took a few weeks back. He sat in front of me, and was addressing Postcards letting industry types know what he was up to. (I have done this on soooo many occasions.)
It was fun to go to a movie, and actually be on the look-out for someone I have met.

So if you are looking for a Cute, Adorable and Humorous movie ... Miss Congeniality has my recommendation.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Classic Movie Quote of the Day

"The enjoyment of Art is the only remaining ecstasy that is neither immoral or illegal."
- From The Dark Corner

What an amazing and interesting line from the movie. The character is at a party and he says it to a small group of people.
I wonder if in 1947 the word "ecstasy" had a different meaning than it does in 2005. We tend to think of ecstasy as erotic or sexual. But it really has alot to do with a large variety of emotions and pleasures.

The dictionary describes Ecstasy as 1) A state of overwhelming delight or rapture. 2) An extreme or intense state of any emotion.
We get the word "Ecstatic" from the work Ecstasy.

Now the character in the movie is referring to Paintings. But of course, I take a broader and more modern view - to include film, television, music and more.
I think in many ways what the character is saying still applies.

Think about it next time you are watching an action-adventure movie and something gets blown up - wow, how excited you feel. Its thrilling. Something like that in real life would be considered horrible. But watching a movie you are allowed to thrill to car crashes, and nuclear explosions, and someone getting shot - without feeling the least bit guilty. As a matter of fact, the more excited you are about it, the better the movie.

You even get to be a peeping tom during love-making scenes. Getting a sneak peak of other people's very personal moments. And you walk away saying "How romantic" - with no thought that maybe you saw something you shouldn't have seen. Instead there is a glimmer in your eye thinking about the romance and beauty of the scene.

In many ways, Art, particularly film and television, give us heightened emotions. The soundtrack and sound effects, the special lighting - it all adds to the sense of drama.
And for a few moments it is more real than real life.

Classic Films on The Big Screen

Over the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, I saw some great Film Noir at the Egyptian Theatre . I am not really a Film Noir person. I'm more into bubblegummy teenybopper type things from the 60s and 70s. But as I was putting around the apartment, I saw I had a big stack of free movie coupons. These are from the times I have volunteered there, and didn't get to see the movie that night . So I figured I might as well go and catch some free flicks. I absolutely had a wonderful time. The films I saw were amazing. If you want to catch some Film Noir , they are having more screenings at the
Aero Theatre in Santa Monica up until April 24.
I highly recommend you catch these great films.

The two films I saw on Saturday both starred Lucille Ball.
Way back before she was the comedian Lucy. These were from 1947 and 1948.

The first was The Dark Corner .
Its amazing seeing Lucille Ball being so dramatic. She really was an outstanding actress. She plays the secretary to a man who is being setup for a murder.
Its interesting to wonder what would have happen to her if she had stayed with Drama, instead of comedy - for sure an Oscar ...

The second was Lured .
Now in this film, Lucy does get alittle bit funnier. But it is a sharp, biting sense of comedy. Not at all slapstick.
A series of young girls disappear after answering the personal ads. Who knew - they had personal ads back in 1947.

Sunday I went back and say The Man That I Love . With Ida Lupino . What a romantic story. Worth watching just for when she slaps the guy around - now thats women power.
You know I think she resembles Annette Bening ... or I guess it is the other way around.

Speaking of Woman Power, it really hit me how all the women in these films were strong and bold characters. I normally don't think of the 1940s as having strong independent women. But there were some tough dames in these movies.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Farmers Market

Sunday, I spent the morning in Church . Then afterwards, I decided at the last minute to go to
The Hollywood Farmers Market on the corner of Hollywood and Ivar.
It closes on Sunday at 1pm, so I just made it in time.

Here is what I bought:
1 small basket of strawberrys (no pesticides) $2
2 medium ruby red grapefruits $1
5 lemons $1
And 40 sticks of incense $5

I stopped off at one of the food stands and grabbed some chicken tamales in the middle of my shopping trip.
The place was packed with people, and it was very warm and sunny out.

When I got home, I discovered some of the strawberries got squished. So I had to eat them right away. They were very sweet.

Quote of the Day

"I don't think people talk about the need to really understand the ethics and morals of an organization you're doing business with. If someone doesn't have the kinds of ethics and morals that you have, you probably shouldn't do business with them. Sometimes you have to walk away. There is no client too big where we would do something that we think is inappropriate. There is nothing more important than your personal integrity."

- Tony Anderson of Accounting Firm Ernst & Young in today's Sundays Los Angeles Times Magazine

The quote above is about an Accounting Firm. A business. But it struck me how it really applies to all aspects of life. And that includes Art - such as acting, music, blogging, our whatever else we do here in Hollywood while we are trying to be artistic - and at the same time successful.

And as much as I hate to admit it, Acting is a Business - a huge part of the "Entertainment Business". We talk about being in "The Biz".
"So what do you do?" someone at a party will ask.
"Oh, I'm an actress" - even though my rent payment doesn't come from anything I have acted in recently, - it is still my Career.

Personal Integrity - gee, what does that mean ? Sometimes I wonder if such a thing exists in Hollywood.
People want to know who you are and what you can do for them. But do you know who you are and what you should do for yourself ? Taking care of yourself, making yourself Strong ... so your soul and personality don't get burnt to a crisp by the fires of the Big City.

Its the old line about "being able to look yourself in the mirror". And I don't mean getting Botox and Plastic Surgery.
The internal integrity that goes along with knowing that what you are doing is right, that you are treating other people right, that you are a fair and honest person, and that you have a clear conscience about your Life, your Art, and your Business.


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