Donna in Hollywoodland

The blog from Los Angeles and Hollywood by Donna Grayson

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another Saturday in Hollywood

It was another Saturday spent in Hollywood, California. A nice warm sunny day, though somewhat windy.

I started out at another seminar hosted by LA Casting. This seminar was with Talent Agent Steve Stevens. And even though I am not looking for another agent - I figured I could learn something from hearing what he had to say.

My one big lesson that I learned ? Lately, I have been thinking of putting a Reel together of all the little indie flicks I have done. But one Big thing that was mentioned : Only put the reel on a DVD or VHS tape. Do not put it on a CD to be played on your computer. Because Casting Directors and Agents will not take a CD from someone they do not know, who sent it in the mail - and put it in their computer. There are way to many computer viruses out there. So if you want an Agent or a Casting Director to look at the Reel that you send to them, put it on VHS or DVD - to be played on a television, not a computer.
That piece of advice really was an eye-opener to me.

During the seminar, I realized a student from the Wednesday night Commercial acting class was sitting across the room. I went up to her after the class, and we chatted for a while.

The one strange thing about this seminar - most of the actors there seemed to be over 30. That is highly unusual. I wasn't the oldest in the room as I usually am.

After the seminar, I walked over to Mel's Diner . I had about an hour before my volunteer shift at The Egyptian Theatre . I ordered a chicken salad sandwich, with potato salad and an ice tea. It wasn't until I got the food, that I realized ... there was way to much mayonnaise on my plate. Too late. I guess I ordered that because I didn't feel like anything cooked. It was still pretty warm out. Our first really warm weekend in a while.

I sat there having lunch, and reading "How They Cast It".
This is a really great book that explains about how actors were cast in some of todays tv shows and movies. For instance, Lisa Kudrow from Friends, was originally going to have the role of Roz in Frazier. There are alot of interesting stories like that, and its very fun to read what the actors go through as they make their way to stardom.

I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was someone I know from volunteering. Only I haven't seen him in ages. Turns out he was out of town for a while. We chatted for a few minutes until he went back over to his friends.

The films at the Egyptian tonight were Jack Benny's "Buck Benny Rides Again", where Jack Benny goes out west and be a rancher to impress a woman.
and W.C.Fields "Man on The Flying Trapeze", where Fields plays a henpecked husband.
Its been a long time since I have seen really old classic movies. I enjoyed watching these so much.
Looking at these films, and seeing all the great clothes the ladies wore, and the great furniture and style they had back then - it made wish I had lived in the 1930s or 1940s. Those were such classy times.

My favorite line from Jack Benny in the movie. He walks in the apartment, totally soaked through from standing out in the rain.
Rochester says "Boss, you're all wet - Is it raining outside?"
Jack Benny says "No, I was eating a grapefruit - and it got out of control."

Oh, those were fun times.

A few pictures from my day in Hollywood:

The Egyptian from across the street. As I walk from the seminar to Mels Diner

Another pic from across the street

Hollywood and Highland intersection, as I walk left

A pic of the name on top of the building "Graumans Egyptian". The same man who created the famous "Graumans Chinese" theatre

A pic of the courtyard as I head to my volunteer gig

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Night Theatre

This evening I went to the Elephant Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd to see a play. The title was Never Tell and the instructor of my Commercial Acting Class, Chris Game, was in the play.

First, I had to go through the painful experience of finding someone who would go with me. Most of my friends are Film Buffs. During the times I have mentioned that I also sometimes volunteer for live theatre - many of my friends have let me know point blank that I can never expect them to go see me in any live performance, because they absolutely will not sit through live theatre.
Hey, I even have some friends who won't watch television.
In their opinion, if its not on the Big Screen of a Movie Theatre, then its not worth their time.
Die Hard Film Buffs - thats most of the people I have ended up socializing with.

But I did know one other Egyptian Theatre volunteer who has said he makes a point to see Live Theatre in Los Angeles on a regular basis.I made plans to pick him up at the Egyptian since he didn't have a car.
And its Friday night... what where we thinking ? Hollywood was packed. He wasn't waiting in the front on Hollywood Blvd, and I couldn't find free parking anywhere. After 15 minutes of driving around, I finally parked right behind the Egyptian - a big no-no for the volunteers.
My friend was sitting in the courtyard reading a book. "Come on, Come on, I couldn't find parking" - as I went running back to my car before it was towed.

I didn't realize that the Elephant Theatre was such a big complex. Four different theatres. And very nice inside. When we arrive, there were people in line for other plays besides ours. We spent our time finding the Ladies Room (for me), and chatting with the Ushers and Tickets Takers.

The play was really dramatic. And very interesting. There is a review on-line at : LA Weekly . The way they staged it was excellent. The design of the stage, how the scene changes were done were great. I did enjoy the performances of the actors as well.

During intermission, I filled out the Guest List book, and I talked to the Box Office person about volunteering there to be an usher or ticket taker.

After the play, we hung around waiting for my acting teacher to come out. One of my classmates from the acting class was also there with a friend, so we spent some time chatting. Then the five of us stood around and chatted for a bit, and told my instructor how much we enjoyed his play. And I made a point of telling him that I had signed the guest book, and was interested in volunteering. I also made sure I
mentioned that the Egyptian was having a Marlon Brando weekend in June, since the instructor had mentioned him in class as an actor we could all learn from.

I dropped my friend off at the Hollywood and Highland Metro Line (More crazy traffic). And then as I was driving home I realized that one of my other classmates was also in the play, and I forgot to say hello to her.
And I forgot to pull out my brand new camera phone and take any kind of pictures for the blog .... oh, well, next time ....

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Comfort Shopping ..and the Cat

I guess the entire thing with my finances is getting to me: having to get my tooth fixed, and needing new breaks for the car - as well as a tune-up because my registration is due next month, and I will need to get a smog check this time.
Ugh... it is all too much, and I have to many expenses, and its too much money. And I can't really afford any of it.
And so..... I went shopping and bought myself a Treat. Yeah, on something I couldn't really afford.

I went to Verizon bought a new Cell Phone. A Motorola V710 with 1.2 pixel pictures, video, the internet (yipee!) MP3 player, memory slot .. and all sorts of other stuff like Bluetooth, which I have no idea what that even is.. The instruction book was so thick, it looked like a little Bible.

The thing is .. my old cell phone I had had for around 8 years. I kid you not. It was one of the oldest ones Verizon has made. It was an ugly black phone with just black letters on the display panel - no pretty pictures whatsoever. It was so old, that the Verizon guy couldn't make any promises that they could transfer my phone directory over to my new phone. So I made sure I wrote all my phone numbers down before I headed over to Verizon on my lunch break. But - surprise, surprise - they loaded to my new phone fine.

I had been thinking about getting a new cell phone for a while, so I decided just to go do it. It took pretty much my entire one hour lunch break. And I have to tell you, the sales people at the Sunset and Vine Verizon store, are very nice. I looked up my phone on the internet when I got home, and the phone itself is going for around $275 most places. But I got my phone, a car charger, and a ear-piece for only $120 .
Of course, I have to make a 2 year commitment - but I have already been with Verizon for 8 years, and I really like them, so thats no problem.

And on top of that, they now sell the Messages in "bundles". I bought 50 messages (text, picture, or video) for $5 a month. But I have a feeling I am going to be raising that to the 100 messages for $10 plan - very soon. And what I really like is that the time on the Internet on the phone just applies against my cell phone minutes. Of course, the screen is so small you can really only read the news. But I plan to put it to good use. Next time I am stuck in line somewhere without a book - I can pull out my cellphone and catch up on Yahoo news.

Of course, none of this cool technology is keeping my Car's Breaks from squeaking. For that I need to go to the car repair place, not the cell phone store.
But this new gadget sure makes me feel a whole bunch better !

After I got home from work, I pulled out the thick little instruction book and was going over all the gizmos until I got a headache.
As I was buying the phone, everytime the guy mentioned "Games", I was like "Oh, no, I don't care about that".
Now, home with the instruction manual, I'm going "Oh, wow - how do I get the games ? I want Games !"

I find the Pix Place , the free website that I can upload my pictures to, instead of storing them on my phone. So I played around with that for a while.

Then I took about 20 pictures of my Cat, Cinnamon. She will eventually get her own webpage, maybe even her own Blog - once I get done figuring out this cell phone.
So here, you go .... the first online pictures of Cinnamon the Cat :

Click on the small pic, to see a larger pic:

This is the picture I have on my cell phone wallpaper

In the morning, Cinnamon likes to sit on my lap while I have my coffee.
The polka-dots are my pajamas
A cute picture looking up

Cinnamon looking towards the window as the sunshine streams in.
She loves the sunbeams

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Commercial Acting Class #2

Today was kind of hectic at work. I wasn't sure I was going to have energy for my class today. But I managed to wolf-down one of those Healthy Choice Dinners right before I planned to leave. Then when I got to the class, there was no parking anywhere. I ended up parking about two blocks down. So I had to practically run to make it to class.

Our assignment from last week's class was to find a commercial on TV (though I found mine on the internet). It was to be a commercial we felt we could be cast in. Something that fit our "type". I chose the Pink Slip Virus from Southwest Airlines .

I volunteered to be the second person to act out their commercial. This was mainly because I knew that if I didn't do it right away, I would be thinking about it, and going over it my head the entire time - and I wouldn't be listening to the class.

I sat on a chair and pretended to be at a computer terminal (I have lots of experience with that, ha ha, ha). The first time I ran through it, I really didn't
face the camera. And I wasn't really envisioning an office of coworkers. Chris Game, the instructor, gave me some instructions, and I pictured my office workers scrambling around as I downloaded the pink slip virus that infected their computers. All in all, I thought the second time we ran through the commercial it went really well.

And my acting performance was over for the evening, so I had plenty of time to concentrate on what the other students were doing.

I felt really good, when we played back the commercial on the TV, and everyone in class busted out laughing. That was the best.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I spent most of my spare time today working on my Homework for my commercial acting class. Of course, I got the assignment one week ago - and I wait until the day before the class.

We needed to watch TV commercials, and pick one to do in class that we felt we could be cast in. I did watch the commercials during the week. At first it was hard, because I have a habit of channel surfing once the commercial comes on. I had to get used to watching the commercials, and doing the channel surfing while the show was on.

It wasn't soon before I realized it was really hard to see the same commercial really often . I mean, I was supposed to study the commercial and write out
a descriptions of it along with dialog.
And I don't have Tivo, or a DVD or even a VHS. Actually my TV is so old, I don't think it even has a hook-up for a VHS. But the TV is huge, thats for sure. I like the big screen.

So ... I turn to the wonderful world of the Internet.
Advertisement has all sorts of great commercials that you can watch over and over and over again.
I chose the commercial "The Pink Slip Virus" from Southwest Airlines. I watched it over and over again. I wrote out the scenes and the dialogue, and noted what
my character was doing.

After I was done with that, I just sat and watched a whole lot of really funny commercials. Like 2 hours worth. And it was really entertaining.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Rainy Days, Mondays and The Dentist

Its Monday
Its Raining
I have a Dentist Appointment.

Luckily, the dentist had a spot for me in her schedule. I headed out of the office for a 3 hour break, east on Sunset in the pouring rain.

My dentist does not validate. In their building - its a high-rise - it is an $18 daily maximum.
But its pouring like cats and dogs.
So I decide that instead of trying to find street parking in West Hollywood, I will just park in their parking.
Well, so did everyone else. The underground parking was packed.

As I turned over the keys, once again I told the Valet : " Be careful, I have bad breaks, I am getting them fixed soon".

So at the dentist, they are able to glue my teeth back together. It only costs me a deductible of $50. I made an appointment for next month for my cleaning and x-rays and whatever else needs to be done.

I head down the elevator. There is an ATM machine not far from the elevator doors.
You know how you usually hit "Quick Cash" when you want $40 ? Well, this section of West Hollywood is right before Beverly Hills.
So if you hit "Quick Cash" - you get $100.
Thats how you can tell you are near Beverly Hills - the amount of money that the ATM gives out.

Every time I go to the Dentist, I love to stop at the
Normandie Bakery
that they have on the ground floor. They have great food, fantastic breakfasts ...
I get a fruit cup.
And since the Dentist told me not to chew anything hard for at least an hour ... I get the chicken pasta special.
All "To Go".

Hey, I made it out in plenty of time. It only cost me $6 Bucks to park.

As the valet gives me my keys, he must have heard how badly my breaks are squeaking. He leans over and says :
"Be very careful, its raining out there. Drive very very slow. Be very careful driving in the rain".

In typical LA fashion., by the time I was half-way to work, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

More Mixers and Movies

I spent the afternoon running errands like grocery shopping. Then I was at the Egyptian Theatre ...again... for another Volunteer Shift.

The Egyptian was still showing "Los Angeles Plays Itself" on Sunday.

But this time, there was a Members Mixer in between the shows. The volunteers sectioned off part of the courtyard in front of the theatre. Then other volunteers cut up the munchies, and arranged the drinks. My volunteer gig was basically to arrange the food and beverages on the tables, and then guard it all before the party started.

Then the Members arrived for the party.
All in all, I think it was a smashing success. I really had a lot of fun helping to serve the wine and munchies. And it was great to get to talk to some of the regular patrons.
So often, everyone is in such a rush to get to their movie, I only have time to rip their ticket and say "Enjoy the movie".
Its nice that we got a opportunity to slow down, and take time to chat with one another.

After the party, we had to clean up everything and get it all back into the theatre office. Before we left, the volunteers finally took the time to have a glass of wine together. And yes, my favorite benefit ... there was an opened partially used bottle of wine. It was about 3/4 full.
Well, its already opened... someone has to drink it... so I put it in the trunk of my car, and when I got home I made myself a White Wine Spritzer.

Sunday Church Confusion

Today was my turn to usher at church. I got there early enough to stuff the church bulletins. But its been kind of rough.

From what I understand, there is a whole political power play going on to get rid of our Pastor. And he hasn't even done anything immoral or illegal. Its just a few people who want the church run a different way, so they are making alot a baseless accusations. You know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease ... so those who complained the loudest get their opinion heard. Doesn't matter if they are in the minority.

Before the service started there was someone from the regional offices of our denomination speaking to our service. Someone else called it "Damage Control". There are people pretending they want what is best for the church, and in reality it only what they want.

For example, one of the accusations is that the church is too much in debt, and our Pastor wanted to buy a new building. They said he wasn't being wise in business decisions and thats one reason to get rid of him. So then these same people end up putting both the Pastor and Assistant Pastor out on Paid leave of absence. So ... the church is in too much debt ... and now we are paying two people's salaries just
so they are Not there. See ? Nothing makes any sense. And now it looks like the whole thing will become a lawsuit.

The whole thing has made me depressed. I hate it when Christians get involved in back-stabbing and political BS. Its terrible.
I just became a member of the Presbyterian Church a few months back, and now I don't know what to do. Sometimes I feel like looking for another church. I am trying to stick it out at least for a few more months.

If you want to read about it on-line, here are some links :
Save Hollywood Pres
Hollywood Presbyterian
Cue Hollywood

Anyway, I was standing at the door, passing our church bulletins to everyone that came in.
More TV cameras ....
They pretty much got me on alot of film - smiling and saying "Good Morning".

Someone asked:
"Hey, are you guys with the Reality Show that was here last week?"

"No", the camera man said "We are with the Christian Broadcasting Network".

I turned to the other usher and made a joke..... "You know if things keep going like this, I'm going to end up with a SAG voucher just for coming to Church on Sunday".


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