Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Marley: I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles. Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.
Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.
Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.
Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.
Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.
Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.
Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.
Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.
Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?
Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)
Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?
Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.
Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, Iwant to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?
Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.
Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)
Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.
Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?
Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.
Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?
Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.
Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J
Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.
Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.
Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.
Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.
I want to thank both Marley and Cec for stopping by. You can learn more about the book at Marley's web-site: www.marleygibson.com or buy the book at Amazon.com
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On the day of the wedding, I sat down in front of the telly with my new British friends and watched the event on television, waving my Union Jack proudly. The next day when we arrived in Scotland, a copy of Diana's dress was already in the windows. Over the next 16 years, Diana and I crossed paths many times. In 1984, I was in England studying when she had Prince Harry. I even skipped classes to see the State Opening Parliament, marked by Diana sporting a brand new hairdo. The summer that she died, I had been studying at The Royal National Theater studio, and I read the tabloids that detailed her new romance with Dodi Fayed. I've read pretty much every major biography on Diana so I couldn't wait to head down to Philly to the new exhibition at the National Constitution Center.
My review of the exhibition however is mixed. While it was wonderful to see so many things associated with Diana, and a few new things like the home movies and her school reports from when she was a child (putting paid to the rumors that she was incredibly stupid), the exhibit is pretty thin compared to the Napoleon exhibition hosted by the center a few weeks back. While that exhibit easily took 2 hours to cover, you can breeze through the Diana exhibit in a half-hour.
Of course, I was interested the most in the dress gallery, particularly that wedding dress. I was surprised to discover looking at the dress in the display case how plain and old fashioned it looked without Diana in it to dazzle everyone with her radiance. Included are her shoes and a lace parasol just in case it rained that day (I'm not sure how much coverage a lace parasol was supposed to provide!). Apparently the dress and the bridesmaids dresses only cost 1,000 guineas which comes out to $1,900. That doesn't seem like a lot of money when you consider how many women routinely drop $4,000 and $5,000 on a dress they are only going to wear once. Back in 1981, I'm sure that $1,900 was a lot to spend.
The dresses I loved the most were of course the ones she wore when she was freed from dressing British and could wear other designers. The Versace and Chanel numbers look incredibly timeless. For me, the most touching moment in the exhibit was the display case with all the condolence books. They cover an entire wall from top to bottom. The exhibit costs $23 + 2 handling if you buy online which is lot when you consider the Napoleon exhibit was only $17.50. I would recommend joining the Constitution Center for $35, it's good for one year, and the exhibit is free. I was glad to see that there was a gift shop with this exhibit (there wasn't one for Napoleon) although the exhibition catalog was a little pricey for $30.
Afterwards, I stayed for the Tina Brown talk which was very informative. Brown is a great speaker and she clearly has compassion not only for Diana but also for Prince Charles. I bought a paperback copy of her Diana bio, even though I have it in hard cover. In my opinion, it's the best biography on Diana because she takes such an evenhanded tone. She doesn't absolve either Charles or Diana nor does take sides. She admits that Diana brought a lot to the royal family, that her empathy was genuine, and that she was a great mother. She also said that Diana could be a pain to live with and that her courting of the press turned around and bit her in the ass.
Diana had the unique ability to make people think that they really knew her, not just in a tabloid kind of way, that she shared a part of her soul with people around the world. She let us in or at least seemed too. How many women identified with her during her interview with Martin Bashir when she said that there were 3 of them in the marriage? Or her work with the old and the infirm. She taught people not to fear diseases like leprosy and AIDS. It is nice to see that her sons are carrying on her charity work.
If you can't make to Philadelphia, you can see online images here.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Lord Frederick is 31st in line for the throne (which means the chances of his being King are basically none). Still he had to ask permission from the Queen to get married according to The Royal Marriage Act of 1772. His father had to give up his place in the line of succession for marrying a Catholic, however Freddy was raised Anglican.
The couple apparently turned down a "life-changing" sum of money from a celebrity magazine to cover the wedding. Seriously, we're talking like over $1M but instead they chose to keep it private for their 400 guests. Frankly I would have taken the money since the wedding was on the cover of HELLO! magazine anyway.
The bride, Sophie Winkelman, is an actress who played Princess Eleanor in the short-lived series The Palace. She also appeared inas Big Suze, in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. She's also a graduate of Cambridge University where she read English at Trinity Hall. She also played the older Susan in the film The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
While the Duke of York's daughter Princess Eugenie was a guest, none of the senior members of the royal family were in attendance. Not the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, or William and Harry. Kind of surprising since Prince Michael is the Queen's first cousin. However, the groom's uncle the Duke of Kent and his Duchess were there along with their children. The bride has met the Queen and other members of the family, and has gotten used to appearing at public functions involving the Royal Family.
Unfortunately, apart from their wedding venue, there are no royal palaces in the couple's future. The groom's parents now have to pay over 120,000 pounds a year for their apartment in Kensington Palace (it used to be something like 10 pds a week) and they've sold their country estate Nether Lypiatt. Princess Michael has long been a controversial member of the Royal Family. She's been accused of plagiarism, and adultery, and she's prone to sticking her rather large feet in her mouth at any given moment. You can read more about Mommy Dearest here at Scandalous Women.
Had his great-grandfather, George V, not revised Royal styles and titles in 1917, Lord Frederick would have been born HH Prince Frederick of Kent. He was educated at Eton College, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he gained a 2:1 in classics. He has also modeled in a campaign for Burberry; he has also modeled for Tomasz Starzewski. A sometime music journalist (notably for Tatler magazine), he planned to become a solicitor working in entertainment law.
The groom has certainly straightened himself out from the guy who admitted doing drugs. In 1999, Lord Frederick admitted experimenting with cocaine. "I admit it is true," he said. "It is very difficult to avoid getting into this sort of thing when you move in these circles, but I don't blame anyone else for the incident.". He now works for JP Morgan, has been transferred to the LA office since his wife has a role on a NBC mid-season replacement series. No doubt they will hang out with the British colony in LA which consists of Lord Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, and the Duke of Manchester. You can read more about the wedding here. The bride's new name is Lady Frederick Windsor, but for acting she will still go by Sophie Winkelman.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I say that it’s time to bring back Dallas. Yes, I’m talking about the series that made Larry Hagman an international star, the show that wiped out one whole season by claiming it was a dream, that Dallas. Dallas was one of the most successful and longest-running shows in American prime-time television history, and was also hugely successful across the world. The episode where J.R. Ewing was shot was one of the most highly rated episodes ever. Long before we had the Bush family from Texas, we had the Ewings. For 13 years, viewers remained glued to their seats on Friday nights to find out what the Ewings, a wealthy dysfunctional Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries, would do. The show accurately reflected the 80’s mentality of ‘Greed is good,’ and the fascination that people had with the rich and powerful.
The 80’s was also the Reagan years, and the rise of Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett.
Dallas was so successful that Susan Lucci, an icon in her own right as Erica Kane on All My Children, joined the show to play a pyschotic kidnapper who killed Bobby’s new wife April. While the Ewings, like the Carringtons of Dynasty, were in the oil business (or oil bidness as they say in Texas), the show was more about the family dynamics between J.R. the rapscallion older brother, and Bobby, the youngest brother who was good and noble. There was also Gary Ewing, the middle brother who was an alcoholic (Gary and Valene even got their own show Knots Landing), and Ray Krebbs who turned out to be the illegitmate son of Jock Ewing. And then there was the star-crossed love of Pamela Barnes and Bobby Ewing. The Barnes family blamed the Ewings for stealing oil rights from them. Cliff Barnes spent the entire series trying to bring J.R. down with mixed results.
While Dynasty was good, campy fun complete with the yearly cat fight between Alexis Carrington and Krystal, Dallas for the most part was relatively sane. Although the Ewings were rich, they didn’t flaunt their money like the Carringtons. Sue Ellen never wore over the top outfits like the Nolan Miller designs on Dynasty, and the Ewing ranch was not ostentatious. The Ewings seemed like real Texans, particularly since Larry Hagman actually was born in Texas. The show was so successful that it spawned two TV sequels, Dallas: J.R. Returns and Dallas: War of the Ewings. There has even been talk of a big screen version of the movie with John Travolta as J.R. (miscast completely) and Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen (again miscast, she should be playing Pam with Matthew McConaughey as Bobby).
Now that the series has been released on DVD, a new generation of fans has sprung up, along with older fans who are getting the chance to relive a show that they enjoyed. A new version of Dallas would also allow audiences to see a newer side of Texas, a more multi-cultural state that since Dallas has been off the air has elected a female Governor, and sent another Governor to the White House. A Texas that it is more than just the oil business. It would help if the show was actually filmed in Dallas, instead of just doing a few weeks of location shooting.
Goodness knows CBS needs a show that skews younger than the shows they already have on the air. Right now, the CBS schedule is a mixture of sitcoms, CSI spin-offs and other police procedurals, and the supernatural shows Medium and The Ghost Whisperer. What it needs is a good night-time soap, and Dallas: The Next Generation would be perfect. The show has immediate name recognition. Even if you never saw the show, you know the name and J.R. Ewing. To bring in older viewers, the show could sprinkle in guest appearances by J.R., Bobby and Sue Ellen, but the focus would be on John Ross, Christopher, Bobby and Betsy Ewing, and whatever spawn Lucy and Mitch Cooper gave birth to.
The TV show would pick up 12 years after the last TV movie Dallas: War of the Ewings ended. John Ross is now the head of Ewing Oil and Christopher Ewing has started his own company to provide clean sources of energy to poor people (sort of like Citizens Energy, the company Joseph Kennedy II runs in MA), which makes him as much of a bleeding heart as his dear old dad Bobby. Meanwhile Pamela Barnes (daughter of Cliff and Afton Cooper) is the lead singer of a Sugarland type band in Austin (this would give the show a chance to show the Austin music scene). Lucy Ewing is the head of a Mary Kay cosmetics type company, and her daughter Amber is a debutante/model. This would give the show a chance to really show Dallas high society. Perhaps, she was tossed out of the Miss Texas pageant for nude photos and got drunk at the Crillon Ball in Paris. Bobby Ewing(son of Valene and Gary) has his own technology company or is involved with new media which he keeps arguing with John Ross about. Since Gary was an alcoholic, let Bobby be a drinker, a young George W. Bush as it were, screwing up and getting into trouble. Betsy Ewing could be frenemies with Amber, but strike up a friendship with Pamela Barnes. I see Betsy as a Nicky Hilton/Ivanka Trump type, someone with smarts and ambition, perhaps owning a boutique hotel in Dallas. Very down to earth compared to Amber, someone who although she grew up in Los Angeles was never part of that Hollywood socialite lifestyle.
One of the differences with the new Dallas and the old Dallas would be the introduction of some characters of color. Texas is a multicultural state, with a large Latino population, not to mention African-American. Let’s give John Ross a sexy Johnny Cochrane type lawyer and let him have an affair with Lucy’s daughter. Perhaps the foreman on the Ewing ranch can be Latino, the husband of Charlie, Jenna’s daughter.
Of course, the show would need to have guest appearances by the original stars. Let's say that J.R. has now retired but he can't keep butting in to what John Ross is doing at Ewing Oil, making deals behind his son's back, undermining him etc. Perhaps, J.R. has been spending a lot of time in Dubai as a consultant. Bobby might be member of the Texas legislature in Austin. Sue Ellen, who married a movie director, is now divorced and married to her third husband, a Euro-trash aristocrat with little to recommend him but his title and his pecs. Perhaps he's Italian, much younger or French even. The producers could cast Gilles Marini in the role.
Of course, we need to have some of the Barnes family on the show, the traditional enemies of the Ewings. Perhaps Cliff now co-owns a sports team that John Ross covets (remember that Bush once wanted to be baseball commissioner). He still blames the Ewings for Pam's death, and April's death (remember Cliff and April were once a couple). This would be a chance for a star-crossed love triangle between John Ross, Bobby and Pamela. They never did anything with the movie that Sue Ellen made of J.R.'s life. Perhaps now is the time to premiere that movie during the series, particularly if J.R. is messing with John Ross's relationships and career at Ewing Oil.
The nighttime television scene could use a little glitz and glamour that doesn't come from the so-called reality TV series. CBS should jump on this before Bravo churns out The Real Housewives of Dallas and steals their thunder.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Seriously, there must be some educated, asian, latino, and african-american men who want their 15 minutes of fame, and want their chance at Jillian. She's cute, funny, and sweet. I'm beginning to wonder if it's ABC or the bachelors and bachelorettes themselves who put the kibosh on any interracial shenanigans going on at the Mcmansion.
This is 2009 people, the earth will not fall out of the sky if Jillian or one of the Bachelors dates a black or asian chick on the show. And yes, I know Andy picked Tessa who is half-Asian and Byron picked Mary who is Latina, but that's out of how many series of this show? 16? As a black woman ever made it to the hometown dates? Or even past a one on one date?
Given that the California State Supreme Court just upheld the decision against gay marriage in California, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that The Bachelorette is still as whitebread as they come. Still, I can't bring myself to watch Rock of Love 18, just because the show is diverse.
Sigh! I'm hoping that they add an African-American woman to the Real Housewives of New York City. Where is Spike Lee's wife or Chris Rock's wife? They would be amazing.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Seriously? In the year 2009, we are still doing this? My feelings about Batman: The Dark Knight had more to do with the storyline which was interminable and the fact that the movie was so visually dark at times that I couldn't tell what was going on. While I really liked Heath Ledger's approach to The Joker, it wasn't worth sitting through 2 1/2 hours of boredom. Not even Aaron Eckhardt as Harvey 'Two-Faced' Dent made up for the disjointed storyline and Maggie Gyllenhaal was completely wasted. Maggie, go back to independent films where you at least have a character to play.
I got that they were setting up Batman for the next film where he is more of an outlaw and less of a hero, but Christopher Nolan could have tightened up the script considerably to do that. The biggest problem was trying to do the Joker storyline and Two-faced in the same movie along with a mob storyline. Too much plot for one movie. The audience doesn't need two villains, one will do fine, thank you very much.
I really resented the men telling me that I didn't like the movie because I was a woman. I go to see just as many action films as I do chick-movies and independent films. I saw Watchmen a few weeks ago and loved it. Funnily enough it was the same length as Batman: The Dark Knight but it didn't feel like it. Jackie Earle Haley's performance as Rorshach should garner another Oscar nomination for him. It was just as fine as Heath Ledger's in Batman. I read a great deal of graphic novels and not all of them are Catwoman and Wonder Woman. Seriously if I had liked the movie they would have been able to say it was a 'guy' movie or maybe they would have.
Frankly Batman has always been one of my favorite superheroes, precisely because he is not superhuman or comes from another planet like Superman. Batman is human with all the foibles and frailties of humans. Yes, he has a lot of gadgets and wears a really cool suit, but he makes mistakes like everyone and has serious issues. He reminds me of all those tortured heroes that we romance readers love to read about.
So don't tell me that I can't understand a film because it's supposed to be a 'guy' movie. Not unless you want to get kicked in the balls!
Monday, April 20, 2009
These women are phenomenal singers in their own right but you put them together and they are dynamite. Seriously they could have sung for a good two hours and I would not have been bored and neither would the rest of the audience. They sang mostly covers and songs from their individual CD's but the standout of the evening was Kathy Briers (who played Marcie on OLTL) who sang Brickhouse. Now this song is usually sung by a man but she just tore it up. She started off by talking about how some girl called her fat when she was twelve and her father told her that she was built like a brick sh*thouse. How many fathers would tell their daughters that?
Of course there were soap stars in the audience. Jamie Luner who now plays Liza on AMC but is well known for her vixen roles on Savannah (why oh why did they cancel that show?), and Melrose Place (why oh why are they reviving that show?) was there and sat near me. I had two glasses of wine which is why I went up to Jill Larson and mentioned that I had seen her at church on Palm Sunday. One of the reasons why I normally don't go to events where I can meet celebrities, is that I tend to act like a big dork!
Now I must go and purchase Kassie, Bobbie and Kathy's CD's.
Monday, April 06, 2009
I didn't think I would like this show as much as I did, probably because it is so incredibly cheesy. The show started off with 50 guys being whittled down to twelve. The twelve would perform live every week with one of the guys being eliminated in each episode after a sing-off. The guys run the gamut from a singer who has already understudied in the West End, to a builder, to one singer who is of East Asian descent whose family didn't even know he could sing.
The best part of the show was when the top twenty were flown to Ireland to stay at Andrew Lloyd Webber's castle to perform for the townspeople in the small theater on the property. The audience members got to help vote for which of the twenty made it into the twelve remaining finalists. Gorgeous castle by the way.
The thing that really got me was the fact was two things, the guys have to perform wearing the technicolor dreamcoat that Joseph wears in the show, and the loser has to sing this song called "Close Every Door to Me," at the end of which the other guys take off the coat and he leaves. Cheesefest or what? The guys got to perform with back-up dancers, depending on their song, making it like some kind of seventies variety show. Not even American Idol would think to pull that off.
Being a former thespian, I loved the idea of using a reality TV show to give a newcomer a chance at a part in a West End show. They've tried this here with that show about Grease and on MTV choosing a winner to be in Legally Blonde the musical. But it somehow doesn't seem to have the same meaning as it does in the UK. Maybe because the UK is smaller and the film, theater and TV industries are all in one spot. Meaning that an actor can do a play and film a TV show, or a part in a film at the same time, which is a lot harder in New York.
In the states, it's all about getting that movie role or music stardom. Movie and music stars get to date models, appear in People and the other tabloids. Theater stars don't. In the UK, they appear in Hello! Magazine all the time. It's just so different over there. I mean John Barrowman, one of the judges, appeared in two TV shows here that went nowhere. He goes back home to the UK, does many West End shows and gets the lead in Torchwood which is now an international sensation.
Even though I know who wins, I'm definitely going to keep watching Any Dream Will Do.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
It is so important while skiing or riding a bike to wear a helmet, especially if you are a beginner. And if there is one lesson to be learned, that is to not only to tell your loved ones how you feel every day but also to be careful about head injuries. If you hit your head hard for any reason, have yourself checked out. You may be suffering from a concussion or much worse.
My dad almost died from a blood clot on the brain because he ignored a head injury. He had fallen down the stairs at our house upstate and bruised his ribs as well as hitting his head. Instead of seeing a doctor, he did nothing until he almost couldn't breathe from the pain in his ribs. It was only when he went to the emergency room and they checked him overnight, that they discovered through a CAT scan, that a blood clot had developed around the injury. It was so serious that they decided to operate right away. If they hadn't, one sneeze and my father would have died.
So, even if you think that an injury isn't severe, have it checked out, just to be on the safe side.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Yesterday, I attempted to go to Leighton House which is the home of Frederick, Lord Leighton, a Victorian painter whose most famous painting is probably Flaming June. Well, after going the wrong way, I finally found the house only to discover that it closed for renovations until the end of 2009. Boo-Hoo. The notice suggested that one could check out the Linley Sambourne house instead but unfortunately due to time constraints I couldn't do that. The house is only available for viewing on a private guided tour and I had just missed one and the other didn't start until 2:00 by which time Hope and I needed to get going to attend the Romance Novelists Association meeting at The New Cavendish Club.
We arrived for the meeting just as it was starting. The New Cavendish Club is a private members only club which has several meeting rooms downstairs. The speakers for the RNA meeting were author Carole Matthews, and editor from Little Black Dress books, and a publicist for a literary PR firm who does the publicity for Mills & Boons for their centenary celebration. The topic was what could you, the author, do to help out your publicist. The general consensus was that authors, due to budget constraints at publishing houses, largely need to do their own publicity as much as possible, or come up with angles that might make them marketable.
It's important that a debut novelist have a web-site in place, and that they have a presence on facebook and myspace, as well as think about putting out a newsletter. That all seems like commonsense, but it's amazing how many authors out there don't have a web-site or who don't know about facebook etc. Carole Matthews talked about twitter but all three agreed that whatever publicity you do shouldn't keep you away from what is most important, sitting your butt in a chair and writing.
Afterwards, Hope and I went out to the pub with Julie Cohen, and several other members of the RNA for copious amounts of wine. We then went on to have dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant in Pimlico where we enjoyed more wine. Needless to say that I'm feeling a tad fragile today. I did manage to do some laundry and start packing for my trip home tomorrow.
Since it is so lovely out, I might head up to Camden market and to see the view from Primrose Hill.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Had an intimate tour of the Theater Royal Drury Lane in Convent Garden. Hope and I had booked the 2:15 tour which was supposed to be full. However, the school group that had also booked was late, so the tour guide just took us on a tour. It was lovely to talk to a fellow actor and to learn more about theater history in London. It gave me some interesting ideas for future projects that I'm keeping in the vault for a moment.
I had to head over to the National Portrait Gallery which is one of my favorite musuems in London. There is nothing like being able to look at the faces who have influenced history, particularly for me since I write about Scandalous Women. Saw an interesting painting of Lady Jane Grey and one of Emily Bronte that was new to me. Before I knew it, I had spent almost two hours in the museum and had only gotten to 1900!
I'm off to Leighton House today, the home of painter Frederick, Lord Leighton, and then off to the Romance Novelist Association meeting.
I'll write more tomorrow before I leave on Monday.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
We're sharing a two bedroom/2 1/2 bathroom flat for the princely sum of $199 a night which is frankly a steal. The flat is centrally located to the Earl's Court tube station. We have an M&S Simple Foods nearby along with a Boots Chemist and several delicious restaurants. So far we've been to the V&A museum, which I could spent all day in frankly, and yesterday I went to the Cortauld Institute which is a lovely little museum with a lot of gorgeous Impressionist Art. I have bought way too many books, but it's hard when they keep offering them for half price of buy 2 get one free kind of thing.
I've bought Kate Williams new biography of the Young Queen Victoria, a book on Dining in history, books on Princess Margaret, Penelope Deveraux and a few more. I had to throw in some fiction just to balance it out. I was bummed that Janet Mullany's book won't be out until August even though the Little Black Dress sight says that it was supposed to be out in March. Oh well.
Trying not to buy any clothes because despite the pound being lower than it has been in awhile, clothes are still incredibly expensive here. I saw some lovely tops in Oasis and Monsoon but they were like £65 pounds, stuff that we could buy at Old Navy for $25. A great dress in French Connection was £130. I know that sometimes the French Connection in Europe like the H&M here have different stuff than we get in the states but it is still pricey.
Saw James McAvoy in Three Days of Rain. He was lovely and the play was surprisingly good. Well that is my update for today. I'll try to blog again before I leave.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Afterwards, I went up to have my copy of her book signed (I'd gotten a free copy from Random House since I'm reviewing it for Scandalous Women). When I mentioned that I had written about Pauline Bonaparte, Ms. Fraser said, "Oh, Scandalous Women! We were just talking about you last night!"
I almost started hyperventilating at the idea that Flora Fraser was talking about little ole me. We talked a little bit more about the blog and Pauline Bonaparte, and then she gave me her card with her email address. I fairly floated down the street after it was over.
Sigh! It was a perfect day.
Monday, February 23, 2009
I went with the lovely Hope Tarr to see a mutual friend Leslie Nipkow read at KGB Bar here in New York on Valentine's day. Leslie read a great piece about how the actor Randolph Mantooth contributed to her awakening as a woman. It was nice to know that I wasn't the only woman who found her mother's copy of the Sensuous Woman as a kid.
Last night watched the Oscars of course. No real suprises what with the other 400 award ceremonies that came before. I was hoping Mickey Rourke would win Best Actor just so I could hear what he would say for an acceptance speech. The one he gave at the BAFTA's was hysterical.
Hugh Jackman, what can I say. I adore every hair on his Australian head. I think he is gorgeous, talented and witty and I hope they ask him to host again. I could have done without the middle production number directed by Baz Luhrmann, but all in all it was a great night. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina did not get into a cat fight but that might have been because Jennifer Aniston skipped the red carpet.
What was the deal with Javier Bardem and Daniel Day-Lewis not showing up to give out Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor? Isn't that usually tradition? Normally Best Supporting Actor gives out actor and vice-versa. Still I thought the idea of having 5 prior winners give out the award was kind of nice, although it would have been nice to see clips of the Best Actor and Actress nominees.
So what did everyone think? Any disasters? Any undeserving winners?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
It was really exciting to read the editorial because I have often thought that soaps should look to romance for a way of keeping their audience. When I first started watching soaps, they were all about romance. Greg and Jenny on AMC, Patch and Kayla on Days of Our Lives, Luke and Laura on GH, Tad and Dixie on AMC, and Erica Kane and all her many husbands. It was couples coming together and than being pulled apart. Now soaps are all about mob bosses and people coming back from the dead. Where is the romance?
I think that every soap should have at least one romance novelist as a consultant, especially one who writes romantic suspense, since the weakest thing soaps do is mysteries. Actually Another World had hired Katherine Sutcliffe to be a consultant on their show at one point. Every soap always does the "who killed so and so storyline." Recently on GH is was the Cellphone Stalker. Guess who the killer turned out to be? A guy who had been killed off the year before! Yeah, apparently he wasn't dead after all, although the audience saw his dead body on camera. Diego Alcazar patiently waited for over a year before coming back to Port Charles. His motive to revenge his father's death! And they pulled this same crap on AMC with the Satin Slayer. Again the killer turned out to be someone who was dead, who conveniently came back to life.
What soaps need are couples that people can root for, whose love story we have watched unfold. Give us lush romance, couples who have obstacles thrown at them, watch them fight those obstacles and come together. This what soaps used to do so beautifully before they started believing they had to do crazy stunts to get viewers. Romance is what viewers remember, not crazy storylines.
Bring back romance and hire me to write for you!
Friday, February 13, 2009
But The Bachelor has been pretty darn good this season. And now a certain blogger named Reality Steve has ignited a bit of controversy over on his blog. He claims that he has inside information about how the whole season went down and why Jason picks the woman he does and what happens afterwards. He's been threatening whether or not to reveal all before the season finale and the two After the Final Rose specials that ABC has scheduled.
Seriously I haven't seen so many theories since I used to read books about the conspiracies behind the assassination of JFK. People are going crazy leaving comments on Reality Steve's blog and on other message boards speculating on what really went down. Everything from Jason knew one of the contestants before the show started, he gets engaged to one woman, and then gets engaged to someone else, why Deanna has come back, one woman gets pregnant, no another woman gets pregnant, all the contestants are plants etc.
It is so fascinating to read, it's better than a thriller. I've never seen so much interest in a Bachelor before. For some reason, people are particularly invested this season, probably because Jason is a single dad and they feel for him. Ratings are up for this installment of The Bachelor after several lackluster seasons (Prince Lorenzo anyone?).
Personally, I'm rooting for Jillian but I suspect she gets booted next week, and he's left with Molly and Melissa. I already sense there is more to Melissa's story than we are getting, particularly since her parents didn't appear on the Hometown Dates. None of her friends seem to know her family and her brother didn't even show up. She mentioned that her parents never even went to a Dallas Cowboys game when she cheered for them. Also her friends seemed to indicate that she hadn't been truthful about her relationships, since she stated that she was with someone for 7 years but hadn't dated in three (she's only 25) but her friends made it seem like she'd dated alot of jerky guys.
Oh and interesting that Jason didn't mention to Naomi's dad when he was going on about Jesus, that he was Jewish.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
The drinks were cheap but delicious. I drank several Indecent Proposals, a concoction of champagne, and peach schnapps. Katrina Tipton brought her adorable son, who I'm very much in love with. We drooled over co-founder Maya Rodale's hunky British boyfriend, who seemed very nice and very attentive to our girl.
Check out Barbara Vey's blog over at Publisher's Weekly for more, as well as the blogs of founders Hope Tarr, Leanna Renee Heiber and Maya Rodale for more dish as well as photos. The lovely ladies will be chatting over at Romance Novel TV this Friday as well. Also check out Kwana Writes for her take on the evening.
Next month, NYTimes bestselling author Lauren Willig and Jenna Peterson will be reading.
Hope to see everyone there.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Secondly that outfit wouldn't flatter anyone, not even Heidi Klum. She's wearing high-waisted jeans with two belts. Not a good look for anyone. Frankly after seeing these pictures, I would fire my stylist, if I were her.
But don't we have more important things like the Middle-East imploding and the economy being in the toilet than to pick on poor Jessica Simpson because she ate too many buffalo wings at Cowboy's game?
Monday, January 26, 2009
The other problem is that this storyline is old. We've all seen the DaVinci Code and read other books that feature the same storyline of an ancient secret having to do with Jesus. We pretty much know where this storyline is going from the minute Dr. Vance mentions what the Templar treasure might be.
For someone who went to Harvard and speaks Chinese fluently, Mira Sorvino comes across as a bimbo who likes expensive shoes in this TV mini-series. There is nothing about her mannerisms or attitude that suggests that she is an archeologist with a PhD. She screams Valley Girl. Scott Foley comes across a little better, but the banter and sexual tension is done much better in BONES. All you have to do is watch any episode, and you can see how this TV miniseries could have been done better.
And Mira Sorvino, if your agents think that your career would suffer from doing Dancing with the Stars and not this, you should fire your agents.
Friday, January 23, 2009
The voting ends January 26th, so please vote and vote often!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sorry I've been such a bad blogger, but I'm deep in the job search, since I can't live off the $405 that New York States offers per week for unemployment. And I just read that the state is so broke now that they are borrowing money from Washington to pay unemployment claims! Yes, 500,000 people in this state so far this year have filed claims. And we don't even pay as much per week as NJ, CT or Massachussetts. NJ pays almost two hundred dollars more per week than NY. I take back all the awful things I've ever said about NJ. At least I'd be able to live off unemployment if I lived there. NY has not raised the unemployment check rate since 2000 people! And they defeated a bill to raise it last year.
New York sucks!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I have a confession to make. While I loved the book P&P and all four movie/TV versions of the story, I am not one of those people who read Austen paraliterature. Meaning the many sequels that have been written to P&P about everyone from Elizabeth's sisters, to Bingley and Darcy's sisters to various cousins. There is even a mystery series starring Elizabeth and Darcy. As well as a host of other books that are continuations of Emma, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility (no one seems to write sequels to Northanger Abbey!).
So I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this story, but funnily enough I loved it. It was clear that the screenwriter had great affection, not only for the book, but also for the wave of Darcymania that was created when Colin Firth played Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries. The story is pretty simple. Amanda Price has a boring job, and a lout of a boyfriend, who proposes by popping the top on his lager can and presenting her with the ring. She adores P&P which she has read many times, primarily for the reasons that most of us do, the language, the costumes, and the manners. One day she opens her bathroom door and finds Elizabeth Bennett standing in the bathtub. Apparently there is a door that goes from her world to the modern world. Amanda is intrigued and walks through only to find the door shut behind her and no way to get out. While she is trapped in the Regency world, Elizabeth is in the modern one.
Amanda can't believe that she has stumbled into the world of P&P. When she is discovered by Mr. Bennett, she tells him that Elizabeth has gone to Hammersmith to write. Soon everything that can go wrong can wrong. Mrs. Bennett immediately hates her, Wickham isn't as bad as he's made out to be, Bingley is still a wimp, and Jane finds herself married to Mr. Collins! And to top it all off, Darcy falls in love with Amanda!
I won't give away the ending but this was an amusing way to spend my weekend. The series should be out soon on DVD in the states and I would recommend renting it. Jemima Rooper was great as the perplexed Amanda who finds Darcy a little bit more than she can handle at times, and Gemma Atherton, who also appeared in Quantum Solace and Tess of the D'urbervilles, is a worthy addition to the list of actresses who have played Elizabeth Bennett. I thought that Elliot Cowan who played Darcy had the hardest act to follow, that of Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen in the recent movie and I thought he was fine, just haughty enough but he showed a nice vulnerability. It was nice to see Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Bennett, and Alex Kingston as a more human Mrs. Bennett.
It is no Masterpiece but a pleasant way to spend a few hours in Austenland.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
"She stole his heart, but it's his kidney that he wants back.
A Long Island surgeon who dumped his wife after she allegedly had a steamy affair wants her to give back the kidney he lovingly gave her, or fork over the $1.5 million he claims the organ is worth.
"I saved her life and then, to be betrayed like this, is unfathomable. It's incomprehensible," said Dr. Richard Batista, 49.
"I feel humbled and betrayed and disregarded. This divorce is killing me."
Batista, a vascular surgeon at Nassau University Medical Center, claimed his wife left him after getting physical with her physical therapist.
He said the couple married on Aug. 31, 1990, in "a very nice, lavish wedding," but two years later, the relationship began a "slow downward trend."
Since he filed for divorce in 2005, he said, she has made it increasingly difficult for him see their three children.
"The main reason the doctor is doing this is because of how he's been treated in this case," said Dominic Barbara, Batista's lawyer.
They are asking for the $1.5 million as part of the distribution of assets based on a medical expert's estimated value of the kidney.
"In theory, we are asking for the return of the kidney," Barbara said. "Of course, he wouldn't really ask for that, but the value of it."
Dawnell Batista, a physician's assistant at Winthrop Hospital in Garden City, had her first kidney transplant as a baby, with her father as the donor, and a second one years later, from her brother. Her body rejected both kidneys.
Her husband then donated one of his healthy organs to her in June 2001.
"There's no greater feeling on the planet" than to save a life, said the surgeon, who lives in Ronkonkoma.
But Dawnell's new lease on life left her with a wandering eye, he claimed.
Within two years of the lifesaving transplant, he said, she suffered a knee injury during a karate class - then hopped into bed with her physical therapist.
Even worse, she flaunted her romance - once leaving her lover's clothes in the family laundry, he claimed.
The physical therapist, David Cazalet, vehemently denied the accusation.
"We're friends - we've never had an affair," he insisted, calling Batista a "big monster."
"I feel bad for her because he's a wackadoo," he said.
Dawnell Batista's lawyer refused to comment.
"She's a wonderful person," said her mother, Cynthia Carroll.
A brother, who asked that his name not be used, said, "You expect the worst from a bad person."
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
And what was the point of making the women put the name in a box of someone they wanted booted off and then keeping the woman who got the most votes? Personally, I would have refused to do it, because it could get nothing but ugly because of it. Loved Megan calling the girls assholes on TV!
And what is this about Deanna coming back and telling Jason that she made a mistake? Jason has said in interviews that he didn't know that Deanna and Jesse had broken up until halfway thru filming, so when did she just pop up? And is she sincere or just looking for 15 more minutes of fame.
Seriously just when I think I'm done with this show, it sucks me back in.