Monday, November 26, 2007

Writer's Strike Near My Home

Today members of the Writer's Guild of America sat down with members of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers in media silence after weeks of striking. Perhaps we will see some news within the coming days, whether talks progress or the strike continues. (The last writer's strike back in the 1980s lasted for 5 months.)

Somehow I missed the gathering and march of 4000 supporters a few blocks from my apartment in Hollywood, right in front of Graumann Chinese Theatre last Tuesday. I know two writers involved and they've been protesting every day.

At issue is a large chunk of revenue coming from the Internet and DVD sales, which is not being shared with the writers at all. Being a Hollywood writer is generally not a glamorous or stable job. Shows and pilots come and go, canceled willy-nilly by trigger happy bottom-line focused executives. Certainly when that rare show becomes a hit, there is some good money involved. But the average writer's cut is not up there with the actors or those putting up the financial risk. It's a shame that it has taken a strike for the producers to listen and perhaps give writer's a cut of what money does come from Internet advertising and iTunes downloads (which despite all the free material out there, that sum is many millions).

Meanwhile, I heard on NPR that production companies producing (so-called) Reality TV shows are having a different problem: too much work. Yep, they're having to work 24/7 to fulfill the demand created by the void of new programming. But I can only stand so many talent shows, home redecoration shows, chef competitions and shows without writing. One has to escape to HBO and Comedy Central to find the decent writing these days, now that most of the once independent cable channels have been devoured by conglomerate-owned networks and made just like them. The Simpsons continues on, The Office thrives, but for the most part it's a wasteland out there anyway at the moment.

Ahh, but that's why videogames are so popular. Nothing on TV? Let's play Guitar Hero III.

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posted by Brian at 11:41 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Random Celebrity Sighting: Matt Groening

I got home from work and thought I'd bring my recently-acquired Macbook Pro from work to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Fairfax and try out its Wifi, and possibly catch up on my Harry Potter reading. On my way though I had this urge to stop by Meltdown Comics on Sunset to see if they might have any of the vinyl Ugly Dolls left.

Nope. But everyone seemed to be gathering in the back gallery for some reason. A-ha! An exhibit of artist-painted Bart Simpson dolls. Cool! A DJ. An unattended bar with signs reminding people not to bring the drinks outdoors, yet no alchohol in sight (Darn!) Lots of cool mutations of Bart Simpson and a decent number of people snapping photos of them. Then, the back of a green-shirted man in a corridor blocked by people, including a little girl and her mother. "Can I have your autograph?" spoke the mother. "Surree... for you?" spoke an oddly familiar voice. "No, for her please." I looked down and saw the girl smiling, holding a sketch of the face of Lisa Simpson on a Post-it™ note. Oooh!

So I pondered my options. I did not happen to have my sketchbook (which has autographs and sometimes sketches from people like Joss Whedon, Ray Harryhausen, Weird Al Yankovic, Stan Winston, Brian Froud, the creators of Making Fiends, et al.) Doh! I snapped this quick shot of Mr. Groening as he admired the work of a particular artist (whose name I neglected to find out). Briefly considered having him sign some random flat piece of paper or brochure... Naaa. I calculated how long it would take me to walk back home and get my sketchbook and come back -- would Matt still be here? Debated whether I could live without the effort and just go about my evening plans, but as I left I decided I would give it a go.

Made it back in the nick of time! Matt was nearly at the front of the store, while about eight people were in a nebulous line near him holding things they'd just bought for him to sign. More people were in line at the counter buying things behind us and presumably going to enter this line, so I jumped in with my sketchbook. Matt gratiously took photos with and autographed stuff for folks, though about two people in front of me he mentioned to his security guard that the "guy in the hat" would be the last one (somewhere behind me). Phew!

So I got to shake hands, congrulate him on his successful Simpsons movie and mention my eagerness for the Futuruma DVDs I heard him talk about at Comic Con. "Oh yes, they're going to be really cool," he said while drawing a Homer Simpson head in my sketchbook, signing it. Whohoo!

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posted by Brian at 10:58 PM 1 comments links to this post

Monday, April 30, 2007

Adventures in the Land of Excessive Free Time, Part I

I know, I know -- one should not complain about having too much free time. It's a very rare substance. Even more rare than parking in West Hollywood. Or even fast-food Eskimoan. But you should be happy to know that I'm starting to fill it up with worthwhile, self-improving (well, mostly) activities.

In this installment: the gym! "What? You need a gym?" Yes, I'm afraid so. The free food at work, slowing metabolism and being stuck in traffic for 2 hours a day have taken their toll. My recent photos are a lot different than the blog profile (late 1999) or even my summer 2006 Comic Con photos. Although, it seems there are two types of celebrities where weight doesn't seem to matter: Rock stars and DJs.

There are at least three gyms in ridiculously close walking distance (3 blocks or less), and another in doable, but less enticing (20 minutes) distance. There was one called Groove Fitness with a live DJ. (Someone told me Brian Henson frequented there). But it closed down.

I have a tendency to prefer the classy-looking ones with the free towels, the vast vaulted ceilings full of untouched virgin equipment, whirlpools, steam rooms and saunae. But these are a) PRICEY and b) too far west for me. (Granted, there's the new LA Fitness, but I don't know, something about it bugged me. Maybe because it was built in the ruins of the old, seedy Hollywood Galaxy movie theatre and I'm sensing the ghosts of late 90s movie-goers and employees who died there -- trapped by being stuck to the floor covered in spilled soda and crushed Joo-joo Bees. At least now they can do cardio for all Eternity...)

It's a sad fact but most gyms around here do not offer towel service! Wha?? Unlike some people, I do not like laundry...

I finally settled on Hollywood Gym, which is family-owned and has the basics (plus towels!) and a trainer. I like that it's not corporate. And it's quite literally a block away from me.

24 Hour Fitness (misleading advertising -- it's not open 24 hours IN A DAY! Hollywood Gym is though) wreaked of corporate-ness, from the massive paperwork and rows of desks full of sales people trainers to the endless product placement and expensive supplements on sale. Crunch sounded amusing -- apparently, they have a blurry glass wall in the showers so that folks coming in can see the naked silhoettes of presumably well-sculpted gym-goers. Free porn, anyone?

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posted by Brian at 8:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar™ Time!

`Twas the day before the Oscars, and all through the street,
Union industry folks drank coffee and looked really beat.
For they'd been up all night schlepping and rigging and such,
Getting ready the pageantry for millions to watch.

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posted by Brian at 10:24 AM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Traffic School, Hollywood-style

Whenever I get a traffic ticket, I go to Comedy Traffic School at the Improv rather than take an online test. Sure, it's about 7 hours rather than 2, but you always meet the most interesting people! Of our 35 classmates, we had filmmakers, screenwriters, casting directors, photographers, fashion designers, an fx technician (yours truly), a number of actors and actresses, a set designer, and even a choreographer. (No celebrities this time, but the teacher mentioned that they're often in the class. Not even they are immune to traffic tickets). We literally had enough people to make a film.

I met a spunky woman who has not only acted in Hugh Grant movies and teaches Salsa dancing, but has birth-parents who rule the southern part of Sierra Leone. When she went back to meet them (after years of growing up in the States), a group of 300 met her and asked her what food she would like for her feast. Not wish to be too complicated, she asked for chicken. As it turned out, chicken is quite rare in that part of Africa, but after scouring the nearby villages they were able to find a few. Goat would have been much easier.

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posted by Brian at 2:25 PM 1 comments links to this post