Award Show Weekend Prep

Award Show Time

Today marks the start of Golden Globes weekend and though I’d much rather be in Hollywood interviewing artists on the red carpet, I’m still excited for the telecast regardless of my location. Granted, I don’t watch any of the nominated TV shows nor have I seen any of the film nominees, but this is the time when I decide which ones interest me enough to spend my time or money.

I originally planned to host a viewing party, as I’ve done in years past. However, this year’s viewing will be a low-key event involving my couch and some themed desserts. As I look ahead to Sunday’s telecast, I included some of my earlier blog entries regarding award shows and why they fascinate me so.

Enjoy!!!!

CHAMPION THE ARTS – “...So while my friends and family may plan for the big play-off party I’ll be waiting with excitement for the upcoming entertainment award show season.

A GOLDEN REQUEST – “I have no desire of ever attending a Super Bowl but I do have a goal of going to each major award show at least once in my lifetime.  And the Golden Globes are the ones I seek to attend next!

REQUEST DENIED – “I arranged to visit my sister and her family in Los Angeles once I found out the date of the Golden Globes.  I figured I’d multi-task; spend time with family and check off “attend the Golden Globes” from my bucket list.

*DISCLAIMER: No endorsement by anyone associated with the Golden Globes telecast, the HFPA, or their affiliates/sponsors/subsidiaries is implied.*

 

Award Show Viewing Parties: Sharing in the Excitement

I took a leap of faith by traveling to Los Angeles to celebrate the film industry’s beloved award show, and it inspired me in ways different from what I expected.

As I’ve stated before, award shows are to entertainment fans what sport competitions are to devout followers of athletic teams.  I might cheer on my local team if they make it to the play-offs, but I’m not very engaged in the world of athletics.  I’d much rather spend my time conversing about my favorite television shows, catchy Broadway musicals, or memorable films.

It got to be quite lonely sitting on my couch, eating popcorn, and cheering on nominees  with no one who was as excited about the results as I was.  My parents and siblings gave me the “Oh, Kelly” looks and went to bed long before the host stated “That’s a wrap!”  I wanted desperately to share my excitement with others, so I started having viewing parties at my (aka my parents’) house and invited close friends.  I’ll never forget the first viewing party I threw about ten years ago when my friend made cupcakes decorated like clocks in honor of “The Hours”.

Last year, my mom made “Shepherd’s Life of Pi”, and I made “Pretzel Lincoln Logs”, bruschetta with a French baguette, and other themed menu items.  I decorated my apartment with streamers, clapboards, gold/silver stars, and created a red carpet for guests.  While attendees enjoyed the appetizers, we watched the pre-show activities and played games.  It was an evening filled with laughter, good fun, and great company – all that a party should include.

This year I decided to fly out to California and attend a viewing party in Hollywood.  The day before the awards, my sister, brother-in-law and nephews took me to the area where the award show would take place.  I stood in awe at the gold statues covered to protect them from the rain.  I cried tears of joy as I stared at the red carpet and understood the enormity of putting such an event together.  I felt at home in a way I can’t quite comprehend or express without further reflection.  As impressed as I am with what occurs on-screen, I’m even more intrigued by what goes into the behind-the-scenes preparation.  To know that you were part of such an incredible event, that must be a proud moment whether you stapled the red carpet or stood guard in front of the theatre doors.

Award Show ready

The day of the big show, my sister and I got all dressed up and headed out to mingle with others who would be as excited to watch the awards show as we were.  The main dining area (VIP seating) was decorated rather elegantly with gold chairs, pristine table settings, and beautiful accents.  Attendees followed the “black-tie preferred” request, and cocktails were served as we waited for the show to start.  Once the show began, we got directed to the “No Seating/General Admission” area and mingled with some very engaging individuals.  About halfway through, our feet told us it was time to go.  We stopped to grab something to eat on our way home and watched the last 30 minutes of the show from the comfort of a couch.

While it’s an experience I’ll have forever, I realized that I’d prefer to spend the next award show differently – either working the event, sitting in the theatre, and/or celebrating with friends and family.

Block your calendars now for my Broadway party in June!!!  Themed menu to be planned upon the nomination announcement.

Film Review: “Saving Mr. Banks” touches the heart and imagination

If you have yet to see Saving Mr. Banks, do so faster than you can spell S-U-P-E-R-F-R-A-G…

As a lifelong fan of anything Disney-related and an author who cares very much for the integrity of her characters, this film moved me.  Inspired me.  And had me both laughing and crying.  The world that Walt Disney created played a significant role in my childhood development and remains firmly intertwined in the woman I am today.  The ideals of hope, love, belief in oneself, kindness to others, and a combination of magic and art, guided my actions and reaffirmed my view that all is possible if you believe hard enough.

Saving Mr. Banks is more than a fictionalized telling of how Walt Disney acquired the rights to turn P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins” into a film. It’s a heartfelt examination of family, love, imagination, and our own inner turmoil.  How do we overcome that which keeps us frozen in time and place?  Can we find the strength and solace in our imagination and creativity?  This beautifully made film answers the above and so much more!

Director, John Lee Hancock, guides the motion picture with care, allowing the viewers to understand and appreciate the emotions and actions of both Walt and Mrs. Travers. The seamless transitions between present day and the author’s childhood are juxtaposed in such a way that they make complete and utter sense.  From the blending of speeches/song lyrics, to the mirroring of conflict, Hancock and a gifted editing team prove that the past is sometimes so ingrained in our present that the two become intertwined in our reality.

Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s screenplay provides not only an inspiring tale but also one filled with warmth, love, laughter, and creativity.  These gifted ladies pay tribute to an author’s plight – caring so immensely for their characters that letting go seems impossible to do.  They easily could have made Walt or Mrs. Travers a villain, having us root solely for one over the other.  However, through heartfelt dialogue and imaginative storytelling we understood the struggles that each character faced and the consequences of what might happen if they failed.

All of the above sets the scene, giving the actors ample material to work from.  And that they did, with elegance and grace.  Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are flawless in their portrayals of the two determined storytellers.  As brilliant as these two beloved actors are in their work, I was wholeheartedly taken with the powerful performances of Ruth Wilson and Colin Farrell.  (After seeing the film, I am disappointed and surprised that Farrell or Wilson have yet to be recognized this award season for their phenomenal portrayal of the complex Travers and Margaret Goff.)

Great acting makes us forget that they are doing so.  They simply become the characters they are portraying.  We don’t think, “Oh, there’s Tom Hanks talking with Emma Thompson.”  We can believe in that moment that Walt Disney and Pamela Travers are having an animated (pun intended) discussion.  The gifted actors in Saving Mr. Banks fused together a range of emotions, never once making them appear one-dimensional.  When they disagreed, we understood why.  When they failed, we felt for them.  In this reviewer’s opinion, the most impressive show of their talent is that I cared about these characters.

This film deserves the critical praise already received and will hopefully garner more in the coming months.  It’s absolutely worth seeing more than once and will no doubt become a favorite for years to come in households all over the world!

Visit the website for more info, videos, and photos!

**DISCLAIMER: No endorsement of actors, production companies, or other groups/individuals associated with this film is intended or implied!**

Saved by Entertainment

My father and I have a routine every Saturday evening – after dinner, the two of us watch a movie.  We have very different interests but there are some films we can agree on, and they’ve become are our go-to movies.  I enjoy this habitual activity, not only because I love movies but because I love spending time with my dad.  On July 26th, 2013 this routine ended up saving my life.

Well, sort of!  That Friday evening, the apartment building I lived in caught fire.  Friday night is pizza night in our family.  From work I went straight to my sister’s house for dinner and before my dad left to return home he said, “If you feel up to it, stop over and we’ll watch a movie.”  It was a Friday, not a Saturday – out of our routine, but my mom was out-of-town so the two of us had to stick together.  So, when I left my sister’s around 8:30pm I headed directly for my parents’ house.  I felt like watching one of those “classics”, a film that we’ve seen time and again and is always entertaining.  Shortly into the film, we heard a plethora of sirens and said to one another, “That sounds bad.”  Little did we know just how right we were.

Halfway through the movie, my sister called the house line, frantic to reach me.  “Ohmigod!  You nearly gave me a heart attack.  You didn’t answer your cell,” she cried.  “Dad didn’t answer his cell.”  Then she proceeded to inform me that my apartment complex was on fire.  We paused the film and spent the next hour searching the local news websites for details and trying to verify which particular building(s) were up in flames.  By the time it was confirmed to be the building I lived in, my nerves were shot and my head spinning.

There was nothing I could do that night.  I was safe.  I had a place to stay.  I had food, shelter and company.  I thought about my laptop, about the novel I’ve been working on for the past 3 years.  I gasped when I recalled that my grandmother’s stereo/record player was at my place.  My mind raced thinking about all the CDs, DVDs and musical theatre programs I’d collected over the years.  I am an entertainment girl through and through.  It’s key to my identity.  To know that so much was likely destroyed…I couldn’t fathom it.

“Come on,” my dad instructed.  “Let’s finish the movie.  It’ll distract you.”  And that it did.  I got wrapped up in the action of the film, one that I’ve seen and enjoyed many times already.  By the time the movie ended, I was exhausted.  Dad gave me a great, big hug and made me smile.  I cried myself to sleep that night, overwhelmed with what was lost.  With each realization of another piece of memorabilia gone, I felt embarrassed and ungrateful – they were just things and could be replaced.  I was alive and well.  I had a roof over my head, food to eat and a safe place to stay.

I woke up ready to face the day.  I needed to know what the reality of the situation was and handle what I could control.  I’ve always been inspired by characters who, when faced with adversity, look inside and find strength.  This was my life, my story to write.  And if I needed to start from a blank slate…so be it.  My dad told me that day, “Keep moving.  Keep busy.  If you stop to think, it will eat you up inside.”  He went with me to see the damage, kept me company and was the one to call my other relatives so that I didn’t have to.  While my father didn’t physically save my life, he did provide comfort, companionship, and enough space to pick myself up and dust myself off.  And for that I’m eternally grateful!

P.S.  Now that I have to rebuild my collection of theatre programs, I’ve decided that dad will be the first one I take with me back to Broadway!!!!

Fire & Rain: A Tribute to Eponine

**SPOILER ALERT! – If you have not read the novel, seen the film or know the stage production of Les Miserables and do not wish to know what happens then please do not read on.**

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Design inspired by the character of “Eponine”

My first introduction to Les Miserables occurred while watching a beauty pageant on television.  During the late 80s, early 90s, Les Mis was one of 3 shows that everyone talked about – Cats and Phantom of the Opera being the other two.  But if you didn’t sing soprano and were anywhere near the age of 18 then it was more likely you’d gravitate to Les Mis, and the strong-willed character of Eponine.

I heard “On My Own” while watching said beauty pageant.  Not knowing much of anything about the storyline I asked my older sister to explain it to me.  As she relayed the story and I tried to listen to the words of the song being performed I meshed the two together and came away with an odd understanding.  “So, this young girl is singing about an old blind guy?” Until I actually listened to the soundtrack in full did I understand and appreciate the story as a whole.

Who doesn’t root for the character who loves unrequited?  A fiercely loyal and evidently scarred young lady who’s mistreated by all of the people in her life.  Yet she shows strength and complexity while displaying an unbelievable amount of unconditional love.  Eponine’s love for Marius was, and still is, one of the most beautiful love stories in musical theatre.  It’s heartbreaking, moving and ultimately tragic but when Eponine joins Marius on the barricades (unbeknownst to him) and stands with him as his equal there’s something so poetic and romantic about that moment.

Here’s a girl who grew up without a solid foundation beneath her.  With parents who used their daughter to their own advantage.  In evaluating the lyrics of “On My Own” and “Little Fall of Rain” I’ve come to the conclusion that the references of darkness and rain are actually reminders of the bleak life she led before Marius entered her world.  “Sometimes I walk alone at night when everybody else is sleeping.  I think of him and then I’m happy with the company I’m keeping.”  While she had hoped to have been loved in return it was the mere fact of his presence in her life that brought her joy – gave her something to look forward to in the midst of deplorable conditions.

Eponine’s death gets me every time because despite all of the horror that surrounded her she died in the arms of the man she loved.  She was at peace.  She was home.  And while Marius goes on to live a happy life we don’t truly know the depth of his feelings for his friend.  That definitely peaks my creative mind and in researching Les Mis fan fiction I’ve realized that I’m not the only one intrigued!

There are two significant moments in Les Mis that help develop Eponine’s character journey, yet both occur once she has passed.  Firstly, moments after her death the students sing “We fight here in her name.  She will not die in vain.  She will not be betrayed.” For the first time in Eponine’s brief life she’s valued.  She’s noticed and her presence to be remembered.  Then during the “Epilogue” Eponine appears with Fantine to guide Jean Valjean into the afterlife.  Eponine’s life was filled with as much love as there was sadness and the moment she recognized that she was able to die in peace.  So, it is completely fitting that she stands on that stage and sings “And remember the truth that once was spoken, ‘To love another person is to see the face of God'”.

Unfortunately, due to artistic choices neither of those moments appeared in the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables.  Perhaps the interpretation of Eponine differs from mine but that doesn’t diminish what  makes this character so timeless – unrequited love and perseverance through adversity.  Plus, she gets one of the BEST songs in the show!

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Makes a Touchdown!

An incredibly well-written script, brilliant performances and overall seamless production makes Silver Linings Playbook one of my favorite films this year!

So, okay the year’s just started but that means the films that follow will have a great deal to live up to.  I am very particular about the films I deem “excellent”.  There are those that merely entertain me, those that make me smile and those that wow me on an artistic level.  Silver Linings Playbook moved me.  Impressed me.  And got me examining my life and the choices I’ve made.  Quite truthfully, a film that can achieve such a feat deserves my praise and support.

I had every intention on seeing the film for many reasons.  For starters, its star Bradley Cooper has impressed me since his time on “Alias” many years ago.  Jennifer Lawrence’s proven acting range gave me no hesitation that this acting pair would create quite an intriguing and engaging duo on-screen.  But, the kicker – I’m a life-long Philly suburb girl and this film pays tribute to the city that I love so well.

Adapted from the book by Matthew Quick, David O. Russell’s script takes you on an emotional journey.  From the moment we first meet Cooper’s character of Pat Solitano we care about him and that of his family who struggle to offer support and understanding at the same time.  We want him to succeed, cheer him on when he does and feel for him when he falters.  We can see parts of our own family idiosyncracies in that of Pat’s as he balances his inner turmoil with the help that’s waiting for him to accept.

The actors in this film are astonishing.  They breathe life into their characters.  Give them range, depth and complexity.  As the matriarch of the family, Jackie Weaver effortlessly blends raw emotion with a serene beauty.  The love this character holds for her family is evident in her every action.  Robert DeNiro’s stellar career has earned him the well-deserved respect of his peers and colleagues but also that of the moving going public.  His performance in this award-recognized piece proves exactly why he’s so well-respected.  He brought to life a character that’s as flawed as his son.  A man who loves his family and loves his “Birds” with nearly equal fervor.  He showed an incredible range with each scene and has me considering this one of my all-time favorite Robert DeNiro performances.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper complement each other perfectly in this film.  They match each other in intensity, in depth and in range of acting ability.  As their respective characters battle their inner demons we see the power in subtlety.  These actors manage to take these roles and give us just enough without overdoing it; creating waves of emotional strength.  From gut-wrenching declarations to quiet moments of admission these two brilliant actors excelled in their craft; ultimately allowing the audience to accompany them on a ride that’s both heart-breaking and fulfilling.

In closing, Silver Linings Playbook succeeds in its genre due to the blending of each aspect of film.  From the cinematography, to the score, to David O. Russell’s skilled directing.  I highly recommend finding out for yourself just why this excellent film deserves all of the award recognition it has received so far this season!

Request Denied

The Golden Globes came and went.  Neither did I watch them on television nor did I attend despite my written request a few weeks ago.

I arranged to visit my sister and her family in Los Angeles once I found out the date of the Golden Globes.  I figured I’d multi-task; spend time with family and check off “attend the Golden Globes” from my bucket list.  After doing some research and realizing that tickets are not made available to the public I decided to step outside of my artistic box and hope that by just believing hard enough a door would open.  In the meantime, I set my DVR at home to record…just in case.  Ironically enough, despite my brother-in-law’s feverish attempts we were unable to watch the award show Sunday evening.

I have never before lowered my guard and asked for a selfish request to be granted.  That is, until I wrote a blog entry imploring the entertainment world to grant me access to the Golden Globes.  I shared the post numerous times on social media, linked it to entertainment organizations, TV show and film profiles and well-known talk show hosts.  I hoped deep down that my words would move someone into action.  That my deep sincerity and love for the creative arts would tug at some high-level executive’s heart-strings.  That they’d say, “Did you read this?  Let’s send this girl to the Globes!”

By noon on Sunday I had accepted the reality that no one was going to knock on my sister’s door with a camera crew and announce, “Are you ready to go?  We’ve got a team ready for hair and make-up.  You didn’t bring a dress?  That’s okay.  We have a selection for you to choose from.”  I suppose my life-long Cinderella fascination finally took shape.  There was not to be a fairy godmother to whisk me off to the award show ball.  No one to magically know how much I truly wished for my request to be granted.

I put myself out there in a way I never have before and it’s mildly embarrassing and greatly frustrating that I allowed myself to rely so heavily on the power of positive thinking and the actions of others.

The greatest lesson from this experience?  To focus on my own creative pieces (whether it’s the YA fantasy novel that’s nearing completion or the screenplay that’s in progress) and less on those of others.  To complete my own work, to the best of my ability, and know that when I do go to the Golden Globes it’ll be because I’m nominated!

Champion the Arts

Sports fans wear the jerseys of their favorite players, assemble fantasy leagues, and paint their faces to show their team pride.  They can spout off trivia facts and engage in passionate “discussions” as to the success and failures of their hometown teams.

Sports vs arts

A similar group of individuals exist in the entertainment industry.  We can list off random facts about our favorite actor, actress, writer or director.  We write letters of support or complaint to media outlets and/or the particular interested parties.  And like our athletic counterparts, we have in-depth “discussions” about our favorite moments.  Or more precise…we disagree about which character should be romantically paired with another.

We look forward to our favorite TV shows as much as a football fan readies for Sunday night.  While our sporting counterparts gather with friends and family to drink beer, eat wings, and scream at the referees, we take to the internet to re-hash the positives and negatives of the prior night’s episode.

We watch the special features to learn about the casting process, the set design choices, and the adaptation from book/stage to screen.  We read interviews from the screenwriter to gain insight into the finished work he/she created.  We stand at the stage door after a theatrical performance just to get a picture, signature or to manage an “I loved it!”  We find inspiration and motivation from those who’ve chosen the entertainment industry as their mode of creative expression.

While some of us may yearn to one day play a role in front of or behind the camera, there are just as many who merely want to show their appreciation for a job well done.  Who want to say “Thank You” for creating something that made a difference in their lives.  For giving us an opportunity to look at our life from a different point of view.  To pause and reflect upon the choices we’ve made and to perhaps reconsider a path we were headed towards.

So while my friends and family may plan for the big play-off party I’ll be waiting with excitement for the upcoming entertainment award show season.  May the best team win!