A glimpse into one actor/writer's life in La-La Land. Part lampoon, part harpoon, all good.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


It appears that I and my comedy partner Kali, of Yuckfest Productions, are too good. That's the teaser; but let me first give you the back story. For the last few years, Kali has produced a number of original sketches and scripts on 16mm film. I'm in many of them, and can honestly say they have graced the VCR's of her entire family (and the ocassional television executive's desk and film festival). With the advent of video sharing sites on the web, Kali decided to promote us and upload our work onto YouTube, Revver, eFoof and such. Within hours of our first voyage into cyber-pimping we had over 3,000 hits on "In Search Of Pussy," "Cookie and Company," and "I'm not J Lo."

Now, you'll notice "I'm not J Lo" is not linked. This is, in part, due to recent legal snafus. It appears that various interested parties in Hollywood are ignorant of U.S. Parody law, the titllating part of entertainment that specifically allows performers to poke fun of, make fun of, and use the likeness of anyone - the only caveat being that it is clear that you're not attempting to actually portray said celeb or politico, not attributing any dialgoue to them, and not claiming that any of their protected properties were written, directed, or produced by you and not said party. (Whew - legalese is tough.) Confused? You shouldn't be. It's actually very clear; and it's why Saturday Night Live could do their infamous Star Trek sketches and their many poltical impersonations. (Dana Carvey owes his Malibu home and hair plugs to this law.) And yet, YouTube and Revver have both shied away from presenting the J Lo and Stepford Wives parodies because of copyright infringement. Actually we got a great letter stating that executives from Paramount itself wrote asking us to "cease and decist."

It just so happens that this isn't my first cease & decist order; it's actually my third. Number one came to my college dormitory doorway back in 1988. (Don't you DARE do the mental math!) I was then the President of the Gay & Lesbian Student Union at the University of Florida and had used the likeness of Calvin & Hobbes. This is as fraternities did, and still do, to promote events and membership. It appears that Universal Press Syndicate and Bill Waterson had no problems having their material used on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and car decals by big, beer-swilling brothers; but that they didn't take too kindly to their adorable Calvin being used on one tiny poster by gay and lesbian, straight-A students. My second legal notification was bigger and better - Twentieth Centruy Fox ordered R&R Productions of Miami to stop producing its gender-bending X-Files parodies (The XXY Files) in which I starred as Dana Scally. These admittedly awful, amateurish B-videos could never have been mistaken for the read deal and were in no way infringing on Fox's rights. But, they did make 180,000 people laugh (no small number by 1994's standards) and get us invited to a flurry of film festivals.

While I'm mortified at the thought of anyone actually visiting the old XXY Files site, I am extremely proud of the work I've done with Kali and Yuckfest. The films are well written, funny, and beautifully shot. Which brings us to the next plot point, the humorous twist in all of this business. YouTube and Revver both pulled the teasers for our comedy pilots, "Cookie and Company" and "In Search of Pussy" because they mistakenly identified them as a REAL trailers! What a laugh and pat on the back Kali and received when we opened those e-mails. The executives stated that the work was "obviously professional" and "too good" to have been made by "amateurs." We agreed that we were not "amateurs," and so we did a brief dance in which we we were able to prove that these "television quality" pilots were, indeed, created by none other than little Kali and me and they were immediately reposted on the web. The folks at Revver were actually quite helpful and apologetic. But Kali and I weren't upset; instead we were tickled, and have added these letters to our portfolio, proudly displaying them like tribal warriors showing off battlescars or the hides of a well-killed buffalo. We hope you'll laugh, too, and that you'll share the story with all your friends by directing them to YouTube and Revver and by forwarding this story with the handy little button at the bottom of this posting.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I grew up on bad 80's television. (Which explains so much...) One of my pre-pubescent favorites just so happened to be The Love Boat. Despite popluar opinion, it had little to do with Isaac and more to do with the fantastic appeal of perennial happy endings. In concert with such dreams, I'm very happy to announce that my friend Tracey was rescued from the war in Lebanon by the new love boat, an amphibious war ship of the United States military that scooped her, her family, and hundreds of other Americans (and frightened Lebanese) and ushered them to Cyprus. Despite what one may feel about the U.S. government, military, and the war itself, the efforts by the armed forces on the behalf of the many multi-national refugees was (and continues to be) nothing less than heroic. I find myself greatly relieved and humbly grateful. Tracey is now awaiting a plane to the Land of Green (go, Irish!) where she will connect with a diret flight home to Baltimore, Maryland. And I can breathe a sigh of relief and finally write something (instead of obsessively watch Anderson Cooper on CNN). Who doesn't like a happy ending?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Where Is Superman?

My dearest friend in the world, Tracey Conn Kallab, is currently in the mountains of Beirut, having fled the bombings and ground fighting in what she describes is "all out war." She is American, down-right WASPy, in fact. Her husband, George, is Lebanese (Christian, if you're interested) and she was in the middle of a summer vacation with him and her two beautiful children. Reunionus Interruptus. Big Time.

I have to admit that I was nervous when she announced her vacation plans. I love her and them very much, so I have always been supportive of her relationship with her extended Lebanese family. And of her attempts to learn Arabic and to discover the beauty of a city that was once the Pearl of the Middle East. But now she is trapped there, unable to leave and being showered by Israeli rocket fire. The news has said little of other fighting, but the reason Tracey is currently hiding out in the mountains is because the fighting literally came to her door. Planes are grounded. Roads are blocked (and burning) and I wonder - who is going to rescue her? Where is Superman? He did make one heck of a splash at the box office recently; but I don't see him now. And I don't know who is going to act in his stead. While President Bush is admirably pushing for international assistance, I don't think he owns a cape or cod piece. (Now, Dick Cheny, on the other hand...Just makes that 80's torchsong by Bonnie Tyler, "I Need A Hero," careen through my head..."I´m holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He´s gotta be strong and he´s gotta be fast. And he's gotta be fresh from the fight...") Yeah, a big superhero. That's what I need. Hell, I'm so upset right now, I'd settle for Underdog.

I guess that I have to step up to the plate. I do just happen to have a nifty pair of red tights. And I look quite good in them, as a matter of fact. But what to do with them? I'd love to slap the leadership of Israel and Hezbollah both right in their olive-skinned faces. I am honestly sympathetic with both groups - with any group, actually, that is subjugated or oppressed. But I do not look kindly on violence. And while I don't want to get involved in the mess of politics, maybe I have to. Maybe we all have to. It seems to me that both sides have legitimate concerns and feelings; but that they are also very wrong in their actions, both the Israeli leadership and the radical terrorists of Lebanon. (And Syria and Iran for backing them; it seems that most of the rockets that have been ripping apart buildings and persons in Lebanon were manufactured in those "objective" countries. Then somehow they made their way into the hands of anti-Israel militia. And no one knows how. I have a theory, though: maybe Harry Potter was there; maybe he's a terrorist, too.)

It's a mess; NPR news just this morning reported that multiple agencies throughout the Middle East and Europe are hypothesizing that this is the beginning of World War III. UG. I'd really love to hide some kryptonite in a nice bowl of bubba ganush; you know? But I don't think that would be very realistic or effective. Plus, they might taste it. (Who says I'm not practical?) All I can do, it seems, is pray, support her frightened family state-side, and maybe send a little force field of love over their tiny cottage in the hills of Beirut. Sort of like the city in Logan's Run or that handy protective bubble that Glenda the Good Witch used to zip around Oz in.

In the meantime, I have to attend to really important matters in my life. Like getting the ink off of my hands from scraping the black crud from the secret code of the over-priced international phone card I had to buy. Like worrying about the fender bender I had the other day, scarring my beautiful black Jetta. Like stressing-out over the delays in launching my web site. You know, the really big things. These are my priorities now; these things and, maybe, squeezing into my red tights....

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I was enjoying some wonderful converstion (and delicious wine) with a date the other evening in West Hollywood. (Name withheld in a rare moment of discretion.) The topic arose of promoting oneself in Tinsel Town while maintaining one's integrity. It's something I've wrestled with a lot since plunging (from the small pond) into the big pond. On one level "pitching" and "networking" come easily to me because I'm on medication. That and the fact that I'm naturally very gregarious and social. But behind all of the "Enough of me talking about me...YOU talk about me," are questions that plague me: Am I being dishonest? Am I using this person? Am I narcissistic?

Movies like The Player give the average citizen a glimpse into some of the inner workings (and dysfunctions) of the Hollywood-Military-Industrial Complex. And I think they instill fear and suspicion in many actors, writers, and studio executives. (A great title: Fear and Trolling in Los Angeles...) Everyone wonders if their great idea is going to be absconded with, if the date they are on is really only interested in climbing the ladder (not the one to the bunk bed), and if everyone in this valley is only interested in pimping themselves out like Mariah Carey in Vegas. (Or Celine Dion, take your pick.) I have had these feelings myself. And I've also been on the other end. For example, when meeting and slowly developing a friendship last year in New York with both a prominent commercial casting director and with the lead entertainment attorney for one of "the big three."

I don't necessarily have any answers. But I think it's good, very good, that I am wrestling with the questions. I think it validates the part of me that is true and real. And so that's what I try to focus on, being who I am - which is a naturally gregarious and social mammal who happens to be an actor/writer living in Los Angeles. If "the business" comes up in conversation, I don't lie, manipulate, or coyly insert anything anywhere. I speak openly and honestly. If I want a favor, I request it on top of the table. And, except for the people staring wide-eyed at me standing on top the table in some elegant bistro, I think it works. My friends are my friends and they know I love them. My acquaintances are my acquaintances, and they know I enjoy them. Will this approach work in this town of ultimate poker? I'm not sure. I don't know if it will "get me anywhere;" but I know it will keep me where I really belong.

Consider this: if this woman can strut her stuff (and the junk in her trunk) in the middle of Times Square (as my friend Miguel just informed me) then might I be bold enough to do a little advertising? If a 500 pound woman can upload a photo of some Victoria Secret beauty to her e-harmony profile, then I, too, can do some self-promotion - and truly shamelessly; right? Regardless of opinion, here it comes, the inevitable pitch - I'm tickled to announce the creation of "Shameless Promotions," a new production company I've created with my brilliant comedy partner, Kali Karagias, of Yuckfest Productions. Our latest projects include the development of our NY stage production of Rough Copy for podcasting - I'm calling it "webisodic" tv. (The pic at the top of the post is from our original press material, featuring Kali and I in character as veteran - and insane - journalists, Hibernia Rockaway and Brick Bronson.) We've also launched a number of other comedic videos onto YouTube and are already being very well received. I hope you'll visit, and that you'll laugh a little. (Actually I'm hoping you'll laugh until you pee your pants.) So, get your Depends and cut'n'paste the link to our latest YouTube video, "In Search Of Pussy," into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCECYbEHrGk.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I know many folks are talking about the eminent premiere of this latest novel-to-movie; but I want to talk about me - dammit. For the last thirty days I have lived like a monk. Not that that is necessarily so bad; afterall, I did just shave my head and, to tell the truth, I always thought I looked great in saffron. But I spent the last month sans television, sans music, and (nearly) sans clothes. I have been recycling the same single pair of jeans, two pairs of shorts, and three t-shirts; I have eaten enough bad take-out to make the sequel to Supersize Me; and I haven't had access to any of my books or porn tapes. Can you blame me if I'm feeling a bit like Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas?

The reason for this sensory deprivation? Because my moving company - spoiler alert: STERLING VAN LINES, "America's small move specialist" - was two weeks late. TWO WEEKS!!! I had fully expected a brief stint into the hallowed halls of simplicity, zen, and doing without. Of finding the abundance in daily life. But a month??? This was more than old Jackie boy endured in One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest; this could have broken down the love-child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, brought him (or her) right to his knees. I phoned STERLING VAN LINES to complain (and to try to get a nice discount) and ended up with a brain enuerysm. The secretary, we'll call her "Sandy" - because her name IS Sandy - evaded every question, refused to provide explanations, and even lied to me. All with a smile and a heaping dollop of sweet southern hospitality. Moving on to upper management, I spoke with, let's call him "Jay," who behaved in pretty much the same shameful manner. Well, almost the same; he also sprinkled in a few choice curse words, threats of holding of my precious belongings hostage, and hung on up me when I told him I was recording the conversation. (I wasn't; but I was trying to play "hard-ball." I should have known better; I can't even play hand-ball.)

After thirteen hours in the psychiatric emergency room (no I wasn't throwing a hissy or shooting my very own version of Girl, Interrupted - I was working; I promise) I arrived home to the arrival of the delivery truck. Despite being dog-ass tired, I was tickled pink. I wanted to pee right there; and I would have, except that I was too dehyrated from drinking coffee and chasing violent sociopaths around the hospital. So the men are trying to squeeze all of the big boxes into my tiny studio and I'm in their way crying like Whoopi in The Color Purple and hugging my television. I have never been so happy, except maybe for the time I met Belinda Carlisle backstage.

So, I have not become a monk, nor a nudist; I thankfully now have two closets full of clothes to choose from every day. But what of this euphoria I experienced at having my things? They are, afterall, just things; right? Why did they make me so happy? And is that even happiness? To be honest, I'm not quite sure. I think it might have more to do with addiction and emptiness and the misappropriation of meaning. Pretty heavy stuff, none of which I've lifted to the light yet. But I'm glad I"m struggling with the questions themselves. Not a bad place to be. (Neither is L.A. - so far...) So for now, I'm just going to shelve the questions (along with the thesaurus, Oxford dictionary, and porn tapes) and then go and hug my coffee pot.