Sunday, January 27, 2008

China Lilac

A most excellent evening with Julia, Lori and Joan to celebrate the launch of Julia’s latest CD, ‘China Blue’, at Rustic Canyon on Wilshire and 11th. Superb food. It’s been available for download (the album, not the restaurant) for over a week, but on Tuesday we had the actual hard copy in our hands.

Although a printing error on the first run made part of the cover lilac rather than blue, Julia did not allow this to dampen her joy and has decided to think of these 1000 as collectors’ items. She bought us China Blue candles from her favorite store, Topanga Homegrown, as thank you gifts for being with her through thick and thin. Mostly thin, as she’s been on a strict diet in preparation for her trip to the Philippines where she is called ‘The Jewel of Pop Jazz.’

She also has gigs coming up in February in LA at The Roxy and Bimbo’s in San Fran. There’s one in Santa Barbara as well, if the Philippines is too far for you. The MD of Novatunes told me Julia is by far their biggest-selling artist, that she is their Beatles.

Lori and Joan are trying to convince me to go to San Fran, especially as the flights are just $100 return. It was so good to see them. Before we had husbands, boyfriends and Marley Rose, we used to go out most weeks with them. You could measure how close we were by the fact that there were eight (a world record) photos with me in them on their fridge, but now there’s only one. I give them a lot of stick about that.

My son, Max, will be here by then so he might come with me to San Francisco. Max moves in with Colin and me into our one-bedroomed apartment on January 30. Colin is a saint. Mia only just left and has decided she wants to move here permanently as well. Gulp. Now we have to convince the INS that she, too, is an alien of extraordinary ability. I’m going to leave it a while before I tell Colin that Mum and Dad are coming for three weeks in April. They’ll be staying just along the corridor in Linda Penny’s apartment.

All in all a happy week, although I managed to offend Julia by declining her invitation to attend an ‘evening of singing, poetry and incantations’ with her in Topanga. I told her she lost me at poetry, but she is a goodly soul who likes to support all creative events and artists, and felt I had rushed to judge, indeed had been a tad cruel in dismissing anyone who felt the need to incant as not being worthy of my patronage. For my own part, I was worried that Julia had gone native, that I’d lost my dear sister to the dwindling bastion of hippiedom that is Topanga. So I was quite relieved when I heard later that she ducked out soon after one of her singer friends had done her stint and never got round to the incantations.

And I’m back in Julia’s good books after looking after Marley all day while she shopped for the Philippines trip. Marley was a delight and talks up a storm now. When Julia came to collect her, the three of us played hide and seek. They gave me a standing ovation after I hid outside on the balcony in the pouring rain. They had absolutely no idea. Possibly my finest hour.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Starry, starry steak

Our pal Roger Friedman, who writes for on all things showbiz, is in town for the Golden Globes. He is wonderfully indiscreet and knows everyone who’s anyone in Tinseltown, but still found time to meet Julia and me for dinner at Ago – pronounced ah-go. Not ago, as in long time ago. No, it’s not that obvious. Geoffreys in Malibu is pronounced joffreys and Axe on Abbot Kinney is pronounced ash-ay. I shall spare you the details of the problems those ridiculous (and blatantly wrong) pronunciations have caused me over the years.

Ago is one of Hollywood’s hottest spots to see and be seen. People certainly don’t go to be heard – it’s so crowded you have to scream to get your point across. Or for the food, expensive though it is. I arrived first, then Julia’s manager, Lori, and her girlfriend, Joan. Just to be clear, Joan is Lori’s girlfriend, not Julia’s. Julia was late, claiming that it’s impossible to get anywhere by 7.30pm since she had a child and, anyway, she had to wait for Arthur to get in from work to baby-sit.

So Lori, Joan and I enjoyed a glass or two of wine as we waited for our table. I had already noticed the tall, gorgeous (albeit slightly slutty in an expensive kind of way) young woman waiting at the bar. Joan was convinced she was a hooker. Surely not, I cried. In such a classy place? Joan scoffed at my naivete.

Later, Julia caught the ‘lady’ (pointing to her face after a man who asked her if her ample breasts were real) saying: “Honey, it’s all fake.” Gotta love that honesty. Anyway, the lady with the fake face and tits ate dinner with two rich-looking, middle-aged businessmen, at which point Joan rested her case.

Roger had invited Richard Perry along. He’s a famed record producer who has produced albums for such divas as Barbra Streisand and Chaka Khan, among many others. Roger was late as he had been to a taping of ‘The Jimmy Kimmel Show’. His pal Wyclef Jean was singing on it. Roger reported in his column next day that Wyclef’s fellow former Fugee, Lauren Hill, is broke. Her last album sold 10 million copies in an era when people actually bought CDs. Another reminder, as if we needed one, that it’s hard to sustain a singing career, let alone earn enough to retire on.

Back to Ago, named after its chef. The food was terrible, but being English I didn’t say anything. My chicken was dry, the roast potatoes weren’t bad, but the spinach was just a dollop of plain old overcooked leaves. Richard Perry wasn’t happy with his steak (rare not medium rare, he claimed) so Lori swapped with him. He still wasn’t happy but, since we had already waited until 9.30pm to be served, decided against sending it back – he didn’t want to wait any longer for a new steak. Thank God. I’d never send a steak back for fear the chef would spit on it (or worse), flop it back on the grill then send the same one back. I sampled Joan’s steak. It was as dry as my chicken and she had filet, which is hard to fuck up.

As the waiter took the plates away, Richard asked him to tell Ago that the steak was the worst he’d had there all year. Brave man. The chocolate soufflé was still to come. It ended up being nice, though.

Richard was the first to leave. He was going on to meet Steve Bing. Roger went off with a copy of Julia’s new CD, China Blue, (the photograph above, is from the CD cover) and will hopefully give it a rave review. He has championed Julia for years.

He’s going to Cannes for the film festival in May, so Julia and I agreed to meet up with him there. We’ll be there for ‘The making of PLUS ONE, starring Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and George Clooney in the story of a Hollywood Nobody’. Mary McGuckian will be shooting the ‘making of’ movie (a sort of mockumentary) during Cannes using the festival as a backdrop. Julia and I may even have cameos playing ourselves. More on this later.

Exciting times. And about bloody time too. When I got home after dinner at Ago, I went straight to the fridge, pulled out a handful (20 cents’ worth) of organic mixed baby greens purchased from Ralphs, plonked them on a plate and said to Colin: “That’ll be $12.”

Friday, January 11, 2008


One of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles from England eight years ago is that I had more of a chance of meeting George Clooney if I lived in the same country as him.

George doesn’t want kids and I don’t (alright, can’t) have any more so, apart from the fact he likes his women half my age and four sizes smaller than me, we are a match made in heaven.

Actually, I have met George albeit briefly and very tenuously. He said, “Hello, Claire.” To me! We were introduced after a screening of one of his movies as he was just getting into his Limo but the chance to sit down and chat with him keeps eluding me.

So I have seen George up close and in the flesh and can confirm that he is beyond handsome and all men should look like him. I’m not completely shallow. He is smart and funny as well.

I almost had dinner with George last year. It wasn’t as cozy and romantic as it sounds. There were at least 500 other people there, but it still counted as having dinner with Gorgeous George.

My chum, Sheran, had invited me to go as her Plus One to a PEN (Poets, Editors and Novelists) event honoring George for his screenwriting skills on Good Night, and Good Luck.

Sheran knows his co-writer, Grant Heslov, and was convinced she could get me introduced to George when she said hello to Grant who, one could assume, would be seated next to the world's sexiest writing partner.

But George was a “no show.” He was too busy saving refugees in Darfur to accept the PEN award in person. It was worse for Grant Heslov as he had to keep apologizing for not being George Clooney.

So you can imagine my frustration that The Golden Globes, organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press, were cancelled because I was going as a friend’s Plus One and George was nominated for Michael Clayton. He was certain to be there at Hollywood’s second most glamorous and prestigious event of the year. I write for the press about Hollywood and I’m foreign so I’m sure I could have found something to talk to him about.

Does anyone know anyone who needs a Plus One for the Academy Awards?

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