Monday, October 20, 2008

Custom built

There was no sign of the recession at Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, California when some 2,000 guests partied the night away at a star-studded bash that cost a whopping $3 million, according to a man sat at our table. Most of the event was sponsored and several local charities benefited.

Galpin – the most successful Ford dealership in the world - was launching its vehicle customization facility. Husband Colin was there covering the event for an auto website. I was there as his plus one.

Fuelled by Absolut vodka, with food by Wolfgang Puck, I danced (I use the word loosely) to Xzibit and the excellent Camp Freddy, with Dave Navarro on guitar, acting as house band for special guests Macy Gray, Mark McGrath, Steve Jones, Slash, Cypress Hill and the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne.

Sporting a new facelift, Ozzy sent the crowd wild. He wasn’t the best singer of the night by a long shot. That was Mark McGrath. No spring chicken himself, but looking and sounding great, Mark acknowledged Botox for helping to keep him in the game. In his case, it’s not Botox, but talent.

My feeling is that a nip and tuck is preferable over Botox. There’s something just plain wrong about putting that poison in your face. Trouble is, once some people start on Botox’s slippery slope, they can end up with the frozen features of Michelle Tuzee, who reads the news for ABC, Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Of course, a face can be lifted too many times, see Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers, but I’m saving up for a one-off mini face lift where the jowls are lifted just a fraction (Moira knows someone who had it done for $4,000 in her lunch hour and looks great) and liposuction.

When one is on camera, one has a responsibility to look one’s best. Yes, dear reader, the plane tickets have arrived. It’s really happening. Julia and I are off to France next weekend to play ourselves in “The Making of Plus One,” a Pembridge Pictures film in association with Invited Guest Productions and Scion Films.

Julia has just returned from a triumphant mini-tour of the East Coast where she received a standing ovation halfway through the set after she sang one of her classics, Towerblock. The last in this run of gigs is Wednesday (October 22) in LA at the Catalina Jazz Club. The next day, she’ll be recording a sketch for Tracey Ullman’s “State of the Union” which will leave her 24 hours to wash her undies before we fly to France for the movie, then England to see Mum, Dad and my daughter.

I’ll be away for three weeks and won’t be taking my laptop with me, but when I get back I’ll fill you in on all the juicy details. A big “thank you” to Allison from Glagow for sending me these two clips of Julia and me when we were guests on Tracey Ullman’s “Visible Panty Line” in 2002.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Screen gems

My gal-pal Kara Noble and I took the incredible Catherine Tate to see “Burn After Reading” last week, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The latest movie from the Coen brothers was so much better than the trailer suggested - great writing, terrific acting and a welcome chance to see gorgeous George on the big screen. His beard failed to move my meter, but his acting and comic timing didn’t disappoint.

Then it was back to Catherine’s hotel for a cocktail. She was here for some “meetings.” I wonder if the septic tanks (Cockney rhyming slang for yanks) will get her humor. I hope so. For those unfamiliar with her work, here’s a link to a YouTube clip featuring one of her most popular characters, Lauren.

Sometimes our humor doesn’t translate. American critics aren’t loving “Little Britain USA.” Brian Lowry said in Variety: “The American version of ‘Little Britain’ shares several traits with Showtime’s Tracey Ullman sketch comedy ‘State of the Union,’ yet virtually every comparison proves unflattering to the new HBO series. Whereas Ullman’s comedy is clever, ‘Little Britain USA’ is mostly just crude, reveling in mock condescension toward American stereotypes. Ullman plays multiple gender-swapping characters, but with more panache than the chameleon-like David Walliams and Matt Lucas. And Ullman's hit-miss ratio is simply higher, making the slog through ‘Britain’s’ gooey swamp to find laughs feel more arduous.” That’s my girl.

I’ve been catching up on my season premieres. I’m sticking with “Mad Men” because everyone else I know thinks it’s brilliant (in my book, it’s just pretty good). I’m so glad to have my weekly fix of “Entourage” back. Love it. And “House” rarely disappoints. But surely the best drama is “ER.” If there is any justice (which there usually isn’t) come awards season, “ER” should pick up the Emmy and Golden Globe for Best Drama. Not for sentimental reasons - because this is its last season - but because it is so deserving. I defy anyone not to be moved by Dr. Pratt’s heartbreaking death. Superb acting from Mekhi Phifer.

I refuse to give up on my quest to find a quirky, camera-friendly, dog breeder for my TV show idea. The first one I found did not pass the audition. My co-producer didn’t even bother getting the camera out of his bag.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Cinema Purgatorio

It’s said there’s no such thing as coincidence. I’m not sure what the cosmos is trying to tell me about the Goss brothers, but Julia and I bumped into Luke at the Chateau Marmont last weekend. He was there having meetings with film makers who see him as a hot property after his success in “Hellboy II.” He told us he has five films in the pipeline. And he’s still happily married to singer Shirley Lewis after 22 years. We love stories like that, don’t we, ladies?

In Hollyweird, the more meetings you have, the more successful you are. It felt good to be having a meeting of our own with Mary McGuckian. She told us our movie looked a tad vulnerable last week, because of that pesky global financial crisis. The head of media at her main bank even said that the staff wasn’t able to make international calls for a while. I won’t mention the name of the bank, for fear of causing a run on it and losing our funding.

She said we won’t be getting our plane tickets to France until the week before we fly out, so I should stop worrying that it won’t happen. That’s easy for her to say. In the next breath, she informed me that I’ve been dropped from a scene due to time constraints, so shan’t be needed for the first two days of the shoot after all.

On a positive note, she did say that people who’ve seen the edited footage think it’s terrific and the movie will be a hit (she would say that, wouldn’t she?), and then we can make the movie based on Plus One, then a sequel and call it “Plus Two.” Actually, I said, the sequel’s called “Plus One More.” Or maybe “Claire Fordham and the Goblet of Fire.”

It would be grand if “The Making of Plus One” is a hit, because the option for Plus One has reverted to me. The conflict in “The Making of…” centers on whether it’s going to be a small, independent movie or a big studio picture starring Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. How ironic and brilliant it would be (for me and my descendants) if “The Making of…” is a smash and, when the film based on my book is made, that there’s a similar conflict. Kind of art imitating art.

Julia and I had a little disagreement as to which Cate/Kate would play her and me. Mary made a note to use that conflict in this film. I had to concede that Cate Blanchett would have to eat a lot more cake if she wants to play me.

Driving home, I was fantasizing about the film version of my book. Luke Goss could play Julia’s boyfriend. And instead of being a sound engineer (as he is in the book), we’ll make him a drummer in her band, so we can get in some drummer jokes. By the time it gets made, Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin will be playing Julia and me with Cate Blanchett as our mother.

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