Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aaaaaaand action!

“Ladies and gentlemen… it is my great pleasure to ask you to raise your glasses -- apple juice of course -- in a toast to celebrate the Internet publishing campaign of all time (look over to Eric Roberts). To The Novelist!”

“To The Novelist!” (the gathered throng raise their glasses).

Five (or was it six?) takes. For the different angles, you see. I only fluffed my lines on one occasion and did once start speaking before the director shouted “Action!” All in all, I opened to rave reviews.

Filmmaker Mary McGuckian who made The Making Of Plus One…said I did such a good job playing myself in that she wanted me to play the publisher in her latest film, The Novelist.

My brother, Mark, who is visiting has been teasing me relentlessly. When he isn’t saying “aaaaaaand action!” he says “The Novelist” with as many different emphases as possible. Over and over again. Wearing a tad thin, I have to say, though I am enjoying being his favorite sister. I have forgiven him for calling me “portly” over Christmas.

Julia takes him hiking up Red Rock every day and to Monday playgroup social gatherings in Topanga, while I get him a part as a film extra, play table tennis at the Mondrian hotel (where we shot the party scene) and take him for drinks in the Sky Bar. Then on to the producer’s Hollywood mansion for Veuve Cliquot, single malt whisky, In-N-Out burgers and cold fries.

Mark nearly choked on his champagne when a lady casting agent said to me: “I know you’re an actor, but I’m sure I’ve met you somewhere before.”

Colin and I have had a coughing competition over Christmas and I won, having been diagnosed with bronchitis. But thanks to antibiotics and cough syrup laced with codeine, I battled on and cooked the Christmas feast wearing a surgical mask and plastic gloves so as not to infect the other guests. Colin was so sick he missed Christmas and Boxing Day.

Now, I accept that Julia and I had decided to get each other just a token gift this year and I chose to ignore this agreement, but I gave her: a pair of stylish spectacles (it’s getting harder for her to read the small print), a silk purse filled with quarters as she never has any for parking meters, a table that attaches to her microphone stand for water, shakers, etc., her favorite peppermint bark, loose leaf Earl Grey tea, fancy face cream, and a few other things I’ve forgotten – all beautifully wrapped with matching bows and ribbons.

She gave me… a fridge magnet that reads: “She knew she had a Big Fat Ass and her attitude was “Kiss It!”

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Driven to distraction

When we were kids and went out on a day trip, my brother, sister and I would pretend Dad was our carriage driver and command: “Home, James. And don’t spare the horses.”

So it was especially poignant that the limo taking Julia and myself to The Tonight Show was driven by a man called James. Despite my protestations, James insisted on calling each of us “Ma’am.” It’s just plain wrong that any human being should have to defer to another, but that didn’t stop me asking James to stop texting the studio every five minutes while driving in the fast lane.

He explained that everything is timed down to the last minute and he needed to keep base informed of our progress. We compromised and I did the texting for him.

It’s a big deal to be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Every artist with new product to push vies for the music slot. Just Julia and Paul Reiser’s luck to have a record out the same week as Annie Lennox, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart — but they all made the cut that week.

The band had already played through “Unsung Hero” (from Julia and Paul’s album “Unusual Suspects”) twice, then had to wait around several hours for the camera rehearsal. Julia had received her five-minute warning to be in her place. I could tell from the TV screen in our dressing room that the band were already on their marks, including Paul.

Julia’s singing teacher advises performers to keep detached from emotional stories on a gig day, so they can keep in the zone and ease those nerves. Just as Julia was putting on her boots, her manager, Lori, told us about the last episode of The Big C (on Showtime) where the character played by Laura Linney has terminal cancer. Her son found a garage full of gifts and letters for the rest of his life that she wouldn’t be able to give him because she’ll be dead.

I hope Paul, the band and The Tonight Show staff don’t think Julia was being a diva and kept them waiting on purpose, she was just trying to compose herself after sobbing like a baby at the sadness of the story.

It’s been a fantastic, roller-coaster week: The Tonight Show, then two triumphant gigs at The Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood. When I wasn’t pulling Julia’s boots off after the shows, making her buckets of chamomile tea, flat ironing her hair and feeding her dog (and her neighbor’s dog), I was collecting Marley from school en route to the gig and dropping her off at Grandma’s.

Marley likes to play I Spy. This was the first time she ever beat me. I still can’t believe I didn’t get “sea” as I was driving her along Pacific Coast Highway. Once she had tired of that game we moved on to more philosophical questions. “Do you believe in God?” my favorite five-year-old asked. I side-stepped the issue and marveled at the weather.

My sisterly duties also included dropping off Marley’s friend, Charlotte, aged four. They were discussing, between fits of giggles, how boys like to kiss girls.

Marley: “…and some girls kiss other girls.”

Charlotte (howling with derisive laughter): “No they don’t! Girls can’t kiss other girls!”

Marley: “Yes they can. Girls can marry another girl if they want to.”

Charlotte: “No they can’t! Girls can only marry boys.”

Marley: “They can. Ask Claire. Claire? A girl can marry another girl if she wants to, can’t she?”

Claire: “I spy with my little eye something beginning with S.”

Marley: “Sky.”

Claire: “Correct.”

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