Thursday, May 31, 2007

What I Want For My Birthday!

Yes, boys and girls, I'm turning a year older today. How old, you ask? Old enough! Let's just say I'm a G-R-O-W-N gemini woman! Last year, I treated myself to a massage at a local Burke Williams spa that led to a blind Asian masseuse working me over. When his skillful hands came in contact with my hair he froze. Get your minds out the gutter, people! I'm talking about the hair on my head! The cute little man confessed he had never come in contact with a black woman's natural hair. So as he worked out the kinks in my neck, I explained the kinks in my hair texture. Trust me, it was a special first for both of us.

But that was last year. How will I honor my special day this year? Working, that's how--something I haven't done on my birthday in over a decade. I choose to work 'cause I'm striving toward some goals so that next year I can really do something fun. Here's the short list of what I'm trying to do:

Acquire a means of wealth. Do it like the rich white guys do--create a great business that generates residual income. I can stack riches while tanning on some remote island. And with wealth comes freedom, and with freedom comes responsibility--the responsibility to use that wealth to benefit not just myself but my community. Notice I didn't say I wanted a job! I've spent the majority of my life making others rich, helping them realize their dreams, and now it's high time to do it for myself.
I am changing....

Buy a new Intel Mac computer. Just when I got comfortable with my Power PC G4, affectionately known as Tyrone Powers, IV., new technology and video editing for this blog demand a new baby with more memory and better bells and whistles. I swear I'm turning into a computer geek! If I can't download it, I don't want it! However, that ain't true for everything. LOL.

Buy a new car. Me and Corolla have had some great memories. Corolla has shared my ups and downs, driven me across country, and taken me to places I never thought I would go. And it's still has less than 200,000 miles! But LA has not been kind to Corolla. Break-ins and 2 car accidents have taken a toll underneath it's new paint job. So I'm dreaming of a pretty burgundy or marroon mid-sized SUV that's sensitive to the environment yet sexy on the road.

And the icing on the cake--- buy my first house. Though that's nothing new. I've desired my own home since I was a kid. And now it's time to make that a reality. Question is, where? East coast, west coast, or both? Both. If you're gonna dream, dream big!

I know, that's quite a list but each one is obtainable and beats a humorous afternoon with a blind masseuse any day. So, happy birthday to me! I'm blessed to see the age of __. I'll let you fill in the blank! All of my needs are supplied. Combine that with good friends, family, and a lot of things to look forward to and I have nothing to really be mad about--even working. I'll honor this day, my birthday, by just being thankful.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Could You Be Mr. Brooks?

Look around, Mr. Brooks are everywhere!

Mr. Brooks would have been a great movie to see with a date. But after viewing the intense drama for an hour and 20 minutes, I might have been paranoid that my charming and intelligent boo would stab me in the neck with a dinner fork on the way home. And all I would have done was ask, "How did you like dessert?" So, maybe it was a good thing I saw it alone. But then again, maybe not because for two days I looked at everyone suspiciously. You just never know with some people!

On the surface, Earl Brooks is a successful businessman, loving husband, and doting father. But hold the phone! Earl also has a dark side, a deadly addiction, that's boosted by his alter-ego, Marshall (William Hurt). Marshall is calculating, selfish, and murderous--literally. While some like the thrill of the hunt, Earl-slash-Marshall likes the thrill of the kill. And so does the sole witness of his recent crime, an amateur photographer (Dane Cook) with too much time on his hands. In a bizarre twist of events, the hunter becomes the hunted and Earl Brooks' two distinct worlds threaten to collide. Add a tough police investigator (Demi Moore) on his trail and a daughter who proves the murder weapon doesn't fall far from the tree, and you have a movie ready for a killing at the box office.

Though I applaud the strong story, the film itself left me feeling a little disturbed. How often does a Mr. Brooks live next door or occupy the cubicle adjacent to yours? The people you see on a daily basis, how well do you really know them? You never know until the evening news.

In this film, Earl has every one fooled including his wife (Marg Helgenberger), his daughter (Danielle Panabaker), and his employees. Even members of his therapy group, have no clue. I'm certain "Hi, My name is Earl, and I'm addicted to killing people" would definitely break up a meeting. And that's what makes this character so interesting. Unlike most stereotypical movie serial killers, Earl desires to quit his habit. He prays, he meditates, feels guilt, and attends group therapy sessions, all in an attempt to keep alter-ego, Marshall, from controlling his life. And for two years he quit, but now he's back to feeding his deadly urges and is in danger of getting caught by police.

Marshall's physical presence in the film is sometimes more distracting than helpful. Although he gives insight into Earl's thinking, Marshall often comes off as his imaginary friend. Even in the presence of other characters, Earl talks to him like he is the third person in the room. And obviously filmmakers want us to believe that other characters don't notice these sometime lengthy exchanges. Marshall's presence also raises the question of whether Earl is schizophrenic. There are obviously two distinct personalities at play, but there are no typical black outs or memory lapses to give credibility to the notion. No, Mr. Brooks is not mentally ill, but mentally disturbed. Then again, are they one in the same?

To get more info about the film visit Mr. Brooks official website.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A spot of tea with Victoria Rowell and Friends!

Hats off to Victoria Rowell and her organization, the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan (RFCPP) for a wonderful fundraising event held Sunday, May 20th, at the posh Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills. Celebrities in attendance included Richard Roundtree, Angela Basset, Anna Marie Horsford, and Eric Benet just to name a few. Themed a High Tea at Noon, the glamorous event featured a star-studded hat show, auction, and live entertainment from popular songstress, Patti Austin. Each example of beautiful head wear was designed by milliner, Patricia Underwood, and helped earn several thousands of dollars for the support and enrichment of foster youth.

Representing some of America's top hat models were women from different walks of entertainment including Shaun Robinson, Pauletta Washington, and Victoria Rowell herself. And as the ladies worked the runway, hilarious comedian and actor, Anthony Anderson, worked the generous crowd as auctioneer. See the hats in motion below. Stronjay! Shantay!

Though no introduction was needed, actor Dennis Haysbert introduced the guest of honor, Oscar nominated actress, Angela Basset. Basset received the Agatha Award, named in honor of Rowell's primary foster mother, Agatha C. Wooten Armstead for her dedication in artistry. Hear a part of her acceptance speech below:

The RFCPP provides a variety of enrichment programs for foster youth. It has also awarded scholarships for fine arts, summer camps, sports, and job placement for young people released from the foster care system. Visit to get more information.

More Pics:

Impulse Buy or Investment?

Recently, I received an invite to cover a posh fundraising event in Beverly Hills. Knowing there was going to be a lot to see, the tv producer in me wanted to videotape it. Unfortunately, I didn't come to this realization until the night before the event. But there were two important things to consider: 1. I really don't like to shoot and 2. I don't own a video camera. Actually, it's not that I don't like composing shots in viewfinders, it's the set up and break down I absolutely despise. Several years of lugging heavy equipment from place to place and standing on platforms, chairs, or boxes to get the shot due to my height deficiency burned me out. However, under favorable conditions I do occasionally go back to my old ways: if it's a subject that interests me and a reasonable payment is involved.

But I'm a writer not a shooter! So why was I standing in a Hollywood electronics store Saturday night agonizing over whether to buy, rent, or borrow camera? Because the producer in me knew I could better cover the event through video not just words. But could I afford to buy or rent one? Yes, but who wants to eat tuna for a week if you don't really have to? Was the sacrifice worth it? The question went unanswered until the next day.

On the way home, I called a friend and arranged a pick up of their professional camera Sunday morning before the event at noon. At 10:30 am, one and half hours before I was to be on the red carpet, those plans fell through. Thinking quickly I contacted a rental shop. The $5,000 dollar deposit for a $500 loan of equipment was more than my credit card could stand. So in a panic I went back to the electronic store and purchased a camcorder and tripod, knowing I would have little time to charge it. When I told the sales person my dilemma, she threw in a car charger. Then I rushed my purchases to the car, ripped open boxes with the help of my car keys, plugged the car charger to the camera's battery charger and nothing. No lights, no noise, no nothing to indicate that the charger was working. It was thirty minutes before the fundraiser and I am pissed--more with myself than anything else. I had totally mishandled the situation, and was not going to be able to appear to be the professional I knew in my heart to be.

With anger churning inside, I arrived 15 minutes late to the event. I tried to pull it together, because I didn't want to further misrepresent myself nor this site. Professional press flashed away at red carpet arrivals and their I stood with my consumer digital camera. Talk about feeling small. There I was trying to hang with the big boys with my little "toy" that captured still images and video. A part of me wanted to leave but the trooper in me kept me there, flashing away like everyone else. I was there to serve a purpose, and I meant to do that by any means necessary. Which in this case meant using my little digital camera and video shooting skills. My coverage of the event should be posted in a couple of days.

Friday, May 18, 2007

BET Awards 2007: The Main Event Press Conference

Y'all Remember This?

We'll she's baaaaaack!

Vivacious, fabulous and thick, Mo'Nique is the host of this year's highly anticipated 2007 BET Awards. Announced Wednesday at a press conference held at Hollywood's Renaissance Hotel, the event was definitely the epitome of black star power. Singing sensation, Robin Thicke (he's not black, but his pass is in good standing!) Everybody Hates Chris' Tichina Arnold, 50 Cent, and TI were all present to announce the nominees and promote this year's award show. Monique was not present, but promised to "bring it" in a hilarious videotaped shout out to press and celebs in attendance. Broadcasting live June 26th at 8pm, the show will be held at the Shrine Auditorium.

Themed The Main Event, the show promises to be just that with presentations and performances by Robin, TI, and other A-List names in entertainment. This year legendary Mahogany, herself, Diana Ross will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and versatile actor, Don Cheadle, with the Humanitarian Awards for his efforts to end genocide in Darfur. Visit to for a listing of award categories and nominees.

My contribution to the media event was getting Robin Thickeand his friendly entourage to various interviews on time throughout the day. Hey! Don't Hate! LOL! Escorting talent, especially A-listers, is not as easy as you may think. There was little time to swoon over Robin's good looks, sexy voice, and modest character. But don't think, I didn't take a moment to do so, I did. But once the brief moment was over, it was time to focus on the job at hand. After getting him to the main press conference, the next task was to lead him across the hall where select television press was given access to the invited guests. With the BET 2007 Award show backdrop behind them, Robin, Tichina, 50, and TI stood before the firing range of interviewers for a new round of questions and photo opportunities.

Then, lights, camera, action and we're off again to other rooms to do one-on-one's with the network big boys--Extra, ET, Access Hollywood, and the like. This press junket took a long while, but in the meantime it was cool chatting with reporters as they prepared to conduct interviews for their individual shows. Then, just when I thought we would break for lunch, it was time to do yet another set of interviews with radio and internet outlets. So with things running a little behind schedule, I hurriedly led him and his crew of nice guys to more interviews on the other end of the hotel floor. Yes, the job of escorting and assisting talent requires lots of walking. It also requires patience, logic, and a strong knowledge of where everything is located the talent may need. That includes bathrooms, dressing rooms, back entrances, and in this case several rooms designated for different press.

Set up in a round table discussion format, the atmosphere in the last interview room appeared to be a little less formal. Robin and other show participants sat down with a fresh set of faces for the last interviews of the day. While Robin talked at one table, 50 schmoozed press at another, then they switched. And once the last question was answered it was time to say good-bye with friendly handshakes and hugs. Did I get a picture with Robin, you may ask? No, not one! Why? 'Cause after such a long day of taking pictures and answering questions, I didn't want to add one more to the list. Not to mention, he needed to rush to sound check for a concert later that night at the House of Blues. They'll be other chances, hopefully.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Blogging For Success

Anybody remember the old E.F. Hutton commercials? The slogan was "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." I've been listening a lot lately, not to E.F. Hutton but to something more omniscient. For months now, I've been trying to figure out how to make this blog successful financially. I've surfed similar sites that feature celebrity news and events and at first I envied their success. That's an honest statement! Yes, for about a minute I hated on them. But then I realize what I have to offer many of them don't. Most owners of these "snatch and grab" sites--I call them that because they snatch and grab pictures and bits of gossip to use for content--don't live in Los Angeles, much less Hollywood, nor work in the entertainment industry. Yet, the industry uses these sites to promote events and products because of the site's high traffic. Which means these gossip sites obviously have something of worth to someone. It's business. I understand business, but don't always agree with business as usual models. Then just as quickly as the envy came, it went. Why hate on somebody else's blessing? Truly, it's a useless practice. My time to shine is coming and I won't have to rely on celebrity gossip to receive it.

So I was about to purchase an ebook revealing the secrets to blogging success when something told me just to do a Google search. I typed in "how to make money blogging." In the results, I clicked on an entry titled "How To Make Money From Your Blog", a site authored by a personal development guru, Steve Pavlina. I had never heard of them, but that didn't stop me reading. After a couple of paragraphs I felt I was led to his site because it was exactly what I needed to read. Not to mention, it was free. His honest straight forward approach explained step by step what to do. But what impressed me most was that his philosophies for writing mirrored mine. Pavlina and I write because we have a passion for certain things and feel we have something to say that can be useful to other people. He's no Dr. Phil and I'm no Oprah, but both of us have experiences that someone can learn from, and so does everyone else.

So can you make money blogging? Most Definitely! There are hundreds of people hearing "cha-ching" every time they hit the "publish" button. What's their secret? It's a combination of things: Good content, attracting heavy traffic, and advertising. Some began as simple sites about a topic of interest. While other wealthy writers had a specific goal. They created a strategy to receive their desired results through Internet marketing then developed their site around their goals.

So what's my mission in blogsphere? To write and to make a good living doing so. How do I plan to achieve this? Write my ass off! Which I realize will keep me writing until my dying day. My back pockets are always full! LOL. But really, I plan to write truthfully with the purpose to educate, enlighten, and entertain--but not necessarily in that order. And yes, use marketing and advertising tools responsibly to generate money. However, I will NOT pimp this site to sell readers anything unless it's something I personally have found to be useful or interesting. Thus, I will not write just to make money, but will write to attract blessings, including money. And the rest is up to the universe.

Blogs Are Important Too!

I entitled this blog, Hollywood: as I Live And Work because I want people to learn from my experiences. There are thousands of people who want careers in this industry. In fact, as I write this entry some newbie just pulled into a hotel, guest house, or 2 bedroom apartment that already houses 2 people to start Monday as a lowly production assistant (PA) on some show or begin their tour of temp agency offices. God bless them! Been there, done that! Truly,the position of PA is merely a foot in the door. However, perception is everything in Hollywood. If people only see you doing one thing or one job all the time, they'll assume that's all you do. That's true in life in general. And if you do it too well, employers may attempt to keep you in that position and promote someone else unless you make your intentions known. I think it's best to mix things up, obtain knowledge and experience in different aspects of whatever you do.

But dealing with others' perceptions can be a challenge because you never really know what is revealed to people when they look at you. True to Hollywood culture, wear a pair of faded jeans, wrinkled tee, and worn sneakers and you may be asked to run to Starbucks to fetch the producer's coffee. But throw on a nice button-down shirt or one with a collar with casual shoes, and you could be the production coordinator or producer. And now you get to ask someone else to make your copies. Don a pair of designer shades to hide your expressive eyes then plaster on an insincere smile and you're ready for duty on any studio lot.

Recently, I had an interesting experience concerning perception. A fast talking magazine editor offered me a sales position veiled as a great writing opportunity. He saw before him an eager to be published writer who didn't mind writing for free--payment was in receiving the byline. He also read blogs he could use soley for his publication's gain. He didn't see this site as a professional endeavor--just as my ramblings on electronic paper. It was good enough to reprint some entries, but nothing overall that would measure up to his magazine. So when I questioned him about retaining ownership of what I write freely for his magazine and what's reprinted from my blogs, he suddenly realized I had more business sense than he thought. A professional business woman replaced the eager to please writer, and he was not happy with the switch. Not happy at all!

I share that experience because it's a great lesson in life and working in Hollywood as well. Perception can sometimes make or break your dealings with people. But I am not one to be made or broken by one blind man. Even Ray Charles saw his worth and realized ownership of his intellectual property was key to his success. Thus, if I'm going to write for free continually, then I should pour that energy and creativity into an endeavor that benefits ME personally and financially, not somebody else. In fact, it's a no-brainer that the Internet has more readers than a LOCAL publication, thus advertising on my site could have great money making potential for both of us. Traffic is increasing every week. Dat's bidness 101! A mutually beneficially agreement could have been made, but oh well!

The whole thing has taught me a valuable lesson, but not just about perception. Words have value, and thus, so does this site. I need to treat it as such. And although I maybe coming into the game a little late, Divinely I'm still on time. I also share this story because it confirms my initial belief that someone in a position to hire writers would read my articles and see my potential as an entertainment writer. I wrote it in a blog months ago and it happened, and it's happened again. I knew in my heart that if the blessing came once, then it would come again, and again, and see the trend here! As my Big Mama used to say, "one monkey don't stop no show!"

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hip Hop Project Director, Matt Ruskin

Hip Hop Project Director, Matt Ruskin, talks with Hollywood: As I Live & Work

The Hip Hop Project hits theaters this weekend and I'm expecting a box office hit by Monday. I'm not even going to allow myself to think about the "what ifs"? I'm going to think and speak positively. This film is going to do very well financially, but more importantly those who see it will leave the theater uplifted. But, we all have a role to play in its success. If film and music execs don't hear cha-ching at the box office or in music stores this weekend, then they won't support films and albums like this one in the future. So as was stated before, the power is with the consumer. Hit the theaters, take some friends, and especially some young people in need of self expression and those aspiring to make it big in the Hip Hop game. And if you "got yours" already then be inspired by Kazi's story of redemption and forgiveness. We can all relate to that!

Earlier this week, Hip Hop Project director, Matt Ruskin took time out of his hectic schedule to talk to me. We talked about the filmmaking process, how Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah got involved, and what impact the film had on his life.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Let The Healing Begin: The Hip Hop Project

It's 5 o'clock in the morning. My body is at rest but my mind is busy reflecting on what I experienced a matter of hours ago. As I mentally replay the events of The Hip Hop Project film screening at Fox studios, a crazy thought keeps recurring to me. What if there was a Jesus from Nassau not Nazareth? Born of natural birth to a Bahamian woman that left him to raise himself; he grows up without her comforting embrace and learns to accept the cold shoulder of the streets. His earthly father is not part of the picture so an orphanage and foster care supplies his parenting. His mother comes to America and several years later he follows but the reunion leaves him living the Negro spiritual "Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child". So, once again he is forced out of her life, but this time the rough streets of New York welcome him. Angry, rejected, lonely, scared…how does he deal with all the emotions churning inside? Music. And how does he learn to survive on the streets? Crime.

Then one day, like Paul on the road to Damascus, he receives a change of mind and heart. The snatch and grab lifestyle comes to an end and his conversion is complete with a new spirit and outlook on life. His name is Kazi and he has been Divinely called to save young people through music, a Hip Hop Project to be exact. And through his music and his mission he has been given the power to heal. To assist him with his calling he chooses talented and passionate disciples. Like him, they loose themselves in music to escape and express their pain and concerns. And by his example and love they too are also converted. No more boasts of material and sexual conquests. Gone are the tales of gang violence, dope hustling, and exaggerated thug life. These soldiers spit fire about their family issues, daily struggles, and personal insights, lyrically baring their souls for the world to see. And by sharing their stripes they hope to heal themselves and anyone listening going through similar things. Undoubtedly, it's soul music in its purest form. Led by Kazi, together these aspiring artists create a movement, a revolution that will not be televised because good news is rarely news. But what exactly is the good news according to The Hip Hop Project? The good news is that real Hip Hop is not dead, but very much alive, and it's coming back to its roots. The good news is that artists can express their true-selves, not a false image and still have a career in music. Thus, MC's don't have to extol material wealth and spiritual depravity to be real. In this film, with this movement, respect is given to those who spit truth about the darkness but walk toward the light. Ain't that good news?

But will the masses accept this message or crucify it? Only we can save ourselves; the responsibility does not lie solely with Kazi, the Hip Hop Project, nor its disciples. They've given us the tools, now we must use them. The power to change the negativity we see and hear daily in Hip Hop and R&B; is with those who consume it, says Kazi. It's a simple lesson of supply and demand. Consumer actions speak louder than words and faith without works is dead. Not only must we hear this word, but be doers also. Personally, I'm fully converted and willing to share the good news. Anybody else down for the cause? Then watch the trailer below and convince others to see The Hip Hop Project, May 11th. The soundtrack is available in stores and also on iTunes.

Executive Produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah and directed by Matt Ruskin of The Glen of the Downs, this documentary is more than a movie it's a testimony of spirit, love, and strength. 100% of the net profits go to organizations working with youth.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Secret

The Magic is Working!

Nearly two weeks ago I finally watched, The Secret. Since it's release last year there has been much conversation in the country and probably around the world, about this film. Even before Oprah decided to do a show about it, there has been much debate about whether the The Secret's law of attraction has any validity. According to the film, many of the greatest minds in history--Einstein, Plato, Beethoven,---utilized The Secret to impact the world. However, the list of renown thinkers, philosophers, and inventors didn't impress me because I saw no mention of women nor anyone of non-European descent. As an African-American woman it comes naturally for me to look for that kind of inclusion.

Still, the lack of anyone listed that I could relate to historically or culturally didn't stop me from viewing it. Not to mention, the DVD was given to me by the insightful House Hunters host and actress, Suzanne Whang as a gift. She felt it would be helpful to me as I prepared for my next adventures in life. In fact, this strong Asian woman, gifted another strong African-American woman that then presented it to the world through her television empire in Chicago--with permission I'll tell that story later. So now having seen it, I can attest that The Secret transcends race and gender and speaks to us as human beings, or more accurately spirit beings. Seeing is believing, but don't allow misconceptions to deceive you about who can benefit from the film.

After my personal screening, the earth didn't move--at least not on my side of town-- nor did I suddenly have all the solutions to the situations I once deemed as problems in my life. What I received instead was inspiration and importantly, motivation. The next day I bought a little white poster and created my "manifestation board". On it, I glued pictures of the different things I want to receive in life in terms of wealth, relationships, career, and some fun stuff. To the unknowing eye it may appear to be some childish collage, but to me it says a lot about where I see myself in the future.

The following week I began doing the visualization exercises that are also demonstrated in the film. Basically, I saw myself having and doing whatever I desired in life. That Friday, my positive thinking and prayer paid off when my case in traffic court was dismissed. All week long I envisioned the judge telling me the case was thrown out. But honestly, my faith weakened momentarily when I witnessed the defendants before me lose. To keep the doubt at bay, I refocused on walking out of the courtroom victorious. So when I heard the judge announce the dismissal, I almost danced out of the court room. Then to make matters even better, the moment I got home I received a call for a job interview for a position I had applied for the night before. The magic of positive thinking was working! That said, I dare anyone with nothing to lose and all to gain to see The Secret for themselves.

Fast forward to Monday. One of the things on my manifestation board is symbolic of this blog. I've been writing diligently for the past 2 months hoping somebody looking for an entertainment writer would take notice. Well, it's now official! Two of my blogs will soon be published in Hollywood Weekly, a local magazine for readers interested in Hollywood culture, news, and events. Not only that, but another article I submitted about premonitions will also be published in the May issue. Again I say, "the magic is working"!

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