This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good Grief, What A Relief!

I’m not gonna lie… I’m sooo gosh darn glad that Thanksgiving is over. The end…finnisimo…fin.
All t
hat pressure to figure out what you’re going to do (and/or where you’re going to go), what you’re going to bring--or if you’re going to bring something...

Won’t there already be too much food? Then, you have that interior monologue about whatever it is you may or may not bring to whatever gathering you may or may not decide to attend on the day, and those are your thoughts if you're merely a guest!

My "guest" thoughts run rampant. Should I bring dessert? Another dessert? Is that what people want? It’s probably what people really want, but they don’t want to admit that they want it. Or should I bring a vegetable side dish? People want to want the vegetable side dish or an extra helping of yams, but in all reality, they’ll suffer through the healthier items so they can indulge in the desserts that they really don’t want to admit that they want.

Notice how there’s always leftover turkey (and countless ways to use it up), yet there’s hardly ever tips on how to best preserve the last of Emeril’s Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake…

At Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, each person gets:

* Two slices of buttered toast
* Some pretzel sticks,
* A handful of popcorn, and
* A few jelly beans.

It could be worse, but the thing with Thanksgiving is that no one will allow you to not have the traditional feast or, God forbid, spend Thanksgiving alone...even though secretly you were kinda looking forward to it... BUT staying home would've meant that you wouldn't get to try that mean bourbon cheesecake or talk about world travels with a documentary filmmaker recently returned from Bangladesh after doing a doc on the demise of cruise ships. luck would have it, I got that last-minute invite to whip me into shape and out into the Turkey Social World for the evening so I'd have a reason to whip into shape afterwards.

Popcorn, toast, jellybeans? Not bad... since besides yams (which I actually like) and mashed potatoes (which are hard to mess up), I could safely live without most of all the other turkey "fixins." But thanks to all, who made my Thanksgiving a memorable one, despite my reluctance of Pilgrim's Pride.

We can be thankful and gluttonous all we want, but let’s face it, Thanksgiving is just a holiday to keep us occupied while we get ready for the real holidays. I'd rather skip Turkey Day and hold out for the good stuff of Seasons Greetings fame.

But in the meantime, pass the leftover Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake…

Oh,wait—there’s isn’t any? Gosh, darn it! Someone should've brought another dessert!

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Friday, November 23, 2007

Article Updates

New article published: Writer's Strike Trickle Down Effects
Full content here

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Waiting For God--is it that time of year AGAIN??!!

As the collective holidays loom near.... I've become increasingly aware of a strange phenomenon that seems to become more apparent every year:

Time seems to snowball faster and faster one passes the invisible line between childhood and adulthood. As a child, summers lasted FOREVER and the holidays could never come fast enough, especially for me, since my birthday lands in December, too.

Waiting...waiting...waiting...all those months for packaged gifts was tortuous, to say the least. I got in trouble (on more than one occasion) for slitting my Christmas presents open in the morning and sneakily re-wrapping them so they would appear untampered for the "official" unwrapping with family and the home video camera.

This "officialness" would not begin until after 6 p.m. Christmas evening, once my grandparents arrived. It was enough to make any kid scream ~ especially a Sagittarian one-- forced to wait nearly 11 months before any gifting.

Don't even get me started on the old, "This is your birthday / Christmas present" cheap shot I've heard many, many times in my lifetime...Historically, this statement has been uttered by my little brother most often, the same little brother who ratted me out on my clever "Slit/Re-wrap holiday scheme" after several years of successfully getting away with it, scotch-tape free, so to speak.

The funny thing is that now that I'm an adult, the receiving of gifts isn't really all that important anymore. The magic of the holidays has not lost its allure by any means, but now my greatest pleasure is giving gifts and spreading the happiness of the season with others.

Although that sounds even sappier than I had intended, the idea is the same: It really is better to give than receive. The greatest thing is that all that re-wrapping of childhood gifts has made me an excellent adult gift-wrapper!

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where's The 'Fallout' Shelter?

Honestly, I didn’t think that it would happen so quickly—the fallout from the WGA Writer’s Strike, now in its 2nd week.

Granted, I’m not a WGA writer, but here in Hollywood, that’s been a good thing lately. Would I have to surrender my keyboard or hide my favorite fine-point pens? Would I be barred from blogging? That would be a shame.

However, as a talent manager’s assistant, my “bread-and-butter gig,” the effects of writers on the picket lines of both coasts and (now stagehands in New York) has rapidly changed the landscape of my normal, day-to-day work. It’s the unfortunate ‘trickle down effect’ of industry labor strikes, that in effect, will strike both above and below-the-line talent. We’re used to the slow and steady decline of work as the holidays approach, but not the rapid origami-folding of our industry where it hurts most (and at a time when it hurts most.)

The majority of my job as a talent manager’s assistant involves submitting our actor clients for available roles that are released by casting companies, who in turn, receive the go-ahead to release these roles from production companies and overseeing studios.

Within days of the WGA strike, the dregs of the entertainment world had risen to the surface with their projects, which have only gained prominence in the last few days because there’s literally nothing left. A few SAG Features, commercials, and TV shows that are still up-and-running are releasing roles, here and there, maybe…from the stockpiled scripts they have, but it’s becoming increasingly dismal with each passing day. Enough so, that Breakdown Services sent talent managers a memo the other day stating that from December until the end of the strike, they will not be charging current subscribers the usual fee for subscriptions to breakdowns. They feel bad for us, they don’t want to lose all their subscribers for an scarily, unspecified period of time. They know….it’s gonna get worse.

This week, Breakdowns are evaporating quicker than L.A.’s water supply. What’s left behind is a growing ghost town of deferred pay, non-union, copy/credit/meal, student films, reality shows, game shows, webisodes up the yazoo (offering mostly, you got it: no pay), and creepily questionable ultra-low-budget projects that are forced to disclose that yes, they will contain nudity. In turn, actors in those projects will have to question their morals, the ‘tastefulness’ of said nudity, and just how desperate they are in an even more competitive entertainment climate than ever.

It’s the classic, “If…then…,”cause-and-effect premise. If there are no suitable projects (namely scripted, fictional material), I cannot submit our actor clients. If our actors aren’t submitted, they don’t get called in for auditions. If they don’t get called in for auditions, they get nervous and self-conscious.

Not fun for them and not so much fun for the talent manager either, I might add. I’m finding myself with less and less to actual manage and an overall job that’s hanging on by a thread. However, at least I have a job. I know storyboard artists and location scouts and craft services professionals—even gift basket companies whose phones aren’t ringing as much as they should be these days.

I fight for the writers (and the writer in me) in this era of uncharted territories and media galaxies, and of course, I want what’s fair. Yes, writers should get residuals. Yes, they should be paid if content they wrote is streamed online or downloaded by users. No, studio execs should not be able to weasel their way out of payments by saying that streaming video constitutes entirely promotional material.

Writers spin hay into gold, words into dollars…there is a high level of demand for the imaginary worlds they create. Alas, writers should not have to settle for what the studios choose to put in the collection plate.

That said, I also want the picket lines to go away because I know just how many of us in the industry are, and will be, affected by this before it’s all over. We all deserve a happy holiday season.
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle
*Illustration by Unknown Screenwriter/flickr

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Not-So-Lucky Strike

Like bowling balls, producers have been knocking over writers and finding ways to screw them over since the beginnings of Hollywood.

In the last few years, the internet has brought forth a new generation of writers (and ways to exploit them royally.) Producers grumble about losing money to all those crappy, bootlegged, recorded-on-a-camera-phone copies of their new theatrical releases, but at the same time suggest that perhaps writers don’t really need residuals when the shows and films they write for are downloaded off the internet.

Alas, the used and abused bowling pins have risen, united in their cause, to overtake the bowling balls of Hollywood and make them play fair again. But, as anyone knows, it’s much harder to bowl a perfect game than it seems like it should be and when it comes to labor strikes, no one really wins in the end.

Both writer and producer union reps have stared each other down with crossed arms, deadlocking on key issues in lengthy round-table discussions for long enough. With the failure of playschool-style contract negotiations, the writers and producers have brought in the big guns (No, not the Teamsters, at least not yet), but an official federal mediator. But so far, even with third party involvement, members of the Writer’s Guild Of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers aren’t exactly making nice. WGA members accompanied by some high-profile SAG actors smart enough to know they can’t act without good material, officially went on strike, as of Monday.

For the first since 1988, the year of the last widespread writer’s strike, daytime and late night talk shows have been immediately thrown into re-runs. There will be no more Headlines from Leno (at least not current ones), no hope of another public sob story from Ellen, and no more Top Ten lists from Letterman.

So on this momentous occasion, to which I certainly understand the dilemma between producers, writers, and the quandary of new media compensation, I, as a non-union writer toiling daily "on spec" here in Hollywood, will provide a Top Ten List of my own.

For both producers and writers, I offer hope and creative interjection on how to manage during this questionable time of spitball negotiations, and I hope that both sides can come to a solid agreement (sooner, rather than later.)


10. Stare out the window blankly and contemplate the hopelessness of humanity.
9. Drunk-dial Producers Guild of America members and pitch your very worst script ideas.
8. Learn calligraphy and practice the art of writing without really writing.
7. Stalk the local library and count how many people walk out with FREE DVDs and CDs.
6. Search for your own name on imdb on as many different computers as possible to “up your star meter” (so you’ll be a hotly pursued writer when the strike ends.)
5. Schedule as many medical appointments as possible. You don’t know how long this health care plan is gonna last.
4. Hack into Netflix accounts and rearrange the DVD titles in peoples’ queues.
3. Volunteer to help decorate Beijing’s controversial float entry for the Tournament of Roses Parade, just for the helluva it.
2. Formulate a reality show staged on the front lines of picketing and put all your writer friends on the payroll.
1. After your picketing shift at the studio is over, mosey over to the set of the TV show you formerly wrote for and pocket all the good stuff from the craft service table.


10. Actually read that stack of quality, character-driven scripts that your assistant’s assistant shelved upon arrival.
9. Enroll in that community extension boot camp screenwriting class. After all, how hard could it possibly be?
8. Jump on the sudoku craze so you can keep those number crunching skills healthy.
7. Take the whole family to Aspen. The official “federal mediator” will take care of everything. Might as well get some quality skiing in.
6. Re-watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Try to decipher the thematic elements.
5. Host a back-lot studio BBQ. Appoint Michael Moore as host and have him invite all the documentary and reality filmmakers he knows.
4. Cook you own Thanksgiving dinner for the first time since ’88.
3. Have your assistant search and destroy any bootlegged copies of movies that may be lurking in your office.
2. Bed all the hot, young ingénues while you still can--since SAG and AFTRA contracts expire in June 2008.
1. Remove all writers from the company Christmas list.

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle
Associated Content
"We write alone...So to come together like this is to feel a sense of unity. That you're part of something bigger than you."

~Writer-Director, James L. Brooks, as told to The Los Angeles Times)

Photo Caption: Members of the Writers Guild of America walk a picket line outside CBS studios in Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2007
For more information about the current Writer's Strike, click here

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Good Food Deserves Fan Mail

Playing With My Food
While Writing Fan Mail...
(And Why Deprivations Across Borders Are Good Boosts For Tourism)

I also write fan mail to products I like and companies I think are doing "good" like Luna bars, for instance, and Gardenburger and Newman's Own products and the yummy goodness of 8th Continent Soy Milk. To prove it, here are some of my letters penned during bouts of boredom:

Dear 8th Continent,

I was (at first) reluctant to spend more on your soy milk, but with a coupon I gave it a shot. Now? Coupon or no coupon...There's no going back, your soy milk (light vanilla is my favorite) is far superior to Silk and other brands I've tried...great to drink on its own, over cereal, or whipped up in the blender. I'm the only soy drinker in the house, so...does your soy milk come in smaller cartons? I'm always trying to guzzle it in the last few days of the 7-10 day mark after the carton's been open... Otherwise, just writing to say THANKS. You give soy milk a good name (& taste!)
A Note Of Thanks (From 8th Continent)
Thank you for contacting 8th Continent regarding 8th Continent soymilk. It was kind of you to share your thoughts, and you have brightened our day.

There is a great deal of time and effort involved in developing our various products, promotions and cookbooks. We will be sure to share your thoughts with the appropriate individuals.

Additionally, 8th Continent soymilk is only available in a 64 oz bottle. We have forwarded your suggestion regarding a smaller bottle to our product specialists for review.

We appreciate your loyalty and hope you will continue to choose our products.


Consumer Services - 8th Continent
An Open Love Letter To A Garden Variety Burger

Originally from Nebraska, I gave up red meat back when I was about 12. Slyly swapping my meat for my brother's veggies in an all carnivore family worked out great for my brother and I, but it was starting to get a little suspicious. And turning down BEEF in Nebraska was just as bad as admitting I don't like football (which I don't, by the way.)

In comes Gardenburger, my savior, after countless BBQs of adolescent past where I was reduced to eating hamburger buns and pickles when others feasted on hotdogs and cheeseburgers, right off the grill.

Gardenburger helps me defuse comments from people, like my grandmother, who, as she saws through her NY strip, always shakes her head, and tells me, "You just don't know what your missing..."

After all these years, I'm not missing anything, I'm gaining good eats like the variety I get from Gardenburger and a mostly vegetarian diet. So, thanks Gardenburger for adding some protein that even meat-eaters can't make fun of (like To-furky, for instance.)

Sometimes, I write fan mail that's intermixed with my whining about things like product availability. For instance, Cadbury:

I was blown away by the sheer variety of Cadbury products while I was on a recent trip to New Zealand. Cadbury makes hot cocoa powder? Cake mix? Bazillions of different chocolate bars? I thought they just made those fruit and nut milky bars and Cadbury Creme eggs with the odd yolky confection in the middle. It was like I'd entered a Wonkaville of awe and wonder. My first wonder being, "Why don't we get this level of Cadbury love in good ol' USA?"

Upon a little investigation, I discovered that...Hmm...Cadbury's agent in the U.S.A. is Hershey. So while Hershey's acts like the Hollywood Power Agent of American chocolate companies with its American products being well-represented on American grocery shelves in all shapes and sizes, from milk chocolates to darks and coconut to fruit, there's a definite lack of presence for their U.K.-based client, The Royal Cadbury.

Now I love a decent Hershey's Dark just like the next person, but I felt it was time our Cacao Englishman, stepped up to the plate. Why should he continue to be just the Cadbury Caddy while the American chocolatier golfs?

So after writing to Cadbury's Corporate Offices to express my disappointment, I was comforted in the fact that a lad named Charlie, which I imagined just like the Charlie of Cadbury Wonkaville, took time out from his post in their U.K. corporate offices to hear me out and-- so very politely-- respond to my enquiry.

Why should Europe and the the South Pacific get all the good Cadbury stuff, while we get the gushy, eggy Mcmuffin yolks of their leftovers? Egg on my face again...

Don't even get my started on RJ's Awesome natural licorice from New Zealand...The Kiwis? They're keeping the good licorice to themselves. Yup, Americans are left with the staleness of Twizzlers and Red Vines while dreams of the smooshy, soft RJ's dance in our heads. Why didn't I buy more???

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle