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, June 30, 2008

The Parisian Woman

With the Screen Actors Guild still negotiating their contract (today's the official deadline) there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot of work lately. However, last week, I worked a day on a French commercial. Most of the "crew" was American, but all the "Creative" people were entirely French-- which made for an interesting mix of people. The entire day they were far, far behind... more so than is usual for crews, even. I thought perhaps the French were taking their cinematography too seriously or they'd decided to take a beautiful, lengthy European lunch break [in some hidden place that still allows smoking.]

A friend of mine worked in France for awhile teaching English. She said it was funny because every other day it seemed, some segment of the French was on strike. Given the year in entertainment, strike upon strike, perhaps we have more in common with the French than we thought.

However, none of this was the case for their tardiness. No, no. It turned out that they were a full day behind for one of the most ridiculous reasons I'd ever heard. Apparently, when a crew member went to pick up the lead actress the day before, she said something to the effect of:

"I do not work today. I've scheduled a hair appointment."

Wait, what!! A hair appointment??? You can't be serious. [She was.] They ended up canceling the entire day's production which baffled the American side of the crew. They ended up moving that day's location to the following day--tacking on a 2nd dreaded company move to what was already going to be a LONG day.

Now, I don't know if this is the only reason, BUT I cannot imagine an American getting away with that. Time costs money. Production costs money. And canceling a day's shoot is time and money wasted. And come on, hair? Really, just how important is that?

To a French woman? VERY. I still think it's ridiculous, but you know what? I've always liked the French. I admire them for making living a priority in their lives-- something very few Americans actually do. I admire French women for taking pride in their appearance, but not to the extent that they jeopardize their enjoyment of thick, crusty homemade bread slathered in creamy fattening cheese and a healthy goblet of wine--French, of course. And seriously, is there a sexier-sounding language? I mean, really? You hear the beautiful noise coming out of their mouths, even if it's thickly accented English and something in you melts.

Hair appointment? Oh sure. I understand. A French woman cannot neglect her tresses, nor can she even consider canceling her hairdresser. We can reschedule everything.

Seconds later, that crew member probably got a phone call from producers.
"What just happened?", he/she would inevitably ask.

And all that crew member would be able to say is:

"I don't know. I melted. That beautiful noise. The French."

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Photo credit: pihka4/flickr "Parisian Woman"

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Golden Age Of Grandma

My friends and family are used to it-- the unique, homemade greeting cards I create for birthdays, weddings, and Christmases. It's become my signature. I approach each one like its own mini art project, tailored specifically for the recipient. As such, each card is one-of-a-kind.

Today I celebrate a person who is also one-of-a-kind-- a person who is very special to me... My Grandma. (The card I made for her appears on this page.)

Most people in the entertainment industry were influenced or inspired by someone. For me, that person was my grandma, who turns 90 today!!! She's a quintessential golden girl and today makes it official: She's Golden!

As a kid, I spent many afternoons with Grandma. We'd watch "As The World Turns" and eat frozen green grapes like candy. She was a dancer and an aspiring actress that wanted very much to be an entertainer, but she let my grandpa ( a professional pianist) take that role. But, she knew everything about classic Hollywood, the mythical city that she so revered.

Grandma introduced me to Clark Gable and Gina Lollibrigida and Tallulah Bankhead and Carole Lombard. My film education started early, thanks to her. As we watched reruns of
"I Love Lucy," she'd tell me all about vaudeville and "oh, how she missed it"-- the variety of acts, the live music, the anticipation. It was with her that I first saw "Gone With The Wind" and other must-see classics. I eagerly digested all of her Hollywood picture books and fan magazines, secretly wishing that I'd been born in time to see the "Golden Age of Hollywood" in real-time.

On a trip to Los Angeles so very long ago, Grandma remembers looking up at the California hills and seeing not Hollywood, but "Hollywoodland."

When I decided to "chance it" in Hollywood, she was the one who always had faith that I could make it -- even when I wasn't so sure myself. She can make a mean applesauce cake with yummy, swirly cream cheese frosting and she continues to conjure up screenplay ideas for me, not her, to write. She never wanted to take any glory, but today glory comes to her.

Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma!

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Original artwork/greeting card by KLiedle

Monday, June 16, 2008

Detoxing The Sweet And The Strange Ways We Eat

I hadn't worked in the entertainment business long before I'd first heard the word, "detox." It came out of the mouth of a make-up artist. She'd just finished her fifth chocolate chip cookie from the craft service table. With cookie crumbs still dancing on her lips, she was absolutely determined to detox as soon as the movie wrapped.

Later, I worked on another project in which the lead actress only ate tuna. She'd request tuna salad kits which I'd dutifully bring to her trailer. (I wasn't too far up on the production totem pole then, nor am I now--in all reality.) Standing there in her trailer, I'd witness her grab the itty bitty can of tuna and discard the accompanying crackers and mayo packet. Often, I wondered why I bothered with the "tuna kit" but apparently a can of tuna was just way too pedestrian for an actress of her C-level status.

Roscoe Chicken and Waffles, Chinese Fast Food & Donuts.... if there's a mecca for eating oddness, fad diets and strange eating habits, L.A. would be the place. On an indie film, I met an extra that wasn't joining the rest of the crew when we broke for lunch. When I asked her why, she told me she was fasting. For the past three days, she'd only consumed fruit and vegetable juices.

"After five days, I can graduate to solid foods," she said.

Funny, I thought. She didn't look like an infant. She looked like a healthy, adult woman. As adults, hadn't we both qualified for solid foods for quite awhile?

Just as restrictive, I once had a boss that ate only yogurt and shredded wheat. Sometimes, she'd make sugar-free Jell-o and on very special occasions, she'd treat herself to a Lean Cuisine and a 2-liter of Diet Coke that disappeared well before it ever had a chance to go flat. I used to think that I had strange eating habits. I confess to sometimes eating ice cream for dinner or cereal after 10 p.m. -- even eating raw cookie dough even though I know I shouldn't (the eggs, people, the eggs!)

The beat went on. Everyone I looked people in L.A. and the world at large had stranger habits than I ever had. There's the old time Cabbage Soup Diet, The Lemonade Diet
(brought to the surface by Beyonce after Dreamgirls), The Special K Challenge, The Raw Food Diet, and my personal favorite: The Hollywood Cookie Diet. (Does anyone actually fall for that one?)

Less official is The Coffee Bean Diet (where I worked for a time.) My co-workers and I coined the diet after witnessing the number of regulars that came in for ice-blendeds more than two or three times a day. We surmised that they were consuming nothing else and, as it turned out, we were mostly right. Some would even say that they'd skip lunch every day to make room for their ice-blended. Great if you're treating yourself once in awhile, horrible if your body is expecting some semblance of nutrition beyond caffeine, SUGAR, and milk in the middle of an activity-filled day.

For those of you who have suffered through the wacky, I'm telling you: the best diet isn't a diet at all, it's a lifestyle of making healthy choices and a philosophy of treating yourself well, body and all. I'm not perfect at it myself, but I do know that there's always room for ice cream. And that advice applies whether you work in Hollywood or not.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

Photo credits: Christi Nielsen/flickr

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cruising For A Vacation?

It’s already summer and yet I haven’t made travel plans. Air travel has become a never-ending obstacle course of hassles. Trains aren’t exactly convenient and road trips are no longer cheap. Without the traditional planes, trains, and automobiles—what is left?

Cruise lines. I’d always envisioned them as being glitzy “Bransons on water” filled with endless buffets, slot machines, and little else but changing scenery. I travel because I love being active and exploring other lands and cultures. Cruising, or so it seemed, was not for young, active, independent people like me. However, it looks like I’m the one that needs to take a second look. Apparently cruising has come a long way in the past few years.

Kathy and Roy Witman of Cruise Vacation Center went into business to spread the fun of cruising ( and change the opinion of people like me.) CVC is like a one-stop cruise shop. There’s a wide range of cruise industry information on their site plus you can compare all the major cruise lines and trips by destination, cruise length, price, and availability. I also like the fact that you can e-mail specific itineraries straight from their site which is immensely helpful.

Exploring their site has certainly shown me that cookie-cutter cruising is a thing of the past. Fun, excitement, multiple activities, and cultural excursions are part of the deal. If you book an Alaskan cruise, you can sign up for a glacial trek excursion. In Puerto Rico, you can venture to El Yunque rainforest. I always thought that cruising was more about the ship than the destinations— i.e. "get on the ship, make a stop for 15 minutes, get back on-board." I had no idea that cruising allowed for activities and excursions on land that I’d always had to arrange on my own.

Many of Royal Caribbean’s ships actually have ice skating, boxing, surf machines, and fitness centers on-board—in addition to high-class restaurants and other activities and amenities associated with cruising. (And I always thought I’d be the one stuck at the shrimp buffet waiting impatiently for the next port.)

Cruising hasn’t been immune to surging fuel costs, but overall it’s definitely still surprisingly affordable. I saw a 7-night Alaska cruise through Royal Caribbean starting out at $699 and Mediterranean cruises like 12 nights in the Greek Isles in the $2000-$3000 range. The Bahamas-- two nights starting at $199? Not bad, if I do say so myself. I’d written off cruising, but I may have to change my mind. After all, summer’s here and the travel bug is biting—badly.

Copyright © 2008 KLiedle
Photo credit: konaboy/flickr

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Land Of The Fro-Yo Sweet Treat

Last week, while working a couple of prep days on a feature film in downtown L.A., a bunch of crew members came back from break raving about a new yogurt shop down the street. It was as though they'd found the Emerald City right there in Little Tokyo. Now, I'm an ice cream/ fro-yo freak so it doesn't take much to get me to in line for the newest yogurt shop. Yet, I'd never seen grown men so excited about...yogurt. I vowed to try it the very next day.

The place where frozen yogurt dreams are made of is Yogurtland. Unlike other yogurt shops, it's completely (and I mean completely) self-serve. You dish out your choice of creamy concoction from the 16 different flavors ranging from the plain (tart vanilla) to the exotic (taro root.) I chose no less than four different flavors, then hop-scotched over to the toppings bar. They have an overwhelming 33 different toppings! I finally picked mochi pieces (an adventurous choice to go with the taro root pick), granola, fresh fruit, and a dash of walnuts.
The whole cool treat cost me a whopping $3.84-- I couldn't believe it. You see, Yogurtland charges you 30 cents per ounce so it doesn't matter if you dot or douse your ice cream treat with a little of every single choice of yogurt flavors and toppings, you'll still pay 30 cents an ounce. With my frozen treat in hand, I left the Emerald City of Yogurt and happily walked back to the Fantasy-land of moviemaking. No regrets: The sugar-high kept me as hyper as a kid right up until we finally wrapped for the day-- around 3 a.m.
Yogurtland-- Check it out, but bring the ruby slippers because otherwise you may never want to go back home!

I'd also recommend my long-standing Valley favorites:

Humphrey Yogart ( 4574 Van Nuys Blvd Sherman Oaks, CA 91403)

Studio City Yogurt ( 12050 Ventura Blvd Ste C105 Studio City, CA 91604-- 818-508-7811.)

*Newest Valley Addition: Menchie's Yogurt (4849 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Valley Village 91607-- 818-985-9150. I haven't tried it, but I think I'd like it-- They're self-serve like Yogurtland.

I'm one of the few in L.A. who has yet to try Pink Berry. The big questions: Is it really yogurt? Is it as sour-tasting as they say? From what I hear, I'm not missing anything.
Photo credits: flickr/pachucha sunrise, flickr/food librarian
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle