Friday, July 21, 2006

Hollywood Heat and The Devil

It's a funny world I live in now -- right smack in the middle of "higher end" Hollywood, at the bottom of Runyon Canyon. Where lithe, young bodies go to exercise themselves and their dogs, on a street that's alive all hours of the night, and "Notices of Intended Filming" are posted on apartment gates like parking tickets. The 100+ degree weather has finally let up and I don't feel betrothed to the air conditioner.

Good puppy Nero seems to know everyone here, so I'm imagining Alan (especially) and Jeffrey are pretty social on their walks. Even really late (or really early :) there's always someone walking their dog... and I swear no one here looks like they're older than 40.

For the second night they're filming on Camino Palmero. The cast must be there because last night there were only security guards -- tonight I spoke with real LAPD.

After petting Nero and letting us cross the street, I asked one officer what they're doing. "Oh, it's 'Entourage.'" Funny, not even a preceding "the TV Show" or "a show on HBO" -- I guess Entourage is public domain now. :)

We took a different walk, and kept thinking I'd love to see the star, Adrian Grenier (the younger guy on the right), but then I thought, what the heck would I say to him? "I like your work," I suppose, so not to feel too stupid.

But the truth is, I like him because he reminds me of David Frankel (the older guy on the left).

It's funny, I tuned in to watch Entourage because much as I hate to admit it, I LOVE movies/shows about backstage show business shenanigans. Makes me still feel part of, I guess. How funny to find out that David Frankel, my ex-boss from The Ellen Burstyn Show directed the pilot to Entourage... and I bet he had a lot to do with the casting of Mr. Grenier. I have a picture of David at age 27 with the moppiest, curly mullet ever, and he was a dead-ringer for Adrian... and yes, you could say I was obsessed... David was my first "crush" on a "real" person in Hollywood. (Fan stuff -- Scott Baio and the like -- doesn't count!)

I was hired to work for David when we shot the pilot at Warner Bros. He was the Supervising Producer/Writer and I was to be his Assistant/Writer's Assistant. Whatever that meant because I'd never done that before! Previously I was typing a script on this new thing, a computer, with a producer named Norman Steinberg on the weekends on the Paramount lot (Yes! The same lot Scott Baio and Happy Days used tape at and I used to take the bus to see!). Norman's secretary, Juanita, didn't want to work on the weekends, so I got hired to type.

Boy did I learn a lot. At that point, I didn't know how to be an "assistant" to anybody, I was basically a production secretary on a magazine show before that and never had to "place calls" or "leave word" or "do a schedule." Juanita, the pro, taught me all of that. And when they shot they pilot, Norman asked me to work at the Warner Bros. lot for him and David since Juanita was already at his "real" office at Disney. Sure, why not.

So there I sit, all alone in a small office for this three-week shoot, and in comes David Frankel. I about croak... what a handsome guy! I was expecting an old person -- doesn't "Producer" mean "old"?

"Hi, I'm David."

I said hello back and he walked into the office to make calls. I'm sure I called Juanita, asking her why she didn't warn me -- he's so cute and only one year older than me! -- but she probably didn't think anything of it because David certainly wasn't HER type.

Anyhoo, I learned almost everything I know about scripts and assisting on that shoot. No one in the production office knew how to put out a script properly and I sure didn't either... someone finally brought one in from somewhere with all the colored pages for changes and headers at the top, etc. and I learned -- because I did I do everything! I put out pages, I xeroxed pages, I stayed at night to make the revisions, I drove to Disney to make the colored pages, collated and then distributed the scripts, and then I was back early in the morning for the scripts to be at the table read. OMG!

And in the meantime, David couldn't have been nicer. Quite uninterested in me, but really funny, super polite, even asking my opinion on jokes as we both learned about sitcoms. (Oh, and guess who played Ellen's daughter? Megan Mullaly, of Will and Grace fame.) Some other time I'll talk bout my six-month stint in New York when then show went into production... there are few good David Frankel memories there too and I don't want to forget them. :)

At the end final week of taping, I got a little crazy. (Probably from the sleep deprivation and all the responsibility!) I had befriended two of the actors, Billy Wirth and Maurice Davis, during the rehearsals and, yes even met David's dad. I got to speaking to him because I was on a "research project" to find out anything he might be able to say about David for the warm-up comedian -- only I don't know if I made that assignment up for myself or someone asked me to do that. In any case, someone in the office said David's dad was a really nice man, and wasn't it nice of him to take the time out of his busy schedule to fly to L.A. to see his son's show. (I thought this was normal as I'm sure MY parents would have come to see a show I had done!) I repeated that to Max, who said, "As long as I have a nice hotel room and the NY Times, I'm happy." Little did I know then that this was Max Frankel, Executive Editor of the New York Times -- what a humbling piece of information. I knew David was a Harvard man, but I didn't know from what beginnings he came... just that they were 100000% different than mine.

So the crazy part: at the final taping, I had bought congratulatory balloon bouquets to dear Norman, David, Billy and Maurice -- which, upon hindsight, sure seems like a HUGE faux pas! I mean, who the hell was I? An assistant on an assistant's wage paying over $120 for four corny arrangements! Well, it felt terrific at the time, and the look on Billy's face, just standing across backstage and waving at me with the balloons in his hand: PRICELESS.

In any case, I veered off in a weird direction, thinking about David Frankel in 1986 -- twenty years ago. Didn't expect that to do that, it was a nice trip down memory lane -- er, Fuller Avenue to be exact. Not much has changed for me but my name!... yet in saying that out loud, I know things are changing quickly... and I will always be a Hollywood girl.

Sending you good energy, David Frankel -- much happiness and thanks :)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Flattered... and proud!

The Los Angeles Fire Department's Public Service Officer, Brian Humphrey,
surprised me this morning in my comments box:

Ms. Katarungan,

First and foremost, please allow me to share how pleased we are that you safely survived your ordeal.

We've taken the liberty of sharing your well-crafted and (at the proper times) lighthearted missive with our LAFD News & Information blog visitors.

In doing so, we hope that members of the community and the Firefighters who serve them will gain better insight into what it may be like if they are (heaven forbid) ever trapped in an elevator.

We hope that you will be able to join us for the upcoming Firefighter Festival of Hollywood, when we hope that you'll be reunited with the crew from Fire Station 27's 'A' Platoon.

Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department
Brian Humphrey | Homepage | 07.19.06 - 11:02 am | #

So there I am on their blog and a great intro -- please feel free to read. I couldn't be more proud.

(BTW, the LAFD has a huge following (congrats!) -- my stats yesterday were incredible!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

L.A.F.D. Rules!

If ever there was a time to be blogging, this was it -- yes, tonight after a late night visit with a friend, I was stuck in an elevator for the first time in my life!

Right now I'm pet/housesitting at Jeffrey and Alan's in Hollywood. As I'm driving up and clickin' the clicker to open the garage gate, I'm thinking about how cool it is to always have a parking space in a condo building with an elevator in Hollywood. Life's good.

I threw out some garbage from my car (okay, I dropped by Mickey D's and had a McChicken sandwich) into the garbage can next to the elevator. Hmmm, I think, it's empty, someone just cleaned the garbage out. I get into the elevator, put my access key in and press 3 and proceed to daydream as I always do in elevators.

Took me a while to realize that there was nothing happening. Nothing.

Press 2. Nothing again. How about 1? Why isn't this thing moving? Hm. Okay, open sesame... oh dear, it's not gonna open either. Did I put the key in right? Yes. Aw, hell. No need for anxiety attacks now, this is why you've had all this emergency training, right? Just breathe.

There's an alarm button there... what does that do? No, no alarm yet, let's use that call button. It says it will flash when the call is answered. It's not flashing. Nothing is happening.

I don't want to alarm anyone yet, so I call Jeffrey in Chicago on his cell phone. It's probably 5:45 his time... well, who knows how early he gets up, but maybe he has the number to the super? Er, manager? Oh wait, these are condos, there is no super/manager, or a super manager for that matter. Hm. Well, it's moot anyway, I get his voice mail... and hot damn if my cell phone isn't flashing "low battery." Hang up fast.

So it's time to press the alarm button. It's a bell like noise and a white light goes off in the elevator each time you press it. Like a Staples Easy Button or something but with sound and light. Oh, I get it. It's an alarm to physically alert someone that there's something wrong with the elevator. It doesn't go anywhere, it just sounds pretty and makes pretty light. Oh shit. Nobody here is awake.

Well, hm. I'm going to wait until 4:00 am then I'm going to use my precious battery juju on 911. Trying to remember the other number they say you should call -- one that starts with 3 because this doesn't feel too emergency like... but what is it? 311? 399? Oh hell. Practice your speech because you're on the clock.

California Highway Patrol picks up after I say "ONE" into the phone.

"Hi, I'm stuck in an elevator at _ _ _ _ N. Fuller Avenue and I'm running out of juice on my phone!" The lady dispatcher says she'll connect me to the fire department and I'm telling her to please hurry... (the nerve of me.)

She connects me right away with the fire guys: "What's the address?" "_ _ _ _ N. Fuller Avenue and my battery's going dead." "What's the number you're calling from?" "It's my cell, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ but I'm running out juice!" At least I got out the address.

"Don't panic, and don't try to get out because you might hurt yourself. We're sending someone out right away."


I finally allow myself to sit on the floor. I did that well, I think to myself. I didn't panic, I acted like a grown-up would. If I had had a baby or a child with me, I would have been the perfect picture of calmness, no claustrophobia in sight at all. As a matter of fact, hm... I start singing: "Raindrops on rose and whiskers on kittens..." No, no, things weren't so bad and I don't know all the lyrics, even though I just sang it with my babysitting charge, Kate, tonight. What was that other one? Oh, yes, from The King and I: "Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, And whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I'm afraid." :)

Nah, don't need it... and I'm now I'm giggling because I know I'm gonna blog about this right away.

About ten minutes later, I hear noise. "Ma'am, you all right? Do you have any medical problems?"

I say I'm okay. They yell back: "Ma'am? Are you all right?" So I yell back that I'M OKAY WITH NO MEDICAL PROBLEMS. I'm also thinking of something light to say to ease the tension but then think that maybe that would be an obstruction of justice or something like that -- I stay silent.

They tell me they're working on it, so I start braiding my hair. I know -- braiding my hair? Works better than whistling, I guess.

I hear more male voices. They ask me what floor I'm on -- I say the ground floor. Okay, they're close, better get up. Wish I had put a bra on before I left... oops.

A few minutes later a voice says, "Ma'am, can you push on the door, going from left to right? Push with all your might." I push and groan my Superwoman groan:

"Nothing. Sorry."

"That's okay ma'am." Suddenly the door magically opens: and there are at least five firefighters dressed to the hilt. I'm a bit wowed and must have been grinning a big ole Cheshire smile, but then I remember to be humble and grateful.

"Thank you, thank you!" I say.

There's one among them in jeans and a tank top: "Don't do that again."

"Are you the super?" I say, forgetting there aren't "supers" in LOS ANGELES. "No," he says, "I'm in 101. What happened?"

The head/lead/oldest firefighter tells me there are no stairs to the ground floor, I'll have to go to the first floor from the outside. I thank him because I'm housesitting and have no idea where the stairs are. Then I walk out onto the street with the gang -- there are two huge fire trucks and the at least four more firefighter guys out there. Wow.

"Thank you again," I say. And they all -- well, probably most of them anyway -- wave. Good old L.A.F.D.!

Now I'm thinking about the stairs, as I go in the front door with Michael. I tell him that the elevator call button GOES NO WHERE. He's not happy with that. I almost say some smart ass remark about homeowners fees, but wisely hold my tongue because I'm not wanting to cause stress for my dear Jeffrey and Alan. But I'm sure that will get fixed soon. I mean what if they got someone hysterical (crazy/sick not funny/hilarious) in there?

I say good night and walk up the two flights. Oh goodie, I'm not out of breath -- training with Andrew works! Nero is waiting for me and gets all petted down before I start typing this.

Tomorrow I'll worry about the metaphysical implications of BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR ON THE GROUND FLOOR... oops, guess I just figured it out. Well, I'm going to have a good sleep now... thanks again, L.A.F.D.!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Blogthing

You Are 60% Boyish and 40% Girlish

You are pretty evenly split down the middle - a total eunuch.
Okay, kidding about the eunuch part. But you do get along with both sexes.
You reject traditional gender roles. However, you don't actively fight them.
You're just you. You don't try to be what people expect you to be.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm Home!

It's 12:50 am and I just got back from my Academy music class that ended at 10:30... yes, yes, because I was talking to my teacher, Ross, at my car about an incredible project he's working on. (MMMs the word, but I will say my MOTHER will LOVE it!)

I haven't checked my emails or my messages yet because I'm too excited -- I keep thanking God for blessing me with my new life! It's not just musicals... it's that ALL of music makes sense to me now. It's that all the people make sense! It's that I, MYSELF make sense now... as in everything is all coming together. My love of music, my wanting to make it, the emotionality of it... yikes!

If I could write a joyous piece right now... this would one of the moments it would be centered around... YIPPEE!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Quan Yin

How did it happen I met a new website client today who tells me about the female buddha of healing compassion, Quan Yin? Did you know she's also the goddess of barren women?


Sunday, July 09, 2006

tick... tick...BOOM!

tick... tick... BOOM!tick... tick...BOOM! by Jonathan Larson ("Rent") - EXTENDS TO August 6th!

I was prepared to be disappointed because CJ had so recommended it, and yes, for the first five minutes I was stiff and underthrilled...

Until I allowed myself to relax, and not judge myself for being 46 and in the same damn place this almost-30-year-old caracteris. Once I could do that... of course, I saw myself in him.

I lived in a 5th floor studio walkup with three people in Hell's Kitchen in the late 80s. I got mistaken once for Santa Claus as I dragged my 30 pound of laundry in the snow to the laundry mat. And yes, I've done the corporate thing... for a long time.

But today I'm taking classes at the Academy of New Musical Theater -- I've found home, and shock (ha! not to my real friends), it's in musical theater! As a composer and hopefully bookwriter too... and our idols are both the same: Stephen Sondheim. Almost makes me want to change my name back to its original S.S... (NOT.). Wonder if I'll ever get to meet the infamous Mr. Sondheim before... before I go BOOM!

So eery that prevailed over the whole show, and lingered in the lobby as I read memorabilia of Jonathan's life: that he died 10 days before turning 36, just before RENT went to Broadway. That he was born only two months before me. That I get to be here and he isn't... it's so incredibly sad.

It was "REAL LIFE" sung by Wilson Cruz and Andrew Samonsky that made me lose it. Such a beautiful song, that made me feel for my fellow artists, especially the ones in L.A., who keep young, keep plugging away, still live like kids but have hope and don't choose "REAL LIFE." And it made me feel for me too.

Last night I babysat beautiful Kate and we watched The Sound of Music again, except with the Julie Andrews commentary turned on. Watching the kids sing "The Sound of Music" for the Baroness and seeing The Captain melt and love his family again... it made me wonder what happened to my dream of having a boatload of kids (twins, triplets, adopted -- you name it, I wanted them!). When did that dream die and I have to try and "prove" myself. And why is that mutually exclusive from being an artist?

So more tears came. Knowing that that's usually a very open, receptive, vulnerable place (for anybody) -- I had a Scarlett O'Hara moment:

"Okay, God -- if I'm meant to have a family and the man who loves me -- BRING IT ON! I won't make up excuses like I'm too fat, too poor, not accomplished, not ready. Whatever that next trip is, I will embrace it... BRING IT ON and I will choose LIFE."a

After my nap.

Thank God for "You Tube" - Ilia

The first time I saw Ilia Kulik EVER during his Long Program on the Olympics, and fortunately I had taped that. But this Short Program, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, I don't have. Now I can always watch it, and immediately I'm in 1998... (and still hating Scott Hamilton's commentary too).

Thank you everyone for posting!

Last warmup before Short Program

Interview w/ Tracy Wilson before the Short Program

Nagano Short Program, "Revolutions"

After the win interview