Thursday, November 30, 2006


For Emily and I, Dollywood is pretty much Mecca. Dolly Parton is my idol.

Dollywood totally didn't disappoint. It's definitely one of the tackier places on the planet, but in an absolutely fantastic way. Did you know that Dollywood houses a large bald eagle sanctuary? Yeah, neither did I.

There were also a lot of Bible verses posted all over the place AND unhealthy food to eat like everywhere else.

Emily and I wore the tour T-shirts I made and got a lot of funny looks, but we didn't really care. We were just getting in the Dolly spirit.

Here we are in front of a model of her "Tennesse Mountain Home"- Crikey that thing was small!

We went on a lot of fun rides and the lines weren't bad at all because it was the first week back in school for a lot of school districts. There were roller coasters and even a train ride.

Then we went to a screening of "Heartsong"- a hilarious multi-sensory movie wherein Dolly sings songs inspired by Tennessee. It "rained" inside the theater, there were animatronic butterflies flapping around and we even got splashed by water when a kid jumped into a swimming hole on the screen. Cheese-tastic.

After Heartsong, we paid a visit to the Dolly museum, which, for us was really the coolest part. We weren't allowed to take pictures in there, but it was full of really neat artifacts from Dolly's career, including costumes from one of my favorite movies ever: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (If you haven't seen it, rent it!). They had all sorts of awesome clothes from her closet (my GOD that woman is TINY) and even her Grammy awards (so shiny!).

Each part of Dollywood had a different theme. These pictures were from the "Country Fair" section...giant pickles and potatoes...Okay, Dolly, sure...

Before we left, we made a trip to the Dollywood Emporium (that's seriously what it's called)- which might be the second best thing about Dollywood. We got a bunch of great souvenirs, including a travel mug I use to carry my coffee every morning that says "I will always love you, Dolly." Awesome.

We will always love YOU, Dolly.

On the way home we picked up a pack of hot dogs and cooked them up for dinner and even purchased some VEGGIES!

Then it started raining. Thank goodness we had purchased a tarp, but we still got a bit wet due to the small tent/no rain fly problem. But, we couldn't be mad because it was so beautiful at our Tennessee Mountain Home.

In the papers:

Man, if I lived in LA, I would so go to this. I dig Lucinda Williams.

This is a great idea. One of the funnest parts of being a Page was watching the rehearsal feed from Studio 8H in 30 Rock...It's pretty cool to watch how the actual making of SNL works, regardless of how funny you think the final output is.
Ah, the sweet stench of one woman's dreams being shat upon...

From LA Weekly:

Screenwriters in the Shit
Written by NIKKI FINKE

While Akiva Goldsman fiddles, more accomplished movie scribes burn Every year, one of the major Hollywood talent agencies conducts a running tally of all studio jobs snagged by screenwriters. In 2005, there were 10 percent fewer hires than the year before. So far for 2006, there are 15 percent fewer. That’s a big drop in two years. “These jobs,” said the admittedly depressed literary agent, “just disappeared.” A manager joins the pity party and describes a litany of givebacks by his scribbling clients: free treatments, free rewrites, free polishes and/or free script-doctoring — all done with the hollow hope that the studio will give these schmucks with Underwoods a paying gig sooner rather than never. As for those sparse scribes offered real pay for projects, they’re buckling under studio demands by cutting their usual and customary by 30 percent. “It’s the bewildering nature of the business right now that nobody has a quote. It’s a quote-free system,” an agent describes.

In a word, it stinks out there for screenwriters, worse even than the fetid stench of the usual shit flung at them in previous years. These aren’t wannabes, either. These are some of the top names in the biz. “I am fucking terrified,” a major scribe tells me about his year of not getting any work. “I can’t believe my career is ending like this.”

Laments a manager: “I have a giant screenwriter who’s doing everything on spec. Everybody is doing this. They’ve got to get into this mindset.”

This is the reality of the screenwriting trade right now, the antithesis of the ridiculously rosy picture that the Los Angeles Times paints week after week in its “Scriptland” column. When it debuted in September, I described the feature at my as perhaps the single worst idea in the paper’s history, and certainly the single worst execution. Not only does this fatuous fanboy foolishness borrow its vapidity from the Writers Guild magazine and even Ain’t It Cool News (and that Web site’s for Waynes and Garths who haven’t left their parents’ basement since puberty), but it doesn’t bother to tell the truth. It thinks that writers are important in the Hollywood process when the 411 is that the Industry devalues writers much like the Republicans devalue illegal aliens: It’s the weak’s exploitation by the powerful.

Which is why I delighted at in giving all the Hollywood moguls indigestion before they’d even taken a bite of their Thanksgiving meal by reporting on November 22 that Akiva Goldsman, who adapted Dan Brown’s worldwide best-seller The Da Vinci Code into a $755.6 mil hit pic, is receiving $4 million to hunt ’n’ peck the sequel for Sony Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.

Not only is that major moola, but this represents a new dollar high for a screenwriter hire — not to be confused with the spec script sale record, set in 1994, when New Line shelled out $4 mil for Shane Black’s The Long Kiss Goodnight.

In-demand screenwriters these days get between $2 mil and $2.5 mil per project. In Goldsman’s case, the $4 mil isn’t even for an original screenplay, but an adaptation of Brown’s Da Vinci prequel, Angels & Demons, filled with the same Vatican intrigue, and not even a hard book to adapt at that. “This doesn’t strike me as obscene for a motion picture that made almost $800 million and a screenwriter who’s an Oscar winner,” an agent analyzes. “But it is only in the sense that the first movie was so bad that it’s obscene to pay someone to do that to you again.”

And, no, Goldsman (known as Keevie to his childhood friends in Brooklyn) isn’t getting a producer credit, so the pay is for straight scribbling. “That would be a lot for a pure writer’s credit,” one agent gushes. “It puts Akiva in the absolute top of his profession.”

Which resulted in this flaming from a commenter on Defamer: “Wrong, turkey. You could throw untold trillions of dollars at Hackiva (zing!) Goldsman every second for the rest of his life, and it would never, ever, ever make him a talented writer. Leave it to an agent to perfectly elucidate how positively ass-backwards his industry operates.”

On the forum for WGA members only, the commentators (who must post under their real names, so they’re circumspect) seemed filled with glee. “He’s a fellow screenwriter — good for him!” one hailed. “I think it’s terrific. And about time some more star writers got a real piece of the pie,” applauded another, noting that until star writers start earning the same as star actors, $4 mil shouldn’t be considered major moola but rather “appropriate” moola.

But, privately, the industry is filled with bile at Goldsman’s bullion. Not just out of envy, but more pride; this is the same scribe whose script for Batman & Robin is considered one of the worst of the comic-books-turned-movies genre. Anger also is directed at Sony, which, to put it nicely, historically has been known to open its wallets a little wider for writers than most other studios, and, to put it cruelly, hysterically has been known to overpay for everyone and everything. “Bob Osher talks a tough game, but when Amy Pascal really wants something, she gets it,” one agent explains.

I’m told the reason for the big score is that the studio wanted the 2008-slotted sequel, like, yesterday, not only because the first movie did so well, but also because every major is rushing projects or stockpiling scripts because of the expected studio-WGA confrontations and specter of a strike next year. But several managers and agents are pissed at Sony for doing this deal while simultaneously pleading poverty when it comes to funding what should be the normal development process. “You hear it from them year after year. They say they’re out of money by August and won’t get funded again until April. Bullshit, but they don’t care,” one agent bitterly recalled.

So right now Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind; I, Robot; Cinderella Man) has the best heat, along with fellow high-end screenwriters like Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Horse Whisperer, Ali, Munich), John August (Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale), David Self (Thirteen Days, Road to Perdition), Bill Broyles (Cast Away, Planet of the Apes, Jarhead, Flags of Our Fathers), Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me if You Can, The Terminal, Rush Hour 2 & 3), David Benioff (Troy), Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Bill Monahan (The Departed), Steve Zaillian (A Civil Action, Hannibal, Gangs of New York, All the King’s Men), and the “two Tees” from Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 & 3, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.

But coming up with a list like this is arduous, since few can agree on who’s getting the bread and who’s just toast. “When was the last time it was said about someone, ‘He’s the new Robert Towne?’” a screenwriter tells me. “Maybe Paul Haggis is the new Robert Towne. But the Los Angeles Times should stop the bullshit writing about Charlie Kaufman. The man has yet to be involved in a movie that did the opening night business of Happy Feet.”

Of course, the screenwriters themselves don’t dare go public with their angst: This is an industry where no one’s supposed to see them sweat. But, speaking anonymously, they insist that the problems that exist in their trade right now go beyond the usual explanation that, in this generational business, a cooling career is the inevitable result. “There’s always been a really small group of people who worked and got movies made. But the group feels smaller than ever,” one long-time successful scribe says. “That’s why I’m so depressed. There’s this feeling like the profession has passed us by. That we’d had a chance to be great writers, but didn’t get to practice our craft enough.”

This notion of just having three or four movies per career, and no more, is widespread; so is the feeling that repeaters like Goldsman are rare. “People can complain that Akiva is a terrible writer, and that Da Vinci Code is a piece of shit. But the larger truth is that things broke right for Akiva, and you can’t take that away from him,” one scenarist said. “A huge percentage of this screenwriting business finally just falls to luck.”

As for the giveaways bestowed on ungrateful studios, screenwriters claim they’re forced into forking over freebies. “You’ll get blacklisted if you don’t,” a scribe confessed. “Nobody complains. Because no agency will fight for any writer because they can’t run the risk of having themselves shut out of a studio with only five places to sell to.” And the WGA? “The guild just keeps ignoring it all.” Others are trying the indie route, but that’s more like a nightmare than a dream. Scribes are being pushed by managers and agents to put movies together with a director and a star and try to find financing. “But the reality is that, of all the finished films submitted to Sundance, maybe four got distribution deals. And, in the process, you’ve watched three years of your life get away as you fucking try to get a yes from Andy Garcia,” a screenwriter complains.

Most of the successful screenwriters came to Hollywood in their 20s, married and had kids in their 30s, and made movies and money in their 40s. Now, aged 50 and above, they’re on what’s commonly referred to as the “downward glide — where you sell the house, move somewhere else, and land gently. Because your career has come to its own end,” one screenwriter describes. “Akiva is 44 now. Wait, and it’ll happen to him too.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Let's see, kids, where did I leave off?

Emily and I were sad to leave Nashville, but we got up early and went to the Pancake Pantry. I had to go there because every single person I mentioned Nashville to said,"You have to go to that pancake place!" And so we did. Emily and I both got pigs in a blanket. Yum!

After stuffing ourselves silly, we headed off for the Smoky Mountains. We took the scenic route, which was, well, scenic. We picked up beer and groceries on the way.

Blue Moon: The official beer of the Tennessee Tack Tour.

We unpacked the tent to find that Emily's dad has a warped idea of what a two person tent is...and it also had a mesh top with no rain fly.

We had a lovely campsite by the river, so we just chilled for the evening.

Emily and I discovered a really fun feature on her camera wherein one can take half a picture at a time- SO we could take pictures and both be in them. It also results in some hilarious pictures, especially when drunk.

I was the "fire master" for the trip, putting all those years in the Girl Scouts and church youth group to good use. We grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and stayed up late playing with the fire and drinking. Safety first, kids. Safety first.

Then it was off to bed, as visions of Dollywood danced in our heads!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Way back in 2004, roughly this same time of year, I sat down to interview comedian Fred Armisen for the NBC Page Newsletter. As a comedy geek, it was one of my highlights that year. Fred was super nice and is still nice whenever I randomly contact him to this day.

Please find the published article below- keep in mind this was two years ago and directed toward a bunch of Pages.

WIN A DATE WITH FRED ARMISEN (Dreams do come true…)

A Brief Introductory Message from Fred Armisen

“So, hello Pages, this is me, this is Fred Armisen, and you guys are all doing such a great job. Except for you, and I think you know who I’m talking about. We don’t know what you do, and it doesn’t matter, cause you guys all look so nice and you’re so polite. But, how lame is it when people go to—the only floors that matter are 17 and 8, and I’m so irritated when people stop at the mezzanine level or whatever that is. You guys, no more! Go to the 1st floor and the 8th floor, that’s all you need to do, the middle thing is just-- it doesn’t even count as a floor. Second thing, when you’re giving tours, you cannot take tour groups into the bathroom. I’m in there. I’m busy. Save it for another time. I’d appreciate that. Also, every time I go past, you guys are always talking about who’s in the cast, and what the schedule is like and you always seem to mention when Martin Lawrence was on the show. Why do you always mention that? Anyway, I love you guys all very much.

Let’s go over a few training things. The NBC lapel is to be worn on the top left corner. Top left corner. That’s number one. Also, when seeing a cast member or producer, you salute with your left hand.”

We Met at the Malt Shop. He Wanted to Go Steady…

I’m sitting across from Fred Armisen at a stainless steel table in a malt shop on the Upper West Side. A malt shop? Yes, a malt shop. I’ve ordered a chocolate milkshake, and we’ve settled on a cup of coffee and a cup of chocolate ice cream for him.

Fred Said…
…On how he got into comedy: “Well, Sam, it happened like this: I was a drummer in a band for a long time, and then I played for Blue Man Group, and then, on my own, I just started making comedy videos just for fun. One thing led to another and next thing I knew I was doing standup comedy and then auditioning for SNL. I went through all the regular channels. My agent sent them a tape. They called me in to audition and it was very exciting to audition, Sam, and the rest I don’t remember.”

…On his SNL audition: “Whenever you do an SNL audition, that’s all building stuff. You know where the Third Bank elevators are, where the Fourth Bank elevators are, where all the exits are…and I had memorized it, so I did really good on that. And also the elevator schedules. I had taken the tour, where you tell me about Martin Lawrence…Um, no I had to do some characters and stuff. That’s what I did, and some impressions, you know?

…On how he found out he got on the show: “When I left the building, Marci Klein called me and it was the best phone call I ever got in my whole life. In fact, it was so good that I have it saved in my phone as the “Best Call Ever.”

…On what he does with his time off: “I work. I work on writing and doing standup comedy. I don’t like having time off, I like just working.”

…On standup versus improv: “I like doing standup better than improv, because I don’t know improv that well. I didn’t learn it, so I’m used to standup, cause then I’m just on my own, you know?”

…On college: “Maybe…imagine if I just left it at that. Maybe. Yes I did. I went to School of Visual Arts on 23rd Street. Yeah. I studied film. And originally I went because I wanted to meet musicians to be in a band with—and I did, so…It was a good place to be. It was nice, but it was kind of lame in many ways. A lot of very businesslike people there who just wanted big commercial movies…They were really into Spielberg. Anyway, well, what’s the moral? Don’t go to college, you don’t really need to. Intern somewhere and you’ll end up where you want to end up. Yeah, no, I mean go. Please go to college. Learn how to play an instrument. Try to dress nice.”

…On the NBC Pages: “They’ve always been really nice. They seem good, but they change so fast. Every year we get a different set at the desk. Why do they do that? Is it a paid job? You probably get more than we get paid. Actually I get paid well, but I give the rest to Christian charity.”

…On being a Repertory Player: “No, it’s no different. It doesn’t make a difference. They were very respectful of me and nice to me when I was a featured player, and they’re the same way now. It doesn’t make a difference. That’s just I think, all featured players, their way of saying to the audience, like, ‘Here’s the new guy. Don’t freak out. Don’t change the channel. He’s very handsome. He’s very good looking and very buff and strong, so don’t get intimidated by that.’ But, no, it’s no different at all. Same job. Same everything.”

…On Rob Riggle: “Aw, I love that guy! He’s a good guy. A funny guy, and he’s really nice, and I like him. I’ve said nice like 50 times this interview. But, he’s a very good guy.”

…On Lorne and the other producers: “They’re as open as you want them to be. It’s kind of up to you. If you want to talk to them, they’re there to talk to and if you’re working, you’re working. But usually at the parties, at the SNL parties, is where you can like socialize with them.”

…On the after party: “It’s funny, cause everyone wants to go. And I get so mad about that. I’m like, ‘Why do you want to go—why are you hassling me to go to this party? It’s nothing. It’s like going to a restaurant. So, I’m always happy when they’re bored. I’m kind of passive aggressive. You know, I hope [they] have a horrible time, after hassling me all week to get tickets.”

…On getting ticket requests from random friends: “I don’t want to complain, cause you know it’s probably bad to complain about anything, I’m so lucky to have this job at all. But, G-d damn, it’s like the way people are just like crazy—a little pushy about getting tickets and unforgiving and like, they kind of expect me to be there. And they want a lot—they want to go to the party, they want to go to the dressing room, they want to be everywhere. And, to me, it’s a workplace. It’s not a party place. So, I’m sorry if I’m not thrilled that you’re there, but like, I have stuff to think about. And there are so many people—I mean people I have heard from literally in like 20 years—that is the first question out of their mouth. They’re like, ‘Fred, I used to work with you, blah blah blah, can I get tickets?’ But, I will say no. Here’s my secret: Sometimes I do have tickets, but I say no anyway. I’m like, I can’t deal with this. I can’t deal with this. I have a little brain.”

…On boxers or briefs: “I wear boxers… like plaid. Like red and blue and black and green -- just little patterns like that, you know? Just something from the Gap or something. It’s just easy to buy cause like those are everywhere, so you just grab them.”

…On cross-dressing: “If I have to do it for a sketch it’s fun, but it’s hard being in all that gear. High heels are hard to walk in…and I always get hair in my mouth and stuff.”

…On career goals: “I wanna just—I haven’t thought that far ahead. I just want to keep this going and try to create funny things, you know? That’s all I want to do.”

…On the current quality of SNL: “I love the cast and the writers. Funny, smart people.”

…On show criticism: “If people want to talk about the show, then that’s great. If they want to spend their time talking about the show they can knock themselves out. I don’t care what they say. They can keep on talking about it, that’s fine.”

…On how he get sketch ideas: “Watching TV and just walking down the street. I walk along Central Park and just listen to my Ipod and I just try and come up with stuff, you know? Just zoning out. With some luck, something will come…If the music’s instrumental, I can come up with something better. I just picture something happening to that music. If it’s an instrumental, that’s what works.”

…On his best friends in the cast: “I’d say Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey. She lives really close by—her and her husband, Jeff and I always see them all the time. Everyone, I’m friends with everyone in the cast.”

…On how he started working out: “I became vain once I started watching the show. I was like, wait a minute, I wanna try and look good. It’s not like I go every day…You just check yourself out and go, wait a minute, I want to look a little better than that. It’s nothing to the point of plastic surgery, it’s more like just fine tuning a little bit, that’s all. It makes me feel better about myself exercising a little bit.”

…On his love life: “I was dating someone for about a year, and then, I lived with this girl when I first moved here. I got the job, but then she broke up with me cause I got too into the job. Some people manage to do it, but I don’t know how they do it. All my brain power goes to this job.”

“Anyway, well, we’re wrapping up the interview and here are some more words of advice:

Make sure to cheat on your tests. Copy off of somebody else. Spend all of your money and play lots of video games.

But, I love you all very much, I really do. For all I know, all you guys are janitors, I’m sorry. I thought you guys were janitors. I’m sorry, that’s what I thought. Anyway, okay, give me a call [number not shown]. PLEASE call me.”

Pacific Green, the gourmet fruit and vegetable store in my neighborhood, has these for sale behind the counter. Very random, but I wish I had known before my sister's bachelorette party...

Monday, November 27, 2006

I am legitimately crying after watching Sadie get dumped on The Bachelor.

I really need to get a love life of my own.

TV is not real, Sam, even reality TV.

(my niece)

NOT Cute:

This frightening thing is in the hotel we stay at in Baltimore every year. Yeah, that's a freaky bear head with a Christmas Tree body and a Little Red Riding Hood cape. Wee-erd.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Eat it, Cute Overload.

The bonus of spending Thanksgiving in Baltimore with my sister's family-in-law: PUPPIES.

ALSO going to Goodwill for some thrift shopping today.

AND this neat place called The Book Thing- a store full of books that people donate and you just take whatever you want for FREE. What a great idea.

Currently watching football in the hotel, eating pizza and having a beer. The only time I'll ever root for Notre Dame. I need them to kick USC ass for Michigan's sake. Not happening so far.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Your assy had better watch

Assy McGee
Sunday Night on [Adult Swim]

Dude, this guy was in my qualifying heat(and I am visable in this video for about 2 tenths of a second)- I can't believe he had to eat this thing three times and the guy who "won" only did it once. You don't understand how miserable eating a 30 inch hotdog is.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanks again to Meredith, some more pics from Friend Thanksgiving...

Our dryer is a canvas...

We took a picture of the Fourth of July gang to send to Grandma Bern.

In my family there is always a fight over the I went unchallenged- yahoo!

It may have been 40 degrees out, but people still made it up to the roof- brave souls (and clearly crazy).

Also, a shout out to Tim, who gave me a bit of a shock by recognising me on the subway the other night. I was not creeped out, I just felt like I had entered a bizarre alternate universe- one where strangers know about my life. I forget that people I don't know can read this (and apparently do)!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday was Thanksgiving. Friend Thanksgiving. We decided to throw a potluck feast with our friends since we'd all be different places on the actual Holiday.

Julia took on the task of preparing the actual turkey- very impressive!

Making a turkey isn't all fun and games...

I was really nervous about having enough food, so I made four pies... Needless to say I have a lot of leftover pie to eat.

Like any good party, there were fourth grade arts and crafts involved.

The Canadians even came, since I missed Canadian Thanksgiving this year. Kevin said my pupkin pie was the best he ever had. Not to brag or anything.

Julia also made gravy...

While I made brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots...

Andy was a young pilgrim. He hadn't graduated into the big hat yet...

But he ordered a Honey Baked Ham (invented in Michigan!)

The turkey was unveiled!

It was a beautiful bird.

Chip had a big hat. Like lincoln. Or a lollapalooza kid.

There was Tofurkey for the vegetarians.

The alphabet magnets are always fun.

Pat carved the turkey.

Kevin played the role of the King of England.

The rest of the pilgrim crew.

We had a LOT of food. (yeah, those are brussels sprouts in a penis mold...we ran out of serving dishes....)

The Honey Baked Ham.

Andy gave a touching Thanksgiving toast.

We weren't necessarily so politically correct.

Native American Princesses.

Finally it was time to chow down.

A verifyable cornucopia.

My sister needed a belly rub after all that food.

My sister also made an amazing pie. It runs in the family, I guess.

So does biting.

The carnage.

Chip, Meredith and Pat all stopped by today to eat (and take home) leftovers. We also managed to watch the ENTIRE marathon of Beauty and the Geek Season One on MTV. So productive.

Nope, don't want to talk about the football game.