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Showing posts from August, 2012


Evan Peters: On the Edge of Gory

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the stars of FX's fabulously frightful American Horror Story, Evan Peters.

My piece on the talented young actor, appropriately titled "On the Edge of Gory," can be found in the September (fall fashion) issue of Bello, which hits the iTunes newsstand next week.

As cliched as it sounds, I chatted with Evan over a couple of bottles of Vitamin Water high up in the Hollywood Hills while beauty editor Mathias Alan set him up with hair and makeup.

The photo shoot went extremely well. One factoid I learned: the Missouri-born actor keeps things light on set by listening to Christmas music.

Check out more previews below.



@TheFirstEcho


Why 'Felicity' Still Matters 10 Years Later

Ten years ago, a young woman named Felicity Porter graduated from the fictitious University of New York and embarked on a new life with Ben Covington, the boy she had originally moved across the country for.
Felicity (1998-2002), the WB drama about the trials and tribulations of a California girl in Manhattan adapting to the real world, was the brainchild of J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves -- long before the words "Star Trek reboot" and "Cloverfield" were ever printed on the pages of entertainment magazines everywhere.

Over its four-year run, Felicity featured one of the most likable and engaging ensembles on television. The show wasn't just about its titular heroine and her struggle between Noel (Scott Foley), the cute nerd of an RA, and Ben (Scott Speedman), the sensitive jock with daddy issues. Storylines evolved to include those hovering around one of GenY's most memorable love triangles. There was Elena (Tangi Miller), the uptight med student who had probl…


The Divided States of America

As most of you can tell from the rants and raves I publish across this great frontier we call the blogosphere, I normally don't get all political on people's asses, but I do feel that we are once again living during an important time in our country's history. A time, I feel, that will either plunge us further into an abyss of bigotry and constricting (potentially dangerous) policies...or send us down a road to a shinier, more hopeful place.

Every election is arguably more important than the one before it, but there's just something electrifying about the possible switcheroo of administrations that screams "This is big, people!" Maybe it's the fact that I'm older and have finally taken an interest in how I want my homeland to be run. Maybe it's because I have developed a preference to tune into what's currently happening around the world (thank you NPR, your All Things Considered complements my drive down Santa Monica Boulevard). Or maybe it&#…


I Did Another Podcast

I offered some movie review soundbites for the folks at Picktainment (soon to be called Screen Picks). This time around: The Dax Shepard-Kristen Bell car chase comedy, Hit and Run, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Premium Rush (now in theaters):


I Listened to Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" 17 Times Within 8 Hours

*Updated 9/14/12 Christina Aguilera's hotly anticipated new single leaked across the interwebs today, and I made sure to snatch it up before the Music Police shut down every link in the joint.
The title of the track: "Your Body." Naturally, there are explicit and clean versions of the song.
Upon my first listen, I had my doubts. I cringed at the blatant, sexually-charged lyrics. The hesitant and concerned fan in me thought, Did the girl learn nothing from 2010's "Not Myself Tonight"? Then, I was informed that Max Martin was the puppet master behind this jam -- a hitmaker for the new millennium if there ever was one. Look him up if the name doesn't ring a bell (seriously, I'll wait while you do).
Then I played it again. The opening beat was, thankfully, something that didn't come off as another David Guetta/Calvin Harris/RedOne production. Then came the chorus, and it was undeniably hot; she had me at that drawn out "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-…


What Reality TV Has Taught Me: Jersey Edition

If reality TV has taught me anything, it's this: people from New Jersey fancy themselves being just as fashionable, worldly, and sophisticated as their counterparts across the Hudson River.

The harsh truth, however, is that they're just low-rent, overly-tanned, obnoxious wannabe versions of New Yorkers.

All of the gaudy jewelry, hair product, and not-so-subtle clothing a fashionable Jersey boy/girl does not make. All of the trips "down the Shore" does not earn you the title "world traveler." And all of the pride you take in your "argumentative skills" with friends, family, and random strangers at the gas station does not qualify you as a master debater.

Thank you reality TV!

@TheFirstEcho

The Nerdist & Me

So this happened.

After months and months of trying to schedule a meeting and interview with head Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick, I was finally able check off one the items on my 2012 wishlist.

Last Thursday I drove out to Santa Monica to sit in on Chris's photo shoot for the October issue of Bello. There I chatted with "my Obi-Wan" about his passions, his newfound dominance in nerd culture, and his sharp fashion sense (the guy knows how to dress). I'm sure I'll have more to share as we get closer to the publication date (when Talking Dead premieres on AMC after the third season debut of The Walking Dead).


I also couldn't resist a little autograph request (*either he misheard my name, or his penmanship is sloppy when it comes to jotting down the letter H).

@TheFirstEcho


Theme Song of the Month: August 2012

Better late than never.

We may be halfway through the eighth month of the year, but that doesn't mean I can't find the right tune to accompany these final days of summer.

I discovered Youngblood Hawke on this hot August night (thanks to iTunes's trusty Single of the Week column), and I have a feeling it will follow me well into the fall (it's already found a slot on next season's playlist). This adorable quintet from L.A. specializes in big choruses and tubular bells along with an anthemic sensibility that should have fans of alterna-pop cheering.

See Exhibit A: "We Come Running".



@TheFirstEcho


My Anne Hathaway Story

After being an active member of the blogosphere and dabbling in the occasional journalistic gig for the past 5 years, I've had my fair share of up-close shoulder brushing with celebrities (musicians, reality TV stars, and actors who don't wish to be called celebrities -- cough, Ewan McGregor, cough). Living and working in L.A. for the past decade also comes with the "hazard" of capturing famous people in their natural habitat...or in candid moments that would make their publicists cringe (ahem, Tracy Morgan, Shia LeBeouf...I'll save those for later). 
However, rarely does a run-in with a Big Name leave an outstanding and positive impression on me. And since she wowed audiences as Selina Kyle in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises, I thought I'd share a little story about the fabulously talented Anne Hathaway...

In December of 2009 I was fortunate enough to co-write The Trevor Project's 12th annual Cracked Xmas show with my friend (and fellow writer) X…


On the Set of 'Squad 85'

My talented friend, Gregory Bonsignore (second from left, above), wrote a web series/TV pilot called Squad 85, and as I write this, it's being produced and shot at various locations throughout L.A. With real actors! And craft service!

Squad 85 is a comedy about a group of young cops from 1985 who get transported to 2012 and go undercover at a high school to fight some crime (think 21 Jump Street meets Hot Tub Time Machine).

And it just so happens I spent my Friday afternoon hanging out behind the scenes with some of the cast: Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte (below, left) and Travis Van Winkle (Friday the 13th, Meet the Spartans).


Check out Squad 85 on Twitter for more updates (it premieres this fall). Naturally, I'll have some reportage and interviews coming your way via Hotter In Hollywood.
@TheFirstEcho


8 Reasons Why August is the Crappiest Month

Let's face it. August is the red-headed stepchild of the months. When was the last time anything awesome came out of it (birthdays and vacations notwithstanding)? Consider this my long-ass Random Thought of the Week...

1. In most places, the eighth month of the year tends to be the hottest.  So congrats, August. You officially qualify to be called National Swamp Ass Awareness Month.

2. Despite the networks' adoption of year-round programming, there really is nothing to watch on TV -- the Olympics don't count. My DVR is currently filled at a light (and rare) 39%.
3. The shitty selections at the box office. Know anyone who's rushing to go see The Expendables 2, Sparkle, or The Possession?
4. Back-to-school ads are nothing to cheer about (unless you're one of the actors who booked a gig on one of them).
5. The mounting pressure to start thinking about Fall:

6. No national holiday = no 3-day weekend (Labor Day technically belongs to September).

7. Realizing you might …


Hiko Does Dallas

I recently took a trip to the Lone Star State and experienced some outstanding southern hospitality (many thanks to my awesome host, Mr. Michael Rogers). I also experienced some ungodly heat (try a high of 100...every day). During those six days I tried some mouth-watering Texas barbecue (brisket, I love thee), brushed shoulders with a couple of 'mos from The A-List: Dallas, worked on my tan, had the Worst Hangover of My Life (peach-infused whiskey and watermelon vodka do not go together y'all), and fell in love with a Bullmastiff named Zeke. 

Unfortunately, I neglected to bring my camera with me, so all I have right now are these Instagram pics I took with my phone. 
More to follow once my travel pieces for Bello Mag and Hotter In Hollywood are published (packed with reports on what I ate, where I went, and who I met). This is just a sample...

As you can see, I even attempted to stalk the Ewing family at the world-famous Southfork Ranch:

Left: Southfork Ranch. Right: the roof…


10 Things Pop Culture Should Stop Trying to Make Happen

Poor Gretchen Wieners. She tried so hard to make "fetch" happen, but those Mean Girls just wouldn't have it...

Which got me thinking about other things that have been forced down our throats by the zeitgeist, people, places, and trends that the pop culture puppeteers insist on making relevant. Here are ten items I could truly do without. If you know me, I'm not usually about spreading the hateration, but sometimes we all need a good vent.

1. Julianne Hough - Thankfully I never saw that Footloose remake. However, I did catch this summer's Rock of Ages, and while I was entertained, this 24-year-old bobblehead came close to spoiling the whole musical enchilada for me. And she's still dating Seacrest? And getting more movie roles? Why, Hollywood, why?

2. Fifty Shades of Grey - I picked up a copy at the L.A. Times Festival of Books back in April, read one page, and then felt the urge to bring it with me into a bathroom stall after eating a dozen shrimp tacos. The l…


Sandcastle: The 2012 Summer Playlist - Vol. 3

Much like Chris Nolan's Dark Knight legend, my Best Summer Ever trilogy of tunage must come to an end. August may mark the beginning of the end of the season, but cheer up. We got at least six more weeks of summery goodness, and you'll need a soundtrack to alleviate those back-to-school blues.

Keep that sunscreen handy...

1. "Spectrum" by Zedd feat. Matthew Koma

2. "Good Time" by Owl City feat. Carly Rae Jepsen - A welcome respite from the ubiquitous "Call Me Maybe."

3. "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" by Pink - Despite that shrieking chorus, it's still a worthy addition (I have a feeling that better singles await us).

4. "Sex Yeah" by Marina and the Diamonds:

5. "Now or Never" by Outasight

6. "Shooting Stars" by Bag Raiders:

7. "Perfect World" by Gossip

8. "Rainbow Connection" by Weezer feat. Hayley Williams - A melancholy cover perfect for a nighttime drive through your neighborhood. Try …