Some Halloween Required Reading

For all you youngin's out there who have their noses stuck in the pages of any novel featuring characters named Katniss, Bella, or Dumbledore, I implore you to listen to your bookworm elders and focus your attention on the literary oeuvre of R.L. Stine.

The book to your right is the eighth in a series called Fear Street. Each installment focuses on the horrific goings-on in a stateless town called Shadyside. In the fall of 1992, I happened upon this book and was introduced to its murder mysteries and supernatural mayhem when I was 12. Since then, I couldn't get enough, and I stuck with the series up until its 10-part miniseries finale in 1999 (you should see my bookshelf). I wrote about my obsession four years ago here.

Anyway, Halloween Party is about a girl who invites a particular group of her classmates to her spooky house on the titular street for a party they'll never forget. There's a dead body or two (or three) and one hell of a plot twist by the end that's reminiscent to the plot of ABC's Revenge.

And once you're done with that, check out Stine's non-Fear Street titles below. I may be a full-grown adult now, but I may just crack open one of these paperbacks tonight for the sake of 90s nostalgia.

Trick or treat, people. Don't get killed.


@TheFirstEcho


Why I'm Digging 'Cloud Atlas'

I knew it had the potential to be messy in some parts. I knew some of the makeup was going to be questionable. But after sitting through 3 hours of Cloud Atlas, a movie I had been anticipating ever since I laid my eyes on that oversized, M83-fueled trailer, I feel satisfied, appreciative, impressed, and grateful.

Grateful for Hollywood allowing this production to happen. Impressed that there are filmmakers who can lure big names to a risky, big-concept film. Appreciative of a movie that can speak to my emotions by daring to explore the very abstract concept of an afterlife, of human connectivity, of past lives, and of a journey one soul can take through time and space. Satisfied that a film has tapped into our collective subconscious in an attempt to explain the metaphysics of our world.

The multiple role-playing in Cloud Atlas, while a great and exciting challenge for all of the actors involved, isn't gimmicky at all. The pacing is sharp and crackling, weaving the six stories together within the epic runtime (Believe it or not, I could've watched more). Needless to say, a repeat viewing is in order; there's bound to be more that can be discovered within its intricate narrative. While there are many philosophical nuggets embedded in each story, none of them feel heavy-handed.

I'm still debating whether or not this film will be slotted in my Top 10 list of 2012, but right now I can't shake it. The score is exquisite and haunting. The set pieces are impressive. And it is a mess...but it's a mesmerizing mess, a giant puzzle that admirably mashes up genres and ties them beautifully together. If you're one of those moviegoers who doesn't want to be bothered with a film that challenges you and requires you to use your brain, then by all means, buy your tickets in advance for the final Twilight flick.

My filmmaker friend, David Kittredge may have put it best:

CLOUD ATLAS is visionary, varsity-level Cinema with a capital C that aims for the profound and hits more often than not. You can quibble, but it's smart, passionate and at times even transcendent. It not only values the viewer's intelligence, it requests active participation. I really loved it. If you're interested in supporting cinema that's risky, smart, personal and unbelievably audacious, get off your butt and buy a ticket this weekend. See it on the big screen - you won't be sorry.


@TheFirstEcho


Superstorm Sandy Bitchslaps Halloween

Thankfully I picked the right time to leave New York after last week's visit to see friends and family.

As I write this, my parents are without power (and water), a tree has fallen on my father's Nissan, and a rollercoaster I used to ride during summer vacations in Seaside Heights, New Jersey has been washed away by the Atlantic Ocean (below).

The incoming pictures are horrifying, and although a part of me wishes I could be there to rough it out with loved ones, I'm counting blessings (no one I know has been injured).


To my friends in Manhattan, stay safe, help each other out, and be patient. I know your city's been through the ringer, but a wise American Idol winner once sang, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

To the countless kids who were excited to go out trick-or-treating tomorrow, I'm afraid Halloween might be cancelled this year. Stay inside. You're better off watching watching horror movies (if you don't have power, work those imaginations and tell ghost stories around a flashlight) and guilt-tripping your parents into letting you eat ice cream sundaes for dinner -- before it melts -- and all-you-can-eat chocolate for dessert. And hey, you may not have school the next day! Try to look on the bright, dryer side.

To those TV viewers on the East Coast who watch NBC's Revolution, I hope you took notes on how to survive a massive blackout; who knows when the power will be turned back on? I hope you're well stocked. If not, at least you'll enjoy a nice sugar rush from all the Halloween candy you bought for those trick-or-treaters who most likely won't be knocking on your door.


10 Hipster Halloween Costumes I'll Never Wear


Forget the sexification of ordinary Halloween costumes. Major cities like Los Angeles are starting to see a growing trend in costumes catering to those who love all things alternative. To those of you who wish to take a break from the flannel shirts and skinny jeans, I'm sure you'll come up with something that perfectly expresses your disinterest in the holiday. But in the meantime, here are a few outfits I won't be surprised to see should I find myself driving through Silverlake, Echo Park, or Los Feliz this year...

1. Intelligentsia Coffee Barista -- Comes with a shot of sarcasm and a dollop of biting rhetoric.

2. Any Character from a Wes Anderson Film -- Because hipsters like their heroes despondent and consider Anderson to be their Scorsese. And the slightly obscure reference will ironically make them popular with their own kind.

3. Pabst Blue Ribbon Truck Driver -- Even better if you make good on your disguise and deliver a few six-packs to that underground party in Williamsburg.

4. A Meta Meme -- Made from scratch, this costume not only has the lifespan of your average tweet (7 seconds), it's an exercise in ultimate irony, poking fun at one's self.

5. Any Character from Sesame Street -- Hipsters are most likely to go retro and don a colorful outfit from their favorite childhood program despite Big Bird's place in the mainstream spotlight after Mitt Romney's unfortunate comments in 2012.

6. Daria -- Green wool jacket. Black pleated skirt. Doc Martens. And a pair of black-rimmed glasses. Otherwise known as any random items pulled from the closet of a hipster who's suffering from a case of 90s nostalgia.

7. Waldo -- Yet another character whose clothes won't be hard to find...because they're probably on sale at Urban Outfitters. Where's Waldo? He's in the back smoking a joint while criticizing the new Mumford & Sons album.

8. Leftover Outfit from Burning Man -- It may still reek of patchouli, but it'll do.

9. Vegan Police -- Bravely defending the world from meat eaters and promoting the benefits of a dairy-free diet.

10. Lena Dunham/Zooey Deschanel -- If you're a guy, this is your chance to become the drag queen you were destined to become.

Happy Halloween,

@TheFirstEcho


I'm with the DJ

Last night was the annual Halloween Havoc bash, this time in Santa Monica, and yours truly provided some tunage for the costumed masses. As you can see, I decided to go for a Doctor Death kind of look. Or perhaps you could call me a spin doctor. Get it? Spinning records...even though I didn't touch single piece of vinyl.

It was another successful event. Once again, I got a kick out of standing behind my little station, grinding with the cardboard cutouts behind me, and watching friends and strangers throw their hands up in the air like they just don't care.

 

There's nothing quite like the experience of watching a crowd react when you start blaring the Crooklyn Clan remix of Faith Evans's "Love Like This" followed by some "How Many Licks" and "Dirrty."

Good times.

@TheFirstEcho


What I'm Reading: 'Red Rain'

A travel blogger survives a wicked hurricane off the coast of South Carolina and stumbles upon twin orphan boys in the wreckage. She adopts them, bringing them back to her home and family in Long Island, New York. Bad idea -- these innocent-looking, fair-haired kids got some evil tricks up their sleeve...

And so kicks off Part 1 of Red Rain, R.L. Stine's thrill-a-chapter novel. That's right -- R.L. Stine. The man known around the globe for terrorizing kids and teens with his Goosebumps and Fear Street series (I've read the first 16 of the former and own all 80-plus titles of the latter). This time he's clearly catering to all of his readers who came of age during the 1990s, his golden era, by penning a horror novel for them. Packed with adult themes, naughty words, and sexual overtones, this book is one that should be kept, as the cover states, "far, far away from your kids."

In all actuality, it's an easy-breezy read with just the right amount of gore, quick chapters to keep you hooked, and an ensemble of expendable characters. Perfect to please the masses.

My 12-year-old self would've never believed that this author was still prominently featured on my bookshelf 20 years later.

@TheFirstEcho


Autumn in New York

             

             


      


Party Politics: How the RSVP Became Irrelevant

It's one thing to turn down an Evite to a party, but it's another can of worms that's opened whenever "Maybe" is the response given.

To some party hosts, "Maybe" is that waiting room where responses dwell before eventually heading off to "No"-ville. To others, "Maybe" is a chicken-shit way of saying, "Thanks, but I'd rather stay home and pluck my nosehairs while reorganizing my spice rack...but count me in -- just in case!"

Personally, I'm all for doing away with the Maybe column on Evites. It creates confusion and unnecessary stress for the party host. Cups need to be counted. Beer bottles need to be rationed. The number of track marks need to be estimated on the freshly shampooed carpet.

And then there's Not Yet Responded, possibly the worst category to fall under. To some hosts, this means you really don't give a shit, especially when the host can see who has viewed the Evite, a feature probably unknown to those who have never written an e-mail in their life. And does one bother to include habitual Not Yetters in future Evites? Is it a waste of kilobytes for the inbox?

Why not be retro and bring back physical paper invites that you can put in the mail? Bring back the excitement of holding an actual card with your name neatly printed on a crisp white envelope. Give the folks over at Papyrus some business and invest in a box of Anne Geddes stationery! Haven't we saved enough trees?

Most Evites encourage the addition of a plus-one or -two (the plussing of 14 doesn't make you look popular or funny -- you're just an asshole). However, is there a limit? Should there be one included in the message? What number makes a posse or an entourage? Must you be the guy who has to bring his "crew" because "that's how you roll"?

At this point, some of you may be asking, "Who the hell uses Evites anymore?" Answer: those who still think it's cool to say "Totes." True, more people are now abusing the privilege of the Facebook Event Invite, further making the concept of RSVPing even more pointless. Right now we're living in a time when the democratization of invitation sending has made RSVPs somewhat irrelevant. Nowadays we're inundated with so many invites and event alerts, some of us have stopped paying attention and just move on to the next distraction in our inboxes. Does anyone care anymore? Whoever shows up will show up. Those who don't, f**k 'em.

This weekend is Halloween Havoc XII, an annual costume bash my friend Matt produces. Naturally, I play the role of DJ, something I've done for the past seven years. I'm as proud of my playlist as a father is proud of his Little League star of a son.

Regardless of the Evite replies we've gotten in the past, the parties are always ginormous successes. The expected 200-plus guests usually show up, even if the number of RSVPs may not reflect the final tally. All that matters is that there's enough alcohol to have a fun (and responsible) time.

See you under the cobwebs and strobelights this Saturday.

@TheFirstEcho


Today I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

By this afternoon I will be escaping the constant sunshine and 90-degree weather of Los Angeles and embracing the foliage and autumn chill of New York.

I anticipate quality time with family (without wanting to shoot myself), an occasional rainstorm, curling up with a pumpkin latte in a cafe, and waxing nostalgic on times long gone like I always do whenever I make a trip back home. One week should do the trick. Then, like any good Angeleno, I'll start pining for my flip-flops and my bed.

Naturally, I will be taking plenty of photos -- now that I'm practically a tourist after a decade of calling L.A. my home.

Instagram followers, beware (@thefirstecho).

Looking forward to reuniting my ass with one of Virgin America's lovely seats,

H.P.M.

@TheFirstEcho


Cornucopia II: The Bonus Tracks

Because one disc wasn't enough. And I'm a sucker for sequels.

1. "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida -- The adorable Brit has enlisted the southern rapper in order to help him break out Stateside. Yes, it sounds like a Maroon 5 rip-off. Get over it:

2. "Catch My Breath" by Kelly Clarkson -- One of three new songs from her upcoming Greatest Hits collection. Yes, it's a decade worth of Kelly. Get over it.

3. "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)" by Ne-Yo

4. "Beauty and a Beat" by Justin Bieber feat. Nicki Minaj -- A collaboration that is neither another sign of the Apocalypse nor a cause for ears to bleed. It's actually a harmless and catchy romp.

5. "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift -- Otherwise known as The Song That Killed Dubstep. *To be played only for ironic purposes.

6. "What About Us (Buzz Junkies Radio Edit)" by The Saturdays

7. "Top of the World" by Owl City

8. "Clarity" by Zedd feat. Foxes

9. "Turn Around" by Conor Maynard feat. Ne-Yo

10. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Darren Criss -- How dare those teenyboppers at Glee cover one of my all-time favorite songs. But guess what? It works.

11. "Standing in the Dark" by Lawson:

12. "Crying Out Your Name" by Loreen

13. "Channel 42" by Deadmau5 feat. Wolgang Gartner

14. "Lookin' Hot" by No Doubt

15. "Something New" by Girls Aloud -- The bitches are back to celebrate their 10-year anniversary (Cheryl Cole included!). Get it here.

Enjoy.

@TheFirstEcho


What I'm Reading: 'Maryann in Autumn'

I started reading the Tales of the City series while I was in college. The PBS miniseries that was based on these books had piqued my interest with its ensemble cast (Laura Linney, Billy Campbell, Olympia Dukakis) and alternative soap opera sensibilities (Quirky plot twists! LGBT love triangles!). Naturally, being the bookworm I am, I had to read them first.

Once I picked up Armistead Maupin's first installment, I couldn't  wait to move on to the next. His Dickensian approach to life in San Francisco was enchanting and introduced me to a world in which I would have loved to live.

And now, I'm finally getting around to reading the eighth book in the series, Maryann in Autumn, which chronicles a trio of characters from the original trilogy (Michael Tolliver, Anna Madrigal, and our titular heroine) as well as a handful of newbies.

Whereas the first six books celebrated the ups and downs of 70s and 80s lifestyles, subtly commenting on the societal issues at hand without being trite, this one jumps ahead to 2010 and finds our ladies and gentlemen settling into their golden years, adjusting to a new digital culture (shout outs to Facebook!), and questioning the legacies they'll eventually leave behind. With equal page time dedicated to characters like Jake, Jonah, and Shawna (Maryann's bisexual blogger daughter), it seems like Maupin is prepping readers for the next generation while continuing to carefully observe the lives of some of fiction's most beloved figures.

Utterly readable. Completely cozy. Undeniably lovable.

@TheFirstEcho


Guilty Pleasure of the Week: 'Girl vs. Monster'


Why am I suddenly (unabashedly) a 12-year-old girl? Because I'm actually looking forward to DVRing this tonight and enjoying some juvenile Halloween antics. There, I said it.



By the way, did anyone catch that awesome season finale of My Babysitter's a Vampire? Anyone?

@TheFirstEcho


My 500th Post: A Week in Pop Culture Consumption


In order to celebrate my 500th post on this site, I thought I'd keep an e-diary of my cultural consumption over a seven-day period. Inspired by John August's latest contribution to Vulture.com, I took to my laptop and recorded one week in the life of yours truly. This is what went down...

Day One

2:18pm - Burned a mix CD featuring the new James Bond theme song, "Skyfall," by the magnificent Adele (yes, I realize this is 2012, and yes, I still make mix CDs). I plan to blare it as I drive through Santa Monica and pick up a paycheck for a treatment writing job I completed a month ago.

8:48pm - Movie Night: Popped in a DVD of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer while dogsitting the adorable Jax at a friend's condo in Hollywood. I get a kick out of showing my friends the Ben Affleck and Ricki Lake cameos in Joss Whedon's 20-year-old horror comedy. I had brought several Blu-rays with me with the hope of pulling a marathon viewing on the couch this weekend.

Day Two

11:02am - Finally started watching the Director's Cut of Watchmen. Holy crap this version is long.

2:30pm - I finish the last half of one of my favorite films of the year, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I decide that I would like Dame Judi Dench to narrate my biopic.

3:30pm - I proceed to get lost in some DirecTV channel surfing and attempt to catch up on the episodes of Homeland I've missed, but Showtime OnDemand doesn't seem to be working.

5:15pm - Realizing I've wasted a perfectly gorgeous Saturday in my friend's condo -- the view of downtown L.A. is quite hypnotizing -- I finally go outside and drive to Target to pick up some St. Ives facial scrub, and miraculously, I leave the store without any extra purchases. This is a first.

6:25pm - I drive to Melrose to get a quick haircut at Rudy's where my stylist and I discuss Halloween costume suggestions. She considers dressing up as anything she can rummage out of her closet.

7:00pm - Craving more carbs after an afternoon of inhaling nachos and popcorn, I stop at Luca on Sunset to pick up a vegetable pizza, discreetly ogle the hot trainee they got behind the register, and buy a large Black Forest at The Coffee Bean across the street.

8:30pm - I invite my friend Stephanie to come over and introduce her to the bizarre world of Richard Kelly's Southland Tales. I had recently been inspired to rewatch it after trading Facebook comments about the film with director David Kittredge. Upon my fifth viewing of the film, I still try to wrap my head around the absurdly eclectic casting choices.

Day Three

9:45am - Took Jax out for his morning walk. He pooped twice. Good boy.

2:30pm - Coffee at Priscilla's in Burbank where they once filmed an episode of Desperate Housewives (I think). The coffeeshop isn't writer-friendly; there are no power outlets to recharge a laptop. #Fail.

7:05pm - Finally return to my own apartment and overheat my DVR. With Revenge, 666 Park Avenue, the RHONJ reunion, the season premiere of the new Upstairs Downstairs, the premiere of that Steel Magnolias remake, and Homeland, Sunday night has become a traffic jam of titillating television.

7:13pm - I find the recent of issue of Entertainment Weekly, which is the only print magazine I subscribe to, under a pile of mail I haven't picked up since Thursday. I see that it's the Reunions Issue, turn to the Melrose Place cast photos, and proceed to freak the f**k out.

Day Four

11:12am - Published my piece for ScreenPicks entitled "9 Things to Expect at Press Junkets". It's a harmless, wannabe expose on the goings-on during celebrity interviews.

7:30pm - I attend a press screening of Sinister with Matt at The Landmark in West L.A. I enjoy watching Ethan Hawke get the shit scared out of him. Mental note: Don't move into a house where the previous inhabitants fell prey to a child-eating ghoul.

Day Five

9:30am - I arrive at the gym and thankfully discover that my lucky elliptical machine isn't being monopolized by that pesky Wolf Blitzer lookalike who smells like mothballs.

11:00am - I wait in line outside Culver Studios with Kristen to attend a taping of The Ricki Lake Show. Today's topic: ambush makeovers. #FriendsOfRicki.

12:20pm - I am hating myself for not eating a substantial post-workout meal while I continue to sit and wait to go into the studio. And it kills me that I have no iPhone/Twitter/Instagram/Facebook to consult while I wait. I am officially a nomophobe (a person who fears being without a mobile phone).

1:05pm - I stand on stage in front of Ricki Lake's studio audience and accept a challenge to a dance-off. My ass busts a move while my jeans rip and bust a hole in my crotch. As a prize, I receive four tickets to the Hollywood Improv.

1:55pm - I stand in the middle of the studio audience next to Ricki herself and ask fashion gurus Lawrence Zarian and Kim Vo, "Do you guys have any fall fashion tips for the men in the audience?" Look Ma, I'm on TV!

5:12pm - I make a quick run to Target to check out all of the new releases (E.T. 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray!) and unabashedly purchase a copy of Rock of Ages (Extended Edition).

Day Six

10:30am - I catch the music video premiere of Pink's "Try." It's possibly one of her best videos to date. And: abs for days.

1:05pm - I read on the interwebs that CBS has cancelled Made in Jersey, which, to me, looks like it was made in Hell. Seriously, I viewed the pilot two months ago and couldn't believe a network exec gave it a greenlight. Shortly afterwards, I read the news about the same network buying a script from the girl who started the popular "Hollywood Assistants" Tumblr. Naturally, I react by writing a piece about it.

2:30pm - I study Facebook's terms and conditions in order to find a way to shut down a page of an imposter posing as a client of mine. This shit is tricky.

5:30pm - I get sucked into an episode of TLC's Long Island Medium and decide that I would love to have lunch with Teresa Caputo...y'know, without the whole dead people thing.

7:00pm - I stop by Book Soup in West Hollywood to support my friend Ned Vizzini whose book, The Other Normals, has recently hit stores. He did a brief reading and signing, followed by a small reception with Sprinkles cupcakes and champagne. As I already have my own autographed copy of his book, I quickly search the shelves for R.L. Stine's latest adult horror novel, Red Rain, and compulsively buy it after I say my goodbyes to Ned.

7:50pm - I drive/soar down Sunset Boulevard towards Los Feliz to catch my friend Tim perform at Rockwell. I regrettably miss his first two numbers, but I manage to grab a seat near the stage and enjoy the show.

Day Seven

8:34am - I wish Luke Perry a happy birthday -- via Hotter in Hollywood's Facebook page.

10:00am - I edit Beth Dinkel's ScreenPicks review of Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul. Kind of makes me wish I had seen the movie myself.

1:55pm - I do some research on Bear Mountain Inn for my impending trip to New York. My parents and I plan to take my 90-year-old grandmother for a scenic autumn lunch during my visit.

2:22pm - I put in requests at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for copies of DVDs and Blu-rays in order to host some giveaways on Hotter in Hollywood. Preferably movies that people would actually want to win.

2:45pm - I get a tweet from the folks at Virgin America, replying to my shout-out regarding my flight back east. Makes me feel all warm and tingly inside.

3:30pm - Leave my social media manager's desk for the day, hit the gym in an attempt to burn off today's lunch, and then go home where I plan to watch Iron Sky. If you have no idea what this movie is, check out the trailer. Amazeballs.

And that's about it! Cataloging my daily activities and thoughts is kind of strange, but fun nonetheless. For the three of you who have stayed tuned to this blog, thanks for sticking it out with me after these 500 chapters.

Here's to the next 500.

@TheFirstEcho


Cute White Girl with Glasses Sells Sitcom to CBS

The news broke out on Wednesday morning here in L.A.: Lauren Bachelis, creator of the popular Tumblr, Hollywood Assistants, sold a TV comedy to CBS that's based on her blog. And Fred Savage is attached to direct and executive produce it! Fred. Freakin'. Savage.

It's the stuff Tinseltown dreams are made of: lowly assistant who strives to be a writer gets discovered, lands some hot representation, and is offered a sweet deal. It's also the stuff on which bitter jealousies thrive.

From Deadline: "Bachelis launched the Hollywood Assistants blog in May while working as an assistant at CAA, where she spent nearly a year before landing a job as assistant to New Girl creator/executive producer Liz Meriweather. Bachelis worked on the show for a couple of months, leaving on Aug. 3. The following week, she landed a blind script deal at CBS Studios, which led to 20-Nothings. Bachelis, who is now repped by CAA and Mosaic, started off doing internships on NBC’s Heroes for NBC and at PR firm Rogers & Cowan and served as a production assistant on Judge Judy. She continues to update the Hollywood Assistants blog every day."

Let's break down the above announcement/press release, shall we? Now, while I'm happy to see Miss Bachelis "make it," I can't help thinking I was a PA when she was probably learning how to drive. Let's do the math: if she was an intern on Heroes, which ended its run in 2010, that could very well put her around the age of 24 or 25 now. Do we have the next Lena Dunham on our hands?

Next, Lauren paid her dues for a year at the soul-sucking factory that is CAA, just like any fresh-faced twentysomething out of college. It also says she got a job being an assistant to the showrunner of a hit Fox sitcom. Sweet. A definite move in the right direction. 

However, this is where things get a little hazy for me. Why, after "a couple of months," did she leave such a comfy position? And how exactly did she, an assistant with (allegedly) no writing credits whatsoever, land "a blind script deal" (when a network or studio gives a writer a script deal before they even know what the idea is for the script)? Inquiring minds of writers like myself would like to know. We'd like to hear the boring details of Bachelis's success story and fully understand how this all came to be. Mainstream industry news outlets like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter seem to love skipping over the tiny details many would otherwise appreciate. 

The Fempire (L-R): Dana Fox, Diablo Cody, Liz Meriweather and Lorene Scafaria

The mention of Liz Meriweather's name is interesting. For those of you who don't know, Meriweather is (or was) a member of The Fempire, a successful foursome of female film and TV writers and best friends who have navigated the Hollywood waters together, inspiring each other, supporting one another (Liz is the one wearing glasses). I wouldn't be surprised if Meriweather stuck to her help-a-sister-out philosophy and had something to do with getting Bachelis's script noticed. If that's true, then why can't they put that in the press release? Where's the shame in that? Showrunner Helps Assistant Sell Script! Would that put the pressure on other showrunners and producers to be more generous with their assistants? I'm sure Bachelis is a talented writer, but when you have a connection like that, it makes for a perfect storm of success. She happened to have a good script AND her Tory Burch-covered foot in the door. When you get down to it, it's a classic example of Who You Know.

And while we're at it, let's take a look at Lauren's headshot. It perfectly screams "I'm a writer!" The eyeglasses are a nice touch (mimicking Meriweather perhaps?). I just hope they're real. There's nothing that annoys me more than an attractive hipster type who wears spectacles without actual prescription lenses. I can hear the in-house photographer at CAA screaming, "You're a sexy blogger! Give me demure yet devilish! You're the girl next door every nerd wants to get with!"

I'm sure, in the near future -- especially if this CBS sitcom takes off -- Miss Bachelis will sit on a panel at her alma mater and speak to a crowd of college-age hopefuls about making it in the industry. I just hope she tells it like it is, that, while she worked hard to get where she is, she's also extremely fortunate to get her first TV deal when it usually takes double, even triple, the time for others to get a break like hers. While I hope this inspires students and other struggling writers, I also hope this is used as an exception, not an example, of how Hollywood works.


9 Things About Press Junkets Hollywood Doesn't Want You To Know


The Press Junket is sometimes a surreal experience, mostly boring, but it is a necessary evil that keeps the ginormous bullet train that is Hollywood chugging along. Actors talk and bullshit, and journalists nod and report. You see, writers who are members of the press (online, print and TV) like to think they hold most of the power when it comes to determining the success of a movie or a television show. And for the most part, they're right. The written word is a weapon they use that either makes or breaks a project. especially those involved in it. These writers are an alert bunch; mention something in passing, and they will publish it for all to see and read -- usually in an entirely different context.

Over a year ago I wrote a blog about my first experiences at a press junket. Now, having made my rounds in the circuit for various websites and magazines throughout the past two years, I feel as if I've been exposed to a fair amount of the shenanigans and politics that exist during roundtable interviews and press conferences. A seasoned pro I am not, but I do find myself becoming well acquainted with the privilege of sitting across tables from various actors, writers, and directors while they try to sell me their big-budgeted product.

Therefore, I've distinguished nine things I've picked up on while navigating the celeb-filled waters of these promotional gatherings. And I recently shared them with the folks over at ScreenPicks...

Check them out HERE.

@TheFirstEcho


Cornucopia: The 2012 Fall Playlist, Vol. 2


Autumn is in full swing, except here in L.A. where early October will get you 90 degrees worth of sweat, sunburn, and sticky leather seats in your Mini Cooper convertible. So before you overdose on candy corn and pumpkin scones this month, open your ears to these tracks I've hunted and gathered for your musical feast.

Don't worry, they're gluten-free.

1. "This Kiss" by Carly Rae Jepsen -- Because this Canadian tartlet has proven that she can keep up the infectiousness. It may not be as ubiquitous as "Call Me Maybe," but it's an admirable second effort nonetheless.

2. "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Capital Cities -- Sinead O'Connor's 1990 hit gets an electro-lounge makeover...and all is well with the world:


3. "Die Young" by Ke$ha -- Congrats to Miss Glitter Tramp for making it to this list. Finally, a single of hers that doesn't make me want to put a scalpel to my ears -- yet.

4. "Try" by Pink -- The second single from the awesome The Truth About Love is an uplifting piece of pop-rock perfection.

5. "Runnin'" by Adam Lambert -- A bonus track that will never see the light of day and never be enjoyed by the masses. Shame, because this one hell of a rousing production that should be blared on the highways.

6. "How to Be a Heartbreaker" by Marina and the Diamonds -- Or, if you like watching a bunch of speedo-wearing hotties showering together, then by all means, watch the video.

7. "Take A Walk" by Passion Pit

8. "The City" by Madeon:

9. "Skyfall" by Adele -- Simply the best Bond theme song since 1995's "Goldeneye." A perfect union of vocals and orchestration. Stay classy, Miss Adkins.

10. "Radioactive" by Rita Ora

11. "Masquerade" by Nicki Minaj

12. "Sweet Nothing" by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch:

13. "Push and Shove" by No Doubt

14. "Must Be The Love (Radio Edit)" by Arty & BT feat. Nadia Ali

15. "Flower" by Kylie Minogue

16. "Diamonds" by Rihanna

17. "Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars:



18. "Close Enemies" by Example -- I'm coining the term "emo-dubstep" for this one.

19. "We Came to Smash" by Martin Solveig feat. Dev -- If you've seen Pitch Perfect, then you probably bounced in your seat along to this techno thumper.

20. "Girl On Fire (Inferno Version)" by Alicia Keys feat. Nicki Minaj

21. "My Passion" by Akcent

22. "After Party" by Koffee Brown"

23. "Don't Stop The Party" by Pitbull feat. TJR

Happy Halloween Costume Hunting,

@TheFirstEcho


Jenna Dewan-Tatum Loves 'Downton Abbey'


The October issue of Bello is now available in the iTunes Newsstand, and featured on its cover is my interview with the gorgeous Jenna Dewan-Tatum from American Horror Story: Asylum (click on the above image for an excerpt). I spent some time with the actress-dancer on a hot Saturday morning inside a studio on Melrose, where I also provided some 90s jams for her photo shoot.

Naturally, I made a fool of myself while trying to match the choreography to Janet Jackson's "If" in front of her. What was I thinking?

@TheFirstEcho


The 2012 Fall TV Season Thus Far

Because the 2012-13 TV season is in full swing, my ass has gotten fully reacquainted with my couch and remote control. Therefore, I thought I'd offer my two cents on some of the newbies that are heating up my DVR and currently making me come back for more, which is subject to change of course...

1. 666 Park Avenue (ABC) - Beautiful rich people live in a ritzy New York City apartment building that may or may not be the gateway to Hell (insert housing market jokes here). The cute guy from Brothers and Sisters (Dave Annable) is the manager. The creepy bald dude from Lost (Terry O'Quinn) is the secretive landlord. And the MILF-y vixen from Desperate Housewives (Vanessa Williams) is his wife. Way to recycle your talent, ABC.

2. Nashville (ABC) - The network that brought us Dynasty and Desperate Housewives knows how to deliver a good primetime soap, and this time the suds are hitting the fan down south. Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere are rival country music divas...and that's all you really need to know. Catfight potential = high.

3. Revolution (NBC) - J.J. Abrams slapped his name on this ambitious serialized thriller about how the people of Earth are dealing 15 years after a global blackout. I'm still wary of the show's "big concept" because of many of its kind (Jericho, Flash Forward, Invasion) haven't lasted. And I have yet to find any charisma in young lead Tracy Spiridakos underneath the layers of Katniss Everdeen clothes in they've styled her in. But then there are those pesky questions: What or who caused the blackout? Will the power ever come back? Am I really going to invest my time in another cryptodrama?



4. American Horror Story: Asylum (FX) - It's the only show on this list I have yet to preview (it premieres in 2 weeks), but my hopes are high because a) it's Ryan Murphy b) there's Adam Levine -- in a wifebeater c) Jessica Lange plays a sinister nun (what other kind is there?) d) Zach Quinto returns and e) lesbians. In other words, I'm ready for a souped-up serving of insanity. By the way, did I mention I interviewed one of its stars, Jenna Dewan-Tatum?

5. Partners (CBS) - It's being touted as the new Will & Grace, probably because it comes from the masterminds behind the dearly departed 00s sitcom. One guy's straight (David Krumholtz). The other one's gay (Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie). And together, they're BFFs who also work together at their own architectural firm. Judging from the cute pilot, all the elements are there. Just feels a little too 90s right now.

6. The Mindy Project (Fox) - Mindy Kaling is a self-deprecating doctor who's single and ready to mingle. So it doesn't help that she's surrounded by handsome colleagues and enough sexual tension to power a small village.

7. Elementary (CBS) - America's attempt to remake BBC's reboot stars Jonny Lee Miller as iconic detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson (yes, she's a chick, get over it) solving crimes and swapping idiosyncratic moments in murder-filled Manhattan. Otherwise known as That New Crime Procedural Your Parents Will Love.



8. The New Normal (NBC) - The right-wing has a new show to hate! My favorite new comedy of the season is another concoction whipped up by Ryan Murphy. Here, a gay couple hire a 24-year-old single mom as their surrogate. Nitpicking at their heels is the mom's ultra-conservative, Obama-bashing grandma (the spectacular Ellen Barkin) who will do anything to make their lives a living Republican National Convention.

9. Last Resort (ABC) - Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman command the screen in this crackling action thriller about the crew of a nuclear submarine that goes rogue and is forced to create their own republic on an island after ignoring shady orders to attack Pakistan. It's like Michael Bay and J.J. Abrams had a lovechild and gave it up to network TV for adoption. Let's see how far they can go with this one.

10. Ben and Kate (Fox) - A single brother and his divorced sister bicker and banter while raising a kid. Unexpectedly LOL-worthy and a perfect addition to the network's roster of laughers.

@TheFirstEcho


Christina Aguilera's 'Stripped' Turns 10

It was the highly anticipated album known for transforming a sugary-sweet pop princess into a feisty, cornrowed, assless chaps-wearing ho-bag who looked like she could've used a couple of STD shots.

Christina Aguilera's sophomoric follow-up to her self-titled debut, Stripped, was released this month back in 2002. From the lead single ("Dirrty") to the provocative black-and-white cover (right), it flaunted its ambition. It was the 21-year-old singer's attempt to break away from the teen pop mold that had its hold on her at the turn of the 21st century. The introductory track made the album's message abundantly clear: "Sorry you can't define me/ Sorry I break the mold/ Sorry that I speak my mind/ Sorry don't do what I'm told." Behold "Xtina" and her bold, new musical change.

Some cynics and critics were quick to dismiss the disc as a kind of schizophrenic mess, jumping from hip-hop-flavored dance anthems (the aforementioned single, which still gets club play today) to rock-tinged foot stompers ("Fighter") to inspirational ballads ("Beautiful," "Soar," "The Voice Within"). Remember though, the girl was 21. What other artist her age had the cojones to experiment with such range?

She was damned if she stayed predictable and damned if she strayed from formula. And now, in hindsight, we're glad she took the risk, showed off those piercings, and layered on the hooker makeup.

However, such reinvention wasn't entirely new at the start of the 2000s. The alumni of the Teen Pop Boom of the late 90s were all taking chances with their images and musical stylings. NSYNC's second album aimed to celebrate the boy band's break from the shady puppeteers that did them wrong; it was aptly titled No Strings Attached (2000). P!nk's Missundaztood (2001) was a refreshingly daring collection of hits that was the result of her collaboration with original Grrl Linda Perry. Mandy Moore's self-titled follow-up (2001) even experimented with Middle Eastern flavors. These were "kids" who learned a thing or two the first time around. They wanted to prove that they were far from being one-hit wonders. Call it the New Millennium Effect; not only was it a new decade, it was a new century. And there seemed to exist an air of ambition never before seen in pop music. Rules were broken, risks were taken, and record labels were defied.

But back to Christina. In retrospect, Stripped is possibly one of the most underrated pop albums to come out of the 2000s. Rather than rush through factory-made fodder after her 1999 debut, Aguilera took three years to perfect an album that she could be proud of and make her boldly stand out from the litter of like-minded GenY acts.

You know an album is great when it can be played straight through without skipping a track. Every song on Stripped had the potential to be released as a successful single. From the lesser known tracks to the chart-toppers, every musical piece of this pop puzzle deserved a chance in the spotlight...

"Can't Hold Us Down" -- This battle cry exposes the double standards in pop music and features Lil Kim, no doubt a friend Xtina must have made while working on "Lady Marmalade" the year prior to this release.

"Walk Away" -- A slow burning confessional about resisting seduction. "Your love was like candy, artificially sweet/ I was deceived by the wrapper," she coos. Perfect for those nights when you feel like performing a striptease in front of a loved one. Also works as a theme song for anyone looking to break free from the brothel business.

"Infatuation" -- Christina's excuse to capitalize on her Latin roots is also a love letter to the bad boys she tended to attract while she was whoring up her image.

"Get Mine Get Yours" -- Sexual exploration never sounded so hot. This was Xtina unabashedly demonstrating that she was down with one-night stands.

"Loving Me 4 Me" -- The R&B slo-jam Janet Jackson wished she could've produced.

"Impossible" -- An intimate jazz lounge anthem that soars with the help of one Alicia Keys on piano.

"Make Over" -- This surf rock-friendly shriekfest is brought to us by Linda Perry, who taught our girl how to both gritty up and reel in those powerhouse vocals of hers.

"Cruz" -- A harmonious power ballad made for road trips, the kind that celebrates leaving all your troubles behind.

"Soar" -- Not only did this inspiring number appear in the trailer for the Jessica Alba flop Honey (you know you remember it), it also helped a certain 22-year-old college grad adjust to a brave new world called Los Angeles. Everything about it -- it's hopeful message, its near-Mariah theatrics -- works. All in all, a definite lift-you-upper to defeat the pull-you-downers:


"I'm OK" -- Call it The Therapy Song. No one expected Christina to sing a song about domestic abuse, but here she is, confronting her childhood demons and delicately venting to the world with vocals that never sounded so vulnerable.

And now, as we eagerly await the release of Miss Aguilera's fifth major studio album, Lotus, let us remember and revisit the gift that was Stripped. Hard to believe it's been a decade since those assless chaps bounced across that boxing ring on MTV and into our collective pop consciousness.

Forever grinding in the clubs to "Dirrty" in 2012,

H.P.M.

@TheFirstEcho