Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Bunch of Belated Congratulations: 5.29

So it was recently brought to my attention by not one, not two, but three completely different readers in three separate emails that I did nothing to recognize the recent 25th birthday of my avatar. I'm sorry, Chad Mike. Bro, I didn't mean to not recognize, yo. So a big happy 25th to my faithless faithful avatar, Chad Michael Murray. Congratulations on the quarter-century and may you live to see several more.

Another big congrats goes out to my man, Jeremy Piven. The Immaculate JP was recently awarded an Emmy for his work as superagent Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage, an award which I, for one, think he more than earned.
Yay I say!
Speaking of Entourage and congratulations, I finally finished watching this latest season, the third. I have to say that this year's most improved player on the show would have to be Kevin Dillon as "Johnny Drama." Frankly, it took me awhile to get into his character, but this season, Dillon seems to have finally found Drama's humanity and, to the greatest extent I think he's ever gonna get it, humility. And that has finally made Drama funny, not annoying.

Runner-up in this category would have to be Rex Lee's beleauguered gaysian assistant "Lloyd." Even though this year's apparently-obligatory season finale speech wasn't quite as good Season Two's rice rocket pep rally, Lloyd had some of the season finale's best lines, including his unexpected 'top' status and the transformation of the Gay Mafia into the "Gay Assistant Corps." Of course, he still seems awfully clueless despite having been Ari's assistant for what, like two years or so in the context of the show? I mean, telling Vince there was a bigger meeting than him? Hello! You say he's out of the office all day in meetings with his cell phone off and you'll do your best to get through to him as soon as possible.

And speaking of television, I have two words for everyone in the blogosphere: Veronica Mars

I just last night finished the second season on DVD since I'd missed some episodes and bailed on the finale to avoid ruining the season-long mystery. But I've finished my Mars marathon now, and trust me on this: BEST. SHOW. ON. TELEVISION. PERIOD.
Veronica is hot.
Creator Rob Thomas has assembled a dynamite cast led by Kristen Bell as the titular heroine, created an interesting, dynamic world in the fictional California town of Neptune, and tied it all together with sharply-written storylines. If you haven't really heard much about it, I advise checking out this post over at Overeducated and Underemployed. The clip is definitively lo-fi, but it'll give newbies a good overview of the show. So if that's you, I'm telling you, two words: Veronica Mars

So that's my congratulations. Way to get older, Chad Michael Murray. Way to act, Jeremy Piven. Way to not suck, Kevin Dillon. And way to just be, Kristen Bell.

TECHNORATI TAGS: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 28, 2006

Yet Another Reason To Dislike Brett Ratner: 5.28

I know you guys like insider industry gossip. At least, judging by traffic and comments, you do. Which are pretty much the only ways I have to judge.

So since I have gossip, I'll do it blind-item style, since that's what all the kids seem to be into these days...

Hacky Fauxteur has made a career out of doing things kinda good enough. So perhaps it was a surprise when he actually made a fuss about the sound editing on the highly public music video of Pop Slut he directed. After all, wasn't this the guy for whom "Pretty cool" would work in nearly every artistic situation?

Of course, it sounded so damn bad that everyone would, and could, notice. But this time, it was so bad that even Hacky himself could recognize.

So Hacky burst into a tirade on up on an assistant sound editor. Apparently, said editor made the mistake of. . . doing nothing wrong. One of Hacky's producers, perhaps, or stupid Hacky himself, we may never know for sure, messed up. Messed up big time.

You see, you never touch the sound board unless you know what you're doing. And you especially don't touch the master volume switches, so named because they're big and usually friggin' obvious as such.

But someone did, and so the beleaguered assistant sound editor had to keep messing around with the more fine-tuned controls, trying to compensate for it. Until finally, someone discovered what had happened and the master controls were returned to their rightful positions.

So then Hacky proceeds to fire the producer who may have committed the error. But the story doesn't end there, friends. Oh no...

Fired Producer then calls up the postproduction studio where all this has taken place, and tells them to essentially "bill the bastard for everything" from the bottles of water to the Wite-Out. Of course, since Hacky's necessarily big-budget, that's what they should've been doing anyway. But I guess it's nice to know there's extra justice in doing so.

For the record, doing what Fired Producer did-- calling the postpro studio and telling them to nail Hacky for cash--is not a good idea. But I think Fired Producer knew that. It was simply that he hated Hacky so much he just had to get him back any way he could.

The postpro studio was 48 Windows while the Pop Slut is Jessica Simpson. Tinny biyotch. The video, of course, is Simpson's latest. Or something. Once someone starts talking about Jessica Simpson, I tend to immediately not care.

Oh-and you will burn in hell, Brett Ratner. Or at least in the blogosphere. Probably both.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Do You Like It When a Gringo Speaks Spanish?: 5.27

So as you may know, I'm a young globe-trotter. I'm one partially because I wanted to be one, and thus, I can function in at least three languages: English, French and Spanish. Now, mi espanol es terrible. En francais, je suis sur que les persons francophones ne pensent jamais que je suis francais. But I can get by. And the French appreciate that I don't totally massacre their language with my accent, at least. Grammar is a whole 'nother story.

But in fact, I've been told that my French skills are "ghetto-fabuleux" (in Paris, by a semi-permanent expatriate, for the record). And hundreds read this blog every day, so apparently my English is pretty a-okay.

Also, in my globe-trotting adventures, I've discovered that I can communicate with pretty much any European. Period. Because they all know multiple languages. Unlike 90% of Americans. Seriously. Look it up. 90%.

But closer to home, in Los Angeles, I'm more unsure of when to deploy my fledgling language skills.
Sorry, awkward questions.

So readers, what do you think about a gringo speaking Spanish? Take a crack at these situations...

Your landlord sends over three Spanish-speaking guys to fix your air conditioner which is leaking onto, and thus rotting, your cheap, ticky-tacky ceiling tiles. Broken English or broken Spanish to explain the problem?

The valet is getting the car of a flashy guy who's speaking in Spanish to them. Speaking Spanish as well is just patronizing and weird, right? Or is it?

The news announcer lady pronounces her Spanish name like she's never heard English, so shouldn't you?

Your Latino pal switches linguistic sides and goes into rapidfire Oaxaca-Spanish with the guys painting his house while you're touring their work. Is there anything to do but stand there awkwardly?

Honestly, if it was up to me. . . I like practicing my Spanish & Spanglish. I think it's like a bonus of living in Southern California. Like the ocean. Or the fact that I can sample amazing cuisine from dozens, if not hundreds, of cultures in a 20-minute radius. Yeah, like that.

Sorry, I'm just asking because I care about respecting the people around me. That's all.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

CW Off To Roaring Start: 5.26

I was trying to shake off my continuing gloom, and fortunately, my favorite network's bastard child, the CW, has helpfully obliged with its new ad campaign. Have you noticed it? Sure you have. They're the green ads that are popping up on billboards and buses all around large cities like Los Angeles. They look kinda like this:
(Popwatch snagged these pics.)

Leaving aside the sheer stupidity of the "Free to Be" slogan (is it patriotic? rebellious? ironic?), I simply must take exception to some of the one-word appellations. Granted, some make sense: Tom Welling's "Super", for example. Although, I must say that that has to be one of the gayest Tom Welling pictures in the history of Tom Welling photography. But it makes sense. You know, except for the fact that the slogan doesn't mean anything.

Veronica Mars may be "Fearless", but watching her doesn't help me deal with my scary boss. And speaking of "Scary", I was plenty scared before Supernatural came along. The only thing it made me free to be afraid of is the judgment of girls 12-17.
And the Gilmore Girls may be "Witty", but why call Alexis Bledel "Girlie" and scare off potential male fans? These are Marketing 101 lessons, people. Oy.

But I reserve special ire for whomever genius did the One Tree Hill ad. "Cool"? COOL!?!?! Did you run out of adjectives? I guarantee you one of the assistants could've found a thesaurus. Because we all learned in Marketing 101 that if a bunch of marketing people try to make something 'Cool', it never will be.

And what, exactly, is my avatar doing in those ads? Is he angry? Having a migraine? Enlightened? Pointing out how cool his eyebrows are? It is resolutely NOT cool. Sorry, Chad. It just sucks. And please, white boys do not wear soul patches. Only Tony Almeida gets to wear a soul patch.

Dude....seriously. You're making me look bad. Again.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dear Mr. President: 5.25

I think some of my best posts have incorporated musical elements.
Jay-Z teaching New Media

Dolly Parton preaching Communism

Mos Def howling for the lost

Plus, some random slammin' Miami beats.

But there's one song that has only grown in poignancy, and in mind, since its release earlier this year: "Dear Mr. President". And that song, my friends, is by Pink. Yes, Pink-- backed by the Indigo Girls to give credence to the strong folk empowerment vibe she uses. Have we heard this song?

I'll show you the lyrics, condensed into the verses that resonate most strongly with me, but I urge you to legally download and/or purchase this song. It's a small pop culture way to screw with the President. Which we need to, since God apparently is not getting through to him.

Look, I really try not to be too political- that's not what life, or this blog, should be about. But at some point, NOT saying anything becomes political. Perhaps these days, at some point we all become radicalized-- I'd say usually when we're hit with death and insanity.

Just ask a 25-year-old from Lebanon.

The President's crimes go beyond raining destruction on others on the basis of deception.
His lies are destroying our future.

So take it away, Pink and the Indigo Girls...

Dear Mr. President
...(ellipsis indicates lyrics removed)
What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President...
How can you say
No child is left behind
We're not dumb and we're not blind
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way. . . from whiskey and cocaine
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you bout hard work
You don't know nothing bout hard work....

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Death Creates Insanity: 5.24

Please excuse my writing if it's not up to the daunting task of explaining how I feel right now. I'm too exhausted to do that. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read 5.23 "Melba In Memoriam" below to catch up.

But when someone dies, especially a friend who is but 25, it throws entire lives, even communities, into turmoil.

And I don't know about anyone else's community these days, but mine is pretty far-flung, spread coast to coast almost.

It's mildly dysfunctional and it's definitely strange. For all the woe about the white, all-American nuclear family from Kansas, we're doing pretty alright. It's everything else that's getting messed up.

And I don't know what to do about it. What do you do? Who do you call? What do you say?

Death also creates insanity in other ways-- in the simplest of ways. Like when an acquaintance or co-worker innocently asks: "Hey, how's it going?"

And it's not going fine. My day is not fine at all. In fact, it's very, very bad. But no one wants to hear that. They want to hear: "Fine, thank you. And you?" or something to that effect.

It's not that they're not sympathetic. It's just that they generally don't care very much. They don't need to hear that one of your friends just died and that you're in mourning. Especially in LA, and especially in the entertainment biz.

Maybe we as a society need a new casual greeting or something, but it's been rough just keeping it together these last few days. And the industry already does a good job of boosting my insanity level, so let's hope I don't turn into a complete Weinstein.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Melba In Memoriam: 5.23

A friend passed away today. First we heard cocaine and pills. Now it's being said it's heroin. Whatever it was, it was drugs and that's that. She's gone.

I'm calling her "Melba", and only maybe a dozen people in the whole world will get that reference, but I get it, and she would've liked it, and that's all that really matters.

We grew up together. We hung out in high school a lot. She was younger than me, but by just a few months. In middle school, we briefly considered marriage, but then she found out I wasn't Jewish and wasn't likely to be a doctor. And so there was a brief falling-out, but we soon became amicable parts of the same group of friends.

It could not have been her time to die. How can 25 be the end of life?

One time, we were in this play together, and we had to act like an old married couple, and I had to wear a paper hat because we supposedly owned a diner together. She was a waitress and I was a cook and we were living happily ever after. And now, Melba is gone.

I will never see her again. Maybe there's still some shock left over, and I was essentially struck dumb for several hours when the Roomie told me. But anger is also setting in.

You see, all I can think is that I never told Melba this: her sarcastic wit was one of the reasons I knew Kansans could be cool. And also, she had an amazing rack. It's true, Melba. You had the whole hourglass and then some and . . . it's just too awful that you're . . .

So maybe I should've known. She was depressed a lot. Of course, she'd always been depressed a lot. And she'd done drugs, like all of us had done drugs, but last time I saw her, maybe nine months ago, it seemed like she was doing less than I. And certainly not heroin. And the dark personality, by 25, that just seemed like her.

Another friend of ours who didn't get along with Melba referred to her, sarcastically, as "Happy". Maybe that was where we failed her. By not doing more sooner. We saw it. We all did. But I've thought a lot about it, and I don't think so.

I think she knew I was always there for her if she needed me. She was a proud girl, that Melba, not one to ask for help. Even if she needed it. And especially if she wanted it. But I think she knew I would've been there, if she'd just have asked. But I don't think Melba's death falls on my shoulders alone.

I rage against a lot of things that are abstract concepts: the Hollywood system and entertainment industry, the rampant materialism of Los Angeles, Republicans, etc. And even stupid things sometimes. I'll cop to that.

But there's something wrong here.

I'm tired of this country treating chemical dependency like it's a crime. It's a disease. And it won't get better until we treat it-- all of it, from pot to Prozac-- as a public health problem. Personally, I think we need to legalize pot and take a look at more regulation for Prozac. You're free to disagree.

What I know is this: we need to set up more drug treatment centers and do what works-- even if that means putting aside moral quivers and qualms, and implementing needle exchange programs that have been shown to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS (among other STDs).

We need to stop letting some people's morality (President Cheney's) to get in the way of saving lives. Because no morality should trump saving people's lives- whether it's stem cell research or drug policy. There's a war being fought, sometimes quietly, sometimes explosively, over all this.

And we're all losing.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Oh, That Rob Schneider: 5.22

Received this from an assistant-type associate of mine and thought it was funny, so I thought I'd share. The assistant swears he doesn't know who wrote it, but is sure someone on the crew did. According to my source, this sums up a lot of people's feelings about the moviemaking experience on this particular set. In addition, the writing is way too well-done to be the whim of some outsider-- way too much intention here for that.

At any rate, my source pointed me to this comment, which popped up on the IMDB message board for "Big Stan" (see: Whew, It's Done) and since if I give you the link, you'll just have to login and that's annoying. Thus, I'll reprint it here, free and easy for all to see. (subliminal message: go open source, biyotches)

"We wrapped the movie early this morning in Stockton and we're all relieved it's over. Without giving too much away, it goes like this: Once upon a time, there lived a tiny, insecure man who learned the only way he could make his enormous ego feel comfortable in his teeny, tiny body was to embarrass, humiliate, and torture others. He thought he was a master of disguise, fooling others into believing he was a big man. Yet he was only fooling himself, and through time his unconscienable (sic) behavior repulsed and repelled everyone. If his heart was three or three-hundred sizes too small, it didn't matter by then because no one was around to even care...

Rob Schneider plays the part perfectly."

You want to know the really sad thing about this IMDB post?
Rob Schneider would be considered a pretty decent guy to work for, by Hollywood's whack standards.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's How to Win Me Back, Mad Max: 5.21

Everyone and their mothers, and I know my mother has been reading with interest, has heard about Mel Gibson's sexist/anti-Semitic rant by now.

I was indeed shocked by both the pure hatred and the wide-ranging bigotry of Mel's verbal assualt. Having had my doubts about Passion Gibson, if not before, I wasn't too shocked to see that, of all Ho'wood's stars, this stupidity was coming from him. Now, as a raging leftist, normally I don't offer up advice to anti-Semitic right-wing bastards, but I want to see this thing resolved for the good of the country.

So here's what you've gotta do, Mel, to win me (and my mom, and the Moms of America) back, and you'll be relieved to know that it's fairly straightforward:

You have to get your even-more-anti-Semitic Dad to go to the Holocaust Museum. With you. And cameras. And Katie Couric.

By the way, just in case you're thinking about letting that above link to the Holocaust Museum pass you by, let me just say this: there is a 2003 photo journal with accompanying audio commentary by my favorite UN Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie.

If there weren't all those dying Africans about, it'd be really, really sexy.

Okay, look, I get to make a genocide joke because I have never expressed anything but love and admiration for the Jews. And women and the gays for that matter. You've lost all those rights, Mel.

Now, I know what you're thinking, Mel.
"Screw 'em, I don't need 'em. I'm a superstar multimillionaire."

Sorry, Mel, but you've got to get me back. You don't have all that many projects lined up for the future. You'll need a near-superheroic effort from various assistants to not destroy all of your box office appeal. And speaking of box office appeal, you've also got to get the soccer-moms-who-think-you're-cute back. Which is what Katie Couric being there is for.

Now, Mel, I know you probably don't need the money. But I know you want to remain relevant, and not have your career effectively end on such a sour note. The only way out I see to repair the damage is to advance the cause of Jews by at least as much as you've set it back. And finally making your Dad see that the Holocaust did happen-- and getting him to admit as much to Katie Couric-- would be a big step in the right direction.


Monday, August 07, 2006

The World Does Not Revolve Around Your Children: 5.20

Sorry for the unannounced week-long vacation, kids. Here's a long-ish post I took the time to craft to thank you for coming back.

As you may know, I've been doing some jetsetting recently. And just the other day, while waiting in a security line at LAX...wait. I know how to tell it better...


A modest line loops around a polyester cord, perhaps seventy souls waiting to remove their shoes and walk through a pair of metal detectors before a fleet of TSA SECURITY OFFICERS.

The following takes place between 5:00pm and 6:00pm.

ASSISTANT/ATLAS, played by the ever faithful/faithless Chad Michael Murray, itches to board his United flight, now very close now to removing his shoes. A SOLO WOMAN, early 30s, mixed race: Latin/Asian?, played by Rosario Dawson, is removing her shoes and placing her items in bins. SECURITY SCREENER #1, mid 20s, African-American, played by Kobe Bryant, waves a businessguy through the metal detector and he passes.

Special Guest Star: Kobe Bryant

Is this the line?!?

Atlas swivels as all attention turns to THE MOM, a haggard late 30s, who has a stroller, a babyseat, and at least TWO CHILDREN OF THE CORN. No husband type in sight.

Excuse me, I have a six o'clock flight, may I cut in line?

Everyone freezes. Atlas, Solo Woman, the entire line and even the security screeners. What's freezing everyone is two things: the fact that The Mom isn't begging, she's practically commanding, and an acute moral/existential dilemma.

The Mom addresses the Solo Woman directly.

Please may I cut in line!

She's insistent, and projecting 'harried Mom' to all corners of the earth. The Solo Woman mumbles something, looks away, and starts taking off her shoes. The Mom is shocked. Atlas is shocked. The Solo Woman is studiously avoiding any eye contact. The Mom then addresses Security Screener #1.

Please I have children!

Oh, she's done it. She's playing that Mom card for all it's worth.

Ma'am, you can wait in line like everyone else, I promise you'll be in time for your flight.

That bold, effing Security Screener motions the Solo Woman through the metal detector and The Mom is still outside the polyester line.

THE MOM: (screeching)

Atlas GULPS. He is the next one who is supposed to take off his shoes. The Mom turns on him.

Do you mind if I cut in line?

Atlas' world swims. He gazes back at the neat arrangement of American citizens waiting patiently for their screening. Looking at him. Waiting for him. Atlas totters as he turns back to The Mom.

I, uh-

Is all he can eke out. Atlas looks, pained, in the direction of the line, then pleadingly at furiously imbalanced The Mom, hoping she'll take note of the moral/existential dilemma.

Look, I have two children!

Atlas, struck mute, motions toward Security Screener #1, trying to summon the authority of Transportation Security Administration- Kobe's words. The Mom persists in huffing in Atlas' general direction.


Atlas begins removing his shoes. The Mom launches into a production. She SIGHS, adjusts her baby, shakes the stroller threatening, like a rattlesnake, and prepares

HHHUHHHHH! Sir, do you mind if I cut in line?

The Mom is now asking the GUY BEHIND ME, mid 30s, played by an arrogant-acting John C. Reilly, who almost immediately says...

Yeah, sure, I don't mind.

Atlas can't give John C. Reilly an evil look because he's tossing his shoes into a gray bin and rolling his belongings toward the X-ray machine. The Mom begins pulling all of her possessions under the polyester barrier. Atlas pushes his toward the machine and looks to Kobe for the wave-through. But Kobe is engrossed in Mom pulling herself under the barrier, shaking his head slightly and looking down.

Finally, he notices Atlas and waves him through. The metal detector does not beep as Atlas slides through. TSA Kobe regards Atlas.

Hey- sorry about that, man.

Kobe does look sorry for Atlas, but somewhat bemused by the situation. It-- the bemusement-- wears off on Atlas, will take note that Kobe makes The Mom send the babyseat through the X-ray machine.

Um, it's okay.

But it really wasn't.


Moms with kids taking priority? On the Titanic, yes. Because you're late for your flight? Join the club. And there will be another plane going to where you're going. Promise.

By the way, I managed to wing my way home for a visit with the fam. Everyone's fine, thanks for asking. But here's what my Dad said about the whole matter: "Well, I would of said, 'Don't ask me, you've got to ask every person in that line'. (gesturing toward imaginary line)."