The Making of a Movie Mogul

Maybe watching the opening scenes of American Beauty with my 81 year-old mother and 13 year-old nephew wasn’t the best decision. My nephew Joe has become a cinephile recently and is constantly grilling his parents and me on Academy Award Best Picture winners and AFI’s Top 100 list.

Joe: Aunt Lynne, do you think Raging Bull is the 4th best movie of all time?

Me: No.

Joe: Can I watch Goodfellas (No. 92)?

Me: No.

Joe: What is _________ (Name any movie) about?

Me: I don’t remember.

Joe: Can I watch Goodfellas?

Me: Still No.

Joe: Did you understand 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Everyone, ever: No

I went through my own DVD collection and gave him this classic 4-pack: Casablanca (#3), Gigi, Mrs. Miniver and An American in Paris. I also threw in American Graffiti (#62), The Dark Knight and Napoleon Dynamite to keep my fun aunt status.

Mind you, this grilling has been going on for months with his parents. I have only been subjected to it  in spurts. So when I arrived for my Easter visit, Goodfellas, American Beauty and The Graduate had already been cleared parentally. We watched the end of The Graduate, one of my favs. He thought it was okay. His mom and I keep suggesting Swiss Family Robinson, but alas, it does not rank highly on many lists.

Cut to Grandma’s living room and Joe has American Beauty (Best Picture, 1999) cued up. I remember it as a dull, sad movie with rose petals. It opens with Kevin Spacey in the shower starting his day “off.”

Joe & I simultaneously: “Um, maybe we should watch something else.”

Grandma: “I can’t see or hear a thing!”

This makes me remember the time I took my mom to see Love Actually. I loved it so much the first time that I took her to see it, totally forgetting about one of the story lines involving the cute couple of fluffers.

Mom: “What are they doing?”

Me: “Never mind!”

We end up watching Stand By Me (1986), shockingly rated R, which the three of us enjoy.  Next up will be GoodfellasIt’s just a little gangster movie, right? Kind of the fun version of The Godfather (#2 and already viewed)? I did get him to see Frozen earlier this year, so maybe he’ll be able to see the violence and decadence and just “Let It Go!”

I reminded Joe that the AFI list is a “Lifetime” tally and doesn’t need to be viewed by June 1st. While not everything is appropriate viewing, even with a rank or award attached to it, I appreciate this new interest of his over any video game.  I remind him that it’s great to be a movie enthusiast, not a movie snob and probably never a good idea to compare yourself to Travis Bickle, ever. For the record, I stand firmly on not letting the 13 year-old see A Clockwork Orange (#70) and The Wolf of Wall Street. Not on my watch anyway! What are your guidelines?

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Posted in Academy Awards, Entertainment, Oscars, Uncategorized

How Do You Get Your Kicks While Shopping?

Last week I heard Coco Jones from shopkick speak at thinkLA’s Mobile Breakfast and if someone named Coco speaks about shopping, my ears perk up. I dutifully downloaded the free shopkick app as she spoke.

shopkick logo

Mobile and shopping is a marriage made in heaven and Jones, Head of Brand Partnerships for the shopkick App told us how mobile technology will take in-store experiences to another level. Shopkick is a mobile companion that “informs, rewards and delights” by utilizing iBeacon, an indoor positioning system utilizing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) that wakes up the consumer’s phone and provides an augmented reality experience. 84% of shoppers use smartphones in stores and 73% research before shopping.

“Shopkick takes something as ordinary as shopping and makes it extraordinary,” said Jones. “The digital overlay of an iBeacon app makes the store your store. The App captures when they enter the store, influences and drives purchases with a redemption reward. The path to purchase is a circuitous loyalty loop.”

 One week later, I have 179 “kicks” or points earned towards my desired reward, a $5 Starbucks card that will cost me 1250+ points. What’s the point, I ask myself? Today I ran around Target like I was on a scavenger hunt to get about 150 of my points. I got 45 easy ones for walking in the door. But then I had to find particular items and scan the barcode for another 25 points each. After about 10 minutes of this, I was annoyed.

images A year ago I was in love with Viggle, another free app that rewarded you for watching television. Unlike Get Glue, you got real gift cards, not stickers. I logged into shows, watched the promo ads for extra points and accumulated rewards pretty quickly. That is until Viggle changed their fake monetary  system. Suddenly, my $5 Starbucks card went from 5000 points to 12,000 points. Then Viggle degraded further IMO by offering their own merchandise (35,000 points for a Viggle t-shirt, really?)

I loved my Fresh ‘N Easy store around the corner and their weekly $5 or $10 coupons, plus my rewards card. Since the business was sold I can understand the sudden shift in lack of coupons. But now I find it nearly impossible to use the points I’ve accumulated.

Sometimes the reward just isn’t worth the work, you know what I mean? Has anyone had a favorable rewards/points experience with an app? Do tell!

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Posted in shopping, thinkLA, Uncategorized

Does (Screen) Size Matter for Oscar?

I’m still finishing my Academy Awards homework, getting ready for the Oscars on Sunday, my favorite holiday of the year. It occurred to me today that I have viewed many Oscar nominees in multiple formats: at the Arclight Sherman Oaks with optimal sound and visual technology at work, on a mid-size screen at a multiplex, on my 47″ Samsung HDTV, on my 27″ Sony Flatscreen with multiple dog-barking interruptions and on the back seat of a Virgin America flight monitor with $3 headphones. I believe these multiple viewing experiences have a direct correlation on the impact of the movie. They may even sway my votes and make me lose my Oscar pool!

I saw American Hustle and Gravity at the Arclight. Gravity made me hold my breath as I felt immersed with Sandra Bullock in her completely dark sphere. Hi, George. Bye, George. I didn’t know the international space stations were up there like rest areas on the interstate. Last Space Station in this Galaxy 75,000 miles!

I thoroughly enjoyed American Hustle, from the 70′s soundtrack and hair curlers to the family portraits on Carmine and Dolly Polito’s wall. Christian Bale was unrecognizable underneath all that polyester and hair glue. I thought Amy Adams was mesmerizing as she slid between characters and groovy outfits. I wonder if I had watched that one at home or on a plane if I would have thought I was watching a Baretta marathon though.

Captain Phillips translated well to my HDTV. I was riveted to the screen. Very glad I read the true account of what happened in the final hours by Mark Owen in No Easy Day. Just another day on the job for the extraordinary Navy Seals, pulling off a miracle with jaw-dropping precision.

12 Years a Slave is a history lesson we should all witness. Heart-wrenching performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o made me flinch and feel deep shame for humanity. I was equally fascinated by the performances of Michael Fassbender and Sarah Paulson as those roles could not have been easy to live with. I watched this at home. I think I would have been much more deeply impacted if I saw it in the theatre and it would have been a sure Best Picture pick for me.

The Wolf of Wall Street was so much fun! I watched this one at home too. I had been warned before viewing about how long it was and how often the F word was used. Neither of those bothered me.There were just so many comparisons running through my head during this one— Leo in The Great Gatsby, Michael Douglas in Wall Street, Sharon Stone in Casino, Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. I don’t know which scene I rewound more: Leonado DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey at lunch or Jonah Hill at the pool party. I love a good Men Behaving Badly moment…or ten thousand. I was intrigued by the debauchery and wondered about the parents of all the girls in those scenes. I imagined them at their book clubs exclaiming. “My daughter got a role in the Martin Scorsese film! She’s the BLUE CHIP Hooker, not the Nasdaq or Pink Sheet Hooker.” Disclaimer: I watched this alone. Had I been with my mother or nearly anyone else I would have been MORTIFIED. Had I seen this on a big screen I would have had to pick my jaw off the floor before exiting the theatre.

I saw Frozen at the McMinnville Multiplex with my 13 and 4 year-old nephews. I was babysitting for the first time and desperate to keep them occupied. I didn’t know much about the movie except that there was a funny snowman in it. I started to panic after the first hour when it was all about the princesses. Then I heard Idina Menzel’s voice and Olaf came back. Whew! They didn’t love it as much as I did, but we made it through. Another Disney sleeper I saw in McMinnville was Saving Mr. Banks. I was amazed that they made a movie out of this B story. I loved the 60s details in this period piece and the 13 year-old enjoyed it too.

I watched Nebraska on my 27″ TV and it suited this B/W film just fine. It was like watching a home movie about someone else’s dysfunctional family problems. Sure, it was slow as molasses and I dozed and rewound a lot, but it had so many resonating moments. Driving for miles to visit someone only to just say hello in the driveway or sitting around watching TV with relatives when you really don’t have anything to say. And you KNOW that’s exactly what would happen to you if people learned you won the lottery!

My last screen experience was watching Blue Jasmine on Virgin America. I don’t usually watch films on flights because I tend to fall asleep immediately while taxiing. I think I missed a lot of the nuances of Cate Blanchett’s performance on this small screen. Maybe she just didn’t seem that crazy to me!

How much do you think your viewing experience affects the impact a film has on you? Is it fair to judge the Oscar-worthy films on multiple platforms?

A few days left to cram in some films before the big day Sunday. I’ll be tweeting for The Insider like I did for the Grammys. Follow me on Twitter @pinkypulse #Insider #Oscars

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Posted in Academy Awards, Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Los Angeles, Oscars, The Insider, Uncategorized

Channeling the Power of Women, from Oprah to the Number 101

Happy Birthday to Oprah Winfrey who recently turned 60!

Oprah Winfrey THR

Have you listened to the wonderful speech Oprah Winfrey gave in December upon accepting The Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment breakfast? http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/oprah-winfreys-motivational-speech-at-665409

Very fitting for such a powerful woman to receive this award from Lansing, the groundbreaking most powerful woman in Hollywood, who at age 35 became the first female President of 20th Century Fox. Winfrey defines Power as “Strength over time. Strength x Strength x Strength = Power.”

“Your real power lies in the opportunity that you have in this moment in time to use your life for something that really matters,” Winfrey said. “The common denominator in human experience is validation. Did you hear me? Did what I say mean anything to you?” She quoted Joseph Campbell, who said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” Winfrey said, “The real privilege is to use who you are to elevate the higher good of everyone else.”

100 Women have not let their gender get in the way of their career path as they were recently named to The Hollywood Reporter’s 2013 Women in Entertainment Power 100 List. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/hollywood-reporters-2013-women-entertainment-power-100-664497

I wonder how they felt about their position on the list, whether they went up or down, that many of their ages were listed, what they decided to wear for their power shot. How many of these women have been called names behind their backs as they rose through the still male dominated entertainment industry? How many helped other women along the way? Hey Number 101, don’t feel bad. Oprah says she has been all over the list from #1 to OFF.

What percentage of “power” positions do the top 100 Women represent? If Geena Davis’s calculations were correct, I would say 17%.

I recently got to hear actor* Geena Davis speak at Warner Bros. about her own Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis, best known for her roles in iconic female buddy movies Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own, calls herself an *actor, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person who acts.”

 Geena Davis WBShe says she developed a heightened sense of awareness of how women are portrayed in media after those two roles and her own experiences watching G-rated movies with her young daughter. She started to study the disparity and discovered that for every one female-speaking character in family-rated films (G, PG and PG-13), there were roughly 3 male characters; crowd scenes rarely showed more than 17% women and that 3:1 ratio hasn’t changed since 1946! Oh, and the #1 occupation of females in family movies? Royalty. Even I don’t see those opportunities on LinkedIn!

 Davis isn’t on a crusade, she just wants to even out the playing field in a non-threatening to men way so that Forensic Scientist isn’t the only new female occupation.

Read about Geena Davis’ Two Easy Steps to Make Hollywood Less Sexist: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/geena-davis-two-easy-steps-664573

Her organization at www.seejane.org has a simple message: “If She Can See It, She Can Be It.”

No matter what number we fall on a list we all have the opportunity and the duty to lead those around us on a path as a positive role model!

#OprahWinfrey #TheHollywoodReporter #WomenInEntertainment #GeenaDavis

Posted in Education, Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Los Angeles, Television, Uncategorized, Women in Entertainment

Let’s Watch American Idol Together

American Idol Productions recently treated me to a trip to Hollywood (from Van Nuys!) to preview Hollywood Week. While I received travel, accommodations and tickets from American Idol, all opinions are my own. Here’s some of what happened:

By now, you’ve probably seen the photo of me with Harry Connick Jr. that I have been shamelessly posting (see what I mean about my photo skills?) But just in case you missed it ; )

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It was a huge moment for the Idol Tweethearts when Harry walked into our American Idol behind-the-scenes tour. He had already opened our eyes when we saw a sneak peek of the Jan 15 Idol premiere. Now he grabbed our hearts as he went around the room and individually greeted us all. He took the time to pose for selfies, answer our questions, pose for a group shot and hand us individually autographed CDs. Babbling ensued. You can’t tell from this shot, but I awkwardly contorted my arm around him and my fellow tweetheart so I could touch his back, part of Pinky on the Pulse, literally.

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Harry Connick Jr. epitomizes the Idol slogan #thisisreal. Under those Clark Kent specs lies a family man – an extremely talented, charming, funny, good-looking, not-like-anyone-I-know – family man. His comments come from a place of caring and knowing the real ropes of the music business.

 And Idol is all about bringing back a family show this season. There’s no coincidence that most of the Idol Tweethearts are moms. They wanted us to get the message out that you can watch Idol with your family again.

 While I’m not a fan of bickering and confrontation, there’s a different reason that I always return to American Idol. I watch in search of the perfect TV moment: when an unknown, yet wildly talented singer nails it, when they make me want to rewind and watch their performance over, sometimes just to listen to a single note.

 My top AI moments:

Carrie Underwood sings “Alone” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMBSDpB3WB8

 Jessica Sanchez sings “I Will Always Love You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPX-H3KGjJI

 David Cook sings “Hello” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTqBXr2-Q_8

 Chills, right?

Idol used to be the show we talked about at work the next day (pre-Facebook.) We would have private polls about who would go home. My friend Stephanie would write the most hilarious “Around the Idol Cooler”recaps that I couldn’t wait to read. I worked at Fox during S8 and would enter the weekly contest in the Fox Studio Store to guess who would be going home. I had a four-week winning streak until I was wrong about Anoop.

 I’ve been a fan since the days when I had to strategically set my VCR because I could only watch one show and record another. For Idol I would watch and record. I would fall asleep hitting redial to vote for my favs. 

Now we have limitless choices of how many shows we can watch, when we want to watch them. I was fortunate enough to work at NBC during their “Must-See-TV” Thursday night domination. Now “must see” TV has a different meaning as less viewers actually watch shows on their TV as they initially air. Some shows are bringing the concept of “must-see” back though. Ironically, you have to completely unplug from any other devices if you haven’t seen a show and want to avoid social spoiler alerts.

 Let’s try a new trend and “Experience TV.” Join me on Twitter @pinkypulse and #idoltweethearts to watch American Idol together. Note to East Coast friends: Don’t tell me who goes home!

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Posted in American Idol, Fun Stuff, Los Angeles, Television, Uncategorized

The Backstage Pass*

American Idol Productions recently treated me to a trip to Hollywood(!) to preview Hollywood Week. Here’s some of what happened:

American Idol XIII Backstage Pass

I’m going to have to improve on my multitasking-while-giddy skills. As I followed my fellow Idol Tweethearts from the Roosevelt Hotel across the street to The Dolby Theatre for our special behind-the-scenes sneak peek at American Idol Hollywood Week, I was all thumbs trying to take pictures. Should I use my camera or iPhone? If I use my iPhone do I use the camera or Instagram? If I use Instragram should I post to Twitter and/or Facebook? For those unfamiliar with this section of Hollywood Blvd., we were also passing a slew of random celebrity impersonators like Spiderman, Barney and Marilyn Monroe, adding to my giddiness factor.

We had our official American Idol Backstage passes on as we entered the artist’s entrance.

My first shot was of the Seth McFarlane Oscar poster. It made me laugh after my Hollywood Bowl debacle when I thought he was Peter Brady (see FB post from August). Next, a bunch of directional signs, especially the “confessional” sign. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be caught blubbering on TV, but that’s the risk of a ticket to Hollywood Week! My third was of a purple wall, completely missing the RS dressing room sign for Ryan Seacrest. My photo skills are top-notch, don’t you agree?

 Seth McFarlane Oscar PosterIMG_0678IMG_0679

Meanwhile, as my colleagues were clicking and texting away, seemingly composing 200-word blogs on the fly, I was looking for the pen and notepad I purchased earlier that morning.

Our first stop was a catered lunch where I had a moment to compose both myself and my first tweet.

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 You can take the girl out of print, but you can’t take print out of the girl. After all these years I still think lenticulars are cool. Google glasses would have made me happy too, but we probably would have had to turn those back in. Besides, it was Wednesday, 30 minutes before my favorite weekly tweetchat #printchat.

It was a good thing I got my little tweet out, because five minutes later all hell broke loose when Harry Connick, Jr. entered the room. (to be continued…)

*While I received travel, accommodations and tickets from American Idol, all opinions are my own.
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Posted in American Idol, Fun Stuff, Los Angeles, Print Industry, Social Media Influencers, Uncategorized

A New View of Los Angeles

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Like many of you, I have been overwhelmed in the past few weeks with things I should have been doing, writing, accomplishing, checking off my list. I often find myself  spinning in circles. I have a dog that does that constantly, I should just leave that to him.

Today I returned to Los Angeles after 12 days in McMinnville, a small town outside of Portland. I enjoyed my time with my Oregon family. For the first time ever, it did not rain while I visited, just a steady cold, foggy gloom. The McMinnvillians loved it. I missed the sun.

I like flying into Burbank on Alaska Airlines from Portland. It’s a direct two-hour flight with free beer or wine. If I sit on the right side of the plane, I can spot my backyard as we descend. I love that I’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough to pick out buildings as I fly overhead. Today was a spectacularly clear day. I could see from the ocean to Century City, my house, downtown and the building I’m working in on the Warner Bros. lot.  This panoramic view was awe-inspiring and helped me reset my focus.

Earlier this evening I noticed the moon, shining low in the sky, just the thinnest sliver. I missed the moon the past few nights. In my early LA years when I was in my late 20s I often spent New Year’s Eve at my friend John’s apartment in Hollywood. At midnight I would look out over his balcony at the moon and palm trees to make a wish for the New Year. It was always the beauty of nature that I focused on. I fell optimistic and hopeful then. Today, I felt the same way.

A friend had this link posted and I want to share it too. (via @Upworthy) http://bit.ly/1gu5omL

ORIGINAL: By Louie Schwartzberg and TEDx.

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Posted in Fun Stuff, Los Angeles, TEDx, Uncategorized

My American Idol (not so) Secret Mission begins

So I got this tweet from American Idol:

I was suspicious as I could see that they sent the same message to several other individuals. I was pretty sure it was a hoax, but I couldn’t resist responding. I sent them my email address and a few minutes later, this harsh warning, “You better not spam me.” Then I deleted both messages.

A few days later I got an email from American Idol with a personal invitation from Ryan Seacrest for a unique first-look experience with a dozen other handpicked fan/bloggers. They were flying us in! Great, thought the girl who lives 10 miles away. Still, I was intrigued so I RSVP’d. A few days later, a hotel confirmation shows up from an AI show coordinator. Wow, this is really happening!

Less than one week later, after a flurry of tweets and Facebook posts identifying our group, the #IdolTweetHearts are ready to get into action. Do you know how hard it is to get an emergency hair appointment in December?

Let’s have some fun with this!

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Posted in American Idol, Fun Stuff