This is a year like no other. One that I believe will be remembered as the year “to forget”. Too many horrible events to count from a microscopic terrorist known as Covid 19 to the deaths of innocents worldwide from crimes that are unfathomable. Yet, among the disasters have been glimmers of hope, joy and humor. Where, you ask? Try YouTube! I would like to highlight two of my favorite channels that are very different but equally fun to watch!
Recently, I have found myself watching YouTube videos of happy people just living life as if the world wasn’t falling apart around us. My favorite is the Scott family from the wonderful town of St. George, Utah. I love this family (and the area where they reside). They are most known for their family of 9 – mom, dad, two sons who are a tween and teen and then a set of quintuplets- two boys and three girls. I must tell you that watching this family negotiate the regular trials and tribulations of family life puts a smile on my face on a regular basis. The quints are as adorable as any two – year olds can be. Together they are hysterically funny and give me hope that the world won’t burst in to flames any time soon. They show how simple and innocent life could be – should be. Logan, Lincoln, Violet, Daisy, and Lily are healthy and happy cherubs. Lots of people share my love of this YouTube channel – with over 350,000 subscribers and each video garnering thousands and even millions of views!
Side note: The media strategist in me also knows that this family is brand endorsement gold! One cute baby wearing your clothing line or playing with your toy is great – five kids with “personality plus” is a jackpot for any company! Watch Five Two Love – The Scotts Family here on YouTube
Another YouTube channel that makes me smile is TwinsthenewTrend. Two brothers listen, comment and review music they never heard or don’t recognize. The music is largely a walk through my “vinyl”collection from my youth (or even tunes of earlier generations ). They start the music and stop it throughout with discussion about the song. Their reactions and feedback are really sincere and also very insightful. I love watching their expressions as they hear Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time or Dolly Parton signing her epic son – Jolene. After 57 MILLION views on their YouTube channel – these guys are bringing their talents to so many who are looking for great fun and entertainment. Bravo to them for being positive and shining stars in 2020!
Do you have any YouTube suggestions that make you smile? Use the comment section below to share with others.
A short blog to introduce you to a little project I have been involved with since last Spring 2019 – The Salon Digital Series. Written, directed and produced by my friend, Roxanne Messina Captor. Executive producers include Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Cheers) and Tom Russo (Blackish). Plus, we have the bonus of Harry Shearer, Kate Linder, Sam Rubin and many other talented actors.
I must admit that having this film project to keep me busy has helped pass the time during the Covid 19 pandemic. And, I wasn’t the only one – as much of the post-production (and the trailer below) was accomplished with the thanks of fancy cyber – technology. (What did we do before ZOOM?)
As with any film project, you hope that people will actually watch. So, here is how you can view and share with others.
ALL six of the short episodes (for a total of 48 minutes) can be found as a preview until MAY 24, 2020 on YouTube. The link is: YouTube.com/c/MessinaCaptorFilms
Let me begin this article by openly saying that I am old enough to recall the original Norman Lear sitcom, One Day at a Time. The storyline chronicled the trials and tribulations of a single mom (played by Bonnie Franklin) and her two daughters ( Valerie Bertinelli and MacKenzie Philips). For the 1970’s, it was considered “edgy”, but also very realistic. This show was another great example of the “signature” programming that Lear loved to develop – using humor to spotlight serious and timely subject matter.
Fast forward to 2017, and again along comes Norman Lear, as Executive Producer, sitting alongside a creative team and cast that is par excellence to recreate One Day At a Time – 2.0. The core theme remains virtually the same – a single mom with two children make every effort to survive and thrive during good times and bad. But, here is where the series veers off the original story – our “every day” family is Cuban-American. And the topics that are filmed in front of a live audience, reflect 21st century issues, including politics. Kudos to the writing staff who have put in to the laps of the One Day At a Time characters weighty dialog and matters of the heart that I am sure serve as a catalyst for important discussions taking place in homes, schools and the workplace.
While One Day At a Time (2017) is compiled of a cast and crew that are top-notch, for me, the stand-out role goes to Isabella Gomez and her very honest depiction of being a teen coming out to her family as a lesbian. I applaud the program creators, Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, for bringing contemporary issues that face families every single day to the forefront in their scripts. Having this screen family create a “safe space” for LGBTQ discussions speaks volumes to the integrity of this program and opens the doors for families’ watching to feel that they can do the same.
Read more about the LGBT response in media via Pride.com
I would be remiss to not mention that Rita Moreno appears on this studio stage with much humor and candor in the role of “Aubela/ Lydia”. You know that a production is very much worthy of attention when an EGOT, a winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award, signs on to play a key role. As Lydia she is GENIUS! (No surprise there!) And off camera, she entertains the studio audience as if she was the Energizer Bunny!
I was privileged to be invited as a guest to a filming of an episode. I have sat in many audiences of many film productions before. This set felt different. More like a block party in your hometown neighborhood. The camaraderie of the cast and crew was palatable. There was laughter – a lot of it!
Netflix will release One Day At a Time’s Season 3 starting February 8th.
One Day At a Time also has caught my attention on social media, using their handle as @OneDayATime and hashtag #ODAAT . They have a robust cast and production crew that tweet, post and ‘gram’ with frequency. I love following the engagement that Gloria Calderon Kellett has with her social media audience. Here is a woman who is using social media for social good to spotlight women directors, causes and to educate those interested in the film industry. Bravo, Gloria! (She tweets as everythingloria).
So, if you are looking for programming that the family can watch and may spark dinnertime / carpool discussion – catch One Day At a Time in less than two weeks. I will be tuning in! And, fingers and toes crossed that Netflix gives the show a fourth season option!!
Did you know that one way a start-up can really garner a spotlight position is by signing on to be part of the Celebrity Connected award show gifting suites? Here is where talent (actors, social media influencers, top athletes, etc.) converge with brands and media to help promote top-notch products and services. Plus, it is a TON of fun to attend!
Last week, I had the privilege to be a VIP guest at the Celebrity Connected gifting suite to celebrate the upcoming Emmy Awards. The location was one of my favorites in all of downtown Los Angeles- the Millennium Biltmore. The grand ballroom was all “abuzz” with dozens of vendors hailing from all over the world.
While all were amazing, several were standouts, and I would like to highlight them here. Also, I will sprinkle my vendor spotlights with a few anecdotes from the red carpet and the ballroom – you may see some familiar faces!
Meet Tracy Lombardi from Unicorn Cupcake Boutique. She is one smart entrepreneur! Her Unicorn Cupcake Boutique was amazing ! This brand truly is adorable! Cupcakes and a unicorn theme! Plus, the SWAG (gifts) were very clever, including unicorn soap and a sassy t-shirt that read “ Less Bitter, More Glitter!”
Also note, that they donated several SWAG bags to be used for a pre-Emmy event. As I came home from Celebrity Connected with a dozen bags I opened my email to a special request. I received a note from a Mom who has a child attending the Parkland HS in Florida (Stoneman – Douglas), asking for any donations for an upcoming event. Knowing that these children have experienced the unspeakable, I saved most of the goodies from the Unicorn Cupcake folks and will ship it to this family. So, Tracy and Unicorn Cupcake gals, I hope you don’t mind, but your donations are helping young women in Florida feel less bitter with more glitter!
When I first arrived at Celebrity Connected, owner Gene Sheynis invited me to spend time at the SPORTAMIX booth in order to learn more about this “matchmaking” for athletes to professional sports, colleges, etc. and to meet sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. Luckily, I love sports, especially football and soccer, so interviewing Mr. Steinberg later in the day proved to be a pleasure, despite no real preparation. What I learned is that this UCLA/ BERKLEY graduate does not predict Penn State to be in the Rose Bowl, but he does have a winner with SPORTAMIX!
Here is the description of SPORTAMIX straight from their website:
Sportamix is a sports networking platform that enables direct communication between athletes, coaches, recruiters and fans.
Any athlete from anywhere in the world, despite nationality, age, geographical location, or social status, can be discovered and connected.
Scenes from the Celebrity Connected Red Carpet and Ballroom:
There are only a handful of “celebrities” that would reduce me to becoming a “fan girl”. Two of those celebrities happened to show up at this Celebrity Connected event. Sadly, George Clooney did not show.
Steven Webber is a character actor known for his roles in WINGS, NASHVILLE and countless other shows and movies. I love his evilness in NCIS and truly it was an honor to meet him. He was funny, gracious and after 20 minutes I stopped being a “fan” as he declared us “new friends”. Steven, if you read this blog – know that I appreciated our conversation, the laughs and hope you get to say “alive” in upcoming roles! (wink, wink).
Judd Hirsch! Oy Vey!Ordinary People is one of my very favorite movies. Taxi was a favorite TV show and Superior Donuts, was light entertainment – but he made it work! It was a pleasure to be in his presence. A true master at the craft of acting and a “helluva” nice guy, too!
I like bling. And, bling with style made with clever design gets my attention every time. That is why I really enjoyed meeting Dana from Piece Jewelry. Her passion “overfloweth”.
In their own words:
The Story Behind PIECE:
Many years ago I fell in love with another local jeweler’s website and designs, and seeing her pursue this dream gave me courage to go after my own. I always wanted to create and sell items from my own hands. My love for jewelry started when I was very young, and I have always been a one PIECE kind of jewelry girl. Finding that one PIECE that’s your favorite, and then picking your whole outfit to match that one awesome pair of earrings or that one amazing necklace. Hence the name of our business “PIECE” and our tag line “Find Your Favorite”. I hope everyone finds a PIECE that is their favorite, just like I have for so many years!
The “family” at Lighthouse Roasters are so kind, generous and knowledgeable about one of my very favorite topics in the whole world- COFFEE!!! Their brews were excellent and they gifted many social influencers during Celebrity Connected and other events that weekend a generous boxed set of TWO of their signature coffees and a drip coffee maker!
Have you ever sat outside to watch your child play soccer/ football/ softball/ baseball ,etc. IN THE HOT, HOT SUN? You end up sweating from the top of your head to your toes! Well, the creators of the KOOL BREEZE hat came up with a solution that uses a mini-solar panel to operate a small fan in the core of the hat. It works! The minute you step outside you hear the BZZZZZZ of the fan. Bring on the summertime concerts! (The photos below looks like I am dreaming of all the applications this hat / product design could have! Shark Tank??)
Amazon’s newest show – The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel has earned 14 Emmy Award nominations! Can you say – WOW! Quite a feat given that in recent years the vast majority of the golden Emmy award went to shows airing on Netflix, HBO and NBC.
Let’s start with why the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is worthy of all the kudos. Without a doubt the show is brilliantly written. But, I knew it was going to be a winner once I discovered that Amy Sherman – Palladino and Daniel Palladino were involved as the creative geniuses. Their signature snappy and witty scripts are the backbone of this show as it was with their previous break-out winner – the Gilmore Girls. However, “Maisel” is much more edgy than the Gilmore Girls, which one easily discovers within the first episode.
Let’s break it down even more (SPOILER ALERT). Set in 1958, a time when women were expected to cook, clean and look pretty – “Midge” Maisel, played by the outstanding Rachel Brosnahan, finds herself as a Jewish woman with a cheating husband, Joel (Michael Zegen). He leaves her for an office romance… quite the shocker for Midge. Bad karma continues as Joel’s hopes of a career in comedy are seriously dashed due to his “borrowing” someone else’s material. (The someone being Bob Newhart) To complicate matters, Midge is no slouch at comedy either, and in fact, is the funnier of the two. The audience is let in to this little secret as it plays out in one of the funniest scenes filmed for a TV show.
The hilarity of the show also is due to the doting parents who raised Midge in a comfortable Manhattan lifestyle and their major dilemma as how to explain “the separation” to the Jewish community. Actors Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle play Midge’s parents and they are HYSTERICAL.
Also among the superb roster of actors in this production is one who I always have enjoyed watching over the years, actor Kevin Pollack. Here he brilliantly portrays Midge’s soon to be ex-father-in law, Moishe Maisel. I had an opportunity to interview Kevin on the red carpet of the Oscar gifting suite hosted by Celebrity Connected .
This is what he had to say about the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and its’ success:
Here’s to the success of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and all involved. Thank you Kevin Pollak for your fun and candor.
Update: Sadly after I ran this article the last remaining Blockbusters in Alaska announced they were closing.
This month my family ventured to the Pacific Northwest. We watched whales frolic and feed, walked glaciers and even explored villages and remote areas both by land and sea. But, it was a little store in Anchorage that was deemed the “highlight” of our 12 – day excursion. Yes, apparently one can relive their childhood by simply walking through the doors of one of the last remaining Blockbuster video stores in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska.
This Blockbuster store is under the management of Kevin Daymude. “Blockbuster” as a corporation is long gone, due to the change of the video landscape. Replaced by streaming services, such as Netflix, the demand for video and gaming rentals has dwindled to nearly “zip”. However, in this part of the world, Blockbuster still holds relevance. New and “antique” videos and games adorn the shelves and there is the requisite aisle of theater sized boxed candies. You can purchase older videos for under a dollar and don’t forget the popcorn and cotton candy! The only “addition” to the Blockbuster of 20 years ago was a prominent display of movie memorabilia in the very front of the store, including some “goods” obtained from actor, Russell Crowe.
There is a very interesting story about how Blockbuster of Anchorage and Kevin Daymude received Russell Crowe’s items from the actor’s “ART OF DIVORCE SALE”. It would appear that the items were received via an intermediary who acted as a conduit for this Blockbuster store to receive these “treasures of cinematic history”. Among the memorabilia were two director chairs from the movie American Gangster that were used and embroidered with the actors’ names – Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Plus, there was from Russell Crowe’s collection a “jockstrap” that was placed in the display (and reportedly cost 7K!)
Who was the buyer of all these “artifacts” and what was the backstory? Well, the person who purchased many of Crowe’s items would be none other than HBO talk show host, John Oliver. The reason why… well that is a whole other story. Let’s start with Oliver’s announcement via Twitter from April 2018.
Why is this store still open while the vast majority have closed? I had an opportunity to chat with Kevin about the remaining Blockbuster stores in Alaska (and one in Oregon) and get more insight. (There are two videos for easier uploading.)
Lastly, if you do visit the DeBarr Rd. location of Blockbuster know that there are shirts and pullovers available for purchase. My entire family bought one – how could we not!?! Plus, we walked out with a handful of those repurposed DVDs for 99 cents each!
This weekend will be the “official start” of the Hollywood award season as the Golden Globes will bring together elite actors and filmmakers from television and film. I always have loved award season, but I predict that this one will be very different with less cause for celebration and more focus on political and social action.
Over the past year, we have witnessed movie producers, filmmakers, television host personalities, movie actors, musical artists and other “heroes’ fall from grace. Their legacy of work now overshadowed (and rightly so) by their irresponsible and heinous history of abuse and harassment towards others. Many of these “alleged” predators often occupied prime “real estate” during award shows and this year won’t even make the invitation list. And to add salt to the already wounded – the victims are probably going to be re victimized again during the weeks and months to come.
But it is Hollywood… is it really that surprising?
Of course, when compared to other more severe issues around the world, some may say that an award season that may resemble a solemn event vs. one of fanfare is simply a “first world problem”. However, I disagree. The reasons why I predict a contentious and tense award season is simply not to be dismissed. Sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, film industry, etc. is prevalent and finally this “plague” is out in the open and the center of discourse worldwide. We finally get a chance to press “reset” and start on a new course of how we treat each other in the workplace, our schools, places of worship, on the set, and in our homes. Period.
I won’t name names of who are the purported offenders. You have seen them in the paper, online or heard their names. I don’t have that kind of time or space on my blog as the list is too long and reads like a “who’s who” of the most powerful or popular in recent living history. All I know is that my heart broke when Bill Cosby was purported to have conducted heinous acts against women who he supposedly placed in vulnerable circumstances. My heart continues to ache as I hear more and more stories. I find myself yelling at the TV or computer – SHAME ON YOU! My fear – I will continue to have this visceral behavior throughout “award season”.
So while I will be curious who graces the red carpet this year… I won’t expect the conversation to be light and frivolous. And, if you too are a voyeur of the red carpets and post-show interviews – join me on Twitter as @LouiseASL. Let’s keep the convo flowing and try to make sense of the crazy.
There are few television shows that I watch with such enthusiasm as Downton Abbey! I became a fan shortly after it first aired five seasons ago and haven’t missed an episode since. I have laughed with every sarcastic line from the Dowager Countess of Grantham (played brilliantly by Maggie Smith) and cried with each unexpected death of key players (Poor Lady Sybil Grantham and Mathew Crawley.) Rarely does this one hour drama miss a beat – as one would expect as Masterpiece Theater series on PBS
Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora Crawley) today was at the Tournament of Roses Parade on the award winning Downton Abbey float sponsored by PBS! And if Elizabeth McGovern looks familiar you may remember her from shows such as Three Moons Over Milford, Ragtime and even the award winning feature, Ordinary People.
Maggie Smith has been in more than 59 films and television programs. (via IMDB) However, for many it is her role as the Dowager Countess of Grantham that has brought her the most widespread recognition in the United States. Although I bet others will say it is her role in the Harry Potter movie series as Hogwarts’ Professor Minerva McGonagall that has made her beloved among fans.
The very strong willed head butler, Carson, is played by Jim Carter who happens to be married to a Hogwarts “staff” member – Dolores Umbridge! (For those who are not Harry Potter fans she played the role as the Ministry of Magic! And yes there seems to be a bit of cross-over with casting Harry Potter actors or relatives in Downton Abbey!)
Downton Abbey is a goldmine!
How many Downton Abbey related products are available for purchase on Amazon? If you guessed 14,218 then you would be correct! Yes, my friends you can buy everything from books to clothing to even dozens of autographed memorabilia just by clicking on to Amazon!.
Note if you have missed this program no worries … the full set of episodes are available on Amazon’s Prime videos. The UK episodes are purported to have a few more “additions” to the US versions.
Curious about the little ones’ that are roaming the set as Sybby, George and Marigold – the grandchildren of the Lord Grantham? Well, you will be happy to know that they are just as adorable off the set as on screen. Here is an article I found on TIME with info about these little cherubs. And another from The Daily Mail (UK). Gosh they are so darn cute and yes twins play the part of George Crawley!
And, what about Season 6 (no spoilers here) – Well for me I will have to wait and see where this story will journey and soon come to an end. Yes, the show producers have announced that Season 6 will be the last. (Commence tears) But fear not, as before the directors says, “It’s a wrap to Season 6” we will be offered one shining final memory as George Clooney is purported to make an appearance during this season.
This week we lost two legends in the entertainment field- Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. I adored them both. And, until the day when the internet came in to my life, I would spend my free time going to the movie theater or watching old classics on TV. Now I am absorbed by catching every news and soundbite about these two actors on various social media timelines.
Nothing that should get done IS getting done today. Damn that internet!
Now I fully understand that as a human I am given free will. But, let’s face it- those who are reading this blog also are giving some time to online media vs. other activities. At least for some of your day!
So, what I am to do? Well, for starters I believe I may need to implement “unplugged Saturdays and Sundays”. That way I can spend time with real people or at least view people on a larger screen than my laptop.
Of course, I won’t totally divorce the internet – just reduce our relationship to weekdays! So, let’s see if I can do this challenge!!
(Pause for some introspection and time to check the calendar)
Oh wait- it is almost the EMMY AWARDS! I guess my unplugged Saturdays and Sundays will need to be postponed until after August 25th when I am done covering the event as a social media correspondent for The Insider at CBS.
And for those two mega – stars- Robin and Lauren – May you rest in peace – sweet peace!