Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams..... Lessons from Loss

I am sitting here still in shock… and in tears… over the passing of Robin Williams.
I am reading the flood of heartbreak and sadness of his Hollywood peers and fans on Twitter, Facebook, and through every entertainment industry venue, periodical, and, on every news channel online and off.

I am wondering if Robin knew how loved he was.

Not just how many people thought he was funny, or how many fans he had, but how LOVED he was.

For his humor, for his generous heart, his strength, his energy, his… light.

I wonder if he knew how many people found light in their own personal darkness due to him… a moment of laughter, for no one could resist laughing as they watched Robin in his comedic work… and even in somber, dark moments of his dramatic work….or especially as he battled his real life inner demons time and again.

I wonder if he knew how many families he brought together as they enjoyed his movies. How many people he moved. How many lives he touched.

When someone has had lovely things said about them while they were living and not just on the day of their death, you find more assurance in that praise. Everyone who worked with Robin said he was generous with his time, his support, a hug, a laugh, encouragement, and guidance. That was said every step of the way, and is being repeated today.

One thing that few realize about the TRULY gifted – the greatest of the great – not measured by fame but rather by the depth and breadth of their talent – is that they are truly humble. There is little room for ego in a soul that needs the space to create and live as many characters, to see and feel SO much. They see the masses of fans, and while the layman may say ‘ah they know they are adored’, the ‘gifted one’ is often overwhelmed at the attention, and most often feels these people loved the character, or the story of the film etc. They are grateful and appreciative of the accolades, the benefits of fame, and for the opportunity to keep creating and using their gifts. Rarely do they feel loved.

In this day and age it must be especially hard to feel it. Magazines and TV Media, even the ‘reputable’ ones, comment on their every move, ask viewers for their opinions. The whole world weighs in on if you drink too much Starbuck’s, missed the gym this week, make bad choices in love, or drive too snazzy a car. How does that feel like love? It feels like judgment, anger, and resentment at a minimum. This is not a soap box moment for me…. it is germane to what took the genius and amazing soul of Robin Williams from us. How could he have ever been able to feel loved in a society that acts as we do…as if we are judge and jury, and ultimately executioner.  How can one feel safe to ask for help, to not smile ALL the time??? Acting as if we own some rights to people who are bold enough to share their gifts for the world to see. And… they and their loved ones get stalked on and offline (no reason to follow a star’s mom or wife on social media), those who know ‘famous’ people all too often name drop, or act as if they are trophies to be shown off or ‘given’ as favors to others via introduction in the industry. These are people. With minds, hearts, bodies, souls… just like you… and your mom… and your kids… and you Gran… PEOPLE.  Think of that you social commentators and entertainment media people before you call some young woman a ‘hot mess’, comment that some 30 something star ‘sure has gotten around a lot’ as she is bold enough to attempt love again….before you condemn an addict as ‘weak’ or ‘stupid’. Shame on you!

Depression is a silent killer and yet its screams are so loud, that it is deafening. A smile is merely how someone chooses to portray their inner emotions. Anyone can joke, be energetic, humorous, and smile constantly… anyone can… surely a fabulous actor can. It pains me so that Robin felt so much pain that it was unbearable…. and had to stop… by any means. Listen to people when they speak… REALLY listen…. Look them in the eye and see if it matches the words you hear. Don’t just say you understand or that you love them… make them FEEL it… and it may be hard with some. Depression keeps people from feeling the love… and it is up to those around them to hopefully find a way to break through that…

This very populated world of ours has millions who feel alone….shamed, misunderstood, different… alone. No amount of uplifting quotes posted on Facebook is going to change that. Taking someone by the hand… and the heart and building them up… with truth not empty phrases that hurt more than they help.

I obviously do not know what pained Robin Williams….but pain indeed it was. We did not just lose a great actor, an unparalleled comedian….we lost a man…. a husband, a father, a friend, a mentor, a beautiful soul.

While it may seem that I tangented off into other topics, truly I did not. It is all about awareness, compassion, sensitivity, a moral high ground, a society that incubates wellness instead of pain. Privately, publically, personally, and in society at large we all have people who we know and love, who need to be heard, need to feel the love….sometimes it is the person staring back at us in the mirror.

The loss of Robin is…gutting me and innumerable others…. Let’s at least take it as a wake up call.

Robin…. Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the films, the comedy, the exuberance, and yes even for the darkness. I pray you are comfortably ensconced in a true love and light that permeates you and you have deserved for so long. Rest in Peace.

Robin’s’ wife, Susan Schneider made this statement:
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams." —Barack Obama

@bobsaget: His heart was as big as his genius. So sad. Rest in Peace Robin Williams.

Ana Martinez
 @wofstargirl  (Hollywood Walk of Fame) Hollywood is in tears. RIP Robin Williams.

Steve Carell @SteveCarell  Robin Williams made the world a little bit better. RIP.

Bree Turner
 @RealBreeTurner  Stunned. What a terrible, terrible loss. The ever radiating and utterly electric Robin Williams.

David Hasselhoff
 @DavidHasselhoff  Robin Williams the saddest of sad !! A genius with a huge heart!His death is awake up call! !Wow go hug your family and loved ones!

Michael Des Barres @MDesbarres  I have never laughed as hard as I did when I witnessed Robin Williams in a comedy club.He was blessed with an incomparable gift.

Alyssa Milano @Alyssa_Milano  Robin Williams! Your work! Your heart! Your brain! So much left for you to do. So much more to love you for! Heartbroken. Rest in peace.

Brooke Burke-Charvet @brookeburke  Deeply sad & shocked to learn the news of the passing of Robin Williams. The fragility of the industry that I work in is scary. Prayers...

Ozzy Osbourne @OzzyOsbourne  Such a tragic loss. I will always have amazing memories of @RobinWilliams. Respect and love goes out to his family.

Chris Daughtry @CHRIS_Daughtry  A great talent lost. Very sad news. #robinwilliams was one of the most versatile comedians of our time

@johncusack: RIP mr Williams - beyond great talent -such a kind and lovely person

Kelly Clarkson Devastating finding out about @robinwilliams today. He was an amazing talent and incredibly sweet. So sad.

Sesame Street @sesamestreet  We mourn the loss of our friend Robin Williams, who always made us laugh and smile.

LLCoolJ @llcoolj  Robin williams. it was an Honor to know and work with you. Your genius will live on. May God embrace your family. Sleepwell.

Lenny Kravitz @LennyKravitz  Robin Williams, it was an honor to know you. #restinpeace

Orlando Jones @TheOrlandoJones  RIP Robin Williams - It was 1 of the absolute highlights of my life to work w/ you. You will be missed by many.

Pauley Perrette @PauleyP  Oh God. #RIP #RobinWilliams I loved that man

GRAHAM ELLIOT @grahamelliot  So saddened to hear about the passing of Robin Williams. My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family and fans.

Lindsay Lohan @lindsaylohan Mr. Williams visited me the first day of filming The Parent Trap. I will never forget his kindness. What an enormous loss. My condolences.

Deborah "Debbie" Gibson  Beyond sad about Robin Williams .... Is there anyone who didn't / doesn't love this man ? Wow.... Shocked and heartbroken .

Official Laci Green  I just can't believe Robin Williams is dead . It makes me so sad to know he was in so much pain...depression is a silent killer... Hug your loved ones. Ask if they're okay. Find them help if they need it. Smiles don't = "I'm okay". Don't expect them to go it alone. RIP Robin. Thanks for all the laughs.

LeAnn Rimes Cibrian @leannrimes  Deeply saddened by the passing of one of the greatest artists of our time Thank you for bringing us joy all the years. R.I.P. #RobinWilliams

Minnie Driver         @driverminnie My Heart's broken. Robin was a beautiful, kind soul. Can't bear that he's gone. So incredibly sorry for his family.

Steve Martin         @SteveMartinToGo  I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

Ellen DeGeneres         @TheEllenShow  I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It's Been One Week....

It’s Been One Week….

Ok now that I have that Bare Naked Ladies song playing on a loop in your head (link at end of blog for the musically challenged)…..

It HAS been one week…..since The Night Shift Season One Finale.

(I love saying Season ONE… SO glad it is renewed for Season TWO!!!!)

TV shows are a dime a dozen. Youtube has exclusive shows, as does Netflix, Hulu, the myriad of cable channels and of course the standard networks in each country.

Quantity has overrun quality in programming and it has disheartened me as a viewer and as a creator.

I want to enjoy quality when I watch – be it laughter or tears inducing – and in the case of The Night Shift – both of those. Even relaxing, escaping, seeing and feeling from new vantage points via media …or why ever I am watching a program or film, I want it to be worthy of my time, and mind, and emotions. The Night Shift delivers. Big time. Every time.

The premise of the show sets it apart from other medical dramas. The writing is an exquisite balance of laughter and tears, pain and joy, realistic situations and the nearly unfathomable that ONLY occur in a night shift ER.

The directing and producing clearly is on par with the creation quality as every episode – even delivered via different amazing directors – maintains the same quality and for the audience’s sake – the same familiar flow of feeling and experience.

The acting…. what follows that direction and brings that writing to life…. The acting is SO phenomenal (and for this somewhat jaded Hollywood chick to say that… you can take my word for it without reservation).

The cast….

As I detail the main cast…the supporting cast is just as amazing… specifically the lovely nurses… Heather played by Catherine Pilafas, Molly portrayed by Esodie Geiger, and Jocelyn brought to life by Alma Sisteros. Talented women who bring such personality and texture to their ‘supporting’ roles, I’d love the future seasons (yes that is plural… you heard me NBC!) to explore their stories as well.

 Robert Bailey Jr. brings a sweet blend of innocence, ambition, and heart to his character of intern Dr. Paul Cummings. In the finale I loved seeing how his love and respect for Topher pushed him through his student mindset and into doctor mode, prioritizing what his mentor-patient needed over his own comfort zone. Robert you are such a gifted young man….as I posted on Twitter, you turn every #PoorPaul moment into a #PreciousPaul delight. And…. Your duets with Jeananne… wow… just wow… I’m expecting to hear lots more from you musically as well. (Listen to one of the duets Robert has done with Jeananne here). What a treasure you are. Was a joy to meet you and hope to again one day soon.

Jeananne Goossen has been affectionately labeled #KickassKrista on Twitter. Reminiscent of the maiden warriors in ancient mythology, intern, Dr. Krista Belhart embodies strength, determination, a fierce level of loyalty, love, passion and drive, with just enough vulnerability to make her the best gal pal everyone wants and can relate to. Her ambition to learn more, do more, be a better doctor comes from a heart space more than from a typical colder professional drive. Jeananne brings grace, fun, beauty, compassion, and brilliance to her role as Krista. She has become one of my favorite characters on The Night Shift. AND… if you have not heard this beautiful young lady sing… you MUST….she is incredible. (Listen to Jeananne and Robert singing here)

JR Lemon – Kenny, Kenny, Kenny… The handsome, sweet, funny and dedicated ‘murse’ (male nurse). Loyal supportive friend, adoringly crushing on Krista, and somehow right where he is needed… coming through the door or around the corner right in time. Very aligned with the methods of the military docs on staff, Kenny will do or facilitate doing what is necessary to help someone…rules or not. JR brings his own mischievousness to the role, along with his own intrinsic sweetness. He lights up the screen no matter if the scene is serious or has us in stitches… the laughing kind that is. I cannot wait to see how his character develops, and see his relationships develop. His friendship with TC and Drew are what we all hope our friendships to be – loyal, fun, supportive, and steadying. Kenny helping Ragosa with his online dating profile was priceless and of course watching Kenny as he watches Krista… well that sure seems as if it is just a matter of time. JR you really have a brightness to you, an energy that is magnificent on and off screen. Was a lovely surprise to meet you at Eriq’s book signing…and next time…I’m bringing a better camera J.

Brendan Fehr plays Dr. Drew Allistair. A military man who was until recently secretly gay. So many possible repercussions could unfold from revealing his personal life, and Brendan does a fabulous job navigating the role. It’s painful to hide who we are no matter what secrets we hide, and Brendan showcases the inner turmoil without bitterness or rancor. Love… for his partner Rick, and from his good friend Krista, propel Drew to prioritize what is the most important above all… above social or professional fallout, above challenges in the military, above his own discomfort… and he stands by his man. The scenes between Drew and Krista are so intense and intimate in the depth and scope of their friendship, it often feels like I am intruding on a private moment. I’ve seen Brendan in many roles before this one and he has always been a good actor. In this role as Drew, Brendan has expanded to all new dimensions of his craft.

Jill Flint is beautiful, brainy, and a bevy of other fabulous things. Jill’s character, Dr. Jordan Alexander faces a lot professionally on the Night Shift… mentoring the interns with a firm yet loving approach and pride in their growth and accomplishments, the tenuous balancing act between the corporate side of the hospital, placating Ragosa, and doing what she feels is best for the patients which often entails bending rules and supporting the maverick like approach of ex-boyfriend TC. The cases that come in to the Night Shift are a lot for anyone to handle emotionally and medically, and when one has to face all that… plus work with your ex’s current/ex ‘interest’, all the while having your mind and heart play tug-o-war between your current boyfriend – upstanding surgeon and new Night Shift ER Chief Scott, and TC, the impossible to ignore, more than slightly damaged and damaging ex…sheesh – I’m exhausted just writing that list… Jill Flint is truly and remarkably relatable as a strong, ambitious, yet still human, and vulnerable, woman. Most strong female leads have such an edge that you can feel some of their own emotions have been sacrificed for their strength. Not in the way Jill portrays Jordan. She is admirable, relatable, and emotionally evolved enough to process her feelings, function, and flourish. Jordan is what every ambitious little girl should seek to grow up to be… and that is to the credit of the amazing actress who plays her.

Freddy Rodriguez has blown me away this season. A fantastic actor that I have enjoyed watching in many other roles over the years, Freddy started this season as a character that at best I thought I’d love to hate. Even in the pilot episode he presented his character, Michael Ragosa, the hospital administrator, with the duality of  being the cold cut throat businessman, and yet also a man with fears, challenges, and … a heart. As the season progressed, we came to know… and even love Ragosa. His insecurity based cockiness, his business management, how he impressively handled staff and patients in times of crisis, and of course his love life woes of all kinds past, present, and hoping for future…all facets of this character that Freddy plays so wonderfully. He is equally convincing and compelling in every aspect of Ragosa, even when those aspects seem to contradict. Looking forward to seeing how he handles his own health challenges and the huge emotional and practical ripple effect it will have through the various areas of his life.

Daniella Alonso was fascinating to me as Dr Landry de la Cruz. Here she was strong, smart, and the onsite shrink for the Night Shift, and yet she was ‘playing doctor’ with co-worker TC, who tempting as he may be is also complicated as heck. There had to be aspects of her past that created her inner need to compartmentalize and keep aspects of herself detached. When her estranged father enters the ER we start to get some insight into what has built her character over the years. Beautiful irony that the presence of her father, clearly part of what shaped her to be as she is today, is also what brought her to the end of her rope as being TC’s “insignificant other”. Love life aside, Daniella brings us Landry as an intricately blended woman of strength, compassion, fears, logic, and longing to be safe and loved. Very well played.

Ken Leung – I have to say it… I want a Topher in my life.. a fabulously brave, calm, wise, loving friend. Mentor, friend, doctor, father, husband…so many hats are piled on Topher’s head and yet he remains calm, caring, wise, and brilliant. Ken Leung has been a long time favorite of mine, and I am glad Topher survived, so that I can keep enjoying this great actor’s work – week after week in season two and beyond.

Eoin Macken – Oh man… this is where it gets difficult for me. So much to say and so tricky to refine it into what should be said here. I will start with what would normally be the end… As I said on Twitter the night the finale aired… if this show, and specifically Eoin Macken does not get an Emmy (or two or ten) for at least this final scene of this season then NOTHING ever should. (Watch the future Emmy winning scene here). There is brilliance, there is talent, there is complexity in approach to a role… and then there is Eoin Macken as Dr. TC Callahan. This show is multi-faceted, this role is multi-faceted, and then Macken just takes it another several leagues beyond that into depths that are often hard to watch. It is visceral and real, and amusing and painful, it takes you back in his painful memories and keeps you present as it affects him – and the viewer – all in the same moment… AND often by facial expression alone. When you watch someone ‘act’ and you see a man emoting through his experiences (be they PTSD or a faceoff with a cocky current boyfriend of your ex)… you have to step back and realize greatness when you see it. Watching TC is watching someone in front of you live, breathe, speak and feel every bit of pain, friendship, adrenalin, intent to heal, loyalty, love, passion, and vulnerability that he goes through. You never feel you are watching someone do a great job at merely portraying that. Eoin seems to step into the skin of his character and breathe its breath and speak its truths, and feel its feelings… so authentically everyone watching is IN the moment not just watching it. The character of TC is complex… as I said above – both damaged and damaging….headstrong AND heartstrong….tough and vulnerable, cocky and sensitive. His truest strength is shown in his moments of deepest emotional expression. Eoin’s portrayal of a vet with PTSD is right on the money. The PTSD clients I have worked with have agreed with that when I encouraged them to watch this show. I could keep prattling on but I would never adequately express what can only be experienced by watching Eoin as TC….  There are no words… well maybe one… EMMY.

I REALLY hope NBC is wise enough to air reruns through the late summer and fall programming and also to get The Night Shift out on DVD and/or BluRay ASAP. It would make a fabulous holiday gift and get viewers hooked on The Night Shift to resume watching when it returns with season 2.

Writers, Directors, Producers, Crew, and CAST.. THANK YOU… you have given me weeks of enjoyable viewing and revitalized my faith in programming. You amazing folks ROCK!

Bare Naked Ladies “One Week” as promised above – unrelated to the show just… blog title prompted… Listen here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Signs... To Consider....

Tis the season… for Emmy nominations that is, so here in LA and in portions of NYC as well, billboards pop up for various shows with the emblazoned request ‘For Your Consideration’. In cities where many of the commuters are indeed considering who they nominate for an Emmy and then who they vote for from the ballot… advertising for consideration is key.

Several weeks back I was thrilled when a promotional Night Shift billboard popped up, visible from the freeway that I frequent numerous times each day, and not so ironically across the way from NBC Comcast offices in Burbank. It made me smile every time I passed it. Imagine how irritated I was just a few weeks ago when it was replaced by a billboard of another show asking ‘for your consideration’. Fine! I get it. Shows that aired this past year need to promote to get nominations, but damn it, I wanted the Night Shift billboard enticing everyone stuck in traffic to watch! I will neither confirm nor deny if I wrinkled my nose at that ‘other’ sign each time I passed… only mentally of course. I consoled myself with my true belief that The Night Shift is of such fine caliber that next year in this award season, LA would be covered with ‘consideration’ signs for The Night Shift…as well as its regular promo billboards.

This morning, driving as always, I was mulling over ratings, how to get more folks to watch The Night Shift tonight, and how apparently I need to have more people in my life so I can have greater viewing influence….when my daughter pointed out that ‘It’s back!’.  Sure enough there it was…. Those faces that Night Shift fans have come to know and love, were once again gracing the side of the freeway….and YES NBC look out your window and ‘consider’ what a treasure you have in this show… SO many talented stars it is practically its own constellation.

It’s Tuesday, so here I am again asking any of my readers who have not yet been wise or hip enough to watch The Night Shift to do so TONIGHT. Let’s ADD to the stellar ratings this great show has maintained for 4 weeks thus far. Tonight is a special treat, as Eriq LaSalle of ER (and sooooooooooo much more) fame, directed tonight’s episode. 

Truly (and again let me remind you of my insanely high standards in such things) the concept, writing, direction, production, acting…. of this show is top tier. Characters you adore, events that make you laugh and just as many that make you exclaim ‘OMG’ in anticipatory shock as insane experiences unfold for these medical folks … in both their personal and professional lives. The action is intense in and around their city, in their own parking lot, in the ER itself, and heck even in the supply closet!

I take the re-emergence of the Night Shift billboard as a sign…. a great sign… of many SEASONS to come!
There is nothing to ‘consider’ here.. it’s a no brainer.. WATCH The Night Shift….then recommend to a friend… then rewatch… make new friends… and recommend it again!  NBC  10/9c!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Night Shift TONIGHT.... They worked it... now YOU watch it!

It’s Tuesday and time for my reminding push.. ok maybe it’s a shove… no, really let’s call it what it REALLY is.. a lovingly enticing… DEMAND that you watch The Night Shift tonight on NBC 10/9c.

Why…besides because I said so? Ok… the details, the reasons… and some more not so subliminal demands…as to why...

The Night Shift brings so much to the table it’s hard to know what aspect to choose and label as your favorite part. While it is not here to teach us medicine, nor to be a docu-series on the military, we do get accurate glimpses and a realistic ‘feel’ of what it may be like to walk in such shoes. Watching The Night Shift we laugh just enough, tear up just enough, get aggravated with some characters in one moment, and want to give them a comforting hug the next. The pranks, the passion, the traumas (both past and present), the urgency, the intensity, the patients, the pain, and the laughter…. this multifaceted show glistens at every turn. 

Many Night Shift viewers followed a favorite actor/actress here from another show or movie – whether it was one of the handsome and intensely almost insanely talented actors - Eoin Macken, Brendan Fehr, Freddy Rodriguez, Ken Leung….or one of the stunning and powerfully gifted actresses Jill Flint, or Daniella Alonso….. or whether in a commercial or ad you were staggered by JR Lemon’s smile, or the mischievously exquisite gleam in Jeanne Goossen’s eye, or just couldn’t stop grinning at the adorable innocence of Robert Bailey Jr… No matter WHO you followed to The Night Shift, just about every fan has said that they immediately fell in love with the ENTIRE cast. There is a warmth, a camaraderie onscreen and off (as seen in many pre-show cast interviews)… this group of people are a package deal – you just adore them all. There is this instant bond with them and they become the folks you want to hang out with, have over for a summer evening BBQ ….or enjoy some drinks with while watching a favorite TV show… and THAT is something that we DO get to do with this cast. Each week there have been several Night Shift cast members live tweeting during both the East and West Coast airings. They chat with fans, they banter with each other. Their appreciation for their fans, and how generous they are with us all is a rare and beautiful thing. I have to admit though that for me – and I know many others – when you see them tweet back and forth with each other, you see their true love for each other – and THAT makes us adore them even more. This is not just a cast, not just a bunch of copacetic coworkers and colleagues. These folks are friends and family to each other… and in many ways to many viewers as well. Trust me you will find yourself loving the supporting cast as well… the nurses, the MRI/lab tech….
This cast deserves to continue playing and creating together… and honestly, we as an audience seeking quality TV to enjoy, deserve that as well. They have MORE than amazingly done their part… now it’s our turn.

YES the show has done VERY well for its first 3 weeks, but this week needs to match or top that for us to get the rest of this season as well as have our new favorite show renewed for a second season.

My regular readers and social media followers know that have been pushing (um, I mean highly recommending) The Night Shift since well before it aired. I impatiently (OK, Yes Eoin, I indeed (maybe) should have waited till it officially aired) blogged my review of the pilot preview episode to pre-entice folks to watch. While the preview version had some major differences….some characters, the tenor of some of the same (in both versions) remaining characters, and scenes…. I actually loved them BOTH – just different… kind of like fraternal twins. For me it was fascinating to see the same scene done just as marvelously in two different vibes, and to see how the same characters could be forged and introduced in differing ways. It gave me even more respect and appreciation for the talents of the actors, writers, producers… the whole lot.

If you haven’t watched The Night Shift yet.. NOW IS THE TIME… you can jump right in tonight and enjoy… or either as prep beforehand or even after tonight’s episode, to catch up on a show you will have now discovered and loved, you can watch episodes 1, 2, and 3 FREE (in the States) on NBC or Hulu (links below).

If you have watched I know you loved it… I know there are several (in the double digits but let’s take that number higher!) folks on Facebook and beyond who watch The Night Shift because I insisted (again that IS a typo and I do indeed mean heavily – maybe Soprano heavy style - encourged) that they do and now they are (of their own volition) fans!
I guess I do post a lot about the show – possibly more than about my own work which may not be too prudent but… folks who know me, know that truly (all joking aside) I do not even mildly suggest let alone full on recommend and support anything, anyone, on or off screen, unless I truly a) think it is quality and b) believe in it. Well clearly The Night Shift has my vote/viewer support… to the point that a few folks asked me if I post so much (on FB more than Twitter honestly as I am clearly challenged by expression in a mere 140 characters!) because I work on the show – I laugh and say I wish and then instantly get serious and reply “BUT… I HAVE worked at jobs and on projects (in and out of this industry) that I have invested my heart and soul in, where I adore my colleagues and want to keep working with them.”….. and THAT is what I see here with this amazing cast and crew.

Ok.. I have rambled… no coffee yet today… and I should have just shared the succinct and yet eloquent post shared by Brendan Fehr (Drew) yesterday...

From Brendan’s official message board posted by Brendan
"Well tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th at 10 pm on NBC, is the 4th episode of the television show you may have heard me talk about, The Night Shift. The first 3 have done really really well for us and I wanted to thank you for watching and TELLING YOUR FRIENDS (you did that right?). Well June 30th is the deadline for NBC to pick us up, which gives us 2 more aired episodes, including tomorrows, before we hear about our renewal. I’m asking for a big rally, even to the point of uncomfortably telling complete strangers to watch this show so we can make this decision a complete no-brainer for NBC. I don’t even care if you don’t like this show, you should consider "perjuring" yourself then, by telling everyone "it’s the awesomest show ever made, no word of a lie" for a tried and true friend like myself (realistically a true friend would never ask you to perjure yourself but then again, a tried and true friend would support their friend’s show so…) Tomorrow’s is a really cool episode for me and one I’m excited for so thank you for reading this plea/rant/diatribe/any other accurately descriptive word(s). May you find yourself on your couch tomorrow night, watching this show, receiving texts/calls from all those friends and strangers you told to watch, thanking you for telling them about it."

Just watch… no need to thank me… it’s a gift that we must do our part to insure it keeps on giving….and yes I am still bribing folks with home baked cookies…..

WATCH... GET OTHERS TO WATCH... Tonight... TUESDAY, on NBC 10/9c


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

50 Shades of Grey's Anatomy... and Why You MUST Watch 'The Night Shift'

Right from the get go let me clarify that I have never and will never read the 50 Shades books… I have nothing against explicit writing, erotica is dandy… but I am against a ‘book’ that is the extrapolation of a fanfic of an author’s original work as that series is. I mean hell…. Jason Derulo’s song ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ has more lyrical integrity than these books. THE POINT BEING… I am – for better or worse – a purist by nature.

Honestly I used this as a blog title because it ran together all amusing-like with the Grey’s show title which is part of where my blog focus truly is… and was a sterling example of how I am a purist… and why when you select your TV viewing, you should be as well.

Who am I to tell you what or how to watch? You’re right… had I taken the gig at Variety a lifetime ago, I would have been – with my same opinions – an authority to consider. I was – as  I still am – a purist and knew not to take a gig I would throw myself into heart and soul when my heart and soul needed to be fully devoted to my primary gig as a mom.  (Yes indeed kids, Mommy loves you even more than TV & film and you KNOW how much that is!).

STILL…. I have a good sense about shows, actors, producers… have nary been wrong yet as to what is of quality, what has legs to run for multiple seasons etc etc… so …take note.

While comparison marketing has its rewards, I always want to purchase – or in this case – watch – based on a show or actor’s OWN merit.

Bottom line… NBC’s new summertime drama, The Night Shift is amazing at just about every level of its inception, creation, production, and delivery.  

ANY means that gets folks watching it starting a week from tonight on Tuesday, May 27, on NBC at 10pm... truly ANYTHING that gets them watching – and getting hooked as I know they will – is a wondrous thing.

SO while lovers of one medical drama (Grey’s or even missing ER) may now love another one over the summer, and while headlines flash with comparisons between Grey’s ‘Dr McDreamy’ and The Night Shift’s magnificent maverick trauma doctor – TC Callahan (played by Eoin Macken)….and these comparative maneuvers may get people watching… I WISH… I SO deeply wish… folks would not go in to The Night Shift with comparisons (they rarely end well), or expectations, and instead just with peaked interest.

Frames of reference such as the ones the actors themselves have been citing in interviews are different…. Comparing the much loved ‘comedy’ MASH (a humorous medical show based in the Vietnam War) to how the Veteran docs of The Night Shift handle trauma and medical care is a fabulous parallel. A parallel being made by the folks IN the show, and not just headline spinners. I suppose it is a comparison just like the ones I dislike so much and I must own the fact that I was never a fan of Grey’s or the characters therein, and have on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, fallen truly madly deeply in TV affection with the cast – and premise – of The Night Shift. 

As I have mentioned in a prior blog, each character – even during the pilot episode which you will all see next week (I insist!) is so textured, so layered, so… real…and human… and therefore relatable. The stories are extreme, often insane… and very much true to ‘night shift’ stories in real life… especially in a trauma ward. The medical research and representation in this show is extraordinary (and remember we aren’t here to learn how to even do a butterfly stitch let alone open heart surgery!). The producers, consultants, crew…as you watch their interviews, watch them in behind the scenes footage, there’s a level of self investment in this show that is all too rare these days. The cast…Awesome. I could leave it at that and be accurate but I won’t. 

HERE is where folks should get background info… check out The NightShift on IMDB and ‘meet’ the cast. Check out other things they have each starred in… or written, directed, produced…. When you then see them in their Night Shift role, you will have a deeper appreciation of their acting ability and range having (hopefully) seen them in other roles. Many faces you will recognize and already adore from other past favorite shows, some may be newer to your TV screen but, WOW are they talented and amazing additions.

Below are links to interviews of the producers and the main cast members of The Night Shift, as well as the trailer, AND a link to my last blog about this awesome new show that has more description included… I urge you watch, read… and fall in love with this cast and show as I have.. let’s all spend the summer together… on The Night Shift!

Click the links below... yup EVERY ONE of them! (You can thank me later!)

Shifting Gears... my (first and descriptive) blog on The Night Shift


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Bane and Bliss for Public Personalities in the Age of Social Media

From Twitter to Facebook, from Yelp to Foursquare, from Vine to Instagram, and even Youtube, the list of social media sites, apps, and venues grows daily.
For most of us we share – or rather over-share – our thoughts, moods, activities, and for some inexplicable reason, photos of our lunch. We make long distance friends and foes, we network and make professional connections far beyond the scope of what we could locally without the wide ranging reach of the internet. Sounds like something good – a positive aspect of technology, albeit one we must use carefully and responsibly for our own safety as well as sanity. Certainly many a life has been derailed by internet based breaches of privacy, personal photos and data being seen by the wrong parties…but also true love has been found, and lifelong friendships formed. As with everything of power and influence – it is a double edged sword to be wielded with care, precision, and wise judgment.

There is however a group among us who do not have the freedom to utilize this tool, this communication medium, as the rest of us do. Those in the public eye – be they politicians, actors, community or religious leaders, artists, writers – have a tightrope walk in using social media that to me seems painful to judiciously maintain. While it should be equally theirs to utilize as we all do for self expression, as well as to share and promote their works, causes and the like, it is also an obscenely widely viewed platform through which every word they utter, every image they share is dissected, far more than anyone cares to do with the posts of the Plain Jane or Joe down the road.
While some in the limelight, choose to do as James Franco is known for and flood us with ‘selfies’ and his every victory and foible, and even his half hearted mea culpas (Dude, I get it, I really do. Poor judgment at times I grasp, photo-documenting it for the world is a not so clever habit even if followed by a ‘whoops, I made a mistake’), or the celebutante who compulsively Instagrams her ‘assets’ which prompted her mate to tweet that he was rushing home in record speed (SO much more info than I EVER needed to be privy to),  other ‘public’ folks have their managers or some designated writer handle their account so that the public image projected is fully controlled data and image wise. To me the over sharing as well as the posting (aka marketing) via a mouthpiece is of equal imbalance at different ends of the spectrum, but I’d actually favor Franco’s honest albeit narcissistic approach to it all.

Yet – while authenticity is paramount to me in all things, even more vital of course is protecting oneself – including ones career.

So where is the line – for a ‘celebrity’ - between being a person who has social media accounts, and accounting for being a public persona who must watch the public impressions made? Is this media vehicle wonderful for sharing projects, fund raising efforts (the arts or causes), stirring social awareness on issues they are impassioned about? OR is it truly a bane in which they must – and maybe personally used to want to - express and connect and now must be so guarded for their own safety and image that it is a burden to self censor?

The other night I was on Twitter and saw a fabulous tweet posted by a rather brilliant actor and then quickly deleted, only to be replaced by what was, for lack of a better term, a ‘less controversially expressed’ new tweet. Both were clever, witty, and made me grin. What made me feel a deep pang of ‘damn that is a shame’ is that this person felt the need – and a TRUE judicious need it indeed sadly is – to censor himself. What he would have freely posted even a few months back, now had more filter imposed on it. The double edged-ness of an expanding presence in the limelight, perhaps. So he was aware, wise in his choice, and still funny as heck – so what’s MY issue?

Firstly I totally agree with what he did. My issue is not with his choice nor with his replacement post…my issue is a social reflection I guess you could say. How ironic that someone in the profession of expression in so many forms has to censor the expressional choices of his own thoughts and words.

In so many ways, every day, just about every person on the planet feels the need to dim who they are, to fit into a mold, to conform to what is expected/desired/accepted. That is one of the deepest human tragedies in my not so humble opinion. It is at the root of insecurity and fears, ego (a different form of fear) and self-deception, that leads to violence, bullying, abuse… in various forms and levels. If we lose our freedom to express how we desire to, do we not also lose a portion of who we are? How do we preserve our voice, how does it retain its own cadence, if we choose to subjugate it? Even the honest, the confident…all bend, hide, and dim somewhat… to please a parent, to keep a job, to maintain friendships, to attract love, to generate fame. We must. We all censor what we say and post (the world – or at least my world - would surely implode if I said even a fraction of what comes to my mind!). We must. Perhaps in those whose priority it is to show off their latest botox, that isn’t such a bad thing…. BUT… in general, and most DEFINITELY in some very special cases….it is SO sad to me that to thrive, perhaps even to survive, we must censor, diminish, re-post.

There is a radiance, a brilliance, an invaluable perspective that certain special minds and souls have. Some end up as actors, writers, musicians, sculptors, or dancers…..Some are the quiet guy in the corner of the coffee shop who reads a book there for hours every day, some are a housewife, an athlete, a model, an accountant. To me as long as you maintain your special acuity, your unique, even quirky vision and expression…it doesn’t matter to me what status or career you hold (those can be fleeting and are just potential products of you using your gifts wisely), who you ARE is what matters. To dilute that in any manner, is sad.

I get it… I do. I see the rabid fans and the outlandishly scary things they say and ask. I know how having so many people watching you must feel (for reasons not to be explained here, I do personally know). I know how people – not all but too many – seek to pry, to twist a phrase to sound like something unintended to create drama, rumor, innuendo, to shed a different light on you…as if it pathetically makes them feel important to create a persona of you all of their own wishes and fantasy and not at all fact based.

I get it. The choice to censor, edit, re-post is RIGHT, it IS judicious. It also sucks. Those who simply value and appreciate a certain sense of humor, a creative and brilliant mind that sees things and explores and expresses and portrays them with a unique perspective and true to life flare….THOSE readers/viewers of yours…are just thrilled you ‘tweet/post among us’ and choose to share a glimpse of how you saw a part of your day. That inspires, it makes us laugh (and to get some of us to laugh is no easy feat!), it makes us relate to you as a real person, not an image, and at least for me that makes me appreciate your artistry MORE as it shows the diverse range of your gifts. Bottom line is, (in the specific case that sparked this blog), I am grateful you found a way to censor, re-post, and still be you – please don’t ever silence that. Not. Ever.

I began this blog to ask those in both social media and in the entertainment industry, if they see social media as a publicity boon….or bane? Or both?

(I apologize as I also digressed into what is my apparently not so latent resentment for the inappropriately obsessed contingent of fandom. Part of the challenge of social media as well - Everyone wants a Twitter follow or retweet (what pray tell is the big woohoo of someone clicking a button to retweet what you yourself posted, if not helping you promote a cause or project or such!?!?), a FB friending…as if that gives them validity in the heart of their chosen celeb target(s). How about a sanity check. How about being of true value to someone by being supportive of their work, by expressing respectful admiration for what they do. Give them ratings not grief! Nope, guess that is not enough….I just may never fathom the random Twitter marriage proposals, personal life Instagram interrogations and stalking. And may I say, for as much as I like to understand everything, it comforts me that my psyche cannot conceive of the lunacy behind all that rubbish. It ruins so much for the person on the pedestal as well as for those fans with both feet in reality who may just want to communicate something of import, and get lost in the sea of the delusional. It makes a blog like a recent one of mine, that is important to me in its sincerity, its gratitude, and my desire for a certain outcome for another project, to sound as if it could be more generic kissing up and it’s not! Again – sorry, I digress.)

I would truly love to hear from those who work in social media, in entertainment reporting, from actors/writers/producers/musicians…. Is social media a safe place – a beneficial place – still an enjoyable place… for those in the limelight? In total respect for everyone’s privacy, feel free to DM on Twitter, email, message me on FB etc. No quotes, no names, just for my own edification. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Fall of Grace

The Fall of Grace
By Nadia Romanov
The dried leaves crunched beneath her feet as Grace Wilkins walked through Central Park.

Autumn had always been her favorite time of the year; the colorful leaves, the warm snuggly sweaters, the stylish boots, the delicious and aromatic foods and beverages. When the Pumpkin Spice Lattes came to Starbuck’s each year, it was the beginning of a season of bliss.

Grace loved living so close to Central Park. It was her oasis of nature amid all the hustle and bustle of New York City. She loved the city; loved working there and loved living there, but at times she needed to reconnect with nature, to feel the seasons change all around her.

Today’s walk through the park however, was not full of joy. There was no appreciating the beauty. No feeling of connection. Quite the contrary! Today, Grace felt disconnected from everything, most of all herself. The dried leaves crunching beneath her feet sounded dead, breaking as they crunched into particles on the ground.

This year had been hell. Plain and simple, a living hell. The list of top stressors in life had all occurred in her world as if racing through to finish a ‘bucket list’.

Grace’s move to the city had been met with resistance from her family and friends, but was necessary for her new job. She loved her apartment with a stunning view of the park, but the move had been painful. Hiring movers to help her relocate as friends and family refused to speak to her, let alone help, was pricey in more ways than just financially.

The new job was wonderful. She loved being an editor for a national magazine, her coworkers were wonderful, and she still, a year later, felt the exhilaration of it all as she stood each morning in front of the prestigious building she worked in. The hours were long, Grace grew tired and felt unsure of abilities and skills long since honed to professional perfection, so even her career added stress.

Divorce and death, the other two on the top stressors list. These two had come to visit as well.

Grace’s parents, married happily for 30 years, suddenly announced that their marriage was over. As her mother, Dawn, so eloquently phrased it, ‘now that Grace had moved away, why bother anymore’.  Apparently, her parents had grown apart. What did that even mean after decades together, sharing sickness and health, lean times and expansive times, plus of course 4 children?!?! Neither wished to discuss it, so much so that they weren’t even blaming each other. It was just over. The end. Kaput. Sure, she no longer lived at home, but Grace’s foundation was shaken. There was no home base to return to, no more full family times to look forward to, and a new doubt if anything was as it appeared.

And death…Grandma Cassie had passed peacefully in her sleep just three months ago. Grandma Cassie was the stereotypical grandmother, with a twist. Spunky, witty, and sharp as can be – certainly sharper than one would expect of a 95 year old woman. Grandma Cassie had seen and experienced a lot in her life. She was a colorful character, who baked sumptuous feasts, sewed delicate silk dresses for Cassie and her sisters, and kept a tidier home than women a fraction of her age. Her daughter, Grace’s mother, was not close with Grandma Cassie. Fortunately, they lived just down the road from each other so the children grew up with the elderly woman in their lives despite their own mother’s disdain for her. Why was there distance between the elder two generations of the family? Simple, yet sad really. Cassie was a witch. She blended teas, brewed tinctures that could cure all that ailed you, read palms, cards, and tea leaves, had candles always lit throughout her home, and one could taste the magick stirred in to all she cooked. All of the wisdom and knowledge, and mystical practices that had been shared mother to daughter in this family line, stopped short at Grace’s mother. Dawn was ashamed of her mother. Felt she was weird and embarrassing, even when her friends found Cassie to be delightfully warm and inviting, even if also a little bit eccentric and mysterious.

There was never any magick discussed nor allowed in Dawn’s home as Grace and her siblings grew up. They were also not allowed to ‘play with any of that stuff’ over at Grandma Cassie’s house either.

When Grandma Cassie died, Grace lost her best friend, her warm haven of refuge, comfort, and wisdom, and her only link to the spirituality her bloodline practiced.

What a year! It had ALL hit….or so Grace thought.

Yesterday, the doctor confirmed that Grace’s autumn cold had progressed into a mild case of pneumonia. What a blessing that her boss was understanding and was fine with Grace working from home, and a light load at that until she was well.

Dawn had made one of her rare calls to her daughter, and heard the stuffed nose and raspy voice on Grace’s end of the line, and insisted on coming to visit to lend a hand. At the time, Grace had been relieved. How nice it would be to have someone take care of her, even for a day. It would be nice to hear her mother in the kitchen, heating soup, boiling water for tea…or cocoa if she could persuade her. The feeling of ‘home’, even if for a fleeting day of sickness.

Dawn arrived early and whisked Grace off to bed. As anticipated she called the pharmacy and had Grace’s prescriptions delivered, and began working in the kitchen, where soup and a casserole were soon cooking.

Grace fell asleep, feeling warm, loved, and safe.

An hour into her nap, just two hours ago, Grace jumped awake to the sound of a crash and her mother’s screams. Racing into the living room, Grace found Dawn standing in front of an antique chest, which had been covered with a decorative cloth. As she straightened up the already tidy living room, Dawn had discovered Grandma Cassie’s trunk. The cleaning supplies clattering from her hand as she screamed were the mild beginning of her reaction.

‘How dare you Grace!! What is this? Where did you get it? Why do you have THAT, here??!!’ Dawn yelled at her ailing daughter.

Grace explained that just a week before Cassie’s passing, she had visited her at her request, and was given the antique chest.

Were ‘those things’ still in it? Dawn inquired, referring to Cassie’s altar items.

‘Yes Mother, they are, and before you even ask, yes I use them. I have been a witch since I was a teenager, and I am honored to have inherited Grandma Cassie’s sacred items’, was Grace’s reply.

As Dawn screamed at her, calling her a freak, an embarrassment, and cried, wondering aloud how she went wrong in raising a sane GOOD daughter, Grace calmly got on her coat and headed to the front door.

‘Grace Wilkins, go for a walk, clear your head, and when you come back, I expect you to pack these things up and get them out of here. To the trash is best – that is where this nonsense belongs! No daughter of mine will be involved in such antiquated notions.’

Grace walked on through Central Park, barely able to catch her breath through her pneumonia affected lungs. Leaning against a tree, she closed her eyes, and sought to regain balance.

‘Hey Lady, what you dressed up as? A Tree Hugger?’, yelled some smart aleck teen riding by on his bicycle.

Dressed up? YES, how could she have forgotten?? It must be that losing sense of time that happens when with long illness induced napping. Today was Halloween – the Witch’s New Year, also known as Samhain.

Grace smiled to herself thinking, ‘Wow Mom, you sure picked a great day to challenge my faith’.

Then it hit her. Indeed, it was a great day for that. The veil between worlds was thinner than it had been all year, and Grace knew for certain her Grandma Cassie could hear her thoughts and feel her heart’s torment.

The wind blew and whispered into Grace’s ear. She smiled. Finally, she felt the brisk autumn breeze nip at her cheeks. She smelled fireplace smoke from nearby homes.

Slowly, Grace started to walk back to her apartment. As she walked, she reveled in the lively snap and crackle of the dried fallen leaves as they sassed back under the pressure of her footsteps.

Everything was clear. Her parents had not been the only ones with secrets and false facades during her youth. She too had hidden the most cherished part of herself. She was a witch – in faith, in practice, by blood, and by choice.

Grace walked through her front door, feeling stronger than she had in months, and hung up her coat.

“You are back. So Grace, what will it be? What do you have to say about your fall from grace?”, asked  Dawn through pinched lips.

“Mother, I love you and respect you and I hope you can come to do the same for me. I hope one day you will find love and acceptance for both your mother AND your daughter.”

Grace started to walk back to her room to rest, fully winded from her emotional journey during her walk through the park. She saw out of the corner of her eye that her mother was approaching the coat rack, presumably to take her leave of her errant daughter.

“Oh and Mother, it is not my fall FROM grace, it is actually the Fall OF Grace…and I hope you can be happy for me.”

Grace went to her room and got into bed. She took comfort in the fact that her mother had closed the front door quietly, no angry slam, and with that the hope for heart to heart talks over the holiday season. Grace set her alarm for an hour later, so she could be rested and ready for her Hallows ritual later that night, and she dozed off feeling the magickal presence of her Grandma Cassie, and the power of finding her own way.
This story just won 2nd place in the Autumn Writing Contest hosted by Award Winning Paranormal Author, Jolynne Valerie.