Marabou and Movies

Our new kitten Max has fondly taken to marabou. He’s often dragging around large pieces of feather boas that he finds in the costume closet, so we’re also calling him Maxine. We love our new drag kitty!

I’ve had a week of movies and have some quick reviews for you. Our house is very close to Paramount Studios, where they are doing some big redevelopment project. To keep the neighbors happy during the construction, which I have not been bothered by at all, they invited us to a screening of Flight at their theater on the lot. I of course considered dressing as Norma Desmond, because I cannot drive through that gate without thinking of Sunset Boulevard, but I decided against a mid-week costume.

Flight is pretty darn good, not great, but worth seeing. Denzel Washington, and the acting across the board for that matter, is excellent. The plane crash sequences at the beginning are fantastic but the movie is a bit disjointed. It starts as an action movie but turns into a fairly predictable film about AA, which oddly glamorizes drugs.

We also went to two movies as part of the AFI film festival. The first was the world premier of Hitchcock at The Chinese, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the famous director during the making of Psycho. He is great, and both he and his makeup people are sure to be up for Oscars this year. He should be joined in awards season by Helen Mirren for her fiery performance as his wife in the film, which is essentially a love story.  I loved the entire movie—the screenplay, the sets, the costumes, and predict that it will be nominated for Best Picture.

The second movie was also great, and is sure to be another Oscar contender. We went to The Egyptian and saw Silver Linings Playbook, an incredibly funny movie about bipolar disorder. It’s like a RomCom with rage and rumba dancing, and I loved it. It stars the handsome Bradley Cooper, who actually introduced the film, in his best performance to date. He plays opposite the equally talented Jennifer Lawrence from Winter’s Bone and Hunger Games. I always expect her to fight everybody to the death now.

This weekend we’re headed to Bond, James Bond, so more on that later. My star sighting for the week was Jeff Daniels at Trader Joe’s yesterday. Also, apparently my house aired on Dexter this week, so fans of the show should look for it. We get broken into!


I now know what it would look like if a serial killer were breaking into my laundry room (above). We had been approached about using our house for some location filming for Showtime’s Dexter a couple times, and last week they were actually here. Honestly, it is amazing to see all that goes into making what probably amounts to a few minutes of film.

Initially it was going to be a one day shoot in a couple of rooms, but got expanded to be a two day shoot in almost all of the house. Anybody that’s been here knows that we have a lot of stuff. We’re practically art hoarders, so I was curious how they would be able to transform our very full California home into a modern Miami bungalow. More importantly, I had no idea how they would put it back. While a normal home might have two paintings on a dining room wall, we have 29.

First let me say that I’m glad Albert was at work while all this was going down. There were massive amounts of people and equipment moving through, and I don’t think he could have handled it. I would just greet him at the end of the day with a glass of wine and wave the check for thousands of dollars in his face. It’s like having a massive party and then the guests decide to redecorate right in front of you.

Early Monday morning at seven they started taking photos of everything, carefully packing it away, and moving it into our garage. Almost all of our furniture was removed, including a giant dining room table, a huge sofa, and an upright piano. They painted our living room light blue, pretty but not my taste. Then they started moving in all of the new furniture, and even hung a new chandelier in our dining room. At one point the location manager emailed me and said they were going to swap-out my office furniture to create a “writer’s office.” I emailed him back, laughing that they could do whatever they wanted, but that I’m a “writer” and that’s my “office.”

In the afternoon the set decorators arrived to arrange the new elements into someone else’s home. One of the decorators turned out to be a friend of ours, Adam, who was surprised when he mapped the location and discovered he was going to get to re-do our place. I also discovered notes from the art department (above) about how they would have to, “Clear this area and replace with more masculine clothes—lose boas,” and “Clear and re-arrange to more ‘male’ vibe—lose stuffed animals.” Do serial killers not believe in Halloween or costume closets? Geesh. It was odd because they laid out everything similar to how we had it, just slightly different. My Liza poster was replaced with a print that looked strangely like Alan Cumming. How is that less gay? I was waiting for our cats to be replaced with model cats.

They transformed our entire house on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday were shoot days and there were probably 50 people here. The lighting blew me away. They had a huge light behind every window and a condor/cherry picker as tall as our Italian cypress with a light as bright as the sun. All of this was so the rays would trickle in properly though the wood shades they hung to replace our curtains. I was watching the shots on the monitors by the directors and the lighting was gorgeous.

Michael C Hall was amazing to watch and he’s always sort of in character, so he’s a bit creepy. Also, there were three different Dexters walking around, so I couldn’t take a step without bumping into a serial killer.

They also shot a scene across the street at the junior high school. Apparently they often use school playgrounds for jail yards, which is just depressing. They let me watch the scenes being shot there as well, and it was fun seeing all the prisoner extras on recess. The fake security had huge guns and the real security had walkie-talkies. Considering some of the students will actually end up in prison, I likened it to a career day. Speaking of security, we had an around-the-clock guard at the house because of all the rental equipment. I felt like the President.

They shot on Tuesday for Season 7:Episode 6 and Wednesday for Episode 7, so look for our house. By Thursday, I couldn’t wait for them to be gone. I almost brushed my teeth in the morning with a prop toothbrush. They moved everything out, painted the living room back, re-hung the chandelier and put everything back in it’s spot. All 75 rubber ducks in our bathroom back to their right positions, like nobody had ever disrupted them. That is television magic.

To see more pictures from the Dexter shoot, click the link below:

Murder and Mayhem

I hope everybody had a great 4th of July, and special shout out to the troops who are still fighting for freedom. Albert and I clearly made pigs of ourselves on the holiday. Thanks to Trevor and Joey for hosting a very fun pool party and BBQ at their beautiful new home. They have one of the biggest residential pools I’ve ever seen, complete with tile lane dividers. They call it the Uva-Enoch Swim Club and it is a great summer party pad. USA!

The production crew from the television show Dexter just left our house. They are scouting locations for the new season, and they’re thinking about shooting some scenes here. I love that several location scouts have looked at my house and thought, “Yes, that looks like the home of a serial killer.” The last time they were going to have somebody get murdered on my dining room table, but it didn’t work out. This time they’re eyeing my office, where I am currently typing to you, as a potential crime scene. I could not be more excited!

I have a couple of very brief reviews for you. Albert and I recently saw Warhorse downtown at the Ahmanson, which I was excited about because it won the Tony Award for Best Play. I will say that it’s a great production, but of a schmaltzy play. The puppetry and direction are really beautiful, but I found the story predictable and the dialogue wooden. Skip it.

As for movies, I’ve seen some of the blockbusters. Spiderman and Prometheus are probably worth the big screen price, and I would say MIB3 is a rental. There is one movie that is decidedly not a blockbuster, and is my favorite film of the year so far. Beasts of the Southern Wild is unique and beautiful. The story is set in a very poor neighborhood of Louisiana, and looks at the coming of Katrina through the eyes of a five year old black girl. It’s as much a poem as it is a linear story, so it will not be for everyone, but it is one of those movies that takes you somewhere unexpected. The acting by the unknowns is exceptional, and the journey they take us on is unforgettable.

Speaking of beasts, this is a picture of The Rat on the 4th of July. You might not guess he is a fatty, pushing 20 pounds, because that flag he is resting on is gigantic. It’s all about perspective, people, so I’ve decided that all my future accessory purchases will be oversized. No, my belt buckle is not a foot wide, I’m skinny!