Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leg Up

Last week Austin directed the Crazy Tree and maybe this week he has a future project with his former JFC co-star.

Are we about to work together again ?

John and the Doc back together again?
Should it be Raising Hope? Or something else.

And for Austin does that now mean in front of or behind the camera?

Directors find inspiration from all kinds of things, films they've seen, still pictures, their surroundings, they draw from everything to bring their vision to life. It's all on the director. A lot of work. But there are perks about being the director and directing yourself - you can wear whatever you want.Now where would Austin find the inspiration for this look?But let's get fancy.

Austin tuxified.While it might be for a role, it looks like he put a little reality into the part. - Check out the good luck charm Julian clutches. A touch never mentioned but bet it was something Austin has done or seen someone do before they hit the red carpet.

Austin looks so good, he could hold his own against "The Angelina" leg pop.How do we know? Well....

7 down and 6 to go ...Tonight on The Crazy Tree
The Real Housewife of Tree Hill Haley gets news of a possible tragedy and we finally find out what she is screaming about in the morgue. Bad Dad Dan’s search for Nathan leads him back to his dark (Ukranian Undeworld?)past. Feats of Clay has a breakthrough - not in the management business, but in treatment. BrookeDavis(TM) and CrazyTreegavehimhispairback Julian deal with Xavier. (Remember him? He beat up BrookeDavis and killed Quinton -- No not BikiniQuinn). BartenderChase’s concern for Chuck pushes him to his limits.

Happy Leap Day!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Garden to Grow

Sometimes it seems like it's all about food for Jake. Shopping, eating, cooking, talking , and growing it.He also knows that food can make impact on the lives of kids, and not just eating good healthy food, but the social and educational benefits of growing and preparing food and he's helping spread that message.

That's why he and chef Alice Waters were recognized as Tastemakers in this month's Bon Appetit.

Jake's "involvement stems from his belief that we all need to overhaul our thinking about food, our health, and the environment in a way that appeals to children. 'When kids get their hands dirty in the garden or experiment in the kitchen, they have fun," he says, "but more important, they learn about how to care for themselves and each other. Those are lessons that no state is testing for, but it's one of the best investments in the future of our country that we can make.' "

And it's not all talk. Alice commented, "he has put his hands in the ground and worked in a garden. His family always gathered around the dinner table and had real food. He benefited from that and tries to live his life like that now."
But the question is who is he gathering around the table to live like that now?

And don't think you can Two Wheel and Garden at the same time?

Think again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Missed by that...Much

Anyone else notice the Oscars didn't seem the same last night.

It was the same theater. With a familiar host. The same reporters asking the same questions.

So what was it?

This guy.
And it wasn't just the smile.
Or the way he works a tux.
Hope to see you next year big guy.
And your Berlinale plus one.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Out Spotlight

Today’s Out Spotlight is accomplished writer, director, and producer in television and film. Receiving critical acclaim for his work on stage, and screen he has received numerous awards, including an Academy Award, an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Today’s Out Spotlight is Alan Ball.

The youngest of four children of Frank and Mary Ball, an aircraft inspector and a homemaker, Alan Ball was born May 13, 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in nearby Marietta, Georgia. His youth was marred by tragedy. His only sister, Mary Ann, was driving the then thirteen-year-old Ball to piano lessons when they were involved in a car crash. He was not injured, but his sister was killed on her twenty-second birthday. He lost his father from cancer six years later at the age of 19.

In a 2000 interview his mother described her son as "a smart little boy" who had "always written a lot" and was very active in school activities. Ball was the editor of the school newspaper, a member of numerous clubs, the president of his senior class, and the drum major of the band, in which capacity he choreographed a half-time show. Despite the accomplishments, Ball said that in his high school he felt inauthentic, as though he had invented "this persona of myself of really being an overachiever, kind of an All-American guy that really wasn't me." A feeling non uncommon for many LGBT youth who have yet to come out, as many know or feel that the face they present to the world is not who they really are, and they consequently wonder if the popularity and respect they earn as the result of their accomplishments are really deserved, since they know (or fear) that they would lose status were their secret revealed.

After high school Ball attended the University of Georgia. After his first year he transferred to Florida State University, from which he graduated with a degree in theater in 1980.

Although he had done some acting, Ball aspired to write for the theater. After his graduation, he moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he wrote plays for the General Nonsense Theater Company.

It was not until Ball began achieving professional success that he found the courage to come out to his mother. She understood his anxiety about bringing it up --"He didn't know if I was going to kick him out of the house or what"--and admitted that the announcement made her uncomfortable. "It took a little getting used to," she said, "but he gave me some books to read, and I understand that God made him like that." His brothers were immediately supportive when he came out, but some other relatives were not accepting, and thought he was going to Hell.

Soon after starting out in regional theater, Ball wrote an off-Broadway production of Five Women that caught the attention of a Hollywood talent scout, who recommended Ball for a job on the writing team of the situation comedy Grace under Fire, which starred comedian Brett Butler. His initial experience of the television was not a happy one. He called his one season (1994-1995) with Grace under Fire "in a lot of ways . . . the perfect first job to have because nothing will ever be that bad." He was dismayed that "writers were just considered to be expendable and the script was kind of secondary to the persona of the star," unlike the situation to which he was accustomed in the theater, "where writers have a certain amount of respect and control."

After Grace he spent three years--1995-1998--writing, and also serving as story editor and producer, for the sitcom Cybill, where he encountered "a really volatile working environment" because of another demanding star, Cybill Shepherd. However, he stated, "I make jokes about those years being unpleasant, but they taught me so much, and I am a much better writer because of it, and so I really don't regret them at all."

Due to his work on Cybill Ball was courted by television production companies to create a new comedy series. Building on the situation in Bachelor Holiday--three single male friends as housemates--he launched Oh Grow Up in 1999 on ABC. Unfortunately, the show did not do well in the ratings and was dropped after a short run.

Meanwhile, Ball had been working on a film script. American Beauty (1999, directed by Sam Mendes) was his cinematic breakthrough. He allegedly based the Annette Bening character in his Oscar-winning American Beauty on his former sitcom star Shepard. The film went on to win five Academy Awards in 2000, including one to Ball for Best Writing in a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. He also won a Golden Globe Award for his screenplay.

It was through American Beauty where he received wide public attention and followed it up with his acclaimed work Six Feet Under for HBO.

Despite his less than happy experiences in the television industry, Ball returned to it in 2001. This time, however, he was creator, executive producer, head writer, and occasionally director, and had much more control over bringing his vision to the screen, and audiences greeted his efforts with great enthusiasm. Creating Six Feet Under, he introduced one of the great gay characters in TV history, David Fisher, played by Michael C. Hall.

Six Feet Under was a hit from the start of its five-year run. It received numerous honors, including 9 Emmy Awards, one of them to Ball as the Best Director of a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award. He also won awards for his work as director from the Directors Guild of America and for his work as executive producer from the Producers Guild.

The Fisher brothers run the funeral home, David is gay and in a romantic relationship with an African-American police officer, Keith Charles and his brother Nate who returns to help run the family business after the death of their father. In a 2005 interview Ball stated that as he envisioned the characters for the show, "David was just always gay." Echoing the title of Andrew Tobias's memoir, he said that David "was the brother who was 'the best little boy in the world' who did everything to please everybody, and that's such a classic gay thing."

Ball was pleased to be able to make the story line concerning David and Keith an important one in the series and "felt really proud to be involved with a show that dealt with this gay relationship in such a sophisticated, rich way." He was particularly gratified by the reaction of one viewer, his brother, a Republican "good ol' boy redneck from Georgia," who, at the end of the show's first season, had only one question for him: "Are David and Keith going to get back together?" Ball said that it was obvious that his brother "really want[ed] this interracial same-sex couple to work."

The couple was not only reunited, but by the last season of the series became the adoptive parents of two boys. For his sensitive and authentic depiction of the LGBT community Ball won the GLAAD's Stephen Kolzak Award in 2002.

It was Six Feet Under that Austin credits getting him the notice that boosted his career.

Ball returned to live theater with All That I Ever Will Be (2007). Set in Los Angeles, the play followed the development of a relationship between Omar, an immigrant from the Middle East who has a day job at a chain store and hustles at night, and Dwight, one of his clients, who comes from wealth and squanders much of his money on drugs.

Ball returned to HBO for another series, True Blood, premiered in the fall of 2007, and was based on the Sookie Stackhouse, vampire novels of Charlaine Harris, which are set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, a fictional town outside of Shreveport.

At the time he discouraged comparisons to Anne Rice's New Orleans vampire novels, saying of Harris's work, "It's not Gothic in the way that Rice is. It's contemporary rural America, white trashy, very funny, and real scary." He added that "vampires are a great metaphor for minority groups that struggle for rights and recognition, but also for Republicans, in that they're vicious and bloodthirsty and will destroy anything that gets in their way."

Ball has been a strong voice for LGBT community both on and off the screen. During a True Blood panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, said the gay rights metaphors built into the series were “not the main point of the show; that’s just kind of some fun window dressing. It only is a symbol for the gay and lesbian community because that’s what’s going on right now. I mean, 50 years ago it would have been African-Americans, 100 years ago it would have been women and their struggles for equality and the right to vote, that kind of thing.

Co-executive producer Nancy Oliver added that the gay rights metaphors are “part of the vampire myth as well. I think part of the appeal is the outsider appeal for the supernatural and that (vampires) don’t belong to this (group) and they don’t belong to that (group).”

In 2010 Ball began work on a television adaptation of the crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, to be titled All Signs of Death. In December 2010, after several months of pre-production, HBO cancelled production on All Signs of Death.

In numerous interviews, Ball discussed his Buddhist faith and how it has influenced his film making.

In an interview with he commented on the iconic scene in American Beauty with the plastic bag, stating, "I had an encounter with a plastic bag! And I didn't have a video camera, like Ricky does...

There's a Buddhist notion of the miraculous within the mundane, and I think we certainly live in a culture that encourages us not to look for that." He has also discussed how his Buddhism has shaped themes in Six Feet Under and True Blood.

Ball keeps a collection of Macaw parrots, much to the indignation of his neighbor Quentin Tarantino, who in March 2011 sued him under California civil code section 3479 over the "obnoxious pterodactyl-like screams" they make.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pre, Prepped and Partied

This is what you think of when you think the Oscars.
But before that there has to be this:

Wait which way do we go?

I'm such a Loser!
It's ok. Just follow the breadcrumb trail out to the mike.

Ok so there will be a interpretive dance troupe accompanying you.

Bruce Villanch I will not
fall under your spell.

Damn it I did!
Is this the love child of Jake and Bruce Villanch?

Another thing before the Oscars, Oscar parties.

Does anyone remember there was only one picture of Jake at Oscar time in 2008. Taken at the Annual Night Before Party.

Known as “THE” party of the season, it benefits the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation ( one thing it does is takes care of their own, providing housing for older retired working actors who never made the big star money)

Why only one pic at "the" party of the awards season?

Because he was Zombie Jake? Or a pooped Papa?

(And something to note, Jake made only two official public appearances in 2008. This Oscar party, and the LA Conservation awards)