Category: Entertainment & GRAMMY Central

Heavy Meital, Israel’s Star Export, Ms. Dohan At Home In L.A.

Heavy Meital, Israel’s Star Export, Ms. Dohan At Home In L.A.

Meital Dohan is an accomplished actress widely recognized in the United States for her role as Yael Hoffman, the sexy rabbinical scholar and lover to Andy Botwin on Showtime’s smash hit Weeds. Meital is no stranger to the spotlight and is a bona fide superstar in her home country of Israel as a two-time Ophir Award nominee for her performances in the critically praised films God’s Sandbox and Giraffes. She also won an Israeli Theatre Award for “Most Promising New Actress” and was principal star in the Israeli Emmy Award-Winning Ugliest Esti — the Israeli version of Ugly Betty. US audiences were first introduced to Meital when she starred as ‘Yael Hoffman’ on Showtime’s Weeds. In early 2011, the Israeli bombshell caught the attention of mega hip-hop producer Che Pope (Lauren Hill, Eminem, Dr. Dre) and they began to record her debut album I’m In Hate With Love.

Meital has continued the transition more to music as of late as she is one of MTV’s newest buzz worthy artists having just released the music video for her newest single “Yummy Boyz” which was produced by LMFAO’s Rami Afuni.  Meital has recently performed in Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco before her upcoming engagements in Europe starting in London and Paris. With her full album set to debut this summer, and mini mix of 3 tunes debuted on iTunes in April, fans will find per the Miami Herald an eclectic mix of electronic Debbie Harry’s effortless style channeled into dance floor anthems and pop classics reminiscent of Lady Gaga. Her last music video, “Yummy Boyz” went viral and reached over 1,300,000 viewers in one month, sending the song circulating in clubs and radio stations nationwide, including a regular rotation on the playlists of KIIS FM in Los Angeles. Off that success the song has been remixed by some of the top DJs such as Danny Verde, Electrolightz, Hector Fonseca, and Chew Fu (Rihanna, Timbaland, Katy Perry, Gossip, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga). Meital just completed work on a new single with Sean Kingston, a rising star who has collaborated with the likes of Natasha Beddingfield.

We were able to catch up with this busy Israeli actress turned pop star in Los Angeles, her home of the last three years. We found Meital to have an alluring racy edge to her but she is also as down to earth and well rounded.

LAX — What is behind the story of your early years and acting pursuits in Israel?

Meital — I grew up in a small village in Israel and I moved to Tel Aviv when I was 17 years old. I did not think I was going to be an actress as that world seemed too flashy for me and I was very shy and inhibited. But I always loved to act so I went to study acting when I was 13 and I found out I was very good at it so I continued acting and performing whenever I could because it was fun. When I was 16 I came to the US in a foreign exchange student program. I didn’t act for half a year while in the US and I realized how much I missed acting when I couldn’t do it for that six months and I decided it was time to pursue it professionally. All Israelis must serve in the military and so I went to the theater troupe in the army and whoever gets into that competitive military theater unit/troupe in the army usually gets into the industry. So once I got into that troupe and acting school at the age of 18 it was the beginning of my career in Israel.

LAX — After the military acting troupe breakthrough what was your first big break in Israel?

Meital — When I was in acting school I had already shot some TV and film projects so my first movie was Giraffes and I got the Israeli version of an Oscar nomination for that role. Then I had a large part in the Cameri Theater and received a Theater award and then Ugly Betty Israeli version. This role gave me a lot of exposure as it became a huge hit as it ran for seven years in Israel and I received the Israeli Tony Award for it. So the early roles that I did just after I graduated acting school launched my career.

LAX — How did a successful Israeli actress transition to the United States and in L.A. in particular?

Meital — I think that the American Dream is the dream that all foreign people have if they are familiar with modern life and have TV and cinema and are involved with American culture. So on one hand it was a dream that everyone had if they were in show business the dream to come to Hollywood. On the other hand, it was just kind of something that happened. I came to an Israeli Film festival with my movie and I met an Israeli Director that gave me the role of the bride in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding. I was invited to be in a film by writer Karen Shefle. That success led the way in America. Every time I was thinking of heading back to Israel something would come up like Weeds.

LAX — How did you get involved in Weeds and such  a classic cult role?

Meital — I basically auditioned for the series in its second season and I was selected for the part and I still love it and I’m excited to be a part of it.

LAX — How did you transition to music and is your acting behind you now?

Meital — I’m working on a few feature movies and TV series, but it is all in development. So the music is really happening right now. I just got back from performing a the White Party in Palm Springs and in San Francisco. We are about to put out my single with Sean Kingston.  It will come out in the summer when I go perform in Paris and London. As soon as my “Yummy Boyz” video and song came out on the radio we started getting big coverage in clubs so I’m following up with some shows.

LAX — Where did your music chops come from? Your family?

Meital —  I have a younger and older brother and they are both in business and my Mom is a painter and my Dad is also in business so I am surrounded by businessmen and an artistic Mom.

LAX — Tell us about your music training.

Meital —  I always sang and I wrote a show and sound track for a theater show. People told me that I had a beautiful voice and should sing more but I was always too busy pursuing acting. Two years ago I was participating in Dancing with the Stars in Israel and I met my spiritual guide who told me I needed to go back to America and work on my music.

LAX — What was your first big musical breakthrough where people stood up and took notice and do you write your music?

Meital — “Yummy Boyz” was my first big single with over 1,300,000 youtube viewers and air play and club play. I co-write my songs and I sing. “Yummy” came to me when my boyfriend and I were talking about a video and song where I wake up in the morning and attack the world with boxing gloves on and it just went from there. It was shot in L.A.

LAX —”Yummy Boyz” — your big hit- — is the video of a young contemporary woman doing battle with life and just waking up, being powerful, acting like a superwomen and going out and punching everyone. What is the message of the song?

Meital —  There is a gender switch where women are now so powerful and requested to wear so many hats and it puts us all in an imbalance. A woman has to go out and attack the world every day.

LAX —  What hats do you wear?

Meital —  I’m wearing so many hats now, too many. My story is basically the combination between many hats. I have my career with multiple hats, especially between music and acting. I don’t have the pleasure of the role of being a Mom or housewife yet although I want to in the future. That is because I deliberately choose not to wear that hat yet. But right now it is just the challenge of the many hats I have to wear for my career. So on one hand you need to be the woman the way we used to be: submissive, beautiful, presentable and quiet. On the other hand you have to work hard and be with people and be strong and at times aggressive to be successful.

LAX — When you need a break from your busy schedule where do you go to get away and take a time out?

Meital —  I really love St. Barts in the Caribbean, unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure to go there the last few years, but I love it. When I was a kid I used to go to the Sinai in Egypt. Both of those two places are magical places.

LAX — Where do you go to get away for an afternoon in the L.A. area?

Meital — I love the beach so I have a certain spot near Casa del Mar and around that area where I have a lot of memories over the years.

LAX — When you want to grab a bite to eat what are a couple of your favorite places around L.A?

Meital — I really love the Chateau Marmont. I also like Sunset Towers and Katana’s on Sunset.

LAX — How long have you lived in L.A. and how do you like it?

Meital — I used to be really obsessed with New York when I moved to the US as that was my US impression. L.A. was like a discovery for me as I had to get used to it and it grew on me slowly. But now I have to say I enjoy being here and  even more than New York but I really enjoy both cities.

www.meitaldohan.com

 

The Technology Behind the Performance

The Technology Behind the Performance

In between the dress rehearsal and the start of the 54th Annual GRAMMY® Awards, several members of the 2012 audio crew gathered for a photo at the foot of the stage.
Photo Credit: Photos courtesy of The Recording Academy ®/Wireimage.com © 2012

Grammy Awards telecast is not just a glamorous celebration of music’s elite performers. It’s also the “biggest show in audio” and there’s a lot of intricate technology behind the show that is performed at Staples Center to what is broadcast on the CBS airwaves. The various groups of sound and audio engineers who gather together to put on the show are some of the best in the business, taking great pride in sound quality and innovation. In fact, in 2004 The Grammy Awards was the first awards show to be broadcast in surround sound.

LAX Magazine sat down for a chat with Maureen Droney the Executive Director of the Producers & Engineers Wing (P&E Wing) of The Recording Academy.  Maureen is a long time sound engineer with a strong desire for excellence. Her job with the Recording Academy is to advocate for the 6000+ members who work behind the scenes.

The remarkable team of engineering professionals who help produce the Grammy Awards include major historical player Phil Ramone (who recorded Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy), innovator Hank Neuberger (The Coachella Festival webcast), and Star Wars sound engineer Leslie Anne Jones. These are the best in the business and they lend their talented ears and engineering skills to the Grammy’s live broadcast.

One of the remarkable feats of organizing and producing the Grammy Awards telecast includes managing the different stages used by each of the performers. If one paid attention during the telecast then one would have noticed that Taylor Swift’s stage was quite different from Bruno Mars’ stage versus the stage used by The Beach Boys. Each performer has a different stage along with their equipment set-up to their specifications. Each stage is rolled out to the main stage for every performance and then pulled backstage afterwards. Imagine the logistical nightmare of arranging it all and then removing the equipment — all on live television — for Music’s Biggest Night; an overwhelming and tremendous feat.  Of course, there is a plan A, B and C and everything has a back up.

So, how is this accomplished?  First, start with 1500 feet of military grade fiber optic connectors and huge matrix of microphone connections for the wireless mic. Live performance sounds are collected and the audio and video files are sent to CBS studios NOC (network operations center) in New York. From there they are recalibrated and then beamed up to the satellites and into our homes. What’s interesting and, doesn’t really resonate in my non-engineering mind, is that that the video images take longer than the audio images to get to New York so that the engineers in New York have to piece it back together before sending it up to the satellites. There’s also a three-minute delay for the Standards and Practices Departments (known as Program Practices at CBS) to catch all the f-bombs such as the one they missed by Eminem from the 2011 telecast.

It’s mind-bending to think of all of the complicated magic moving through the wires and over the airways to bring us a wonderful and celebratory night of music. The quality of the sound is splendid, and provides for us, the viewers, a magical evening of music and outstanding performances. Thanks to all the brilliant engineers and producers! n

 

THE WORKING MUSICIAN

THE WORKING MUSICIAN

Jamie Arentzen discusses American Hi Fi & Miley

By Jadi Stuart

Photograph by Brian Parillo

Quiz!  Who is Dutch, German, Swiss, Spanish, Italian and plays the guitar?  Jamie Arentzen, that’s who!  You may not have heard of him until now, but this all-American kid from Connecticut travels around the world playing guitar with his band American Hi Fi, and manages to squeeze in time to tour with Disney darling Miley Cyrus.  I caught up with Jamie at a Los Angeles coffee shop to talk about the upcoming fifth American Hi Fi album, his past, present, and future ventures; what it’s like to tour with Miley and what it takes to be a working musician in the ever fickle music industry.

If one were to google Jamie Arentzen, one wouldn’t find out too much about him.  Even unofficial fan pages, where ardent followers of celebrity often find the most minuscule facts, seem to be lacking. So, when I met Jamie for coffee, I was on a mission to rectify this situation.  I hope you are as delighted as I was by what I found.

LAX:  What’s your family heritage?

J.A.:  Arentzen is Danish, that’s my dad’s side.  My dad is Danish, Swiss, German and Spanish.  Somebody from Switzerland married somebody from Spain and then they moved to Cuba. My grandmother’s parents on my dad’s side were all living in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and moved to New York.  My grandparents lived on a farm in Manhattan.  My mom is all Italian; first generation I think. Actually, my grandmother (her mother) was born in New York and her father was born in Italy.

LAX:  Do you have siblings?

J.A.: One older brother.  He’s a glass blower.  He has his own shop in Vermont.  He married a girl from Sweden who he met in Denmark.  They lived in Norway for about 10 years where he worked at glassblowing school.

LAX:  What did you want to be when you grew up?

J.A.:  Well, I started out by wanting to be a professional baseball player. I was into it. Then, quickly it turned into me wanting to play guitar in a band. I started a band when I was 11 or 12. I had a band before I had any idea how to play an instrument. It was like me and the kid across the street and I wanted to play drums so badly, but he already had a drum set and was taking lessons, so if we were going to have this band together I had to do something else, and it was guitar, so we would actually jam before I had any clue. It would be pretty much noise. We would take music from one song, and lyrics from another page and just put them together.

LAX:  Did you start playing guitar at age 12?

J.A.:  Yeah, shortly after I started the band, I started taking guitar lessons. I think I always regretted not being a drummer. I have learned a little bit since then but I do love that I’m a guitar player.

LAX:  You went to Berkley School of Music in Boston, MA.  At what point did you decide you wanted to play the guitar for a living?

J.A.:  I kept trying to get out of it. I just thought it would be too hard. Through high school I was into it, and then I went to college for music. I started at the University of Miami in Florida and I got there and it was so intense. I was like, forget it, I don’t want to study that hard. Then I went to the University of Connecticut and did Liberal Arts and it just seemed hard to be in a band. Then I moved to Boston with some of my friends from home and we had our band and that’s all I wanted to do. I sacrificed the opportunity to study in Europe because I was like, “But no, the band.” And my parents were like, “We’re giving you the opportunity to live in Europe for a semester or a year,” and I’m like, “I can’t do it, I’ve got the band.” I was sure that this band was so much better than so many of the bands that were on the radio. Looking back on it I was so wrong but you have to believe it. It’s not possible to do it for any other reason other than you have to. It’s too hard to do it if there’s something else you’d rather be doing. You can’t do it just because you think you’re gonna be rich and famous.

LAX:  Do you have any interesting stories about American Hi-Fi?

J.A.:  When we were making our first record we thought that we were a really cool rock band, and there was a moment when we were recording our first record that the singer came up with an idea for a song. It was going to be for a band that I was going to be in and I was going to be the drummer.  In this band, it was going to be me and all girls and it was going to be a way for me to meet girls and just have some fun and play drums.  We played that song for our producer the next day and he was like, “That song is a hit! You have to put it on the record.” And I was like, “No, no, this is for this other thing.” And he was like, “If we don’t record this song for the record I’m not gonna finish the record.”  We were like, “Seriously?”  We ended up recording the song, and it was a hit called, Flavor of the Week. Looking back on it, I’m really glad we did, and I really do like that song. It gave us a great opportunity to travel around the world. If we had stuck to our guns and wanted to be as cool as we thought we were we might not have ever had a chance.

LAX:  Do you write your own music?

J.A.: I don’t write and complete songs but I co write with the band and other artists. I’m not good with lyrics. I don’t feel like I really have something to say; some message that I really want to get out there.  I have always been a little more focused on the sound of the music.

LAX:  What is your personal taste in music?

J.A.:  It changes. I love a band called Wilco, I love Willie Nelson, I like rootsey music; Neil Young and The Rolling Stones.  I like classic rock basically. I also like more modern rock like that stuff I play with that band and the stuff I play with Miley.

LAX:  How is playing with Miley?

J.A.:  I love it so much.  I never would have thought I would ever be a side guy for somebody.  I just always had my band that I was in and that was enough for me and then this opportunity came up.  It’s so much fun and it’s easy to lose myself in the music.  She works harder then anybody I have ever been around.  Everybody that’s in the group and everybody that’s around her is like family and I get to travel around the world playing for tons and tons of people.

LAX:  How did you get involved with playing for Miley Cyrus?

J.A.:  Stacy [Jones, the lead singer of American Hi Fi] was producing a band that Miley’s manager was also working with, and right as she started she was going to play live shows.  Her manager asked my friend Stacy if he would be that drummer and musical director and help put a band together.  He told me that, “Billy Ray has a daughter who has some show, and she is going to be really big someday and we are going to do Good Morning America and something else, do you want to do it?” And I said, “Sure, if you do it, I will do it.”  That was just about five years ago now.

LAX:  Where is your favorite place you’ve toured?

J.A.:  A place I have never been with Miley, but that I have been with American Hi Fi is Japan.  A place I was surprised to fall in love with is Australia.  I never thought I would even go there.  It just seems so far and a lot like it is here but it is a mix of my favorite cities from around the world.  The people are so cool and less greedy; less about hoarding money and more about finding enough money to enjoy their time off. To have as much time off as they can.  While I was there I was ready to move.  I was like “I don’t ever want to leave,” but now that I’m back, I’m not ready to move

LAX:  Do you have a favorite guitar?

J.A.:  Yes, I think I do.  It’s a 1963 Gibson SG junior and a close second is a 1962 Fender jazzmaster.  They’ve gone back and forth, but those are my two favorites.  They don’t tour with me any more; they just seem so fragile and precious and if anything happened…  I have a couple just like them that wouldn’t be irreplaceable.

LAX:  Who are you greatest musical influences?

J.A.: As far as guitar players, Mike Campbell who is the guitar player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Joey Santiago who is the guitar player for The Pixies and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth.  Elvis Costello was a huge musical influence for [American Hi Fi] and years ago we met him at a Grammy party and he was like “I love your record! It sounds great loud. We listen to it in the kitchen all the time!” I was floored that he had even heard of our band. After that conversation he had to leave and he said, “It was great to meet you! We should tour together someday!” We were like, “Yeah!” and thinking, he’s just saying that.  A couple months later we got a call saying Elvis Costello wants to bring you on tour.  We toured with him for a couple of months.  I watched every single sound check and every show. Usually when you’re touring with a band you’ll see a couple of performances and then you kind of do your own thing, but I was there every night.  I didn’t want to miss a thing.

LAX:  What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you?

J.A.:  Lionel Richie told us as a band “Always write songs other people can sing.” Another piece of advice would be: Stay in school.

LAX:  Any words of wisdom for wanna-be rock stars?

J.A.:  Don’t be a musician unless you can’t help it.  It’s such a struggle and I’ve been so lucky that I can’t even believe that I still get to do this.  Also, be easy to get along with.  Ninety-five percent of your time is down time, hanging out.

LAX: Are you a cat person or a dog person?

J.A.:  Can you be both?  I’m both.  I’m an animal person but I really don’t like dogs that don’t behave.

LAX:  Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to talk about?

J.A.:  Yes actually.  American Hi Fi is in the middle of recording our fifth album and we’re looking to have it out either this Summer or Fall; late summer, early fall.  I think it’s the best stuff we’ve done.

 

 

 

 

 

“The Mexican John Mayer”

“The Mexican John Mayer”

Gustavo Galindo
“Gustavo has an incredible future, I believe he is one of those rare artists that, at least for me, takes years to find.”
— Gustavo Santaolalla (Album Producer/GRAMMY/OSCAR Winner)

Singer-Songwriter Gustavo Galindo received his first Grammy nomination for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in the category, Best Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album for his debut album, ‘Entre La Ciudad Y El Mar”.

In both style and appearance he is a “Mexican John Mayer”  type with a beautiful smile and a fresh personality.Unrestricted by language or genre, Gustavo’s sound reflects his upbringing between two countries — Mexico and the US — and two cultures.

Multiple Oscar and Grammy winner, Gustavo Santaolalla, alongside Aníbal Kerpel and Adrián Sosa — also known for producing top artists such as Café Tacvba, Julieta Venegas, Juanes, and Molotov — produced the album. It features the singles “Te Perdí”, “Barco de Papel”, and his latest single, “Amor de Alta Mar” composed by Galindo, himself, and also produced by the masterful team.

Gustavo shared with us  that he was driving on the 405 freeway when he received the nomination call for his Spanish language, rock/pop debut album. “Being nominated for a Grammy in the category for best Latin Album was truly an amazing surprise. I feel incredibly happy and honored to be nominated and to have it be alongside artists I admire is amazing. I share this nomination with my producers Adrian Sosa, Anibal Kerpel and Gustavo Santaolalla who helped me make “Entre La Ciudad y El Mar” and everyone who has been there since the beginning”, commented Galindo about his nomination.

Winners Circle, GRAMMYS 2012

Winners Circle, GRAMMYS 2012

The Grammy Awards are certainly more than the biggest music event of the year, delivering exciting and memorable performances to millions of viewers as the show is broadcasted live on CBS Television Network. It is also a weeklong series of events and charitable initiatives concerning education, technology, community, history and, of course, music. 

the civil wars

the civil wars

Though they look like a married couple, and sing songs about married couple issues, Americana Country stars, The Civil Wars — a delightful duo with thriving chemistry and an exciting future — are not a married couple. Joy Williams is expecting her first child this year and they have just won two Grammy awards after exploding on to the scene in the last year. The other half of the destined duo is native Alabaman, John Paul White. We chatted with The Civil Wars just after they had won their two Grammy awards for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album and right before performing on the Grammy stage.

The Civil Wars were enjoying their first Grammy nominations that resulted in their first two wins. They said that the experience has been completely surreal — just the idea that they were nominated was outrageous. Their record — which was self-recorded — was put out a year ago last February. And it’s still their DIY project. They are thrilled to be welcomed into the realm of country and folk. No one knows what category to put them in, but they are happy to be in any category.

Their videos have generated huge buzz in part due to their simplistic beauty. Becky Fluke directed the videos, and it was just Becky, Joy and John Paul who pulled together the performance. They are decked out in clothes from Southern designer and Vogue boy wonder, Billy Reed, and even shot “Poison & Wine” at the designer’s house. The “Barton Hallow” video is set out at an old church where a lot of John Paul White’s relatives are buried. So there’s a little bit of a family lineage in those videos.

Joy is currently expecting her first child and she told us how the baby was kicking while she was talking to us and that it was quite distracting. When asked about how they were going to handle their touring and production schedule with a new baby, Joy recalled that they were home for a total of only 40 days last year. So with the impending birth of her first child, they are going to have some time off, while writing their next record, and heading over to Europe. When the baby is a few months old, they are headed over to Europe. Joy plans on having a bohemian-styled family.

Their skyrocket journey to stardom and subsequent double Grammy wins has had a profound affect on the duo. They use the word “unreal” to describe it. They made a pact that they would only make music that pleased them and tried to be as selfish as they could possibly be. They knew that anyone else’s opinion was subjective; they couldn’t control what anyone else thought of what they did. When they met each other they knew that what they were doing was so intensely special. They didn’t care what genre it fell into.  They didn’t care if radio would play it. They didn’t care if anyone would actually buy it. They just wanted to make music that they loved. And luckily, they are those artists who are able to do that, and their fans respond and want to hear it, and want to come and see them play at shows. They are intensely proud and feel very fortunate for the response of listeners.

Joy adds that they have a really amazing group of people behind them that have been hand selected along the way in this journey to stardom. She says it really is a patchwork quilt of people, a small tribe but a tribe who gives a damn. She says there’s nothing greater than to have people behind you who are working as tirelessly, if not more, than they are each night. It means a lot to Joy and John Paul and they feel like this is definitely a shared celebration with their team.

The duo met at a song writing camp, there were about 20-25 writers put together in one spot.  Basically, the long story/short is that they drew straws and ended up in the same room together. Prior to the camp they didn’t even know each other existed. But from the initial moments when their voices intertwined — right from the beginning — not even signing words, just making up sounds, it was really surreal, like they had been singing together all their lives. Joy calls it “family blend” and says it was such an unexpected serendipity. They had both been writing full time for years, so it wasn’t uncommon to be harmonizing with another singer. What was most uncommon was how their voices blended. It felt like they had known each other in past lives.

John Paul speaks of how their entire year has been littered with little stair step moments and everything keeps falling in place. He feels that a lot of it has to do with the team that they put together and some of it is luck and some of it is hard work. He laughs and says they always say the old adage of “the more you practice, the luckier you get.”  He says that this was a really big gig for them to perform but that they are still all about just playing music they love. Obviously, playing on the Grammy stage is something they always dreamed of and they have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

After our interview the band was set to perform during the Grammy awards. Joy said that she was feeling butterflies but she couldn’t tell if it was her baby kicking or the actual butterflies, but she said that both sensations were really, really wonderful. John Paul said that he was still processing winning two Grammy awards but that now that it had happened he could start to fret about the live telecast performance.  While they are used to more intimate crowds, filled with people who know the words to their songs, that to be performing on the Grammy stage was not only a great honor, but that thankfully, they would be able to look down and see some familiar faces. John Paul laughed and said that luckily they were playing at the center of the floor, so Paul McCartney would be sitting behind them.  He said, “I don’t need to lock eyes with Paul McCartney.”

Alison krauss & union station

Best Bluegrass Album went to the record holding, perpetually Grammy winning artist, Alison Krauss along with her band Union Station. Alison said that the hardest part of creating the album Paper Airplane was getting everyone together. She said the process took longer than they had hoped. Scheduling was the toughest thing because everybody has other careers outside of the band so it was hard to get everybody lined up.

In celebration of their 500th episode, Alison Krauss and Union Station played The Simpsons theme in their bluegrass twang style and brought toe-tapping energy to the beloved Simpsons jingle. The episode aired in February 2012, around the time of the Grammy Awards, when Alison won her record holding 27th award. Of the Simpsons experience, Alison says that they loved it, and had a great time doing the theme. It was a very different kind of recording process for them. Most of their recordings are always very serious and to get to play something that was light, happy and funny resulted in a really nice time in the studio.

When asked what inspired her, Alison replied that she loved to look at photographs and sought pleasure and inspiration in collections of photographs from different photographers. She loves huge collections that show a whole body of work, of the different tastes of the artists. She closed the interview by saying that she is inspired by paintings, museums, and bad drivers.

neal cappellino & mike shipley

Neal Cappellino and Mike Shipley won the Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for their work with Alison Krauss & Union Station on Paper Airplane. The duo could not stop gushing about how wonderful it was to work with Alison and Union Station. They said that winning the Grammy award was fantastic and really great; that working with Alison was enough, a phenomenal honor to make the album, so the Grammy award was an additional honor. The project took them about a year and a half. They took plenty of writing breaks, and song finding breaks. It was an incremental process, which worked out perfectly. “Alison likes to take a long time and get very involved in the songs that she does. When you work with her you end up cutting a lot of songs.” Neal and Mike said that it was an amazing time and that they got soaked up in the whole Union Station/Alison Krauss world, which was a great place to be.

Mike Shipley said that the interesting thing is that most of the records that he’s done before are rock-type records but that Alison was interested in doing something a little bit different. The intimidating part about working with Alison is that she’s a 27-time Grammy winner so it’s a lot of pressure to follow in the footsteps of her previous team of engineers. Adding to the stress factor was that Mike had not engineered a record in 15 years. He had just been mixing records when Alison asked if he would work with her record. The band was like “Hmm, funny accent, not been engineering records. . .” But what worked was just taking an individualist approach.

They couldn’t just follow the normal recording rules so they tried bringing in new gear. They got their hands on the best sounding recording gear they could find and it worked out great. Mike said that the band is so fantastic that you really just have to point a mic in their direction. He adds that they are all such amazing players, but he and Neal worked quite hard to make it sound a little different than usual. Neal adds that it’s a matter of just capturing things that are natural. The band works their music in a way that it almost creates itself; you just have to be there to capture it.

They are one of those bands that are all in the room at once so everyone is really in the moment. Which is what makes it so exciting. It’s not like, lets do the drums, lets load up the bass, its not the normal way of making records. It’s literally, she’s singing and then the band is playing off what she’s singing. It’s a bit different with every take so it results in a great recording experience.

They were recording with the most celebrated, most winning female voice in Grammy history:  Alison Krauss.  So it’s a very special event whenever you are in the studio with her.

 

Mance Lipscomb, self described “sharecropper and songster” of
Arhoolie Records

adam machado/arhoolie records

Grammy winner for Best Album Notes, Adam Machado is nice enough but the main character of the story is Arhoolie Records and the life’s work of Adam’s boss, Chris Strachwitz. Chris started Arhoolie Records 50 years ago by traveling around the south with a tape recorder, recording music in Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi. He would record in people’s homes, this was “Down-home” music. He lived in Berkeley so when he brought some people to play in Berkeley he recorded them at clubs, houses, parties, and festivals. Chris and Adam gathered up those recordings, listened to them and picked some of the best ones that were unreleased. Then Adam wrote about the whole scene of how the record label was started and each artist’s relationship with Chris.

Adam had absolutely zero experience with any of the aspects of packaging music. He had to figure it out as he went along with trial and error. He had never put together a box set, never sequenced sound recordings, and never written liner notes.  The whole thing was a learning process. Even though he won a Grammy award with zero experience in his field, he still feels that there’s always room for improvement and he wants to do better the next time. He’s excited to give it another shot and he’ll have his chance soon as they are working on a couple of new projects.

They are working on a set of field recordings by folks made in Louisiana in the 50s and 60s, some at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, some out in Cajun Country in Mamou. And then they went to Iowa and recorded German Polka Music and Gospel music around Iowa. They recorded a man named Harry Oster. They’ll be telling his story and then annotating and building some context around those recordings.

le’andria johnson

Le’Andria Johnson is a woman committed to her religious beliefs which are, through her voice, expressed in song. Her soul is joyful and she always gives thanks to God for her voice and for her life. She is also the winner of a Grammy Award for the best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for her presentation of the song, “Jesus”.  Le’Andria is a “reality show” discovery after winning Season 3 of BET’s gospel singing contest, Sunday Best.

Says Le’Andria, “Everything that I can think of that was bad or negative in my life before this moment, I won’t forget it, but it’s simply erased. Nothing to dwell on anymore, because I have crossed the hurdle, and I was favored”.  She is quick to thank God and her team, which includes Mathew Knowles, father of Beyoncé and President and CEO of the label, Music World Entertainment.

Le’Andria is a single mother of three who has seen her fair share of struggles as she has traveled through life. She hopes that winning the Grammy or as her kids call it, the “trophy”, for Best Gospel, will remind other single moms to power through the struggle and not give up. She hopes to be a beacon of optimism and confidence to single mothers across the country. Thank you, Le’Andria.

gordon goodwin

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band plays lively jazz, the kind that makes you tap your feet and feel like dancing. It’s happy music. Gordon describes it as “Contemporary, Pop, Funk and Latin music”.

Goodwin recently won the Grammy award for Best Instrumental Arrangement.  During our chat he told us a story about writing the arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, the famous George Gershwin composition that you’ve heard promoting United Airlines — it’s a very comforting piece of music.

Gordon says that “George Gershwin did all the heavy lifting”, but that everybody knows the composition so he “didn’t want to screw it up”. Even though Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s music is usually more pop and funk-esqe, once in a while they like to do a classic piece like the Gershwin tune.  Their arrangement premiered just down the street from Staples Center, at Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of a Gershwin tribute. Gordon had only two days to arrange the composition for his band and they had only an hour to rehearse it. Like true professionals, they pulled it off and ever since they have played their arrangement all over the world — including Japan and Australia. Goodwin says that the people of the world just love this piece of music. He doesn’t really understand why people relate so well to the piece, but he knows that it’s instantaneous.

The ironic thing is that Gershwin — for all the great pop songs that he wrote — really wanted to be a classical composer. He wanted to compose like Mozart or Stravinsky. His desire was to do more mentally developed composing as opposed to just writing lyrics and pop songs.  Leonard Bernstein famously said to Gershwin, “Are you nuts? To write a melody that is concise and simple and elegant, that is hard!” Gordon says that he can relate and that hardest part of music making is developing a melody that moves the hearts and souls of us all!

Book of Mormon
(L to R): Rema Webb, Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad
© 2011, Joan Marcus

“the book of mormon”

“The Book of Mormon” won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.  This incredibly successful and popular show has also earned a Tony Award. “The Book of Mormon” co-creator is Trey Parker.  Others who created the show are the lyricist Robert Lopez and the musical director Stephen Oremus.  Producer Anne Garefino discussed the success of the show. She said that they don’t know why it’s so popular and that they didn’t write it thinking it would be particularly successful. In the beginning of their creative process, they brought together an incredibly talented team that held little workshops, where 40 people would come in to see the show – everyone seemed to enjoy it. At the same time there were still the naysayers who implied that opening the show in the same year as “Spiderman” was a terrible idea.  Well, they were wrong!

The show was a success and now there’s a Grammy winning album, a tour and talk of a movie. The group said that making the album was an experience filled with lots of pressure just performing the recording. The theater act itself is a fleeting moment — when the performance is over, you can never get it back. People can never come together again in the same way but the cast album is preserved for all time — hence the pressure. Adding to the stress was the speed in which the album was put together; it’s a very fast process. There were only two days with the entire cast orchestra. But those two days captured the energy and the excitement of their show.

About seven years were spent putting together this musical and now the show is being taken on the road. The creators say that Mormons are everywhere, so their humor is universal. There’s also talk of a movie, but for now they are just going to enjoy their success, go on tour and spread the gospel of “The Book of Mormon”.

booker t. jones

Funky sound maker, Booker T. Jones won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album and he was overcome with joy. He said to us, “I am so exhilarated! I thought — since I’ve done this before — I would know how to feel. But I just feel lifted up and it’s just an amazing moment, pretty much indescribable”.

After winning his Grammy, Booker was due at the White House for a gig as  the Musical Director for PBS’s “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues”.

THE BEACH BOYS
The Beach Boys played at the Grammy Awards and have, since then, announced a 50-year anniversary tour and a new album — great news for Southern California’s pride and joy!  The Beach Boys are still the same: big jokesters with legendary status.  It has taken them 50 years to perform at the Grammy Awards. They’ve been up for a couple of Grammy nominations before, but “Good Vibrations” lost to the Mama’s and the Papas “Monday Monday” in 1967, and then in 1989, “Kokomo” lost to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. They joked that they are tired of losing, and that they’re glad that they finally made it on the show. We all laughed as Bruce Johnson said, “We’ve been sitting by the phone, waiting for this call.”

During our chat, they reminisced about their incredible career as a pop group, recalling how it felt to hear their music on the radio. Mike Love recalled that it was not the money, but the thrill and excitement of getting out on stage, “that was so fantastic”. Al Jardine shared with us that he was told, “you’ll never make it” —  so his message was to ignore the doubters and “just do it”. That’s a good message for all of us! Just Do It.

 

 

Jack of all Trades, Master of One; Daniel Pyne

Jack of all Trades, Master of One; Daniel Pyne

Come on, who hasn’t been watching their favorite television show or movie and thought, “who writes this stuff?” Daniel Pyne, that’s who!  Chances are pretty good that you have watched or heard of a Daniel Pyne film or television series, (and he even dabbles in a little novel writing).   With an extensive body of original work, (Fracture, Any Given Sunday) screenplay adaptations, (The Sum of All Fears, The Manchurian Candidate) he has plenty to brag about, but you will never catch him doing such a thing.  This humble, media-shy artist kindly allowed us to interview him — our conversation ranged from his new show Alcatraz on FOX, his new novelHole in the Ground Owned by a Liar, his degree in economics from Stanford, and his many jobs along the way.

LAX: How’s your morning going?

DP: Thankfully slow.

LAX: Thankfully?

DP: Yeah, I’ve been working on this show Alcatraz, and it’s kind of been a non-stop job for the past four months.

LAX: Yeah, you’re the show-runner on this aren’t you?  Like the “head guy”?

DP: Yes.  It’s the first time that I’ve been a show runner on a show I didn’t create.

LAX: Well, I’m going to ask you a few questions and try and make this as painless as possible for you.  I’ve read your bio in which you state “In my perfect world I could remain invisible, letting the work speak for itself. Oh well.”  I love that you ended with “oh well.”

DP: Yeah, this whole publicity thing is really hard for me. I’m learning from this TV show that in the time that I’ve been away from television, the influence of social media has changed television a lot. Networks and studios are extremely aware of what fans are saying online; they do their own internal polling and they’re making demands and changes on a weekly basis based on what they hear online. It’s kind of wild.

LAX: You’re from Colorado?

DP: Yeah, my parents moved there when I was one, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m from Colorado.

LAX:  I read somewhere that you have a degree from Stanford in economics, yes?

DP: (laughs) Yes.

LAX: How did this happen?  How did you get a degree in economics and you are a  wildly successful writer?

DP: My father was a very talented but modestly successful painter and sculptor. When I went to college, he was determined that I would not follow in his footsteps. He wanted me to get a practical degree, preferably medicine. When I got to Stanford, it was just great. I was exposed to so many different things and so many different disciplines. Economics sounded cool and technical.  I quickly realized that it was more like a religion, so I approached it like religious studies. At the same time I was doing Creative Writing and English, and nearly completed a degree in English. I graduated in Econ but, honestly, what it did for me was to give me an understanding of why I wouldn’t be making money. I think it’s great for writers to have a broad foundation of knowledge.

LAX: Did you want to be a writer as a kid?  I read that you have had a few other careers including: cartoonist, silk screener, sculptor, journalist….

DP: I sort of inherited that visual artistry from my father, which comes through in my writing.  My father was such a remarkable artist that it was very hard to follow in his footsteps. I always liked storytelling in whatever form: film, theater, prose, fiction. I just loved stories. I loved reading them. I always wanted to be a storyteller but it’s one of those things where I wanted to be a lot of things. I think that’s what makes people writers because they can imagine themselves doing a lot of things.

LAX: You ended up going to UCLA film school where you now teach, is this correct?

DP: I do. I teach one quarter a year in the graduate school.

LAX: Do you enjoy this?  Is it artistically satisfying for you?

DP: It is. It does two things. It exposes me to the unfettered enthusiasm of a writer who hasn’t been eaten up by Hollywood, publishing or any of the industries. I enjoy the purity of ideas. It’s also humbling because the more I do it (teach), the less I realize I know. The more I help people with their own projects, the more I’m confronted with what I don’t know, which is always useful.

LAX:  In your opinion, what makes for an interesting character?

DP: Somebody who embodies a lot of the hopes and desires of everybody and also embodies the weaknesses and strengths of everybody so that you identify with them. You want people to identify with their struggle to do the right thing, or to find the right path and accomplish their goals.

LAX:  Your second novel Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar came out this January.  As well, you have worked on many television and film projects.  What do you view as the biggest difference between novel writing and screen writing?

DP: Someone once described it to me that they are polar opposites. Novels are the art of putting everything in that needs to be in. Screenwriting is the art of leaving out as much as you can without ruining the story.  Screenwriting is so precise and economical. The hardest thing for me is moving between the two because I did a lot more screenwriting than novel writing early on. I have to remember to open up my language and share more with the reader. So much of screenwriting is what’s not on the page; it’s in the spaces between the sentences. You’re trying to create the image in someone’s head and let them imagine what it would look like in a movie because a screenplay is really just a document that gets people to make a movie, whereas in a novel, your words actually have weight because they tell a story and they paint a picture in someone’s head so you have to use more text. You can get inside somebody’s head in a novel in a way that you never can in a movie.

LAX: You’ve also directed. How was that experience? Would you like to direct more?

DP: I would like to do it more. It’s very difficult to get projects set up. It’s especially difficult when you’re a writer because your time is spent writing screenplays. Directing is a lot like writing a novel because you are in control of all the elements of the movie, but it’s different because directors are a little bit like conductors; you have all of these incredibly talented people working with you, and your job is to point them all in the same direction. It’s a lot like show running on a TV show. You have all of these talented people in different departments and your job is to get them to do their best work, not to tell them how to do it…but directing is really fun. I enjoyed it.

LAX: How do you view the relationship between writer and director?

DP: I’ve been really lucky in my career. I’ve had great experiences with most of the directors I’ve worked with. It’s a collaborative thing. As a writer you have to let go a bit and share the story with the director, but at the same time it’s fun because you can feed them a lot of ideas and you can help them make the movie. To a certain extent, the relationship between the writer and the director is the most important relationship on the movie. They are the two people who understand the movie in the most fundamental way, from beginning to end.

LAX: Have you ever had an instance where you and a director have a completely different artistic vision?

D:  Yes, a lot of times. I find that when I’m done with a script and a director comes onto a project, I have to listen really carefully to how they talk about the project. That generally tells you the movie they’re going to make based on your screenplay. They get an idea in their head of what they want to do, and that’s usually what they’re going to do.  You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you just go with that.  I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I’ve worked with directors who are really respectful of writers and are really inclusive.

LAX:  Let’s talk a little about your book that just came out, Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar. It’s about a man in Colorado who buys a gold mine off of the internet.  Have you known somebody who bought a gold mine off of the internet?  Where did this idea come from?

DP: (laughs) Not off the internet, but my brother bought a gold mine. My brother, who’s a little bit older than me, called me one day and told me that he’d purchased a mine. I don’t know if it was a gold mine. There are all of these mining properties in the national forest that have been abandoned. He bought one up near Keystone ski resort. I think he had the intention of building a cabin on it but he loves to tinker with things so he got this mine and he figured out how to open it because it had caved in. He dug it out and then he would go in and out of the mine, poking around and it was hilarious. It’s a combination of that and these two brother characters wandering around in my head. I put the two together and that story came out of that. It’s a big, wild adventure of these two brothers who have a love-hate relationship, and have an entangled past. It’s about their coming to terms with each other and with themselves. The gold mine is really just a catalyst for bringing them together and really forcing them to deal with the issues that have been driving them apart. It’s a drama about two brothers and about the need for adventure; the need for exploration and the need to have something unknown out there waiting for you; a kind of quest for something. It’s not really about the gold it’s about searching for gold. It’s more about the process than about the end.

LAX: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

DP: The best piece of advice I ever received was “stay in your chair.”  There are so many reasons to get up; so many excuses to get out of your chair and if you’re not in your chair, you’re not writing.  The other one was, to write as well as you possibly can and always strive to write as well as you possibly can. Never settle.

LAX: Do you have and wise words for aspiring writers?

DP: I have two things. 1. You have to want to do it for free, cause you might have to and, 2. Don’t give up.  It’s a really long race and a lot of times persistence is ultimately what makes you succeed, just pure, dogged persistence.

LAX: When do you feel artistically satisfied?

DP: Never.

LAX: Are you a cat person or a dog person?

DP: I’m both if you can believe it. I have two cats and two dogs.

By Jadi Stuart

GRAMMY GLAM NIGHT

GRAMMY GLAM NIGHT

The Grammy week kicked off on Tuesday, February 7th at MyHouse in Hollywood, California with the Grammy Glam Night organized by the Recording Academy in partnership with CoverGirl, Olay, and Venus. We couldn’t think of any better start to the week than with a night celebrating the marriage of music and glamour.

We had the pleasure to chat with Meagan Tandy. Some of you might know Tandy from the new ABC Family television show Jane by Design, where she plays the character Lulu, the high school “mean girl” cheerleader. Others might recall her in her first feature film role in Unstoppable as Maya, Denzel Washington’s daughter.  Tandy has also guest-starred on 90210, CSI: NY, Accidentally on Purpose, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dark Blue, and Single Ladies.  Not only is she gorgeous (Tandy is a former Miss California!), she is absolutely exquisite. She admitted to love “all glam things.” And during a night where everything is glam, glam, glam, she was “proud to support all the wonderful singers and artists.”

DJLO

DJLO
One of the funniest and most talented people we met on the Grammy Glam red carpet was DJ Lorenza Calamandrei, aka DJLO. Lorenza is a gifted and creative DJ, producer, and songwriter. We all know Lorenza’s client list which includes The MTV Movie Awards, Mercedes Benz/Fashion Week, Soho House, Galaxy Stadium, Nike, Dolce & Gabbana, Cannes Film Festival, Italian Film Festival in Los Angeles, Entertainment Tonight, and many other “A” List private events including Sir Elton John’s birthday party. Lorenza is incredibly friendly and fun.

DJLO was born and raised in the cultural richness of Florence, Italy. Lorenza grew up an artist, a risk taker, and an innovator. Now based in Los Angeles, DJLO is currently working on her new album set to be released later this year. She shared with us her excitement to be part of the only night of the Grammy week directed exclusively by her fellow female disc jockeys.

We had the honor of a long chat with Neil Portnow, the current president of the National Academy of Recording Art and Science (NARAS). When asked to share his feelings about the future of the music industry he said, “The music industry is based on a business model that began 75 years ago that didn’t change. Today with the new digital domain things are changing so we need to catch up and make sure the industry business model is adapting, but the appetite for music is greater than ever and people can listen to music from everywhere. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. People make music because it is their life, it is their soul so the end result is of high quality!”

Goapele was also there looking lovely. It was her first time at the Grammys and she was thrilled to be there. She is in year ten of her career with three albums to celebrate. She confessed to being particularly proud of her latest album Break of Dawn. “I put my soul into it,” she said. “I get inspired when I am emotional so I write. Sometimes I express feelings that other people have,” she smiled. Goapele continued that her favorite female artist was Whitney Houston because “I truly feel her close to my heart and close to my style.” This was powerful in retrospect as this was four days before Whitney Houston’s tragic death.

The Grammy Glam night was more than a fun red carpet. It also was a night that celebrated empowering women in music and fashion. The event was held at MyHouse, a hot spot in L.A. where A-list parties take place. Inside the venue every detail was glam oriented starting with beauty-themed rooms from CoverGirl, Olay and Venus and continuing with the Japanese buffet and dedicated signature cocktail stations. Without a doubt, the highlight of the event were the DJ sets that dominated the night. Starting with the four-time Grammy winner DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown a.k.a. Erykah Badu, continuing with the hot new DJ duo The Jane Doze and finally the Grammy winner DJ Spinderella of Salt-N-Pepa. Perhaps most of you don’t even know who these women are, so let us point out this: Within a business predominantly male dominated, female disc jockeys are the newest trendsetters for music, fashion and popular culture. They have the pulse of what is cool and know how to dominate the nightlife. Sure, these women are sexy but they know how to let the music speak for itself.

The queen of “neo soul” DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown a.k.a. Erykah Badu is an American soul singer, songwriter, and Grammy winner. She describes herself as a mother first, then a DJ, teacher, and community activist. The New York Times described her as having “traditional soul vocals, staccato hip-hop rhythms and laid-back jazzy grooves.” We can guarantee that Ms. Badu knows how to spin. Everybody was dancing to her unique eclectic musical style infusing soul, new and old hip-hop, 80s, and rare grooves and jazz.

The Jane Doze

The Jane Doze

In the experimental landscape of music, the New York DJ duo, The Jane Doze stand out for their eclectic mash-up where they take different parts of one song and combine them into a single, smooth song. Their biggest hit, Kids, Set Fire To Someone That I Used To Know, features sample tracks from Adele, Gotye, Sebastian Ingrosso, and MGMT. The Jane Doze step away from the status quo establishing new bits with clever remix, edits, mash-ups and the occasional cover. Their Soundcloud floods the Internet and airwaves breathing new life into the dance music scene. Those women definitely kept the party bumping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DJ Spinderella

DJ Spinderella

Finally, the woman that everyone was waiting for, DJ Spinderella took control of the Grammy Glam event behind the wheels of steel. This Grammy Award winning artist has been around since the 80s boasting massive pop appeal. Former member of the hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa, Deidra (her real name) decided to reference herself after the classic fairy tale Cinderella and so she became Spinderella. At any rate, she is a DJ of note and she knows how to make people move. We had the pleasure of chatting with her and we can say that beside her amazing talent we were impressed by her elegant and classic style.

We came across terrific artists who devote their soul to art and music and we enjoyed their energy and good vibrations. There are certain people who elicit a really passionate response. When winding down from the night I couldn’t stop thinking of the mantra of all those artists:  “Do not get discouraged… be good in your practice and let the music speak!”

 

 

By Laura Costadone and Greg Nilan

Michael Steger

Michael Steger

 

Michael Steger

Michael Steger has always dreamt of being an actor (although he almost became a dentist!), and his dreams have come true with a starring role in the revival of 90210. Michael is living a very busy life between finishing up the fourth season of the CW’s 90210 and working on developing his own theater project. He was charming.

The third out of four sons, Michael grew up in a very eclectic house where half of his family spoke Spanish and half German. He graduated with honors from Cal Poly Pomona, achieving a BA degree in Theater and a minor in Spanish and now he’s fully immersed in his acting career. Michael has already made quite a splash in Hollywood, having appeared in shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS, The Winner, Hannah Montana and he was also cast as the lead role by Tim Burton In the Killers’ music video Bones.

You have a very interesting DNA mix with Ecuadorian, Austrian and Norwegian roots so how do these various bloodlines contribute to your personality?

My mom is from Ecuador, so I learned Spanish from her and she made me aware of my culture since I was a little boy. I grew up in a very eclectic family where half speak German and half Spanish so I never had a boring day at my house!

How did you get into acting?

My parents were into art, especially my mom so I grew up surrounded by creative people. Before college I got an opportunity to get an agent so I obtained my first part, but then my mom said “Enough back to school!” I went to Cal Poly Pomona and I was persuaded by my Dad to major in Dentist Biology but this idea didn’t last too long as my passion was acting so I switched majors. At Cal Poly there was not a lot of competition and definitely a lot of room for growth on stage. My dad wasn’t very supportive at the beginning so I had to drive myself to my first audition! After 90210 he is happy and excited to see me on national TV every Tuesday night.

You are now into the fourth season of the CW’s 90210 playing the role of Navid Shirazi. How do you like the evolution of the Navid character, especially in the current season?

I really like it! We are all getting to know the darker side of his family. In the first season we got to know the very rich side. Navid was driving a Ferrari but was a mask of what was going on in the real life. Now the dark side of that lifestyle is finally showing up and I am having a good time exploring it! There is a lot of room to play and some danger in the mix added a lot of fun.

How are yourself and your character Navid alike in real life?

I do connect with Navid, we are both similar, of course under different circumstances. He works at the high school journal and wishes to become a journalist. I am an actor so we both share passion of telling stories.

Are you still enjoying acting in 90210 and do you plan to stay in TV or do you prefer theater or movies?

90210 changed my life and I am very grateful. I also had the opportunity of putting together my own project. It is like a second home for me and I feel surrounded by a master class of actors. I like both television and film but for different reasons; every actor dreams about filming because you get more time to deeply explore the character and it is less corporate. I also love the television for it’s faster paced; it is like “actor’s boot camp”, I love it all! I love film and directing and of course I love theater for the natural energy of live audience…for me the best feeling.

Tell us about One Woman Show that you are directing.

It is coming out the beginning of March and I have been working with my wife for one year. I am so excited about it! It is a comedy…a lot of fun. Tucker (my wife) plays over fifteen characters where she walks the audience through her experiences starting from age six. The audience will go through a journey meeting childhood bullies, a beauty shop guru, relatives with mental illness, an inspiring grandmother and many more characters. For me it is like bringing reality on stage. People will recognize themselves because One Woman Show brings life to the show, it represents everyone’s experience. We did it in November and it was a huge response so now we’ll do a full month at the Stella Adler Theater. It is such a fun show.

You have a very busy schedule so what do you do in your free time?

I am a huge Capoeira fan. I love it! It is the most fun workout/martial art I have ever done. It is like constantly working on achieving a specific task, focusing on developing strength using your own body weight.

Where do you escape when you leave L.A. for few days?

Yosemite! That is my go-to place. I love hiking. Sometimes I just go to the Curry Village and hangout there.

Which ones are some of your favorite restaurant and
nightclubs in L.A?

Shintaro sushi, and downtown restaurants, I love exploring different neighborhoods and downtown is my favorite part of town. My wife and I also love to cook at home.

How was your experience with Tim Burton in the Killer video?

Oh yeah (laugh)…it was too good to be true. It was 11pm the night before when I got the call that I have been picked so I literally started jumping around. I canceled a television show I was working on and I told everybody “I have to do this!” Getting to work with Tim Burton was a dream come true for me. I admired him for so long. It was an incredible learning experience with a very professional and meticulous crew. Very cool.

What kind of music do you put on when home?

Music is part of the fabric of my life. I adore Adele, The Killers, Gipsy King and Soundtrack…lots of Soundtrack, but I am pretty much open to everything.

 

Girl Gone Wise

Girl Gone Wise

Classy and cool, Melissa Farman

Melissa Farman, the up and coming 22-year old Parisian actress, starred as Bristol Palin in HBO’s acclaimed political telefilm, Game Change, opposite Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and Ed Harris. The film follows John McCain’s (Harris) 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (Moore), to their ultimate defeat in the general election.

Melissa first gained acclaim for her role as the young, pregnant Danielle Rousseau in ABC’s megahit series Lost. Farman was next seen starring opposite Claire Danes in HBO’s award-winning Temple Grandin as Alice, Danes’ blind college roommate. In addition to Game Change, she will next be seen on the new TNT show Perception with Eric McCormack as the illustrious Joan of Arc, premiering summer of 2012.

Farman is no stranger to the world of politics, as her mother Jackie is named after her godmother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Farman comes from an incredible family of extraordinary history dating back centuries. Her father’s family invented the first airplane to turn, which later became Air France. Her mother is of the Breguet family, known for their high-end timepieces, and who were also highly involved in the early aviation industry. Of French, British, and Italian descent, Farman was born in New York City, and raised in Paris.

LAX Magazine caught up with Melissa in L.A. as she was heading to a set in Pasadena.

LAX: How did your unique family heritage contribute to your career success?

MF:  I feel very honored and blessed to come from a family of inventive, very charismatic, and daring people with a lot of courage in my blood line. I’m happy to have these people as role models whether in life or their stories. So many role models inspired me, when I was young, to work hard and be independent.

LAX: You were born in New York and raised in Paris with French, British, and Italian lineage. How did this impact your personality?

MF: I grew up on different continents, and belonged to more than one culture and so I was privileged to travel so much, giving me a sense of belonging and understanding to gain a wider perspective. My grandmother would kid that my true home was out over the Atlantic Ocean.

LAX: How did you get into acting? Did you accidentally back in, or attack it aggressively as your destiny?

MF: You know that’s funny…My mother put me into an acting troupe when I was young — ten years old — because I was always quite shy with kids my own age, and in my own world putting on my own shows. This entry into the troupe helped me find a venue to express this acting out and the formal acting was cathartic and like a sanctuary for me. I was very academic and came from a very academic background and never thought acting would be a career. But I balanced the two, as I always loved theater and school. I came out to L.A. the summer after graduating from high school for a writing program and did an audition to just try it and amazingly I got the job and I realized then I didn’t want to give up theater. So that started my entry into TV and film along with my constant of theater and school. I’m much shyer in life than in my work and theater helps me overcome that.

LAX: We got to know you from the big hit TV series, Lost. How did you enjoy the Lost experience?

MF: It was an incredible experience and my first big job. It was a real adventure to show up and be in Hawaii on a fantastic show with a wonderful cast and crew. It was a passion project for so many people; such an amazing, fantastic show that inspired so many people. You really felt that on set, and that was very inspiring working with a great group of actors and professionals. I knew it was a great phenomenon and I felt lucky to be a part of it

LAX: Some of our female readers want to know: How was it working with Sawyer on Lost?

MF: He is very funny; great sense of humor and very cool.

LAX: How was it working with Claire Danes in HBO’s, Temple Grandin?

MF: She is an incredible actress, and so hard working and humble. I showed up on set and she was just so kind. She is kind to all of her coworkers, committed to her craft, and gives so much to those around her. I can’t have more respect than I do for Claire.

LAX: HBO’s Game Change just hit the airwaves. What were your challenges playing Bristol Palin in this highly visible, political film?

MF: The challenge was to get beneath the controversy and intense media coverage. So much media attention has been thrown at that family and I just wanted to get beyond the political image and get personal to understand the character. Fortunately, I did not follow the media hype of Sarah and Bristol, as when I got the role I had just recently arrived in the US and was not immersed in the Presidential election, and so did not have my vision colored by the media that much. So I got to know her as a character.

LAX: Your career is really taking off. In addition to everything we already discussed you are also playing Joan of Arc in the TNT series, Perception, premiering this summer.

MF: Right now I’m working on CSI. The Joan of Arc role was great especially because my grandmother has a house in the same French city where Joan of Arc was a local hero, so my family is very excited I’m portraying a local and national hero. So, I really am very excited, as I love my work and what I do.

LAX: You are a busy woman…what do you do for fun when you get a break?

MF: I’m also a full time college student at USC (honors program) with a double major in Political Science and English. So I read a lot; I’m a big reader. I go to the movies, as that is my number one thing I do to relax. I also like to go to small concert venues and track down new bands. Crowds scare me so I like the smaller venues. I’m also a big poetry fan and I go to a lot of poetry readings.

LAX: This is LAX Magazine’s big annual music and Grammy coverage issue so we must ask what is your favorite music?

MF: I’m a huge Blue Grass fan and I also like Indie Rock and I love alternative music. When I study, I always listen to classical music. But I’m more of a rock and indie girl and some of my favorite bands are the Decembrists, Death Cab for Cutie, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford and Sons, Temper Trap, and Bon Iver. Music is a huge part of my life especially when you live in LA, as your life becomes a bit of a rolling sound track. I live on the east side, and I go to USC travel to sets so I’m driving all day basically. So you really have to start making some great tapes for the car because you spend a lot of time in your bubble and the car becomes your rolling sound track.

LAX: If you could pick any actor to be in a movie with, whom would you choose?

MF: Cate Blanchett is a huge role model for me, and also someone like Anthony Hopkins. For a younger selection, Michael Fassbender I’ve been following for a long time and actually saw him in Hunger and was stunned by his performance. I also love Emily Blount. I have to say, there are a lot of actors I would love to work with.

LAX: What fashion accessory can you not live without?

MF: People usually define me by vests and blazers. I’m always wearing casual blazers that are androgynous and whimsical. There is this grey blazer from Tara Jarmon that I could not live without. And I must have my purse from Ash; a brown leather satchel, and I only like purses I can wear with a long strap for my books. I have to have something to strap on and go.

LAX: How is USC going and do you have plans to use your degree in Poli Sci?

MF: I love my honors program. The funny thing is it’s called TO, the traumatic option, because it’s such hard work. But I think every single person that has been in that program just raves about it because we have such incredible teachers and small classes and everyone is excited by learning and to me that is what college should be all about. I really enjoy it, and it is so personalized it is a great support system. It’s the best of both worlds, as USC is a large research university but you get this small environment that makes you feel like you’re at a small liberal arts college. I don’t think I’m going to go into law, as it’s purely an academic interest at this time. English and Political Science balance each other very well. In Poli Sci you study power drives and power dynamics in the world, and in English you study power dynamics of fiction and story telling and the representation of human relationships. So I feel they both complement each other very well and also complement my acting very well.

LAX: If sitting on Santa’s lap, would you wish that acting be your main career goal for the long foreseeable future?

MF: If I was sitting on Santa’s lap I would hope I never get bored and keep interested in my work and do things that challenge me and scare me and keep pushing myself forward and bettering myself. I’m that kind of person who pushes myself as my birthright and I hope to keep challenging myself.

LAX: What advice would you give to other young actresses?

MF: You have to work really hard and it’s the kind of industry that is really tough. I think it was Amy Adams who said you have to have a very delicate balance between a tough skin and an open heart. Because you have to be very sensitive but at the same time you deal with rejection over and over again. So my advice to anyone in this industry is just kind of persevere. Perseverance, perseverance, and at the same time always understand the more you commit and believe in yourself and the harder you work, the easier things are. But understand your life is your own, and it is short, and don’t shut out other options in your life. It is so very hard sometimes, and as long as you focus on building your own confidence internally and don’t rely on validation from others -— just yourself -— then you have what it takes to keep working in this industry, as you have to have a strong belief in yourself

 

 

 

Amelia – The Brit and her ENTOURAGE

Amelia – The Brit and her ENTOURAGE

Photos by: Trish Jochen www.trishalison.com

Our ever favored British actress, Amelia Jackson-Grey is not your typical LA actress. When she appears for a job, she is a true professional and she has the entourage to prove it.  Amelia was first introduced to the big Hollywood scene in the original HBO hit show Entourage playing Vincent’s love interest for season 6. However her latest role is in Deep Gold; the first-ever, action adventure film in 3-D.  She stars as the mysterious British reporter caught in the middle of a large conspiracy. Filmed entirely in the exotic islands of Cebu and Palawan in the Philippines, the shoot gave her a chance to learn scuba diving especially for this exciting role. She embraces each role with charisma and talent and has become quite the actress in demand. Her amazing talents include speaking with many different accents. In The Mentalist it is Italian. In Outsourced she plays the Australian. In Entourage she plays an American and even in an Indian film, she shows her Texan accent. However talented this true Brit may be, her love for adventure and travel is what makes this striking beauty a one of a kind.

Amelia Jackson Gray takes a break from TV and movies and goes on the adventure of a lifetime to travel and backpack through Italy. Traveling first to Milan and then to Murano, Italy, she stayed at the 3-star Hotel Miramonti where she recounts being above the clouds and looking over the Swiss Alps. She continues her adventure to the Dolomite Mountains where she stays in the picturesque Geôles campground with astounding views and breathtaking beauty. She backpacks with cooking gear, her tent and sleeping bag. Amelia lived in Florence when she was young and knows enough Italian to get around.

Amelia happily discusses her love for Los Angeles and her travels all over the State of California . She considers LAX Airport one of the best airports she has been through. She loves Bishop’s Horton Lake, the well-traveled Joshua Tree and the famous Sierra Nevada’s Mount Williamson which towers as California’s second highest peak. Her favorite LA hikes include Runyon Canyon and Fryman Canyon. Her favorite eats include the famous Pizzeria Osteria Mozza with her favorite local British Pub being the Studio City’s Laurel Tavern. Being in LA, she has no complaints. She loves the laid back attitude, the steady pace and the forward thinking lifestyle.

Kelsey – Little Miss Sunshine

Kelsey – Little Miss Sunshine

Photos by: Trish Jochen www.trishalison.com

With a burst of sunshine and a smile the size of the ocean, Disney’s Pair of Kings star, Kelsey Chow discusses her love for travel and her work in the entertainment industry. Kelsey gained her acting experience in her first role in 2005 as Gigi Silveri on One Tree Hill. Trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance Kelsey doesn’t come to the table with only a solid education, she runs track and swims! Her degree is in Global Health from Columbia University. Kelsey’s upbringing included world wide travel, performing in Italy and the Republic of Czechoslovakia. She recently returned from Scotland where she performed in LES MISERABLES at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, this Southern beauty sings effortlessly in musical theater. In addition to speaking some Chinese and Spanish, she specializes in various British and Spanish dialects. Kelsey’s Los Angeles favorites include: Toi On Sunset Rockin Thai for take-out, Chateau Marmont for hotel and the Mondrian Hotel’s famed Skybar for favorite roof top pool. She is a true Dodgers fan and raves about her favorite players including but not limiting to: Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and the ever famous outfielder, Jerry Sands. Kelsey grew to love performing at a very early age when she was studying dance and working in community theater. She has a very exciting future here in LA. With her reputation for her impeccable fashion sense and her intellect, she will surely go far. Featured in the NEW YORK POST she was commended for attending Columbia while still maintaining her career. Kelsey will continue to impress us all with her charm and“ beams of sunshine” no matter where her talent takes her.

The Year in Film: Los Angeles Film Festival

The Year in Film: Los Angeles Film Festival

The Festival draws an enthusiastic audience of over 92,000 and provides access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world.

Now in it’s seventeenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival is a world-class event and the largest film festival in Southern California. It showcases the best in American and international cinema. Centered at downtown’s L.A.LIVE, the Festival draws an enthusiastic audience of over 92,000, and provides access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. More than 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing over 40 countries are screened at the Festival, alongside red carpet world premieres, intimate conversations with renowned directors and actors, panels on the latest trends in filmmaking, free outdoor screenings, and live musical performances.

The 2011 Festival is opened and closed with two films that were not to be missed. The opening film was Richard Linklater’s world premiere of “Bernie” starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. The closing film was “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – directed by Troy Nixey, co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro, starring Katie Homes and Guy Pearce.

The Festival draws an enthusiastic audience of over 92,000 and provides access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world.

This festival was held June 16 – 26, 2011. Check website for future events www.filmfest.com.

Big Dawg Wilfred

Big Dawg Wilfred

Ryan and Wilfred share a moment

Wilfred is a new TV show that is about a man dealing with life’s challenges with the help of a sidekick in the form of the dog next door. Sounds strange, that’s true. But it works on screen. The main character, Ryan, is played to perfection by big-time movie actor, Elijah Wood. The dog is played by Australian comic, Jason Gann. The show has elements of crudeness that have become trademarks of FX comedies but the jokes are funny and done in good spirits. Most of all, the writing is clever and both characters are really good at their roles.

Jason is fresh from Australia where he’s quite well known as a comic. He’s so popular in Auz that he was working two shows when he was picked up for this project. The show is taken from a Auzzie show of the same title, which was co-created by Gann. And Elijah Wood would only sign on if Gann was cast as Wilfred. Elijah got word of the script as it was “a hot script in town” said executive producer, Rich Frank.

Guests and journalists previewed the show last night at Rich’s mansion on Mulholland while sipping on his collection of wine from his Napa based, Frank Family Vineyards. We started with bubbly and Chardonnay with grapes from Carneros and then went through a Pinot collection and then on to the Cabs. The wine was terrific and my favorite was the Napa Pinot, which costs less than the Reserve Pinot and was very light – just how I like it.

The show was funny and worth investing into. The pilot opens with ‘Ryan’ (Wood’s character) attempting suicide where we learn that he’s pretty wound up – his suicide note has multiple revisions. Then his hot neighbor girl next door asks for his help with dog sitting and we meet Wilfred (Gann). Wilfred is hilarious as a man dressed in a dog costume with dog mannerisms and ends up offering Ryan life lessons with a crude edge. He’s an actual dog, but appears to Ryan as a man dog who talks to him and calls him out on his weak behavior. He also smokes bong hits and humps on hot women. The humor and writing are very well done. Enjoy it tonight or set your dvr’s. Episode two is even better.

Scooter Braun’s 30th Birthday Party

Scooter Braun’s 30th Birthday Party

Entertainment mogul and the man responsible for discovering Justin Bieber, Scott “Scooter” Braun, threw the birthday extravaganza of the decade on Saturday night in LA. Considered the most powerful man in entertainment under the age of 30, the birthday boy welcomed in his 30th birthday with friends for a party unlike any other. Guests in attendance included Justin Bieber, Kim Kadarshian, Mary J Blige, Adam Levine, Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, David Katzenberg, Jaden Smith, Wilmer Valderama, and Rita Wilson who came with Chester “Chet.”

At the beginning of the night, Scooter was roasted by close friends and family during dinner where best friend and business partner Usher Raymond served as Master of Ceremonies alongside his brother, Adam Braun. Scooter was surprised by a touching video montage of messages from friends that couldn’t be there including Will Smith, Diddy, Ludacris, and Keri Hilson. Then the banquet style dinner and roast turned into a party where the DJ was playing some of the A list attendees hits with other favorites. The Dan Band who made everyone laugh in The Hangover performed their entertaining renditions of songs just before the unbelievable surprise performances started.

Scooter had the spotlight turned on Usher in the crowd who was promptly given a microphone and his song blasted over the speakers. Usher got onstage and performed some more hits and then Justin Bieber joined onstage! The phenomenon hopped on the drums and also performed his hits “Baby” and “Never Say Never” with buddy Jaden Smith for the star-studded room. Bieber next introduced the next surprise performer…MC Hammer!! The legend performed new hits and old ones including “Too Legit To Quit.” The party continued all night long with additional impromptu performances by Asher Roth for “I Love College” and Adam Levine for “This Love.”

Jonathan Goldsmith, Nominated Male Actor of the Year for Commercials

Jonathan Goldsmith, Nominated Male Actor of the Year for Commercials

The sophisticated and handsome Jonathan Goldsmith has gained a ton of recognition for his role in the “The most interesting man in the world” television commercials for Dos Equis beer and has had an incredible journey in the entertainment industry. Originally from New York, he calls Los Angeles home, and truly loves the California lifestyle. We sat down with him to ask him about some of his favorite things to do in L.A. and this is what he had to say:

1. Breakfast restaurant: Mercede’s Grill in Marina Del Ray (Cuban)

2. LA neighborhood: Marina Del Ray

3. Beach: Point Dume in Malibu

4. Celebrity crush: Catherine Deneuve

5. Stylist: Alon at Miki-Sharon Salon

6. Thing you can’t live without: The ocean

7. Place to send a tourist: Venice Beach

8. Favorite weekend getaway: Catalina Island or Yountville in Napa Valley

9. Favorite sushi: Boss Sushi

10. Favorite barbeque restaurant: Baby Blues BBQ