The December issue of BookPage includes my review roundup of the latest, nifty Hollywood-themed books – perfect for gift giving. Fab crazy man Mel Brooks reminisces about “Young Frankenstein”; Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn are celebrated in lavish coffee table tributes; there’s a massive study of director Oliver Stone; and, how about a look at TV’s greatest series? (One of our faves, “Breaking Bad,” is in the Top Ten. Yayyy!) Feeling bookish? The piece is at: http://bookpage.com/features/20700-tinseltown-treats-to-put-under-tree#.WEE5ameQzcs
In the November issue of Orange Coast, I examine the literary legacy of mystery maestro Dashiell Hammett, and the granddaughter who’s on the case, representing his work. Sam Spade, anyone? The Thin Man? I first met Hammett family member Julie M. Rivett at an event sponsored by So Cal Mystery Writers of America. When I learned she was a “local,” I knew I wanted to write a piece about her for Orange County’s favorite magazine. Check out www.orangecoast.com/features/dashiell-hammett-julie-rivett/.
For the current (October) issue of Orange Coast, I interview interior designer Kelli Ellis, who’s been a featured designer for TV series including TLC’s “Clean Sweep” and HGTV’s “Takeover My Makeover.” The O.C. gal is a ubiquitous presence at design trade shows; in fact, she’s impossible to miss since trading in what she calls her “soccer mom look” for something decidedly edgier. Check out Kelli, and my piece, at: http://www.orangecoast.com/features/interior-designer-kelli-ellis/
Excited to be joining the Saddleback College Emeritus Institute, located in the south Orange County community of Laguna Woods. As a part-time faculty member, I’ll be teaching “Writing Non-Fiction” and “Film as Literature.” Classes begin the week of August 22. I’m doin’ my homework, readying for the first day of school! Hope my film students like my movie picks, which include Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt,” that 1970s exercise in paranoia, “The Conversation,” and the final film made by John Wayne (who famously made his home in O.C.), “The Shootist.”
Wanna see a gallery of Hollywood’s presidential ladies? Then check my Facebook site. Cuz Hollywood isn’t just ga-ga over Hillary. For decades, movies and TV shows have put women in the Oval Office. The historic first was in 1953 with “Project Moonbase,” a low-budget sci-fier based on a story and script co-written by Robert A. Heinlein. Seen only briefly, the film’s “Madame President” was played by Ernestine Barrier. In the Sixties, gorgeous Polly Bergen teamed with Fred MacMurray for the comedy, “Kisses for My President.” Patty Duke briefly took office in 1985; her ABC sitcom “Hail to the Chief” lasted just seven episodes. Other actresses who’ve run the White House include Cherry Jones, of my all-time favorite series, Fox’s “24,” Geena Davis of ABC’s “Commander in Chief,” Alfre Woodard as the first black female President in NBC’s “State of Affairs,” Sela Ward in this year’s sequel to 1996’s block-buster feature, “Independence Day,” and Patricia Wettig in Fox’s “Prison Break.” And this is just a brief round-up!