Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Battle of Facebook Hill

I started a fight.

I didn’t mean to, really. It all started so innocently. A friend sent me a column from a popular journalist on a hot-button topic that I happen to have a strong opinion about as well. Feeling a “hell yeah” in my gut, I posted the link on my Facebook profile and went about my day.

By morning, my posted link had gathered 5 comments. One FF (Facebook Friend) from Georgia grumbled that the journalist was being a counter-productive dickhead. Another FF from Canada thought the FF from Georgia had lost perspective and wanted the dickhead to be President.

My initial reaction to the comments was flattery. People visited my profile page! I’m seen! A fleeting self-centered moment that was quickly forgotten considering what came next.

God came along.

That’s right, God entered the conversation, and not to be crass, but all hell broke loose. Pretty soon, I was getting email notifications every hour that another FF had commented on my link. Two FF’s in particular became engaged in fervent battle, citing federal law, lobbyists, and the Bible.

My feelings on the topic aside, I was seriously impressed. I was witnessing the power of Facebook. My little corner of cyberspace had suddenly become a forum for open discourse. The column from the journalist was no longer the center of the debate. This was about justice!

So to all the people who “don’t get” Facebook or think it’s just a waste of time, I say this. Facebook is an expression of what I love about America. It’s a democracy. People of all types, ideologies, and economic status are free to come together and say what they want to see. No one has to agree to disagree – they can just disagree.

I have FF’s who are die-hard Tea Party Republicans, apathetic teenagers, Mormon PTA members, and cross-dressing engineers. Facebook is a place where we can celebrate our birthdays or call each other heartless sycophants and still be okay. All profiles are created equal and everyone has a voice.

So I may have started a fight, but I’m not sorry I did. Here’s to continuing the discussion…

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fictionless Friday: Narcissism Reality Check

According to this Gawker article about Facebook profile pictures, the fact that I utilize one of my headshots means that I’m a narcissistic careerist. It’s an amusing article – snarky and cringingly accurate at times.

I mentioned it to a close friend, relaying the conclusion that I’m a narcissistic careerist, and he laughed heartily. “That’s hilarious, because you are!”

“What?” I said, somewhat startled.

“You’re totally a narcissistic careerist! That’s what you are!”

Just typing his words makes my emotions swirl into a troubled froth. Now before you start composing your blog comment calling him mean-spirited or rude and telling me not to listen to any of it, let me be clear. This person loves me very much and loves himself too, so there’s no belittling or demeaning going on here. That’s not what he does. He just calls it like it is. I appreciate having his level-headed perspective in my life. And he’s never wrong. He’s just accurate.

Believe me, I’d love to tell myself that he’s wrong. That I’m the pinnacle of modesty. That I never boast about my accomplishments or hold myself above others. Because I’m a frickin’ angel, don’t cha know?

But I know that he’s at least a little right. I enjoy having credits from television shows that people have heard of. I smile inwardly when I have to turn down a lunch invitation because, “I’ll be on set.” I write a blog all about myself, for goodness sake.

I’ve always said that all actors need to be a little bit of a diva in order to break through the waves of self-doubt washing over Hollywood. Perhaps I’ve taken my own advice too far.

So my emotions are swirly this morning because I’ve just been called on my own stuff. And I know he wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true. I’m not the best at self-awareness. Who is, really? Who is capable of being fully aware of how their words and actions are perceived and understood by others? Who is completely accurate in this world?

My friend is.

So I’ll say it - I am a narcissistic careerist. But now that I know that, hopefully I can turn things around for myself.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama So Phat, He’s Gone Viral!

I met Ron Butler four years ago on the set of Ugly Betty. We played fashion reporters and bonded while trapped inside Geisha House in Hollywood. Fourteen hours later, a friendship was born.

Since then, Ron has continued to work in film and TV, including a regular role on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP, described as Ugly Betty for kids. Talk about full circle.

A few years ago, I learned that Ron had created a second career for himself as an Obama impersonator. I watched videos of his live appearances at look-alike conventions and thought, “Holy crap – he looks just like Obama!’ Which clearly bodes well for his career as an Obama impersonator.

So when Ron asked me to be a part of a viral Obama video he had written and was planning to produce and direct, I replied an emphatic YES.

The shoot was incredibly fun. I haven’t been surrounded by so many musical theater people since my days at Disneyland. Between shots, the actors sang one-liners from [title of show] and ragged on Wicked. It was awesome.

The finished product launched online this week – watch it below. I love that it’s not just a musical parody, but a thoughtful and praise-filled virtual fist bump to our Commander in Chief. Enjoy and spread the word!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Koji Steven Sakai is my Writing Yoda

Koji Steven Sakai knows what it means to be a writer. He said something in this interview in Hyphen Magazine that has stuck in my head ever since I read it:
"I don't believe in writer's block. I always tell new writers that the biggest difference between professional writers and amateur writers is that the amateur writers waits for inspiration but the professional writer creates that same inspiration every time they sit down to write."
A powerful call to excellence for new writers like me. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice ever.

Koji is also on my mind because tonight is opening night of The ID Film Festival, which he co-founded two years ago with fellow filmmaker Quentin Lee. (Yes, he’s the guy who directed The People I’ve Slept With, the romantic comedy that Koji wrote and produced.)

The festival is packed with a variety of features, shorts programs, and events for filmmakers, all taking place at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo. Check out the schedule at the ID Film Fest web site and get your $30 festival pass online.

I recently bombarded Koji with a handful of questions and he graciously responded. He’s cool like that.

Why another Asian-centric film festival? What makes the ID Film Festival different?
KOJI: I don't think there can be enough Asian film festivals! :) But what makes this one different is that it’s a festival by Asian Pacific Islander filmmakers for API filmmakers.
What actor, Asian-American or otherwise, do you most look forward to working with someday?
KOJI: Ken Watanabe, because he's so sexy! And my mom loves him! She'd love to meet him!
What was your biggest unforeseen production obstacle while shooting The People I’ve Slept With and how did you overcome it?
KOJI: The biggest obstacle is just money. But we overcame with it with a passionate and professional crew and cast!
Who's kicking ass the most in the Asian-American media world right now?
KOJI: Justin Lin – he’s the only Asian American filmmaker to make 100 million in box office. Until someone beats that, they aren't on his level.
Dream lunch date?
KOJI: Hmm... I'm married so it'd have to be a business date. But my dream lunch date would be with President Obama, because I have a huge huge huge MAN CRUSH.
Thanks Koji! See everyone at IDFF tonight!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Frak the Nielsens - We've Got Tweets!

Alessandra Torresani couldn't have looked more like a Cylon if she tried. Shiny, silky hair, full red lips, wearing a black mini dress that showed off her long, statuesque legs. Clutching a handheld mic, her sexy, raspy voice implored, "Please tweet! Hashtag CapricaisBack!"

I witnessed her heartfelt plea last weekend at an exclusive screening of the Caprica Season 1.5 premiere, hosted by SyFy. Alessandra appeared on stage with series stars Esai Morales, Sasha Roiz and Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore, Kevin Murphy, Jane Espenson, & David Eick. Each one begged us to get the word out about the show in their own way. Ron expressed pride and excitement in the new episodes and said he couldn't wait for us to see them. Esai declared he was "frakkin' sick of reality TV." Kevin Murphy asked us to find a Nielsen family, because "it only takes one." Everyone asked us to tweet. And then tweet some more.

As we settled in to watch the episode (which was absolutely fantastic), I couldn't help but think there was something wrong with this picture. Caprica is an excellent television show - sharply written and expertly designed. Featuring superb acting performances by under-appreciated veterans of the biz (Eric Stoltz, Esai) as well as stunningly talented new faces (Alessandra, Magda Apanowicz) and cameos from genre favorites (James Marsters, Patton Oswalt). Yet as SyFy's Mark Stern clearly stated before introducing the screening, Caprica won't get a Season 2 unless people watch - now!

Now I'm pretty sure no one is tweeting about Two and a Half Men, and that show pulled in 13.8 million viewers in the premiere of its 8th season.

What gives? Why do good shows always have to fight so hard? Even within its genre, Caprica is a top-notch show, yet it's still struggling for viewers to stay on the air.

So watch the show, won't you? Caprica Season 1.5 premiere tonight at 10pm on SyFy.

And then Tweet away - Alessandra will really appreciate it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Films. Lots and Lots of Films.

I love a good film festival. It’s like one-stop shopping for movie buffs. An intensified week or weekend of all-things cinema, served up with a variety of themes – gay films, films made in downtown LA, or films featuring frogs as protagonists.

(Okay, I made that last one up. Or did I?)

And you don’t have to be a fan of the particular theme in order to enjoy it. Because film is universal, don’t cha know. I had a great time at last year’s Frog Film Festival.

(Seriously, I’m kidding.)

Case in point – the ID Film Fest, which takes place this weekend at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo.

At first glance, it looks like just another Asian-centric film festival. Indeed, all the featured films are made by Asian people and have a bunch of Asian people in them.

But a closer look will tell you that these films are must-see gems. The opening night presentation Fog looks crazy good - a tension-filled powder keg of a directorial debut.

And check out this trailer for Air Doll – no English subtitles, yet I still understand enough to want to see it.

Films and programs are $10 each or $30 for an all-weekend pass. Steal, people!

So come on down and check it out, whether you’re Asian or not. I’ll be there, volunteering and soaking up the cinema glow.