Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hope for Haiti Recap

So, last Friday (01/22/10) I had the honor of being able to volunteer at the “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon that George Clooney put together. It was simulcast on every major network. (BET, MTV, HBO, NBC, etc.) Cecily (one of the many awesome people I met in 2009) & myself were amongst a small team of talent escorts working the event. “What’s a talent escort?” you ask? Well, every major start-studded event that requires talent to be in a certain place at a specific time has talent escorts. Our role is to make sure that the major talent has eyes on them at all times. This is especially important for televised events, because talent often has hard in/out times. So if according to the breakdown (a sheet that details each minute of the show and a description of what’s going on down to the second) Halle Berry is supposed to be on camera at 5:04:45 pm and she’s in the restroom, we need to be able to locate her before her “on” time. (Perfect example: BET Awards ’09 could’ve used better talent escorts on Nichelle Nichols & Zoe Saldana. They were to come out to present together but Nichelle missed her hard in because she was in the bathroom. Zoe mentioned this TWICE on camera. But I digress…)

Often, escorts are assigned a specific talent for an event. However, because HFHN had EVERY A-lister there, it was impossible to have an assigned escort for everyone. George & a few others had someone keeping them on schedule. But most of the talent were splitting their time between one of the two green rooms until the show went live. After that they were all in the phone bank. There wasn’t too much corralling required so this was a pretty easy event.

It rained something awful the week of the event. I was hoping that the rain would let up by Friday. This was not the case. It poured my entire 1 hr commute from OC to LA and when I got there it was STILL raining. When I arrived at the CBS lot it was full so I had to park behind the lot at The Grove and walk back in the rain. On my way out of the confusing parking structure, I crossed paths with a makeup artist who was struggling with a travel case full of makeup. The sky made this loud cracking sound & we both looked at each other. It was about to start pouring, and we were a good 10 min walk from where we needed to be. She didn’t have an umbrella so I asked her if she was going to HFHN & she said she was. Right then it started raining so I invited her under my umbrella. She grabbed my arm & the 2 of us huddled together and made our way through a flooded alley onto the CBS lot.

Once we got under the tent she thanked me (she called me an angel) and we parted ways. I got my credentials & stood under a heat lamp while waiting to find out what the next step was. Soon thereafter, Cecily showed up. We got our food tickets & headed up to the 3rd floor for lunch. We spent about 30 min upstairs eating a nice catered spread with makeup artists and various production folks & stagehands before making our way back downstairs to get our assignments. When we returned downstairs we were told that talent would begin arriving around 3:00. The show was going to be on air at 5:00. Talent would be dropped off at the curb and we were to escort them to wherever they needed to go. Everyone would arrive pretty much camera ready but just in case anyone needed hair or makeup, this would be available for them. Certain talent had dressing rooms (John Legend, Kid Rock, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, George Clooney and some folks from Twitter), but for the most part, everyone would need to be escorted to one of the two white tents inside that were set up as green rooms. Inside those tents were full bars, cookies & sandwiches, and plush white leather couches to lounge on. There were also high bar tables & large flat screen TV’s.

I was running my mouth to Cecily about God knows what when she sort of reached out to me as if to say “shhhhh!” I turned around & saw the reason why. Denzel was standing right next to us at the credentials table. I took no offense at all because it was Denzel! He can interrupt my story any day. Besides…whatever I was talking about couldn’t have been too important because I immediately forgot it.
We had a quick tour of the CBS building so that we’d know the layout. We walked across the stage as Cheryl Crow, Keith Urban & Kid Rock were rehearsing “Lean On Me.” The next hour was spent hanging around waiting for things to start. The ladies at the credentials table were getting things organized in alphabetical order. We had no idea this was the calm before the storm.

It was 3:15. I can’t really put into words what happened over the next 30 minutes. It was just…crazy. There was a line of cars a mile long. And every A-lister in Hollywood was in those cars. All arrivals were being announced over walkies, so we knew who was arriving and in what order. Cindy Crawford & Randy Gerber got out of a black Range Rover and I was handed their credentials. Cindy was drop dead gorgeous in jeans! “We want to go to Kid Rock’s dressing room.” she said. I escorted them up to the 2nd floor & took them to his dressing room. Now, you have to understand…I LIVED for fashion during Cindy’s reign. I had pics of her & several other 90’s supermodels on my bedroom walls as a teenager. So this moment was VERY surreal for me. But I maintained my composure & remained cool. On the outside I appeared like I do this every day. But in my head…I was dying!

I returned back to the 1st floor and waited for more talent. Everyone was pouring in. The Jonas Brothers were standing at the table to get their credentials. They started giggling when one of the ladies at the table had Chevy Chase’s credentials & kept repeating “I have a Chevy Chase!” I took Mr. Chase (who is completely hard of hearing) thru the metal detectors. He had something in his pocket that set the alarm off. I figured we could just proceed but the young security guy working at the table made him empty his pockets and go back through. He actually asked CHEVY CHASE if he had any weapons in his pockets. Chevy replied “Huh?!” It wasn't a "come again?" huh. It was an "are you shitting me?" huh. The guy asked again & Chevy responded “Oh sure, I never leave home without my knife & gun.” Love it!

When I returned to the table I saw Jennifer Aniston, Tom Hanks, Alyssa Milano & Drew Barrymore. And Charlize Theron who is absolutely GORGEOUS in person. Marissa Tomei…not so much. Her face looked like the side of a dilapidated building. Kimora, Russell & Djimon arrived together (I love that!) Halle was standing right in front of me…it was unreal. Y’all don’t know how I feel about Halle! She’s iconic & I absolutely adore her. Next I realized that I've been hating Taylor Swift for the past 4 months for no reason at all. She greeted everyone with a smile & was a very sweet girl. Then I saw Andy Garcia! I had a picture of him in my locker in high school from when he was on the cover of GQ! Katy Perry & Russell Brand arrived separately but left arm in arm. Brad Pitt walked in looking like he just left the set of the biopic “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. Collin Ferrell. Ricky Martin. Taraji. Tyrese. Zoe Saldana. Robin Williams. Robert De Niro (I love Bobby D!) Common was in line waiting to get his credentials & smiled at me & said hello. He. Smiled. At. ME. I reached for his credentials & another escort intercepted. I didn't want to cause a scene so I let him have them. (He then proceeded to sneak his way into the green room to talk Common & Taraji’s ears off.) He later tells me that Common is his favorite MC & Common told him to keep in touch. Yeah right!

I walked by Quincy & said “Hello Mr. Jones” to which he replied “Hey baby!” I nearly melted into a puddle. When Stevie arrived, everything stopped. I know I’m dramatic but believe me when I say this: I didn’t hear SHIT that was going on around me when Stevie arrived! I watched him being take out of his car by his handlers & walk right past me. I just stood there & inhaled, taking in the moment. It felt like a dream. So many people arrived at once; they started handing out the wrong credentials to people. Samuel L. Jackson arrived wearing his signature black Kangol. Michael Clarke Duncan said he didn’t want someone else’s credentials. And Leonardo Di Caprio. This guy…he’s…special. It takes Cecily to show you how he walked down the hall on his cell phone. He was on some “love-you-baby-love-you-sweetie-let’s-do-lunch" type shit. *winks & points finger* Seriously. All he needed was an ascot & a monocle. He’s so pretentious. He was smoking a cigar & drinking white wine when John Legend arrived with his English Bulldog. Leo walked over to the dog & was petting it. Two feet away from me Leonardo Di Caprio is petting John Legend’s dog while Steven Spielberg walks by eating a turkey sandwich! I felt like I was in a David Lynch film. Oh, and when I took Cecily to the restroom to fill her in on “the escort from hell”, we ran into “Precious”. (That's how I referred to her to which Cecily replied “I’mma need ‘Precious’ to have a real name!") She was really sweet. I took a picture with her & she said “at least you didn’t follow me into the stall!” I saw Jack Nicholson & Mark Wahlberg. Mark is the best friend of a good friend of mine. I sent him a text telling him that I just saw Marky. He said they had breakfast that morning & did I say hi to him. (Um, no! Mark’s picture replaced Andy Garcia’s in my locker. I could never speak to him!)

The highlights of my night were escorting my secret crush Forest to the phone bank, going to a corner to scream into my scarf after seeing LL (Cecily laughed at me) and seeing Muhammad Ali leave the building. That was another “standing in silence” moment. Oh, and when Chris Rock & Rick Rubin walked around the corner together laughing and talking, for about 2.5 seconds I secretly wished I was a New Yorker. Y’all…Rick Rubin! I saw so many things that night that made me smile. Like Debra Messing & Meg Ryan standing off in a corner chatting like old girlfriends…then grabbing hands & pressing their foreheads together. (It was cute.) And Jack Black & Randy Jackson chopping & Sacha Baron Cohen walked up and joined in the conversation. I was also able to speak with Russell Simmons about his Jivamukti Yoga scholarship for women of color. THAT was surreal. *I’m standing here talking to Russell Simmons about yoga.* I thanked him for his time & hit him with a “Namaste” before coolly walking away (all while screaming inside my head.)

It was truly an amazing experience. Seeing everyone in Hollywood turn out in the pouring rain for a wonderful cause. (Everyone was dressed casual…except for Leo & some lady wearing a long green velvet gown & a vest that resembled road kill.) You could see how connected all of these people are. They’ve all crossed paths at some point over the years. Many have worked together or worked on the same lots. Most have have had the same managers, agents & publicists. There was a sense of camaraderie & realness that we regular folk don’t get a chance to see. Being able to witness it first hand gave me a different perspective of Hollywood & it was an experience that I won’t soon forget.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Preface to Last Weekend

My name is Christine & I am the most interesting unemployed person you’ll ever meet. Within the past 6 months, I’ve had some great adventures. Like ending up at the BET Awards as “talent” with all-access to closed rehearsals Friday & Sunday and hanging out backstage watching the show from stage left. The stories I could tell about that weekend! Maybe I’ll get those out another time. (Until this day, a certain “hanger-on” still wants to know how the hell Tatum & I got in. All these months & he’s still losing sleep! I’ll never tell…) I think I attended Foxx’s “Blame It” tour maybe 3 or 4 times…excellent seats, backstage, the works. I have some very wonderful friends who take GREAT care of me so I’m very grateful for that. In July, I met up with 30 “friends” from all over the country in Vegas (we’re all part of a group on Facebook.) We spent 5 days together in a 10,000 sf compound. That was a Vegas trip like no other that NONE of us will ever forget! I may wish to run for mayor someday, so the details of that trip [the ones that I can remember] will be omitted from this and all future blogs! ;)

In October I had the honor of seeing His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Long Beach. It was an absolutely amazing, enlightening experience. HH has a great sense of humor & actually cracked a few jokes. And after touching countless people’s hands, he produces from out of nowhere a small bottle of Target hand sanitizer! Later that night I attended a charity event “Common & Friends” at the Palladium in Hollywood. That concert will go down in history as one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my life! (Up there with Sade and MJ.) Common, Nas, The Roots, Talib Kweli, Latifah, Mos Def & then Kanye popped up out of nowhere. Talk about a crowd losing their minds! I’m surprised I had a voice the next day! (Thanks Dani!) Last month I attended my first professional fight with a great friend of mine. The fight aired on Showtime. We sat ringside, giving me a new appreciation for boxing! Although I haven’t done the traveling that I always dream of, I’ve still been able to share some great meals, great wine, and lots of laughter with friends (old & new) and I feel truly blessed. I met some dynamic people in 2009! An amazing chain of events from 2009 lead me to this past weekend…Hope For Haiti Now, The Producers Guild Awards, and now I’m Oscar bound! (to be continued…)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why I Need A Dryer

I hate doing laundry. Not so much the act of doing laundry itself…I mean, it’s not like I have to go down to the river & beat my clothes against a rock. But I hate the prep that’s involved in actually getting my clothes cleaned. See, our dryer is broken. We have a washer that operates fine, which is great for most of my wardrobe. I’d say I hang dry maybe half of my clothing anyway. T-shirts, sweaty yoga pants, unmentionables…they all get washed in cold & hung to dry. Its better for the fabric in the long run and on a warm day these things will be dry within a few hours. But there are some things that I can’t get away with hang drying. Towels, bedding, rugs, etc. need to go into a dryer. So, ultimately I end up putting off washing these things for as long as possible until I end up with a mountain of towels & sheets because I hate going to a public coin operated laundromat. To avoid going weekly, I have several sets of sheets and more towels than a family of 4 has.

So yesterday I got myself mentally prepared to head to the laundromat. I haven’t been since before Christmas. This required pre-sorting everything on the living room floor and making sure I had lots of quarters (because you can’t depend on the change machines to dispense all of your quarters and sometimes they eat your cash all together with. Plus you should always have extra quarters in case you put 4 of them into a dryer only to find out that for the past hour your towels have been tossed around with cold air blowing on them.) I had to go out to move my car so that I could load it with my huge, heavy basket of laundry and then schlepped detergent & fabric softener out to the car as well. I can get the entire laundry process done from start to finish in 2 hrs.

I arrived at the laundromat at 3:00 p.m. As I suspected, 3:00 p.m. on a Monday = ghost town. I’d be in and out of here quickly, which made me happy. No fighting over washers or dryers for me today. Yay! I loaded 4 washers with my stuff. As I was pouring detergent into the top of the front loading washers, in the mirror's reflection above the machines I noticed a young, thin Hispanic man with curly hair standing maybe 30 feet away from me. What caught my eye was that he was digging his nose. He wasn’t even trying to play it off like he was wiping his nose or he had an itchy nostril. He was digging away like he was at home alone! I was so shocked that he was just digging and digging and digging like this in public. I kept staring at him in the mirror hoping he would see me watching him and he’d be embarrassed and stop. But he never looked over. He just continued to dig. Then he finally stopped, but it was only to switch nostrils. He dug some more, and then did the unthinkable. He rolled his little treasures up into a ball between his thumb and index finger, then took his index finger and reached out for one of the laundry carts and wiped his booger on the chrome bar. He then continued to dig and roll and wiped more on the bar. I was beyond disgusted! This is a cart provided by the laundromat for patrons to put their clean clothes in and he’s painting it with boogers! I walked over to the paper towel dispenser and got some towels and walked up to him. “Here you go.” I said. “Thank you!” He said. “This is for you to wipe those boogers off the cart.” I said. He just looked at me. I turned and walked away. **sigh** I’ve got to get a dryer.

Friday, January 8, 2010


This week I was doing employment consulting for a client. Her nephew needed career path assistance and since my schedule right now is uber flexible (I have time for morning yoga, lunch in The Valley on a whim, and 20 mile bike rides on a Tuesday afternoon!) I told her I was available. So, for the past few days I’ve been meeting with her 19 year old nephew helping him map out his career goals, applying for jobs, registering with agencies, etc.

This kid is very personable. And very lost. He wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do with his life. He did mention that he wanted to be "an entrepreneur". I asked “entrepreneur of what? and you could hear a pin drop. As soon as I started going into him identifying his target audience I could tell I'd lost him. My client kind of got him & his brother thrown into her lap a few years ago and they’ve been nothing but thorns in her paw ever since she got them. Just 2 days after his 18th birthday, her nephew *Steve was arrested and now has a felony robbery charge on his record. (Over some dumb shit involving a skateboard and $5.00!) So, this week I’ve been on the phone with several contacts of mine getting advice, trying to find “felony-friendly” employers, researching information about expunsion of his felony & getting the charge reduced in the interim (because he has 5 years of probation he wouldn’t be eligible for expunsion until after that, if at all) ALL while trying to convince the poor child to go to school and learn a damn trade. We found an ROP internship in Travel & Tourism that starts next Tuesday. He seemed interested in it & I figured that with an internship his felony shouldn’t come into play and since the coursework would take place onsite (vs. in a classroom) he could potentially get into a hotel, prove himself, and possibly get hired on after the course was over in June.

I felt like I was making progress with the kid. I kept reiterating to him that his main goal at this point should be to show any potential employers that he has made strides to turn his life around since he was arrested. His aunt was even kind enough to allow him to use her business name as his current employer on his resume in an effort to show that he has had steady employment for a year. Outside of that, he’s had 3 jobs. He was fired from one, gave two week notice at another and stopped showing up a few days into that final two weeks, and the third he also stopped showing to (because he had to turn himself in after his arrest. Instead of discussing this with the employer he just disappeared.) So, his work history is very sketchy to say the least. When I mentioned him going back to school he said it would “take too long”. I’m like ‘dude, learn a trade that will make you money for the rest of your life!” Plus, this would be impressive to employers. It would show his drive and initiative. He said it made sense & I felt like it was starting to sink in & we were making strides.

We met this morning at Panera and since it was a beautiful Southern California day we sat outside. I had my Mac & took great pleasure in pimping their free WiFi while Steve texted his friends and got distracted by the birds and shiny objects. I set him up for a few appointments early next week, applied for a few jobs & registered him with a few companies that conduct focus groups before taking him back to his aunt’s office to give her a recap of our progress before breaking for lunch. It was noon and he was getting a little antsy so I told him we could just meet up again on Tuesday before his appointments. I would meet him at his aunts office early so that we could have a quick run through before his first agency interview. I told him to make sure he was dressed for success. “I don’t have no nice clothes” he said. His aunt said she would help him get some black pants over the weekend. He told me “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get some pants someway.” Jokingly, I said “Don’t you end up in jail before I see you Tuesday!” I gave him a ride home & he gave me a hug, thanked me for everything & said he'd see me next week.

I just got a text from his aunt that read “Hey girl…no need to continue job searching for Steve. He was caught stealing at Ralph’s…he is on his way to jail…” WTF! I’m literally shaking my head. I gave her a call. She was at a bar having a strong drink. As it turns out, he was caught stealing condoms from a local grocery store. So now he has the original robbery charge with a new larceny charge which will probably be be brutal. My boy just told me "He would’ve been better off knocking the officer out and getting an assault charge over the theft." Larceny after being convicted for robbery? This is bad. Real bad. *sigh*