Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Jami

You look as young today as you did the day you were born.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

One word movie review

One word movie review for Juno, in theaters now:


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Doc Oc in the house!

This is better than a celebrity sighting. This is a celebrity *touching* and there is no fear of legal action.

Jami's play "Moon Man" was produced by Circus Theatricals as part of their one-act festival. The wonderful and talented Jill Gascoine played the leading role and her husband Alfred Molina was in attendance. He's a big dude. Jami had the pleasure of meeting them both and Molina gave her what she describes as a "half-hug." Seeing how he towered over her, I think half was all she needed.

The play was great. If anybody reading this is in LA, go check it out. The festival runs every Tuesday at 8 through the middle of February.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

***Breaking News***

The Mitchell report came out today and much to my suprise neither Jami nor I were listed as steroid users.
Houdini, on the other hand, has some explaining to do. Jami tells me that weight gain in the first year of a dog's life is normal. But that doesn't explain how Houdini's been able to bench press twice her weight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

42 Degrees in LA!

What the eff is that all about? I didn't sign up for cold weather. This is Southern California for crying out loud. I don't remember the Beach Boys singing "We'll have fun fun fun 'til we have to turn on the heat because it's friggin cold."

That's just one of the many things I never expected to experience here.

Another thing is the amount of collective nose-blowing occuring at our place. If my own need to blow-schnoze doesn't wake me in the morning, Jami's nasal-atom-bomb from the bathroom does. Between the colds, sinus infections, allergies, and Central-African-Nose-Malleria our honkers need a break.

But we need to focus on the positive. Easier on some days that it is on most. I spent a week spazzing all day every day about the status of the fellowship. When we received the call last Friday indicating there would be no announcement until the strike was over, I actually felt better. We don't need to wait for the call anymore. We can stop panicking every time the phone rings. Now we wait until the writer's strike is over. And it will be over. Eventually. All strikes end, don't they? The current news isn't promising. The cigar smokers walked away from negotiations on Friday, while the pencil pushers were preparing a counter-proposal. I don't know what either side is really thinking. All I know is I want the strike to end so we can be told if this life changing event will come true for us. Because when the strike ends, we may still learn that we were not selected. I'm getting sick thinking about it. BUT WE'RE TRYING TO REMAIN POSITIVE.

The holidays will be interesting. We'll probably be spending Xmas eve with our favorite Jewish folks* in the world eating Chinese food and going to the movies. But the lack of snow and evergreen will make it feel like christmas on the moon. You know, the moon with palm trees and botox. What's my point? I don't even know at this point. My hands are too cold to type anything that makes sense.

*I originally wrote "Jews" here but I felt like I was sounding anti-semetic. Sara, my personal Jew-advisor needs to make a call on this. Sara, can I call you a Jew in this blog?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fellowship of the update

We got a call from Disney. Net THE call. Just a call.

They told us they will not be announcing a decision until they know what is going on with the strike.

So it's not a yes. It's not a no. It's just a "stop waiting for the phone to ring."

Now instead of agonizing over the phone call we agonize over the status of the strike. Then we agonize over a phone call.

This seems like it will never end...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Our Disney ABC Finalist Extravaganza! (plus a recap)

This is me and Brian back in July at our going away party, a wonderful bash thrown by Jane and Alistair. About three weeks earlier, we had sent out our application to the Disney ABC Fellowship for TV Writing. As usual, it was postmarked at the last minute. My hopes of us getting this fellowship pretty much didn't exist.

A week later, we make our way across the country. We smile in every picture. We treat ourselves to hearty breakfasts and a tour of Graceland. I find it more curious than gross that there are no doors on the bathroom stalls in Oklahoma. (But now I find it gross and weird.) Brian texts every friend each time we enter a new state. We gratuitously film an entire rainstorm in Santa Fe, New Mexico (such a beautiful place). We let Houdini jump on hotel beds like a rock star. We get dessert at TGI Fridays. Because hey, when are we going to get to do this again?

Houdini tuckered out from jumping on this bed like a rock star...

I can't read the future. I'm the first to admit that (although I did predict early on that Brian would ask me to marry him within two years--in your face Brian!). But let me tell you something. What I didn't know about LA's capabilities to potentially destroy two healthy thirty-somethings could fill Elvis' jungle room. I would have never guessed that we'd get into not one, but two car accidents within the first two weeks of arriving. There was no way we'd be sleeping on Dan and Sara's airbed for over a month. It wasn't possible that every landlord would reject us because of our dog and cats. (Who could deny our cats! Sure they may appear to have a slight drug problem, but they sure are cute.) Housing Houdini would never cost more than housing ourselves while apartment hunting. It was inconceivable that we wouldn't find jobs when we wanted to be hired. So why the F wasn't anybody hiring us? Because it's all possible. Very, very possible. I think I heard my credit cards cry every time I had to buy gas and food. But I couldn't tell for sure because I was crying every time I had to use my credit cards, which was often (still is). Our LA fantasies were being crushed gas pump by gas pump. Oh yeah, and the CAA agent really liked our scripts but he wasn't taking on any new writers. "There's probably going to be a writers' strike," he tells me over the phone. Ugh. Thank the powers that be that our Boston core, Karen, Sara and Dan, and our new friend from the Kennedy Center, Steph (and her husband Bob), are very nice and supportive people. Otherwise, we would have been dead in the LA River, which is not really a river at all. It's a concrete gully that occassionally has something that looks like water flowing in it.

Meanwhile, somebody at Disney ABC was reading our Office spec and loving it…

But of course, things settle down, as they usually do. In September, we find a nice apartment in Echo Park with a little hipster coffee shop down the street. Our neighborhood includes Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium. I enroll in a TV writing class at UCLA Extension where I meet my incredible teacher and TV writer, Bruce Miller. Brian gets two part-time jobs—one at a great theatre called The Theatre @ Boston Court (irony police, please!) and one at a small marketing firm in Burbank. In October, I get a full-time job at Whole Foods where I'm currently the marketing assistant at the Whole Foods store in Pasadena. I also start teaching my online class for Northeastern University and get ready to teach playwriting and screenwriting at Lesley University for the January residency. UCLA Extension hires me to teach creative writing in the spring. I also get one play produced in LA and receive word in early November that another play will be produced in December, and yet another in January. Brian would soon learn that he'll be part of Mortified LA. Things are looking up. We're making great friends and working our connections. We survive the fires (although I get a wicked sinus infection from the smoke and whatever else was floating the in the air.) Brian gets to fly back to Boston to see Game One of the World Series. The Red Sox win. We can finally start paying the credit cards. The writers go on strike, and Brian and I keep writing.

And then, on Friday November 2nd, Brian gets a phone call from Frank Gonzales at Disney ABC. Frank? Who's Frank? Did Brian apply for some job back in September and is now getting a call? Our friend, Marty, then informs us that Frank is the head of talent development at Disney ABC and he's totally calling us because we're semi-finalists for the fellowship. I don't believe it. All weekend, I just don't believe it. But turns out to be true and I'm floored. We have our phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, which I feel we somewhat nail. Later that night, we get an email stating we have to hand in a second TV script by Friday. FRIDAY! Holy crap! That's basically three days. We think of writing a spec of Two and a Half Men, but quickly realize that it that it would probably suck. So we hand in our original pilot, The Big A, on Thursday the 8th. Monday the 12th, we learn via email that we're finalists. I'm really floored. And I'm also nervous. Only Brian receives this email and so I make Brian confirm that this isn't a mistake, and that in fact, "Brian and Jami" are finalists. Again, it turns out to be true. The email informs us that after Thanksgiving there will be a short interview and a cocktail mixer on Monday and then a panel interview on Wednesday. (As some of you know, the first thing I thought of was, "I need a haircut." It's been a while. Well, for those of you who are still wondering about that haircut, I didn't get one. Exciting, I know. I'm just full of surprises!)

We have two weeks to think about the cocktail mixer and panel interview that could potentially change our lives. And it could. As a Disney ABC fellow you get fifty thousand dollars, a year-long mentorship with a seasoned TV writer with the goal of being staffed on a show. If we're chosen, we each get that package even though we're partners. I can't speak for Brian, but the fantasies that went on in my head were comparable to the feel good musicals of the 1950s and 60s. At any given moment, I burst into song with Brian and our dancers, all dressed in sparkly suits and top hats, parade us around town as we sing about our future, that big, bright, beautiful future.

And then Monday arrives. At our informational interview, I mess up at bit. "Describe why you should get the fellowship," an executive asks us. I look at Brian and say, "Well?" Brian does a great job of recovering my fumble, but I don't really get a chance to recover my own fumble. So of course I'm totally nervous about the cocktail mixer that starts in three hours at 6:30. I get a glass of wine beforehand knowing full well there will be wine there. And somehow, Brian and I make the mistake of not leaving an hour early to drive a mere five miles from our apartment to Disney—it's rush hour and the freeways are jammed. He's yelling and I'm scrambling to read the map, which, to me, basically looks like a plate of spaghetti that has been dropped and then skated on. Brian yells, in Jack Bauer fashion, "The margin of error is so small. If we're five minutes late, we don't get the fellowship!"
"That's ridiculous!" I yell back.
"Jami, find a surface road."
"I don't know what I'm looking at," I respond.
"Jami, PLEASE, find a surface road."
Again, rather pathetically, I say, "I don't know what I'm looking at…"
Pretty funny, huh? I can laugh at this now. But in the moment? Not so funny.
By the graces of the freeway gods, we get there with two minutes to spare. We hug outside the building and enter the cocktail mixer with confidence. We beat the LA traffic, so we deserved to feel confident. In your face LA traffic!

I have to admit, the finalists are charming and obviously talented. I want all of us to be fellows (oh, if only that were possible!). But it doesn't work that way. So we have to work the room, and at the same time, we have to be us. I feel Brian would agree that we did a good job of doing both at the mixer. We talked with as many executives as we could, but we weren't pushy. We touted ourselves as being experienced writers, but we didn't brag. There was an open bar, but I didn't drink too much. It also helped that the executives were extremely approachable and nice. However, it is an interesting line to walk in a room full of people who can give you the biggest opportunity of your life.

Wednesday has a more serious vibe. At 5:30pm, we are the last finalists to interview. But first, we fill out a ton of paperwork. Any nervousness I have entering the building is erased since I have to rack my brain trying to remember the addresses of all the places I lived since 1997. I find this a helpful distraction. When we enter the room, seven executives sit around a conference table and smile. They want to get to know us. They want to know our journey as writers. They want to know how we work as writing partners, especially since we're married. They want to know how we would fare in the writers room, how we feel about notes, about revisions. And most importantly, they want to know why they should pick us. What would we bring to the program that is unique and marketable…?

This all sounds very intimidating, but it really wasn't. Remember what I said at the beginning of my post, about how LA can potentially destroy two healthy thirty-somethings? Well, LA has the ability to make you feel special, too. In a case like ours, we were given the rare opportunity to convince these very important people to pay us good money to write stories. I couldn't ask for anything more at this point in my life. And I wouldn't want to do this with anybody other than my husband. I'm very lucky to have Brian as my husband, my writing partner, and best friend. I might have swiveled in my chair too much (those corporate chairs are fun!), but we answered those questions to the best of our abilities, and we had a blast doing it. When we left Disney ABC, Brian and I felt good. We treated ourselves to chicken fried soy steak and ice cream as we recapped the evening over and over and over...

So now what? Well, this is the hard part. We wait. The panel interview was eight days ago and the executives told us that they'd be calling all of the finalists right about now. Our stomachs blossom with hot anxiety every time our phones ring. It's somewhat nerve wracking. No, it IS nerve wracking. But this is part of our experience. And there is nothing we can do about it other than wait.

Rest assured gentle readers, we will let you know the outcome as soon as we do…

Monday, December 3, 2007

Jami are you out there?

While we wait for Jami's giant post about the fellowship, I give to you a picture of our child:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Only in LA

I drove to work this morning at about 9:30. In any normal city that would mean no traffic because rush hour has passed and normal people are at their normal jobs being normal. Not in LA.

As everybody in the world knows, LA traffic is ridiculous. It's comical with traffic jams at 1am on a Tuesday for no apparent reason.

But you always wonder why. When you finally get through the traffic rarely is light shed on why. Every once in a while you will be fortunate enough to see the remnants of a car accident. I don't mean that car accidents are great to see, but it's just good to know there's a legit reason why your ass is stuck on the freeway for an hour when you're only travelling 5 miles.

Today I discovered a new "why" and I feel like I should have seen it coming.

Like I said, it was 9:30am. I was travelling north on the 5 (Route 5 for you peeps back east) and it was bumper to bumper. Not because of rush hour. I wasn't even headed towards the city (as if that matters.) I sit there for about 15 minutes, inching forward when I see some commotion on an overpass. There's a cop car and a group of people. My eyes suck so I can't tell from a distance what the hell is going on. I make the mistake of using logic and deduce there must have been an accident that caused something to fall to the highway below. I get closer and closer and eventually I see that the crowd on the overpass is a crew and they are filming something. Probably something lame. But that is all that was going on. Just when I think they had nothing to do with the traffic, I start to pick up speed. The traffic starts moving. There's no more traffic.

Why was there traffic this morning? Because rubbernecking in LA means looking to see if there is a celebrity on that overpass filming a scene. That was it. No accident. No merging. No bottleneck. Just some stupid film shoot on some stupid overpass with a bunch of stupid drivers trying to watch with their stupid faces.

In case you're wondering I couldn't spot any celebrities. I tried. I even slowed down as much as I could to see. But no luck.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Super-exciting celeb-sighting update*

As previously mentioned we saw Diane Keaton at the Georgia O'Keefe museum

In addition:

We saw Mena Suvari at a Mexican restaraunt in Silver Lake. Her head was shaved and she left a good tip from what we could tell. Our friend Sara thinks the lead singer from Maroon 5 was with her. But I have no idea what that dude looks like.

Jonathan Silverman walking in front of the UCB theater

Mark Boone Junior at the coffee shop in our neighborhood

Ray Liotta. We drove by a bus in which he was filming a scene of something. He had that intense "Ray Liotta" look in his eyes.

Laura Prepon at a coffee shop in Los Feliz. I think Jami saw her like 4 times.

Steven W. Bailey from My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance and according to IMDB he plays a recurring character on Grey's Anatomy. He was surprisingly obnoxious.

And the best for last, Michael Gross.

There are plenty others probably. We just don't recognize half the people we see.

*We aren't star-fvckers. Seriously. We just like to share.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Brandli and Polak: They look good together

Look at us in Santa Fe, New Mexico!

So here we are, over three months into our lives in Los Angeles and we are just now starting the blog designed to keep people abreast of our goings on here. And holy shit there have been a lot of goings.

I think part of the problem we've had with kicking this thing off is figuring out where to start. We had an eventful trip driving west with the dog (with plenty of interesting videos to go along) and we have had, to put it lightly, an interesting time since our arrival.

I'm sure Jami will add her 2 cents soon so I'll just give you what I remember as the interesting tidbits:

1. As we drove I learned that basically every inch of the United States looks the same until you get to Ooooooooooooklahoma
2. Little Rock seems to be much more interesting than I expected. But we only spent one hour there. It was about 600 degrees and Houdini was in the car so we parked it in a covered garage and literally ran to the Clinton Library, then ran through the library. This picture is our proof we were there.

3. The drive was basically LAME until Santa Fe. That is a pretty cool town. We may retire there.
4. As we drove, we wondered who would be our first celebrity sighting when we arrived in LA. The funny part was when our first sighting happened in Santa Fe. Diane Keaton was very nice, extremely small, and quite obnoxious. We saw her at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum.
5. LA was hot for basically 30 days.
6. Finding an apartment was a nightmare because we have 15 million pets.
7. Houdini loves it here.
8. Houdini loves it anywhere.
9. We go into two car accidents in two weeks when we arrived. One of them sent us to the hospital. No real injuries. But we did get to enjoy 6+ hours at Glendale Memorial Hospital. Fun, fun.
10. This guy rear-ended us when we were stopped at a cross walk and waiting for pedestrians to cross. Jami and I got out of the car in shock and in pain while the guy yelled at us for being stopped. Jami wisely kept me from committing homicide.
11. We live in Echo Park. It's up and coming. Meaning it has a Starbucks AND a check-cashing place. We love it. There's a huge park ride behind our house and Dodger stadium is within walking distance.
12. We both found jobs. Jami at Whole Foods and me at a theater in Pasadena....and a second job at a small marketing firm in Burbank. That isn't meant to look like I'm working twice as much as Jami. She puts in way more hours than I.
13. As I write this Jami and I are finalists for the Disney/ABC TV Writing Fellowship. We found out a few days ago and have been on cloud 9 since. If we get this you will all hear us screaming and disco dancing.
14. Did you know there's a writer's strike? We have no idea how that will effect the fellowship if we are so fortunate as to be two of the ten chosen.
15. Holy shit we are finalists for the fellowship!!! We have only been in this town a few months and have already made it that far. Holy shit holy shit holy shit.
16. Our friends were a huge help to us when we got here. Sara and Dan Ring housed us for a month and provided daily moral support. Karen Mae Black babysat Houdini and forwarded job leads on a daily basis. And Stephanie Walker drove us all over the friggin city helping us find apartments. Yeah friends!!!
17. Speaking of friends, if you are our friends we suggest you move here. We prefer you here to wherever you are right now
18. I ran out of things to say. There is so much more. maybe Jami will chime in now.

I would do what real bloggers do and make all those fancy links and shit like that but I really can't figure it out right now. You're lucky I got a picture in there.

Coming soon: more pictures and videos of Houdini looking hilarious.

Have back seat, will nap...