Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Clear Channel - Day 222

Sunday I visited the UP Church in Inglewood, CA where Della Reese is the pastor. I had been wanting to go there for a long time and since I am currently without a church home, I feel a bit of a void in that area of my life. I prefer to have a spiritual institution to give my tithes to. Not to mention that the service there starts at 1PM. Now that's my kind of church!
As I sat in the congregation, I was reminded of the time when I was a professional game show contestant. I worked for various production companies trying out developer's ideas in "run-throughs" all over town. Sometimes we would even get to the pilot stage where you could really make a little money. One show I worked on was based on the premise of trying to identify the true relationships of the guests. A celebrity guest had one person on either side of them. One person was who they said they were and the other was an imposter. Della Reese had recently married Franklin Lett. Asking us a series of questions, the contestants were supposed to figure out which was true, was I her daughter or was Franklin Lett her husband? One of the questions asked of Mr. Lett was, "Where did you take your wife on your honeymoon?" He had to think about it for a minute which led the contestants to believe that I was actually Della's daughter. Later we found out that Franklin had to take that long pause because they travel so much he couldn't remember which trip was the honeymoon. Niiiice. Anyway, I asked Mr. Lett in church on Sunday if he remembered that and he said no, so even though I plan to visit the UP church again I don't think I will bother to tell Rev. Della that I was (only for a brief moment) known as, Carlease Reese.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Clear Channel - Day 221

Back in the day, I was a traffic co-ordinator at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. I was in my early 20's and loved all the perks that came along with the long hours and hard work. Two hour lunches,limo rides, parties, Christmas bonuses, amazing gifts from vendors and the occasional glimpse of a celebrity. One day I was getting into the elevator at 420 Lexington Avenue with my friend Ellen Bonta and we were being silly as usual. When the doors opened there stood Ossie Davis. Filling up the whole elevator. I stopped dead in my tracks, "Ossie Davis." He looked down at me and said in the deepest voice with crisp articulation, "Is it permitted to speak in the elevator?" Ding. The elevators doors opened and Ellen & I ran out giggling like little school girls. That must have made quite an impression on Mr. Davis. Or maybe he was used to it.

A Clear Channel - Day 220

During the rehearsal period of the one of The Academy Award shows I worked on, I was roaming around as usual checking out the surroundings. One of my favorites places to hang out is the green room. It's always so nicely decorated, has the best food and all the stars come through there at one time or another. So there I am strolling through the backstage area on my way to the green room and I see this tall Black man walking toward me. Nobody else was around. As we get closer to one another I see that it's Sidney Poiter. Now I'm not usually star-struck but I think at that moment I gasped internally and held my breath. While still walking toward him, I started to veer away from him on a diagonal. He started to diagonally walk directly towards me. I thought, "What is he doing?" Now, I'm almost up against the wall and he stops right in front of me, extends his hand and says, "Hi, I'm Sidney." I looked up at him, opened my mouth and all that air I was holding in came bursting out. "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii" was all I could say. And that was my Sidney Poiter moment.

A Clear Channel - Day 219

Before I was a stand-in on award shows, I was a talent escort. Once. A talent escort is a volunteer position and duties include being assigned to an artist and making sure he, she or they are in the right place at the right time. You greet them when they arrive at the venue, give them their credentials and take them on a walk through to show them their dressing rooms, where their assigned seat is in the audience, the backstage area, press room etc. Basically you're a baby sitter. At The Soul Train Awards in the late '90's, once the show got started talent, escorts and all sorts of people were scrambling all over the place to make the magic happen. At one point Quincy Jones had won a award, went up on stage to accept it and was supposed to immediately go to the press room for photos and interviews. Someone noticed he didn't have his escort with him and he was briskly walking in the wrong direction. I was told to grab him and lead him the right way, so I briskly hurried after him. "Mr. Jones, Mr. Jones, I have to take to to press." He stopped, turned around and said (nicely), "Can I pee pee first?" I looked up and we were right in front of the mens room at The Shrine Auditorium. So there I stood waiting for Quincy Jones to pee pee. When he came out of the restroom, I didn't have the nerve to ask him if he had washed his hands, but I did check his fly.

A Clear Channel - Day 218

Lately I have been enjoying the work of Diane Ladd. I've been studying her range throughout about 3 decades. A homework assignment I had was to watch Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, but I found Diane Ladd's work more interesting. Then I watched her in Rambling Rose....Loved it!! Her daughter, Laura Dern was in both of those films....really nice work in Rambling Rose from the both of them. I can't help but wonder what it's like to come from an acting family and actually get to work together. Now I'm watching a Stephen King series called Kingdom Hospital which I don't remember on TV but all 15 episodes can be rented through Netflix. Here is Ms. Ladd's work about 30 years after Alice.... She is a psychic in this show and still just as charming and solid as ever. This is also my favorite genre being a Stephen King fan and all....the series is dark and humorous all at the same time. For me, the lesson here is sustainability. Even though we are not in the limelight all the time, we are always working. You never know when we will resurface, but the point is to stay in the game. When you're good, there's a place in this business at every age.
I've got about 4 more episodes to watch til the end of the series and then I'll probably go looking for more lessons from my Big Sis Diane Ladd.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Clear Channel - Day 217

Well Tyler Perry finally has my attention. I've been aware of his movies (even seen a few of them), his plays (never wanted to see one of them) and his TV shows. Tonight I saw For Colored Girls based on Ntozake Shange's work, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. I saw that piece on Broadway back in the '70's and performed in 2 productions here in Los Angeles in the '80's. What Tyler Perry has done with this work is nothing short of brilliant, masterful, magic. I love the way he took it apart and put it back together seamlessly. Even though the actresses in the film still represented one particular color, no one had one whole monologue exactly the way Ntozake wrote it and that worked for me. Director Charlie Hall did something like that in the version I did at West Coast Ensemble. He passed away from AIDS in 1995 while I was riding my bicycle 573 miles in the CA AIDS Ride. I bring this up because Mr. Perry incorporated story lines to connect the pieces that included brothers on the down-low, HIV, abortion, domestic violence, rape and murder. Not very pretty subjects but extremely relevent topics.
The relationships between the women were so clear and the performances were breath-taking to say the least. It made my heart sing to watch Tessa Thompson (Nyla/lady in purple) in this film. I was the Nurse to her Juliet at Theatre @ Boston Court when she was fresh out of high school. I knew then that she was destined for great things in this business. She is one of the sweetest people I know, extremely talented and so grounded for someone her age. It showed as she put on her big girl pants and held her own with this A list cast of Blacktresses. It literally brought tears to my eyes, not just because of her work, but I am so happy for her.
I also thought it was very clever to give some of the poetry to the men and even knowing the poems as well as I do, the placement of them were not predictable.
So Mr. Perry, I would never beg you for a role in one of your projects, but I certainly won't turn it down if you'd ask me. It will be interesting to see where your career goes from here.