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Hollywood Daze

Vintage Hollywood, Celebrity News, Trivia, Exploring L.A. and Author Interviews from Los Angeles, California

Last Build Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2012 15:52:25 +0000


eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies Kindle Fire Giveaway

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 07:00:00 +0000

Tina Haveman is the founder and CEO of eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies. Tina was born in Europe, left there at age eight, then traveled to several countries with her parents, to finally settle in Australia for many years. She immigrated to Canada in 1973 where she has lived since. After raising a family of five as a single mother, she finally found time to concentrate on her writing. In 2000 she started her own publishing house with a partner but became too busy with eXtasy and Devine to continue her involvement and withdrew to focus entirely on eXtasy and Devine. Tina devotes all her time to her publishing house and authors and is grateful for the success her company is experiencing. “After many years of struggling to keep my head above water while raising five children on my own, I have much to be thankful for,” said Tina. “While the company affords me a comfortable living now and I have quite a staff aboard, I thoroughly enjoy what I do and won’t stop until someone up above tells me it’s time.” About eXtasy Books eXtasy Books first opened its doors December 2002 with a small website that was soon revamped into a more business like site. Within a matter of months, eXtasy outgrew that website and had to build another site to accommodate its growing catalog. Since then, the site has been revamped a number of times. Our imprint, Devine Destinies, started in 2008 to accommodate mainstream, YA, inspirational and children's books. Since eXtasy’s birth, it has seen several upheavals, but with hard work, a loyal staff and a loyal stable of authors, eXtasy managed to survive them, along with the depression that hit our countries hard. This past years has seen tremendous growth at eXtasy and we have moved our website to our own dedicated server to accommodate its growing readership. We publish a wide variety of stories ranging from short stories to full books, pricing kept reasonable to accommodate our readers. Prices range from 1.59 to 5.99. eXtasy Books has always been and is a devout supporter of e-books and e-readers. There are so many print books destroyed every year, it’s unbelievable. Go Green, is our motto. Save our forests! With so many new e-readers on the market, think about the ease of taking books along when traveling, getting rid of dust collecting books in your house, thereby making more room, being able to read a book on your phone or handheld while going to and from work on a bus or train. Think about the many books you can store on your computer. And think about the books you can hide from nosy relatives or children… We have an attractive reward program in place. Receive 5 dollars on first sign up for an account that can be applied if you spend 20 or more dollars. For every purchase you receive 10% of your total in rewards. These rewards can be saved or you can use them when you come back to buy more books. We're always looking for new ways to make our site a great shopping experience. Come and visit us at and/or Follow eXtasy at Facebook at Follow eXtasy at Twitter at ttps://!/eXtasyBooks. Follow Devine Destinies at Facebook at Follow Devine Destinies at Twitter at!/DevineDestinies. ~ ~ ~ KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ Pump Up Your Book and eXtasy Books are teaming up to give you a chance to win a Kindle Fire! Here's how it works: Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form throughout the tour. The Kindle Fire promotion will run from June 1 - August 31. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on September 1, 2012. Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. ENTER TO WIN! a Rafflecopter giveaway <a href="">You n[...]

Take George Clooney Home With You on Blue Ray or DVD March 13

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 21:28:00 +0000

TAKE GEORGE CLOONEY HOME IN ONE OF THE YEAR’S MOST CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED FILMS Experience the Heartbreak and Humor When the  Academy Award® and Golden Globe® Winner Comes to Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD March 13 From director Alexander Payne creator of the Oscar® winning Sideways comes one of the Best Pictures of the year, THE DESCENDANTS, featuring a stunning cast including Best Actor nominee George Clooney (Ides of March) and Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) in her Golden Globe nominated and Independent Spirit Award winning role. Take home this wonderfully warm and witty film and go behind the scenes of THE DESCENDANTS with all-new exclusive content on Blu-ray Disc Combo Pack and DVD March 13 from Fox Searchlight and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Students of film classes at online universities love the cinematography and storyline of this movie. Based on the best-selling novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki.  The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.Nominated for five Academy Awards® and winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, THE DESCENDANTS is a must-have on Blu-ray and DVD.  The release is packed with must-see deleted scenes, behind the scenes extras and exclusive featurettes to bring you even further into the story. About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world. [...]

Seventeen Timeless Films Make DVD Debut This Month

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 08:01:00 +0000

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Announces Film Classics Available Through Online Retailers During the Month of March Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s “manufacturing on demand” (“MOD”) program continues to expand with the newest selection of films as part of MGM’s Limited Edition Collection. These 17 films will be available through major online retailers in March. This group of releases features classics from 1957 to 2002 including performances by Hollywood’s greats –Frankie Avalon, Buster Keaton, Jane Kaczmarek, Martin Sheen, and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, to name just a few. ***Enjoy your favorite movies from across the decades including: 1950’s and 1960'sPharaoh’s Curse (1957) - Archaeologists in Egypt discover one of their crew has been turned into a blood-sucking mummy after they unintentionally unleash a three thousand year curse by entering Pharaoh's tomb. Stars Mark Dana, Ziva Rodann, Diane Brewster. Directed by Lee Sholem. Vice Raid (1959) –1950's "sex bomb" Mamie van Doren plays a hooker who is called to help frame a cop whose good work has been giving the mob a tough time.  Things get more interesting when her younger sister is thrown into the mix. Stars Mamie Van Doren, Richard Coogan. Directed by Edward L. Cahn. Sergeant Deadhead (1965) – Girl-shy/accident-prone Sgt. Deadhead (Frankie Avalon) accidentally goes into orbit with a chimp!  When they return to Earth after their orbit, it is discovered that the chimp has the brains of the astronaut, and the astronaut has the brains of the chimp. Complications ensue.  Stars Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley, Cesar Romero, Fred Clark, Gale Gordon, Eve Arden, Reginald Gardiner, Buster Keaton. Directed by Norman Taurog. 1970’sPieces of Dreams (1970) – A young Catholic priest begins to have doubts about the Church when he meets a social worker and falls in love.  Stars Robert Forster, Will Geer, Lauren Hutton. Directed by Daniel Haller. Underground (1970) – An American intelligence agent attempts to kidnap a top Nazi general.          Stars Robert Goulet, Daniele Gaubert, Lawrence Dobkin. Directed by Arthur H. Nadel. The Million Dollar Rip-Off  (1976) – Comedian Freddie Prinze plays an ex-con who happens to be an electronic genius. Along with four young women, he sets out to rob the Chicago Transit Authority payroll. Stars Brooke Mills, Freddie Prinze, Christine Bellford.  Directed by Alexander Singer. 1980’sCocaine: One Man's Seduction (1983) – In a frightening portrait, Dennis Weaver plays the man-next-door who gets trapped in the insidious web of cocaine addiction.  As his dependency takes over his entire life begins to crumble.  Stars Dennis Weaver, Karen Grassle, Pamela Bellwood. Directed by Paul Wendkos. Pray For Death (1985) – A gentle Japanese immigrant endeavors to quietly run a business in America.  When gangsters refuse to leave him alone, he reveals that he is in reality, a highly skilled Ninja master.  Stars Sho Kosugi, James Booth, Donna Kei Benz, Norman Burton, Parley Baer, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosug. Directed by Gordon Hessler. Modern Girls (1986) – Three young ladies who are looking for love begin to realize that their friendship is more important than romance.  Stars Cynthia Gibb, Virginia Madsen, Clayton Rohner, Daphne Zuniga. Directed by Jerry Kramer. Right of the People (1986) – When the wife and daughter of District Attorney Christopher Booth are among ten victims shot to death during an attempted robbery of a restaurant, the citizens are stunned and outraged. As a result, the town votes to allow a mass arming of the community.     Stars Michael Ontkean, Jane Kaczmarek, Billy Dee Williams, John Randolph[...]

March Movie Releases to Blu-ray and DVD

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:01:00 +0000

America's past-time is watching movies and for all those movie buffs some of these are a fans favorite. Below is the list of releases to either Blue-ray, DVD or both released in March. As the famous movie critic duo of Ebert and Roeper, "We'll see you at the movies." Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Brick Road & Bloomin' Berry Garden - Releases on DVD March 6  Immortals - Releases on Blu-ray and DVD March 6 Tooth Fairy 2 - Releases on Blu-ray and DVD March 6 Wizards – Releases on Blu-ray March 13  The Killing Season 1 – Releases on DVD & Blu-ray March 13 Breakout Kings Season 1 – Releases on DVD March 13  The Sitter – Releases on DVD & Blu-ray March 20   Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – Releases on DVD & Blu-ray March 27 [...]

If Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys Let Them Be Nick Barkley

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 06:45:00 +0000

Actor Peter Breck
Actor Peter Breck, who played the hot headed, rough cowboy personality of Nick Barkley on the television show The Big Valley, has passed away at the age of 82.

He was one of my favorites on the television show and when he entered a room the room seemed to become smaller. He was a big man with an even bigger personality on The Big Valley, always coming in from the ranch that he managed for the family in his leather jacket and gloves. Many times, he would go head-to-head with his brother, Jarrod Barkley, played by Richard Long, over what he thought was the right way to go about doing something. On the television show, Nick was a man of his word and lovingly respected his mother, Victoria Barkley played by Barbara Stanwyck, the widowed matriarch of the Barkley clan. He loved to tease his sister Audra on the show, played by the beautiful and talented Linda Evans, who later starred in televisions night-time drama show Dynasty, playing opposite Joan Collins. 

The Cast of the Big Valley

Breck was one of those men that played the part of the cowboy with ease. It was the 1960’s the  era of television cowboys.  My brother and I watched Westerns that had gone into repeats during the 1970’s, it was certainly a welcome change from the wholesome goodness of The Brady Bunch. These included Bonanza, The Virginian and all the John Wayne movies we could find. Willie Nelson sang in his song, “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,” but an exception could be if they grew up to the highly talented, respectful Nick Barkley.

Whitney Houston Dies in Beverly Hills

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 06:18:00 +0000

Just like Princess Diana, and Elvis, Ricki Nelson, Natasha Richardson, Gilda Radner and so many others the news of their death came as a shock. It is no less shocking to hear the news that Whitney Houston has died. Her career and her troubled marriage were fodder for the tabloids, but she left a powerful legacy for many to follow in her footsteps. Accredited online music schools should also be able to teach you how Whitney Houston's powerful voice changed the music industry. As Elton John sang in his tribute to Princess Diana at her funeral, so I imagine the same words for Whitney, "the candle blew out long before the legend did."  Rest in peace Whitney, We Love You!

To Kill A Mockingbird - 50th Anniversary Edition

Thu, 02 Feb 2012 07:08:00 +0000

Oscar® Winner Gregory Peck Gives the Performance of His Career in the Timeless Classic Available on Blu-ray™ for the First Time TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION Digitally Remastered and Fully Restored with Over Three Hours of Bonus Materials Including Two Full ­Length Documentaries On Limited Edition Collector’s Series Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD Available January 31, 2012 To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the screen’s most beloved and critically acclaimed films, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a commemorative  Limited Edition Collector’s Series Blu-ray™ Combo Pack  as well as on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment on January 31, 2012. The powerful and poignant adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel hits the half-century mark, digitally remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35MM original film elements, plus more than three-and-a-half hours of bonus features chronicling the making of the cinematic masterpiece.   The Limited Edition Collector’s Series Combo Pack of To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition will include a Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy of the film, packaged in a hardcover book featuring exclusive movie memorabilia including script pages with Gregory Peck’s handwritten notes, storyboards, poster art and much more.  Released theatrically in 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird  won instant accolades for its nuanced performances, splendidly crafted narrative and bold endorsement of racial tolerance, fairness and honor, a combination that still resonates with audiences today. It earned eight Academy Award® nominations and three wins including a Best Actor statuette for Gregory Peck in one of his most iconic roles asthe principled Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction. The prestigious American Film Institute lists To Kill a Mockingbird as one of the 100 Greatest American Films and also names Atticus Finch as the No. 1 Film Hero of All Time. Accredited online film colleges can teach you what makes this classic film a masterpiece.  A timeless, enduring classic that remains as relevant and impactful today as it was at its release, To Kill a Mockingbird’’s appeal continues to span generations. Click the link below to view the official trailer for the To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray™ release: Blu-ray™ and DVD Bonus Features:Fearful Symmetry— A feature-length documentary on the making of To Kill a Mockingbird with cast and crew interviews and a visit to author Harper Lee's home town. A Conversation with Gregory Peck— An intimate feature-length documentary on one of the most beloved actors in film history with interviews, film clips, home movies and more. 100 Years of Universal:  Restoring the Classics— An in-depth look at the film restoration process Academy Award® Best Actor Acceptance Speech— Gregory Peck's speech after winning the Academy Award® for his performance as Atticus Finch. American Film Institute Life Achievement Award— Gregory Peck's memorable remarks upon receiving the AFI Life Achievement Award. Excerpt from “Tribute To Gregory Peck”— Cecilia Peck's heartwarming farewell to her father given at the Academy in celebration of his life. Scout Remembers— Actress Mary Badham shares her experiences working with Gregory Peck. Feature Commentary with Director Robert Mulligan and Producer Alan Pakula Original Theatrical Trailer SYNOPSISExperience one of the most significant milestones in film history like never before with To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition.  Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courag[...]

Working as an Extra on Cosby Mysteries Television Series with Bill Cosby

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 08:01:00 +0000

By Alexia Fraser In 1995, I worked with an agency that sent me out on calls for extra work on television shows and movie sets. I enjoyed working as an extra at first.  However, over time, I enjoyed less and less the long hours spent waiting around for scenes to be shot.  I wanted to be a principal actor.  Then, I wouldn’t have minded the wait.  And since I had a full-time job at the time, my availability was more constrained than most of the other extras that were devoting full time to their acting careers. The agency sent me to do extra work on television shows like “New York Undercover,” “Central Park West” and of course “Cosby Mysteries.” “Cosby Mysteries” was an American television series that starred the one and only Bill Cosby.  It was the first television series to star Cosby since the “Cosby Show” (Wikipedia).  Bill Cosby played the lead character Guy Hanks, a criminologist, who worked for the New York Police Department. I remember always watching the weekly series and wishing that I was a member of the cast.  The character I envisioned playing, besides playing Guy Hanks sister-in-law, was his secret stalker who lived in the same apartment building just across the hall from his apartment.  He would see me every day in the hallways or on the elevators and would say hello, but had no idea that I was his secret stalker.  I would watch him and follow him whenever I could.  I had my character’s lines all written in my head. J You will then understand my shock upon learning from my agency that I was to report to the Cosby Mysteries set to work as an extra.  I could not believe it!  This was a dream come through.  I started thinking out loud what I would say to Mr. Cosby on the set.  There was a burning question that I just had to ask him.  It was simultaneously an unbelievable and believable moment for me.  JUST AMAZING!!! I was very excited to go on set.  I packed my bag with my change of clothing for the different scenes the night before.  I was always organized and ready.  I do not remember the title of the episode.  I do remember that the actor Paul Anthony Sorvino was in the episode.  The scenes were shot in lower Manhattan at the City Hall Building. In one of the scenes, Bill Cosby had to walk by me to get to his location and I remember staring at him because I had that question to ask him.  Cosby apparently felt my penetrating stare and looked at me, smiled, lifted up his right hand, pointed and shook his index finger at me and said “youuuuuu” with a smile.  I looked at him and smiled back.  Oh Boy!  The pressure mounted.  I wanted to ask my question but did not.  I was afraid to approach him.  Actually it was not allowed. So I was told.  It was overall a great, memorable experience.  Mr. Cosby was fun to watch, he took his work seriously. The question I had for Mr. Cosby was how does someone like me get to be a regular on the show?  I missed my opportunity. I am so happy I am able to write about it now.  Unbelievable!  Life is truly a circle. Alexia Elizabeth Smart-Fraser was born in the beautiful island of Jamaica. After marrying her high school sweetheart Edward, she migrated to the United States. She is the proud and loving mother of two children, son Sean and daughter Paige. Alexia studied acting at H.B. Studio. She worked as an extra on the set of “Cosby Mysteries” with Bill Cosby, “New York Undercover” with Malik Yubo, “Central Park West” with Lauren Hutton, and the series “Prince Street” with Mariska Hargitay. As well, Alexia Fraser has written and produced three original non-fiction one act plays both off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway. “The Ryans,” “Dope the Endeavor” and “Blind Trust.” Her [...]

Body Parts Found at Hollywood Sign

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 05:54:00 +0000

Lights! Camera! Action!  The last few days at the Hollywood Sign could easily have been mistaken for the filming of an episode of any one of the CSI television shows. Unfortunately, the discovery of a human head at the sign on Tuesday, January 17, followed with the hands and feet a day later do not belong to any script, this is a real life homicide. Cadaver dogs were brought to the scene after the discovery of the head, which was reported by a hiker. The dogs found the hands and feet a day later, January 18 not far away from the head.  Not since the discovery of the body of Broadway actress Peg Entwistle, in September 1932, who committed suicide by jumping off the Hollywood Sign has there been such horror at the sign.  [...]

Hollywood Children Celebrate Birthdays in Tinseltown

Fri, 20 Jan 2012 05:04:00 +0000

Birthday wishes go out to two very famous children of Hollywood. Our first birthday wishes goes to former Full House Star Jodie Sweetin. Sweetin, age 30, was the middle sister Stephanie Tanner on this sitcom Full House.   Set in San Francisco, the show chronicles widowed father Danny Tanner, who, after the death of his wife, enlists his best friend Joey Gladstone and his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis to help raise his three daughters, D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle. The show originally ran in primetime from September 22, 1987 to May 23, 1995 on ABC.  After lots of ups and downs with career, marriage and drug addiction Sweetin seems to look better than ever. She seems to have overcome the Hollywood downfall of a lot of child actors succumb to.

Our second birthday wishes goes out to Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise’s adopted son, Conner, now 17. Connor and sister, Bella, adopted at birth spent the night celebrating at Staples Center. It was in the younger days of Cruise and Kidman that I can remember them being photographed in Tinseltown with the kids. Now, at 17 and 19 both children seem like well adjusted successful adults.  Cruise and Kidman divorced after 10 years of marriage and each re-married, Cruise to Katie Holmes and is now proud papa of the best dressed 5 year old Suri. Kidman married country singer Keith Urban and have two daughters. 

Author Braxton Cosby Gives Thanks to Uncle Bill Cosby for Inspiration

Fri, 13 Jan 2012 08:01:00 +0000

By Braxton CosbyThank you for hosting me on this interview with Hollywood Daze. I want to share with you some of things that inspired me to write The Star-Crossed Saga: Protostar and what it has been like being one of the “Cosby Kids” growing up.  Well, first of all I must give all the credit to God for the vision he bestowed upon me with Protostar. I got the inspiration one Sunday during a church service. My Bishop was preaching and said that God was speaking to him and said there was someone that He wanted to do a great work in but that nobody was asking for the vision. I immediately began to pray and ask God is He wanted me to do anything for Him. Once I was finished, I heard a voice tell me to write a book. I laughed at the idea at first because I’ve been through three college degrees and never once thought of writing, much less creating an original story.  As I began to have a conversation with God, I asked Him what I should write about and He told me to create a series that entails Science Fiction (which I love) and also Romance. I started to sketch out the plot right there in church. I went home that night and started o research exactly how this “publishing thing” worked. I was overwhelmed by the process and somewhat discouraged, but I continued to hear a voice tell me to “just finish the book”. So I did.  Three months later, I was staring at a 99,000 word transcription and wondering what to do with it. I submitted query letters to multiple agents and finally directly submitted the first five chapters to a local publisher here in Atlanta name Firefly Publishing and Entertainment. They liked it, offered me a contract and the rest is history. Protostar has been book an amazing testimony for me and a blessing for many others aspiring to do great things. I’m so grateful to be used by God in this process and it is only the beginning. I’m currently working on another series separate from The Star-Crossed Saga while Protostar continues to gain momentum.  On the flip side, my uncle Bill has been such a motivating force in my life. It’s crazy growing up as a youngster and seeing your relative on television, winning awards and inspiring so many people to achieve their goals. His commitment to learning and dedication to education has helped encouraged me to strive for better things than just the hand that life deals you. I have always had to deal with the question of “Are you related to Bill Cosby?” when people see my last name and half the time I just say no. Especially since most people don’t believe you anyway. I think that I would’ve had a hard time believing someone as well, so I don’t blame them one bit. Now, all of his service and words of wisdom have come full circle and we are currently planning co-book signings on his book tours for my first novel and his new release: I Didn’t Ask to Be Born: (But I’m Glad I Was). Everyone, please keep your eyes open for dates in 2012. The first two are planned for Harlem, NY and Durham, NC this month. Please check my website at for details. Thank you.  About Braxton A. CosbyBraxton A. Cosby is a dreamer with a vision of continuously evolving and maximizing the untapped potential of the human spirit. Braxton received a lot of his inspiration from watching the accomplishments and exploits of his famous uncle, comedic legend Bill Cosby. A physical therapist by background, Braxton received his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate from the University of Miami. Braxton’s fascination of science grew into an obsession of Sci-fi and on one unassuming Sunday, this self-proclaimed romantic decided to pursue a “calling” to create a new genre of writing; Sci-Fance- mixing science fiction and romance. Braxton lives in Georgia with hi[...]

How Writers Can Benefit From Participating In Community Theater

Fri, 09 Dec 2011 16:41:00 +0000

by Glen C. Strathy These days I think of myself as a writer. Commercial writing has been my main source of income for the past decade. I have co-authored two non-fiction books, one of which was a bestseller, and most recently I published a children's novel, Dancing on theInside. However, there was a time in my life when my primary interest in life was the theater. I won't bore you with the reasons I did not become a world famous actor or director (and there are several good reasons for that). However, as a young man I performed in a lot of plays – in community theater, university theater, and professional non-union companies. I also directed a few plays and spent a brief time in theater school. Overall, I managed to do around seven productions a year over the course of roughly fifteen years. So that's over 100 shows under my belt. Looking back on that period, I have sometimes felt that I had made a huge detour in my life. Maybe I should have spent all those evenings and weekends writing instead of rehearsing and acting in shows. Maybe my writing career would be a lot further along by now and I'd have finished more some more books. On the other hand, I feel that the time I spent treading the boards has helped my writing in several ways. First, it exposed me to a wide range of stories. University theater was especially good for that. Most of the plays at my university were put on by the English Department. We did outstanding works from every literary period from pre-Shakespearean drama to modern plays by writers like Pinter, Beckett, and Tom Stoppard. My community theater work naturally included Broadway plays. And I also worked with some noted Canadian playwrights such as James Reaney and R. Murray Shaefer. Of course, one can also familiarize oneself with stories by reading. But there's something different about standing up and speaking the lines over and over. They sink in a little more profoundly. You develop a feeling for good dialogue, scene structure, and conflict. I feel that this awareness has made me a better writer.Acting is also a good exercise for your imagination. Learning to take on a character and see the world through his or her eyes helps you imagine how the people in your novel would think and feel. Theater also gives you the chance to meet a lot of people on whom you can base characters. Like many writers, I am somewhat shy by nature. I found that working in community theater expanded my list of friends and acquaintances exponentially. Community theater is unlike many workplaces or clubs where you see the same people everyday for years. In theater, a cast will come together to work on a production for only a few months at a time. Then you're on to the next show and the next cast, so you're always meeting new people. If you do several shows a year, you will spend a lot of time hanging out backstage with many people of differing ages, backgrounds, and occupations. The environment is more social than most workplaces as well, so you see more of people's true personalities. Directing plays is also valuable, because it teaches you to look at the big picture. When you read a novel, it's easy to get lost in the minutiae of good prose. But as a director, you have to focus on the overarching dramatic structure. You must think about how each scene transitions into the next, how the conflicts and emotional tensions build, how to satisfying crisis and conclusion. You get to experiment doing scenes different ways with live actors. This is especially true if you are developing a new play. It's similar to how a writer will re-write a scene different ways, except that you get to see each version acted out before you. You have the creativity of the other people and their sense of emotional truth to help you decide on[...]

A Global Hollywood by Nancy Stewart, author of Sea Turtle Summer

Tue, 06 Dec 2011 08:01:00 +0000

Our guest Nancy Stewart author of the children’s picture book, Sea Turtle Summer, talks about her adventures seeing movies in exotic places. She is on virtual book tour from December 5 - 16, 2011 on her second virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!Nancy’s web and blog sites are: and About Sea Turtle Summer   Bella and Britt think living by the beach is the coolest thing ever.  When they discover a Loggerhead Sea Turtle laying her eggs in broad daylight, the girls go into action to help. No one, though, seems to care about the nest.  The beach is a busy place and is getting busier by the minute on such a beautiful summer day.  What can they do?  Who will help, and what do they learn about themselves? As a bonus, Sea Turtle Summer contains kid appealing facts about sea turtles. A Global Hollywood From Capetown to Morocco and Paris to Tel Aviv, I’ve been a film fan and have seen movies in those places and many others.  Today my mission is to speak a bit about my travels and films I’ve seen along the way.  I’ve been fortunate to have been around the world and back again.  I’ve also had the great good fortune of living in London for eight years.  So, where do I begin?  London. The UK in general and London in particular, have played a huge role in my adult life.  We loved to go to the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square, heart of London’s entertainment world.  Another great movie house we attended was the Odeon Marble Arch.  Our favorite, though, was in Whitley’s mall in Bayswater.  So many Sunday afternoons, we’d see a film with our dear friends, the Elliotts, there; great memories.  One of the most memorable films I’ve seen is Out of Africa.  The film was good, but where we saw the movie made it spectacular, Nairobi, of course.  There was something magical about viewing it there, within almost walking distance of the suburb of Karen, named for Karen von Blixen, heroine of the true story.  The film came alive for me and I cannot see it without reliving the magnificent experience of Kenya. Another memorable film was The Green Mile.  We saw it in a movie theater in the Galilee area in Israel.  It was a wee day, and we were the only people in the theater.  In the middle of the showing, the film suddenly stopped.  My husband and I thought there must be a problem with the projection.  Within a few seconds, a woman walked down the aisle and stood facing us in the row of seats ahead and smiled.  She politely told us it was Intermission, and they had a full range of refreshments.  Of course, we went out, got a Coke Light and popcorn and returned to our seats.  Within a few minutes, the same woman came down the aisle, stood where she had before, and said the film would be resuming.  Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot for The Green Mile. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the film, but the experience was fantastic! The Lives of Others is a marvelous German film about the Stasi and the Cold War.  We were fortunate to have seen it in Berlin.  Again, what a backdrop for a film about the secret police in a time before the Berlin Wall fell.  The movie was a masterpiece, perhaps all the more so, as later that evening, we walked down the Unter den Linden Boulevard and through the Brandenburg Gate, where so much German history has occurred. These are but a few of the film experiences my family and I have had over the years, as we’ve traveled this beautiful planet.  In my blog,  I address many p[...]