Monday, September 5, 2011

Tom Hardy vs. Joel Edgarton, Who Wins?

If Warrior stars Joel Edgarton and Tom Hardy actually had a cage match, who would win? I'm gonna say the audience. Check out Warrior, featuring two insanely talented men in one of my favorite movies of the year.

Fall Preview Featuring: Ides of March, Warrior, Rum Diary and a Moneyball Mention

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Cowboys and Aliens" Featurette for Movieweb

Talking Cowboys and Aliens with James Bond, aka: Daniel Craig, the original space cowboy, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and director Jon Favreau.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pledge Allegiance to Captain America, Chris Evans

I recently spoke with both Captain America's director Joe Johnston, who directed a teenage favorite of mine, The Rocketeer, and star, Chris Evans, but here's a taste of pure Evans...

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

For Your Consideration...a Guest Appearance

Let the battle of wits begin...

Behind the Scenes of "Kung Fu Panda 2"

What didn't make it to air were Dustin Hoffman's sex jokes, his answer to his inner power animal ("A woman with large breasts") and the moment he told me, "You have the spirit of Bette Midler."


Kung Fu Panda 2 Review: Insert "Kick-Ass" Pun Here

"Yes, those jeans do make you look fat."

"Why lie? We love your sister much more than we love you."

"No matter how many grown men cried in 'Toy Story 3,' Pixar might not be the king of animated movies anymore."

There are certain things you're simply not supposed to say out loud.

Since last year, when "How to Train Your Dragon" was roundly ignored in favor of "Toy Story 3," a sweet but, it could be argued (and has been amongst Popcorn Biz staffers), inferior product to both "…Dragon" and "The Illusionist," the third Oscar-nominated animated feature of 2010, we've had our eye on Dreamworks Animation, hoping it would pull a Rocky-esque underdog KO of the beloved Emeryville engine that can and does time and again.

It's not that we have any ill will toward Pixar, quite the opposite in fact; we love almost every film they've ever done (except "The Incredibles;" that was a stinker). But healthy competition is good for everyone, especially audiences. When the bar is raised by one company, it forces rivals to step their game up and suddenly entertainment gets a whole lot better.

Well, cue "Eye of the Tiger" and someone send John Lasseter a memo, because Dreamworks' latest offering, "Kung Fu Panda 2," proves they've come to play.

Directed by first-timer Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who previously honed her skills in Dreamworks' story and art department, the movie follows newly minted Dragon Warrior Po (voiced by Jack Black) and his fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five (not to be confused with Fast Five or anything else with Vin Diesel, this five is voiced by Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu) as they battle a villain (the deliciously devilish Gary Oldman) who seeks to destroy kung fu.
Serving up an effervescent mixture of grand spectacle, charming comedy and action, the movie delights on every level but truly dazzles thanks to its glorious tactile quality that actually justifies strapping on the most obnoxiously ubiquitous accessory of recent movie going: 3D glasses.

"How to Train Your Dragon"'s flying sequences were so impressive, they made James Cameron look like he'd been puttering around on iMovie. "Kung Fu Panda 2" is equally effective, allowing the screen to drape around the audience like a giant bear hug.
Witty, touching and magical, "Kung Fu Panda 2" proves Dreamworks Animation can throw down the gauntlet when it comes to creating animated enchantment that speak to adults and children alike.

Pixar, you've been warned.

written for NBC's Popcorn Biz

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Reviews: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Midnight in Paris

Reviewing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Midnight in Paris on Today in LA.

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

I happened to catch this freeze frame of me and Ted Chen giving each other googly eyes. Movie talk brings out the warm fuzzies in both of us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bridesmaids...a Comedy to Put a Ring On

My interview with the cast of Bridesmaids...Link

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.


And the article that accompanied it:

BRIDESMAIDS:

Female comedies are notoriously painful to watch. In a year that's already seen "No Strings Attached" (Really, Natalie Portman? Really?) and "Something Borrowed" (Wait, are we actually supposed to call that a comedy?), not to mention "Sucker Punch," which isn't a comedy but had moments that were laughably bad, "Bridesmaids" has a lot of bad publicity to slough through.

Written by and starring Kristen Wiig, who, along with producer Judd Apatow, assembled a cast of some of the strongest female comedians in recent memory, including Maya Rudolph and the epically scene stealing Melissa McCarthy, the film defies everything audiences have come to expect from movies that bear the cross of "Chick Flick."

Centered on a wedding, the film takes moments like dress fittings, bridal showers and engagement parties and turns it into a schmaltz-free throwdown of unrelenting hilarity that throws the stigma of female-led comedies in the incinerator and screams "Burn, baby, burn!"

Sitting down to speak with Rudolph and Wiig, both "SNL" alums whose time of the show translates to a language of songs and dialects they say makes them "like the twins in Escape from Witch Mountain," we asked what they felt their role was in championing funny women.

"I don't really feel I have a role," Wiig began.

"You're the treasurer," Rudolph corrected.

"You're the secretary," Wiig replied, grinning.

"It certainly didn't feel like any conscious decision," Rudolph continued. "But when you ask that question, I think it's really cool. It’s such a compliment."

"It's not like we wrote this movie as a reaction to anything," Wiig added. "Like, 'Boys get to do this stuff so let's do it!' We weren't thinking that way. We were just thinking, 'Let's write a hopefully really funny movie with a lot of roles for women in it.'"

One of the most interesting things about "Bridesmaids" is that, unlike most movies focused on women, it isn't about who's prettier or who's gonna get the guy, but who can be a better friend. Not that it's a message movie, but that's a pretty cool message to take home.

McCarthy—whose work on "Mike and Molly" does little to prepare the audience for her stellar, fearless, hilarious turn here—agreed, saying, "Usually the plot is, 'There's three women and they're fighting over SHOES! And nail polish!' And I'm like. 'Who are these women?' I don't know them. It's not me. And this is a real thing. Yes, women have insecurities, but it's usually over a real thing like friendship [or] am I doing okay? Real topics."

The fact that "Bridesmaids" is grounded in reality is one of its great strengths, but director Paul Feig was unprepared for the level of honesty he found on-set. It's contended that women are actually much more foul-mouthed and sexually explicit (yes, guys, women do talk about everything) and their sense of humor goes much further than men's and, if you ask, Feig, that's absolutely true.

"Who knew?" he said. "There's a lot of frank talk in the movie but we never pushed for it. We would say, 'Maybe you have a sex talk,' and the stuff that would come out of their mouths, I'd be like, ‘Oh my goodness. I'm blushing.’ But I love that. That's what I love about the movie; it's women actually getting to talk like women and joke around like they do that men aren't privy to see."

"Bridesmaids" opens May 13.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chris Hemsworth and Kenneth Branagh Raise a Hammer for "Thor"

"Who's that?!?" Even Colleen Williams can't deny the sexy that is Chris Hemsworth. My interviews with the cast of Thor.

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

Interviewing the Cast of "Priest 3D"

Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet...not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

My exclusive interview with the cast of Priest 3D for Movieweb.com. (What they cut out was Karl and Paul telling me about the insane chafe of their high-wire harnesses, which is a shame since it's pretty evocative.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Battle: LA" for TV Guide's Hollywood 411

Appearing on TV Guide's Hollywood 411 to review "Battle: LA" and intro my interview with Aaron Eckhart, aka; the best chin in Hollywood.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Jane Eyre" Director Cary Fukunaga on Homelessness and the Raw Sexual Magnetism of Judi Dench

At the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Cary Fukunaga emerged as the belle of the ball, the kind of promising young talent the festival is meant to catapult, when his first feature, "Sin Nombre," a harrowing, haunting tale of unexpected beauty and unflinching realism, took home both the Directing Award and Excellence in Cinematography Award, while landing Fukunaga a three-picture deal with Focus Features.

Two years later, on the lip of releasing his second effort, a gothic, chillingly sensual adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" starring Mia Wasikowska, Judi Dench and Michael Fassbender, the handsome young director—after a fair amount of giddiness over the coolness of a fancy Coke bottle found in the minibar—takes a seat on the balcony of his Four Seasons hotel suite and marvels at how much and little has changed since the last time Popcorn Biz saw him at this same locale during promotion for "Sin Nombre." Fukunaga says he's spent the last two years in a whirlwind of media and moviemaking, moving from hotel to hotel, publicity obligation to film set and back again, landing intermittently on friend's couches.

"I was still doing promotion up until two weeks before shooting 'Jane Eyre' and I'm homeless at the moment," he reveals. "I had an apartment in London until two days after [the' Jane Eyre'] shoot. Then I packed up and sent my stuff to the Focus Features office. They're my Manhattan mini-storage."

While the constant stream of work is a dream come true for any independent filmmaker, it's kept Fukunaga for focusing on writing potential future projects that have been simmering in his brain for several years, including (and in order of important in his mind) a sci-fi love story, an adaptation of a historical non-fiction novel about a train heist during the Civil War and a movie musical that could feature a score by Beirut and Arcade Fire.

"I'm not Quentin Tarantino; I can't write on the road," he shrugs when asked about his procrastination. "I need a little space I can just disappear into. That's probably what I'll do in the spring; find some quiet place, some nice mothering woman to take care of me and feed me soup while I write and cry like a baby," he smiles.

With his sophomore effort arriving in theaters, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask about the film's leading man, Michael Fassbender, and his uncanny ability to get everyone, even, it has recently been reported, horses, hot and bothered. So does Fukunaga have a "Fassbender Boner" like everyone else?

"I don't know," he laughs. "I definitely didn't find myself getting hard-ons during dialogue scenes, I'll tell you that. But Dame Judi [Dench]. Talk about 'boner!' She's so cool," he coos. "When I moved into my flat in London, she gave me a gift. It was the last photograph of Steve McQueen before he died. And Steve had signed it for her! She gave it to me, just pulled it off her wall and gave it to me. That's the kind of person Judi Dench is."

"Jane Eyre" opens March 11.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Predictions on NBC's Today in LA

When I called James Franco and Anne Hathaway "The White Knuckle Express," I had no idea how right I'd be. What you don't see on-camera is the email I got from Ted Chen moments after the Oscar broadcast began titled: "You were right."

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Eats: Christian Bale’s Kale Salad


Christian Bale’s Kale Salad
Serves four

This salad is a version of one made weekly with a crew of girls knighted "The Bang Gang" (it refers to a one-time hairstyle preference, not anything lascivious) when we’d gather to watch the best show on television, RuPaul’s Drag Race. It also seems the perfect meal for those of you looking to shed poundage the way Christian Bale did in his outstanding performance, one that will surely earn him on Oscar on Sunday, in The Fighter.

Salad:
4 packed cups de-stemmed, finely chopped kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 Gala or Fuji apples, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

Dressing:
2 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon honey
dash cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss kale with olive oil and allow to wilt slightly while preparing other ingredients.

Dice apples and avocado and toss in lemon juice to prevent oxidizing.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small dish, mashing the tahini with the back of a spoon until there are no clumps remaining.

Toss kale with dressing and gently add in apple, avocado and sunflower seeds, tossing to combine. Serve and enjoy!

Members of the Bang Gang tranny-ified at a Tranimal Event in late '09...

And one night's Drag Race Dinner. The kale salad is the lower half of the plate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oscar Eats: Caviar Bardem, Pomegranate Rose Dessert Tapioca

Caviar Bardem
Serves four

For surprise Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem, whip up this tapioca dessert play on caviar. Like the Spain actor, it’s unexpectedly sensual and also filled with antioxidants. Oh! Not that Javier is filled with antiox…sigh, forget it. It’s a textural delight and flavor bombshell.


1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rose water
1/2 cup milk (coconut milk can be substituted)
pomegranate seeds to garnish
edible rose petals to garnish (optional and if available)

Place pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup water into a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle with the tapioca and let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar, salt, vanilla, rose water and milk.

Bring slowly to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until tapioca is translucent and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Spoon pomegranate tapioca into serving dishes and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve topped with pomegranate seeds and edible rose petals (if using).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oscar Eats: Chicken a la King's Speech

With the hours to Oscar dwindling, it's time for another recipe. This one bows before the film most likely to unseat early front runner, The Social Network, for the crown of Best Picture...

Chicken a la King’s Speech
Serves four

I like to think of this as chicken pot pie fit for a king. It’ll make you stutter and stammer it’s so good!

2 whole chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
4 puff pastry shells
3 tablespoons butter
2 -3 scallions, trimmed, sliced with tops
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup chantrelle mushroom, cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 10oz bag frozen green pea and pearl onions, thawed
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup (not condensed!)
minced Italian parsley to garnish
truffle oil to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear and meat is no longer pink. Cool and remove skin. Cube chicken, set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to whatever is recommended for puff pastry shells and bake them according to package directions.

While the puff pastry is baking, place a large skillet on medium high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sauté scallions, mushrooms and bell pepper until soft, about 5 minutes. Add thawed peas and onions, cook another 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve in a bowl.

Return skillet to heat, melt remaining two tablespoons of butter and whisk in flour. Whisk in milk and soup and cook over medium heat until a thick sauce forms, about 2-3minutes. Add reserved vegetables and cubed chicken and warm through.

To serve, spoon the choppy Chicken a la King’s Speech into the puff pastry shells and top with parsley and truffle oil (if using).

It'll make you say "Piss, shit, bugger" it's so yumtastic.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oscar Eats: Winter's Roasted Marrow Bone

After yesterday's True Shrimp and Grits, how do we honor Winter's Bone, the indie darling that triumphed at Sundance and landed in the Oscar race for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor?

Meth souffle? Nah, it's not really in season. By roasting a winter's bone of course.

Winter’s Roasted Marrow Bone
Serves 4

1 crusty bread or baguette, sliced into at least 8-12 pieces
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
8 center-cut beef marrow bones (ask your butcher to cut them into3 inch long portions. They should total 3 to 4 pounds)
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
juice and zest of one lemon
Coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Rub each slice of bread with raw garlic and toast lightly.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place marrow bones, cut side up, on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 10-20 minutes, depending on size of bone, until marrow is soft and has begun to separate from the bone, but before marrow begins to bubble over.

While bones are roasting, combine remaining ingredients except sea salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Serve garlic-rubbed toast, roasted marrow bones, parsley-truffle oil dressing, bowls of sea salt and cracked pepper to guests and invite them to scoop out marrow onto toast, sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with parsley salad.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Oscar Eats: True Shrimp and Grits

Everyone knows I love a good pun, especially a good food pun, so to celebrate this Sunday's Academy Awards, I'll be posting recipes all week long that honor some of 2010's greatest accomplishments in cinema and will play with your tastebuds just as much as their titles play on words.

First up, one of my favorite films of the year, the Coen Brothers' True Grit, nominated for 10 awards including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress, though, sadly, Matt Damon will not be recognized for his brilliant Matthew McConaughey impression. If you don't get what I mean, watch this and remember the moment when Damon leans back in his chair, peels his coat to the side to reveal a tin star and drawls, "I'm a Texas Ranger."

True Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4

These whiskey-drenched smoky shrimp are right up Rooster Cogburn’s alley. Served with cheesy grits, this is one meal you’ll never want to bid "A-dios."

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quick grits
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 slices bacon, chopped (high quality turkey bacon may be substituted)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup whiskey
juice of one lemon
4 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, combine water and stock and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in grits. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until water is absorbed and grits are tender, about five minutes. Stir in butter and cheese and cook until cheese melts. Remove pan from heat, taste for salt, cover and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until fat renders and bacon begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add onion, cooking until it softens and begins to caramelize, another five minutes. Add garlic, scallions and shrimp, sauté just until shrimp turn pink, about three minutes. Add whiskey, lemon juice and parsley to pan, season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

To serve, ladle cheesy grits into serving bowls and top with drunken shrimp.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hungry for Love: "Sign a Waiver," with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Thanks to the All-Star Game this weekend, every street and freeway choked with traffic like it was the 405 at rush hour as LA turned into Hotlanta West. I swear, I haven't seen this much Fubu and Baby Phat since my Fruitvale years, if even then.

The big games meant lots of parties, so Friday night, Mel and I struck out for the "Purp and Yellow" shindig in Downtown.

You know that inane "Black and Yellow" song?--OH GOD! Why did I even mention it? Now it's stuck in my head. That is totally the Beetlejuice of rap songs. Say it three times and you can't get rid of it--

Anyway, "Purp and Yellow" was Snoop's rebuttal rap in honor of his beloved Lakers and the party was in a teammate's honor, which made the people-watching priceless as chickenheads and gold diggers pouring into their 99-cent hooker best in the blatant hopes of landing a baby daddy to call their very own.

Our favorite of the night was a quartet that looked like the ghetto, busted version of Danity Kane minus Aubrey (BTW, why am I so excited every time I see her on Oxygen weeping "I'm not 100 pounds anymore"?), led by angry black Sporty Spice who had a mohawk weave and was rocking a stained black bra, cropped pleather vest and leggings that were part vinyl, part fishnets.

Leggings are not pants. Stockings are not pants. Stockings made into leggings are CERTAINLY NOT PANTS! But we weren't going to tell her that; she was hardcore.

Also in the posse; an 80-pound Eastern European dame in a one-armed animal print shirt that she'd opted to call a dress, her 250-pound friend wearing a purple version of the same "dress," in the same size, which you could almost hear groaning with exhaustion as it battled to stay in one piece, and a girl whose name I feel I should know considering how well I got to know the thass part of her butt cheeks ("thass:" thigh/ass, the crescent moon of under buttocks that should only show in a bathing suit, aka: butt side boob) which were hanging out for the world to see.

Off. The. Charts.

But we weren't there for the ladies; Mel and I were hoping to find some nice gentlemen to make the night worthwhile. Scooping the scene, there were a few stand outs in the crowd, including one guy who looked like David Justice, and a funky white dude I eventually beelined for whose name was Brad.

In a black thermal with a thick brunette Beiber-ish mop, he had a little of the Jared Leto in him, minus any emo, and since the pickings were slim, I figured an introduction was in order. But within thirty seconds of chatting, I realized I'd have been better off making out with Black Scary Spice.

First of all, he told me he'd seen me standing by the bar earlier ordering a drink and was waiting for me to come over and say hi. Ummm, what's wrong with that picture? You see a girl at a bar ordering a drink, you walk over and offer to buy it for her, then strike up a conversation. Duh, Romeo.

Then, when I asked what he did, he said he was a musician.

"Oh! Cool. What instruments do you play?" I asked.

"None," he replied and then told me to guess what kind of music he made. Based on his look, I reached for Electric Country.

Nope. He's a rapper.

"Really?" I replied, my inner Oakland girl wanting to sneer. "Whose music does yours get compared to?"

"Tupac and LL Cool J," he told me.

"Whoa. Those are mighty hefty claims," I said.

"Look, I'll tell you this right now, there are three things I do where you've got to sign a waiver before it happens, because I can't be held responsible afterward: Listen to my rhymes, get a massage and get a kiss."

Yes, Brad really said that, among many other cocky, bragging claims, which is probably why I cut our conversation short with a good ol' "I have to work tomorrow" before slipping into the crowd.

But the next day I started thinking about it and realized, it's kind of a great concept! What do you do so well that someone needs to sign a waiver before it goes down? Brad's were lame and generic but when I told the story to one of my best friends the next day, we realized the genius and started thinking of things that would need a signed waiver.

-My dear friend Jemal is a tall, chiseled interracial Adonis who's kind, artistic, smart and converting to Judaism. Jewish girls are gonna need to sign a waiver before they see him read the Torah.

-Also Mahdi, Jemal's brother, breaks it OFF at Equinox. Girls need to sign a waiver before they see him in spinning class. (I'm not kidding, he has groupies in the class.)

-I call Rachel "Gumby." Men need to sign a waiver before they see how flexible she is.

And me...?

Well, not everyone knows this, but I'm an insanely dope jump roper, I was even in a jump rope workout DVD series with Eric Nies of MTV's The Grind fame. That might require a waiver. And, of course, there's the baking.

You better sign a waiver before you make these...

White Chocolate Foreplay Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size

3/4 cup salted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
2 cups roasted, salted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Mix just until blended.
With wooden spoon, fold in white chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Lightly coat cookie sheet with cooking spray and drop rounded tablespoons of dough a few inches apart.

Bake until barely golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies should look slightly underdone when removed from the oven. That way, they will cool to chewy perfection. If they’re golden brown and look fully baked, they’ll only be useful as hockey pucks or loofahs once cool.

With wide spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks or sheets of wax paper to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Sign a waiver and serve warm.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who's Hotter, Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp? Alex Pettyfer Decides


Walking into Alex Pettyfer's hotel suite high above the stars on the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign glistening in the sun behind him, you can't help but fall a little bit in love. Not with the young heartthrob who is being heralded as the next Robert Pattison with this week's release of "I am Number Four," but with Oliver, his adorable seal-grey puppy recently adopted from the rescue organization, Barks ‘n’ Bitches.

"I got him two weeks ago," Pettyfer says in the British accent he suppressed while filming his starring role as John Smith, one of nine aliens infants sent to hide on Earth after their home planet is destroyed. Assigned a guardian and an order, they can only be killed in the sequence of their numbers. Following the murders of Numbers One, Two, and Three, Number Four (Pettyfer), is living on high alert in Paradise, Ohio, disguised as an American high school student, when he falls in love (with his real-life sweetheart, "Glee"'s Dianna Agron) and realizes he has something to fight for.

Sporting a simple band on his wedding ring finger—which went uncommented on despite rumors he and Agron were engaged (rumors have since surfaced that they've split)—Pettyfer told me that he appreciates comparisons to tween phenomenons like Pattison and "Twilight," but felt the buzz was premature.

"I hope we have the success of 'Twilight' by half or even a quarter," the 20-year-old began. "Obviously, you've got that central story of falling in love with something different and that's comparable between 'Twilight' and 'I am Number Four,' but I don't think we're anything like them. We're a lot less serious. I think people are looking for the next 'Harry Potter' or 'Twilight' as they're coming to an end, and hopefully we can fill that gap."

With Michael Bay, "the king of action" according to Pettyfer, and Steven Spielberg, "the godfather of film," producing, "…Number Four" is expected to easily inherit that mantle.

Since the film is all about gaining powers, I wondered what innate human ability Pettyfer would give up if he had to.

"Taste," he replied easily. "I don't really enjoy food. I'm not a big eater. I only eat certain things, [like] In 'n' Out Burger, pasta, pizza. I think sight is the most important."

Considering the media maelstrom surrounding the film, replete with screaming, crying fans at Hot Topic signings, I wondering if losing his anonymity was difficult.

"I haven't been witness to it; I've been holed up in hotel rooms [promoting the movie] for the last five weeks. Maybe in five weeks, after the film comes out, it will be."

Pettyfer, who says he'd like to emulate the career of Gary Oldman, "an actor who challenged himself and took the bar to a whole new level," has the added blessing/curse of being Tigerbeat-friendly. A former model, I asked if being too handsome was ever a detractor from an actor who wanted to follow an Oldman-esque path.

"I don't see myself as attractive or ugly. I think attraction is in the eye of the beholder," Pettyfer said (as only a handsome man could). "If I put Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt up, fifty percent of the women would go for Brad Pitt and fifty percent would say Johnny Depp."

So who would Pettyfer choose? "Johnny Depp! All the way," he smiled.

Reviewing "Unknown" and "I am Number Four" on Today in LA

That's right, ya'll, Ted Chen said "ass" on Today in LA.

View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hungry for Love: Valentine's Day Can Suck It--Plus 8-Minute Microwave Mojito Cake

I like to think that my life is pretty cool. I get paid to see movies for free, interview incredibly talented people, make yummy food and occasionally pop up on the tube to see how much trouble my ginormous mouth can get me into.

Over the past couple of weeks, things have been sprinkled with even more fabulosity as I got to attend events like the Golden Globe and SAG Awards for NBC, started hitting the other side of the red carpet (above, Mel and I at the Ciroc OK! Magazine pre-Grammy party, below, an AP photo from the Remix Magazine launch party)...


...And even got some Twitter lovin' from Isaiah Mustafa, aka: The Old Spice Guy...


...After I semi-accosted him at both the Golden Globes and DGA Awards, drunkenly admitted I loved him "in a very deep way."

But tonight, with that usual Sunday agita sinking in, a lingering anxiety unshakable since childhood when Sunday meant the end of freedom and the imminent return to school, I feel lamer than usual. Why? Because tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I will be spending it alone.

Being 32, single and living in LA, where women past 25 are often viewed with the appeal of expired milk left out in the sun, not having a man is never a picnic, but no day makes it a buffet of misery and self-pity quite like February 14th.

I was raised by feminists, babysat by Naomi Wolf (no, really, I was), but am still well aware of the one constant women are beaten over the head with from the time we’re born; that if we don't find a man, get married and have babies, we’ve misspent our time on earth. Every pop song, sitcom, rom-com and storybook preaches it and even though I know can be happy and fulfilled without some dude to "complete me"--I'm pretty damn whole as is, thankyouverymuch--I'm always made to feel less-than if I find myself without an arrow through the heart from some diaper wearing perv with an overactive trigger finger.

But haven't we all been a little traumatized by Valentine's Day?

From grade school, a sense of V-Day doom is instilled the moment we first suffer the pressure of giving valentines to everyone in the class, even the kids you hate or the boy that puts worms in your hair. Then you get to junior high and have to pray that someone sends you one of those lame candy-grams that get announced in homeroom so you don't look like a flaming loser after everyone else's name is called and you're left sans red construction paper heart and chalky Rolaids-flavored "Be Mine" "Luv u" "U rock" hearts. Pretty soon you’re in high school and frantic for a date to the Valentine's Day dance to avoid the same shame. And, before you know it, you're old enough to be made to feel pathetic if you're dateless and having a wannabe Sex in the City girls night when Cupid's arrow should be striking.

I can't tell you how many Valentine's Days I suffered through single, feeling the panic rise as January ended, followed by depression and eventually terror, knowing the only love I'd get on February 14th would be from my mom and dad, until one year when I finally had a boyfriend to celebrate Valentine's Day with.

And you know what? It sucked!

I thought it would be all romantic and magical. Nope! Everywhere we went there were super long lines to eat and couples bickering as their blood sugar plummeted as they waited for tables and overpriced prix fixe meals, swarmed by tacky red balloons and wilting roses. It didn't feel special; it felt like enforced fun, which is the worst kind.

Now I know the best thing to do when it comes to Valentine's Day is chillax and try not to make a big deal out of it. It's just another day, one that has more marketing dollars behind it than most, but it doesn't mean I have to spend it guzzling cheap drugstore chocolate in a heart-shaped box to drown my single sorrows. Instead, I can make this quickie cake (complete with booze) if I need to eat my feelings, take a few deep breaths and know that February 15th is just around the corner.

8-Minute Microwave Mojito Cake
Serves 6-8


Now you can have you cake and drink it too! For those in need of a quickie—dessert that is—these cakes can be made in about ten minutes and come with the added bonus of a little buzz.

Mojito Cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon light rum
Zest of one lime
2 tablespoons chopped mint


Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients, milk, rum, lime zest and mint.

Pour batter into a large, microwavable heat-and-serve container.

Place container in microwave and heat on high for eight minutes. If your microwave doesn’t have a turn table, rotate cake every 1 ½-2 minutes.

While cake is cooking, prepare first glaze.

First Glaze:
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Zest of one lime
Juice of two limes
2 tablespoons light rum
2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Whisk together all ingredients.

Remove cake from microwave and run a knife along the edge of the cake, loosening from sides of bowl.

Pour glaze over hot cake, allowing it to run down sides and underneath.

Allow to cool slightly while preparing second glaze.

Second Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons water


Once first glaze is slightly set, pour second glaze over cake. Slice and serve.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hungry for Love: Hitting the Wall

Oh my God! Online dating is so awful!

Of course, I already knew that, but each new attempt is that much more harrowing.

Arbitrary, time sucking and totally fruitless, after four or five months on OKCupid, tonight I hit the wall. With only one lame date to show for my investment and the lingering sting of being told I was only "good looking," I found my finger hovering over the "Delete profile" button and reminiscing on my return to the cyber-dating wasteland.

A few months ago, I didn't think it could get any worse than the guy who listened to "rape," but damn was I wrong.

There have been a number of humdingers, but here are the greatest hits when it came to low points on (sigh) "Ohhh-kay Cupid".

May I present "Heretopleaseyou," the black guy who said his name was Chris but wouldn't give a last name and refused to send any photos because, as he looooved to tell me over and over and over and over again, he was so famous. I'd like to believe it was Chris Rock, but he was probably Chris Brown. He asked me to meet him for sex, no drinks, no dinner, no conversation. I said if he was as well known as he claimed, he could find that at any bar, grocery store or gas station in town. He's probably trolling Craigslist as I type. Another 50-plus-year-old man kept sending me IMs asking me if I'd like to go sailing and calling me "doll." He looked like Albert Finney and made me cringe. A lesbian started sending me messages every time I logged in, ignoring the clear indication that I was straight and only interested in men. Plus, she looked nothing like Mila Kunis is Black Swan and therefore got blocked quickly. More than one man sent me a message saying, "I'm going to be honest--I'm not interested in anything serious, but you seem like a lot of fun so let me know if you wanna chat." "Fun" has always been a dubious distinction in my mind. It implies a put-on carefree savoir faire that makes me think of Rizzo in Grease singing "There Are Worst Things I Could Do." I didn't write to any of them. Of the two attractive men who got in touch with me, one never responded beyond our second email and the other started talking about my nipples within two minutes of our first conversation. Is it any wonder these people are still single? They're totally heinous and dysfunctional.

Scrolling, page after page, hoping I'd stumble upon someone who could fulfill my hopes and dreams and prove that all those people who insist online dating is viable weren't ignoramuses, or, worse, uppity a-holes already in committed relationships (none of which started online), here's what I've discovered thus far:

1. Never fall for a guy wearing sunglasses in his profile picture. Everyone looks sexier in sunglasses. It's like posing with a cigarette; you're suddenly more alluring, worldly and seductive. See: James Dean, Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

2. Never trust a guy wearing a hat in his profile picture. Much like sunglasses, just about every man in the world looks better in a hat, especially a baseball cap (words my friend Jenny lives and dies by). Plus, dollars to donuts, that dude is bald or on his way and that's why he's covering up.

3. Subtract (at least) one-two inches from the height they claim. If a man says he's 5'9, he's 5'7. Maybe 5'6.

4. Sending an email will almost never illicit a response. Even in the warped online dating arena, men like the chase.

With nothing to show for my time and a general sense of misery every time I typed in my ID and password, why was I unable to make that final click, sending my profile into internet oblivion?

Because I'm sitting on my couch, eating out of styrofoam, watching Grey's Anatomy, on a serious losing streak of celibacy. I need a frickin' man in my life and since none have the balls to do anything beyond play a little grab ass when emboldened by liquor, I've been proverbially "putting myself out there." This way, when family friends or, worse yet, my mother, ask why I'm still single, I can honestly say I'm trying.

But then I got this poem from one man who was attempting to court me:

"Tubas to the face.
Spit valves emptied on your toes.
The night swayed and sweat dripped from the walls.
It was hard to tell performers from audience
as a cluster of bodies and brass pulsed in unison.
Every once in a while a form would appear from the wreckage to find their way to the bar. Missing a limb and ear drums draped to their knees.
Only music that can create this mess."

Ooookay.

I'm not really a poetry girl, but I reread the verses, trying to conjure a smoky, subterranean coffee house where everyone is in black turtlenecks and berets, a bongo player punctuating each line with a rapped beat. I could get into that. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not, but I was trying to tell myself that this guy couldn't be that bad, and just as I was on the verge of convincing myself to give the guy a chance over a cup of coffee, I got a follow up:

"Gum spots on concrete and the smell of hot dogs draped in bacon.
Fixed gear bikers intermingle with El Salvadorian line cooks.
Everyone displayed like an art piece under the fog-lights
On the ride home I think about jogging with coyotes and singing to deer.
Instead it was a sentimental cat that followed me on my walk home.
Now rainbow chard is a cute vegetable.
Especially when intermixed with garlic and ginger."

I wrote this response:

"Like smoky fires flickering
At burning man
The smell of patchouli wafts
Like smoke from your bong.
I read these words and wonder;
Are you reading a Karma Sutra
While practicing tai chi
And hugging a tree?
B.O. and compost piles
That is the smell of our love.
Snap snap snap snap
Clapping ain’t allowed.
I misread you terribly
You are not the man for me."

I erased it before I sent it, not wanting to hurt the poor guy's feelings. Instead, I moved my hovering finger a few inches to the right and clicked, "Disable Account."

Ok Cupid, I think we need some space. And I need a drink!

Blackberry Green Tea Mojito
Serves 4-6

These are my new obsession because they're delicous, refreshing and, one might argue, almost good for you thanks to plenty of antioxidants.

1 1/2 cups loosely packed mint leaves, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 lemons
6 teaspoons superfine sugar
1/2 cup brewed green tea, chilled
1 cup blackberries, muddled (raspberries, blueberries or fresh chopped peach can be substituted)
1-1 1/2 cups light rum (use 1/4 cup per person)
Soda water

In a large pitcher, combine mint, lime and lemon juice and superfine sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour in green tea, muddled blackberries and rum.
Fill glasses with ice and add Mojito mix, filling glasses 3/4 of the way. Top with splash of soda water and serve.

Interviewing Paul Giamatti for The Indie Angle

"What a hunk." "A hunk of talent."

My love affair with Paul Giamatti deepens by the day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Appearing on "First Dollar Gross"

You know what I love about this? I started the show by saying I hated the trend toward vulgar rom-coms and ended it by singing Dave Chappelle's R.Kelly spoof, "P--s on You" with Damon Houx. Hey, I didn't say I oppose vulgarity, just bad movies that stab at vulgar humor and miss.


Watch live video from GeekWeek on Justin.tv

Oscar Snubs, Surprises and Smaller Must-Sees

If you notice a hiccup in the piece, it's because they had to edit the part where I said, "The Town blew their wad by coming out too early in the year." It means to spend all your money too quickly or soon, not something dirty as some viewers apparently wanted to misconstrue it. Get your minds out of the gutter, people!

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hungry for Love: "You Kissed a Pirate?" Edition, with Jalebi to Celebrate

This week, I kissed a guy wearing a choker. It wasn’t a long kiss or even a tongue kiss, but it was a kiss. And the choker was made of dark leather with a small ivory circle at the center. Yeah, not exactly, my proudest moment.

I started 2011 with the New Year’s resolution to kiss more cute boys and, up until Wednesday night, I’d failed miserably to uphold my pledge. While I still haven’t decided if this brief encounter fits the bill or not—like I said, homeboy was wearing a choker and the kiss was a milquetoast peck—at least it was some action and, considering my love life has been like a Haley’s Comet sighting recently, that’s a good thing.

With the exception of an old friend who got a little handsy at the after party for The People’s Choice Awards, the only male attention of note I’ve received dates all the way back to late-2010, when I ended up singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “November Rain” with a super tropical broad-shouldered, dirty blonde actor boy in a $2000 Hugo Boss suit, replete with cufflinks and tie clip, who was in town from New York to shoot an episode of CSI. We shared a PBR, a little over the shirt lovin’ and some tonsil hockey before going our separate ways, but not before I slipped him my number on the ever klassy damp paper bar napkin. I still think of him fondly whenever I hear Slash’s guitar solo.

Several months later, the time was nigh to make a new memory and what better way to ensure that'll happen than to find yourself in a bar on a weeknight where there’s a special on good beer?

In preparation for a photo shoot I have this week, I decided the best way to look good would be to eat as little as possible. That plan failed miserably. By 8:30pm on the first day, after twelve hours of trying to recreate Natalie Portman’s Black Swan diet of almonds, carrots and skim milk, I was ready to devour a hipster’s skinny jeans when I rolled into Bigfoot Lodge for their weekly trivia night. I’m a lightweight to begin with, but with nothing but ballerina shrapnel in my stomach to greet it, after one of their $4 Newcastles, guess who was buzzed like a 7th grader chugging Boones Strawberry Hill behind the gym? With no will power and a gurgling belly, what did I do? Sprint down the boulevard in my miniskirt and 5-inch platform granny-gone-tranny heels to India’s Sweets and Spices so I could buy a pound of Jalebi (to share with the group, I’m not that much of a heifer) in between trivia rounds.

If you’ve never have Jalebi, which is an Arabian sweet that’s served as a celebratory snack in India, think of it as Indian funnel cake. Swirled dough is fried and then soaked in rose water syrup, which makes them crispy, chewy and intensely sweet. A few of those, another pint of beer, and I was working a very nice sugar/barley high. I’m not tryin’ to say I was easy pickin’s…But, let’s be honest, I was easy pickin’s.

Perhaps that’s why, when one young feller, who happened to be sporting silver hoops in both ears (“Like a pirate?” a friend asked when I admitted my shame the next day), the aforementioned leather choker (which really isn’t okay unless you’re Jordan Catalano)...

...and a pair of very wide legged, light washed, possibly Carhartt-brand jeans (the kind on might wear to a Nickelback concert), asked for my number and went in for a kiss on the lips for a second time after I swerved and gave cheek on his first attempt, I acquiesced.

Sigh. I blame my extended drought, the cheap Newcastle and one too many Jalebi.

The next time I get a fever for the flavor, I think I’d better make them at home.


Jalebi Recipe

Batter:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch saffron
1/4 cup plain yogurt
approximately 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
a few drops orange food coloring

Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons rose water

Vegetable oil for frying

To make the batter, mix flour, saffron and yogurt into a paste. Cover and let mixture sit and ferment overnight on the counter.

The next day, add just enough water to make the batter resemble slightly loose pancake batter. Stir in baking soda, cardamom powder and food coloring. Let sit while you prepare the syrup.

In a heavy bottom pan, combine sugar, water and rose water. Heat to a boil over medium high heat, reduce to medium and continue cooking another 20 minutes, stirring as necessary, until you have a thick sugar syrup.

Heat oil in a small deep fryer or heat bottomed skillet over medium high heat until it reaches 375 degrees. Stir batter and pour it into a squeeze bottle (an old ketchup bottle works great), ziplock or pastry bag and cut a small 1/2 inch opening.

Swirl the batter into the hot oil in a circular motion until you have a 2 to 3 inch round. Repeat and cook each Jalebi until lightly golden brown on each side, about 90 seconds-two minutes per side. Remove Jalebi from the fryer and dip in warm syrup before placing on serving platter or cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Enjoy warm or cold.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The 2011 Tasty Awards

On the red carpet of the 2011 Tasty Awards, just before Private Chefs of Beverly Hills lost "Best New Show" to The Great Food Truck Race.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Golden Globes Recap on NBC's 11 O'Clock News

My post-Golden Globes rundown with Colleen Williams and Chuck Henry on KNBC's 11 o'clock news.

My insanely amazing hair and makeup? Done by the oh-so-genius Jose Cantu.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.

TRON: Legacy Premiere Coverage

Very belated, here is a little tag-team "TRON: Legacy" premiere blue carpet action I did with the lovely Roth Jennings of ScreenRant. Identity Disc Battle!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ryan Gosling Talks "Blue Valentine" on Today in LA

Happy 2011! With three and a half hours sleep (as evidenced by my seriously busted 'do), I kicked off 2011 with an early morning appearance on NBC's Today in LA and a little chat with Ryan Gosling about his new film, Blue Valentine, a role I can almost guarantee with earn him another Oscar nomination.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.