10 Year Anniversary of 9/11

•September 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I know it has been 10 years, but it is still unfathomable. Still difficult to express, to reconcile. Since we can never go back, my greatest wish for the future is that we remember how it brought out the best in so many, and strive to continue to act in the best interest of others, not always just ourselves.


Shia Labeouf: Why So Sad?

•May 10, 2011 • 1 Comment

 Indiana Jones. Gordon Gekko. Iconic movie characters, right?

 How did this guy get cast to play the son of either?

"Sexy" - not a word that comes to mind.

I got it when he was a Disney kid. Even more fitting when cast in FREAKS AND GEEKS. He looks nerdy, stringy, dorky, in short, the opposite of this:

Officially of age - it's legal to swoon.

Before you say, “Taylor Laughtner can’t act,” compare works from these two when Shia was the same age. Enough said. Above all, I’d like to know what was in Michael Bay’s head when he stretched all credibility by casting Megan Fox as Shia Labeouf’s girlfriend. If you were Megan Fox, wouldn’t you rather sleep with a guy who looked like Tay– oh wait. Did I just use the word “credibility” in the same sentence with “Michael Bay”?

The problem is, Shia Labeouf has become known as the only bankable “young” star in Hollywood. I just completed work on a screenplay for an A-list director who used Shia as the lead in one of his earlier movies. Shia was discussed as the ideal actor for this one as well. I’m now in talks for another screenplay, Shia is the prototype for that one, too. Even the spec I’m working on isn’t safe. My manager instructed me to make the lead a male (see my other post about protagonists) and stated that the only actor who could get an action-adventure financed would be –you guess it.

Seriously, how did this happen? In a normal universe, Shia Labeouf would have evolved to play the action hero’s nerdy sidekick, not the action hero.  Remember Jeff Goldblum in JURRASIC PARK?

Goldblum takes the nerd to new levels of awesomeness.

Hopeful that some Hollywood snark had explained the mysterious series of insider decisions responsible for the Shia-Blockbuster-Roles-Phenomenon, I began a Google search: “Shia Labeouf why is he famous?” However, thanks to Google’s predictive text, “Shia Labeouf: Why So Sad?” came up before I finished typing.

How autocomplete works

As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities. (quote from Google support site.)*

*for fun, enter any query into Google and watch the suggestions pop up. One of my personal faves, typing “Why can’t I o…”  produces, “Why can’t I own a Canadian?” Clearly, thousands of inquiring minds want to know!

I clicked on the article; why indeed, Shia? A photo of sad Shia (head in hands) was followed by description of eyewitness accounts of him smoking a cigarette. The article postulated that the root of Shia’s sadness was the suspension of his driver’s license for one year, due to his DUI. Screech! DUI?

Apparently I was not paying attention in 2008. My love for shia plummeted from dead to freezer cold. My respect for humans who drive under the influence is absolute zero. Cow suits notwithstanding.

Still not sexy.

I admit his acting has improved with age and experience. And if he’d stuck with the dweeb roles I’d have no beef whatsoever. But he has neither the brilliant talent, charisma nor looks of his predecessors (Leonardo DiCaprio and River Phoenix come to mind).

Nevertheless, have you seen the trailer for TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON? I actually don’t hate Michael Bay. How can you hate the director who is King of helicopter shots at sunset? If you (like most people, I assume) just block out the bits with Shia and the girl, this trailer cut is AWESOME!**


**too bad the movie won’t be as good as the trailer. You heard it here first.

9/11 Twin Towers Remembered

•September 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

I liked it better when I knew everything.

I was far more courageous

Because I didn’t believe failure was possible

Nor was failure within my realm of imagination.


These thoughts occurred yesterday, when I remembered how, at the ripe age of 20, I moved to New York to pursue modeling.

The notion was a mere hatchling.  My departure was not fully considered. The idea, in fact, scared me, but it had been born. I put out one tentative feeler and learned that a friend of a friend had an apartment I could use for a week, a key would be left for me. I would never even meet this person; in fact, I did not know a soul.

I packed one bag and booked a ticket. Less than 24 hours later, I arrived alone. Like my immigrant forefathers and mothers before me, I had no idea what lay ahead in the Big City.  At the apartment, a mattress on the floor waited to greet me. I took out the yellow pages and called every modeling agency listed, to find out their open call days. I began my next day with a full slate of appointments and a map.

I could have researched first, possibly secured an agency, a few relationships and an apartment. But, no.

I had been “blacklisted” by my modeling agency in LA, Elite, and wanted no further connection with those people.  I learned of my “blacklisting” from a photographer friend who’d called requesting my availability: he was told I’d left the country. He then called my phone to leave a message and was surprised when I answered, still in LA. I would have judged this an error or isolated incident, had it not followed a frightening experience in the Hollywood Hills, where my agency had sent me and one other model at 9PM.

9PM is not a usual time for a go-see (the term for a modeling audition). Nor is it usual to go to a private home in the Hollywood Hills. I entered a large open door and tip-toed down the hall. No one was in sight. A few moments later, the other girl scampered out of a bedroom naked and giggling. She dashed for what I assume was the bathroom, to put on her clothes. Two men came out of the room seconds later and saw me wide-eyed in the hall.

“Ah, Christina! You made it! Just in time for dinner. We’re going to take you to X restaurant…” I can’t remember the restaurant or anything else he said. Right then, the girl came out clothed and took my arm conspiratorially, like we were on some great adventure together. “I’m ready, let’s go!”

I made lame excuses and got out of there. I called my agent and told her what had happened, I was a little disturbed. She assured me I had done the right thing by leaving and calling her. The rest of the week I had no futher go-sees. Then my photographer friend called.

In New York, I landed an agency the next day and stayed to have many more grand adventures, some of the variety above (or worse) but plenty good. Perhaps I’ll write about them in the future.

I lived there for three years- off and on.  I loved New York. For now, I’m only going to tell you what a typical night out was like: we’d start getting ready for dinner at 10PM, not go out until 11, and eat a ritzy Upper East Side restaurant, where we knew the Maitre’d and always ate for free. We’d end up at our first nightclub well after midnight. Once that club closed at 4AM, we go to an after-hours  club, often in the meat packing district.

One fun thing to do was to go from the after-hours club down to the South Street Seaport and watch the flurry of the fish market in the pre-dawn hours. This lively place of odors and humanity would wink out of existence like Cinderalla at midnight, as soon as the sun came up. Normal citizens had no clue what took place there in the wee hours.

But my favorite thing of all was to head to the World Trade Center before dawn, and lie down in the plaza, positioned directly below and between the Twin Towers to watch the sunrise. The sky would lighten, and the buildings like great canvases showcased a real-time painting of changing colors.

That was a lifetime ago.

Those symbols of achievement are gone now, the heart of New York.

New York’s heart is still beating, which is something to be celebrated. Like a successful heart transplant patient, with a second chance at life.

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Naples Fantasea: Free Art Show & Concert!

•September 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Santa Barbara Downtown Organization’s First Thursday,  is a free evening of arts and entertainment offered monthly by participating galleries, where you can sample treats gastronomic, visual and aural.

This month’s First Thursday, Sept 2TOMORROW will be especially awesome! The Naples Coalition  is hosting a special event, NAPLES FANTASEA: Keep the Gaviota Coast Wild!

*poster art by Robert Heeley

The event takes place from 5-9 at the historic Casa de la Guerra (otherwise known as the Beer Gardens during Fiesta) and will feature top local artists and an impressive line up of musicians. Legendary surfer Shaun Tomson will MC.

Our MC: the legend, Shaun Tomson. Photo Chris Orwig

ABOUT GAVIOTA: (from the Surfrider website)  “[the] 20-mile stretch of the Gaviota Coast between Goleta and Gaviota draws more than a million visitors to its beaches, coastal canyons and mountain trails every year. In just over two generations, more than ninety percent of southern California’s once-unspoiled coastline has been lost to development forever. The Gaviota Coast’s intact ecosystems, riparian and wildlife corridors, important coastal farmland, rare and endangered animals, unique tidal wetlands, and Native American cultural sites are all gravely threatened by development.” – Gaviota is the last remaining stretch of undeveloped coastline in Southern California.

Our headliner, surf and landscape artist  Robert Heeley, has been painting new works out at the fabled Ranch on the Gaviota Coast especially for this event. This is a rare  and special treat, the largest showing of Rob’s work in a while, offered at unbelievable prices.

Also featured are contemporary artist Dana Karpain:

And plein air painter Susan Belloni, whose graceful landscape subjects include our local coast:

JUST ADDED! Neal Crosbie, whose irreverent and humor-filled Coyote Man drawings and paintings grace the walls at the Blue Agave, where they’ve amused diners for years. His work ranges from the comic-strip medium to rich and complex oils.

All artists have generously donated 50% of their procedes to the Naples Coalition. All money raised for the Naples Coalition will be MATCHED by JACK JOHNSON! 

Ridiculously hot. Amazing generosity makes him hotter.

This includes DONATIONS received,  and money raised from the sale of Beer & Wine (our sponsors, New Belgium Beer and Oreana Winery ), art procedes and a raffle that features truly fantastic prizes- no joke. I’ve helped collect some of these things and I’m sorely tempted to spend this month’s grocery money on raffle tickets. I can’t even decide which item I want most!

UNPLUGGED: Our killer line-up of musicians includes: Paull E. Rubin & Robert PeralesBig Yellow Moon featuring Ernie Knapp, Trevor Zinn from Wrong Again, Ted Hoagland, Kristin Candy, Ed Prado and Spencer Barnitz, playing songs from his latest acoustic project Organic Gangster.

CREATIVE ATTIRE is encouraged. In keeping with the theme, Naples Fantasea, I will be dressed as a mermaid!

If all this isn’t enough, BIKE MOVES will be starting off from Casa de la Guerra for their monthly themed bicycle/drunken/party ride. Their theme to match: Bike Watch – ready with lifesavers for anyone who yells, “save me!”

Come out and get your wild on!

Naples Coalition and Event Sponsors:

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First Wedding Anniversary!

•August 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In the Santa Barbara News Press today!

Christina Eliason & Richard Lloyd

1st Anniversary

Christina Lauranne Eliason and Richard Lloyd were married August 29, 2009 in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Mural Room, with Rev. Dr. Hillary Chrisley officiating. A reception followed at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Family members and friends of both traveled from as far as the East Coast and United Kingdom to attend. A second celebration was given by the bridegroom’s family the following weekend at Cotehele House in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Daniel Eliason, of Santa Barbara, CA. The bridegroom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen A. Lloyd of Callington, Cornwall.

Christina received her M.F.A. in Screenwriting from UCLA and her B.A. in Film Directing, also from UCLA. She is a writer and actress. Richard is a graduate of Cambridge University, and received his M.A. in Medical and Veterinary Sciences.

The couple met while Richard was on vacation in Santa Barbara with his mates. Two years later, they were married on the same weekend they met. The couple is happy to finally reside on the same continent, in Santa Barbara, CA. They celebrate their first wedding anniversary today.

Santa Barbara Fires

•August 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

Friday, August 20, 2010. Left home at 3:15 to pick up signed posters and a book from Tom Campbell, who generously donated the items for an upcoming fundraiser: Naples Fantasea First Thursday Art/Music Event. I hadn’t been up to his Santa Barbara Riviera abode for over a year, so made a point of asking him about the Tea Fire . He showed me where it had come to edge of his property that fateful November night in 2008.

A less lucky neighbor, same street.

Driving home, I remembered how I’d worried about Tom’s and so many other homes, and how the fire had started during my yoga class. In the middle of class, the lights went out. We kept going, because in yoga, who needs lights? We didn’t know a fire had broken out and everyone else was sprinting from the gym and hurdling cars in the parking lot. 15 minutes later someone must have remembered us and opened the door: there we were, serenely achieving inner peace, bent like pretzels in the dark. I like to think we strode from the gym with dignity.

I was on the 101, approaching the Hwy 154 off ramp, when my reminiscence was halted by a plume of angry smoke atop San Marcos Pass. The fire had started at 3:30, while I was at Tom’s House.

I called my mother, “where is it?” I could hear resign in her voice: “directly overhead.” Between the Gap, Tea and Jesusita, fires of the past two years, only one patch of unburned acreage remained: San Marcos Pass and the San Marcos foothills, beneath Hwy 154, where we live. There was another edge to her voice: she’d just caught my dad pruning the bougainvillea while blooming in its full glory. “At a time like this!”

When I arrived home, my mother had already begun Stage One of evacuation: family archives, the “grab bag”, the container of food and water stocked for 3 days. Seamlessly, I packed the cat’s  items. We’ve been through two evacuations in as many years. We’ve got the system down.

Mother left to get gas. While I was staging items in the garage, dad entered with the pruning sheers, placed them on the shelf, looked at them for a moment, then grabbed them again and walked out.

May 2009. Jesusita was a bitch. It burned for a day and a half before heading toward Hwy 154.  It was out of control, in rugged terrain and the winds picked up.

Presciently, I’d completed Stages One and Two of our evacuation plan the day before, even though the fire was miles away, in Santa Barbara. That night in May of 2009, I stood at the corner of Cathedral Oaks Road at Foothill School, conversing with neighbors as 60 foot flames devoured the ridge East of 154.  I pointed to a vertical scar on the mountain face, a fire break cleared during  the Gap Fire. Firefighters had staged there to prevent the Gap from raging  toward Santa Barbara. I explained the fire would first have to cross that firebreak, then leap highway 154 before we were in danger. “Oh, we don’t have anything to worry about then,” said one. I told them to start packing.

Palms explode as Jesusita leaps 154

My family and I left at 11pm and drove to an evacuation center at UCSB, where we spent one night. The evacuation order wasn’t issued until 1am, so we got cots and supplies. Masses poured in all night long. We didn’t get any sleep. Governor Schwarzenneger visited the next morning, but I’d gone to Starbuck’s at 6am to book us a hotel in Ventura (there was nothing left in SB). We stayed gratefully out of the smoke and ash for the next few days. In all, over 30,000 residents were forced from their homes during the Jesusita Fire and 30,000 more left voluntarily from the warning zones. 60,000 residents, two thirds of Santa Barbara’s population,  were directly effected by the fire.


Topography and Timeline: The Goleta Gap Fire came first and burned for one month: July 1 – August 1 2008. It began 4 miles West of Hwy 154 and burned West toward Santa Barbara. It was contained just West of San Marcos Road, before crossing 154.

The Tea fire shocked Montecito and Santa Barbara residents just three months later, on November 13th 2008,  in a populated area of the foothills. It was the smallest but the most destructive. 211 homes were destroyed.

The Jesusita Fire marked the earliest start to Fire Season, prompting Cal Fire to declare that “Fire Season” was no longer a season but year-round. It was seven months after the Tea fire, May 2009.  Jesusita began near the border of the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara, and burned East toward Goleta, eventually jumping Hwy 154, almost closing the gap to the Gap.

Friday, August 20, 2010. Helicopters and aircraft buzzed overhead while we continued to pack, but firefighters got ahead of this one. It was dubbed the “Marcos Fire” and burned only four acres. To our enormous relief, it was out in two hours, low temperatures and marine layer conditions were forecasted overnight. Emergency over. Until my mom noticed my dad sweeping in the back yard.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? This is how you help in a crisis?  The rest of us are preparing to evacuate and you’re out here desecrating my bougainvillea? For one scary moment, the sheers were in her hands, but that crisis, too was averted.

Why did my dad chop the glorious bougainvillea down? Perhaps it was his way of coping in a crisis. I’d caught him at it and stopped him before he got to the flowers she so enjoys from the kitchen window. I showed her the window, then gave her a beer.

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Who Is Your Protagonist?

•August 19, 2010 • 4 Comments

And why is he a white guy between the ages of 24-45?

Fellow UCLA Screenwriter alums caught on to where I was going next in my Chick Flick Rant: Angelina Jolie’s role in SALT was written for a male, Tom Cruise to be specific. As was the part of Lieutenant Ripley in the ALIEN franchise, Jody Foster’s role  in FLIGHT PLAN, Lucy Liu’s role in EKS VS. SEVER, and there are other examples.

It’s striking to me that Sigourney Weaver kicked ass in the original ALIEN in 1979 – I wish I could ALL CAP numbers- and this didn’t launch a plethora of new female protagonist roles?  (Kudos to James Cameron for the iconic Sarah Connor.) Weaver reprised her role in 1986, 1992 and 1997. In 2010, we are still only marginally and with great exception “allowing” women to play strong action protagonists and heroes, and some of those roles are still won by stealing roles written for men.


I have a great variety of writer, actor and filmmaker peers, of differing ethnic backgrounds and physical ability and age. A handful of whom keep blogs, a running theme of which echoes my sentiments above, only fill in the blank with their particular angle: “Why aren’t more protagonist roles written for ________.” I agree.

In a screenplay, it is preferable NOT to indicate the race or physical ability/disability of a particular character when writing character description, unless it is integrated into the story (it comes into play specifically story-wise, where the event/plotline/action would not otherwise occur without the specific race/ability in question.) Screen Actors Guild promotes this practice, the thinking behind it being that visionary casting directors will/should call all types and ethnicities of actors to read for each role, unless otherwise stated. As well, writers providing such description unnecessarily contributes to out-dated thinking. Leave room for the part to be filled by someone interesting, new and unconventional.

Unfortunately, most casting directors are bound by the same antiquated ideas as many producers, etc., and unless otherwise stated,  imagine, “WHITE MALE” when reading the protagonist’s part.

However, and this is not to dismiss or make light of their legitimate viewpoints and the arguments above: the one thing a screenwriter MUST provide on the page (with few exceptions) is the gender.

Writers gender their protagonist by naming them “Tom” “John” and “Mr. Whomever”, provide the age and that’s it.  Unless integrated, we don’t need to know if they have a mustache, brown hair, are Chinese, or hard of hearing: the casting director will use their vision to provide the best actor for the role (in theory).  BUT – the writer MUST gender!  I argue this is where writer’s need to exercise a unique vision.

Artists are supposed to be forward-thinking, leading edge, non-conformists. Leave conformity to the Blue Suits*.

* David Mamet

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