Three Days in LA: A 2013 ESPY Awards adventure

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I knew it was going to be an interesting trip to Los Angeles when I met actor Colin Farrell at LAX baggage claim upon arrival. Minutes later, I bumped my shoulder into Olympic legend Michael Phelps’ tightly toned torso while wildly retrieving my luggage from the baggage carousel.

Here is the actual transcript of our meeting:

“Whoa. Hi Michael, excuse me. That bag kinda got away from me there for a second.”

“No problem, how are you?”

“I am good, nice to see you.”

Turning my attention, and body, towards the exit, I again saw Farrell, this time attempting to lay low in the shadows as people began to recognize him as “that one guy from ‘SWAT.’”

Suddenly, five punky paparazzo exploded off the elevator and surged towards the helpless Farrell, who was now pacing back and forth, alone, waiting for his luggage, while having a conversation on his cell phone that was going nowhere. He was adamant about needing a ride immediately, but his urgency was neither acknowledged nor reciprocated.

A pair of 50-something (but don’t tell them that) Latinas spotted him, exclaiming with glee to everyone within earshot that Farrell was, in fact, “right by them.”

The ladies bum rushed him and made their jerky husband take several pictures while they posed, Farrell maintaining a state of disinterest throughout the experience. 30 people stood around and watched, mouths agape.

Metaphorically, Farrell was naked in front of his high school assembly, with no publicist or agent in sight to deflect or protect, and the verbal potshots began to pile up.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Hidden Netflix Gems: Glengarry Glen Ross

It’s Saturday night and you need something to watch. Never fear, Hidden Netflix Gems is a weekly feature designed to help you decide just what it should be, and all without having to scroll through endless pages of crap or even leave the house. Each choice will be available for streaming on Netflix Instant, and the link below will take you to its page on the site. Look for a new suggestion here every Saturday. 

This week’s Hidden Netflix Gem: “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992)

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is David Mamet’s film adaptation of his 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play of the same name. The star-studded drama depicts two desperate days in the lives of four Chicago real estate salesmen after Blake, a corporate trainer sent by the downtown office (played by Alec Baldwin in one of the best single-scene performances of all-time), announces that in a week all but the best two salesmen will be fired. The film is named after two of the properties the salesmen attempt to unload, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.

Chief among the salesmen is office hotshot Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), who knows every trick in the book and then some, always ready with another up his sleeve. Roma is joined by the less fortuitous Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin), who are rightfully intimidated by Blake’s speech. Last is Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Jack Lemmon), an old-timer whose career was in jeopardy even before Blake showed up. The once-successful Levene’s glory days have long since passed, nothing but the distant memories of a man working support his daughter, who’s hospitalized with an undisclosed condition. Levene will be familiar even to those who haven’t seen the film, as the character was the inspiration for Ol’ Gil from “The Simpsons.”

Early on, Blake shows up to give his “motivational” speech, which includes a likewise familiar line: “A, B, C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing.” It seems there’s to be an office contest over the next week. First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize is a  set of steak knives, and third prize? Well, “third prize is you’re fired.” Central to the salesmen’s efforts are “leads,” the names and numbers of potential clients distributed by coldly reserved office manager John Williamson (Kevin Spacey). Most of the leads are old and useless, the contact information of people the salesmen have already spoken with and who tend to lack the funds or the desire to actually invest in land. In spite of this, Williamson holds the more promising leads under lock and key, in reserve for the contest’s winners. The situation is a clear Catch-22, as the salesmen need the good leads to have any hope of keeping their jobs, but access to them will only be granted to those that do so by placing in the top two.

Because it was adapted from a stage production, “Glengarry” is minimalist in nature. Only nine actors have speaking roles, it seems every other line of the tight dialogue is highly memorable, while all the action takes place in a small handful of locations. The film is divided nearly exactly into two 50-minute acts. The first takes place on the rain-soaked evening of Blake’s speech and is propelled in large part by Levene’s bumbling attempts to get his hands on a worthwhile lead and make sales. It also showcases Moss and Aaronow’s strategizing in reaction to the announcement of the contest. Pacino’s character receives considerably less screen time in the first half than the other three salesmen, which serves to contrast them with Roma’s cool confidence as he neglects to show up to hear Blake speak and makes a sale with relative ease. On the other hand, the second act is largely Pacino’s turf as the salesmen and their manager show up to work the following day to discover the prime leads have been stolen.

The cast of “Glengarry Glen Ross” has jokingly referred to the film as “Death of a Fuckin’ Salesman.” It’s a profanity-soaked, modern version of the Arthur Miller play the nickname makes reference to, and in each the salesman represents the reality and failure of the American Dream. It’s a fine line between deception and salesmanship, and the film gives us both. It’s the subtle contrast of Levene’s grandstanding—barking orders to an invisible secretary or pretending he’s got a plane to catch—with the defeated look in his eyes. He seems to be perpetually a moment from tearing up and two from a total breakdown.

A frighteningly accurate portrayal of working in sales, “Glengarry” has been certified fresh and currently sits at a 96 percent on the Tomatometer. Pacino’s work in the film garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but Baldwin’s speech alone makes “Glengarry Glen Ross” a more than worthwhile way to spend 100 minutes on a Saturday evening.

Check out the trailer below and follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman

 

  

5 Questions with Génesis Rodríguez of “Casa de mi Padre”

Be sure to check out our interview with the “Casa de mi Padre” cast and crew, including Will Farrell, Diego Luna, Génesis Rodríguez, Nick Offerman, and writer Andrew Steele!

If you’re a regular viewer of Telemundo telenovelas such as “Prisionera,” “Dame Chocolate” and “Doña Bárbara,” it’s a bit odd you’re reading an online men’s magazine. If you have watched them, however, odds are you are already a fan of the beautiful young woman whose full name is Génesis Rodríguez Pérez. A second generation Latin American TV star — her father is Venezuelan legend José Luis Rodríguez, aka “el Puma” — Ms. Rodríguez (“La Pumita”) is Miami born and bred. She is, to say the least, equally loquacious in both Spanish and English and, in the nicest possible way, just a bit wacky in her approach to chatting up the press. So much so, in fact, we expect her to conquer Hollywood shortly.

A seasoned veteran with plenty of onscreen gravitas at the shockingly young age of 24, she makes a entirely credible romantically conflicted leading lady opposite budding Latin American leading man Will Ferrell (pronounced “Wheel Fer-all”) in the over-the-top Spanish language Mexploitation/telenovela spoof, “Casa de mi Padre.” “Casa” however, is not Ms. Rodríguez’s only recent brush with the big time. After a relatively small part as one of Turtle’s bevy of attractive drivers on “Entourage,” she has also appeared in her first really big American movie as Jamie Bell’s girlfriend in the hit thriller, “Man On a Ledge.” The high profile production also gave her a scene with thespian living legend Ed Harris (see a photo from the film below, before question #4). Her next gig is “Hours,” an intense drama set during Hurricane Katrina and co-starring Paul Walker.

Clearly, Génesis Rodríguez is more than holding her own in the world of Yanqui entertainment. She certainly gave much better than she got when it was time for us to ask her five questions.

1. Who’s more intimidating, Ed Harris or Will Ferrell?

Ed Harris, because Will Ferrell’s a teddy bear. Will Ferrell’s the sweetest individual you could ever come across. Ed Harris is very method, so if he plays a villain, good God. You’re going to be scared. You’re going to be very scared.

2. You obviously did just fine in the movie, but since this was your first big, funny movie with some pretty major comedy talent, are we going to see your cracking up all over the “Casa de mi Padre” Blu-ray?

I really tried to keep it together. There were moments. I don’t take myself very seriously, as you can see; I’m kind of a goofball. I kind of get nervous when people are extremely intense. So I tend to crack. I just start laughing for no reason. If someone has an accidental fall or something, and they’re hurt, I can’t help it. It just happens out of nervousness. So, I really had to learn how to keep it together. I didn’t want to be that jerk that Will hired that’s a newbie that can’t hang around the comedy people.

I had to say different, random things in my head, like, “This isn’t funny, Génesis, why don’t you just come on?” “He’s not funny.” “This is not funny, come on.” I would think about my grandmother and what I was going to eat later and just random things to keep my mind occupied — as well as thinking about my acting. It’s a very complicated thing to do!

3. Since this is for an online men’s magazine, I am forced to ask you about “Entourage.” What was the best thing and what was the worst thing about your stint there?

The best thing was just the people who do “Entourage.” They’re so very respectful. They’re a very nice group of guys to hang out with on set.

The worst thing about it is that I was hired to be a driver and I didn’t know how to drive. I had to drive the car and I didn’t know how to do that. They said, “Hey, Gen, this is a $500,000 car. Are you okay with this?”

And I said, “No, see, I don’t know how to drive.” So, they had to get a stunt [person] for my little part in “Entourage,” which I find to be very ridiculous.

4. And what’s the best and the worst thing about being a telenovela superstar?

Telenovelas have a stigma to them but it’s part of our culture. People don’t know how hard it is to be in a telenovela. It’s 18 hour workdays, Monday through Saturday, for eleven to [16] months straight. No breaks. We only had Sunday off. We really became vegetables by the end of it. It was extreme hard work.

The good thing about it was the audience that we got. We were on the air five days a week and we were in prime time. People were watching us when they were cooking, or putting the kids to bed, or eating dinner. You really became a part of their home. When people recognize me, they hug me, they kiss me, and they love you because you’re part of their family.

The same thing. When I see someone from a telenovela that I love, I kind of melt. I kind of melt because I adore them. You don’t even know the person but you feel like you love them. That’s the beauty of a soap opera; it’s a very special fan, a very special audience.

5. Speaking of your telenovela work, Will Ferrell has publicly marveled at your ability to cry on cue. What’s the secret?

This is something you learn doing a soap opera. It’s something that you automatically know that you just have to do. People get scared when they hear that, especially men. They’re like, “Ohhh — this one; she knows how to cry on command. This is kind of scary.” But you kind of can tell when I’m faking it.

You can tell because when I really cry, my face just completely distorts and morphs into another ugly, ugly face. My chin starts trembling and that’s when it really hurts to cry. The tears thing — it’s just technique. It’s just like anything else, for me. Which is a gift, I know. I know, it’s a gift. Do you want me to do it right now?

[We were initially startled, but of course we did!]

You don’t have a camera, but you’ll see.

[At this point, Ms. Rodríguez took a gulp of water. An intense, but not particularly disturbed, look crossed her face as she began the tearing up process. Her voice got noticeably more quiet, but she continued talking.]

It’s coming…You get glassy. You just start getting watery. I’m not thinking about absolutely anything. It’s coming. You see it? You can’t see it yet? It’s going to happen.

[And sure enough, the waterworks flow. Very impressive.]

It’s nothing. I could talk about cupcakes and dogs. I can talk about happy things and rainbows.

  

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