Monday, December 15, 2008

Highlights from My Recent L.A. Trip...

If you’re wondering why I’ve been inactive for the last week (admit it, you’re dying to know), I’ve been in L.A. on official Fantastic Fest business, and I do mean business, going around to various companies to pimp the festival and sell them on the idea that it’s a good idea to use the festival to market their upcoming releases to this crowd. I had about nine different meeting all around town, and I have to say I feel it was a pretty successful week overall, although no actual deals were made, though that wasn’t the point. Get to them before next year’s budgets are put together, convince them we’re worth their time, keep in touch and hopefully all my efforts will bear fruit in nine months time. I’m planting the seed for the little baby that will become Fantastic Fest, and this week was filled with lots and lots of sweet, sweet lovemaking.

God, that is the worst analogy ever. I can’t believe I wrote and published it, but there you go.

What I came back with from this trip to L.A., however, is in seeing the business end of the town more than ever before. I’ve been working in film-related jobs all my life, and have done numerous business trips to L.A. before to attend things like the AFM, but this time out I got much more of a taste of the business of things than probably ever before. Not that it was a bad thing, partly because my meetings went well and the festival and I were well-received, but also because it was that everywhere I went I was surrounded by friends and acquaintances that were all in the industry and all presently working. The economy and the actor’s strike were certainly discussed, but at this point in time most everyone I spoke to had plenty of work to do and were all keeping quite busy (it probably helps that they’re all quite talented). Things can always change (and I’m anticipating that they will), but for this moment in time it was business as usual, and it was somewhat reassuring.

It was also a bit of a kick to see L.A. at Christmastime, which I’d never done before, except in Joel Silver movies. It’s just a bit unusual for me to see Christmas lights on houses in neighborhoods where everything is in full bloom and it’s in the 70s outside, but I like the differences about it, and although the various L.A. homeowners don’t trump the lighting enthusiasm of those back in New Jersey (some of the best you’ll ever see), it was quite nice to drive through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood Boulevard itself to see them all lit up (especially loved to see the giant tree on top of the Capitol Records building), so I was happy to see that L.A. is indeed a town with an unquestionable Christmas spirit. Happy holidays, Los Angeles!

The highlight of the trip for me was unquestionably my traditional Sunday brunch with my friend Mark Loughlin at The Milky Way restaurant on the tip of L.A. and Beverley Hills. It’s a lovely little place with a fine menu of delicious kosher food (I’m not Jewish, but I certainly enjoy the food) and an interesting milieu, because it looks like a shrine to Steven Spielberg, which makes sense since it’s owned and operated by his mother, Leah Adler. She runs the place herself and is usually in attendance; though in my previous visits our paths have failed to cross. This time, however, she was there from the moment I opened the door, as if she were waiting for me, this petite little woman who gave birth to one of my favorite filmmakers, and as I walked in and said “Hello”, she looked at me like only a mother could and said, “I know who you’re here to see. We’ve been waiting for you!” OK, so I was a bit late (hey, I called!), but this was a more that surreal experience for me, to have Spielberg’s mother just standing there waiting for me, but as she sat me at my seat she couldn’t have been lovelier, and she, Mark and myself chatted a bit about the restaurant, the food (I had a very tasty Salmon on potato pancakes and some delicious cheese blitzes), and a bit about her son; nothing too gossipy and none of which I shall repeat, except to say that he’s a nice boy who loves his mother very much. After Mark and I finished, we spoke to Ms. Adler for a bit more, who informed us that she is about to turn 89 this January! Having now finally met this little fireball, I can say that I certainly hope that she’s around for 89 years more.

All in all, a pleasant and productive trip. Hope I get back there soon.