Archive for February, 2012

Living the Dream!!!

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

“Please don’t wake me from this dream!” I said out loud to my husband while eating the brilliant meal in front of me, prepared by my live-in chef.  Uh-huh, you heard correctly.  My private chef.

Let me take you back five days.  I received a late-night email.  It was from an old friend, Olivia.  She told me her son was here in Los Angeles from London (where they live) and that the minute he arrived, he had a bust-up with his girlfriend.   She said that he could use a friendly face.  I answered immediately: “Of course, have him call me.”

First call the following day was Oscar, whom I’ve never met.  In fact, I have not seen his mother in thirty years.  Since he was already in Venice, I asked him to meet me at one of my favorite restaurants, Gjelina on Abbot Kinney.  My husband Michael agreed to join us.  Oscar, looking lost and forlorn, told us he had planned to take his now ex-girlfriend to Valentine’s dinner here at this same restaurant the following night.  We offered our home to Oscar for the rest of his vacation.  I didn’t think we would be too intriguing, but later that day he told me that eating lunch with us was the most fun he had had so far in Los Angeles.  And when he told us he was a chef, I nearly screamed.  Actually, I did, but only internally. (more…)

The Hat that Launched a Short-lived Career

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

On my son Oliver’s 21st birthday, he reluctantly gave in and let me invite a few of his friends over to celebrate – just a handful, the ones who adore him.  We were living on the beach in Malibu and I was so excited to share the house with him and his crew.  One close friend, Lily, had the foresight to buy him a porkpie hat.  They were not in style yet, as they have been now for years.  And Oliver rocked that hat.  He wore it every single day.

He was attending Santa Monica College, and one day on campus he was approached by talent scouts.  They said they were casting a national Coca-Cola commercial.  They told Oliver they liked his style.  (That hat!)  Oliver is shy or at least sort of camera shy.  Though at times he can be outrageous, like a performance artist — but only in the company of very close friends and family.

He showed up for the casting call.  Why not?  And he phoned me every step of the way.  The first call was “Should I go?”  He went.  Then again to say that if he gets a callback, they will fly him to San Francisco for that audition. “That’s great,” I said, never thinking it would go much further.   Next I know, he’s at the airport waiting for his flight.  I’m thinking it will be fun for my son to get a free trip.  First class treatment all the way, he reports from the groovy hotel they put all the potential actors in.

Flashback.  A few weeks before Oliver was discovered on his college campus, he began dating a new girl.  He told me how taken he was with her.  He brought flowers to her at work to woo her.  It succeeded.  He told me she was a very talented filmmaker, a student in the film department at SMC.

Now, he was calling her from the hotel in San Francisco to tell her the news.  He said he felt like he was in some dream; this could not be real.  He told the girl that if he lands this job he must stay for another week to shoot.  But, if he doesn’t, he’ll be home the next day.  For some unknown reason, she said, “You will never call me again, I feel it.”  He told her that’s just crazy.  He promised to call the minute he comes home.

He landed the job.  He never called the girl again.

For the week of shooting, Oliver was treated like a king.  I once did commercials, so I know how intoxicating that can be.  He was telling me that assistants would ask if he wanted something to drink.  He had no problem requesting hot tea.  What else do you want?  Let’s get you some expensive vintage clothes from a high-end store.  Oh, you can keep those shirts.  People were anticipating his every need.  On location in San Francisco Oliver had the time of his life.

Then he was home, and not only didn’t he call the girl again, he also never returned to school.  He sat back, rolling in dough.  If a homeless person needed something, however expensive, Oliver bought it for him.  He picked up the check at restaurants with friends.  And girls he dated received the most expensive boots and were taken to the best hotels.

Meanwhile, that Coke commercial aired nationally on TV every night, and could be seen in movie theaters around the country. (more…)

340 South Roxbury Drive

Saturday, February 11th, 2012


me and my mom at our beach house

In our family, life is six degrees of feline separation.

I often tell people I was meant to grow up in Malibu.  That is where we lived — right on the beach – but my mom’s cat Jezebel was killed by a car, and that incident turned my life around.

My mother decided it wasn’t safe on the highway (PCH) and we moved to the house on Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills.  The year was 1955.   The former owners sold it to us with one perfect provision: the cat comes with the house.  What are the chances of this?  We move because a cat gets killed and instantly we have this new one.  Hangover, who came with his name, was a rather large, slightly feral black & white street boy.  The name, in the lore of our family (and from what the previous owners told us), came from this big-ass cat’s habit of hanging over the sides of trees that he climbed.  He was not a drunk.  He was really frisky, almost unsafe for a small child.

Hangover the cat!!!

On days when I was sick at home, Sheriff John would be playing on the TV, but I wouldn’t be watching — because I was too busy forcing Hangover’s paws to crayon  pictures with me getting scratched by the real leader of our family.  He kept me/us in line.  He was also the first creature I would love. (more…)

Whatever Coat I Want…

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Some women like shoes.  Some dig purses.  I love coats.  And I have lots of them.

I own a vintage Biba coat, which means nothing to most people, but I bought it for 5 pounds at the antiques market on London’s Portobello Road in the late 70’s.  Though I have a few designer coats, it isn’t about the name for me at all.  It’s about covering up and looking good when I am probably wearing sweats and looking faintly homeless underneath.

I screened a documentary about my dad the other night, and in a little speech before the movie I stated that some chicks in this town spend on a purse what I spent on the whole budget of my film.

One day, my son Oliver had these friends over.  The girl made a passing remark that she liked my coat.  Boy, was she sorry.  I said “If you like this, you might also like this,” then I came out to the pool where they were talking wearing a different one.  She oohed and aahed.  At that point, I just went into full-blown modeling every single coat I owned, or at least the ones I adore.  She was a model herself, so I thought she might like my show.  Only, it took over an hour.  An hour of her life and mine spent digging in my closets to find stylish coats that I’ve purchased over the years.  Poor Oliver.

Each year on my birthday, my husband either goes hunting for a new coat on his own or he might go with me to pick out a cool one.  And then I wear the shit out of it.  If you see me in the market, I will be wearing that year’s model, and you can only guess what’s under it.  Not pretty, trust me.

Recently at a party, I sat with my friend Lynne and we stared out at the crowd, commenting on this person or that.  Pointing to the old lady parked on the couch that never moved the whole night, I said, “Look Lynne, that’s me in the near future!”  She said, “Yeah, but you’ll be rocking a cool new coat.” (more…)