Behind the YWO Poster

Oh boy —  you know nuthin’ good can come from those sultry looks across the couch.

The poster above was a result from the impromptu photoshoot we did a few months ago using a New Yorker poster as a placeholder.  Lynn was wearing short, shorts and a strapless top while I was… well, let’s just say I’m method and wanted to help her awkward expression be as authentic as possible.  Because I’m a giver.

As you can see the plan worked,  however she has not spoken to me since.

I’m kidding.  I wouldn’t have had the balls (pun intended).

One of my favorite shots is below – it’s very John/Yoko-esque.

Stay tuned for the premiere announcement in a few weeks!

On a side note, today marks 10 years from when we premiered BLT at Sundance 2002.  A $250,000 film funded by Dir. Justin Lin’s credit cards that went on to make over $15 Million in Box Office/DVD Sales.  He’s actually there right now as a Juror.

The place 10 years ago where film critic, Roger Ebert ignited a bidding war for the movie after chastising another critic for holding Asian American actors to a double-standard in his sweeping generalization that the film portrayed Asian Americans ‘negatively’.

I wonder how that critic would feel seeing Asians on screen with a *gasp* — libido — in “Yes, We’re Open“?

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Method to the Madness

Happy (Lunar) New Year!

I don’t really begin my ‘new’ year based on the Lunar cycle.  It’s pretty much a coincidence that allows me to use that phrase after procrastinating 23 days from blogging since the start of 2012.

A whirlwind of projects have come through this month.  Some new, some revived and some almost forgotten that’ve reared their heads.

First, was a business trip to NYC before the holidays.  I was able to swing by to see the progress of the Freedom Tower.

And the memorial pools.

Where I also came upon this $2 Bill story that’ve I never heard before.

But the real reason was to meet up with the SI: East Crew and pore over the submitted stories, pair them with potential artists and map out the entire book from Page 1 to Page 216.

Isn’t our ‘lil projector for the wall cute?

Which was all fine and dandy but that also meant: Setting up the Corkboard.

The first time around, I had this set up to keep track of what went where, who turned in what and who was paid what… Wait, what?

Anyway, looking at it below – you’ll get the idea.

However this time, I remembered to avoid: confusing, multi-colored ticks and just labeled them better from the start to save myself later headaches.

Then grabbed some of these.

And went to work.

I must be nuts.

I literally received an ulcer the last time I did this in ’08.

Secret Identities: Shattered” – comin’ to you in Fall 2012 !!

RIP – Heidi Helen Davis

Although this day was expected to arrive, I quietly still hoped it would never really happen.

Heidi finally passed away last morning after her year-long battle with breast cancer.

It’s tough to convey the feeling one feels of the debt owed when someone so integral to your being and makeup dies.

I  vividly recall her last lesson to me.  It was the second to last time I was putting up a scene from Neil LaBute’s, “The Shape of Things” and she was raining down a hailstorm of notes on me.

And even though I was eagerly soaking in and scribbling down her notes of wisdom (I don’t think she ever saw anything but the top of my head during notes), she probably recognized she was being particularly tough on me.  Because she ended it by saying:

“… because Parry, I know you don’t want to be a good actor —

I know you want to be a great actor.”

The following week I put up that scene for the last time, on the last day of class, fueled with her notesthat comment… and it was honestly, the best work I’ve ever done on a stage to this date.  At the end she smiled and out the corner of her mouth gave a, “Good Job”,  in that low, wry and playful tone of hers.

And that was the kind of teacher she was.  Her vast knowledge could challenge and push you to be your absolute best but she also knew when to nurture and give assurance that she was on your side.

I will always feel somewhat lost at sea without her on this planet.  But if there’s one thing I’ll try to carry from her everyday throughout my life and impart to my daughters — it’s that last lesson.  To never settle for just being good, but great in anything we do.  Because that’s how she lived.

Love you, Heidi.  XO

Heidi Helen Davis – Update 2

Another ‘Heidi Update’ means another day she’s getting to spend with her family.  Man, it has been an incredible, humbling and emotional week.

3 days ago on Tuesday, this was her status from Howard Fine:

“Heidi is in hospice at her friends home. She is not conscious and is being kept alive by tube.  She is in her final hours.  Wish that I could give you better news.” 

Then word got out.  Messages were written, pleas were made thoughts were shared.   Then suddenly…

2 days ago on Wednesday, this was her status from Laura:

“Got a call from dear Heidi Helen Davis who is deeply grateful for everyone’s wishes and prayers and asks… that fervent energy go into the theatre…”

Then yesterday, this came from her brother, Bill:

“I spoke with Heidi’s son a few hours ago and he told me that she had a good day; pain free, conscious, and able to talk at great length with him.”

Sheer inner strength or the power of collective thinking?

Perhaps a little of both.

From her message on Wednesday, she obviously wants people to continue on with their lives — something I very quickly figured out for myself after forgetting to pick Avery up from school on Tuesday (oh stop, she’s fine — kids bounce back from that stuff) — but there’s no harm in letting our positive, mental engines rev a little bit each day for her.

Because who knows what else can happen?

With that said, it’s back to the theatre as ordered by Heidi.

So on Monday, Dec 12 — I’ll be doing a stage reading of “A Push or A Pull” at East West Players; 7:30pm sharp.  The play’s still being worked on, so it’ll just be the first two acts.

Does anyone even need to ask who I’m planning to dedicate the reading to?

Please keep those engines revving. 

Kermit and Me

I find it funny The Muppets are now making a comeback in theaters, because in my world — they’ve never left.

A few close friends know Kermit and I go back a long ways.

In college, I discovered a Kermit impersonation and it’s served me well (maybe someday I’ll sing “Rainbow Connection” as him).  For my media class assignments, I never hired other actors.  

I hired Kermit and “we” acted opposite one another.

He was Col. Nathan Jessep to my Lt. Kaffee in the “You Can’t Handle the Truth!” scene from “A Few Good Men“.  I shot a parody segment about the letter “P” and actually used the footage to lead off my old demo reel for several years.

Some may have seen this “Oh, Dear!” clip in a previous post of Avery playing with Kermit at 2.5 years old.

However, the video below is when she was first introduced to him 2 years prior — at 5 months old.

Backstory:  I liked to mock-tackle her (probably because she was the only person I was physically able to tackle).  Only this time, I had Kermit ‘run’ the play – but you’ll see how she eventually deals with the troublesome, green-felted amphibian.

Heidi Helen Davis – Update

I just read this from Heidi’s friend, Laura:

” I just got a call from dear Heidi Helen Davis who is deeply grateful for everyone’s wishes and prayers and asks that there be no visits, no deliveries and that all of that fervent energy go into the theatre and to what Howard has built at the studio.  

Please do not be offended if personal phone calls are not returned at this time your prayers and good wishes are more than enough and as rich as a personal message.” 

I’m overjoyed that she’s conscious and aware of the outpouring for her.  For her to have passed without knowing, would’ve been gut-wrenching.

Just in hearing from the number of people that didn’t know she was sick, leads me to believe she wanted to keep this all private.

And I totally get it.

I didn’t tell anyone outside my family when I lost 1/3 of my blood and was hospitalized for days with a bleeding ulcer.  And I don’t tell anyone whenever it’s my birthday.

But you know what?  

When all those “Happy Birthdaymessages start coming through on Facebook — I have to admit… it feels pretty damn awesome.  Like you didn’t ask for it, but you’re still getting those well wishes in spite of that, for your own good.

Heidi never asked for any of this fuss but I’m glad she getting it now for her own good and knows it.

Thank you for all the positive thoughts and keep them up… they obviously helped.

Heidi Helen Davis

Whenever anyone asked who I’d recommend to study acting with, that name instantly rolled off my tongue for the past 14 years.

Last night I was shocked to discover that my acting teacher, Heidi Helen Davis, has been battling Stage 4 breast cancer for the past year.  The chemo hasn’t been working recently and she went into hospice at a friend’s home for her remaining days.  I’ve heard she is currently unconscious and in her final hours.

But describing her as my ‘acting teachercannot even begin to scratch the surface and convey all she’s meant to me during the past decade and a half — both as a mentor and human being.

This post is intended to give a silver of a peek into who Heidi is while she’s still with us.

She is and will always essentially be the ‘Mom’ that brought me up within the acting world.

In acting class, you’re always finding ways to access genuine emotions on cue, which very often blurs the line between acting and reality.

I’ve seen divorcees break-down after an emotional scene, former abused children given a haunting flashback from a past life after a riveting performance.

So the instructor is truly the rudder steering this groundswell of emotions and channeling it into productive use.  Which requires patiencecompassionnurture, tough love, and focus.  All of which Heidi has in spades.

We encounter many teachers during our lifetime that make such a monumental difference; so much so that we would literally be a different person if it were not for them — and Heidi is at the very top of that list for me.

– EVERYTHING – I know about acting — this ‘thing’ that I plan to do for the remainder of my life in some capacity — my foundation was entirely built by this wonderful, wonderful woman.  Her lessons for acting and in life will be her legacy in me and the thousands of students she has taught over the years.

I studied with Heidi from 1997-1999 and then in 2003.  After reeling in shock over my (perceived) horrendous performance in my first feature film (‘Shrieker’), she was the first person I brought the video cassette (yes, that long agoto go over scene by scene on what I could have done better.  Btw, it wasn’t horrible but I still had a long ways to go.

One of my proudest moments as an actor, was having her and Ben (her son) present at an advanced screening of ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ in 2003.  Where for the first time, I was able to pour 110% of everything I’d learned from her at the time into a satisfying, 3-dimensional role on screen.

When I studied with her in ’03, I was now ‘seasoned’had some credits and prepared the heck out of my scene.  There was NO WAY she was going to be able to say anything but “Great Job”.  But darn it to hell, she just cranked up the teaching dial a few notches with notes and insight I’d never even thought of — just holding me to a higher standard.

It was as if she was a Kung-Fu Master saying,

Oh, but I didn’t teach you everything yet ‘lil Grasshopper.”

I’ve studied with many other instructors since then to gain different perspectives, but time and time again found myself more often going, “Meh” instead of “Whoa”.

Quite the opposite with Heidi.

Whenever work slowed for me, I always felt comfort in thinking, “I can always take a refresher with Heidi — that always gets me working again.”  And it saddens me that, that can’t ever be a possibility any longer.  It is so unfair that this is to be the ending of her story.

I’ve never publicly told anyone this… but since the start of my career — I’ve kept a journal.

It contains memorable lessons and quotes (pertaining to acting and life).  But I am extremely selective on what ‘makes it in‘ because my intention is — when this journal is entirely filled up, I should know EVERYTHING there is to know about acting (that’s the plan anyway).  I’ve even gone 3 years without hearing anything inspiring enough to make an entry.

After 14 years, it’s only 1/4 of the way filled up.

But in it, are several entries from Heidi.

Below, are a few to share her legacy.  To actors, they most certainly apply to acting.  But to non-actors, read carefully as they also apply to life in general.  They are the lessons I’ve passed onto my own students (and will continue to) and daughters in the future.

Please keep Heidi and her son Ben in your prayers.

My Top 10 TV Theme Songs (Animated)

Animated shows probably have the best theme songs because they don’t have to worry about taking themselves too seriously — they just let it fly.

Batman: The Animated Series” was cool but basically reused the movie score.

The Simpsons” will forever be recognizable but loses a lot without seeing what Bart’s writing on the chalkboard or what the family’s doing on the couch during the remaining seconds.

But these animated cell ditties will stay with me for all time:

10. “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” – As you may know from the previous entry about “The A-Team“, I’m a sucker for a theme when it starts off with horns and then segues into electric guitar.  Which is why when these five, multi-colored, robotic lions interlock, it throws me into a tizzy.

9. “The Jetsons” – This classic does a switcheroo of “Voltron“.    Starting off with strings and once ‘daughter Judy‘ enters frame — you’re met with a blast of jazzy horns.

Everything you need to know about the family is in this song, except their dog Astro — which led me to believe he was going to be killed off at a later date.

8. “Spider-Man” (1967) – A groovy tune.  In what other song will you EVER hear the phraselisten, bud” being rhymed with “radioactive blood“?!  I mean, come on!

7. “The Flintstones” – You’ll have a ‘yabba-dabba doo time‘ listening to this opener ‘courtesy of Fred’s 2 feet‘.  Although I always felt bad for that bird at the beginning; poor fella got his tail yanked at quitin’ time and probably at lunch tooEVERYDAY.

6. “Scooby-Doo” – Love this fun and upbeat song but I recall a different version that opened up with the sound of a fog horn that I preferred (but can’t find it).  This version kinda abruptly starts, whereas the other one eases into things more.

Genius Rhyme Alert: ‘willin” with ‘villain‘.

5. “Inspector Gadget” – Brilliant melody change towards the end when we meet the villainDr. Claw (or at least his arm).  It follows very closely to the “The Smurfs” opener when we’re introduced to the evil Gargamel — but it’s the “Oo-oo” vocal chimes in Gadget’s theme that puts it over the top.

4. “Muppet Babies” – I love the wonderful message about the power of imagination in this opener.  And it’s great they take turns handing off lead vocals so that everyone gets a chance to shine (even Animal).

The song really captures the ensemble spirit that has always been The Muppets — they were the originalEntourage” (minus the sleeping around).  I always crack up whenever Kermit rides in on that tricycle — he’s so cute!

3.  “ThunderCats” – Fast, fast, fast paced action from the start.

Alien, Feline Humanoids crash on earthBAM! Dude’s cool sword grows in length – BOOM! Hot cheetah chick plows through a dozen henchmenPOW!

By the end you’re like, “Whoa.  What kick-assness did I just witness!?!”  Then you’d have to wait til’ the next day to catch it again ‘cuz they were no DVRs way back when.

Fun Tidbit: The voice of the muscle, Panthro — was voiced by the Grandfather on “The Cosby Show“.

2. “Heathcliff” – The random lyrics in this 50’s-inspired theme song make no sense whatsoever — but who cares when it makes you want to get up and dance!?!

Genius Rhyme Alert: “deny-ai-ai-ai” with “alibi-ai-ai-ai“.

1. “Alvin and The Chipmunks” – There’s really no beating this one.  Not only is it fun to sing along but educational as well.  The spelling of the word “C-h-i-p-m-u-n-k” is now and forever second-nature for me and at blazing speeds (see :23 sec mark).  And I only have Alvin, Simon and Theodore Seville to thank for that.

So, thank you.

Honorable mentions go out to: “Tiny Toon Adventures“, “Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers“, and “DuckTales“.

Well, this animated theme song wrap up concludes this series of my favorite TV theme songs with words and without.

They sure don’t make ’em like they used to, do they?

My Top 10 TV Theme Songs (Instrumental)

Continuing from the last post, this entry will focus on my 10 Favorite TV openers — sans words.

Looking over these lists, it’s apparent that I’m very partial to — fast, driving melodies/beats.

Which is why slower and sweeping epic scores from: “The Incredible Hulk“, “Battlestar Galactica“, and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” — despite all being extremely John Williams/cinematic worthy — didn’t make the cut for me.

Television (when I watched it a lot) was a whole, different kitschy beast altogether and I think my selections reveal that aspect (as demonstrated by the many synthesizer created ditties on this list).

There’s one exception — I’ve always held an affinity for NBC’s (unjustly canceled) time-jumper drama “Journeyman“‘s theme song and even used it throughout Secret Identities‘, The Blue Scorpion & Chung” video.

I pondered over many, upbeat selections: “Sanford and Son“, “The Andy Griffith Show“, “What’s Happenin!“, “Charlie’s Angels” — and finally narrowed it down to these ten:

10.  “The Munsters” – I like the older version equally as well — both distinctively utilizing the electric guitar to perfectly capture the hip, creepy and goofy nature of the show.

9.  “S.W.A.T.” – Granted it starts off sounding like a porno, but the catchy tune served as my inner theme song whenever I rolled around playing ‘Cops & Robbers’ back in the day.

8. “MacGyver” – Just a great ‘Aw, shucks’ theme that encapsulated the always, good natured and unassuming man that could make anything as long as he had: Duct Tape, a Pocket Knife and String.

7. “The A-Team” – The rousing crescendo after the machine gun’s ‘rat-tat-tat’ is unmistakable.  The best part?  The mid-song instrument change from horns to heavy electric guitar and then back.  Brilliant.  Makes you want to blow sh*t up.

Although it actually loses points for being butchered with Season 5’s rendition.  Sometimes there can be such a thing as — too much synthesizer (at the :25 sec mark after the inane and monotonous taps at the beginning).

6. “Batman” – How can this not be on everyone’s list?  The horn blasts literally sound like the exclamations, “WHAM!”, “BOOM!”“BAM!”.  And then sometimes if you were really lucky — at the end you might hear the throaty, whine of a motorcycle and realize in delight, “HOLY CRAP!!  BATGIRL’s in this episode!!

Since only a singular name is repeated throughout the song with some “Na, Na, Na’s” tossed in, this one counts as an instrumental in my book.

5. “Hawaii Five-O” – Once you hear those pounding drums at the top, you know you’re about to get smacked down with a tidal wave of song awesomeness.  Brian Tyler’s updated version is slick, but I still prefer the old school version.

4. “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” – Like every good melody, this theme tells a story.  It starts off eerie and spooky when he’s frozen in space and all seems lost.

But then, as he passes through the centuries in a state of suspended animation, the music become increasingly more confident and more optimistic — mirroring his positive outlook towards his new future living in a new and strange world.

Or am I just reading too much into this?

3. “Knight Rider” –SYNTHESIZER HEAVEN, baby.

2. “CHiPs” – I suppose I just dig any 70’s song that starts off with a disco/bow-chika-bow-bow beat.  But this remained a constant fixture inside my head whenever I rode a bike (in pairs or solo) from the ages of 6 – 12.

I still get giddy whenever I see a pair of CHP motorcycle cops riding along the freeway (with California budget cuts, it’s a very, very rare sight).

1. “Beverly Hills, 90210” – The addition of the ‘double chin-punch‘ by Jason Priestley/Brandon Walsh in the Season 2 re-tooled version, significantly infused some much needed pizazz into the anemic Season 1 theme and even lamer pilot version before that — thereby shooting it straight to the top of my list.

I was reaaallly tempted to ask for the ‘double-chin punch‘ while snapping this pic while working with Jason on ‘Tru Calling” many years ago — but even though we were in perfect formation I thought better of it.

I know, I know — “Seriously?! 90210?”  But yes, and here’s why

Theme songs like these are almost a generational thing from a bygone era sprinkled with a dash of subjective nostalgia and a pinch of hokey.

Theme songs now are all cinematic and serious with composers such as Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman scoring them.

Truth be told, my absolute favorite opening hands down — is from “Dexter“.  But the music doesn’t stand on its own for me — it needs the beautifully shot visuals of Dexter’s deliberate morning routine to accompany it.  How taut he pulls his laces, slices his food, and wraps his fingers around the French Coffee Press handle.

But fun TV Tunes that can be listened to ala carte?  These are mine, for better or worse.

Honorable mentions also go out to: “Mission: Impossible“, “The Benny Hill Show“, “Airwolf“, “The Rockford Files“, “AutoMan“, “Hill Street Blues“, “Dallas“, “Barney Miller“, and “L.A. Law“.

I’m sure I’ll be chastised for leaving out some personal favorites.   So lemme hear ’em!

Next entry… Top 10 Animated TV Theme Songs.


My 10 Favorite TV Theme Songs (with Lyrics)

I used to watch A LOT of television.

Probably a good 4 hours/day in middle school (after-school cartoons).  By High School, I’d upped it to 6-7 hours/day to ‘research’ the prime-time schedule and begin my homework around 11pm (don’t worry, still straight A’s).

Needless to say the ‘Outliers’ hours I put in, most definitely had some influence towards my current occupation.

However as an ancillary by-product, I have accumulated a wealth of theme songs in my head.

Over the next several entries, I’ll be breaking down my all-time favorites into 3 categories: TV Theme Songs (with lyrics), TV Instrumental Theme Songs, and Animated TV Theme Songs.

Today’s entry will focus on my — Top 10 Favorite TV Theme Songs that contain lyrics.

Now by no means will this list strike the fancy of everyone.  But if I found myself belting out or jamming along the song — it made the list.  Believe me, I considered the “Full House’s“, “Who’s the Boss’“, “Perfect Strangers’“, “Gimme a Break’s“, “The Jeffersons’“, “The Monkees’“, and “The Partridge Family’s“– but these wound up as my all-time favs.

Careful though, you may find a tune stuck in your head the rest of the day.

10.  ‘”WKRP in Cincinnati”  – Just mellow & chill.  And I always did find myself wondering ‘whatever became of ‘ whoever the singer was, when it’s mentioned.

 

 

 

9.  “The Greatest American Hero” – Oh, I believe ‘you’re walking on air’.  Indeed I do.  Well… maybe more like flailing on air.

 

 

 

8. “Family Ties” – It always blew my mind that guy painted the entire portrait during the opening song!

 

 

 

7. “The Facts of Life” – We all can relate to ‘when the world never seems to be livin’ up to our dreams‘.

 

 

 

6.”The Dukes of Hazzard” – My pal Ed Ackerman, recently revived my love for this song in this commercial.  And yes, he’s also one of the Captial One Visigoths.

 

 

 

5. “Cheers” – Just a beautiful, beautiful song.  Although I’m not sure implying the best way to ‘take a break from all your worries  by frequenting a watering hole so often that everyone in the entire establishment ‘knows your name‘ — is sending the best message.

 

 

 

4. “Diff’rent Strokes” – Song tells the whole story and it’s fun to sing along.

 

 

 

3. “Growing Pains” – Sharin’ the laughter n’ love… sharin’ the laughter n’ love.   Fun Tidbit: Actor, Alan Thicke sang the “Diff’rent Strokes” theme song above AND he wroteThe Facts of Life” song in the #7 spot.

 

 

 

2. “21 Jump Street” – Holly Robinson rocked out on this.  How cool is that — getting to sing over your OWN opening credits?!

 

 

 

1. “Laverne & Shirley” – I always felt this song really captured the fun and independent spirit of L&S.  As a child, I recalled being extremely bothered that Laverne purposely placed her glove on that bottle.  I would wonder if she ever got a replacement.  How did she explain it to her boss? Did she get fired?

Actually, I’m still a bit troubled to this day about it.

 

Honorable mentions go out to: “The Brandy Bunch“, “Wonder Woman“, “One Day At A Time“, “Happy Days“, and “The Fall Guy“.

Next entry… Top 10 instrumental TV Theme Songs.

Any not on this list, your all-time fav?