Tag Archive: rashida jones


 

QUINCY-1998-FNL-copy

Quincy Jones has had a career and a life that just won’t me duplicated.

EGOT.  He opened the door for Oprah to go to the next level.  He opened the door for Will Smith to go to the next level.  Nearly any creative I know would feel like his 90th biggest accomplishment would easily be their 1st.

So it’s impressive that ‘Quincy’ does such a good job of giving an overview for how much he’s done over the years while blending in enough of a personal element to balance the story out.

I could be hear all day talking about Q’s accomplishments, so I’ll just pick a few highlights:

  • Sinatra is one of my guys, so the chapter detailing their relationship was riveting for me.  How much respect Frank had for him, how Q was right there with Sammy when Sinatra spoke up about really integrating Vegas, the album ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ (a personal favorite).  All gems.
  • Like Kendrick said, my generation was introduced to Q through MJ.  The music nerd in me was equally happy to hear him credit Rod Temperton as one of the great songwriters, but getting behind the scenes footage of their professional bonding over ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ was cool.
  • I should have figured as much, but Q produced the concert that opened the Smithsonian African-American Museum.  Just seeing him walk through the pop culture exhibit and realize he produced or worked with damn near every person in the music section is another shake your head ridiculous moment; but seeing this man still producing massive events in his 80s is…humbling.

The film is co-directed by his daughter Rashida (side note: I’m far too young to know of a young Peggy Lipton, but seeing her with no context, my first reaction was still, ‘Oh, that’s Rashida Jones’ mom), and it’s well worth the two hour watch if you’re any kind of pop culture nerd.

High recommend.

 

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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Actress Rashida Jones attends the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

 

I didn’t have a song really hit me today, so I cede the floor to the daughter of a musical genius.  Feel pretty good about the standard I’ve been holding myself to since Ramadan, but this is still great advice whether you’re an actor or a human being.

Enjoy!

 

‘Hot Girls Wanted’

roller-girl-4

About a year or so ago, we had a vote out here that made it a law that porn stars had to wear condoms during um, work hours’.  So how did they respond?  They moved to Miami and other places without the law.

Well played, porn.

That’s one of the interesting tidbits you learn in ‘Hot Girls Wanted’, a documentary that played well at Sundance and is produced by Rashida Jones.  There’s a definite ‘Boogie Nights for the internet age’ vibe to it.  We see how these 18 and 19 year old girls are drawn into this industry making more money than they could ever make doing anything else at that age, by starting on the same path that made Kim K. and her family rich and famous, and has made all of us relatively numb to the idea of seeing our favorite (female) pop stars sell sex with really, nothing left anymore to the imagination.  The men taking advantage of these girls are straight out of the R. Kelly Central Casting playbook. One of them even said more or less, ‘I couldn’t get these girls when I was 18, but now that I’m 30 I know exactly what to say!” (Ew.)

The way the film is structured is very good.  Much like a real life porn ‘rabbit hole’, you can start with ‘this is what I like’, move into ‘um…I don’t know but you have my attention’, then before you know it you’re in full ‘OK this is criminal’ and before you can back out of it you’re in ‘this isn’t sexual at all, this is some repressed, power shit.’  Unlike Boogie Nights though, this is a documentary.  These are real girls with real families, some of whom we meet.  Rough on the emotions at times, but a good documentary.

Now streaming on Netflix.

 

Police Shooting Missouri

So let’s start with something Rashida put out there last week:

We’ve all been talking about this and debating the issue of ‘privacy’ for the last week.  Seeing nude photos of one of the biggest movie stars in the world right now does that to the news cycle and the water cooler conversations.

By definition, privacy is ‘freedom from unauthorized intrusion.’  But in the social media age, how are we really defining that?  When every update of these apps we have on our phones tells you in (fairly) straightforward language, ‘You understand everything you say and every picture you post becomes the property of our public server correct?’  How are each of us as individuals drawing the line of where our private life really starts?’ All of us have a natural, healthy level of unease when we feel Big Brother is overstepping their boundaries.  But what if we’re voluntarily letting them in?  And now that we’re here, what if there’s an expected benefit from the ‘Too Much Information’ Era?  Let me put this another way…

As most of you know, I’m a born and raised Kansas City kid.  I’ve made a few St. Louis friends over the years, I’ve passed through St. Louis on road trips, I’ve done weddings and bachelor parties in St. Louis, I’ve been to Rams home games in St. Louis.  Until a month ago? I had NEVER heard of Ferguson, Missouri.  So how does this small town get onto (and more importantly) stay on the radar of the national media (and all of us)?  You know how.  For the purposes of this post, I don’t bring up Ferguson to call attention to the murder of a black kid (that no one’s been charged for), I bring it up for how the media was treated.  In the ‘Too Much Information’ Age, we had reporters and cameramen being told by the powers that be, ‘Shut It Down or Be Arrested.’  Now I haven’t been in school for a very long time now, but there’s a word that comes to mind when the people in power get overzealous in trying to control the information that gets out and the narrative of the story: censorship.

Too Much Information.  Or is it?  The common thread I see in the two stories is many people looking around and asking ‘Do we really still have this many people around who are that racist and/or misogynistic?  Or has the number, never really changed, but because we’re all so much more comfortable publicly expressing ourselves, we’re just more exposed to how people really feel?’  And if in the long run, we’re sincere about trying to break down any type of systematic racism or sexism or what have you (another debate altogether), is it really bad to know how people really feel?

If I had the answer to how our cultural definition of privacy is going to evolve in the next 5 years, I’d already be living in Zuckerburg’s neighborhood.  When I was a kid, everyone established their own line of where ‘Stay Out of My Business’ started.  Now, to various degrees, we’ve all pushed that line way back, and we’re still pushing it.  We want to stay connected to our friends and family around the world.  We want to buy anything we can imagine without ever leaving the house.  And so on.

Maybe the ‘private’ line really does disappear altogether, except for the extreme circumstances.  I’m not an old man yet, but I already know it won’t be my generation who makes the decision.

Brave New World we’re living in.

 

 

rashida-jones-1

A few years later, the feature length script for Lady In My Life is done.  Have I written my ‘Annie Hall’?  Am I entering my ‘Woody in his prime’ stage of my acting/writing life?  We will see, we will see.

My deadline for getting this done story written has been mostly self-imposed.  One thing I can definitely say though: being a capital a ‘Actor’ the past couple of years has GREATLY improved my craft as a writer.  My comedic timing is sharper, my sense for my own sense of humor and which parts of my silliness people respond to is much greater.  Most important I think, working with other actors really sharpened my sense for character and different types of comedic characters can fill out a story.  And hopefully as I continue to develop this story (as I slowly start to put my Producer hat back on), both the heart of the story and the silliness of it will tighten up.

My fondness for Rashida duly noted, I’m looking at an impressive list of actresses who, both as a writer and actor, I think could elevate and bring their own ideas into my story and make it better.  Some are names you all know (which the Producer agrees with in terms of financing), some names my fellow film nerds know (which the Writer agrees with in terms of comedy) and some names only I’m thinking of (as the Actor who knows other people on my level who are ‘ready’ to be ‘overnight successes’ in the right role on the right project). The Producer/Development Executive is saying not to publicize that list though.  As far as guys go though, since (like the short) this is a Kansas City based love story, I think it would be cool to try to get Paul (Rudd) or Jason (Sudeikis) to cameo as the story’s villain/foil.

So I’ll see what the feedback is while I focus on other things for a minute.  I already told a few people close to me, that like the short, this feels like the One I have to take all the way to the end.  I’m excited.

Have a good weekend!

 

 

rashida

A few different angles with this one…

  • Many of you know my affection for ‘Clair de Lune’ and I had planned to fit it into my wedding.  UNTIL, I mentioned this to a friend of mine, who told me him and his wife used it in their wedding.  Hmph!  And I’ve half jokingly been looking for another classic romantic song ever since…
  • As a film geek, I’m very partial to the original version (mostly because of the iconic, 360 degree shot of Paul at the end.  But this arrangement…
  • I’ve pulled each of my groomsmen aside over the years and let them know what their entrance music for the wedding will be when my day comes.  As for the reception though, the plan to kick it off was always for me to grab my guitar and join my band, Sexual Chocolate, to play this version of this song when Quincy and Rashida walked in.  I’m slowly coming to grips with the fact that everything in this last paragraph might not happen.  But I still love this song!

Jokes aside, I do think now I favor this slower tempo-ed, acoustic version, of a song I already loved for its simplicity.  Enjoy…

 

 

brotherali

This weekend went beyond my expectations so we’ll delay the music for a day.  I’d say from Christmas to now I’ve seen 80 to 90 percent of the people I care about, and certain questions keep coming up repeatedly.  So here’s a quick Frequently Asked Questions post for the other 10 percent of you (and you nosy types who want a little more information beyond the superficiality of these Internets…)

1. Haven’t said much lately about projects you’re in, what’s up?

The nature of the beast, but I have a TV show, a movie and a play I’ll be hyping up over the next three months.  The play is a live show (duh), the other two projects were shot last year and are just getting released this year.  Like I said, nature of the beast.  But the promotional side of me will be returning soon enough.

2. Can you sing?

Put it like this: if I have to sing to get into heaven, I’ll get in for being ‘not bad for someone with no formal vocal training’.  I’m far from the best, I’m far from the worst. Truth be told, today’s original post was a video I recorded of me singing one of my favorite songs (since my people outside of L.A. are for the most part not going to be able to see me on the stage).  No intention of posting it now, but in the spirit of good sport, how about this: I name dropped Rashida Jones as the co-star I was singing to in the scene, so if you one of you connected types gets Rashida to ask me to post it, then I’ll post it.  (I won’t be losing sleep over losing that bet…)

3. Oh, is she your ‘crush’ now?

Through my own actions and the stories of my friends, the funniest thing of the past week has been kind of being able to say, ‘OK, this is the Malik Aziz prototype’ as far as what draws me in nearly every time when it comes to the opposite sex.  True to my own personality, it’s nothing overly simple like ‘If she’s this race’ or ‘If she dresses like this’.  But there’s a definite ‘commonality’ nearly all of my exes and well known crushes have.  To answer the question, yes Rashida falls into that ‘commonality.’

4. So what’s good then, player, where you at?

‘The Circle’ is nearly closed, and I’m making a conscious effort now to close it.  Part of my code/faith is that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, and I pursue without pressing.  You told me the Circle closes this year, I’d believe you.  You told me I’m still Bruce Wayne in 10 years, I’d believe that too.

5. Bruce Wayne?  Wait, I thought you said you weren’t Batman anymore?

Batman is just a symbol.  The point is anyone could be Batman.  That’s the purpose of the mask.

6. What’s up with the Brother Ali picture?

Of the many nice things I got this week, one of my homies filled out my Brother Ali catalog to a respectable level.  Don’t misunderstand, I knew the brother, ‘follow’ him, but I wasn’t as hip to him as I should be.  That’s changed now (thanks Jay).

7. So how do you feel about the Lakers now?

As a fan?  Same as always, let’s carry this as far as we can take it.  Practically, realistically?  Uggghhhhhhhhh.  I (think I) would love to see what happens to this city if we get a Clippers-Lakers series in the first round this year.  It would be nuts!

Alright, amnesty posting ends now.  Back to regular shallow stuff tomorrow.

 

celesteandjesse

Celeste and Jesse Forever is love, L.A. style.  Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, the characters are a little more adult than the ones we saw in 500 Days of Summer and it shows.  The title characters have been separated for almost a year but haven’t quite moved on yet…until one of them (in this case the male) finally does.  What separates Celeste from the pack (and you become aware of this quickly if you’re an above average film geek) is this is the rare romantic comedy where the main character…is actually the woman.  It (sadly) feels really different to watch the familiar relationship beats; the post breakup hookup, the soul baring too little too late honesty, the ‘I know you’re upset but don’t start saying shit just to piss me off too’ conversation, from the other side of the table.

A nice debut film from the writers worth checking out if you missed it earlier.  Came out for home release last week.  Looking forward to what she does next.

Until next time.