Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness

As often happens, we’ve been having so much fun this month that I haven’t had time to write about it. Here are some highlights. . .

PaleyFest: Like they have every year since 1983, the Paley Center for Media held its 10-day PaleyFest, celebrating the best and most popular shows on television. And just like we’ve done almost every year since 1983, Tim, Karen and I attended several events, including: Modern Family (ABC’s hit sitcom about three distinct yet interrelated L.A. families)--the love among the actors was palpable (a wonderful evening); FlashForward (the SF thriller where everyone in the world sees his/her future during a 2-minute blackout)--love the show, but not so much the cast (lots of science, but no chemistry!); Men of a Certain Age (about three 50-something guys who’ve known each other since college)--Ray Romano had a death in the family and so wasn’t there, but Scott Bakula and André Braugher were terrific (can’t wait for season 2!); and Curb Your Enthusiasm (the insane ramblings of Seinfeld producer Larry David)--absolutely hysterical.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Paley honored the detective show Castle, starring the ever adorable Nathan Fillion, the following week. “I think everyone is here to see Nathan,” an older woman (i.e., older than me) whispered in the ladies room. “Well, that’s why I’m here!” I announced, declining to mention that I’d seen him several times already in other venues. Fans even flew in from Australia! Nathan and the rest of the cast did not disappoint.

Bob Newhart: And speaking of TV celebrities, the ageless Bob Newhart was interviewed at the Grammy Museum, March 9th. His first comedy album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, won Grammy’s album of the year in 1960. The sold-out crowd hung on his every word. Newhart was witty, fascinating and still highly entertaining.

Plays: One of my all-time favorite TV shows is The West Wing, the dramatic series about a fictional Democratic president, Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen. I was such a huge fan of the show that one of students gave me a bumper sticker, “Martin Sheen is my President,” which I proudly displayed in my office during the Bush years. No surprise then that I immediately bought tickets when I heard Sheen was going to star in The Subject Was Roses at the Mark Taper Forum. He and costar Frances Conroy (the mom on the HBO series Six Feet Under) were wonderful. But even more exciting was Brian Geraghty, who starred in The Hurt Locker, Oscar’s best picture of the year. Every time the camera panned over to Geraghty during the ceremony, I felt so proud after seeing him just the night before at the Taper. Ya gotta love theater in L.A.

I also saw the musical Dreamgirls at the Ahmanson, last weekend, as part of my season tickets. Tim didn’t want to go, so I went alone. “If I don’t like it, I’ll come home at intermission,” I told him as I left the house. But there was no way in hell I was leaving the theater after Effie’s big number, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” one of the greatest torch songs in American theater history. My seat companions (complete strangers) and I were hootin’ and hollerin’. If the production of Dreamgirls, starring Moya Angela, comes your way, rush out and buy a ticket, even if you have to see the play by yourself!

UCSB: Karen and I spent all day Saturday visiting old haunts as part of the Society of Architectural Historians’ tour of UC Santa Barbara, where we met and both went to college. I warned Karen I might get creeped out reliving the past. But the campus had changed so much, I barely felt a twinge. Although we had fun, we were both discouraged by all the disparate architectural styles that now define our alma mater.

Up next: Portland, OR, and a local tour of the city of Downey, where the Apollo spacecraft were built. So stay tuned!

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