Monthly Archives: April 2010

Film Review: The Contenders


reviewed by Carlos Stafford The Model Critic

Spunky, confident, and humorous “The Contenders” is a well done “Big Chill”–like feature film by Marta Mondelli.  


Good friends, who have been genitally connected years before, meet-up for a birthday celebration on a beautiful island beach house.  The reunion takes a turn for the worse when the birthday girl turns up dead in her room.  Before the cake is cut, detectives arrive, interrogations ensue, and suspicions float.

Mondelli, who also wrote and stars in the film, conveys the atmosphere beautifully. But most of all, she digs into the vacuous, desperate lives of those present; she does it with a light hand, and the film does not take itself too seriously.  In fact, it is very noir-comical.  As an actress, Mondelli has a relaxed presence, and conveys her character, the one who has traveled the world, the knowing sophisticate, if you will, with authority.  We see things through her eyes.
Throughout, it poses the tongue-in-cheek question–what is the meaning of happiness.  Don’t expect deep thoughts here.  With a seemingly whimsical tip-of-the-hat to Bergman, its more of a playful existential guffaw; everyone is stuck and imprisoned by their choices. Overall though, the movie is light hearted and fun with good performances all around.



Adventures in LA: Fairfax Avenue

After meeting Joyce Kleifield, I knew I had met my match.  A powerhouse full of energy and ideas.  Organized and plain smart.  I instantaneously adored her.  Finally, someone enthusiastically on the same page.  She just got it immediately.

What do I mean by “get it” you ask?  Well, ok, let’s go back to the beginning. 

I recently got an offer to help out the Fairfax Business Association re-do it’s website, brand and marketing.  Like the avenue itself, the FBA is in need of a re-vitalization.  Joyce is the Association’s Chairperson.

It’s a terrific project!  Old meets new. Vintage meets modern.  Urban and community.  A walking section of the enormously “pocketed” city of Los Angeles that is a virtually unknown cultural hub. — Of course not by the time I am through.

Listening to Joyce was a breath of fresh air.  She spoke about her two brilliant sons, sans bragging.  One of which had done all of the original photography for the current website.  We are keeping all of it – it’s soooo good.  The other a budding teen filmmaker.  It is Hollywood after all.  And then began to communicate the enormity of the Fairfax undertaking.  For many years now Joyce and very few others have been shouldering the burden of trying to organize the various landlords, businesses and citizens of the surrounding area in banding together to maintain cleaner streets, street lamps, increase garbage pickup and more.  The new beautifully landscaped North Fairfax median is completely due to her dedication and the generous support of resident liason Robert McCray.  It is the coup de gras of the current campaign.  But nothing lasts forever without maintainence.  And so it is left for these two fellows, as it were, to continue burgeoning on finding ever more resources and grants. 

 Joyce had just returned from the Melrose Association’s meeting with flyers, brochures and a notebook of handwritten information.  I could see why she was in such demand as a fundraiser.  She is tenacious and accurate.  It was enough to almost make me feel unprepared for our meeting.  Almost.  I was, in fact, armed.

Simple straitforward notes dense with strategy and best of all a demo website brilliantly provided in under an hour by my creative partner, Michael Cornell of Semplice Pictures.  She gushed.  Help had arrived.

In the weeks and months to come this will provide the brand(ed) new launching pad to finally attracting  desperately needed community support, getting Fairfax Avenue back in the limelight as an LA destination.  And with so much to discover from Willoughby to Wilshire, it’s just the kind of urban adventure I have been dying to embark upon.

Starting next Monday — lunch at Cantors!  YUM!!!!

Ask The Expert: What’s The Story? with Gayl Murphy

A Conversation With Gayl Murphy                                                                           by Jackie ONeal                                

When it comes to touching the media’s hot buttons, Gayl Murphy is an insider with trade secrets to die for. After spending 17 years working as a network correspondent for ABC, she said she was shocked by the unpreparedness of her interview subjects.  “The most common mistake most people make in media interviews, is that they think the interview is about them. It’s not. It’s about the story,” she said.

Her book Interview Tactics! How To Survive The Media Without Being Clobbered concentrates on building concise messages that audiences will easily internalize, and will make any interview, a winner.

Murphy believes that to dispel the fear that accompanies media interviews, it’s important to  create the mindset that an interview is a collaboration. “It’s like playing tennis. You have to be on the same team,” she said.

She recommends authors and entrepreneurs give the media what they hunger for- newsworthy angles. Murphy is a great believer in seasonal story angles.  “There is a designation for every day of the calendar year year. Tie your book or product to that,” she said.

As far as Murphy is concerned, the so-called “Elevator Pitch” is outmoded and much too long-winded for today’s fast-paced world. Instead, she suggests building “A killer pitch.” Murphy’s killer pitch can be tailored to many different scenarios and is a more concise way of delivering a message about products or services.

Murphy notes, “an Elevator Pitch is about who you are and what you’re selling.
And, an “Interview Tactics! Killer Pitch” is whatever you need it to be in whatever
environment you happen to be in at anytime. Making it the right tool for the right time.”

Murphy said it’s vital to be flexible with a pitch if are targeting a diversified market. “Think about all the different markets your business serves and start expanding who you pitch to. Can you have a separate pitch for stay at home moms, seniors, astronauts, students, families, solopreneurs, reinvented entrepreneurs, scientists, insurance salesmen? You get the picture,” she wrote.

The formula to creating the killer pitch is outlined in detail in her book. What I love about Murphy’s book are the workbook pages provided at the end, so the reader can apply what they learned right away.

Murphy asserts that the killer pitch is full of drama, color, and visual detail so that the audience gets riveted, and the subject becomes memorable. Messages, Murphy explained, should be compelling and use of spot-on metaphors helps a great deal.

Another point Murphy brings to light, is the importance of pitching the right media person. It’s part and parcel of giving the media what they want. It also demonstrates familiarity with their work whether it’s print or broadcast. Since reporters are always on deadline, it’s rewarding to them when someone remembers their last feature story, or TV segment.

 Want more media tactics now? Download a free interview tactics report by visiting

Also visit Gayl online:


April / May Events — At A Theatre Near You — NYC and LA

Here is some of  what’s happening with Gia On The Move…

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This past month, I have been asking the universe to help me get rid of what is not working in my life.  Two weeks ago I attended a private, early morning sale at Staples.  Upon my arrival I was invited to enter a raffle.  Twenty minutes later I hear my name called.  You would have thought I had just won a trip to Paris on the Price is Right, the way I ran up the aisle, all giddy and giggly.  My prize?  A shredder.  How’s that for a response!  

Well speaking of shredding in another way, there are plenty of people making waves this month coast to coast from New York City to Los Angeles.  Free events, art and culture.  Be sure to check some if not all of them out!   


There’s still time!   

Anna Gutto and Nick Stevenson on the set of The Contenders

Tickets for the New York Premiere of  The Contenders are still on sale.  Only $6 and no waiting in line.  Purchasing a ticket in advance will also RSVP you for the following reception.  Visit the link below for more information and ticket sales.  The Contenders will premiere on April 28th @ 9pm at the Anthology Film Archives located at 32 Second Avenue @2nd Street in New York City.  

Of course if Thursday is your night then:

Every Thursday Night @ 8:30 pm 

                                    at the JOE FRANKLIN COMEDY CLUB

                                              in CHARLEY O’s restaurant

                           Located at 45th St and 8th Ave., in TIMES SQUARE

                                the WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM? Music Show 

                                    SPONSORED BY the CRUNCH GYM

In May we will have Janet Arneau one of New York’s finest comedian’s entertaining you! She will also play What’s Your Problem?, giving our audience the opportunity to win prizes! Everyone goes home happy and a couple of audience members go home with presents. One of our prizes being a 2 week membership to Crunch Gym!

Also to resume in May, if you have a secret desire to be a comedian yourself, well you are in luck, we also play “LET’S MAKE A COMEDIAN” giving any audience member a 2 minute try at making the audience laugh!

Come and join THE FUN make a reservation at: 212-977-0025

Or buy a ticket online: 


On the lighter side:

! YOU’RE INVITED to a Book Signing Party. Bring
a friend or three. Grab a comfy seat and enjoy an aromatic tea from a faraway
land and a scrumptious snack. YUM.

If you don’t know about the gorgeous T-Salon, you need to! It’s the 1st sustainable
tea bar and market

Los Angeles Event: Sat. May 1st from 1p-3p, The T-Salon/LA, 7111 Melrose Ave.
(W of La Brea), Hollywood, CA 90046

New York Event: Sat. May 8th 5p-7p, The T-Salon/Chelsea (in the Chelsea Market),
459 E. 15th St. NY, NY 10001.

We’ll be having fun and raising funds for charity on both coasts! A portion of book
sales to benefit GINA for Missing Persons FOUNDation. An AMAZING organization
that’s already found over 500+ people!!


  Mark your calendars!  

Writer and starring Actor, David L. Ray has revised this heartfelt one man show which premiered in Los Angeles.  The solo performance of 7 Miles From Prison will be produced this summer at the historic Cherry Lane Theate in Manhattan as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival.  

Before the trip back East, David well be holding a FREE Los Angeles workshop performance  in Culver City.
 May 16th, 2010 — 6 PM
Culver-Palms UMC
4464 Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230  

Save The Date! 

Hollywood Boulevard Sneak Preview and Reception of


One day on Hollywood Boulevard, from sunrise to sunset, a gal wakes up on the footprints of Grauman’s Chinese with no memory. 

The Egyptian Theatre — hosted by the American Cinematheque                     Wednesday, April 28th, 7:30PM 
It will be quite a night, including a cast/crew Q&A and a post-screening wine & champagne reception hosted by Barefoot Winery.  Along with Sybil Temtchine (Ten Benny opposite Adrien Brody, USA’s Kojak), the cast includes Pippa Scott (John Ford’s The Searchers) and H.M. Wynant (Sam Fuller’s Run of the Arrow, classic Twilight Zone, Batman, Gunsmoke, and much more), who will all be present for the discussion afterward. 

They had a fantastic debut at the STARZ DENVER FILM FESTIVAL where the film was nominated for the “Emerging Filmmaker Award” and received a rave print review: 
“Fascinating… A Fun Film… I Loved it!”  Gil Whiteley, Denver Daily News
On our website (, you can read many prominent industry endorsements, see the poster, and view the trailer.  

“It would mean so much to me if you were able to join all of us on this very special night.” ~ Steve Peros 
If you are unable to attend the April 28th screening, there is an additional screening of the film in about a week on Tuesday, March 30th, 7PM as part of the 12th METHOD FEST Film Festival.  

The Method Fest Film Festival screening will take place at the Regency Agoura Hills 8, Theater 1, 29045 Agoura Hills Road, Agoura Hills, CA 91301.  It will be followed by a cast/crew Q&A.

And finally… don’t miss the last two performances of:

The Black Box Theater is proud to present the premier of an experimental evening of one act-plays written and directed by the multi-talented artist Z.N. Lupetin performed by Mark Weiler (The Forgotten, Cold Case, The Mentalist) and Alisha Seaton (Universal Pictures horror hit-The Fourth Kind).

“Rubber Necking” will be an edgy evening (think Albee meets Durang on speed) that will showcase the actors playing three very different couples coping with the consequences of their often jet-black love affairs. Moving from absurdly funny to genuinely frightening within the span of a few minutes, these three bizarre, sexually charged and in the end, deeply human plays will entertain you and stick with you for a long time.

The stories are as follows:

“FIND SOMEONE! [INC] ” A post-apocalyptic dating service brings together an abused and marginally-insane law-office temp (who desperately needs a man to get her pregnant) and a disturbed but charming construction worker (who may be a serial killer).

“BIRTHDAY BOY” A professor of atomic ethics in a dying marriage has a tradition every year where he pays a high school girl, a friend of the family, to be his “present”.

“DOWN THE HILL” Jack and Jillian are two heroin addicts who have committed a strange and unspeakable sexual act the night before that may or may not have killed the baby that Jillian is about to have. They wait together by the phone for the final results from the doctor.

Friday, April 23rd – 8pm
Saturday, April 24th – 8pm

Tickets are $12

Plus!  Sweet musical guests to join the show!

The Leftover Cuties: Apr  23

Homesick Elephant Apr  24


website and more info:

Teenage Fugitive Assumes New Identity

This week CNN broadcasted a report on the now infamous, modern Jesse James, teen fugitive, Colton Harris-Moore.  I have been following this story about Colton’s inheroic but evidently virally exciting escapades including the fact that Pacific Northwest Law Enforcement still can’t “get him”, ever since reading about it a couple of weeks ago.  Even joined Colton’s Facebook page.  And then one day one of my creative partners came to me with and idea.   How weird was it that Colton and teen music celeb Jason Castro looked so much alike via Jason’s new album cover.  So we decided to comment.  It was a great time and we think we’ve started our own new trend.  Below is the story.  Give us a comment if you like.  I am sort of routing for Colton, bad deeds and all, taking teenage boredom to a new level.

Theatre Reviews: Sondheim on Sondheim

Contributed by New York Theatre Reviewer Carlos Stafford – The Model Critic
It was an immediate standing “O” for Sondheim on Sondheim  at Roundabouts’ Studio 54 production in New York City.  Still in previews, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and the doyenne of song, Barbara Cook, head up a joyous biographic tribute to Stephen Joshua Sondheim.
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and numerous Tony’s, this prolific lyricist has enjoyed a storied career spanning five decades .  Starting with his childhood neighbor and mentor, Oscar Hammerstein, he has collaborated with many luminaries from the Broadway Stage; Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, and Richard Rodgers, to name a few.
His overriding themes and ideas are adult and poetic, and his idiosyncratic music and lyrics often convey neurotic people on an emotional precipice. Some of his major successes for music and lyrics include “Company,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Assassins,” “Passion,” “A Little Night Music,” and the great “Sunday in the Park with George;” and lyrics for “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Do I Hear a Waltz,” and “Candide.”
Video projections of Sondheim commenting on his childhood, his early years as a struggling artist, and the creative process for each of his works, were artfully delivered.  They showed Sondheim as warm, relaxed and humorous–in his home, at his piano, lounging on a couch, his poodle nearby, an a his desk.  All is very intimate and friendly. He recounts his close relationship with Oscar Hammerstein, and how he adored him.  He said he would have done anything Oscar would have done–if Oscar would have been a geologist, he relates, he too would’ve been a geologist.  All this comes at a tumultuous time in the young boy’s life, his parents having been recently divorced.  Oscar became a friend and mentor, and was a pivotal figure in his early development. 
Another intimate revelation is the fact that he wrote about love relationships and marriage, but had never been in love, or in a relationship, until he was sixty years old.  When he wrote “Company,” a stark look at urban marriage, he had no idea what to write; so he interviewed a friend who had been married, pencil and yellow pad in hand, and he received his information.  That, he said, was the unlikely genesis of the musical.  Always charming and articulate, he walks us through similar moments of his life in a graceful and easy manner. 
Underscoring his own words, comes the musical arrangements of his most successful works.  The cast is terrific, the songs are delivered with energy and passion, and there are many moving, electric moments.  The lyrics have sweep and majesty as in “Sunday;” great depth in “Being Alive;” and profound melancholia with a song covered by Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Collins,and Barbara Streisand, and countless others, “Send in the Clowns.”  My personal favorite, was a small, but charming song, “Anyone Can Whistle.”   
Anyone Can Whistle

The Original Broadway Poster of Anyone Can Whistle

It was bliss, I think you’ll agree.
The Story
It’s a completely different kind of Sondheim evening: an intimate portrait of the famed composer in his own words…and music. An ensemble cast, led by Tony Award winner Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat, will perform brand-new arrangements of over two dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure.

March 19 – June 13, 2010

Studio 54, 254 W 54th St
(Between B’way & 8th Avenues)
Ticket Services: 212.719.1300


Quote of the Day: by Fred Astaire

“I have no desire to prove anything by dancing.  I have never used it as an outlet or means of expressing myself.  I just dance.  I just put my feet in the air and move them around.”

I’ve featured a surprise below.  Not your normal Fred Astaire profile.  ;)