Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guess what, a person can be a talented artist and a rapist.

It's fascinating to me to see all the people who have rushed to defend director Roman Polanski. I have received an email asking me to sign the Free Roman Polanski petition. That Woody Allen signed it is not a surprise.

Debra Winger said it's an outrage that he is being treated this way over a "minor technicality".

Mel Gibson was blasted for his drunken anti-Jewish rant a few years. A prominent talent agent said nobody in Hollywood should work with him again. So drunken rants are bad, rape is not.

Others say this happened 30 years ago, let it go. Really? if Polanski was a priest, I'm sure they would say justice must be served and throw in a little Catholic bashing as well.

He experienced terrible things in his life. Yes, this is true, horrific things. So did Mike Tyson who had to serve his three years in jail for rape.

On one film website, the creator who slammed Michael Jackson in death, said this once again shows how puritanical America is. Never mind that Jackson was found innocent in a court of law, while Polanski plead guilty and then jumped bail. I guess if Jackson had reportedly messed around with teen girls instead of teen boys that would've been okay.

I agree America is puritanical but while French artists (except at this point Luc Besson) and the rich intellectual class are slamming America, the French public, according to several polls, overwhelming believes Polanski should serve his time.

That the victim has said she wants to move on should be taken into consideration, during sentencing. The case is the LA courts vs. Polanski. The victim, who received a substantial settlement from Polanski, doesn't get to decide whether or not the case should be dismissed.

Some say, well the mom dropped her off at the house. So that means the girl deserved it? I'm confused.

Polanski is a rich, educated, talented, white male, so we should be outraged that he can't return to America? All this time Polanski has been making movies, having a family,traveling, etc. not an awful life for a fugitive. He's a citizen of France, he was NOT in exile.

Was there judicial misconduct? Maybe but a judge has the right to change his/her mind regarding plea bargains. You don't get to jump bail because you're worried the judge might give you a stricter sentence.

I keep hearing his defenders say, he served his time. No he did not. He jumped before the sentence came down. He was in jail for a psych evaluation for 42 days. That time would have been applied as time served.

And finally for those who don't get it, please read the victims testimony. That she was 13 makes it worse but I don't care if she was 33 to his 42. Rape is rape (I don't know what Whoopi Goldberg is talking about, what the hell is "rape-rape"? On The View she kept saying we know it wasn't "rape-rape").

He gave her champagne and pills. She asked him to stop several times and said NO several times. He continued to have sex with her vaginally and then anally despite her protests. That is sex without consent, which is rape. He plead to a lesser charge of sex with a minor.

I love Roman Polanski's work. He is one of my favorite directors. Several of his films are masterpieces. It's terrible that his mother was killed during the Holocaust and his wife was brutally murdered while eight months pregnant.

However, what he did was wrong and he should serve his time like any body else.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Places to Eat and Drink in Rome...EATING

It seems this fall everyone and their mother is passing through Rome. I have received so many emails from friends and friends of friends asking where to eat and drink.

I thought I would post a list of a few places. Please feel free in the comment section to add your favorites.

The best overall advice I can give is, go to places Italians go. The touristy places are a rip off and the food is suspect. While any place can have an off night, if there are no locals, that’s a sign you need to pass.

Also, service is not like it is in States. Waiters for the most part do not hover and ask you every five minutes is everything okay. It might take a while to get your check, as it’s considered rude to give you one while you’re still eating dinner.

Regarding the following places, earlier in the evening there are more tourists, but locals do go to these restaurants (Italians eat later than most Americans, something I’m still not used to).

I left off some of the smaller places that are impossible to find or are “very local”.

Today I’m posting places to eat and later in the week, places to drink. Most of these restaurants are either inexpensive or moderately priced and near or in the Historic Center.

Reservations are recommended for the first four. Some restaurants close on Sundays or Mondays. I don't think the last two places take reservations:


Le Mani in Pasta - Trastevere (near Santa Cecilia)
Great for pasta, small place. Downstairs is the smoking area and where most of the Italians sit.
Via de’ Genovesi 73

Taverna Trilussa – Trastevere
Good Roman style food. Not fancy but has a nice outdoor area.
Via del Politeama 23-25

Maccheroni – Historic center near Pz. Navona
One of the first restaurants I went to in Rome. One of the waiters is a bit much, but he’s harmless. American female students swoon over his antics.
Piazza delle Coppelle 44
06-6830 7895

Osteria ar Galletto – Piazza Farnese 102
Good “home”cooking and one of nice prettiest places to sit outside and eat.
The restaurant spills out into Piazza Farnese
06 686 1714

La Montecarlo - Historic center off Corso Vittorio Emmanuel
I think the children of the owner’s of Da Baffetto own this restaurant.
The service can be surly and the bathroom is one of the most unpleasant I’ve ever seen but man, is the pizza good. This place along with Da Baffetto gets packed.
Viccolo Savelli 12
06 – 686-1877

Added 4/19/2010
Sora Margherita - Jewish Ghetto
This restaurant is a little hard to find. There's no sign. It's small and gets crowded very quickly. The crowd is eclectic. From construction workers to judges, this is a well-known local place for down home Roman and Jewish cuisine. It's not all. Some think the food is overpriced and not that "authentic". I'm not Jewish or Roman but I thought the prices were moderate.

When you go for the first time you have to fill out a little card to become part of the "Associazione Culturale". Reservations recommended.

Sora Margherita
Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30

A post about places to eat near the Spanish Steps, including the restaurant GiNa.

Added 5/24/11
Roma Sparita - known for it's Cacio & Pepe. Post is HERE.

UPDATE: See Katie Parla's post about Roma Sparita HERE. I only been there twice, both times with Italian Americans who speak Italian fluently. We didn't have any issues with our bills. That said, there are other nice places to eat outside who don't do things like this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Information on the 4th International Rome Film Festival

On Friday I went to the press conference announcing the line up for this year's festival (October 15th to October 23rd).

There are quite a few American films screening, including the latest from the Coen brothers and Jason Reitman's UP IN THE AIR. One of my friends sent me the script saying it was excellent.

I really want to see the short documentary I KNEW IT WAS YOU about the late great actor John Cazale (Fredo in Godfather I & II) who died young after starring in only five films.

However, each of those films (the Godfather movies, Dog Day Afternoon, The Deer Hunter, and The Conversation) were nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards. He was already dying of cancer while filming The Deer Hunter and the studio wanted to fire him. His fiancee Meryl Streep, who was also in the movie, threatened to quit.

Speaking of Meryl Streep, she's scheduled to attend the festival and several of her past films are screening. JULIE & JULIA is closing the festival.

The festival will also hold several exhibitions, concerts, and Q&As.

Here is the official SITE (the English version)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flashback Friday – Lisa Stansfield- "All Around The World"

This song was played to death in '89/'90. It was a big crossover hit playing on both Top 40 and "urban" radio stations.

I hope she found her baby. I haven't found mine yet. sigh.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

It's good to be back.

I didn't go any where but had a major assignment this week for the International Rome Film Festival. Yesterday afternoon I hit the wall. If I saw one more word in Italian I was going to cry. Given I live in Italy this was a problem. Thank god for good friends. I still have a bunch to do today, but its manageable.

Two of my favorite people Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy are hosting a contest to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Rules and information about this disease are below.


O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).
TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:

One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!

Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday – Chaka Khan - "I Know You I Live You" (live)

This is one of my favorite, favorite jams of all freaking times.

Chaka is from a generation of singers who could actually sing.

"I Know You I Live You", was one of the first songs I put on my playlist for Jumping The Broom (the script I just sold).

I always put together a list for each script. Some songs deal directly with the themes of the movie, some are songs that I happened to be listening to when inspiration (the idea and/or dialogue) struck and some help me stay motivated.

I don't know if this song will be in the movie (if it gets made) but I wrote it into a big scene of the movie.

It's been quite a hectic week. The film festival job is interesting but kicking my butt and I just turned in a new draft of my other script. I'm so looking forward to this weekend.

Today the sun is out, finally. I went on a long workout through Villa Borghese Park and this song popped up on my iPod. I started singing out loud until I caught myself. ha

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I sold a script in Hollywood...FINALLY!

I think it's okay to say that Sony Pictures made an offer on the wedding movie script I mentioned before. Details to follow. It's for one of their indie deals so it's indie money (i.e. none).

However, I'm going to be in the WGA (Writers Guild of America). It's official, I'm a working screenwriter.

Oh the irony. This is the script I was told wouldn't sell. That I would be pigeonholing myself. Like I said before, there are no, not one, A-list commercial black female feature screenwriters ala Nancy Meyers, Aline Brosh McKenna, Susannah Grant, Diablo Cody, etc. We're pigeonholed anyway.

Hollywood is what it is. I'm going to write the stories I want to tell and try not to second guess what the marketplace wants. As the marketplace wants movies like TRANSFORMERS and I have no desire to write SLINKY:The Movie.

I've tried to write a plot driven movie versus a character driven one and it was horrible. There are some big, fun action movies and comedies I love. However, I do know what my wheelhouse (the most overused Hollywood word right now) is and my goal is keep getting stronger, to improve with every new script I write.

The timing of the sale couldn't be better. I was close to giving up. After all this time and so much writing, I was beginning to think this was not possible. In this POST, I said 2009 was my make or break year.

I'm still processing what all this means. A few of my screenwriters friends know and I swear could hear them screaming from Los Angeles or New York. Several have said the first sale is always the hardest. I also know there are writers have sold one script, never to be heard from again.

For now, I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to finish my current script and see what happens. My manager is energized and feeling good about it.

He told me 76 spec scripts went out in July only one sold. The spec market is dead. I'm glad I listened to my gut and focused on my character driven wedding movie script. All the pressure I put on myself last year and earlier this year come up with a big spec film was insane.

Now I have a strong sample of my writing that my manager can send out. In Hollywood nobody wants you until somebody wants you. It's a very frustrating Catch-22. I know he's relieved. ha

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Working day and night...International Rome Film Fesitval

Now it really feels like summer is over.

It's 20 degrees cooler, it's raining and the noise level in my neighborhood has dropped quite a bit. I guess no one likes to drink outside when it raining.

I just received notes from my manager on the CE script so I'm in deep rewrite mode. He was enthusiastic about my script, which is a good thing. Will it sell is a completely different issue.

Once again, I wrote something character driven. I must think of some "high concept ideas."

Also, I started working for the fourth annual International Rome Film Festival (October 15-23). I pretty much jumped into the deep end on this one.

I will be working with the International press office. The head of the office informed her colleagues (who are multi-lingual) to speak Italian with me. Oh oh.

She's right. Time for some tough love, after a year and a half I should be speaking more. She was kind enough to say that I am getting better.

My Italian is going to be so much stronger after the festival ends.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some pictures from Acqui Terme

Acqui Terme is in the Piemonte region of Italy.

That this tiny town has so many butchers, bakers and wine shops in addition to the excellent selection found in the grocery stores, tells you they are not playing when it comes to food.

The area is known for it's hot springs. In the center of town you can feel the heat pouring out of one.

I saw very few tourists. Everyone was super friendly. The garbage man saying buon giorno caught me off guard.

I went to the Cathedral, which was beautiful. I spent a lot of time inside looking at all the art.

The archeological museum is small. I was the only person in there. Most of the exhibits were of pottery and jewelry so I was pretty happy.

The trip reinforced my desire to buy a weekend place in the country. For a minute I was thinking I should focus on buying an apartment in Rome first. However, I really want to garden and the chances of me being able to afford a place in Rome with a terrace is rather slim.

I’m going to keep thinking positive thoughts about buying property. So what if I’m broke? I have to believe this state is temporary or I would have a complete, “I’m going to end up a bag lady” meltdown.

This water was boiling hot. You could see the steam a block away.

Inside the cathedral.

I like this blue light. So striking.

The front of the cathedral.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

I will never forget that day.

Rest in peace Nigel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A wine tasting at Borgo Maragliano, Piemonte, Italy

The Piemonte area of Italy is known for its outstanding wines.

The ride up to the Borgo Maragliano vineyard was very pretty but scared me. Seriously, the hair pin turns going up the mountain were no joke. As we continued up the mountain, I wondered how do people manage when it snows?

It was Diana and Micha's first visit to this vineyard. It had been recommended by another Piemontese.

The vineyard has been in the family for five generations. Silvia, the daughter-in-law, did the tasting. She was fantastic. Silvia really knows her wine and has a great personality. She has a degree in literature and speaks several lanauges. Her husband studied oenology. She travels all over the world and Italy for the vineyard.

I’ve been to wine tastings before in Napa. This was more personal. We met Silvia's husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law who was with her great grandchildren.

The wine was excellent and very reasonably price.

I like being able to buy directly from the grower. I think it’s important to support local growers. When I went to pay for my wine, Silvia refused to take my money and wished me a happy birthday.

I picked the Crevoglio Chardonnay. I loved their prosecco but since I live by myself I thought sparkling wine was not the way to go. Once you open a bottle, you have to drink it pretty qyickly. Their Moscato d’Asti was also incredible. It’s one of their biggest sellers, especially in Asia.

When I lived on the States I avoided Chardonnay (when did Chardonnay get such a bad rep?). The Crevoglio, however, is delicious.

Here is their website. I believe you need to call ahead and make reservations for a tasting.

The vineyard.

This was in the old wine cellar. The family used to fill this section with snow (there was a hole in the ceiling) and it would be the refrigerator for the farm. It was so nice and cool in the cellar.

Silvia in the tavernetta which dates from 1750.

The Madonna keeping an eye on things.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Flashback Friday – Whitney Houston - "It's Not Right But It's Ok (remix)

Whitney's new album drops soon.

A music journalist from Rolling Stone said it's a Beyonce world and she didn't think there was a place for Whitney.

hmmm. Seeing how Beyonce has yet to drop a ballad ala Whitney, Mariah or Christina, let's take it easy.

Even people who were not fans of Whitney's genre recognized the woman had some serious pipes. To compare her to Bey is ridiculous.

I remember when this SONG came out. It was quite the club hit. It's also an excellent song to work out to.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Roma's coach steps down

Oh snap. After back-to-back defeats, Luciano Spalletti resigned.

Not many men can rock a "soul patch" like Spalletti (i.e. Billy Ray Cyrus).

Claudio Ranieri has been hired. Next up for Roma is Siena on the 13th. We'll see what happens.

Here is more info (in English) from ESPN Europe.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love movie shooting in Rome

This morning while running an errand, I bumped into the crew again.

Yesterday they were all over Campo dei Fiori. Tourists were standing around trying to get a photo of Julia Roberts.

I stopped by the set to say hi to the producer, who is in from L.A. and one of the African security guys asked me out. Uhm, I'm just trying to say hello to someone.

Anyway I didn't see him later that day (he said he would give me his number) but I wouldn't be surprised if I see him on the way to the post office tomorrow. ha

I also spoke to an American guy who lives here now and is a fireman. He was one back in the States, fell in love with a Roman woman and moved to Rome. He was able to get a job as a fireman specializing in production work.

I kind of miss being on set. However, I imagine shooting a big Hollywood movie in a place with so many tourists and narrow streets must be tough. The poor P.A.s and security had their hands full trying to clear the set.

Turning a sunny afternoon into an early evening night.

A light crane in front of the Forno. Once of the greatest places in Rome.