Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My top holiday "at home" movie picks!

Here are some of my suggestions for movies to rent or stream during the holidays.

I left out some of the obvious classics like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Story"....You don't need me to remind you.

Also, not all films on the list are specifically holiday movies, but are still favorites of mine this time of year and serve as a great background for writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, or just getting a laugh watching "on screen" families more dysfunctional than our own!

Scrooged!.....Bill Murray as the typical workaholic of the late 1980's...

A Christmas Memory....Starring Patty Duke. This is based on the poignant short story by Truman Capote, (which I also recommend).

The Santa Clause (Part 1 only)....Tim Allen attempts to fight his destiny to be the next Santa Claus.

Christmas with the Kranks....Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. A tropical vacation instead of Christmas? Who hasn't dreamed of that!

Christmas Time in South Park...Just another reminder you can get away with anything if it's a cartoon.

12 Men of Christmas....Kristin Chenowith....Major chick flick!

These two are not for the kids and in pretty bad taste but too FUNNY to leave out!

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas....Hard to keep up with at times there is so much going on, but in a good way. Horribly crude but in a "non offensive" way...,;)

Bad Santa....Billy Bob Thornton is perfectly cast as the worst mall Santa Claus of all time. Also, this is one of the last films of the late John Ritter and Bernie Mac who are perfectly cast as the uptight store manager and head of security.

These below are not necessarily movies about the holidays but a good watch during the Christmas, Hannukkah, and New Year's Break!

Goodwill Hunting....Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck.....Blue collar Cinderella story

Last Holiday.....Queen Latifah plays a woman who finds out she has a short time to live and plans to live it up! Also stars LL Cool J and Timothy Hutton.

Rush Hour.....Jackie Chan and Chris's just funny because it's a little "off".

Bridget Jones Diary.....Renee Zellweger is a hot cute mess and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are easy on the eyes, oh and don't forget the awesome fight scene.

Austin Powers "The Spy Who Shagged Me".....The original and best of them. Mike Myers tribute to his late father.

The Holiday....Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade houses and lives....

Trading Places....I put this on all of my movie pick lists. One of the five best comedies of all time! Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy are beyond compare as Louise Winthorp III and Billy Ray Valentine. Jamie Lee Curtis makes a great "hooker with a stock portfolio".

The Wedding Singer....Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. How can you not root for these two?...And who knew Billy Idol was funny!

Everyone Says I Love You....I always have to include a Woody Allen flick and this one is the kind of movie you either love or hate. If you're not sure if you will like it here's a hint, Ed Norton sings and Julie Roberts sleeps with Woody Allen. (Oh yeah and my cousin Tim plays the doctor in the hospital scene so that's a bonus.)

Groundhog's Day...Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell....reminds how much one can do with a day when not busy complaining.

Mr. Deeds (both the original with Gary Cooper and the re-make with Adam Sandler)....simple but some how not simple.

The Royal Tannenbaums....Gene Hackman, Angelica Houston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke and Owen Wilson....Are there actually real families like this? This movie proves that just because a couple has money does not mean they will have normal children!

Here are my picks for the worst holiday movies....(might want to skip these turkeys)!

Home For The Holidays...Jodie word, depressing.

Polar Express....I'm sorry but this movie just made me sad, not jolly, even a little creeped out.

The Santa Clause Part 2 and 3.....yawn

Surviving Christmas....Ben Affleck and James Gondolfini.....Ben Affleck's character pays some miserable family to keep him company at if!


Last but not least I've been requested to add my sister Karen's favorite pick for the holidays which this year includes the "National Lampoon Vacation" films!... 

National Lampoon Vacation, National Lampoon European Vacation, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation and National Lampoon Vegas Vacation!....(I think she just has a crush on Clark Griswold).

Please fee free to add any of your favorite holiday films 
to the list by entering them as a comment!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Taste of Shakespeare

I had a chance this fall to join up and work with a great group, "The Shakespeare Institute of Nevada."

I love this troupe because of their passion for bringing to all the understanding and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare!

Here is my "vlog" (video blog for those of you not familiar) on my experience performing as Olivia in Twelfth Night in A Taste of Shakespeare, on October 5 at The Hills Park Amphitheater.

This is my first ever "VLOG."

YouTube link:

"A Taste of Shakespeare" by Anna Wendt

Featured actors.....

My related blog articles:

Ode to the Marys....Hollywood Underdog

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Even Famous Actors had to Audition first

If you don't work in the entertainment industry you probably don't realize that actors aren't allowed to audition for roles unless they are specifically invited by a casting director. Except for open calls, which are few and far between.  "Crashing"  an audition by just showing up or sending in an unsolicited audition tape does not get you in the door, which is to say although it can happen it's extremely rare.

So, if an actor hears about a part that's being cast and is perfect for it, that doesn't mean they'll ever even get a chance to audition. Most of the time they won't. First of all, much of the time you have to be submitted to casting through an agent, or if not, then know about and get invited to audition another way, by a manager or directly through the casting director.

For me almost every role I have ever booked has been directly through a casting director. They have always seemed to have much more imagination for what I can do than an agent who seem to want to put me in a certain category and "sell me" that way only, which is common with many agents and most actors don't take it personally.

I didn't understand the above when I first got into the business of acting. I thought, like most, that I could read for most parts that fit my type, so all I had to do was make an impression on the casting director(s) at the audition to land a role. Quickly I learned how untrue that is. As I mentioned earlier though I found what works for me most of the time. For example, I once landed a lead role in an episode of a Lifetime production just by sending in a head shot and resume to the casting director. Didn't even have to audition. Almost never happens that way.

Every famous actor at some time or another had to audition for that role that gave them their big break and many successful actors who are celebrities in their own right still have to audition for certain roles. Most of the time for them it's in the version of a screen test....with the director present and their reading taped rather than just in the casting office. Also, most roles, even those that are just a few lines usually require at least two auditions before booking. There's the introduction audition and then the "call back" as it's referred to. Lead roles are usually multiple auditions.

Below are seven auditions of famous actors for roles of which they all landed the part. (At the bottom of this article are the text links to YouTube for media players that do not display embedded video.)

Robert DeNiro...."The Godfather" Audition

Rachel McAdams....."The Notebook" Audition

Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl screen test for "Knocked Up"

 Carrie Fisher..... "Star Wars" Audition

Beyonce...."Dreamgirls" Screen Test

 Aaron Paul.... "Breaking Bad"

And one of the best auditions from the archives.....Henry Thomas...."E.T."

Links to YouTube for the above auditions:

Robert DeNiro....The Godfather Audition

Beyonce....Dreamgirls Screen Test

Aaron Paul.....Breaking Bad Audition

Henry Thomas.....E.T. Audition