Getting close to the action

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Miami Vice cast

I was talking about “old” Miami Beach, which to me was the 1980s. This was before all the glitz and glamour and before they called it “South Beach.” It was just Miami Beach.

We used to watch them film Miami Vice often. And we really got up close. Years later I would watch them film Burn Notice around town, but we couldn’t get as close, but I managed at times, I would take pictures and write about them here, and here and here). And this is a funny story called, The Accidental Extras, how we were mistaken for extras while they were filming.

I remember one time in the ’80s we were watching Miami Vice film and there was a car chase on Ocean Drive and we were standing right there on the sidewalk watching. Cars were speeding and spinning mere feet from us and there we were, watching the action.

Once I left the beach, the actual beach with the sand where I was laying out, and I got in my car and as I drove down Collins Avenue, I was stopped and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. I said, ok and was told to drive when they said, “action.” I did, but I never made in the movie. You can see the scene they were filming on the opening credits of “The Making of Mr. Right,” the 1987 film with John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson.  It’s where Ann is driving down Collins as the film titles roll at the beginning. You can see a lot of the Miami Beach I hung around in at that time, raw and not made into the pink and purple and neon place it is now.

Back to Miami Vice. Once my friend Jack and I were watching them film at the Hare Krishna hotel. Were were right up close and personal again. As we watched, my friend said, “Isn’t that Karen Black?” She was a big actress at the time. I asked, “Where?” And he says, “You’re leaning on her chair!” And so I was. She was sitting in a director’s style chair and I was leaning on the back of it, while she was sitting watching the scene. You could literally get up that close in those days.

I always remember in that episode, “Victim’s of Circumstance,” how they screwed the Hare Krishnas out of their moment on film. In the last scene, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas are walking from the hotel, down a walkway/alley type thing and behind a wall were the Krishnas. As the two men reached that spot, the Krishnas came out from behind the wall and did their thing with drums and tambourines, you know how they do. Well, that was the final scene in the episode and on tv, as the two guys walked, the credits rolled. As they reached the wall, the scene froze, it just froze and the credits rolled over that. So the Krishnas were never seen on the show.

Years later, the Krishnas moved from that hotel to a church in my neighborhood and I got to know them on a first name basis.

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Anthony Bourdain; a friend in my head

anthony-bourdain-no-reservationsAnthony Bourdain is friend in my head. You know how you see people on tv or movies and you just feel as if you know them? Every once in awhile someone famous dies and I feel as if they were/are a family member. I mean I guess I feel that same way when they were alive, but it hits hard when they pass on. Random people have had that effect on me over the years. It was shocking to hear his name announced on the tv this morning. I had my back to the Today Show, I was making breakfast when they announced a famous chef had passed. I held my breath as they said the name, hoping that I didn’t know the person they would announce, so it knocked the breath out of me when they said his name.

I loved Anthony’s attitude and story-telling technique. I was drawn in like so many millions when he took us on adventures of far away places and even places close to home. I’ve lived in Miami most of my life, but on his Miami episode I learned so much.

First No Reservations and then Parts Unknown. I would watch marathons of these shows, always drawn in from the beginning of each episode. The food and the locations were featured, but Anthony was the star.

The Cafe

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The cast in front of Cyril’s Cafe.

In a previous post, I was mentioning that Babu cafe episode of Seinfeld, which is called The Cafe. What’s interesting is that I was at an Indian restaurant with a friend maybe 10 years ago in New York City and it reminded me very much of Babu’s cafe. They had just opened and the place was sparce. They didn’t have their liquor license so the owner, as he was waiting on us himself, said we could run around the corner and buy a bottle of wine at the liquor store and bring it back. I don’t think we did that. But the place reminded me so of much of that Seinfeld episode.  In life, a lot of things remind me of Seinfeld episodes.

I’m happy to say, all these years later, that the Indian restaurant is still there in Greenwich Village, and flourishing.

Another reason I liked The Cafe mention is that I love a British sitcom, a Britcom, called The Cafe, which I watch on one of our local PBS stations.

Like so many  British tv shows, there are only a few episodes over two seasons, only 13, which is sad because the show is so great. Another sad thing is that there must be commercials on these because you don’t see the commercials on PBS which makes the show only about 20 minutes long. So you get into it and it’s over!

But it’s so charming and sweet and quirky. It’s about this cafe called Cyril’s, on the ocean in Weston-super-Mare, which is in on the Bristol Channel. It’s a real cafe in a sort of octagon shape, that was built just for the show and plopped right on the boardwalk in that area.

The scenery and place is as much a character as are the characters. A mother runs the cafe with her daughter and her mother (the grandmother) sits around and makes wisecracks, and the characters from the town are in and out.

The writing is so great. The mother says, “Talk of the Devil,” every time someone comes in, even though she wasn’t talking to them. When people leave, they all say, “Laterz!” And when people first see each other, there is a around of “All right?” They all say one at a time, “All right?” “All right?” “All right?” It’s really charming.

Check it out on YouTube here.

10 things you didn’t know about Trading Spaces’ Paige Davis

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

paige-davisTrading Spaces is coming back! Yup, the granddaddy of DIY shows! Paige Davis is back along with most of the designers you might remember from the popular show that ran from 2000 to 2008. Along with Paige, returning are Doug Wilson, Genevieve Gorder, Hildi Santo-Tomas, Vern Yip, Frank Bielic, and Laurie Smith. Carpenters Ty Pennington and Carter Oosterhouse are back too!

As you may remember, two sets of neighbors redo a room at each others houses over a weekend with the help of two designers for that week.

The new version premiers Saturday, April 7 at 8 pm on TLC.

I had the chance to ask Paige the 10 With Tom Questions. Here we go . . .

TOM: How did the idea for the reboot come about?
PAIGE: I’m not 100% certain, but I believe TLC felt it was good timing on the heels of the nostalgia wave that is sweeping television right now. There are currently so many reboots of old shows. It’s comforting and fun. Waiting for Trading Spaces to air is like saving the best for last.

TOM: Had you kept in touch with any of the cast/designers over these past 10 years that the show was off the air?
PAIGE: Definitely. And Facebook and social media has made it even easier than before to keep up with each other’s lives.

TOM: Where will the shows be taped? One city? Different areas of the country as in the past?
PAIGE: Our show has always been taped around the country. This reboot is no different. This season there are episodes in southern California, Atlanta, and Baltimore.

TOM: Are you stopped by fans when you travel? What is their number one question?
PAIGE: I am stopped by fans sometimes, yes. The number one thing I’m asked is, “Will you come to my house?” I always say, “Careful what you wish for.”

TOM: Are you a designer, have you designed or did you just fall into the hosting aspect of the show?
PAIGE: I am not a designer. Though I do have a love of decor and design. I am a dancer/singer/actress by trade. Trading Spaces was simply a job I auditioned for. A bit of fluke that I booked it.

TOM: If you had one super power, what would it be?
PAIGE: To never be hungry or to be able to curb cravings with the wiggle of my nose.

TOM: What was the last tv show you watched?
PAIGE: Speechless.

TOM: What’s the last thing you took a picture of?
PAIGE: The Playbill cover of Carousel on Broadway. My dear friend is in the ensemble. We went to see her last night.

TOM: When you guys trade spaces, what is your favorite room in the house for a do-over?
PAIGE: I can’t speak for the designers, but I love when we do family rooms because they have the most jeopardy if the homeowners are disappointed. Lots at stake when it’s a room you spend a great deal of time in.

TOM: Starry Night, Mona Lisa or Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso?
PAIGE: Picasso, all the way.

TOM: Thanks Paige! We’ll be looking for you on April 7!

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Visiting The Muppets

One of my favorite places to visit when I’m in New York is the Museum of the Moving Image which is Astoria, Queens. It’s chock full of memories with items from tv and movies and also video games. Currently, the featured exhibit is The Jim Henson Exhibition which of course features the Muppets. This may now be a permanent part of the museum according to the museum’s website.

Big Bird, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, they are all there.

The Jim Henson exhibit features so much related to the Muppets, including actual Muppets, but also scripts, drawing concepts of how they were created, videos of original programming and so much more.

It was really sweet to see people’s reactions as they related with the characters. Everyone has a special memory regarding the Muppets and periods of their lives.

The museum of course has lots of memories regarding tv and movies, with props, scrips, collectibles, old movie and tv cameras, etc.

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Breaking Bad, et al

breakingbadI DVR’d all of Breaking Bad when there was a marathon on AMC and for the past month I have been holding off on watching the final five episodes. I don’t want it to end. I know how it ends because it was all over the news the next day after the final episode. But still, those five final episodes are precious to me.

I’m not sure why I never watched it when it was on the air, I never saw Game of Thrones or Ray Donovan either. Not sure why, I used to watch all those Sunday night shows on HBO, True Blood, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire. I know Ray is on Showtime.

I guess one of these will be my next DVD- binge watch thing.

I’m always drawn to the desert Southwest – you know, Albuquerque, Phoenix, etc. Maybe I lived there in another life, who knows. I was talking to my cousin the other night and out of the blue she tells me that one of her sons is drawn to the desert, too. Like when he sees a scene in the movies or on tv, like in Breaking Bad for instance, he is drawn to it. Crazy right?

My thing with these tv shows is that I watch mostly reality tv, not sure why, so I don’t see much scripted stuff.

From skyline to brick wall

My first couple of days in New York sort of suck. But things are better now. I got to see the 30th season premiere episode of The Amazing Race today, and that was a lot of fun. I took a little film of that, you can see that below.

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This is the usual view from my favorite hotel in NYC, the Affinia Dumont, which is now closed and turning into condos. I pay for this view, but it’s worth it.

But to start out, I have this favorite hotel in New York, the Affinia Dumont, where the views are spectacular, you think you are living in a postcard. It’s amazing.

Well, after all these years, they were sold and  becoming condos, the Murry Hill Marquis, so the hotel company put me at another one of their Affinias up the street, the Shelburne. I stayed there once, and didn’t like it, but figured what the hell, it can’t be that bad.

It is.

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This was my view when they changed me from the Affinia Dumont to the Affinia Shelburne.

They gave me a room facing a brick wall. You can see it here! Then they charged me $25 a day for “incidentals,” like wine at the wine bar, $10 worth of things at the gift shop, internet, etc. I’m here 10 days, do the math. I would only use the internet, and possibly the gift shop for a bottle of water and maybe the newspapers. I don’t drink wine, and I don’t mix with total strangers and free wine socials at hotels.

I asked for them not to charge me the $25 and they said that’s the way it is. I could do nothing about it. This was one of the managers who said this to me. Basically, that’s tough, you’re stuck with the bill. Then I asked to change my room from the dungeon that it is and I was told there were no other rooms! The two little bitches at the front desk were quite rude. The manager literally told me that they stuck me in the dungeon room because they wanted to give me an inside room which is more quiet and preferred. I guess she thought I was a mental patient, who need to calm my nerves.

The coup de gras was the next morning when I got stuck in the elevator! A couple from England and I got stuck. This changed everything. I’m not sure why, because it wasn’t long and I didn’t complain, that sort of thing doesn’t phase me, but they were now falling all over themselves at the front desk, the manager called me, he removed some of my $25 “incidental” charges and they moved me to a room with a view. There is sunlight coming in the window as we speak!

The hotel is surley and not friendly, I asked one of the ladies from housekeeping if I could have a bar of soap, Her response – “Call 64 and they’ll bring you the soap.” In quality hotels, she would have brought me the soap herself when she had a chance.

Anyway, I went to Washington Square Park at about noon for the filming of season 30 of The Amazing Race. There were quite a few reality starts there like Cody and Jessica from the recent Big Brother season which only ended a few weeks ago, that was quite fast signing them up. It was fun to watch, Phil Keoghan is a really nice guy, you’ll see in the film below that he approached a little boy, about four years old, who has a sign that says he wants to be on The Amazing Race. Phil is cracking up. He asked the little boy how he know about the show at such a young age.

I think this will show this winter, probably February. They had the little boy’s mother sign a release, so I guess that interaction will be on tv.