Here in Los Angeles we are in the midst of Brit Week, that time of year when UK-born artists of all types living in Southern California (and Anglophiles like myself) gather together to mingle and celebrate each other's achievements and overall fabulousness.
I was honored to be invited to attend a Brit Week party in the hills above Sunset Boulevard celebrating opera, fashion, and art (OPARTASH, get it?). Thrown at the private home of Genlux fashion editor Amanda Eliasch (pictured, below), the guest-list-only "soiree" held about 150 guests including actress Lisa Zane from -- yep -- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (I'll let that sink in for you 90s horror junkies out there). And who knew she could sing? Early in the night, the raven-haired artist slinked up next to a pink piano and performed an Italian number with opera singer Charles Eliasch.
My plus-one for the evening was a filmmaker friend of mine who wished to remain nameless here because of his following description of the house: "It's as if Betsy Johnson and Ed Hardy had sex in 1987 and exploded." Indeed: white walls, onyx tables, pink velvet chaise lounges, baroque sculptures, and neon artwork made for a decor that would've done Andy Warhol proud.
Since we arrived shortly after 6pm, the actual start time, we expected to enjoy some gourmet nibblers as our dinner, but lo and behold, a dining table strewn with cheese plates and hummus wasn't enough to satiate our appetites.
After stuffing my face with brie and grapes, I searched the rest of the party for anything that would quell my stomach. No such luck. Instead, I gulped down two glasses of Veuve Clicquot and a vodka cocktail at the open bar. I then peeked my head into the kitchen where two catering staff members asked if I needed anything. I politely asked them if anything else was being served since I, like some of the guests I knew, didn't prefer to graze on pita chips and berries like farm animals.
That's when we snuck into the dressing room where some half-naked models were getting ready for the pending Pam Hogg fashion show. One smiling waif offered us some pizza that some of the models had eaten for dinner (yes, you read that correctly: models eat pizza before walking the runway).
I scarfed down a slice of barbecue chicken pizza as if I were a vagabond who had just traveled across a post-apocalyptic Earth after weeks without sustenance.
Somewhat satisfied, we made our way outside to the pool deck to grab a good seat for the pending fashion show. A runway had been constructed over the pool and a spotlight had been situated next to the DJ. A hush came over the Euro-centric crowd.
Amanda Eliasch came out and tapped on a microphone, thanking everyone for coming, especially designer Pam Hogg who had flown in from London to showcase her new line of out-of-this-world outfits. Hogg, one of Gaga's fashion femme fatales, isn't known for making public appearances, so tonight's occasion was quite special.
The models strutted and did their thing. I caught Smiling Waif making her way towards our seats. In a moment of recognition I smiled, nodded my head, and on behalf of my stomach, mouthed the words, "Thank you."
Without missing a beat, before she walked off the pool deck, she turned and said, "It was soooo good, right?"
Naama Kates has had better shows. It wasn’t anything that
any one person did. The music sounded fine, and the atmosphere was perfect. For
one reason or another, the whole thing just didn’t click on Friday night. Judging
by Naama’s expression at the end of the set, it was clear that she felt the
5 in West Hollywood was bustling as Kates and her band rushed to set up their
equipment, late for their set from the outright. Perhaps the venue was too bustling,
because by the time Kates made it to the opening lines of her first single, “King for a Day,” hardly anyone was listening to the music.
was no break between the pre-show, setup calamities, and the actual set. The
band should have vacated the stage, or maybe Kates should have addressed the
crowd with more command.
Regardless of how it could have been better handled, the music started
in competition with the conversational roar of every other person in that
venue. Kates’ opener was lost amidst the rumble of voices, and the first half
of the set sort of careened from there.
drummer left for a song, right after the opener. It was a huge showstopper and
left Kates struggling to find a way to fill time. For him, it was a pretty
unprofessional move, not to mention the fact that he left the rest of his group
just hanging there. Things eventually picked up when he finally made it back to
his set, but the increase in energy had nothing to do with him.
set picked up energy as she approached her last four or so songs, because she
started to find her own rhythm. As the set went on, the crowd quieted down, and
Kates could actually hear herself. It also helps that the majority of her more
melodic songs are budgeted at the end of her set list.
are the songs that she should be boasting, especially as she is getting on her
feet as a vocalist. Songs like her single, “King for a Day,” are complex, jazzy
tracks with an emphasis on staccato and a very narrow appeal. Her more
melodious tracks are the actual ear catchers, and they have a much more
universal appeal to listeners. Perhaps she could plan for those to be right out of the
gate next time.
Naama Kates is just getting her legs
underneath her, and the next few years of her career are not doubt going to be
exciting to watch. She has all the makings of an act that will truly stand out.
There is just a little bit of work that needs to be done before it can all be adequately communicated on stage. In time she’ll find her voice, her drummer
will learn to stick behind his kit, and her live shows will be much, much
Last night in Hollywood, W Hotels hosted the next installment of its ongoing music series, Symmetry Live, at Drai’s Private Lounge (the hotel's posh and exclusive venue) to kick off IMS Engage, a one-day event to engage the electronic music world with the wider industries of technology, finance, hip-hop and the arts.
The night crackled with energy as UK singer Foxes (pictured, right) took to the stage with a soulful acoustic performance and revelers closed out the night as the DJs spun for partygoers.
The night was hosted by W Hotels’ Global Music Director Michaelangelo L’Acqua at W Hollywood.
Notable appearances of the night included Jessica Lowndes and Michael Steger from 90210 (below).
Yes, the Sundance Film Festival is a playground for moviemakers, but indulging in its unique fashion, food, and music events is part of the whole experience.
The largest evening of independent music at Sundance, Koffeehouse Chateau featured fourteen sublime acoustic artists playing before a roaring fireplace in the intimacy of a private manor miles from Park City. One of the performers, American Idol alum, Crystal Bowersox glowed, "I'm so happy to be here. My first Sundance! I just finished my second album (due late March). It has a duet with Jakob Dylan, and all original except for one track (“Here's Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays)."
Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge offered new lifestyle brands for the celebrity set (Katherine Heigl, Courtney Love). Feinstein, now in her 13th year of hosting style lounges, says, "Style is the way you carry yourself and your attitude and the way you feel about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, and have confidence - you have style." Who also showed up? Matthew McConaughey (photo courtesy of KFPR).
Sean John at TR Gifting Suites went the extra mile and donated brand new coats to needy New Yorkers for every coat they gave away at Sundance as part of New York Cares Coat Drive.
OAKLEY LEARN TO RIDE
Oakley Learn To Ride escorted festival-goers up the mountain with Olympic medal winner Danny Kass, and taught them (and celebs Adrian Grenier, and Brazilian supermodel Allesandro Ambrosia) how to snowboard. By night, Oakley's space transformed into Sundance’s own Hyde Lounge.
Snowboarder and rapper, Lil Jon, and pal Octavia Spencer at Oakley Learn To Ride (photo courtesy of Getty Images/Fingerprint Communications):
Then, animal lovers convened on CatDance, a celebration of cats in short films. Adorable celebrity host, AnnaLynne McCord, proud owner of two kitties, cited "What's New Pussycat?" as her favorite 'cat' pop song. Proceeds from the limited edition black and grey cat-inspired hats (seen here on McCord) benefit the ASPCA.
THE PROMONTORY FEAST
The culinary highlight of Sundance was Chef Bill Reilly's exclusive five star Italian feast (inspired by the Sundance winning film, Big Night) at The Promontory, THE luxury community in Park City.
Carlo Mondavi, grandson of Robert, presided over the meal's wine pairing with his 2009 Continuum Cabernet - full of dark chocolate and black cherry accents. Needless to say: Mmmm! If you can find it, check it out!
GREY GOOSE BLUE DOOR
Speaking of alcohol, the Grey Goose Blue Door on Main Street, which also featured a fantastic Sorel boots gifting suite, served my favorite cocktail in all of Sundance: a Hot Apple Pie. Here's the recipe...
1 ½ oz Grey Goose Poir (pear)
½ oz B&B
¾ oz Cinnamon
4 oz Hot Apple Cider
A hot mug and garnish with lemon zest and clove (You're welcome)
Needless to say, we all felt warm and happy with this cocktail. Already looking forward to next year in Park City!
When HIH/Bello editor extraordinaire Hiko Mitsuzuka asked me to attend the premiere of The Cottage (starring David Arquette and Kristen Dalton), I asked what I always ask before agreeing to an assignment:"Will there be wine and dancing?" and although I was told, "categorically NO DANCING!" I went with an open mind and my compadre (aka spiritual advisor) Courtney, to control my overt campiness.
The premiere was held at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, with the entire cast in tow. Also in attendance were director Chris Jaymes, Lexi Ainsworth, Jordan Beckett, Judd Nelson, Jessie Rabideau, producer Bettina Tendler O'Mara and a certain Mr. Jack Nicholson. The hive positively buzzed around his honeypot, as he excreted Nicholsonness with every step. Even I wanted to suckle upon his magnificent teat in the hope some of that awesomeness might rub off. Fortunately I was advised that was a sentiment best kept to myself.
I can sum up The Cottage in one word—creepy. In the opening scene I initially feared "torture porn," but thankfully that was far from the case. This is an old-fashioned psychological thriller, where suspense builds gradually. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely murder and mayhem, just not the gratuitous kind. Instead, it concentrates on a mood of constant uneasiness. Let's face it: teenage polygamy and underage brides never make for "cheerful" themes, but kudos to director Christopher Jaymes for choosing the non-exploitive route. Kristen Dalton also proves an unexpected badass, but my favorite cast member by far was "the sullen sister" Morissa O'Mara. She maintained the expression of the perpetually pissed-off, which I personally grew really quite fond of. David Arquette naturally embodies quirky-creepy, which had the same horrid effect on me as Edward Norton (in American History X.) He's a sexual confuser! My head said "don't like!", my heart said "be afraid!" but Vera Vadge down there, well, she was saying something else. Mmmm, this must be how John Mayer feels about black women.
"There's definitely a Manson vibe," said the indie horror flick director Jaymes, admitting the whole film was shot "in less than two months." Which, even I have to admit, is bloody impressive stuff. Although I remain unsure as to what happened to the family cat, as he/she was never officially slain. I'm confident in the belief kitty still resides in the guest house.
The after party was at David Arquette's club Bootsy Bellows, which is where things all went a bit pear shaped for me. I started seeing Lynchesque femme fatales and vaudevillians participating in shenanigans, and by the time I consumed my fifth fishbowl of Pinot I discovered the dancing marionettes!
Everything from there was a blur of newfound friends, Brazilian models, Boy Meets World references, pockets full of candy, a Malaysian media mogul, a boy from Oz (the country, not the prison show), champagne sparklers, and a 6-foot-6-inch Hawaiian. I'm not 100% who half these people are in these photos and there's a distinct possibility I tackled that Arquette fellow, like a gluten-deprived linebacker. It's hard to tell if he's smirking or just really annoyed. Regardless, I'm proud to announce I was the victor in that particular rumble as this picture will attest.
PLOT: Chloe (Dalton) and Michael Carpenter (Victor Brown), a struggling suburban couple, have no idea what they’re in for when they rent out the cottage behind their house to a quiet, charming romance novelist named Robert Mars (Arquette).
Now that the 2012 London Games have come to an end, let's ogle some Olympian hardbodies that captured our attention during the past two weeks, ten snapshot-worthy athletes who deserve just as much recognition and media coverage as some of those American swimmers (cough, Phelps and Lochte, cough). For starters, how about Australia's James Magnussen (above, left) and Belarus tennis player Victoria Azarenka?
If that's not enough eye candy, then feast your peepers on these...
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