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The Blogulator goes to Hollywood, Gets Scared, and Comes Back Home

Despite this blogger's ridiculous obsession with celebrities and entertainment, I just made my very first pilgrimage to Hollywood last week for a work conference. After a go-go-go week of networking and celebrity chasing, I am very happy to be back in the good ole MN. Yes, L.A. looks fabulous in all of the pictures of beautiful people in gossip mags, but seeing it in person is like seeing an actress without makeup. Scary and weird. The best way I can think to describe Hollywood is that it's like Las Vegas got sick but missed the toilet and blew neon chunks all over the bathroom. The urban sprawl is amazingly large, and the entire town is plastered with eye-catching ads of some kind. Everything in L.A. has a neon sign and looks like its something important, but upon closer inspection it's an insurance agency or a Scientology center or a DMV. It's like my closet - tons of clothes, but nothing to wear. Where else would they try to make the DMV look like a must-see hotspot?!

Most of my free time in L.A. was squandered on failed attempts to seek out and stalk celebrities. Trust me, it's not nearly as easy as the paparazzi make it look. I went everywhere that I thought celebs hung out. I went to the beach. I went to the famed Ivy restaurant. I even wandered the streets of Beverly Hills, which was a terrible idea because everyone in Los Angeles drives everywhere. I was literally the only person on the sidewalk until I ran into a young, 20-something man on his way to his girlfriend's house to "work on art," (whatever that means), who gave me directions to Rodeo Drive. Once I got to Rodeo Drive I saw tons of tourists taking pictures of Banana Republic and other chain stores that I'm sure exist in their own hometowns, but alas, nobody famous - unless that art guy was really Brad Pitt in disguise! Hmmmm... I stopped my star search just shy of hopping on one of those guided tour buses that takes you around L.A. and shows you where all the celebrities live. Thought about it though.

Not all was lost, however. I had two brushes with fame on my trip. First, and most successful, was my siting of radio (and now TV) guru, Ira Glass, checking into my hotel! I was standing outside the front door of the hotel at midnight, waiting for a friend to show up, when the cab pulled up and a tired and ragged Ira got out of the back seat. Instinctively, I began to walk toward him when I realized that I am WAYYYY too chicken to stop and talk to a celebrity. So when he gave me an exhausted, "please don't talk to me right now, I just got off a five hour flight," half-smile, I did the only natural thing - walk right by him as if I had no idea he was famous and pretend like I really just wanted to stand on the other side of the door. It was a totally embarrassing retreat to adolescence. I took the middle school approach to getting someone's attention, which is just to completely ignore them. It never got me a date in middle school and it got me absolutely nowhere with Ira!

When I saw Mr. Glass at the hotel bar the next night, I did the exact same silent stalking move until I saw someone else walk up to him and ask for a picture. Then I felt slightly better about my autograph request, which he put on the only sign-able thing in sight - the back of my conference name tag.

The second star contact I had on the trip was not nearly as exciting, and I did not walk away with any tangible evidence, nor did I want to. The conference got producer Brian Grazer to speak/be interviewed for one of the sessions. Check out this picture - I am convinced that Brian Grazer is actually Clay Aiken, aged by 30 years. I'm not really sure why they booked Brian Grazer to speak, except perhaps for his expertise on "success" in a general sense. What I took away from the speech was a pretty tainted view of Hollywood producers. He actually said things like, "I always think I'm right," "a film is successful if it makes a lot of money," and my favorite, "you should cater to the lowest common denominator" (yes, he actually used the phrase 'lowest common denominator'). He just confirmed and validated all of the criticisms of the film industry in an hour and a half! At one point, Grazer said that he wasn't happy with the way The Da Vinci Code turned out, but that it was a success because it sold a lot of tickets. Wow.

Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of this blog post - this week's big event, The Emmys. I thought about doing some good celeb stalking outside the Nokia Theater on Sunday since I was in L.A. anyway, but decided against it because I figured I wouldn't be able to get close enough - and I couldn't figure out how to get there on the bus. Only later did I find out about the bomb scare that caused celebrities to have to walk from three blocks away! Now I'm kicking myself. That could have been a grade A, star-stalking three blocks! Oh, well. I got to do the second best thing to creepily spying on the Emmys - read the Blogulator recap and listen to Minnesota Public Radio's commentary.


MPR ran a piece on Monday about how so many of Sunday night's Emmys went to cable television shows, even though a significantly smaller percentage of the population actually watch, or are able to watch, those shows. Now, if you buy Brian Grazer's idea of success (*buy* being the optimum word), then logic would dictate that American Idol or Dancing with the Stars would sweep up all the awards because it has the most viewers. And the most viewers = the most advertisements = the most $$$$$! On the other hand, the awards are supposed to go to the "best" shows. But is it really fair for so many awards to go to programs that are not accessible to everyone? Is everyone able to join in on the criticism of the judges' selections? I want to open this topic up for discussion because I'm quite torn on the issue. It's hard to get into an awards show that is only dishing out prizes to programs I've never heard of, but at the same time it might also be a good way to get to know the shows that I'll be Netflixing in the coming year.

So have at it. Discuss...

[Editor's Note -- Big ups to Qualler, who was recently asked by Star-Tribune Music Editor Jon Bream to contribute to his weekly 'Pick Six' feature, offering up a half-dozen of cool new things in music. Check out the article here.]

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  1. Blogger qualler | 8:49 AM |  

    RE: Your discussion point

    Yeah right, like I want poor people watching my elitist programming! There's a price to great television, rubes.

  2. Blogger qualler | 8:50 AM |  

    p.s. The reason they're all poor is because they spend money at the places that advertise on American Idol! It's like the Circle of Life.

  3. Blogger DoktorPeace | 9:02 AM |  

    Which DMV was that? The one I used in CA was as stale as Grazer's ideas.

    Ira Glass was sitting alone in a hotel bar, and you had a bunch of MPR material, and you didn't use it? Think how different your life could have been. Think how different my life could have been, hanging out with Amy and Ira Glass...

  4. Blogger Lady Amy | 9:40 AM |  

    Well, he wasn't sitting alone, which was one of many reasons why I was nervous to approach him.

  5. Blogger qualler | 9:45 AM |  

    p.s. I'm excited to go to the city tonight that hasn't vomited recently (i.e. Las Vegas).

  6. Blogger Lady Amy | 9:47 AM |  

    Las Vegas is CONSTANTLY vomiting and getting it all over other cities, Mark.

  7. Blogger Sean | 1:37 PM |  

    two things:

    only a nobody walks in LA
    -missing persons

    i hate the fact that cable shows get all sorts of nominations. damages? in treatment? what the fuck are these shows? never heard of them.
    anybody can get an acting nomination when they're allowed to use real swears and show off titties. c'mon, emmy's, show some recognition for the people working in the system, the people on good ol' broadcast TV.

    cable should have it's own emmy's. cable should also go to different schools. i'm not prejudiced. i'm just saying...

  8. Blogger Lady Amy | 1:39 PM |  

    OR...make cable free for everyone! Hey, hey whatdya say! Equal shows for equal pay!

  9. Blogger qualler | 1:41 PM |  

    Sean -- you must be poor. You can have your American Idol.

  10. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:46 PM |  

    Maybe you guys should stop eating so much and paying so much for whores, so that you can finally sit back and not watch these shows with the rest of us.

  11. Blogger qualler | 1:51 PM |  

    Oh Doktor -- everybody knows, I can't make it through a day without a little coke off a hooker's rear end.

  12. Blogger qualler | 2:02 PM |  

    Sean, it sounds to me like you want to persecute cable TV the way vampires are persecuted on HBO's True Blood. And that is totally unfair, because, while most vampires really do want to drink your blood, some of them, especially those who "turned" in the Civil War era, are interested in attempting to calm those urges, despite peer pressures to drink blood. And that's just not cool.

  13. Blogger chris | 2:59 PM |  

    I was thinking about this kinda thing while at the Twins game last night (First game I've ever seen them win! My curse is over!). All those richies who could afford lower-level tix get all the tubegun t-shirts and are always home to the "row of fame" giveaways and such. I felt so coldly separated by class and the perks just rubbed salt in my middle class wound - why can't baseball tix just be first come first serve?

    Oh yeah, America revolves around making money.

    Ditto for the TV world, sorry Sean et al.

    But if you look at this all through a postmodern deconstructionist lens...

  14. Blogger qualler | 3:17 PM |  

    Haha, to be fair, the Hormel Row of Fame winners could be anybody -- I have seen it in the upper deck as well. And the shirt tubes, of which I have once witnessed a friend actually winning, are generally oversized ugly t-shirts that they couldn't give away unless it was in the form of a stuffed bear mascot waving wildly at a large group of semi-inebriated fans with hot dogs.

    Cable, meanwhile, is easily attaniable if one properly plans ones own financial budget!

  15. Blogger qualler | 3:18 PM |  

    p.s. I'm commenting a lot because I like seeing my new commenting icon. I guess you're good for something, Sean! (jay kay, my friend.)

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