Happy (belated) 4th of July everyone! I'm a bit overdue with this blog entry because June was quite busy . . . but a theme has emerged. The show Californication has played a major role this month as you shall see . . .

1. Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF)

Kenny is right. Festivals aren't really about the films. They're about the after-parties. So buy passes to the Tribeca Film Festival, my dears, and any other festivals in the area. Buy the passes that give you access to the after-party rooms and the gala events. That's where you're going to meet the people who can really help you. I got a pass for the room where everyone hung out after the screenings (the Red Room) but I didn't buy tickets to the galas.  However, it ended up being a good thing because . . .

2. Biz-y

. . . I shot a short the weekend after the LAFF and we had rehearsals during that week. So I would have spent a lot of money on gala tickets that I couldn't use. The short is called Small Town. Think Eyes Wide Shut lite. It's got a dark, sexual theme, a bit of skin (not mine), and some maniacal laughter (mine). All in all a fun time. The director, Charlyn Kent, is a doll and not the kind of person you'd expect to write something like this. She's very soft spoken and refined and works as a nurse part-time. She says she has a feature-length script that she's working on that's even darker than the short! She called just the other day and said she was thrilled with the footage. Can't wait for the wrap party in two weeks! And my co-star sent me to another director who's doing a feature-length film. So I'll have a tiny role in that as well.

Shooting with Carlo went very well . . . until the night shoot. The camera decided it didn't want to be awake at that hour so we have to do the night scenes over again. Even so we had a blast riding around in the middle of the night, eating donuts, and making up new lyrics to Jay-Z's "Can I Get A F#%& You". If you'd like to see a preview here it is: http://www.vimeo.com/1170044.

I also had new headshots taken. Technically, there isn't t anything wrong with the old headshots except that they aren't "LA enough." There's definitely a difference. LA headshots tend to make everyone look like a leading actor/actress while New York headshots make everyone look . . . well, normal. And today I treated a friend of mine to sushi in exchange for his photography expertise. He took some model-type shots of me on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum wasn't open so it was challenging to change outfits inside Little Echo without be ogled by parking lot security.

My manager, Joy Parris, has been great so far. She has gotten me a bunch of auditions. One of them was with the casting director of Californication. She was really sweet and I sent a thank you note. (Always do that, by the way.) And interestingly, two of the auditions Joy got me have been for the Church of Scientology. Apparently, they make instructional videos. Their Hollywood location is quite lavish. Imagine lots of gold paint, a white piano in the lobby, columns, chandeliers, etc. I also auditioned for a host position for a start-up entertainment TV show. At first they weren't sold on me (and still might not be) since I've never hosted before BUT . . .

3. The best 4th of July ever

. . . Joy invited me to a block party in South Central on the 4th. The producers of the TV show were there video taping the entertainers and interviewing the folks who put the block party together. (Actually, it wasn't just a 4th of July party, it was a Barack Obama party. The phrase "Yes we can" echoed down the block.) So the producers shoved a microphone in my hand and said, "This is your callback audition. Go." A little bit nerve-racking at the beginning but fun after a while and they seemed pleased. Wouldn't it be nice to have a job doing something vaguely related to my field? Fingers crossed. Anyway, Jack, Kenny, Bita and I ate ribs, cornbread, potato salad, danced in the street, applauded the performers, sent out heartfelt wishes that OBAMA WINS THIS ELECTION and then headed to Malibu where one of Kenny's friends was celebrating her birthday on the beach. So we ate some more. This time it was brownies, strawberries, spicy potato chips, and oatmeal cookies. We also continued dancing and watched the fireworks over the Pacific Ocean. Incredible. I tried to take pictures of the fireworks but my phone just didn't capture it as you can see below.

4. Stars seen this month

Jack Nicholson--a friend of mine was having auditions for a fundraiser for an organization that helps Africa. She asked me to sign people in for a little while. In came Jack. He's very nice and much better looking in person than he is on screen for some reason. Much less craggy.

David Hasselhoff--very, very tall. I catered a pre-prom party at a house in Beverly Hills. David and his daughter were in attendance. Very, very tall.

Forest Whittaker--I catered a luncheon for a group that raises money for inner city kids. Forest brought his whole family and was just as lovely in person as he appears.

5. Dating

Date #1: I told this story to a lot of you when I was in New York but there are a bunch of you who still haven't heard it so . . . I was doing background work on Californication. I met a cute Irish boy named Stan who gave me a bunch of good information about the biz. There was definitely a little spark. So when I went home, I sent him an e-mail thanking him for the info. After a couple of friendly e-mails back and forth, he invited me to the Getty Museum for an afternoon. He offered to pick me up, he suggested dinner afterward, etc. It was obviously a "date." I drove myself because I wanted to go to the premier of Bigger, Faster, Stronger afterward (see it by the way) . . . and thank GOD! We had a great afternoon laughing at the video "art", eating tuna salads for lunch, and chatting about how his family expected him to follow the family tradition of becoming a priest when he grew up. Then as we walked through the museum garden and back to the galleries he stopped short.

Stan: (very quickly) I have to say something. I hope I didn't mislead you in any way. I hope you didn't think this was a date or anything.

Berda: (confused) Uh . . . no?

Stan: I'm just asking because my wife is here and she's probably going to say something to us.

Berda: (thinking) WIFE??!!

Stan: (to Wife) Hi honey. This is Berda. She's from New York . . .

Wife: (ripping off her wedding ring and shoving it in Stan's front pocket) YOU TOLD ME YOU WERE GOING TO THE GETTY WITH YOUR GAY FRIEND!!!!

Stan: But . . but . . . don't you want to hear what Berda has to say?

Wife: (storming away) OH THAT'S JUST GREAT!!

Stan: (to Berda) Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . .

Wife: (halfway up the stairs to the tram) SO YOU'RE GOING TO STAY HERE WITH HER??!!

Berda: (to Stan) You'd better go.

Date #2: The next date was with a jock-turned-actor who I met catering and then ran into again doing background work on . . . Californication! (Please remind me to stay off that set or at least refuse dates from guys I meet on that set.) He suggested that we go hiking in Runyon Canyon. Now hiking is not something that I really enjoy . . . especially after getting almost lost in the Alps in college. I much prefer beaches to hills and mountains. BUT . . . because this year is all about trying new things and meeting new people and seeing new sights . . . I agreed. The day was doomed from the start. He lives almost directly north of me. When I sent him directions to my house which involved taking two or three major streets he replied, "What? No freeway?" I responded that if he wanted to take the freeway, I was sure there was a way. He decided not to follow the directions I gave him and ended up almost 45 minutes east of me. So I Google Mapped him back. But for some reason he couldn't follow those directions either even though he said he wrote them down. He called me almost every two minutes until he reached my front door. Needless to say, I was completely annoyed by the time he arrived and wanted to say, "Listen, I'm not going to mother you through your life so let's just forget this." But I thought of the blog (really, I did) and decided to go anyway. Conversation wasn't great. He's one of those improv guys who thinks that everything he says is funny. So if you're not laughing it must be because you didn't get the joke. So he says it again. And again. And again. That irritating habit combined with fake self-deprecating phrases like, "Well, I don't know because I didn't go to YALE . . . " didn't endear him to me in the slightest. After the 30th Yale dig, I had to say something.

Berda: Does it bother you that I went to Yale?

Matt: Huh? What do you mean?

Berda: Well, I after the 30th or 40th joke about it, I have to wonder if you're feeling insecure.

Lunch was good because it was a place that I picked but when he dropped me off and suggested that I call him when I returned from New York, I ho hummed. I described the date to my roommates and Aaron said to me, "Berda, the guys out here aren't going to be what you're used to. You're going to have to lower your standards."  BUT AARON, THEY'RE ALREADY SO LOW!!!  And Jack said, "You knew everything you needed to know about him in the first five minutes!" Runyon Canyon was really pretty though. And not like hiking at all. It's more like a paved road through the hills. Perfect for people like me.

6. Little Echo vs. Evil Washington Tire 

Because no blog entry would be complete without a car story . . . the saga continues. You might remember that on Valentine's Day, Little Echo got a flat tire and I took her to the Evil Washington Tire shop down the street where they completely messed up her alignment and I had to return TWICE to get everything fixed. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of things. After a particularly long evening of catering at the Nokia center, I dropped a friend off at his car and he said, "I think you have something in your tire." Sure enough, a giant screw had found its way into Little Echo's front right tire. Argh! Fortunately, I had already made an appointment at the dealership to get her oil changed the following day. I figured the dealership could take care of the tire too. So the next morning I called Triple Yay, of course. The Triple Yay guy came out to put the spare on but wasn't able to. Why? Because the incompetent mechanic at Evil Washington Tire had put one of Echo's lug nuts on so tight that the Triple Yay guy was afraid he'd break it off if he applied any serious pressure! And since he didn't want to be liable, he told me that I had to return to Evil Washington Tire. So back we went. Furious. I pulled up, explained the situation to the idiot mechanic and he told me that everything would be fine. HA! He broke off the lug nut. (Of course he did.) When I stormed into the office to yell at the owner, he greeted me with, "What's wrong now?" He agreed to fix the lug nut free of charge BUT . . . he wanted to charge me $20 to fix the tire. I told him that I didn't want him touching the tire. All I wanted was for him to fix the lug nut and put on the spare. He didn't bother to communicate this to the mechanic who fixed the lug nut, fixed the tire, and then directed me to pay in the office. So what did I do? I hopped into Little Echo and we drove off the lot. I figured they did $20 of work that I didn't authorize. Hopefully, that's the end of the Evil Washington Tire saga. But it's obviously not the end of car trouble. The only way to avoid car trouble, my friends, is to sell the car.

By the way I found an article that ranked Geico #33 in a list of companies with worst customer service

 7. Last but not least . . .

It was wonderful to see all (or most) of you when I was in New York for a) Mom's birthday b) Father's Day and c) my parents' anniversary. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, AND HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to the best parents in the world!


Happy birthday, anniversary, and Father's Day!

Cute people blowing out candles.

 Kenny at the 4th of July/Barack Obama block party.

Jack at the 4ht of July/Barack Obama block party.

Barack Obama at the 4th of July/Barack Obama block party.

Birthday party on the beach in Malibu (a bit blurry but you get the idea)

Before the fireworks

Bad picture of fireworks