Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Look at Hollywood from Robert Wagner’s Eyes

By James Colt Harrison

No-one exudes as much classic movie star charm than screen actor and bon vivant Robert Wagner. He comes from an era when actors were under contract to studios, and they were trained in every aspect of manners, comportment, and élan. He brings this well-pampered background to the pages of his new memoir, You Must Remember This, written with Scott Eyman, from Viking Penguin Publishers.

Wagner, or “R.J.” as his friends call him, apparently knew everybody who was anybody in Hollywood over the past five or six decades he has been in the movie arena. He has seen the movie industry---and the surrounding Los Angeles area--- grow, blossom, flourish and decline, right before his sparkling blue big-screen eyes.

You might be slightly disappointed that his is not a Hollywood gossip book, but one of a history of the Los Angeles-Hollywood basin, it’s quirky architecture, its fabulous hotels, the sparkling nightclubs, the elite dinners in the mansions of the moguls, the famous architects, designers, chefs, costume designers and non-stars who helped make L.A. the major city it is today. All of this has been done with meticulous research and an eye to detail. If his acting career doesn’t work out, Wagner can always become an historian! Movie fans may yearn for Hollywood in the Golden Years, but it is a new time, a new place.

Oh, yes, the book is liberally sprinkled with major names of movie stars. Stars that Wagner knew as a boy growing up while working as a horse groomer. Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, Joan Crawford all took him under their wings. He met them all at various times either taking care of their horses when he was a strapping teen of 17 or when he was a caddy at the golf course. In his young years, beauty was a highly regarded commodity in the film community, and it was only a matter of time before he, too, would be discovered and ushered onto a sound stage for a screen test. Now, at 84 and still knock-out handsome, Wagner can look back and tell us how all of it happened to him and how the city where it happened came about historically.

Wagner grew with the city as his film career took off. Put under exclusive contract to 20th Century Fox in the early 1950s, his workdays sometimes included making screen tests with various actresses, including Marilyn Monroe. His career developed because his fresh-faced handsomeness appealed to movie-goers at the time. It was the era of Rock Hudson, Guy Madison, Troy Donohue, John Derek and Jeffrey Hunter. They all had their own unique looks, but Wagner had the natural charm that has lasted to this day.

Wagner laments the loss of many of the iconic film star watering holes, but accepts change as inevitable and the natural evolution of  things over time. But that doesn’t mean he has forgotten the wide-open spaces of Los Angeles, the unspoiled beaches, the smell of orange groves, and the glittering parties that made early Hollywood so fascinating. He knows; he was there.

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By James Colt Harrison

Arnold is back in his new Open Road non-stop actioner Sabotage.
Is there blood? Gallons. Are there bodies? Hundreds. Are there bullets? Thousands. But, best of all, is there fun? Definitely.

Unexpectedly entertaining, Sabotage gives Arnold fans what they want. He’s as “bad” as ever, strong, solid, and determined as can be in his role of John “Breacher” Warton, the commander of an elite squad of Drug Enforcement Agency operatives. They’re independent of the regular DEA forces and take their jobs seriously. They answer to no-one it seems, and Schwarzenegger takes advantage of that freedom by breaking all the rules.

Surprisingly, the script is loosely based on Agatha Christie’s 1939 hit book And Then There Were None. Very loosely, we might say. It did serve as a starting point. In the 1945 20th Century Fox film starring Barry Fitzgerald and Judith Anderson, the guests on a deserted island get killed off one by one. The same idea is used for Sabotage when Arnold’s team is killed off under bizarre circumstances.

What would cause an elite team of warriors such as this to be killed so brutally? While on a mission down in Mexico to raid a cartel, they find a huge pile of money stashed away by the druggies. Their assignment given them by Chief Phelps (Michael Monks) is to destroy the money. Only a saint or the Pope could resist the temptation to skim a little off the top for their efforts, so the guys secret away $10 million to be picked up later. They blow up the remaining millions. The cartel guys get very angry about this and will seek revenge. Lots of bullets zing, and bodies fly through the air in pieces after being turned into Swiss cheese by automatic machine guns. The good guys escape. Hooray! But do they?

Ah, but the story doesn’t end there. Arnold’s team is now targeted by the vicious cartel stooges, but they don’t realize who is doing the initial killings. One by one Arnold’s team is iced off in various brutal and clever ways. Too bloody to explain here, but the special effects guys on the film have a great time thinking of new ways to disembowel a victim.

It is this stage of the movie where it becomes a mystery as nobody knows what is happening to the guys and why. Screenwriters Skip Woods and David Ayer have not neglected humor and have injected some vey funny lines throughout and some hilarious situations to relieve the gravity of the main story. Arnold, whose basic manner is completely humorless, is the funniest of them all.

Inexplicably, tough FBI agent Caroline Brentwood (played by age-appropriate Olivia Williams) is on Arnold’s side when the FBI accuses him of stealing the missing money. She’s tough but vulnerable to 66 year-old Arnold’s charm, which he has in abundance.

The elite team is composed of Avatar’s Sam Worthington (Monster), Magic Mike’s Joe Manganiello (Grinder), Lost’s Josh Holloway (Neck), Iron Man’s Terrence Howard (Sugar), Captain Phillip’s Max Martini (Pyro), End of Watch’s Kevin Vance (Tripod), World War Z’s Mireille Enos (Lizzy), and Mark Schlegel as Smoke.

Yes, the film is all hokum and a set-up for Arnold’s steely gaze, but it is a rousing piece of entertainment and an enjoyable ride through territory that might not be on your vacation schedule. Guys will love the rough and tumble scenes of Arnold wiping out the entire clientele in a Mexican bar all by himself. What else would we expect from the former Mr. Universe?

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Sunday, March 9, 2014


Freddie B Photography Captures Kids At Play
In Country Couture Photo Shoot
Produced by Dynamite Editorials
Written by Victoria Thomas

Strutting supermodels routinely ruffle feathers, and members of the creative team notoriously butt heads. But at a recent countrified photo shoot staged by Dynamite Editorials, the feathers belonged to local chickens and roosters, and the frisky capers of the goats were all in good fun.

Gathering creative forces at the generously donated home of the Word family in scenic Trabuco Canyon, located in the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains southeast of Los Angeles, Freddie B Photography, along with a team of professional fashion stylists, hairstylists and makeup artists, captured impressions of child-models, their parents and siblings, in fresh fashions and rustic settings that seem a million miles from even a speck of smog or gridlock.

“The hills, the animals milling around, the excitement of the children--I was afraid I couldn’t capture it all in one day and I was right,” says Freddie B. “The images I got that day leave me with a feeling of longing for a place like this, far from the hustle and bustle of Southern California.”

It’s an old show-biz adage that no actor should ever share the bill with a child performer or an animal act, to prevent being upstaged. The instant chemistry and charisma of kids and critters at the Trabuco Canyon event confirmed this theory without a doubt. Many of Freddie B.’s images catch kids in the act of jumping for joy, cowboy boots and all. “It was a real-life experience of the incredible lightness of being as the children’s playfulness brings the color to life,” says the photographer. And that’s exactly how Freddie B. portrayed these adorable subjects in his artistic coloring of this spread.

Highlighting the action was a family birthday party on the charming front porch of the ranch house, complete with bubbles, and balloons. But some of the day’s most memorable images are spontaneous interactions between kids, hens, goats, dogs and one friendly pig, all members of the Word family’s farm.

Some of the fashions, like denim jackets from Homespun Vintage, referenced the project’s rustic Americana roots. In addition to gingham checks and plaids which would be at home on a hayride or at a hoe-down, the young models also represented edgier expressions with screened tees, tanks, dresses, skirts, tie-dyes, and jeanswear-inspired cotton vests in hot pink and chrome yellow. The LA-based designers included Homespun Vintage, Recess Showroom, Julie Smith Kids, Smallshop Showroom and Krys Corvette.

Children and barnyard friends were all on their best behavior. Still, there were surprises, squawks, snorts, nibbles and giggles, resulting in candid images which capture the playfulness of the fashion collections.

The Dynamite Editorials creative team followed as children frolicked with barnyard friends, catching many impressions on the fly as well as formally staging set shots. Bringing family groups into the setting added to the relaxed feeling of the day, allowing the children to respond to the environment in a comfortable and natural way.

“Working with children in this expansive natural setting was such a joyful experience. The photographs communicate a playful spirit, and this is often what’s missing from campaigns featuring kids. The feeling our team captured is genuine, not contrived, and so different from anything you could ever get inside a studio under hot lights,” comments TNT Tauna, founder of Dynamite Editorials.

Dynamite Editorials is an educational production company specializing in editorial photography founded by Fashion Stylist, Blogger, and Production Director, TNT Tauna. She began Dynamite Editorials as a platform to enable other artists to create cohesively styled editorials for portfolio use, promotion, and publication. Tauna works diligently behind the scenes to organize content creating events, invite influential fashion bloggers to join the fun, and find magazines interested in publishing the content. To learn more about TNT Tauna and Dynamite Editorials please visit her website at

Editorial Credits:
Photographer: Freddie B Photography
Models: Maya & Melia Molinar, Grace & Emma Kozak
Hair: Viridiana De La Rosa, Martha Ponce, Maribel Guerrero, Tina Maria Del Pozo
Wardrobe Stylists: Sydnee Thrasher, Jessica Meister, TNT Tauna
Assistant Stylist: Jessica Moffett, Shantalcole Hernandez, Jasmin Garcia

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Pompeii has thrills, romance

By James Colt Harrison

The story of old Pompeii, Italy has been fascinating audiences for millenniums. The same is true today when we can only imagine the splendor of the city as it was then and the terror experienced by the citizens when their whole world came tumbling down during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This is like the Titanic story; we all know the ending, but we don’t know how the film will get there.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson trains his excellent 3D cameras on real sets, models, and CGI scenes to elaborate effectiveness. There is one killer scene in which a cliffside villa crumbles into the sea, along with half the mountain. No animals were hurt in the filming of these scenes!

Mr. Anderson must be an avid movie-watcher as he has had his screenwriters Janet Scott & Lee Batchelor and Michael Robert Johnson borrow from every heart-wrenching epic film such as the aforementioned Titanic as well as The Horse Whisperer, The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, with a little of Spartacus thrown in for good measure. Every “Roman-themed” film of yesteryear serves as a blue print for this “new” look at life in 79 A.D. The filmmakers can’t be faulted too much because how many different ways can the same story be told?

Strapping Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones TV fame, plays grown-up Milo. As a young boy he watched in horror as his parents were slaughtered by the mean and nasty Roman soldier Keifer Sutherland (Corvus) and his top lieutenant Proculus (Sasha Roiz) when they eliminated the Celts. Milo grows up a slave and seeks his revenge 17 years later.

Because Milo is young and strong, he is a natural for the arena where he is obligated to kill for the entertainment of the governing powers. On his way to being shipped to Pompeii he saves the life of Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of high official and town chief Severus (Mad Men’s Jared Harris) and her beautiful mother Aurelia (Carrie-Ann Moss). They immediately do goo-goo eyes at each other, even though they know it is forbidden. But that never stopped determined and hormonally excited youth nor Hollywood. Through circumstances and clever screen-writing, the two are thrust together several times, cementing their attachment. But do we believe their romance? It’s debatable and borders on preposterous. There’s not much chemistry between the two, and the only sparks come from the mountain.

While in prison Milo makes friends with the gigantic Atticus (Adewale Akkinnuoye-Agbaje), a fellow slave flighter. Together they team up and nearly wipe out the entire Roman legion on their own. You can only do that if you are the star of the movie.

All of the fighting, head-lopping and arm severing is simply a lead-up to the huge climax and the reason the film was made in glorious 3D. Using some of the best 3D effects seen on screen, Anderson makes us feel the heat of the lava as the mountain spews rockets of boiling rocks down on the Pompeiians. We must admit we dodged a few of those boulders and covered our eyes with trembling arms! Oh, and we mustn’t forget the sensational tsunami that puts the cap on the town. Terrific!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

RAW San Diego brings Art, Fashion, Music, Film and more all under one roof

RAW Artists San Diego is hosting a multi-faceted arts event Wednesday, February 19th at the House of Blues, featuring 40+ San Diego artists. The show will consist of multiple runway shows, live music, a pop-up art and jewelry gallery and more. You won't want to miss this fantastic display of artistic talent.

Continue reading below and click on the links to learn more about RAW artists.

About RAW: Artists is an independent arts organization based out of 60+ locations across the globe. Our organization produces bi-monthly events, featuring emerging artists in each community, in the fields of fashion, music, visual art, performing art, hair, makeup, photography, and film.

You can find more event information, and a list of RAW's featured designers and artists at:

Check out RAW's Youtube channel to see footage from events thrown all over the world:

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