BTS of TNT’s Murder In The First

n-b-0xkrAs an actor, getting steady work for a few days is a blessing in this business. That said, I was ecstatic to get cast as a court reporter for five days on the TNT hit drama Murder In The First. 

When I arrived on set, I was placed directly behind the defendant which meant plenty of camera time. I was given direction to take notes and listen carefully to the testimony.  Not a big deal, right? I’ve served on jury duty a couple of  times and seen enough of courtroom scenes to figure it out.

I spotted a guy who looked familiar but I could not place him. When I  heard him speak, I was able to figure out who it was.  Mark-Paul Gosselaar was standing before my eyes!  I grew up watching Mark-Paul play Zack Morris on the Saturday morning comedy Saved By The Bell. This was beyond surreal. I felt as if I stepped into a time machine or that I was stuck in a parallel television universe where Zack Morris grows up and becomes a big time Hollywood director. Pinch me.

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I watched Mark-Paul closely as he gave the principals notes and directed with expertise. A director who is also an actor seems to have a better understanding of the process. Mark-Paul was friendly and funny – a pure delight. I even overheard him sharing stories about his four children keeping him up at night with the cast.

I couldn’t believe where I was – far away from my home in Brooklyn where I dreamed of moments like this. With hard work and determination anything is possible.

The fictional trial ended with a jaw dropping surprise ending! Be sure to pay extra special attention to episode seven. You can’t miss me! I give major face. :)

Murder In The First airs Sundays at 10/9c only on TNT.

In other Mark-Paul news….he makes his debut as  Mike Lawson, a confident catcher on the Fox series Pitch – a drama about the first woman in Major League Baseball. The premiere episode airs tonight 9/8c.

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Exclusive: Milli Vanilli’s ‘Fabulous’ Fab Is Back!

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In the late 80s and early 90s the German pop duo Milli Vanilli were at the top of the charts with the hits “Girl You Know It’s True,” “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You” and “Blame It On The Rain.” That is, until it all came crashing down when it discovered they had not actually sung on any of their records. The controversy became one of the biggest scandals in pop music history. In 1990, Milli Vanilli after much public ridicule and humiliation decided it was the right thing to do to give back their Grammy award for Best New Artist.

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Milli Vanilli fronted by the beautiful Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were striking. Their muscled bodies, dance moves and long dreadlocks had the attention of teenage girls, women and this 13yr old gay boy’s attention. Fab and Rob were two of my first same-sex crushes. I remember wanting to one day date or look like them.

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Fab and Rob’s story is not usual in the entertainment industry. They were taken advantage of by Frank Farian, a shady record producer who founded the group. Frank paid them a cash advance. Being starving artists, they spent all of the money on clothes and other essiental living expenses. Farian then told them they had to lip sync or repay the advance in full. They were basically trapped.

Fab and Rob fell victim to the machine and succumbed to drugs. They would later record an album using their own voices. Many were surprised they could actually sing. But personal struggles held them back. Especially Rob, who attempted suicides and spent time in prison. In 1998, at age 33, Rob Pilatus was found dead of a suspected overdose. He paid the ultimate price.

Fab Morvan would continue working on solo projects. He has never stopped recording. In fact, he just released a new track “Whistle.” An infectious vocal house collaboration with DJ/Producer duo Desert Minds out of Den Haag in the Netherlands. I caught up with Fab to chat about his new music and his infamous past.

Besides being an entertainer, you are a survivor.  How did you manage to persevere during difficult times?

I realized real quick that basking in my misery wasn’t the answer. This is why I told myself “you fell but you’re gonna have to stand back up and move forward.” It’s been my motto ever since. Life ain’t easy, it’s a fact we all have to deal with no matter who you are. Life is full of surprises, ups and downs, those challenges will help define you and how strong you truly are.

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What do you miss from the Milli Vanilli days? What don’t you miss?

What I miss the most from the Milli Vanilli days is performing with Rob in front of thousands of adoring fans…nothing compares to that electrifying feeling. What I don’t miss is, the drugs, the excess and the media scrutiny.

Tell me about your evolution as an artist. How did you find your “voice?”

My love for music always ran deep. Rob and I recorded an album We Can Get It On. A few years later, right around Rob’s death, I recorded a solo album Love Revolution with live instruments, I wrote and co-produced. I dedicated a song for him “It’s Your Life” and was planning on giving it to him but unfortunately…it was too late. I’m very eclectic when it comes my taste in music, I don’t like to be bound to one feel, I like to mix things up. This is how I found my own voice, anyone can go on Youtube and check out my musical journey through the years. I have a great affinity for house music, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. I deejay and sing at the same time for corporate events, clubs, private parties.

What type of music do you enjoy most?

It all has to do with my mood, in the morning for instance, classical. Each week I pick new music: Dance music, House, and the many different styles which fall under that umbrella. Rap, Hip Hop, Dance Hall, Jazz, Latin sounds, Funk Rock, Blues, Reggae etc…as long as it moves me, no matter the time period. 

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Describe your new track, “Whistle.”

Desert Minds produced it, I came up with the lyrics in honor of the night, since it’s played a major role in my life as long as I can remember. Going out for the first time in the clubs in Paris, finally old enough to experience being up until sunrise. In my music career, entering the recording studio before midnight, coming out in the early mornings, I associate the night-time with freedom, creativity, performing, mystery, spontaneity. You can expect more from this partnership. 

What else are you working on?

I’m also part of a project “Face Meets Voice” with one of the original vocalists of Milli Vanilli, John Davis. We’ve been touring throughout Europe, performing the old hits and about to sign a new deal…the best is yet to come!

“Whistle” is available for download on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/whistle-feat.-fab-morvan/id1134014272?i=1134015598

You can join Fab on his journey via social media: www.FabMorvan.com, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

Feature Photo by Jimmy James via Fab Morvan Twitter. 

Mother, May I Sleep With James Franco?

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My New Years resolution was to work with James Franco. I wasn’t sure in what capacity, but I was determined to manifest it. About two months later, I read in Variety, James Franco was producing a remake of the 1996 cult classic  Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?  The orginal starred a teenage Tori Spelling involved in a dangerous love affair with a guy who turns out to be an obsessed psychopath (Ivan Sergei).

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20yrs later, the Lifetime updated classic features Tori Spelling as a mom,  her daughter Leah (Leila George) is seduced by a lesbian vampire. What campy fun!

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I saw a notice on LA Casting that production was looking for people with upscale Halloween costumes for an upcoming scene. I jumped at the opportunity. I ransacked my closed and this is the best I could come up with.  I submitted several photos and with much delight – booked the job!

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We filmed the following Saturday night at Griffith Park. As I stood on my patio, I stared at the Hollywood Hills. I was satisfied to know Mr. Franco was waiting for me.

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When I arrived, I went through hair and make up. Shortly after, a PA took me and the rest of the background talent to set. We were given our marks. I was placed next to the DJ with cocktail in hand. I looked straight ahead and Mr. Franco appeared through the slits in my skeleton mask. My heart began to race. He looked at me and took notice. I could have died and gone to heaven.

I had a blast dancing the night away knowing Mr. Franco was watching on the monitor. I did whatever I could to catch the attention of the camera. I danced with men, women and a little person.  James came out from behind the camera to give direction to his cast of Night Walkers. He walked next to me as he instructed the girls how to creep into the room. Our arms rubbed against each other.

James Franco appeared nothing like his wild Instagram persona. He was the quiet professional – completely focused. He is handsome and confident but looks like he needs a vacation. I’d be happy to join.

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During a break, I spotted Tori Spelling standing to my left near the buffet table. She wore a white dress with pink feathers in her hair! This was another surreal moment: I grew up watching Tori on 90201!! And now…I was working with her?? Wait, what!!? She’s an icon in my book.

Next up, a pivotal scene. Tori rushes out of the party to look for her daughter. The AD placed me right behind her. When Tori reached her mark, I was instructed to swing open the door, run and rip off my mask to investigate the screams. In dramatic fashion, I complied take after take. You will have to watch to find out what happens next….It’s not pretty.

When I got home that night, as I lay in my bed. I thought I had been dreaming. In a way, I was.

Dreams really do come true…

Here’s a clip – see if you can spot me!

Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? is currently showing on Lifetime and is available OnDemand.

ICE T’s Transphobic Tweet

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I got into a riff with rapper Ice T this morning over an insensitive transphobic photo posted on his Twitter account.

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Transgendered Americans are being subject to hateful anti-trans bathroom laws, are combating discrimination and are even being murdered. This type of behavior is totally irresponsible and dangerous.  Myself and a handful of others called him out. His response to one follower, “fuck you.” I would post the tweet, but he blocked me.

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Everyone is entitled to think what they want and view the world as they see fit. A person in the public eye has a bit more responsibility to set an example. There seems to be a trend that being “PC” is uncool; that people are too sensitive. I wonder how he would respond if someone posted a hateful tweet, about his gender, race or identity? One does not have to support the Trans movement, but don’t mock it either.

***I was informed this morning the tweet has been since removed from Ice T’s Twitter page. The purpose of writing about the incident is to educate and raise awareness.  I mean no ill will towards Ice T – I only ask he be more sensitive because the seriousness of the issue.

Transamerica

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It was announced Saturday actress and advocate Laverne Cox will make television history as the first transgender series regular playing a lawyer in a new legal drama picked up by CBS. Doubt follows a smart, chic, successful defense lawyer at a boutique firm who starts to fall for her charismatic client who may or may not be guilty of a brutal crime.

Kudos to CBS for this groundbreaking move at a time when transgender men and women are being targeted by bigoted laws across America.  States such as Kansas, Tennessee, Washington, South Dakota, Texas and South Carolina have targeted transgender  rights, but particularly restricting their access to public bathrooms.

The Obama administration instructed public schools across the U.S. on Friday to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The order was issued a few days after the Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other over a state law requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. Since there are no “bathroom police,” the Rowan County school district is permitting students to carry pepper spray as a “defensive” measure against transgender students.

When you dissect the law, anyone with a brain can see it does not make sense. During a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, advocate and I Am Cait star Jenny Boylan summed it up best, “I am a woman. I have an F on my driver’s license. I have the anatomy of a woman, but because my birth certificate says M, I would have to go to the men’s room. That makes me unsafe.”

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Shame on North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and other so-called “leaders” for their blatant transphobia. WTF is wrong with people?! It angers and sadness me people living in these bigoted communities have to face such disrespect and hate.

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I tweeted North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory expressing my outrage. I suggest you do the same.  @PatMcCroryNC https://twitter.com/patmccrorync

Awkward and Insecure

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Award-winning writer, producer and New York Times Best-Selling author Issa Rae’s popular Youtube series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is headed to HBO.

Misadventures debuted in 2011. Three years and 20 million views later, Rae partnered with Pharrell Williams and released season two on his Youtube channel iamOTHER. Re-naming it Insecure, HBO picked up the pilot in 2015. The multi-cultural comedy is scheduled for a 2016 release.

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Issa Rae stars as J the most awkward black girl in Los Angeles. The self-doubting voice within J’s head is her worst enemy. Turning frustration into rap lyrics helps J cope with life’s awkward experiences. Being somewhat awkward myself, I can relate to Rae’s brand of humor.

I was booked to work as an extra on Insecure last week – I was thrilled to be part of the production. I wanted to introduce myself to Issa when I spotted her during lunch. But I felt too awkward and insecure. Maybe next time?

Photos via Issa Rae Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/issarae112?fref=photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship Status

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Dating in the digital age can be downright dreadful. I recently set up a Tinder profile in hopes of finding more relationship oriented guys than the ones trolling Scruff and Grindr. After hundreds of swipes and likes, my best match was already in a relationship with my former real estate agent. WTF.

Relationship Status, an 11 episode digital series available on Verizon’s go90 app from executive producers James Frey and Milo Ventimiglia, tackles the subject head on. It follows 30 guys and girls in New York and Los Angeles navigating through love and friendship – all told though the lens of social media. Gilmore Girls and Heroes hottie Ventimiglia stars as “Jack” a light hearted, fun gay bartender.

I met Milo while working background on the show. I found myself blushing while chatting briefly near the craft service table. To me, it was love at first sight. Milo featured me in a scene and gave positive feedback on my reactions.

After a long day of dancing in a simulated gay club, I checked one of my social accounts and noticed a guy who resembled Ventimiglia checked out my profile. I wondered if this was a case of life imitating art or just wishful thinking? My imagination ran wild. The experience inspired me to start writing a screenplay about a straight actor who in research for his role hooks up with an over eager extra via a sex app.

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In good fun, I tweeted Milo a picture of his character “Jack” remarking how hot he is. Here’s the problem, I mistakenly called him “Jake”  – the doppelgänger I chatted with online! A case of mistaken identity. How embarrassing. But this is Hollywood, who can tell what is real? Good thing Milo has a sense of humor.

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Make sure to check out this funny, smart and relevant show. If you watch it in slow motion you just might spot me too.  As for my dating life, my Relationship Status remains the same – SINGLE!

Relationship Status premiered last week on StyleHaul’s YouTube channel. Additional episodes are streaming on Verizon’s go90 app now.

Later this year, Ventimiglia returns to Gilmore Girls for its Netflix reboot.

Once I was “7 Years” Old…

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When I was “7 Years” old, I had the desire to move to Hollywood,  33 years later, I’m pursuing my childhood ambitions. I didn’t know that starting over at this stage in life would be so hectic! Re-establishing my career has been top of mind, planning my 40th birthday party the last thing on the list.

I was invited to attend an event the same day as my birthday. I figured, why  not celebrate there? It just so happened to be the after-party to the pop-soul sensation Lukas Graham’s sold out show at the Troubadour. The event, hosted by YRB Magazine, was the held at the ultra-hip Bar Fifty Three on Sunset Blvd.

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Lukas Graham’s catchy coming of age smash single “7 Years” is currently #1 on iTunes. I’m sure you heard it on the radio 100 times….Lukas Graham is taking America by storm and will be musical guest tonight on Jimmy Kimmel.  Their debut album Lukas Graham drops April 1st.

Monday night while chatting with friends, I spotted Lukas waving to me. He came over to say hello and  I congratulated him on his success and posed for a photo.  Fun way to spend a birthday.

Sometimes if you look back and reflect on your past self –  you may realize everything is going to be OK. It’s about the journey.  :)

photo-credit-chapman-baehler-extralarge_1453486469763-1http://lukasgrahammusic.com

 

Exclusive: Richard Simmons Is Fine!

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Richard Simmons wants you to know he is just “fine!” For 40yrs, the flamboyant ball of energy has motivated thousands of people around the world to lose weight and live their best lives possible.  At 67yrs old,  Richard is taking a much needed break from the public eye. When you give so much of yourself sometimes you need to slow your roll to honor yourself and your body.  As a public servant and advocate for healthy living, Richard is doing just that.

Rumors have surfaced Richard is being held against his will by staff members at his Hollywood Hills mansion. Friends have expressed deep concern since Richard has seemingly cut off those closest and has not been seen at a public event since 2013. TMZ reported police were even sent to his estate but found nothing out of the ordinary.  http://www.tmz.com/2015/12/17/richard-simmons-disappeared/

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I too have been concerned. I don’t know Richard personally but I’ve been a fan for years. I can still remember dancing to my parents Sweatin’ To The Oldies VHS tape in our living room. And let’s not forget those Deal A Meal commercials. :)

Before celebrities were outed for being gay by bloggers like Perez Hilton, Richard was the biggest cheerleader for being your true self without having to identify who you sleep with. He was and continues to be an inspiration to me.  I was beyond ecstatic when Richard and I became friends on Twitter also around 2013.  He would often send me words of encouragement. Those would also come to a stop, raising my suspicions that something was wrong.

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I reached out to Richard’s publicist Tom Estey and he assured me, “Richard is fine and enjoying his time away from the public eye while still tending to his flock on a daily basis. His desire to live a more private life for a while in no way will affect his desire and need to help others.”

That is great news – sometimes what we perceive as “wrong” is the right thing for others. It is important to respect peoples’ privacy. Richard’s businesses are doing well, and if he wants to run the show from behind the scenes that is his prerogative! If he has a change of heart, we will be here to embrace him with open arms.

 

The VV itch

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I’ve read countless glowing reviews about the new horror film The Witch – this is not one of them. It’s not that the movie sucked, it’s better than the usual Hollywood trash but it fails to deliver on it’s promise to terrify. Let’s set the stage….a family leaves the safe walls of their Puritan community circa 1600s – they travel into the harsh, dark wilderness to begin a new life. They find a place to settle and a build a house which seems to happen overnight without the help of a construction crew.

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The family’s oldest daughter, Thomasin (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), is on the verge of womanhood. Even her younger brother can’t help but notice her developing breasts. Gross but they live on a farm in the middle of nowhere – poor kids. Anyway, Ms. Thomasin takes her baby brother or sister (it doesn’t really matter) to the woods edge for a game of peek-a-boo. The baby disappears right before her eyes – the work of The Witch in the woods?

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The family does its best to carry on but then the finger pointing begins. Thomasin jokes that she is wicked – she really just wants to shut up her annoying younger brother and sister (twins). Here’s the scary part, the family’s lack of trust for each other will lead to their demise. Again, is the work of The Witch or the evil that lurks within? Or perhaps it’s the doing of the black goat feared to be Satan himself?

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Writer/Director Robert Eggers has the right idea and does a beautiful job recreating this scary time in American history. However, The Witch falls short on invoking feelings of terror beyond the idea that if this happened in real life it would be terrifying. Worth a watch, but save your money for the DVD/digital release.

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